Monday, October 20, 2014

Mindful Monday: Surprise! There's Frost!

This morning, taking Isis outside and letting the chickens out of the coop, I walked down the walk and noticed the dew wasn't quite so dewy.  In fact, it was frost!  

Now, this stirred mixed feelings.  

For one, I was worried.  I still have tomato vines producing fruit, and some of my herbs aren't exactly cold tolerant.  But then, frost means Autumn has taken firm hold of the land.  The air is more likely to keep its nip.  

And I do love to walk outside in the morning to see the grasses tipped with sparkling ice crystals.  For me, frost is beautiful.  Poetic.  

However, most plants don't like those frozen fingers clinging to their delicate leaves.  So here are a few things to do in order to protect your fall gardens:
  • Pay attention to the weather predictions!  Most weather forecasts will warn you a frost danger, but it's important to know that frost can form at temperatures 37° and below.  (This is too complicated to go into here, but I did research it and found this to be temperature most noted by scientific data.)
  • Cover the plants.  You can use plastic, tarps, or even sheets.  The point here is to stop the dew from settling on the plants.  Make sure the cover goes to the ground or past the top of the pot, and that fabric covers are not touching the plants.  You can uncover them after the sun has risen or temps are above 37°.
  • Alternately, you can bring your potted plants indoors overnight.  If you want those that prefer the warmer climes to keep performing, you should consider keeping them inside at this point.
  • Frost-sensitive fruits and vegetables (i.e. tomatoes) should be harvested before frost can touch them.  You can harvest them when green, just be sure to keep them in a dark space above 55° and with air movement.  The flavor may not be as full, but better that then losing them to Mother Nature.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mindful Monday: Herbal Aid for Insomnia or Trouble Sleeping


We've all heard about it.  We've all experienced it.  Each one of us probably knows at least one person affected by insomnia.  You may ever suffer from it, yourself.

My personal experience is on an almost daily basis.  But it's not me.  It's my husband.  There are very few nights when he gets a good night's sleep.  I feel sorry for him because I sleep well, and I can't imagine what it must be like to live with the exhaustion I feel on those rare mornings when I haven't had a good night's sleep.  

Lavender Buds

He's tried medications.  He's tried forcing a change in schedule.  He's tried my eye pillow and mask.  He even tried supplemental melatonin.  All to no avail.  (I should point out that he refuses to turn off the TV, which is a huge problem and the first thing a sleep specialist would tell him.)

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insomnia is the most common sleep complaint.  It is defined by trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or not feeling refreshed in the morning despite the opportunity for a full night's sleep.


How about some numbers*:

  • 30-35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia
  • 15-20% of adults have a short-term insomnia disorder
  • 10% of adults have a chronic insomnia disorder

This leads to two types of insomnia*^:

  • Acute insomnia is short-term, lasting from one night up to three weeks.  It goes away without treatment.
  • Chronic insomnia is long-term, affecting a person three or more nights a week and lasting longer than three weeks.  It can have a negative impact on a person's health, increasing the risk of depression and high blood pressure.  Generally chronic insomnia requires treatment.  
Lemon Balm

The causes of these two types can be similar, but with differing degrees of intensity or duration.

Causes of acute insomnia^:

  • Significant life stress (job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, moving, etc.)
  • Illness
  • Emotional or physical discomfort
  • Environmental factors (light, noise, extreme temperatures) (Turn off the TV, folks!)
  • Some medications
  • Interference in normal sleep schedule (shift work, jet lag, etc.)
Causes of chronic insomnia^:

  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Chronic stress
  • Pain or discomfort at night

There are two more ways of classifying insomnia^:

  • Primary insomnia is not directly associated with other health conditions.
  • Secondary insomnia is caused by something else, such as a health condition, medication, or pain.

There is another, less documented cause of insomnia:  intelligence`.  Sounds, silly, I know.  The idea behind this is that some people can't "turn off" their brain, and so their brain doesn't rest while their body tries to.  (See reference.)

