Gardening with Children

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil 
is to forget ourselves. 
Mahtama Gandhi

 

When I was a teacher, I remember talking to my students as I ate lunch at my desk so I could help them get caught up on other work they had for their classes. I don’t know why, but they seemed to enjoy coming to my class and I disliked sitting in the cafeteria with the teachers, who spent their time complaining about the kids, so it was a win-win, really. Anyway, I remember sitting with them, eating a salad and we started talking about food. One of my students had no idea that carrots were root vegetables and so we ended up looking on the computer at how carrots grew and this progressed to looking at how potatoes grow. He was amazed and I was amazed that he had no idea where those vegetables came from. It made sense, however, living in the city, where many of my students grew up in apartment buildings, unable to grow gardens.

3D019E35-2360-47B4-8B88-B267F6525427A seed was planted in my heart that day and ever since then, the thought of welcoming children into my garden has been at the forefront of what I think about as I work. I love having children in the garden, whether my little daughter or my grand children, or eventually (hopefully) children from the area. I truly believe that children can benefit from learning to grow things, even if it’s just a sweet petunia in a pot, or a pot of marigolds or a cherry tomato.

Mental Health Benefits

There is something very therapeutic about tending soil and watching natural things grow. According to a study by Paul M. Camic et al of Canterbury Christ Church University, gardening has many mental health benefits such as reduction in depression and anxiety, as well as increase in attention capacity, and self-esteem. In today’s world, with the Covid-19 virus and school’s closing, the racial tension, and violence the media is constantly presenting to the world, our children could benefit from the grounding and calming benefits of activities like gardening.

Child Development Benefits

38114439-3821-464f-9932-ef178ee3ed31In addition to the mental health benefits, gardening also helps child development, by giving them the opportunity to practice fine and gross locomotor skills and body management as they use tools and move objects from place to place. Gardening is great exercise! Just today, I asked my daughter to help be hoe the weeds from around the broccoli and she commented on how sweaty she was from the work. I’m not fully convinced she enjoyed every moment and I didn’t push it too much, because I don’t want it to be work she dreads, but she certainly got in a good little workout and we even spotted a beautiful Swallowtail butterfly while we were at it.

Connection with Mother Nature

IMG_2804A garden is a wonderful place to observe Mother Nature. Children may see butterflies and other pollinators like bees visiting the blossoms on your flowers and vegetables. They may spot Ladybug beetles feasting on aphids, or a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. Hang a bird house or home made feeder to attract birds.

If you grow your flowers and vegetables from seed, they can witness the cycle of life, right before their eyes. As you bite into a slice of fresh-from-the-garden watermelon, chat about the fact that the seeds in the watermelon can be saved and planted the following year for more watermelon. Many children delight in this connection with Mother Nature, because we are part of Nature, even though we are often set aside by concrete sidewalks and walls. Break down that barrier, let them go barefoot and give them the time and freedom to explore.

Gardening without A Yard

You do not need a big yard to have a successful garden. Two years ago, I grew my best tomatoes right in pots by the backdoor! Just grab a few medium to large sized pots, use a good quality organic potting mix and seeds, and water when the top 1/4″ of soil is dry, and you’ll be growing healthy plants in no time.

If you’re like some of my previous students and you have no outdoor space at your home, look online for community gardens, where you can cultivate a plot for your family garden. If your child attends school, contact the principal to see if they might allow you to start a school garden.

Easy plants to grow in pots:

  • Cherry and pear tomatoes (be sure they say “determinant or container”)
  • Spacesaver cucumbers
  • Herbs of all sorts (you can pack them in)
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums
  • Petunias

Many blessings to you and your children as you grow your own beautiful plants. Remember: there may be challenges, but see them as learning opportunities and don’t forget to sow each seed with love and have a lot of fun along the way.

Xx

When Fear Reigns

I truly believe that when we allow fear and ignorance to reign-  isolation, violence, and despair quickly follow, and it seems to me that this is what we have allowed to happen in our world.

