We’ve been traveling alot lately. First we went to Eugene to visit family and escape the horrific smoke that filled our valley from all the wildfires. We returned to find the smoke was still bad, so we rented a house on the Oregon Coast with some friends for a week. Home for just a few days before we were off to New York to visit family and exhibit at the NY Now tradeshow in the city. We are again home for a week before the annual Mete Family adventure to Sunriver.
No matter where we are though, home or traveling, one thing always stands consistent. The harder we play before bed, the better the kids sleep. Tonight we went to the neighborhood school playground, and literally ran up and down the field (red light, green light) before moving on to the play-structure. We pack healthy snacks (sliced cucumber from the garden, ham, cashews, veggie pouches, and fruit leather) to help keep them fueled and in good spirits.
Nearly two hours of nonstop play before walking home. Kids are sound asleep in bed. I think I shall join them.
As a little girl in Southern California, my parents each year would help me plant my own patch of cherry tomatoes and strawberries. My biggest childhood memories, though, are from exploring magical lands (aka grandparents’ gardens).
In England, Granddad had two gardens. A smaller garden, tucked behind the shed, overflowed with cabbages, greens, and beautiful flowers. His bigger garden,”the plot”, he would bike to. He’d return before meal time smelling like a musty garden gnome and Nana would prepare an overflowing plate of vegetables with a side of meat for dinner (the midday meal). Granddad never invited me to garden with him. I simply explored by myself and enjoyed the harvest through Nana’s simple cooking.
The experience with my Italian grandparents, was much different. While Granddad’s garden in England intrigued me, my Italian grandparents taught me not just how to garden, but the beauty of where food comes from and the ways of processing it to share with family and friends all year round.
Grandma and Grandpa had a very large garden in their backyard and I got to help from start to finish. Watering the gigantic zucchini plants (or so they seemed from my eight year old eyes), harvesting green beans and prepping them for dinner with Grandma, collecting peaches from Grandma on her ladder to take inside for canning, and figs…oh warm, delicious, burst-in-your-mouth-figs. Every vegetable, every piece of fruit was enjoyed….all year long! Grandma would pack zucchini frittata for picnics, make green beans in sauce for dinner with pasta, canned peaches/pickles/cherries/galore.
I suppose my point is that, from an early age gardening has always been a love. It’s where I feel my calmest, most grounded self. This year in particular, I have noticed a great parallel between my garden space and my soul. Perhaps it sounds cliche. I just can’t help it. Last year my garden was neglected. A new baby in the family, a healing body…gardening didn’t happen. Which meant that this year, I had to totally start from scratch. This is not easy with two small children. My dad (always my knight in shining armor), got the ground started for me (with my Grandpa’s old rototiller, which should have been its own blog post!). And from there I was left with a blank slate…and a feeling of being overwhelmed. “One bed at a time” became my mantra. It’s still my mantra, as weeds multiply over night and the squash bugs come to attack. I can become overwhelmed and angry that I’m the only one tending the space…but then I remember that it IS my space, my creation. And much like myself, I cannot expect anyone to care for it more than I care for it myself. Ah yes, the constant reminder, my soul sings to me yet again, remember to care for yourself. So I step into the garden and we care for eachother.
Anyone who knows me, knows my love for cooking. I have so many memories from childhood of cooking with my grandparents and friends. I actually started taking cooking classes when I was in first grade. A women down the street from us would charge all the neighborhood kids 50 cents each to learn a special recipe. We would all gather together, a children’s parade, and walk to her house together. No adult supervision, just a mob of kids each with two quarters in her (and his) pocket to learn such things as cupcakes in ice cream cones and quesadillas. They were simple, fun recipes, but enough to ignite an interest that would last into my adulthood.
As a busy mom entrepreneur, I find that most of my creative energy happens in the kitchen. I’m in there anyway. The family needs to eat. So why not incorporate creative energy and time with the kids?! It’s an opportunity for me to share my passion and to bring healthy (and sometimes totally unhealthy) foods to our table.
This particular day, two over ripe bananas sit in our fruit bowl. Such an ingredient normally leads to one of three things; banana bread, banana “ice cream” (frozen bananas pushed through the champion juicer), or granola. Today it’s granola. The house smells amazing.
One can never fully understand the beauty of the female body, until one has experienced child birth. Unfortunately this means that men will never have a full understanding, as they can only witness the miracle rather than experience the journey. And one must experience the journey…the fear, the joy, the trust of things known and unknown, the power, the raw moment of letting go.
While at an outdoor wedding this weekend, Ella found her “happy spot” in the dirt! This reminded me of how much I loved playing outside as a child…and how few children I see these days out in their front yards.
Five great reasons for kids to go outside and get dirty! – brought to us by www.simplemom.net
1. There are types of bacteria that are naturally found in soil which activate the neurons that produce serotonin – a key chemical in many bodily functions, as well as a natural anti-depressant. In other words, dirt can actually help make you feel happy.
2. Dirt is also great for the immune system, especially in children. Research has shown that early exposure to the naturally occurring microbes in soil will help build stronger, more disease-resistant kiddos.
3. In our technologically savvy generation, kids just aren’t getting enough time to play outside, and that has now been linked to attention disorders, depression (yes, in children), and obesity.
4. Children who play outside laugh more, which means they’re happy! It also means their blood pressure and stress levels are lower.
5. Kids who play outside grow in their character development: they become more adventurous, more self-motivated, and they are better able to understand and assess risk.