Here is where I wanted to focus on my herbal sleep aid because this is a big reason why my husband suffers.  I also watched an episode of Dr. Oz where he talked about insomnia and offered solutions.  

One of the things he mentioned was Passion flower.  It helps the brain "shut down" so it can rest.  

I don't have passion flower--yet.  But I do have other herbs that have the same sort of effect.  So, I did a bit of reading, and I came up with a sleep aid utilizing these herbs and honey.  I started with a recipe I found on The Nerdy Farm Wife where she uses lemon balm.  I made her recipe first, then I changed it according to what I'd read and my personal tastes.  (I'm not much on the flavor of honey.)

Bee Balm

After 4 slight changes, I found one that worked very well for both myself and my husband.  

Herbal Sleep Aid
1 part Lavender buds
3 parts Catnip leaves
3 parts Bee Balm leaves
6 parts Lemon Balm leaves

Place herbs in a small pot and fill with water until just covered.  Simmer on low until the liquid is reduced to about half.  Strain the herbs from the tea (compost them!).  

While the tea is still warm, add 1 part honey to 4 parts of the herbal tea.  Mix well.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Take 1-2 tablespoons of the Herbal Sleep Aid before bed.

You can add more honey if you like, but I prefer the herbal taste to the over-sweet honey taste.  (It gives me an headache.)  Also, I used fresh herbs.  If you use dried herbs, the general rule is to use half the amount of dried herbs as you would fresh.  (i.e. 1 tsp fresh herbs = 1/2 tsp dried herbs.)  And, of course, the longer you simmer the herbs in the water, the stronger your tea will be.

I found that even when I was keyed up at night, this blend helped me relax enough to find dreamland.  

Sweet dreams!

Sources: *American Academy of Sleep Medicine
                       `Sleep Dynamic Therapy

This post is part of the Clever Chicks Blog Hop.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mindful Monday: Fried Dandelion Flowers

I have known for years that dandelions are edible.  The entire plant can be used, from the root up to the flower--bud or open.  I've had homemade dandelion wine, and I must admit that it was one of the best wines I've tasted.  I've tossed a few young dandelion greens in my salads for bit of a different taste.

Now, with that being said, it's one thing to understand that a plant is edible.  It's quite another to go into the yard and harvest what I grew up viewing as weeds instead of herbs.  I've seen numerous recipes for fried dandelion heads (flowers) online and in books, but I've never had the nerve to to try any of them.

With our "yard" excavated and seeded for grass, weeds of all types are popping up through the straw.  While my husband curses them, I delight in seeing the many varieties of what I now know are herbs.  One of those this cool, early Autumn is the tenacious dandelion.

I hadn't seen any flowers until one brisk Wednesday morning after I'd dropped my son off at school.  I was scavenging for herbs to toss in for the chickens, and I noticed a few tiny spots of sunny yellow scattered throughout the yard.

I decided to be brave and give the fried flowers a try.

For this first time, I kept it very basic.  I used only a few, completely open, flowers, as that was all I had, and simply fried them in butter.  For this learning path, I wanted to start at level one and add or change my method each time.  In this way I can learn every aspect of cooking sunshine in my own way, and share it with you, my readers, as I go.  Then you can pick and choose which sounds best to you if you want to try frying dandelions for yourself.

A couple things about dandelions before we start:
  • Dandelion has diuretic properties.  This means it increases the amount of urine the body produces.  From what I have found, this seems to be mainly the leaves, but as the flower is also the arial (above-ground) part of the plant, I will reason--for now--that it may contain the same properties.
  • Dandelion is an appetite stimulant.  Again this is attributed to the leaves, but I will presume the flower does this, too.
  • Dandelion flowers have antioxidant properties.  
  • Be absolutely certain that the plants you harvest are from an area that you know has not been treated with chemicals of any kind--be it weed control or fertilizer.

On to the cooking of wildcrafted yumminess!

