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It will forever be known as the Great Shrubaggedon of 2012. It will go down in infamy and my family will all recount where they were the day two of our lush, vibrant burning bushes lost their luster and turned a bedimmed burnished color. I was beside myself, thinking my notorious brown thumb had claimed yet another victim. Hippie Husband and I wracked our brains. We weighed our options. One evening, he turns to me and nonchalantly says, “hey, I think it’s spider mites.” And then the googling began. Furiously, I typed and searched images. There it was, the answer to our flora whoas.

The tiny answer we were looking for.

The tiny answer we were looking for.

I soaked up the information and learned that spider mites (Family: Tetranychidae) are classed as a type of arachnid, relatives of insects that also includes spiders, ticks, daddy-longlegs and scorpions. Spider mites are small and often difficult to see with the unaided eye. Their colors range from red and brown to yellow and green, depending on the species of spider mite and seasonal changes in their appearance.

Many spider mites produce webbing, particularly when they occur in high populations. This webbing gives the mites and their eggs some protection from natural enemies and environmental fluctuations. Webbing produced by spiders, as well as fluff produced by cottonwoods, often is confused with the webbing of spider mites. Upon further inspection, there was indeed small strands of webbing all throughout our affected bushes.

Interestingly, most spider mite activity peaks during the warmer months. the outbreak occurred over a blazingly hot August week here in Ohio. The mites can develop rapidly during this time, becoming full-grown in as little as a week after eggs hatch.

This is an up close picture of the damage caused by the mites.

This is an up close picture of the damage caused by the mites.

After mating, mature females may produce a dozen eggs daily for a couple of weeks. The fast development rate and high egg production can lead to extremely rapid increases in mite populations. When I say it happens fast, I mean it. It took precious little time for the shrubs to start showing their plight.

One thing that allowed the mite’s population to take over was that we rarely water our landscaping. We prefer to conserve water whenever possible, however adequate watering of plants during dry conditions can limit the importance of drought stress on spider mite outbreaks. Periodic hosing of plants with a forceful jet of water can physically remove and kill many mites, as well as remove the dust that collects on foliage and interferes with mite predators. Disruption of the webbing also may delay egg laying until new webbing is produced. Sometimes, small changes where mite-susceptible plants are located or how they are watered can greatly influence their susceptibility to spider mite damage. Ooops. At least we know better this year.

Healthy leaf vs damaged leaf.

Healthy leaf vs damaged leaf.

Spider mites feed with long, needle-like mouthparts that are inserted into plant cells. Contents of the individual cells are extracted resulting in decreased chlorophyll content in the leaves with many small white or yellow dots called, “stippling.” Chlorophyll is essential to plants because it is the substance in the cellsthat converts sunlight into energy for the plant. When it is removed, the plant literally starves. In addition, the mites absorb the excess water in the cells as well, causing a drought- like conditions where the leaves will droop and in severe cases, like ours, begin to fall off.

After our initial diagnosis the next step was to research our treatment options. Pesticides are a no-go at our hippie homestead. I was on a mission to find holistic options to rid my bushes of their infestation. I wanted something that would be safe AND effective. I came across an answer that was even better. Not only was it safe, it was seriously inexpensive. What I needed was some dish soap, a spray bottle and water. Lucky for me I save my spray bottles to reuse them for things all over the house and garden.

Soaps have been used to control insects for more than 200 years. Recently, there has been increased interest in and use of these products. This change is due to a better understanding of how to use soaps most effectively and a desire to try insecticides that are easier and safer to use than many currently available alternatives.

How soaps and detergents kill insects is still poorly understood. In most cases, control results from disruption of the cell membranes of the insect. Soaps and detergents may also remove the protective waxes that cover the insect, causing death through excess loss of water.

The amounts I used were 2-3 teaspoons of water to a spray bottle of water. Make sure to add the soap to the water and not vice versa, I learned this lesson the hard way. I applied the mixture liberally to the affected area of the two bushes and over sprayed to cover some of the healthy growth, hindering the spread of the mites now that I had them on the run. Apply the solution in the early morning or evening. During these times it will take it longer to dry and the remedy is most effective while wet.

