DIY Mason Jar Terrariums

Yesterday, I went to our local farmer's market. It's so inspiring to see all the fresh fruits and vegetables and the gorgeous plants and flowers. It makes me wish I enjoyed gardening and could really throw myself into growing things! But alas, despite parents who love all kinds of gardening, I just can't get into it.

Here's something I did think I could grow though.

I like house plants and they require little in the way of actual work, so I thought maybe these terrariums would be fun to put together, too. I had several extra mason jars and two little girls at home that love a craft, so I made an impulsive decision and bought some supplies right then and there. 

Of course, the twins were all in and we got our indoor gardening on as soon I as got back home. Here were the supplies: glass containers, rocks for drainage on the bottom of your container, potting soil, moss, and some succulents. 

These are very easy to put together. First, place a layer of rocks on the bottom of your container for drainage.

Then put in a layer of soil. Make a little hole in the soil and place the succulent in it.

Fill in with more soil and then some moss. You can also put little animals or figurines in the mix for fun! My daughter took a liking to this little rabbit.

The lady at the farmer's market said these plants require very little water, so I didn't add much. Terarriums can be either open or closed depending on the plants you're growing. Since succulents thrive in a dry, arid environment, I'm leaving mine open for now. 

As far as caring for a terrarium, I think less is more. You don't want it to have too much light or too much water. I can already see this may be a bit of a challenge for my girls since they think watering plants is the fun part! Hopefully the little succulents will survive all their "attention"!

Depending on the plants you choose, these little terrariums can be perfect for offices, dorm rooms, and other dimly lit areas because they don't need a lot of full sun and are very low maintenance. Certain types of enclosed terrariums can even be watered as little as once a month!

All in all, this was a fun little project that allowed us to play in the dirt and create something pretty. I think I just might enjoy container gardening!

My Husband Was Right

Sometimes I need to admit when I'm wrong and my husband is right. And he was right about this...

Steve had been wanting us to get the NutriBullet for awhile. He had talked to several people at work that had one and he wanted to make smoothies. I pictured a big mess I'd end up cleaning up and more trips to the grocery store as he liquified all the fruits and vegetables in the house. I put it off for as long as possible. The downfall was that he was out shopping with me and put one in the cart just to think about. Well, we all know that things that go in the cart rarely go back on the shelf.

But guess who's ended up really liking it?!? Yours, truly. You see, I've had a yogurt with my breakfast just about every morning for the past 20 years.

Boring...right? I mean I did just recently switch to Greek to mix it up, but still. Who wouldn't rather have this?

Yum! Now I just put my yogurt, a little bit of milk, a few strawberries, and some ice in the NutriBullet and's a new and interesting concoction that's good for me, too!

Seriously, this is tasty. 

There are a lot of other combinations/recipes you can make, too. Steve has put kale, apples, carrots, grapes, avocado, orange juice, and more in his smoothies and is loving them!

So today I stand corrected. I really do like the smoothie machine and it hasn't turned out to be as messy as I thought. And Steve is even going to grocery store for fruits and vegetables more often, so everyone wins!

How about you? Has your husband been right about anything lately? You can admit it here and it'll be our little secret!

Time for Summer

This week this happened...

My younger son finished elementary school and is off to middle school in the fall. This combined with my oldest daughter graduating from high school on Sunday makes me an emotional ticking time bomb.

Then this happened...

The backpacks, notebooks, lunch boxes, used up markers and pencils all made their way home. Lunch was eaten amid the end of school year papers and treats that had exploded on my kitchen table. Obviously the first meal of the summer had very little in the way of nutritional content. It was full of giggling girls and boys rolling their eyes at their antics though!

And then this happened...

Our first afternoon at the pool. I'm out of practice so I forgot the sunscreen and snacks. Swimming is still a such a novelty the first few weeks no one even noticed. They actually played and I may have even read a book...shhhh.

Last night, this happened...

The season finale of The Middle. If you haven't seen this show, you're missing out. It's so funny and so real. I think Frankie Heck lives in my head! Why can't more good TV be on in the summer?

After that, everyone slept in, sort of. At least, the house was quiet. I did not have to set an alarm, pack lunches, or run around like a mad woman trying to find last minute things for school.

And then came my Facebook status for the very first morning of summer...

Did I predict it here or what?!?
But then tonight, this happened.

My younger kids played with their friends on the playground until dusk. It was a beautiful, warm summer evening. I listened to the laughter and chatter of children who have no cares, no bedtime, no schedule. Later, my oldest daughter came home after being gone for a few days. We watched TV and had popcorn. There was laughter and hugs and the feeling of peace that comes when you're free.