I melted a tablespoon of butter in my pan, then put the flowers face-down into the butter with their stems sticking up in the air.  Made nice little handles, those stems.  I made sure to coat all of the petals in the butter.

I fried them like this on medium-low heat, so as not to burn the butter, and to cook the flower heads all the way through without crisping the outer petals too much.  

The butter boiled around the flowers, turing a yellowish-brown color.

When they were what I thought was done--about 5-8 minutes--I used the stems to pull them from the pan and laid them on my plate.  

The flavor was sweet and buttery, with a bit of a bitter nip at the end.  (I later learned that the smaller flower heads are less bitter.)  I bit the heads off and gave the stems to my chickens.  There was one flower that fell over in the pan, and the stem was cooked, so I ate that stem.  I actually thought that one tasted the best.


Fried Dandelion Flowers
       Dandelion flowers (How ever many you wish)
       1 tbsp butter (real is always better)

Melt the butter in a pan on medium-low heat.  Place flowers face-down in melted butter and fry for 5-8 minutes, or until a crispy brown.  Serve while still warm.

Happy wildcrafting!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Class Creation" Basket for Silent Auction at Bug's School

Saturday, Bug's school will be hosting their annual Fall Festival.  This year, along with scarecrow making, and pumpkin painting, and other Fall fun, they added a silent auction.

The idea was to have each class make a "class creation" to be auctioned off in the silent manner of bidding on paper.  Examples were things like each child's thumbprint on a vase, or a collage of their drawings.  They had to be completed by the end of September since the festival date is (was depending on when you read this) October 4.

Well, you know I jumped at this.  I could make a gourd bowl like I made for Mrs. Huber, only use artwork instead of faces.  Easy peasy.  So I contacted the person in charge, who put me in touch with one of the room moms for Bug's class.  I just happen to have gone to school with this wonderful lady, so we're Facebook friends.  She talked to the other room moms, and they handed me the reins.

I decided to make a basket instead of a bowl.  I cut the the gourd and prepped it for paint.  Then I made an appointment with the teacher and took the gourd basket and a brand new box of washable paint to class one Friday.

I explained to the class what we were going to be doing:  "Each of you will paint a fingerprint flower on the gourd."  Then I set up at a table and called them up one by one while they worked on their regular activities.

I put aside the green paint.  I let each child pick the color they wanted for their flower's petals.  We made the outside of their flower, then they picked a different color for the center.  (Most of the girls picked pink and purple.  Bug was the only one who picked red.)  Then, using a paint brush slathered in green paint, they painted a stem for their flower.  A few added leaves to their stem, and one boy put thorns on his.

I added the teacher's name, the "grade," and the school year to the bottom.

I used decoupage to seal the inside, and sprayed the outside with four coats of clear semi-gloss.  And, wow, did the flowers POP after the clear went on.  The colors were so much more vivid.

I then took a pale green ribbon and wrapped the handle of the basket to add a little flare.  If the handle had been cut straight instead of curved, I could've added a bow at the bottom.  As it was, though, I liked the results.

Inside, I used thumb tacks to hold the ribbon in place.  This also helped position the ribbon where the curves were forcing it to go in the wrong direction.

I'm sorry I forgot to get good pictures of the finished gourd before I took it in.  I am very proud of my donation.  I do hope it helps raise a few extra dollars for the school.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Feathered Friday: Easter Eggers and Their Colorful Eggs

Every hen lays a different color egg in our coop.  (I'm sure that will change once the younger girls start laying.)  So here is a quick pictorial of who lays what.

Gate Locker lays the greenest of the eggs.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but her eggs are an olive color. They also have a rough texture to them.

Gat Locker
Gate Locker's Olive Egg

Gracie's eggs are a pale blue color, smooth as satin, and usually long.

Gracie's Long Blue Egg

Mine lays eggs that are somewhere in between Gracie's blues and Gate Locker's olives.  It can be hard to tell hers from Gate Locker's, but to my experienced eye there is a distinct blue tint in the green.