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

Why do we always find ourselves back here? Why are we always back to wondering how tragic deaths like George Floyd’s occur? I believe it’s because we continue to look outside ourselves for the solution. We blame others and point to the government for the solution, while we sit back and wait, or post things like this to the internet, as though they will make a difference – and maybe they will, but not so much as when we take action. I don’t mean a procession. I mean small daily acts, in the moment, when they are needed most and when no one is looking.

That’s when it matters.

And we can’t continue to blame others. I’m sure we all know and even love people who are racist. I know I have family members who are and even if they aren’t overtly racist, they make remarks that are, indeed, racist. How do I deal with this when these are people I truly care about? I speak up – respectfully – and I put a bit of distance between them and me and my youngest child, who is in my care. It doesn’t mean I no longer love them, it just means that I don’t want that in my life on a regular basis and I certainly don’t want it influencing my child. As her parent, it’s my job to be sure she is surrounded by healthy, positive influences. That said, it is also my job to not shield her from everything, or else how will she ever learn how to stand up for herself? She needs to see the adults in her life standing up for what they believe in. Also, she needs to know that we can love people, but not what they do.

We are all sinners and Jesus died for all of us.

I am so angry with what I’ve been seeing in the news and on social media. I am angry with the police brutality that I’ve been seeing against people and I am angry that there are only certain stories that are making the news. I am angry that the arbitrary idea of race continues to permeate culture, when it was CREATED for control. I am angry when I hear people start a racist comment with, “I’m not racist but…” I am angry that a Black man can’t jog down the freaking street without feeling fear that he might get attacked, or accused of wrong doing. I am angry that a woman cannot jog down the street without fear of being attacked. I am angry that children cannot play in their own front yards without fear of being kidnapped. I am angry that old people cannot live comfortably in their homes without fear of being burglarized.

I am angry.

I am also angry with how we deal with things today. None of us does anything it seems unless it can be posted to social media. We seem to share, not because we really care, but because we want to appear to care. We need to REALLY care or nothing will ever change. We need to speak up and speak out loud even to those we love when they say and do terrible things. We must speak up even if we know it will anger them and may even threaten our relationships.

Doing the right thing is hard. If it were easy, we'd all be doing it and we wouldn't have all the struggles we have today.

We have to step up and out in faith, not fear. We need to share God’s love, as He has shared it with us and we need to see others as He sees them.

Even the criminals are loved by God. The man who attacked me as a teen is loved by God. The police officer who killed George Floyd is loved by God. The woman who abuses her child is loved by God. The addict is loved by God. The man who sells children into sex trafficking rings is loved by God.

jesus christ crucifixion

This is a hard pill to swallow and I find myself choking on it as I type, but it is the truth. So often we pray for the victims and for very good reason, but we cannot also forget to pray for the criminals, because ultimately isn’t our goal as Christians to let God work through us so that He may save them? Isn’t this why Jesus spent time eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners? Civilization will never change if we do nothing but point fingers and throw criminals into prisons that further screw them up.

I am not sure what else to say in regards to this, except that I pray for God’s guidance and I pray that He give me the courage and fortitude to stand up and speak out for those who cannot stand up and speak out for themselves. I ask that he soften my heart toward those who hurt others, because I know that they, too, hurt. I ask that He strengthen my faith at these times, when I want to scream at Him, “Are you f-ing paying attention?!”

I don’t have any answers. I just know that we are not separate. We are ultimately one family, because we are all God’s children.

I do believe that we have to take small steps every day to create change – in ourselves, our families, and our communities and remember that we’re all brothers and sisters. What happens to one of us affects all of us, because like love, pain has a ripple effect on the world.

So I must ask myself daily: How will my actions ripple across the world today? Will I spread love or will I facilitate the spread of fear and violence?

Xx

Resa

 

 

 

Around the Garden Photo Story

German Chamomile looking very happy
Sweet little alium with a thunder cloud back drop
Our blackberry brambles are loaded with blossoms this year
Clover, purposely down and loved by pollinators
Orbs on a giant blue hosta

Big Changes Coming

A few years ago, I prayed to God to please guide me to the path He wants me to follow and I told Him I’d go there. I’d follow it. While I’m a pain in the ass – to which I’m sure God is nodding His head vigorously – I have tried hard to do this and to trust in Him.

