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Gardening (or School-That-Is-Not-School)

IMG_20150604_112153023Part of the Littles’ school-that-is-not-school around the farm is helping out with the gardens–both flower and vegetable.  It provides good opportunities for science lessons in botany and entomology as well as training them to be self-sufficient for the zombie apocalypse.  (Kidding.  They’re convinced it’s coming, though, and I want them to grow up with all the knowledge I can give them for taking care of themselves.  So if I have to use the zombie apocalypse to keep them interested, well…Let’s just say I’m not above it.)

IMG_20150604_112426400The cool thing about yesterday’s work was that we were placing rocks.  Two sections of my flower garden are rock gardens, so we have been placing creek rock in them all spring.  The Littles help me collect the rocks then help me place them.  It’s a IMG_20150604_113119688great spatial activity because you have to figure out what rock will go where without backing yourself into a place where you can’t fit any more rocks.  It. Is. Hard.  Or at least it’s harder than you’d think it’d be.  So it’s nice when Middle spots a rock that will fit perfectly into my puzzle or Littlest points out that I’ve made a space where no rock will fit.  It is also very cool when Littlest says, “Oh!  Sandstone!  This is sandstone, Mom!” and Middle says, “Hey, Mom, look!  This one has a fossil!”  Gotta love those openings to teach.IMG_20150604_113102876-1

Gardening is one of my true joys in life.  I hope that the Littles are learning a bit of that love through working with me.  As they learn about the different plants–what each needs to thrive, how to care for them so they continue to bloom, what insects they attract, and even which ones to plant where–that free lesson is going to stick with them any time we actually study botany in the classroom.  And there’s no pressure.

Plus, gardening provides us the opportunity to just hang out together, talk about nothing and everything, and remember IMG_20150604_113127757we’re just a family, not always a teacher and students.  It’s almost as good as fishing.  Not quite, but close.  It gives me a chance to notice how much they’ve grown, how strong they are getting, and just how smart and funny my boys really are.  They floor me.  They truly do.

Middle tried to hide behind my Winnie-the-Pooh tree here so I couldn’t take his picture.  But I’m fast. You can’t see it, but the whole in the bottom of the stump contains a hunny jar with a Pooh Bear in it.  It’s pretty cute.  I got the idea from Family Crafts.  They suggested it for party favors, but I had this perfect tree stump with a hollow in the bottom, so I found a small Pooh Bear to fit in the top of the jar and placed him there.  He seems happy.

I moved the fairy garden this year to incorporate it into my bigger garden.  Here are a few pics even though we haven’t added the mulch in yet:

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Finally, the Littles are learning that hard work and dedication pay off.  It’s an important lesson for littles to learn.  Especially in this era when they are provided so many opportunities to just sit on their butts and stare at a screen.  I never garden without my boys, even though weeding causes grumbles.  Because when we’re done, we all get to enjoy this….

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Payoff.

Love wins,

KT

The Joy of Boys

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My amazing, hilarious, talented best friend is not only a kick-butt sales director for 31 Gifts, but also a crafty little bugger who turns out awesome signs like the two above.  When she sent me this pic, I fell completely in love.  Having raised only boys, I know just how super-heroic they can be.  (Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when I desperately wanted a girl.  As time has passed I’ve realized I am blessed to have been surrounded by all these boys. Plus, said friend has a girl who is gorgeous in every way, so I get to live vicariously.  Without worrying about the teenage years.)

What’s so superhero-like about my boys?

I talked all about Big last week, so if you don’t already know his superhero qualities, you can read about him here.

Middle is a keenly intelligent kid with a strong sense of compassion.  Though only 12, he has a way of looking at the world that is kind and respectful while maintaining an innate curiosity.  He’s the guy who would figure out how to save Everyone on the collapsing bridge rather than focusing on the people who might be considered ‘important.’  Money wouldn’t sway his moral compass, power wouldn’t touch it, fame wouldn’t faze it.  He is a natural leader who likes to think things through but is capable of making quick decisions that seldom turn out to be wrong.