The soap solution has to directly reach the mites to kill them, so I sprayed both the top and underside of the leaves and as much of the branches as I could. I also noticed some webbing at the base of the plants, so those were doused with the mixture as well. I did this over the course of three weeks, spraying every four mornings or so.

The plants never regenerated, but they also didn’t get any worse. Nor did the infestation and damage spread to any other shrubs in flowerbed. I wouldn’t know the extent of the damage until next spring and waiting through the fall and winter was pretty intense. With the first buds of spring, which couldn’t come fast enough, however, my mind was put at ease. At the end of April, the leaves of my bushes finally emerged into their full, green, lush glory.

This shows the extent of the damage- photo was taken in the evening so please excuse the poor lighting.

This shows the extent of the damage- photo was taken in the evening so please excuse the poor lighting.

Healthy, full burning bushes.

Healthy, full burning bushes.

So what did I learn over the past nine months?

  • Spider mites infestations can happen quickly especially if conditions are right. Prolonged heat, drought, or not watering plants.
  • Spider mites drain plants of essentials such as water and chlorophyll, causing, “stippling,” brown, yellow, gold leaves that are dry and eventually fall off.
  • The signs of mites are webbing around the leaves, stems, and branches, small bumps on leaves, “stippling.”
  • Mites can be controlled by watering the plant and hitting the leaves with jets of water to knock eggs and mites off the plant.
  • If an infestation occurs a solution of 2-3 teaspoons of dish soap to a full spray bottle of water applied every four to five days over the course of a few weeks will eliminate the infestation.

I hate that I had to learn this lesson, but I am confident that in the future I will be more prepared when our plants are under siege by a tiny army of plant cell sucking miscreants.

Happy, healthy spring,

Lauryn

Embracing Change

I am so ashamed of my lack of writing lately- and when I say lately, I mean, over the past few months. MONTHS! This is by far the longest I have gone without penning, or typing something. No poetry, no prose, no additional chapters to my novel, no blogs, no substantial writing of any kind. Nada. The guilt is overwhelming. Writing is my first love and I feel like I am forsaking a little piece of myself every time I close my laptop without putting some thoughts on the digital paper.

My life, since October, has been a whirwind of change. I don’t like change, by the way. I was very comfortable with my routine and schedule. In October, though, I became a working mom. Not just any job, a night job. Graveyard shift. For a long time I wondered if I could do it. Could I maintain my higher-than-normal expectations of all things domestic and parent related? How in Sam Hill was I going to be able to balance my work life, get to the school three times a day, keep the household up and running, care for the pets, run errands, and still find time to sleep? It’s been more than four months now and I’m not really certain how I pull it all together. I just do. I’m not saying it’s been easy, or that my house is spotless by 10am like it once was, but things are falling into place quite nicely.

I am fairly well adjusted to the new schedule and while finding time to sleep is still a little tricky, I’m not fighting my urges to nap anymore. It took a long time to reconcile the fact I HAVE to sleep during the day and that I wasn’t being lazy. Naps are no longer considered a waste of time, they are a necessity. I’m finally okay with that.

On the topic of change, some other things have changed for our family since I went to work. Namely, our financial situation. It’s a good change, but it hasn’t changed us or the way we run things around here. I am still frugal to a fault and prefer to live with simple pleasures. Hippie Husband makes enough to cover our bills, my pay covers the new car we purchased just weeks before taking the job with enough left over that compared to our previous situation I feel like Ivanka Trump! Comparatively.

I’m sure I have said it before, but we live completely debt free. No credit cards or personal loans. We don’t rent-to-own anything, despite the temptation. If we can’t pay for something, we don’t buy it. Simple as that. We have learned to feel blessed and thankful for all the little things and be pleased with what we do have, rather than get caught up in consumerism and the need to have more and better.

Our extra income is something that has afforded us the pleasure of comfort. It has taken away so much anxiety and worry. We spent so many years not knowing how bills would be paid or how we would afford the next meal. And we haven’t forgotten how that feels. Those struggles have groomed us into adults that make good money decisions.

