Friday, April 15, 2016

Half Pint Farm Weekly Garden Update - April 15th

Things are growing right along. And the chickens have adjusted to being penned up in the run. They also keep the grass nice and trimmed for us ;)

Not too much to report this week, here in Central Oregon it's a total hurry up and wait thing with our gardens. So boo to that. The good news is that the beets are up-they're tiny but they're up. Planting seeds is such an act of faith. We put these tiny things in the dirt and pray and wait and hope, trusting that God will do what he does to make things grow. And outside of creating a healthy environment, there's nothing I can do to make a seed grow. It's a miracle really.

The blueberries are coming on strong, it's our second year with fruit-so this year we're hoping for a little bigger yield, we'd be happy with a handful of berries. I think we only got maybe 5 last season.

And despite our neglect of these raspberries last year, they're back up this year. We lost 2 of the 3 plants we had over the winter. Because we failed to care for them. But. This year we'll do better.

And here is the glamorous set up we have just outside our bedroom. This was a great solution for us last year, and once it's warm enough outside at night we'll move this out with the green house cover it came with to continue growing the tomatoes before they get planted in the dirt. We follow the old timer advice around here, don't plant tomatoes until June 1 or whenever the snow is off Black Butte. Whichever comes later. Did I mention that gardening is an act of patience around here? Because it is. However, we've done it this way all along and end up with decent tomato yields, despite our short growing season. 

And the kale and tomatoes are doing just fine in the sunny window.

And here's a few Central Oregon garden tips:

Now is a great time to trim deciduous trees and shrubs.

And by mid month (that's now!) it should be safe to plant seed potatoes, peas, radishes, turnips and spinach. Use a soil thermometer to be on the safe side, soil temps should be around 45-50 degrees for optimal germination. We'll get ours out early next week.

Also, we keep row covers handy and keep an eye on the forecast for freezing overnight temps, so we can cover things in a hurry if we need to. Check Craig's List or Swap groups on Facebook for old sheets and blankets if you want to do this on the cheap. Even old buckets turned upside over tender plants does the trick.

So along with general clean up of the lawn, and planting all the pretty flowers, the garden is getting ready to keep us pretty busy. Just the way we like it. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

On Pinterest and Mommy Guilt

There are times when I feel like all is right with the world.

Like when my kids are being nice to each other and peacefully working out who sits where in the van. Sibling love? That makes me feel like mom of the year. 

But then, I hop on Pinterest. And all of those good feelings disappear faster than a clean house invaded by teenage boys. 

Pinterest, I feel like I need to drop you like a bad habit. 

Actually, it's not you Pinterest, it's the pins that barrage my feed. I don't know why they show up, but they have eye catching little graphics and headlines that say things like, 50 Things You Have to do With your Daughters, Why we Deleted the Internet at Home, 5 Habits Every Mom Should Avoid and Why It Matters, 1001 Prayers to Pray Over Your Kids Every Day. 

These aren't the actual titles of posts I've ever seen, but you know what I'm getting at. They are meant to be helpful. Unfortunately, sometimes they create more shame and guilt than their writers ever intended. At least for me. 

Here's why I'm sort of quitting Pinterest. (You have to know I'll still come back for recipes and home decor and silly pictures of pets doing silly things. And we're redoing two bathrooms this year. Have mercy. I need all the Pinterest inspiration I can get on cute bathrooms for cheap.) 

Pinterest opens the door to the comparison trap.

A friend of mine lamented to me recently that she easily gets caught in the comparison trap. I can certainly relate, I look at some posts on Pinterest and feel like I will never measure up to be the right kind of godly mom because I don't pray those 1001 prayers over my kids every day. And then I feel defeated and I wonder why I'm doing it all wrong and why all those other moms are doing it so right.

Pinterest won't ever replace real face to face relationships with others who encourage me to grow closer to Christ. 

We've been privileged to call a house church network our church home for the last three years. One thing that we love about it is that the way we're doing church right now leaves lots of room for life giving relationships. It leaves space and time to meet regularly with each other for accountability and to help each other grow closer to Christ. We ask each other hard questions and we expect honest answers. Those relationships are the ones I want to go to when I need advice, mostly because these close friends are usually quick to say they don't have the answers but they will pray for me, and often right then. That's so much more valuable than a blog post called 50 Tips to Being an Awesome Mom

Pinterest places undue guilt on me over the choices I make as a parent.

I know the majority of blog writers have no intention of creating guilt in the hearts of their readers. But it happens. Here's why-the enemy likes to create division among Christ followers. And if guilt trips will do that then he'll send us packing however he can. Even through well meaning advice articles. 