Littlest is a joyful, fun-loving guy who loves deeply and lives loudly.  He’s the flashier guy who is flying around the bridge saving all the pretty girls first but making sure to leave time for the babies and other folks.  And maybe relying a little on his older brother to bring the whole plan to fruition, but he’s a heck of a team player.  He has a lot of leadership qualities as well, but they stay mostly dormant while he’s still under his brother’s shadow.  He doesn’t mind.  He really is that guy who shrugs it off, goes with the flow, and just makes sure the endgame is accomplished.  With a lot of fanfare.  And fireworks.  And maybe an explosion or two.  And definitely an Eminem song playing in the background.  Full blast.

Here’s the thing.  Though my little superheroes may have a bit of trouble with the whole ‘cleans his room’ thing, they do keep it in a semblance of order.  They all share without even having to think about it.  They use kind words.  Most of the time.  Because they Are brothers, after all.  Smiling and giggling is their strong suit.  You can’t survive in this house without a rollicking sense of humor.  They run, jump, and climb more than I’d like.  They put family before all else because that is the way they’ve been shown.  They dream.  Great big, wonderful, fantastic dreams that I encourage with all my soul, even if, as a grown-up, I think they might be impossible.  I never tell them.  What kind of Nick Fury would I be if I squashed their dreams?

Now, if only I could do something about all the bodily function jokes, I would be a happy mama.

IMG_20150528_105742107What makes a boy a superhero?  Knowing who he is and where he comes from.  What he loves and what he shouldn’t tolerate.  How to treat others and how to be strong.  And laughter.  Definitely shining eyes and shaking bellies and great, rolling belts of laughter.

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What about you?  What makes your boys superheroes?  Better yet, what kind of superhero is your girl?

.Love wins,

KT

Lessons from Spongebob

Everybody knows I’m not a huge fan of television.  It is mostly mindless drivel, and I only watch it when I’m sick or well… when it’s Sunday night and The Walking Dead is on.  Because who can miss their weekly dose of Daryl?

Anyway (forcing myself back to the point)… Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of a lot of screen time for littles.  I’m not one of those, “OMG, YOU LET YOUR KIDS WATCH TV?!” moms, because, well, most kids these days consider that child abuse.  I just try to gently lead the Littles away from the tube and on to more productive activities.  Mainly because I Cannot Stand the incessant noise.

Enter Spongebob and his supremely annoying voice.

I thought, a year ago, that I hated Spongebob and all his friends.  The laugh, the voice, the Stupidity.

But then I started listening.  And enjoying.  And realizing that Spongebob is Funny.  And sometimes there are lessons in that show that are downright Surprising.

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My favorite Spongebob episode involves a box.  In fact, the episode is called The Idiot Box.  The idiot box is, of course, a plain cardboard box that Patrick and Spongebob put to excellent use.  The box comes with a television in it, but that wily sponge and his starfish sidekick throw the TV away and jump straight into the box.  Squidward, the classic grown-up-next-door, asks why they threw the TV away, and Spongebob happily explains that he and Patrick don’t need the television, they  are going to use their imagination to play with the box.  My favorite part is the way he says Imagination like it is the greatest thing in the known universe.  Because it is.

Spongebob and Patrick go on to climb mountains, have police run-ins, ride helicopters.  Squidward, hearing whirring blades, avalanches, and sirens,  repeatedly opens the box to find the friends just sitting in the bottom of it.  He doesn’t get it; even when he gets a box of his own, nothing happens.  He sees nothing, hears nothing.  Spongebob and Patrick, however, are having one thrilling adventure after another.

How can I hate my kids watching a TV show that blatantly tells them it is infinitely more fun to use their imaginations than to be sitting there watching said show?  Without fail, they turn the TV off after that episode and go find something imaginative to do.

Amazingly, there are other lessons to be learned from the Spongebob cartoons.  Spongebob’s constant quest for his boating license teaches kids how important it is to learn to drive carefully, know traffic laws, and take the whole process seriously.  The episode in which Patrick bonds with Grandma Squarepants teaches littles how (not) to handle feelings of jealousy.  The episode in which Spongebob becomes a stand-up comedian and uses his squirrel friend, Sandy, as the butt of all his jokes teaches why we shouldn’t spread racist humor.  The show is filled with lessons about friendship, work ethic, and staying optimistic under any circumstances.

