autumn days

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

garden evolution

My garden is constantly evolving, as am I.  Life is never stagnant or boring around here.  And I've never met a boring garden in my whole life.  A few months ago, I requested two loads of leaves from the city.  It took me three weeks and many babysitting hours just to move this enormous pile from my driveway to my backyard steps.  And now I am spending hours (and building muscles) putting the leaves in and around my garden boxes.  What a gardening adventure this has been!  I've pulled buckets of tiny weeds to add to my compost tea bin (garbage can full of weeds and water) that will later water our new crop.  I've also been out with the kids to root some blueberry and grape clippings.

Indoors on these colder wet days, I have been plotting my gardening tactics, making charts, checking seed inventory, and making a wish list of seeds.  (I'll ask friends if they want to trade seeds before I hit the store for new seeds.)  I'm reading more about indoor gardening, though I doubt my sunniest window gets enough sun to grow most edibles.  I dream of making teepees of pole beans, squash, peas, and cucumbers for my children (more great ideas in Sharon Lovejoy's Roots, Shoots, Bucket, and Boots and Sunflower Houses).  But where have I left space for potatoes?  Last year I attended an awesome gardening workshop with Growing Gardens.  The class gave me step-by-step directions on how to plan and plant my plot.  This year I am thrilled to be a volunteer for Growing Gardens (and for Portland Fruit Tree Project with the kids).  I also look forward to taking more of their classes.

In the meantime, I will continue filling in my gardening grids with names of delicious vegetables and fruits. I plan and hope for an abundance of edibles to fill my pantry and to share with friends, neighbors, and the Portland Fruit Tree Project.  I enjoy these last weeks of winter, looking forward to the growing season ahead, whiling away the time indoors and out with my children in anticipation of a glimmer of sun and vegetable sprouts.

last October's garden

garden plot before leaves in November

half the leaves in their new homes in February

Monday, February 20, 2012

banana boppin' dance fest

Do you ever hear music with a great beat and want to bob your head?  Perhaps while you're eating your breakfast banana?  Well, my kids seem to do this almost every meal their Papa is around to crank up the bumpin' music.  I am one to turn on quiet music or sing-along music or some irregular rhythmed Ani DiFranco. My husband, however, can pick just the right song to get my kids' heads a-bopping.  And then those that aren't strapped into a child seat start dancing and flailing and bebopping and boogie-ing all crazy around on the kitchen floor.  One of us is bound to throw in some break dancing moves sometime soon.  Pretty awesome.  What good exercise, for the heart and soul and neck muscles.  With thinking about this funky ritual we have in our home, I've wondered what little routines happen in other homes.  Do my neighbors boogie around their kitchens with bananas too?  What are some little traditions you love sharing with your family?

5 month old Hannah dancing in her crib

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

volunteering with children

Growing up as a volunteer and hearing of my parents' many volunteer projects, my mind has been on volunteering for the last six months.  It took that long for me to find a way to volunteer with these two young children that are always at my side (when not on my lap).

This afternoon, with a toddler strapped to my back and a talkative preschooler at my side, we tried our hand at volunteering.  Once we got to the right building, we talked and listened and sorted and counted and helped fill hundreds of grafting kits for Portland Fruit Tree Project.  This local organization helps with all things tree related, gleans unwanted fruits from trees, and shares half their produce with the Oregon Food Bank.  While there, both kids and I had a grand time.  Hannah counted out endless tree ties and q-tips for kits while Liam socialized and played with film canisters.  We met some nice new people, practiced our math skills, ate some delicious chili cherry chocolate, and helped an extraordinary organization.

It is so invigorating to finally get out to volunteer when I've been looking forward to it for so long.  For us, volunteering has moved from a possibility to a reality.  The next step will be to find more organizations that will appreciate the hands of small children.  Once we get the hang of volunteering, we will invite friends to join us.  The inspirations and possibilities are endless.  I'd love to hear about how you volunteer with small children in your community, dear reader.

Volunteer Opportunities for Children:
Portland Fruit Tree Project
Oregon Food Bank
Children's Book Bank: donating and organizing books
SOLV tree planting: bring kid gloves, some locations safe for smaller children
Meals on Wheels: making place mats or art to be delivered with meals
Growing Gardens: children at our sides while volunteering
Retirement homes: share time, crafts, art