Advice on parenting and marriage is best found in community, in person to person relationships where you give each other the freedom to share honestly, and offer help when needed. Without a close relationship where you really know each other, a lot of advice comes across as a checklist. And unchecked check lists are really good at creating a deep sense of guilt and shame.

Take it to the throne before you take it to the phone.

My sister shared this idea with me a long time ago. It was from a book she read where the author talked about taking our problems to God first, instead of picking up the phone to call a friend, our mom, or whoever else. This was written long before we all started carrying tiny computers in our purses. This advice is more spot on now than ever. How often do I take my problems to Pinterest or a Google search or a text to a friend, before I take them to God? That should be my first move.

So here's what I'm doing to help me avoid the comparison trap and bring my problems to God first:
  • I've cleaned up my Instagram feed and my Pinterest feed. I no longer follow some topics or people because I've noticed that they produce a lot of guilt and shame in me. 
  • I've prayerfully sought God about the difference between guilt and conviction. Guilt is a tool of the enemy, used to make me feel generally bad about something vague that I can't even identify. Conviction is the Holy Spirit revealing a specific thing that needs to change. If I can identify why a certain post or piece of advice makes me feel uncomfortable, then most likely it's because the Holy Spirit is poking at me to change something. If not, it's guilt and I'm not taking it.
  • And finally, I've taken time to foster life giving relationships where I can seek advice, and even more importantly, seek prayer when I need it. 
So Pinterest, I think you're awesome. I really do. I just want to use you mindfully and prayerfully, like any other piece of technology. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Half Pint Farms Weekly Garden Update - April 7

Spring has hit hard around here. And we can't hardly restrain our selves from planting all of the things.

However, our short growing season and cold nights have forced us to practice much self control when it comes to planting. 

Last year we tackled a garden expansion, adding a 10 by 20 plot to the four raised beds we already had. We were on a mission to grow lots and lots of food. It was challenging but it was also successful. So much so that I managed to put up over 55 pints of pickles and salsa, and 10 quarts of fermented sauerkraut and pickles. We also ended up with a freezer full of other goodies that we're slowly working through. 

It felt like such an operation that we affectionally dubbed ourselves Half Pint Farms. We are loving the results of our efforts at suburban gardening. We've got 1/7 of an acre, just a normal city lot. But we're on a mission to grow what we can where we are.

So naturally-we're going to do it all over again. 

Here's where we are this week:

We finally put the chickens away. We let all 12 of the hens have run of the yard all winter, but now that we're ready to get the garden going they've been moved back to their run. But they kept our weeds down, and so this spring we've hard virtually zero weeds to pull. We did however, have a fairly large amount of chicken poo to deal with. So that's a bummer. 

The garden is tilled up where it was needed (the chickens did that work for us as well) and soil amendments have been added. We typically use our own compost, but it's just not ready this time. Our local garbage place has some great soil builder that we add and turn in to the raised beds and the garden plots. 

Beets, lettuce, and carrots have all been seeded outside. 

I use garden stakes with twine and a yardstick to make sure the seeds are spaced evenly. And in a straight row. Zac goes in behind me and makes sure the drips are set up in the right places. 

 The herbs are planted and growing well, along with some zinnias we started from seed. 

Things are growing, but it's still pretty bare. We can't wait to watch those spots fill up!

And inside, we've started tomatoes, kale and broccoli. They're all growing well and loving the sunny window sill. It's still too early to put them outside, but we're on the way!

I'll be back every week, sharing what's growing and also sharing tips and tricks we're learning along the way. High Desert Gardening can be tricky, but it's not impossible! And I'd be thrilled to answer any questions you have as well :)

Happy Gardening this week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fight Clutter by Putting your House to Bed

We recently did a kitchen appliance update, leaving me with a very strong desire to keep the kitchen clean at all times. Admittedly, this is difficult as we tend toward messy and no matter how many dinners I cook, the kids still need more food. 

When we got the new appliances, the dishwasher arrived with a broken part. Thankfully, Kitchenaid is awesome and set us up with a service guy to fix it, unfortunately we had to wait almost 2 weeks for the new part. That meant two weeks of hand washing every single dish. It caused me to be a bit slack in my bedtime routine. Normally we're diligent and make sure everything is put away before we head to bed. But with hand washing we had a constant pile of dishes out on the counter. Interestingly enough, that pile caused more piles. Seeing disorder in one part of the house made me feel like allowing disorder in other parts of the house was okay. It's not. And I noticed that it created a higher level of stress for me than when the house is tidy at the end of the day.

The dishwasher is fixed now, and so we've gotten back on track with our household bedtime routine.

