Three Good Things

You know what I hate? Waking up in the morning with a deep pit in my stomach, dreading the day ahead. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often. After I was diagnosed with cancer, I had some dark days. One of the things that helped me get through them was staring a gratitude journal. Every night before I went to bed, I would write down 5 things I was grateful for that day. Ending the day in such a positive way helped me to sleep, and my mornings were better.

In a similar vein, my pastor has been encouraging us to write down 3 blessings before we go to bed at night. He calls them “God’s fingerprints” on our lives. I just love that.

This week, I’ve had so many wonderful blessings, but I’m going to pick just three to tell you.

Swim team

1. Both Lily and Emmy are in a swim team this year. This is Lily’s second summer on swim team, and she loves it! Emmy was very resistant to being on swim team, but she has reached the end of swim lessons and swims like a fish. Also, Mommy really needs some time to herself! On Wednesday they had a swim meet, and my little reluctant swimmer came in first place in her age group for the 25 yard freestyle! This really gave her a boost of confidence about her swimming!

vegetables

2. Every Thursday during the summer, my church has been hosting a farmer’s market. I think I missed every single one last summer. It takes a little effort for me to go because our church is a 20 minute drive from our house. Today–I remembered to go! Lily and I have already devoured the peaches and grape tomatoes I bought.

3. Tonight, I took a shower. Maybe this little phrase will help you understand why this is a good thing: after the kids went to bed. There was no one barging into the bathroom demanding something to eat (like yesterday, even though they are perfectly capable of getting their own snacks) or yelling and arguing and shouting “MOMMY” (like what happened this morning when I was in the bathroom getting ready). Tonight, I took a peaceful and uninterrupted shower. Now that is a blessing!

What are three good things that happened to you this week? Link up your blog post here or tell us in the comments!



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How to Grow a Pollinator Garden

If there is a buzzword for gardening, the word of the summer is “pollinators.” Gardeners are becoming concerned about the health of bees, butterflies and other pollinators, and are incorporating plants into their gardens to help these important pollinators. Whether you love veggie gardens or flower gardens, pollinators are what keeps gardens growing!

So exactly who are the pollinators? We all know about bees, of course! Butterflies are excellent pollinators as well. But did you know that moths, beetles, flies, hummingbirds and bats are also pollinators? I never thought about these pollinators until I began to plant my own pollinator garden. I’ve even read that mosquitoes can be pollinators, and with all the rain we’ve been getting, there are plenty of them in my yard. I just fed a couple when I went outside to take some pictures for this post!

I’ve been learning that it takes time to build a pollinator garden. A couple of years ago, we had a large, old willow tree cut down in our backyard. I’ve been using this new sunny space to build our garden. One of the first things I did was visit the “native plant” section of my local nursery. Those plants that I used to see growing in ditches next to farm fields are now much easier to find and are not considered weeds anymore! Black-eyed Susans and purple cone flowers are now deliberately planted in flower gardens to provide a natural setting for our pollinator friends.

The beginnings of my garden in the spring, 2014
The beginnings of my garden in the spring of 2014

Last spring, my plants were very small and vulnerable. The rabbit that lives under our bushes loved eating the new, green shoots, especially the leaves of my English aster! I was worried that all that nibbling would kill my plants, but this spring most of them grew back bigger and stronger than ever.

I’ve been learning as I go along, and here’s what I’ve learned about growing a pollinator garden.

Use plants with a variety of colors and that bloom at different times of the growing season.

Different pollinators are drawn to different colors and scents, so a variety of plants will also draw a variety of pollinators. In early spring, my purple salvia bloomed profusely. Bumblebees love this flower!

bee on purple salvia
I took a picture of this buzzing bumblebee very carefully!

Now my orange butterfly weed is blooming, and it adds a nice pop to my garden. The purple cone flowers are just starting to bloom, but the English aster will bloom later this summer. When I first planted these flowers, I left plenty of room between them, and I’m glad I did! This year they are quite bushy and large.

butterfly weed
orange butterfly weed, one variety of milkweed

Remember the caterpillars!

Butterflies need places to lay eggs, and the caterpillars need leaves to eat. The butterfly weed pictured above is one kind of milkweed where monarch butterflies can lay their eggs.