This morning, I woke up and while I honestly didn’t feel like reading the Bible, I opened it anyway and read the first two chapters of Peter and afterward, it was like a light bulb went on in my spirit. I know where A Musing Mother is headed and I’m over-the-moon grateful.

img_2504As many of you know, I am passionate about nature, growing plants and food and children! I think God knows what He’s doing in these areas and we need only to follow His lead and we’ll be okay. Plants and vegetables don’t need man-made things or corporations to do well. What they need is for us to follow Nature’s way and to cultivate a space that is as close to nature as possible. I believe this concerning children and education as well. Schools are not needed for a solid, well-rounded education. Children simply need to be valued and respected and they need an environment that is as close to nature as possible, while encouraging their natural interests and talents.

That said, I have been praying so hard for guidance and I thought maybe it would be produce, but to be quite honest, growing food makes me anxious and it’s simply because while I have been a gardener for most of my adult life, I never really grew vegetables or fruit until last year. They did well, but I’m not confident in that. What I am confident in doing is growing herbs and flowers.

So, the super great news is: We are going to make herbs our focus here in the gardens of The Old Bromley House! This may not seem like amazing news to you and that’s okay. For me, though, it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I’m super eager to get started.

Where we go from here, I have no idea and I’m not going to waste time worrying about it. I’m going to focus on this next step and I’m going to do the best of my ability to provide beautiful, healthy, and vigorous herbs for others.

Here’s the coolest part of the plan and the part I’m MOST excited about: 25% of all profits will go to charity.

img_2506

Ya’ll didn’t think I’d leave that out did you? C’mon! Like my husband always says, “My wife would give away all we have if I didn’t rein her back!” Ha! So, this is a great happy medium for us. I get to give, which is central to my heart and we also get to bring in some income AND we’ll have the currency to continue the work, which is vital.

More to come soon, as I share with you the progress, any challenges that arise, and finally: the day we’re able to open up for sales, deliveries, and shipments.

Please keep us in your prayers and ask that God bless this work so that we may bless others.

Xx

Resa

Ps…don’t worry, you’ll still see other content here as well. A Musing Mother will still be musing about life, love, and learning…always. xx

Have a listen to this song

Menopause – the age of empowerment?

It’s so strange, being a woman. We are celebrated for our youth, for our appearance – especially when slathered with too much makeup, for our children, our homes, and our ability to fill stomachs with edibles, and yet actually being a woman is mentioned in whispers.

Periods are kept quiet.

Menopause is kept quieter.

Even in today’s so-called modern society and the women’s lib and the feminism, women are still maintaining the status quo – doing what’s expected of them – trying to be like men, even to a point that we completely undermine ourselves and our Womanhood.

right human fist with ring

We use the word pussy to describe a weak person. How on earth did this ever happen? I don’t know about you, but a pussy is the strongest and most flexible thing I’ve ever come across. Now, a pair of testicles – the very thing strong people are supposed to have – they shrink away from a challenge every single time.

I’m not man-bashing, I’m just saying.

Why must we use this part of the female anatomy to put someone else down? When without it, we would all cease to exist?

It truly baffles me.

78067794-30d4-4ed3-976a-143ce46914d2I’m going through menopause and it is like wading into dark waters, because no one ever talks about it. I have no idea what to expect. I had no idea that it actually starts in the mid-thirties with peri-menopause. I had no idea I’d be drying off my legs after a shower and see that suddenly my thighs look different or that I’d have wrinkles on my knees. I had no idea I’d get grey hairs – down there. I had no idea it caused dry skin. I had no idea that it might include insomnia.

Yet here I am, at six o’clock in the morning, having been awake since three o’clock, writing all of this to you so that maybe you won’t feel so blind-sided as I have been with all this.

The worst part isn’t even the aging stuff. I’m okay with most of it, although my aging thighs do make me cringe. The worst part is waking up at three o’clock in the morning with past decisions on my mind. I wake up remembering something stupid I did in my twenties and it just snowballs into what a horrible person I am and ultimately the message I receive is this: YOU ARE NOT WORTHY.