In spite of all my sleeplessness and walking this tightrope of work and family, it’s all working out. My time with my family is even more precious now that I lose evenings to naps and work. I still consider myself  a stay at home mom, I just work when they sleep now. I’ve learned that change is part of living and growing. Struggle can and will be rewarding. I’m grateful to those who have supported and encouraged me through this adjustment. I’m still guilty from time to time about my lack of motivation to write, but it will come; it always does. I’m still the simple, crunchy hippie I always was, just a little busier- but I don’t think I would change this for the world.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Alan watts

 

Lauryn

Low Carb! Say What?

For real. I wasn’t so stoked about this new life change. I wasn’t at first. Oh, lawd no. In fact, I was overwhelmed, frustrated and just plain cynical. Sure, I had done some light reading to brush up on the basic philosophies and I was slightly encouraged by friends and relatives who had embraced this way of life with great results, but me? Low carb? Aw, naw. My diet consist of potatoes, pasta, bread and rice. How can I ever give those things up? Plus, you know, I’m not in need of losing any significant weight.

 

It was hippie husband who brought up the idea of starting a low carb diet, just over a week ago. We had toyed with the idea in the past, but again, it just felt overwhelming. This time though, he was adamant. We were doing this and being the supportive and encouraging wife I am, dove in head first with him. We officially began our low carb journey just four days ago on November 13, 2012. Our first meals consisted mainly of our normal meat dishes with a side salad, completely omitting the typical sides of pasta, potatoes or rice. For four days we have done it this way, but we both know we can’t sustain a diet when the options are so limited. And I can only eat so much salad.

 

This drew my attention to blogs, forums, groups and the advice of a dear friend who offered support, ideas and encouragement. Sure, we are less than a week in, but I am an eternal planner. I’m in this for the long haul. I need options. I need alternatives. I have found those and much, much more.

 

For me, I’ve never had to diet. I actually recoil at the sound of the word. Diet. As if it is mocking me. Telling me I’m not good enough the way I am. Low carb, I’m learning, isn’t all about limitations it’s about making smarter decisions and awareness. I need to be more aware of what I put into my body. I’ve had a high metabolism my entire life, but my luck could run out as I reach thirty. Making informed decisions now will help me maintain the weight I am at and the added bonus of feeling happy and healthy is a peace of mind I can’t get at the bottom of a chip bag or, in my case, a heaping plate full of potato skins.

 

Shopping has become an adventure as well. Like a scavenger hunt, I check labels for carbohydrate counts and dream up creative solutions for snacking. There are so many tasty things I can still indulge in without knocking my carb intake into deep space. Some things, like oven baked almonds (for me it’s mint dark chocolate) are very low in carbs but high in nutrition and flavor. Once a splurge, honey roasted peanuts have become a staple for snacking. When I subtract the amount of money I would have once spent on chips and other munchies, they aren’t that splurgetastic as they once were, either.

 

Nothing like homemade low carb munchies 🙂

 

One of my all time favorite snacks, pita chips, are ridiculously easy to make at home. I picked up some low carb pitas today, cut them up, sprayed them with olive oil and seasoned with course sea salt and baked them in the oven at 275 degrees for a delightful, healthy snack.

 

The added bonus to finding low carb pita bread was learning that spinach dip has no carbs!! SCORE.

 

Tonight’s dinner is based on a suggestion by my husband. Chicken, bacon, ranch wraps. Mmmmm. He’s promised to help in the kitchen too, which makes me hugely excited! This experience is making for some great kitchen whitchery with my partner in low carb crime 🙂

 

So, what is the moral to this story? There are a few, actually.

1) Don’t be afraid to try something new, especially if it is healthy.

2) Find a great support system. Whether it is a forum or a friend, support and encouragement will eliminate the overwhelming feeling of a substantial life change.

3) Low Carb isn’t all about limitations or sacrifices, it’s about awareness and substitutions. Find options and get creative.

4) Have fun!! Laugh at your trials (like our first night when we had meatball subs sans the sub buns).

 

 

If you are curious about some resources here are some great ones:

My low carb muse, Leeann, has an awesome blog all about baking! You can check her out here:

http://lowcarbsugarfreelife.blogspot.com/

Some of her suggestions for great resources can be found below.

