Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Life is Full of Weeds

            ‘Tis the season when friends are posting photos of their garden’s first harvest and dinner items created from their bounty.  A few fellow bloggers have even written how their garden mirrors their life.  I, too, could write a beautiful piece on how tending to the garden is so much like tending to my own children or cultivating the young minds in my classroom.  But, alas, I am not in charge of our vegetable garden.  I was, however, allowed to tie up the peppers and eggplants this past weekend before heading to my charge – the front yard flower garden.  Let’s take a look shall we…

            OK. It’s bad.  I know.  But I do need to throw out the disclaimer that we have been away two out of the past three weeks.  As I forged through the thick carpet of growth I thought of two things: 1. I hate this garden. 2. My life is full of weeds.
            I inherited this flower bed.  We moved in on Mother’s Day weekend 2010.  I looked curiously at the tiny sprouts of green poking through the soil.  I decided to wait a few weeks to see what actually grew to see what was actually a flower vs. a weed.  That summer was a scorcher, I was pregnant and chasing an eighteen-month old.  Needless to say, the weeds saw this as an opportunity to flourish!
            The following spring I was determined to make something of this garden.  I researched deer resistant plants, and decided to bring in some flowers and shrubs I had had success with in the past.  Well, apparently nothing truly is deer resistant, the moles dug up several of the new plants and my successful flowers expired mid July.
            Take three.  I attacked the garden with a vengeance one afternoon during nap.  I thinned out over grown areas, purchased four new plants and deer repellant spray.  Nap time ended and I was called away from my project.  Two of the new plants sat in the driveway for two weeks before getting planted and the deer repellant is collecting dust in the garage.
            In my BK (Before Kids) life, I had time to tend to flower beds.  Jim spent many weekends hauling Pennsylvania blue stone from the cabin and we created gorgeous flower beds around three quarters of our house.  Weeds were taken care of swiftly, plants were watered and our neighbors were impressed.  One neighbor told us, ‘My yard used to look a heck of a lot better before we had kids.’  I giggled at the thought.  How hard could it be to maintain?
            But now, my life is full of weeds.  There are so many little chores, projects and two little people that demand my attention, that flower bed falls way to the bottom of the list.  I do not think this is a bad thing though (except every day when I pull into the driveway and grumble at the site of it.)  Days can be planned, the to-do list can be just about completed when something else comes creeping in – just like a weed.  You don’t plan for it to happen.  It may or may not be a pleasant surprise but here it is and it has to be dealt with.   
            When I named my blog last year, I was thinking just this.  There is a lot of “et cetera” that goes into life.  It is up to us to decide how to manage our own weeds.  Because there is no escaping it: they will creep in.
            Once again I have big plans for the garden.  This time in August, after the summer heat has subsided a bit.  Of course, if I wait too late, I’ll be busy with preparing for the start of a new school year for me, Andrew’s start of preschool and the boys’ adjustment to a nanny.   More et cetera, more weeds, more of life!  Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll just turn the flower garden into a weed garden!  J

Thursday, July 19, 2012

There's Always A Choice

          There’s always a choice.  I know some of you might disagree (so you might want to stop reading!)  But I’m sticking to my guns.  There’s always a choice (leaving out life threatening situations.)
          As a parent, I narrow it down to two choices:  Play downstairs or outside? Blue shirt or red shirt? Thomas or Bob the Builder?  My mother calls me the “Great Negotiator.”  She sees it as a negative.  She thinks I offer a toddler too many choices.  But I am instilling a life lesson: there’s always a choice. 
          By allowing two selections, I simultaneously allow decision making to occur while carefully controlling the situation.  I call this “forced choice.”  A-HA! you say.  I still have ultimate control of the situation.  Well, yes, he IS only three!
          I also apply this principle in my classroom:  work at your desk or on the rug; choose between these three books; choose between these four centers.  Wait!  You are giving them more than two choices!  Of course I am.  They are eight and nine.
          Now to the adult world:  Should I work out or not? Watch the news or something in the DVR? Eat this or that? (Oops! Someone already wrote that book!)
          You get the point.  So why does this matter to me?  Some of you might be asking.  Others are laughing, saying, “He, he, I know Jess.  She can really get frustrated at times!”  You’re absolutely right.  Those feelings, too, are a choice.  I can get ticked off or count to ten…or better yet…I can write a blog post!   

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Things Aren't Always What They Seem

          Sitting at the edge of the stream, my brother-in-law posed one of Andrew’s favorite questions, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
          “What are you thinking?” Andrew replied.
          ‘I was thinking how people start off really small, but as they grow older, they get bigger.  But rocks are the opposite.  They start off really big, but as they get older they get smaller.’
          “Like sand?”  Andrew said. 
          ‘Kind of,’ my brother-in-law said. ‘See this rock. It is small, so it’s really old.  And that rock over there is big so it’s young.’
          “Oh,”  Andrew said.
          Not exactly, I thought.  Nothing against my brother-in-law, he’s a very smart man.  I certainly didn’t expect him to delve into the rock cycle and explain weathering and erosion to a three year old.  But it did make me think about how quickly we make a judgement about something without really knowing the true story. Or worse yet, how susceptible we are to the opinions of others that we will agree with them without being fully informed.  What is it that keeps us from finding out the truth?  Fear?  Rejection?  The unwillingness to utter the words, “I was wrong?”
          Think about that the next time something (or someone) new crosses your path.  It might have experienced a bit more weathering than you, but take the time to get the full story.  Make your own judegment.  Form your own opinion.  Be an individual.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Be a Tree

            We just returned from our annual camping trip to New Hampshire.  Being outdoors, free from many of life’s daily distractions, brings out the philosopher in me.  So enjoy a few ‘deep thoughts’ type posts!
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            Tuesday, Jim and I had some time without the boys so we took a hike.  A real hike:  fast paced, uphill, carrying no one in a backpack.  The setting was perfect.  Acres of pine, birch and beech trees as far as the eyes could see.  The rushing of a stream off to our left.  A constant chorus of birdsong and insect chirps.  A near cloudless sky dropped patches of sunlight onto the leaves and forest floor.  Stepping carefully along the root-riddled trail, it hit me – I am stepping on a living thing!  For the rest of the hike I was drawn to the trees.
            I noted the varying widths of their trunks and colors and textures of barks.  I felt a slight pang of sadness when I saw one lying on the ground.  And I thought. 
            Trees are adaptive.  They’ll grow over and around rocks and on sides of cliffs and mountains.

            Trees are fragile.  They can be destroyed by the smallest insect, succumb to disease or be uprooted and blown over by a strong gust of wind.

            Trees are assertive.  They don’t care if another tree has been standing there for 80 years.  They move right in.

            Trees are altruistic.  If they fall down, they become a bridge for people to cross.  Sometimes one tree catches another tree when it falls.

            Trees are resilient.  They dig their roots in deep and hold on tight.  When only a piece of them is left, they stand tall and proud.

            I thought a lot about how trees and people are alike.  If I was a tree, what qualities would I have?  What kind of person do I want to be while I am alive?  What memories do I want to leave behind?  
            I invite you to be a tree.  Stand tall and proud and reach for the sky!