Summer allows for all of these things and I want to know I stopped and recorded them here. Yes, school's out and it's time for summer in all it's crazy, chaotic glory to begin!

Dr. Mom on Duty

Anyone else have hypochondriacs in their family? I think a couple of my kids are prone to this for certain. My strong, healthy, sixteen year old son is claiming a left chest injury from a sneeze and a back injury from stretching. This is the same boy who worked out for two hours this morning. My nine year old daughter is claiming a knee injury that appeared with no rhyme or reason. This grave condition has apparently been bothering her since January, although last night at dinner was the first I've ever heard of it.

On any given day, at least one child has an ailment that they would like me to call the doctor about. I'm of the wait and see school of thought. As in, let's see if I yell, "Cookies!" and that knee injury, stomachache, toothache, headache, limp, and whatever else doesn't just magically disappear. I mean hiccups that last longer than five minutes can start someone begging for the doctor around here! Blisters are reason to question life expectancy.

My kids, of course, are skeptical of my doctoring abilities. They do not believe that I can diagnose a fever by pressing my cheek to their forehead. It has yet to fail me in 18 years though. Sure, I can't tell the exact temperature, but I can tell if it's worth a search of the house for a thermometer that may or may not be sanitary, accurate, or functional.

They do not believe in my number one cure for most any of their ailments, Go to bed and see how it is in the morning. True problems will still exist and 99.9% of the rest will be gone. It seems like no "sickness" is ever reason for extra sleep in their minds.

Another test I use to determine if they're really sick is to see if it will interfere with any of their social plans. As in, they have a stomachache for school, but are completely able to go out with friends that night? Hmmm...I'm calling shenanigans on that one. Legs that are so painful you cannot walk up the stairs and need to stay home during the NCAA basketball tournament? Hmmm...not falling for it!

But in order to stem the tide of tears from said nine year old with the debilitating knee injury last night, I said I would write down the date and problem and see what it's like in a week. I think I can safely throw that piece of paper away. So far today she has run around the house chasing a sibling, played in her volleyball game, rode her bike, and is now outside practicing volleyball again. I have not heard one peep about the knee.

Will the local hospital be calling to hire me anytime soon? No, absolutely not. Let's leave the true medical emergencies to the professionals. I'll just continue to prevent their waiting room from being filled by my kids who think they're in danger of losing their fingers (don't worry, it's a splinter), rashes that my patients are sure will be fatal (calm down, that's poison ivy), and children suffering from painful lacerations caused by homework (I promise, paper cuts don't need stitches).

Are any of you playing Dr. Mom today, too?

Hobbies: Are They Worth It?

My friend and I were talking about hobbies the other day and how they've enriched our lives. Sometimes though, we get the feeling that it's not good enough for an activity to be just a hobby. Like if you're not monetizing or furthering your self interests through an activity, then why do it? I know I've been guilty of thinking these things about myself and my kids. But hobbies are beneficial even if you don't become great or famous. Even if you try them and fail.

When I think of the value of hobbies, I often think of my mother. From my earliest memories, she was always sewing, quilting, painting, refinishing furniture, taking guitar and piano lessons, gardening, collecting and making dolls, cross stitching, and more. She didn't do all those things at once, but those are things I can remember her attempting, and often enjoying! Her example taught me that if I was interested in something, I should try it and see what happened.

Blogging is my newest hobby. I enjoy being able to express my thoughts and find out that others identify with them. I like having a digital space that's mine. It's fun to learn how to do something and experiment with it. Of course, I hope that the number of people that read it increases because it's always fun to reach a larger audience. However, it's also very easy for the joy in it to disappear when I start doing things for my blog because I should, rather than for pleasure.

I think it's okay to start and end hobbies. Others may consider it flighty, but I know there are several things I've thrown myself into for a season, but no longer have any interest in doing. Scrapbooking, anyone? So what if I only finished a fraction of the albums I started out to complete? If I enjoyed the creative process for awhile and learned something new, it was worth it. I've given myself permission to move on and make room for other things that look interesting.

I'm going to try and do this more with my children. I'm too practical sometimes, not wanting to pay for lessons they may not stick with or spend time on things they won't do long term. If they really want to try something and I can reasonably make it happen, I should. Sure, they may give it up, but how will they know unless they try it? I want to set the example of not being afraid to develop new skills, just as my mom set for me. I hope my children will always enjoy pursuing their interests whether they excel at them or not.