We all battle with this. I know this because I see it all over the internet. Women everywhere feel like they’re not enough. Like me, you shrink away from your life. You bite your tongue and then you finish your argument in the shower each morning for the next ten years. You get cosmetic work done to keep a man, or get a man, or to “feel better” about yourself. You wax every bit of hair, except what’s on your head. You’re crying in the bathroom and concealing it with fake smiles and concealer. You’re drinking and binging away your feelings. Or you’re living up to expectations, real or imagined, and not letting your true voice be heard.

All of this says: I’m not enough. I am not worthy. I’m sorry for who I am.

black and white black and white depressed depression

I’ve done many of these things and more, and this morning, as I lay awake in bed, with my lifetime of bad decisions rolling through my head, I realized I’ve had enough. I said, Look. You’re going through menopause. Menopause. You’re practically invisible in today’s world, with its youth obsession, so if you cannot live your life now, you’re never going to and it’s no one’s fault but your own.

I do not want to get to my grave and regret never living my life.

Maybe for many of us, menopause is the wake up call to life, rather than an alert to the end of it. We’re not on the wrong side of any age. We’re on the right side of a revolution that says, I am woman and I’m not fucking sorry about it. I’m not talking about feminism and changing the world and hating The Man. I’m talking about a personal revolution that  empowers us to live our lives, on our terms, without apology.

Dammit.

Xx

Apple Cinnamon Bread

I’ve always enjoyed baking breads and cooking up yummy things in my kitchen, but the quarantine has provided the perfect opportunity to hone my skills.

There is just something about delicious bread that I can’t get enough of and this apple cinnamon bread is no exception. Because I’m one who usually skips the story to get to the recipe, I’ll not spend time explaining why my family devours this loaf in a day and go ahead and let you judge for yourself.

Note: You’ll want to save this one.

Apple Cinnamon Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

4 medium apples, peeled, cored, diced

2 TBSP butter

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup granulated sugar

4 tsp softened butter

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

For glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

1. Cook apples and cinnamon with 2 tbsp butter in skillet until tender. Set aside.

2. In small bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.

3. In large bowl, mix eggs, milk, vanilla, milk and mix until blended.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined.

5. Add 1/2 of the batter to loaf pan. Add 1/2 of the apple mixture. Add remaining batter. Add remaining apple mixture. Press into batter slightly.

6. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack about 10 minutes.

7. In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk until well blended. Drizzle over loaf and allow to set about 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Xx

Dear Covid-19

Dear Covid-19,

While it would be easy to complain about things you’ve taken away from our day-to-day lives, I want to take the time to say thank you.

img_1146Thank you for giving me time to do a little painting of my house. It may very well look like a high school art project, but it’s mine. I’ve wanted to do it since we moved here and never made time. Thank you for providing the time for that.

Thank you for giving me time to bake bread. I have fed sourdough starters in the past and only ever made pancakes from the discard. You provided the quiet time to actually bake some bread and to my surprise, it was delicious.

Thank you for reminding me what’s most important to me: family. That’s the one thing I miss in all of this and I have set a goal to have big family dinners when this is all finished. In the meantime, I’m using this restful time to explore and create new recipes worth sharing and handing down to my children. It’s been fun.

img_1800-1Thank you for giving me time to quilt and meditate. It’s been time well spent and I’ve enjoyed every single second.

Thank you for the opportunity to take online classes to better hone my writing skills. I’m learning new things, connecting with other writers, and even more important: getting over the fear and insecurity of sharing my writing. It’s been HUGE.

Thank you for the time freedom to write. The words seem to pour out these days and for that I’m grateful.

2a71bc17-65ee-4f15-8804-7be2600ed029Thank you for giving me the opportunity to find my personal style again. It feels good to ditch the Insta-fashion and embrace my own quirky style.

Covid-19, you’ve shaken things up, but I’m glad God has allowed you in the world. I know there are many losses and I mourn for people who have lost loved ones and I mourn with family and friends who have lost loved ones. It’s traumatic and painful and life-changing, but I am set on finding the good in all of this, because there is always good in it, if only we look.

So thank you, Covid-19, for shedding a light on what is very good in this life and for pointing out what is most important, and reminding me that I need very little to live a full and happy life.

You can go away now.

xoxo

Resa