Livin’ la Vida Low Carb

http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/

Healthy Indulgences

http://healthyindulgences.net/

Maria’s Nutritious and Delicious Journal

http://mariahealth.blogspot.com/

 

 

Wishing you all happy and  healthy holidays!!

Lauryn

Add some ground cayenne pepper to soups and stews. It helps the body release toxins.

Sniffles, coughing, sneezing and general sickliness is par for the course this time of the year in Ohio. Between kids going back to school, the weather changing from warm to brisk, and the shortening amounts of daylight, it’s no wonder Fall is rampant with sinus issues, allergies, and colds. It seems like everyone has something and if you don’t yet you soon will fall prey to this season’s avalanche of health concerns.

But, what is there to be done? Certainly you can load yourself up with over the counter pharmaceuticals at the first itch in your throat. But what if you pursue a more natural approach to healing? What if you, like thousands of others, believe in holistic prevention? Our bodies were designed to combat dis-ease. They were meant to come into contact with dis-ease and fight off the infection naturally, thus boosting the immune system and providing the body with a lifetime of antibodies; something that vaccination and medication cannot ever do.

With the threat of H1N1 (erroneously termed ‘swine flu) people are in full panic mode. But the simple truth is that there are some very simple and natural steps a person can take to prevent the onset of any dis-ease, from the common cold, to yes, even the dreaded Swine Flu. These easy steps boost your immune system, giving it a jump start on prevention, without the side effects of medications or vaccines.

What are the measures that can be taken to counter becoming ill?

1. Eat a balanced diet

2. Stay hydrated

3. Be active

4. Practice good hygiene

5. Get a good night’s sleep

6. Don’t stress

7. Be positive

I know the steps read like a common sense guide to being happy and healthy, but really, that’s exactly what they are. Not only are you treating your health, holistically (all encompassing) but you are doing from the inside out. Our bodies are awesome machines, but when we neglect certain gears in our machines, it affects the whole thing.

By eating a well balanced diet we make certain our bodies get the nutrients they need to function at their very best. Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins sugars and lipids are all necessary beginning at a cellular level. If we ignore these needs or if we over indulge we risk off setting the delicate balance and doing more harm than good.

Our bodies are more than 80% water. Having said that, it is critical the body stay hydrated. In a day we lose more fluids than we may think. Thus it makes sense that we have to refuel with that liquid gold, water, every now and then. The general consensus is eight glasses of water per day however, we can supplement by eating fruits and drinking other fluids that have a water base.

It’s no secret that activity is better than a sedentary lifestyle. It gets us moving, gets the blood flowing and just plain feels better than being parked on our derrières for hours on end. Get up and move every 30 minutes. Even with a desk job just get up and walk for a minute or two, it will do you good. Get active with a group, learn to dance, chase the kids or play fetch with the dog!! There is no excuse for obesity (aside from a medical condition) in this world, it compromises the immune system and makes you feel terrible, inside and out.

I can’t say enough about practicing good hygiene. The number one cause for the eradication of dis-eases is the better living conditions we have today. Keeping yourself and your home clean and fresh is a great way to stave off infection and dis-ease. Hand washing is imperative, but too much can actually be counter-intuitive. We do have a plethora of good bacteria on our bodies that help with protecting it from illness as well.

We all need it and most of us, sadly, do not get enough of it. No, not sex: sleep. 24 hours in a day is barely enough to get everything done and when the days become shorter it seems like we get less done. Busy minds, babies crying, dogs barking, neighbors mowing the lawn at what seems like the crack of dawn, are all things that hinder our restfulness. To combat such interruptions, a person needs to get on a schedule and stick with it. We are, after all, creatures of habit. So go to bed at the same time every night and awaken at the same time every day. Eight hours of sleep is recommended for adults, but anything from six to nine hours is sufficient.

The last two things that will help keep a person healthy and happy are often over looked. People feel overwhelmed and stressed more than not. But this does nothing to help the immune system, in fact, when frustrated, depressed, anxious and upset our physical bodies actually begin to mirror our emotional health. Joy, laughter, love and compassion make us feel healthier and feeling good is the first step to BEING healthier.