Mine's Blue-Green Egg

Tommi's eggs are very different form the other three.  She lays eggs of a salmon color.  Some people might just call them light brown, but when you have a young child you say it's pink.

Tommi's Salmon Egg

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Playing Catch-up and Taking on More

Okay, today is really just playing catch up.  I know I missed both Feathered Friday and Mindful Monday, but I have good reason.  

I've been gourding!

A few weeks ago, an old friend from my childhood summer camp days request a faery house for her daughter's new faery garden.  I found the perfect gourd right away, pulled out a couple more, and got cleaning.

The other gourds I cleaned will be made into special gifts for the two daughters of another couple very dear to my heart.

I have found that making the gourds is easier if I'm making them for a specific person.

Along the same lines, I've been updating the Mom & Me Gourds page here on the blog, so I can provide an up to date list of our inventory have available and special orders we can make.  (I've pulled it from the blog while it's under construction, but it's almost finished.)

I also took on the challenge of creating a "class creation" for Bug's kindergarten class that will be part of a silent auction at the school's Fall Festival in the beginning of October.  This is another super fun project.  It should be easy to make, too.

I've also taken on the responsibility of heading the Reflections program for the PTA.  I was nominated for this position by a friend who is the VP of the PTA.  She told me of another friend who seconded that I would be a good choice.  

Reflections was created to promote art in young children.  They are encouraged to participate, entering one piece of creative work, be it traditional painting or drawing, sculpture, music, dance, or writing.  I do hope that I can get more than a few entries from the students, and I am working on a way to promote it that will draw students and parents in and make them want to participate.

Beyond all of this, I have been busy with studying my herb books, trying to learn as much as I can without the aid of classes I can't afford right now.  I was told by the owner of  Nature's Food, a natural food store, that there is a small shop nearby that sells bulk products.  I can't wait to find this place, see what they have, and talk with the owner.  I'm hoping that this may be the connection I need to advance my learning in an inexpensive way.

Next Monday will be about Fall planting.  I'm working on something for Feathered Friday, but it's slow going at this point.  This week might just be pictures of the girls and their handsome boys.

Until Friday. . . !

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Roasted Rosemary Almonds

I'm not all that creative when it does to supplementing one ingredient for another in a recipe.  It takes me a few times making it before I'll get creative.  Unless I'm missing something, then it's no holds barred.  I guess this comes from wanting to know what the original tastes like before I go changing things around.

Those who are familiar with my now-5year-old (gasp!) son probably recall that he seems to be a self-made vegetarian.  Well, fruit- and carb-etarian might be more accurate.  He will eat meat, but only junk food tip meat, like hot dogs or chicken nuggets.  While he used to eat eggs, he has since turned his nose up at that healthy source of protein we now grow in our backyard.  The only other source of protein he will eat willingly is nuts.

And, boy, does that kid love his nuts.  

I'm not thrilled about him eating too many salted nuts, but he prefers them that way.  He is particularly fond of cashews, pistachios, and almonds.  (Yes, he has expensive taste.)  So, when my aunt in New Mexico shared her Roasted Rosemary Almonds recipe, I was intrigued.  My only concern was the added spice of the red pepper.

But, the Bug Boy surprises me sometimes.  He prefers spicy taco meat, but only sometimes.  

I lost track of the recipe through the months, but in June we had a huge family reunion in Duck, NC, on the Outer Banks.  (A much needed trip that was fulfilling in so many ways.)  

On the kitchen island in our house sat a bowl of almonds.  When Bug saw them, he dug his little fingers in and came out with a handful which he strolled over to the table with and proceeded to eat them all before asking for more.  

I asked my Aunt Jill if they were her Rosemary Almonds, and she confirmed that they were.  So I popped one in my mouth.  (Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs.)  I have never had nuts that tasted so good.  And the little kick from the red pepper was the perfect touch.

The fact that Bug loved them so much was a pleasant surprise.

So this week, I bought the few ingredients I needed and made some to pack in his school lunch.  (I'm still getting used to that.) They were super easy to make, and when I did a taste test while they were still warm I about melted in ecstasy.  They were better warm!