Who knew?

One more thing I bet you didn’t know.  The creator of Spongebob Squarepants is a marine biologist.  Um… What?  That is pretty cool.

It feels weird for the Lit Mama to be recommending anything TV for your children.  But I do like being surprised, and Spongebob surprises me with its hidden depth and wit, and if you have to let your kids watch a little television so they don’t call Child Protective Services on you, you may as well let them watch Spongebob.

Love wins,

KT

The Blessings of Motherhood

Today is Big’s birthday.  He is 22 years old.  I keep having to repeat that to myself.  My joyful, curious, take-on-the-world-with-his-sense-of-humor little man is a big man now.

lunnqBirthdays always make me ruminate on this whole motherhood thing.  With Big, I have been telling people since he was a toddler that I can’t take any credit for how sweet he is or how smart he is–he was born that way.  It is who he is.  Now I also tell people that I can’t take too much credit for his loyalty to his friends, his work ethic, his refusal to be one of those 20-somethings who cares about nothing but partying.  It is who he is.

He visits his mama and dad and brothers weekly, sometimes several times.  He has 9 years on his next brother, but you wouldn’t know it when they’re together.   He is attentive and interested; he even plays their imagination games with them still, breaking out the Nerf guns, the Nerf swords, or other paraphernalia.  The Littles never feel that Big doesn’t have time for them.  Even though he’s out on his own, occupied by the love of his life, finishing up college and working hard, he always makes times for his brothers.  After all, he did beg me for 9 years to give him one (sorry it took so long, buddy.  I had to find you guys a good dad first).

I can’t take credit for the brother he is.  He is just that guy.

When Martin needs help around the farm or a partner-in-crime for a trip to get building materials or even just car parts, Big is always the first person he calls.  When Martin first came into our lives, I was a little jealous of their relationship.  Big and I had been all we had for so many years that even though I fell in love with Martin partly because of the way he treated Big, I lost a little bit to him.  Because Big had been craving a strong man to admire all his life and now he had one.  He didn’t need his mama in quite the same way.  I’ll never forget the moment I knew I was going to marry Martin.  We were standing on the front porch of my house and Big had just said something really sweet before scampering back inside.  Martin looked at me.  “How could anyone ever leave a kid like that?” He said of my ex-husband.  “He has so much love to give.”

I can’t take credit for that.  Big was born with his big heart.

So I found Big a daddy and gave him brothers and watched him grow into the most amazing young man I have ever known.  I have watched him fall passionately in love with a girl I would have handpicked for him if he hadn’t found her himself.  I listened while he made the decision to become a teacher, and I knew it was a perfect job for such a compassionate person with so much love to give.

And I can’t take credit for that.  In fact, I don’t want to.  I have always said I am blessed to know him, let alone be his mother.  After 22 years, he still makes me the luckiest woman in the world.  I am still as in awe of him as I was when he spoke his first sentence at 15 months.  (It was, “Car-co, get down!”  The cat’s name was Scarlett but he couldn’t quite get those syllables out.  He did, however, know she wasn’t supposed to be up there.)

So Happy Birthday, Big.  Thank you for making this motherhood thing easy.  Thank you for being you.  I love you.

My friends, being the mother of a grown child is different from having littles.  It has a whole new set of instructions.  You have to choose when to offer advice and when to let your child work things out for himself.  You have to be careful not to inhibit him while worrying always about his safety because he is away from your eyes and out of your control.  You have to Trust. Trust that you did things right and he will live his life in a way that makes him happy and causes minimal heartache.  You have to stay out of his relationships, because he doesn’t need you nagging him, but you have to be there for him if he needs your input.  And trust me when I say, sometimes that is such a fine line I don’t have any idea where to put my feet.  But it is just as joyous as having littles, getting to see the outcome of all your hard work.

I look forward to his future more than I ever have.  I hope your experience is as wonderful, rewarding, amazing, fun, incredible, and awe-inspiring  as mine has been.  And your weekend is sunny. 🙂

Love wins,

KT