Healers often talk about the power of a positive attitude. A person who is ill and very cynical takes almost twice as long to heal than one who is optimistic!! So smile!! Laugh!! Get some hugs from loved ones. It’s medicine for the soul.

These are simple steps to implement into your daily life, steps that will help you to feel better and BE healthier too. In addition to being as easy as a smile, they are also inexpensive which is a bonus if finances cause you some stress. Dis-eases are everywhere, but they are avoidable because prevention is key. And if by chance you do fall ill, eat some soup, stay hydrated and ride it out, because in the end you have built up a lifetime supply of antibodies for that particular dis-ease and that is what holistic health is all about.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy autumn,

Lauryn

Do I have an entry for you today? Oh yes, hippie family, I certainly do. It’s a doozy too, especially if you like to simplify your life and not compromise your more natural lifestyle. Are you all a- tingle yet? You should be.

When I was little my mom used to make scrambled eggs in the microwave (WHAT? Oh yes.) It wasn’t until I went on to a sleepover at the age of seven that I even knew you could make them on the stove! My child’s mind was blown. Anyway, to this day, I still prefer scrambled eggs in the microwave. And I know, microwaves aren’t super healthy, blah, blah, blah. I know, I’m a work in progress and I haven’t yet achieved Mystical Pioneer Level 10 yet. Now, back to the eggs. Clean up is a bitch. Well, it used to be. Somehow no matter what I do the eggs get baked on to the dish I use. I even tried cooking spray (blehh). I would soak the dish, throw it in the dishwasher asap (which usually meant scheduling dishwasher time around cooking, which seems silly) and STILL the egg residue would be there taunting me! UGH.

Then, out of nowhere the other day inspiration struck me as I stared at the yellow caked on cement. I reached up to my cupboard and

You see that? That mess of yellow cement that used to plague my existence? Not any more, tee-hee 🙂

grabbed some salt. SALT! Why did I never think of this before? Nine years of cooking for a family and it hit me just like that. I poured some salt in the dish, and started scrubbing away with a wet scrubby. No elbow grease. No profanity yelled at the dish. The egg residue was GONE in the blink of an eye. I could have scrubbed with just my fingers and some salt too. That’s how easy it was. HALLELUIAH! I was sure I saw the clouds part and heard a choir of angels sing praises.

The first time I did this was right after I had cooked and eaten. The picture above shows a bowl that was sitting in my sink overnight after a late night craving for a homemade McGriddle that I was too lazy to wash at that exact moment. I didn’t even soak it. Today took a little more work to get the egg off, but compared to not using the salt it was still pretty easy. So if this little trick works for cementified eggs, it probably works pretty well for anything else baked on that has, until this moment, been the bane of cooking.

All clean after a nice salt scrub!

And what is that green thing sitting there in the picture? That, my friends, is my reusable kitchen scrubby that took me 10 minutes to crochet. I love it. Why? It’s freakin’ reusable, that’s why! I just toss that bad boy in the laundry every night when I switch out my dish cloth from the day, too. No sitting over night to marinate in bacteria waiting to be used the next day to *ahem*, “clean,” with. Oh no, not in this house. I have a special laundry basket just for towels, dish cloths, wash rags and scrubbies! Every night I replace the icky rags and towels with clean ones and I haven’t used a sponge since I don’t know when.

If you are the crafty sort (and even if you aren’t this is super easy), the pattern for my kitchen scrubby is at the bottom of the page. Try to be patient with me, this is the first pattern I have ever written!

As an added bonus, you can use these to exfoliate your face/body (hooray for not having to buy those uber expensive things anymore, amIrite?). They also make great gifts 🙂

All in all this is a pretty informative entry here. We all deserve gold stars for striving to make our lives a little less complicated!

Happy Thursday,

Lauryn

Easy Crochet Kitchen Scrubby

Skill- easy-peasy

Puff stitch (Tutorial found here)

Chain

slst (slip stitch)

Crochet in the Round

Items needed:

Extra yarn laying around- worsted weight, any color.

Size J crochet hook.

Pattern:

Chain 3

Slst in first chain to make a circle

Round 1

8 puff stitches in center of the circle

slst to join

Round 2

2 puff stitches in st space (between your puff stitches)

Repeat all the way around (16 stitches)

Tie off.