So, I thought I'd share the recipe and hope Aunt Jill is okay with it.  I find it humorously ironic that I chose a bowl I got from my grandparents to make their daughter's recipe.  (I didn't make that connection unit I was looking at the picture.)

Roasted Rosemary Almonds
  • 4 cups raw, whole almonds
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 c olive oil
   How to:
  • Preheat oven to 400.  Spread almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and roast for 10 minutes, or until popping and smoking.  (Note:  Check on the nuts often, as it can be easy to overcook them.)
  • While the nuts are roasting, mix the remaining ingredients in a large (heat-safe) bowl.
  • When nuts are finished roasting, add them to the bowl with the spice blend and toss until covered.
  • Allow to cool, tossing every once in a while.


Credit for this recipe goes to Jill Waugh.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mindful Monday: Hybrids vs GMOs, a Brief Comparison

Last week, I posted the picture below on my Facebook page, both for the blog and personally.

It caused a bit of controversy on my personal page, where someone left a comment:
that's super adorable in that it's factually incorrect."
Someone else replied to that:
"Just saying it doesn't make it so, (name). How is it incorrect specifically."
I posted a link that gave the definition of a GMO as it is used in today's society.  When the first person commented that my link was not creditable because of the source,, I came to a few realizations. .  .

  1. I was reluctant to use that particular website because of the possibility of subjectivity, but I thought the definition was valid and I assumed (mistake) that someone arguing against the picture would side with this page.
  2. It comes across that the person arguing the point didn't read the article and it's contained definition.
  3. This person never gave support of their argument, but insisted on telling me I am wrong and naive/stupid.
  4. The article only gave a definition for GMO, and did not include hybrids specifically.
  5. Maybe society doesn't really understand the difference between hybrids and GMOs.
I was pretty worked up by this online confrontation.  (Partly because they drag out vs. a verbal debate that is instantaneous.)  So I thought I'd give the definitions and my views here on the blog.

First, I think it's important to point out that, yes, hybrids and GMOs are the same. . . on a very generic, non-specific level.

Hybrids are the offspring of two organisms from differing races, breeds, species, or genres.  Merriam Webster defines it:

GMOs are organisms modified by science in a controlled environment and utilizing DNA from one organism injected into another organism--gene splicing.  

"Genetically modified foods are plants or animals that have had genes copied from other plants or animals inserted into their DNA. It's not a new idea — humans have been tinkering with genes for centuries through selective breeding. Think dogs bred to be more docile pets, cattle bred to be beefier or tomatoes bred to be sweeter. Turkeys were bred to have bigger breasts — better for Thanksgiving dinner. 
What's different about genetically modified or engineered foods is that the manipulation is done in a lab. Engineers don't need to wait for nature to produce a desired gene; they speed up the process by transferring a gene from one plant or animal to another. 
What are the desired traits? Most of the nation's corn and soybeans are genetically engineered to resist pests and herbicides. A papaya in Hawaii is modified to resist a virus. The FDA is considering an application from a Massachusetts company to approve a genetically engineered salmon that would grow faster than traditional salmon."
                                                                                              ~Huffington Post 

Now, here is my thinking on hybrids and GMOs.
  • On a very basic level, hybrids are GMOs.
  • Man has been cross-pollinating and cross-breeding plants and animals for centuries.  That's why we have the diversity of dog, cat, horse, cattle, and other domesticated animals that we have.  It is also why we have certain plants in our gardens, both for food and aesthetic reasons.
  • Nature creates hybrids all the time.  Bees go from one flower to another, species to species, cross-pollinating the plants and producing hybrids.  
  • GMOs are created by science.  NOT nature.  
  • If you want to guarantee that the plant matter you consume is neither hybrid nor GMO, grow it yourself.  In a closed green house.  And do your own pollination to get your plants to produce their promised fruit.  Oh yes, and you must use seeds cultivated yourself from this process, or seeds that are certified heirloom--which have their own, very specific set of regulations for labeling them as such.
  • GMO technology may one day save me from the torment of living with Type I Diabetes.  It may provide a path to curing many deadly diseases. 
You are, of course, entitled to your own opinions on this very controversial subject.  I have had my say.  If you think I am wrong, that's fine.  I will not challenge you.  But don't challenge me or tell me I'm wrong if you are not prepared to defend your statement.  Teach me.  