I'd love to hear about your hobbies. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Are you learning about anything just for fun?

Gifts of Time and Conversation

I'm a words person. They're my love language. Some people may prefer gifts, acts of service or time, but words are the primary way I feel and show love. I treasure conversation and the words that are said like jewels. I'll find myself thinking of them later and turn them over and over in my mind savoring the good ones.

This year I couldn't think of any material thing I needed for Mother's Day. What I did need, and what I find myself coveting more and more, is uninterrupted time and conversation with my kids. Time not interrupted by chores, schedules, responsibilities and the all around busyness of life. Conversations focused on thoughts and feelings, rather than on reminders, explanations, requests, and mediating sibling rivalry. I wanted to get away from all that for the day and enjoy each other!

And that's what we did. We started out the day sleeping in a little. Because nothing makes an outing go downhill faster than having a hard deadline to leave and hurrying to get there. I did not want to start our special day off frazzled and fighting before we even left.

We planned ahead on the food. I made Mother's Day lunch reservations and the kids ate a big breakfast before we left. Hunger is another guarantee there will be fighting and bad attitudes in our family. It's hard to be patient and kind on an empty stomach, am I right?

We had an hour drive to our destination. This was the perfect amount of time. Long enough for great conversations, but not so long people got antsy. I love talking to my kids in the car. They're a captive audience and I learn so much more than I would if we were at home with all its distractions. I learn things listening to them talk to each other, too. I get the inside scoop on the high school and who's dating who, etc. I love it! Not because I'm nosy. I don't even know most of the people they're talking about. I just love that inside peek into their world. In between, make her stop doing that, and, why do I have to sit in the middle, are the talks I treasure.

We went to a state park and admittedly, this was not a fun prospect in the minds of my kids. I'm pretty sure my husband gave them a talking to about not complaining and humoring their mother on Mother's Day. I did hear What are we going to do?, Why didn't we pick a closer park?, and Are we just going to walk around and eat? But they got into the spirit quickly.

We had a buffet style lunch that was marginal quality, but I didn't care what we were eating as long as we were together. Not having to cook and clean up a meal are wonderful treats for me. I really enjoyed all of us laughing and trying new foods together! It felt festive with so many other families gathered together to celebrate, too.

We went on two hikes. Walking and hiking with no particular destination or timetable allows for personalities to shine through. I saw different ones talking and walking together for awhile and then others together after that.

I really appreciated the effort put forth by my husband and kids to make my Mother's Day special. There was almost no sibling rivalry. No bad attitudes and talking back. No real complaining about the heat, the hikes, the food, or anything else. It was truly one of those magical days where family life is just like a Hallmark movie. I will savor it and turn it over in my mind for a long time to come.

And because I don't like reading things that make life sound like it's all rainbows and unicorns, I'll just say that by this morning, we were back to the drudgery of packing lunches, arguing over showers and missing clothing, and working on school projects at an hour no one needs to be awake. Real always comes calling!

Summer Shopping With Kids

Well, I think warm weather is finally here to stay and we can break out our shorts. Great time of year! Except for the shopping. Anyone else out there experiencing exhausting fun shopping trips with their kids?

My nine year old twins recently informed me they had NOTHING to wear. And it wasn't an exaggeration. Pretty much everything from last summer was too small and it was time to replenish their wardrobes. So off to Target we went.

Two girls, two different opinions of what looks good. Gone are the days when I could choose matching outfits. Now when I make suggestions, I get the deer in headlights, how could she even think I would like that look.

"How about these capri pants, girls?"
Cue the dramatic pause, the shifting eyes, the quizzical expression indicating Is she for real? Then the definitive, leave no room for negotiation response.
"No, only jeans or shorts, nothing in between."

Shopping with my twins is predictable only in that they will both want something different. One will pick ruffles and color, one will choose stripes and solids. They don't like to share clothes, so there's a lot of negotiation over who gets certain "hot" items. Like these pants. These little black pants were described as "I need these or I'll die." Of course, I marveled at the drama and secretly found it ironic that it clearly says "capri" on the tag.

Shorts. It was a struggle to find shorts we could agree on. I had to say no to a pair that was way too small and tight, but was getting a startling amount of begging and whining time. When I said no for the last time and the disappointed fashion queen stomped walked back to change, the lady manning the dressing room mimed clapping.

After that I tried my strong arm shopping technique which basically consists of picking things out and throwing handing them over the dressing room door.

"Try these on."
"No, please no, I hate them."
"Put them on." not buy anything that requires this conversation. It will be buried so deep in their dresser, it will never see the light of day. 