You’re done!! Do a happy dance 🙂

I never liked schedules or routines but it seems these days I have fallen into some that I really adore. The only schedules I ever had as a child were school, sports, work and family dinners. Aside from these things, everything else in my life could be done when I wanted to do them. As an adult I never stuck to a routine, not really anyway. Nothing hard and fast, that’s for sure save for bedtimes and, again, family dinners. So when and how did I fall into a routine around here and how in the world did I come to actually depend on it?

Most people would would think that having children would have caused this shift in my lifestyle, but that’s not it. Our lives have always been organic- in that we do what we want, when we want. I would clean when I had time, we would run errands anytime morning or evening, laundry was done on an as needed basis and breakfast and lunches were made when we were all hungry. As you can imagine it was chaotic, though I never would have admitted it at the time, if I even bothered to notice.

I didn’t sit down one day and decide our lack of a schedule wasn’t working for us. Nothing changed over night- it evolved all on its own to become what it is today. And now I am somewhat (okay, very) OCD that things stay the way they are. Why? Simply because this is what works for our family and our lifestyle and leaves mama a whole lot less stressed out everyday.

Five and a half years ago we moved to this suburban location and I learned very quickly that suburban living meant that anyone could stop over at anytime. Neighbors always had something going on and our outdoor meetings could, at any time, result in an invitation to come into our house, from a child needing a bathroom break to a friend wanting to see the changes we made in the house. I got it into my head that the house needed to be presentable at all times for this very reason. Thus was born my, “all chores must be accomplished by 10am,” philosophy. Why 10am? It seemed like the time when people would get moving around the development, when people would venture out to do yard work or play with children.

I personally define chores as those annoying daily tasks that always need to be done. For me it is getting the dishes from the dishwasher put away so that it is ready to receive another load and nothing should be in the sink. The bathroom should be cleaned up, clothing gathered up and put in the laundry basket, floor cleaned and nothing on laying out on the counter. I sweep and clean the kitchen floor and check to see if the floors need vacuumed- they usually do. My vacuum and I have developed a special relationship over the years. I also clean the cat litter everyday and change the bunny litter if it is needed. All of this is done by 10am, though if I am really motivated it gets done by 8:30am. Accounting for taking Logan to school it bumps it back to 9am.

I have also developed a routine for laundry that I really like. I am able to do the majority of laundry on Mondays and Fridays. Monday’s laundry gets us through the week and Friday’s through the weekend. It also opens the washing machine up during the week and relieves any stress if I decide to wash curtains, stuffed animals or bedding.

Generally, though not always, laundry is finished by 10am save for putting it away. On Mondays and Fridays, laundry is the first thing I gather up before starting my other chores.

I do other necessary evils throughout the day as I have time. These are on an as needed schedule. Cleaning the bathtub, organizing closets, wash down walls, dusting, washing windows and anything else that requires my attention though isn’t considered a daily chore. Having done everything by 10am and spreading out what I want to do means I’m not stressing about getting other things done throughout the day. Less stress= a happy mama and we all know what they say about mama being happy (insert evil laughter).

My philosophy is to have everything done so that if someone stops over I wouldn’t be embarrassed to invite them into my home. I also like to avoid any sort of real work on the weekends because we always have something to do as a family. On the weekends I do dishes and straighten up and that’s about it. I don’t want to have to wait on cleaning the house to be able to go out and have fun.

My biggest pet peeve in this whole world is a dirty kitchen. I spend a majority of my time in that room and can’t even consider cooking (which I do three times a day) if it is dirty. My mom taught me years ago to clean up as I go and that has stuck with me. Consider baking cookies. I’m a pretty messy baker. If I didn’t have my dishes done and the dishwasher available my sink would be piled high with mixing bowls, measuring spoons and other utensils and I would lose my mind- no really, I would, I know this from experience.

As if my morning routine weren’t enough, I have one for evenings as well. I once read an old wive’s tale that said something to the effect of, “a dirty kitchen left over night will cause a restless sleep.” Man, did that one stick! I don’t know when I became a neat freak, because if you ask my parents it didn’t happen soon enough, but now if something is left unfinished I do have a more difficult time falling asleep at night. I need my beauty sleep, so we can’t have that! After dinner, dishes are cleaned and loaded in the dishwasher. I usually run it in the morning after breakfast. The house gets a once over and I can retire to family time satisfied that everything is done.