After all. . .
We can learn nothing without the education of others.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Feathered Friday: Roosters and the Pecking Order

I'm not going to pretend that I'm an expert on this subject, but I find it intriguing within my own flock.  I love to sit and watch all of them squabble and make friends.

But James, the Light Brahma rooster, and Chase, the Black Australorp rooster, are especially entertaining.  They are both beautiful.  But that's where the similarities end.


  • He's the BIG boy.  Easily twice the size of Chase and the younger hens, and the largest bird in the flock.
  • He has feathered legs and feet.  This is always a topic of discussion when someone new meets the flock.
  • He is near the bottom of the pecking order.  

And this is the surprise.  As a rooster and the largest chicken, you would think he'd be asserting himself to all the ladies and keeping Chase in his place.  But that is not the case with this big chicken.  Gracie, the golden-laced Easter Egger hen, runs James around the run.  She will come from across the run to "attack" him for no apparent reason.  It seems as if she's reminding him that she is above him in the flock pecking order.  It's rather comical, really, to watch this big rooster get chased around by all the other chickens.

I like to say he is the definition of a chicken.  He's the first to run away from any perceived danger, although he will come back to explore if others are doing the same.  But I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't hold up to the defensive job of a typical rooster.

Chase is the opposite of James.


  •  He's younger than James by about a month, which is huge in the chicken world.  It's also the reason he's half James's size.
  • He is cock of the walk.  The dominant rooster, although the girls do put him in his place when he gets too forward.
  • He's already started trying to mate with some of the girls.

That's right.  My baby rooster, one of the 3 youngest chickens in the flock, is already asserting himself as the man.  Of course, who could blame him?  When you have gorgeous black feathers that shone iridescent green in the right lighting, and you are developing a stunning upright tail and vibrant red crest and waddle. . . What girl could say no to that, right?  (Not that chickens care much.)

He runs from me most of the time.  That's how he got his name:  always the last to be caught and had to be chased for a while before he was.  But, if he perceives a threat to the flock, he stands up to it.  He runs at my dog when she comes close to the run.  And yes, she's afraid of him.

So, even though they won't need it when all is said and done, I know my girls, and big chicken James, will have the protection of a good rooster.

Since these photos were taken about a week ago, Chase has grown.  His tail, crest and waddle are bigger, and he really holds himself up like king of the mountain.

Rocky photobomb!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

I'm sorry I've been lacking in my posting these past few days.  It's been crazy around here.

Friday was my Little Man's first day of Kindergarten!

Then Monday was his 5th birthday!

My husband commandeered my computer all weekend to listen to an NHRA race.  We had two other birthday parties, and, while I should have used Tuesday to write today's post, I was busy tying up loose ends involving doctors and schools and mommy lunch dates.  So I apologize.  But Friday will be Feathered again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yard Excavation Finishing Touches

As many of you know, this gardener didn't have one this year due to excavation throughout our property.  My husband started the project because we couldn't get a contractor to show up, and the one's that did gave ridiculous quotes.  ($22k?!  Are you kidding me?)

But finally, we found one that did show up, at least part of the time, and gave a very reasonable quote.  He did around the house, pulling out all the over-grown and dying bushes and weeds without the use of chemicals to kill everything first.  (One contractor wanted to do that, but I wasn't having it.)  This guy and his worker busted their butts to pull and dig everything out.  They even saved a big chunk of the zebra grass for me.

They edged the beds with aluminum, laid a thick felt over the ground, and covered it with river rocks.  We love the look and the promise of a low maintenance garden bed.  (This gardener doesn't do flowers, so perennials that require little care will be planted after more research.)