Here’s how we simply maintain and fight clutter, every day:

General House:
Sometime between dinner and before the kids go up to get themselves ready for bed we spend a few moments putting things away. Shoes, backpacks, homework, books, and whatever else came out during the day all gets put in their proper places.

The kids take turns doing the dinner dishes so most nights the kitchen is pretty tidy by the time they go to bed. While they’re getting pj’s on and brushing teeth I usually take about five minutes to put the kitchen to bed. Here’s a quick run down of what I do:
  • Load up any dirty dishes and start the dishwasher. 
  • Rinse the sink and wipe it down with vinegar solution, then dry it until it shines.
  • Spray the counters and wipe down.
  • Prep any breakfast things that need prepping.
  • Sweep if needed. (It usually does, I usually decide it’s clean enough to skip it.)
  • Wipe down and oil the kitchen table. We have a butcher block top for our table, so it usually needs a rub down with mineral oil. This typically takes all of one minute and leaves me with a clean surface for breakfast.
I do all of this while I make a cup of tea. By the time the tea is ready, the kitchen is in order.

Living Room:
  • Put all books/magazines/papers away, to their home or the recycle bin.
  • Straighten the couches. The joy of wood floors is that we can easily move things wherever we want. The bummer is that things often move without our wanting them too.
  • Fluff the toss pillows. I don’t know why, but when the pillows are straight and fluffy I feel like the whole room is clean.
  • Turn down lights.
Along the way I ask myself if I want to look at this mess the next day. My answer is usually no, and that motivates me to take a few minutes to deal with the clutter that builds up.

Your routine might look different, but we can all benefit from the fresh start that comes when we put everything in order the night before. A bedtime routine for your home will bring peace and order in the mornings, which are usually the most frantic times of the day.

Do you have a bedtime routine for your house? Share in the comments.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

what being an adult really looks like

Recently I’ve had these feelings come over me. I’m sure you know the ones. Overwhelmed. Over stitmulated. Just over. Over it all. 

Everything was too much. The kids were loud. The chores were piled up. Dinner was exploding on the kitchen counters. And someone had tracked chicken poo in the house. Again. It was in that moment, with sauces simmering, the oven groaning under the load of a heavy dutch oven, a child practicing her wazoogle, and another child complaining that she won’t like dinner, that I decided to go on strike. If I made a protest sign and paced the sidewalks in front of the house, surely they would get the picture and give this tired mom a break. Right? 

But most likely not. 

Moments like this, especially when they stretch longer than just momets, make me think that I need more breaks. I need time off. And it’s true, everyone needs a break. But I can’t really take my mothering hat off and cease being a mom. I can’t take grown up hat off and not be an adult either.

And that there is the whole problem. 

I’ve seen it on cute pictures when I scroll Facebook. I’ve seen it on t-shirts. Heck, I’ve even seen it on coffee mugs. Don’t make me adult today. I can’t adult. It creates this thing in me when I see this message pop up. It’s making me think I deserve some time for when I don’t have to be the responsible one, the grown up, the adult. 

This whole adulting thing is tricking us. At least it is me. It’s causing me to feel like I deserve to not adult. I deserve a break. I deserve time off from the hard life of being a grown up. But the truth is that I don’t. Not really. I signed up for this life when I decided to marry at 21 and start popping babies out at 24. I choose this when I signed my mortgage papers and then willingly took on all the bills that homeownership implies. I agreed to this when I choose the life of motherhood and grown up-ness.

I spent the last few weeks begging Zac for some time off. I kept thinking that if I just had an afternoon, an evening, a week (kidding about that, well-sort of) off I would be so much better at this whole grown up gig. And because Zac loves me, he tried his hardest to make it happen. But life threw us curveball after curveball, making it very hard to grab that time. I found myself praying about it, and not the righteous prayer of a fervent saint. It was more like the desperate, selfish prayer of an over-scheduled and burnt out mom. It went something along the lines of, give me this time off! I deserve it! I just can’t adult!

Admittedly, that wasn’t my finest moment. But just like God always does, he met me there in my selfish pity party. He reminded me if I was grown up about my schedule and how I planned my days I wouldn’t be in this desperate place to begin with. Because if I was mature and grown up and adult like about how I spent my time, I would have allowed time for breaks and time for margin. If I had that time, I wouldn’t be feeling so over everything and ready to hide under a blanket with a box of cookies. 

I needed to learn to be selflessly selfish. 

Allow me to explain. Demanding time off from adulting just because I deserve a break is selfish. But proactivly planning for margin allows space so that the requiremtns of being an adult don’t do me in. I was feeling like I needed a break exactly because I hadn’t been allowing myself a break. I had packed my life so full with plans and obligations and things, that I had no margin for rest and recovery. I had no room for things that fill me up and give me the fortitude to carry on doing this adutling thing. 