Schedules are something I used to ridicule until mine was developed. Now, I really can’t imagine doing anything around here without my always dependable routine.

Wishing you all clean and uncluttered home harmony,

Lauryn

“You are going to love it when your kids are in school and you finally have some time to yourself.”

STFU. I said it and I will say it again in all of its profanity laden glory, “shut the fuck up.”

It’s a bittersweet moment dropping your baby off at kindergarten. Of course I am thrilled and excited for her new adventures in school, but this house is too quiet with its walls whispering the memories of infants giggling and tiny footsteps in the halls. My youngest has taken her first steps in growing up and leaving the nest. She is no longer a baby, nor a toddler. She is a child- a school age child. How and when did this happen?

I look at the future with such optimism and enthusiasm. I have watched both of my children grow and learn with wide eyed wonder and curiosity that only the innocence and perfection of childhood can bring. I love listening to them form their own opinions and pursue new and ever changing interests. I am content to know that I am helping them develop into thriving tiny people who will grow into thriving big people.

The days of babyhood are over in my house. There will be no more cribs and strollers, 2am feedings and sink baths. Never again from a child of mine will I experience first words or steps and I won’t be wearing spit-up or pureed anything on my shirts. There will be many more firsts, but none so pivotal or sacred as those which happen during the days of babydom. It’s far too quiet in here.

I worry, as any mother would, that I didn’t give enough or do enough for my children when they were so small. Knowing full well and logically I gave everything I had or could wish to have to my little ones. I scold myself on the darkest of nights that our life isn’t perfect and it isn’t how I imagined it in my own childhood reveries- and somehow it’s never going to be good enough. In the cold harsh light of day those fears tend to melt as I watch them laugh and play- knowing nothing of their mom’s hopes and dreams of perfection. It is good, what we have. It’s great actually. I’d be lying if I said any differently, but I am being honest and candid here, so fears, insecurities and regrets, as trivial and unwarranted as they may be, still make their appearances in my psyche.

I don’t love my time to myself. I’m a mother- first and foremost and anyone who would trade the awesomeness that is being around their children for some damn time to themselves is selfish. I cherish the moments I have with my children- not count the minutes until they end. I know I gave up so much to be a stay at home mother but I knew from the beginning it would never become a regret or sacrifice. Time goes by so quickly- every single moment I have with my kids is so very important to me- so sacred. There is no other bond in life so great, so breathtaking.

I loved them both from the moment I peed on a stick and the line turned blue for fuck’s sake. That moment, more than eight years ago rendered me completely at their disposal. My life, my entire legacy was forged through the realization of motherhood and all of its glory. So here I sit. Typing away as my children take their steps toward independence. The only sounds to be heard is the ticking of the clock on the wall as Father Time mocks my denial and the clicking of the keys as I lay out the words that fill my head and the heaviness of my heart. It’s far too quiet in here.

I do not enjoy this time to myself. I’m many things- but I am a mother first and without the sounds of children around I’m not certain what to do with myself. I’m not ready to be done with babies. I’m not ready to cross over to another chapter in my life where there are no little cries, no tiny laughs, no first teeth and sore nipples. I feel like a woman who is going through, “the change,” who resigns herself to age and time and reluctantly accepts her child-bearing days have passed her by.

I have so much yet to do for the children I do have, yes. So many more firsts to enjoy and milestones to praise and welcome. This is a new chapter and I cannot wait to turn the page. I can’t wait for first dances and mother daughter conversations akin to Rory and Lorelie Gilmore. I look forward to projects in school and sports, for the day when my husband takes Logan to teach him to drive. I look even further into my crystal ball and envision first dates, weddings and even grandchildren. I look forward to reading the rest of this book, but my book of babies is finished- and my spirit cries to re-read it again…

It’s just far too quiet in here.

 

Logan, just one week old, laying next to Hippie Husband’s dedication tattoo.

Kaelynne, five months and her big brother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a mother’s love,

 

Lauryn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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