After they were washed, the stones were very appealing.

This same landscaper finished off what Tom had stared in the back yard.  We had enough rain to fill a pond since the excavation had started, so any semblance of top soil was gone, leaving a rocky mess.  A "rock hog"--or something like that--was used to clean up the rocks and even out the slope.  It also worked to loosen the dirt for seeding.

Rock Hog in action



So, my garden is now seeded with grass.  But not to worry.  When the ground is tilled in the spring, the new grass will provide organic nutrients as it breaks down, providing a natural compost.  I also plan to bring in a few trailers full of my secret ingredient--and the reason for my blog name--before settlement on the house next door.

It may require a bit more landscaping in the garden area--behind the garage still needs to be done--but I'm developing plans for that.  Dear Husband isn't fond of my deck garden, and wants me to move my herbs.  So, aside from a few staples that will remain in pots on the deck, I plan to create a beautiful garden around my chicken coop.  

Progress is always good!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mindful Monday: Savoring Every Moment Before Kindergarten Starts

Normally, this is all about my garden and slight tangents that go along with it, such as recipes or crafts.  But today, I want to do something different. 

This week marks the start of school for both of my boys.  The older one will be a freshman in high school, and Bug starts Kindergarten!  Where did the time go?

It seems just yesterday I was taking him to his first day of Pre-K3, all spiffed up in a polo-style shirt and khaki shorts.

Bug's 1st Day of Pre-K3

He slipped into the routine almost instantly.  And I knew I was one step closer to losing him.  Moms, you know what I mean.  While we want to watch them grow and learn. . .

All by himself!
Age 3
Picking the ripe ones
Age 2

We also want to hold onto them and keep them as our little angels forever.  We want to be able to snuggle up with them for an afternoon nap. . .

We want to take them for wagon rides. . .

We want to share our passions with them. . .

Hooking up to the trailer

But in the end, they grow up.  Like a tree sapling, they spread their own branches as they develop interests and passions of their own.  They learn things with their teachers and friends that maybe we wouldn't have thought of. . .

Bug's 1st day of Pre-K3
making apple prints to see the stars inside.

We watch as they develop skills that seem beyond what we imagined they could do. . .

Lego car Bug built

We watch them form bonds of friendship. . .

Bug's first friend at Pre-K3
End of the 1st day of Pre-K3

Last Day of Pre-K4

And we relish in the energy and joy that the simplest of entertainment brings them. . . 

"Looking" through the eye Lego

So today, while I may have many things that need to be done, I am taking the time to play with my soon-to-be Kindergartener before he is gone from my days.  We will build rolling houses. . .

And watch silly squirrel videos at the feed store.  We will play Transformers using only HotWheels and our imaginations.  We will have Mickey Mouse pancakes for lunch, because that is what he wants.  

Too soon I will be alone for seven hours five days a week.  Sure, it will be nice to be able to do the things I can't while Bug is with me, but that freedom comes with a heartbreaking silence that only my Little Man can fill.

I have read a lot of articles lately addressed to moms like me, seeing their little ones off to Kindergarten.  For some it's the first one to go, for others it brings quiet after the last of three (or more) kids climbs up the school steps.  No matter the situation, it's not easy.  The other authors pointed out something vital for me:  We did a good job as parents.  Our little angels wouldn't be taking this next big step if it wasn't for us helping them take each big step that came before.  

I will be strong.  I won't cry when I say goodbye to my Little Man as I leave him with his teacher, as I long for a glimpse of his sweet face throughout the door as it closes and I walk away.  I will wrap my  arms around him, and hold him tight when I pick him up, listening to the never-ending babble as he recants the events of his first day.

I will the mom in the parking lot, crying her heart out before she pulls away.  And I will probably cry most of the day.  But in the end, I know I did a good job bringing him to this point.  And if you are in the car next to me, crying behind the glass, I know you did a good job too.  

Good job, Moms (& Dads).  We've done well.