So naturally, I’ve been feeling like I can’t adult because I was worn out. I need to allow room for rest. It’s not selfish to plan my schedule so there’s time to do the things that fill me up. It is selfish to wear myself out to the point of burn out and then demand that my family adjust their entire weekend so I can have a day off. 

I don’t want to not adult. Because I am an adult. And I’m really happy about that. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

that book I never finished writing

Here's the bummer thing about diligence. It'll call to you to finish things you didn't really intend to finish. Or maybe, it's not that you didn't want to finish them, you just never got around to it. Like scheduling that annual lady parts exam. You know you need to do it, you just find yourself putting it off.

It hasn't been that I haven't wanted to finish that book. It was that it felt like having uncomfortable medical exams done more than anything else. I didn't really find myself excited to be working on something that felt like so much drudgery, and I reasoned that creating anything out of that obligation would result in a product that was dull and lifeless.

And then I set off to be diligent about things. I knew that this goal would eventually have me facing an impartial manuscript and I was okay with that. I was slowly getting prepared for that, even before the whole word about diligence came floating into my life. But it still felt like calling my OBGYN so I waited.

And then one morning it hit me, a surge of inspiration like I hadn't had in over a year. Unfortunately I was in the bathroom at the time, which led to a bit of scrambling to move and get somewhere where I could start recording the words as God dumped them at me from up above. But I got there and pounded out over 1000 like it was nothing and I knew that God had called me back.

So now I write. And yes, it's not always fun. I don't really know what he wants to do with this book, and I'm okay with that. I know that I have to just be diligent to finish step one and when it's right, God will lead me to step two.

It's kind of like Abraham. Poor ol' Abe, who God told to go, but didn't to tell him where he was going. But Abraham was trusting and he believed God. So he set off, trusting God to lead to the right place. (See Genesis 12 for the whole story) 

Sometimes the destination isn't as important as the lessons that God wants to teach us on the way.

So whether you're staring at a big unknown today, or you know you need to take a step of faith-let's just be like Abraham, okay? Let's just go. Following God is be a grand adventure. Sometimes adventures are scary. And so it is. But still we go. And always he meets us.


Interested in what that book is about? Read more here

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Slow Down Girl, Just Slow Down

“Our cultural impatience runs so rampant that we dress it up in terms like “productivity” and “efficiency.” But what’s really happening is we are conditioning ourselves to get what we want now, all the time. Such a mindset robs us of the lessons waiting can teach us, causing us to miss out on the slow but important stuff of life.” Jeff Goins

“We can do the work of God at a pace that destroys the work of God in us.” Mark Batterson

It happens to the best of us. And last week it happened to me. I typically pride myself on not being busy. And I think I've done a pretty good job over the last several years of ditching obligations that aren't needed and making my life a little slower and more intentional. I've shared it here, my efforts to be intentional and pursue slow. Most days this is easy.

But then there are other days, when I run out of room on my daily calendar to jot down all that needs to be done. Last week I had a string of those days, and while I try really hard to balance busy days with down days, I failed in a grand way last week. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't fun.

The irony of it was that I just received the book Breaking Busy. I picked it up, not because I thought I needed help in this area. I picked it up because I was hoping it would provide continued encouragement to stay off the hamster wheel.

We so easily take up obligations and jobs and duties that we just don't need to take on. I get it that sometimes life throws us things that just have to be done, like teacher meetings or work projects that stretch on and on. And there's even the fun things like coffee dates with friends. But all together they add up to busy, busy, busy.

I know the truth that we can be so busy saying yes to all the things, that we end up having to say no to the most important things.

So busy we don't have extra time to chat with a friend we run into at the grocery store. So busy we can't rest when are bodies are screaming for a nap. So busy that we fail to connect with loved ones.

I'm grateful that last week wasn't my normal. But I'm also grateful that last week was a painful reminder that I have only so much capacity for busy. Just like my phone that regularly bugs me when the memory is nearly full, or needs to be charged; my body will tell me when I'm full. For me, out of control emotions and an uncomfortable sensation in my ears signals me that I'm close to breakdown. (I have Meniere’s disease and stress and busy tend to bring out attacks of symptoms.) Your signals might be different. It's important to listen to them though, or we risk burn out.

By Saturday I knew that I was beyond myself. It showed up in the way I talked to my husband and in the way I responded to my kids. So today, I'm taking a quiet day to quit busy and embrace quiet. Maybe you need permission to do the same? Let me encourage you in this my friends, take time to rest and recharge. You need it. And the people around you need you to take this time. It's just going to make you a better you. And a better you is more effective, kinder, more gracious. I like that version of me best.
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