After fine tuning and further perfecting the art of mother/daughter negotiation, we did eventually buy some some clothing. Exiting the store smiling = success.

How about you? Maybe you aren't experiencing summer shopping with kids. Maybe you're trying to shop for yourself. Believe I know that can be just as draining fun!

P.S. File this under the difference between girls and boys...Both of my boys needed new shoes this month. The oldest I took to the store where he chose the FIRST pair he tried on. The youngest was even easier. No shopping trip necessary. Showed him one pair of sneakers online, he agreed and was wearing them the day after they arrived. I salute the male shopping gene!

You Might See Me Crying

It started with preschool. A welcome relief in the 24/7 stage of mothering. Just two hours, two days a week. There was nervousness mixed with a twinge of sadness shaken off by the end of the first day of freedom.

Then came kindergarten. This felt more monumental and I did feel as though there should be some sympathy cards in my mailbox. But the wistful emotions passed as I saw her learn to read and write and interact with the world in new ways.

Elementary graduation felt even bigger. Heading off to middle school seemed scary and it made me feel old. Now she would be more independent and I would know less about her day to day life.

Middle school is a turbulent time and I don't think anyone looks back on those years with nostalgia. I welcomed the new freedoms available to her in high school. Plus no matter how many times I heard it would go fast, four years felt far enough away.

This month she graduates. The four years are over. She's grown up and getting ready for college. And whew...out of nowhere last night, the emotions really started to hit me.

I was addressing graduation announcements and they were my undoing. Tears started to come. A sense of the overwhelming passage of time flooded my body. I'm happy for her and know this is a natural step, but it does not make it any easier.

This is one of those times in life that is both happy and piercing.

I've watched friends go through this over the past few years. I've observed, murmured my "understanding", and walked away thankful I wasn't there yet. I could see they were hurting even while they cheered their child on to the next step.

Now it's my turn to feel pain mixed in with the joy and pride. This is the baby that completely changed my world and captured my heart. The daughter I've seen grow and develop into an adult. Now she doesn't need me the way she once did and I wonder what my role will be in her life and how our relationship will change.

Graduation. It doesn't matter how exciting their future plans or how much you know they're ready for the next step. The heart doesn't care how many arguments you've had, or how many times you've run into teenage attitude. When it comes down to it, there is a rush of sadness.

I'm trying to remember that all of our past transitions have moved into stages that were even better than the one we left. I wouldn't really wish them not to have happened. It's just hard when I haven't experienced it. I don't know if I'll come out okay on the other side yet.

So if you see me crying as I drive or wiping tears away in Target, just know that it's graduation month and my heart is too full to hold them in.

End of School Year Lunches

Summer's almost here. Less than three weeks left until my house descends into chaos all day every day. But, I'm totally looking forward to sleeping past 6 am, not having to answer any homework questions, and NOT PACKING FIVE LUNCHES.

I don't know about you, but I'm packing lunches on fumes this time of year. I'm tired of making them and I'm having to force myself to care even a little bit about nutrition at this point. Peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, and tuna. So bored with these choices and I'm not even the one eating them. Fruit...please can we just not have to wash any more fruit? Will a few pesticide laden grapes really make a difference in April and May? There are no more fun, slightly nutritious snacks to choose from in the pantry. I'm tempted to throw some Easter candy in a baggie and be done with it.

Of course I love the school cafeteria because it offers such a nice break from packing. Unfortunately, only my two youngest are willing to buy. At the beginning of the year, I let those two angels buy once a week. By the middle of the year, it was twice a week, and now it's whenever they want!

What, you ask, will lunch be like over the summer? Well, it won't be pretty. Some people in the house will start asking by 10 am, what's for lunch? This will drive me to the brink by the second day week. I will have to restrain myself from screaming and calmly tell such persons that I don't want to hear about lunch until noon. But at least the choices will be more plentiful. Hot things will be possible. Leftovers, if we have any, will be first on the list. Peanut butter on a banana, crackers and cheese, or a hodge podge of whatever they can find will work. Grilled cheese and soup, burritos, quesadillas, macaroni and cheese, and pizza will be options.

Maybe they'll even sleep extra late and substitute cereal for lunch. Oh, the glorious possibilities. I know one thing, I won't be packing anything unless it's for the pool!

Did I mention my kids won't even buy school pizza. Really?!? That ought to be a guaranteed child friendly option, but I'm not bitter or anything...

Have you reached your parental packing limit, too? Of course, packing lunches will look like a fair trade off for a peaceful day once August rolls around!