Don’t use pesticides.

I’m also not going to use pesticides. Last summer, one of my plants was infested by white flies. All I did was spray the plant with a strong jet of water a few times, and the flies were eliminated. There are other friendly ways to take care of pests without removing the bugs you want to keep!

Have a source of water.

Right now, I have some natural water sources in my yard. The ground has been saturated during our wet and rainy June! I would like to get a birdbath for the hot summer months. The edges should be shallow and sloping for the pollinators to be able to get a drink without falling into the water.

Hummingbird attractors
Hummingbird attractors

To learn more about growing your own pollinator garden, Pollinator Partnership is a great resource. Some of my other City Mom friends are growing gardens with their eyes on pollinators. See how Natasha’s garden at Houseful Of Nicholes is growing food for her table. Katie is preparing for an abundance of zucchini from her garden, and has some great recipes at Three Little Birds and One Messy Nest!

Pollinator garden, summer of 2015
Pollinator garden, summer of 2015

I still have some work to do on my garden, but it’s coming along! Do you have a garden? What are you growing?

Field Mom Ambassador

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3 Good Things

Did you miss me yesterday?

After last week’s hectic yet wonderful Vacation Bible School mornings, I was decidedly lazy yesterday! But The Spin Cycle is still on for this week!

For the past couple of Sundays, our pastor has been encouraging us to list 3 blessings every day. Ed and Lily have been writing them down religiously 😉 . I, however, have not! What better place to write about my blessings than on my blog AND to use it as a Spin Cycle Prompt?

Just write 3 blessings!
Just write 3 blessings!

Share 3 good things that have happened to you this week OR you could even share 3 blessings for each day this week, Monday thru Friday. Just open your draft post every day and type in three things. By Friday, your blog post will be done!




 

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A 70’s Summer

When I was young, I still had my regular bedtime during the summer. That meant that I was in bed with the light streaming through the windows while I could hear my friends outside, still playing. Once I yelled out to them through my open window, but my mom, who used that time to garden, heard me. She immediately told me to get back in bed!

grandparents' house
Visiting my grandparents over the summer

We lived in a very small town of about 800 people. Our moms rarely arranged playdates for us; we just went to each other’s house and rang the doorbell. We had to stay on our side of the tracks, however. There was no class division about this rule; the tracks ran along the highway and it would have been too dangerous to cross the tracks by ourselves. One good friend lived out on a farm, so it was a special treat when her mom was in town and she rang our doorbell to play. But sometimes, it was just my sister and me, hanging out by the driveway because our mom had kicked us out of the house to play.

Some days it seemed so hot that we could see the heat radiating from the white, concrete driveway. We just couldn’t get up the energy to run around, and we would just sit there, pining for the popsicles we had just made that were still liquid in the freezer. On those hot summer barefoot days, the tar would bubble up from the blacktop roads and make black circles on the soles of our feet, which were impossible to scrub off in the bathtub.

Other days, we would ride our bikes to the park, which surrounded the water tower at the middle of town. It was always fun to ride around that circular road that circumvented the swings, merry-go-round, and teeter-totters. The teeter-totters were long and high at one end, and also very dangerous. I’m afraid I wasn’t very nice to my sister when I’d leave her hanging at the top and got off, letting her drop to the ground. She got me back a few time, and hitting the ground while sitting on a hard wooden seat hurts!

As the pastor’s family, farmers would bring us bushels of tomatoes, sweet corn and of course, zucchini. Mom would fry up bacon and we would have BLTs for dinner. I still love BLTs in the summer! As a kid, I hated corn on the cob. I just didn’t know how good I had it! I love BLTs and corn on the cob for a summer supper.

When we were allowed to stay up late, we would catch lightning bugs and put them in jars. My sister still chastises me when I call them fireflies. To us, they were always called lightning bugs!

What do you remember about summer?



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Summer Memories

Yesterday was the summer solstice; the first day of summer! This week for The Spin Cycle, I thought it would be fun to share some summer memories. What was summer like when you were little? Did you play outside all day until the street lights came on? Did you go with your family on a summer vacation? Did you have a favorite summer hang-out?

Slurpees on 7/11
Making summer memories

Write about a summer memory and link up here! I’ll share my summer memories on Friday.


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