Monthly Archives: May 2011

Gardening tips. (A bit late.)

We’ve been gardening for 10 years.  We started off small, but now have a large garden growing strawberries, rhubarb, cucumbers, cantelope, butternut squash, zucchini, peppers, broccoli, beans, peas, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and pumpkins. 

We have learned quite a bit over the years. I thought I’d share some tips that we have learned to help you out as well.

(I know I’m a bit late in the game, but I haven’t had time to get these down before now. Now that our garden is finally completely planted that is.)

  • Grow vines up trellises. We grow all of our cucs, cantelope and squashes up trellises. This saves a TON of space in your garden and also yields more evenly grown produce. It also helps keeping pesky animals from easily eating your produce (especially cantelope!).
  • For heavy produce (like cantelope or butternut squash) grown up a trellis, use old pantyhose to tie onto the trellis. Cut the leg of the pantyhose and slip the produce into the toe. Tie the other end to the trellis so that the produce still has room to grow, but won’t weigh down the plant or break off the stem too early.
  • Build a cage around your strawberry patch. My husband built one out of PVC piping and chicken wire. If you have a big patch, I would suggest building a cage with a separate top so that you only have to remove the top to pick the crop rather than the whole cage.
  • Strawberries go bad quickly, especially if they are next to other strawberries. One way to keep them good longer is to store them in egg cartons in the fridge. Don’t wash them or cut off the stems until you’re ready to eat them.
  • We were so tired of spending every weekend all summer weeding the garden. So we covered our entire garden (except for our strawberry patch and one other square for rhubarb, carrots and lettuce) with plastic and then cut holes where we wanted to plant. We’ve had the same plastic down for 2 years and it’s been a lifesaver. This year my husband is covering it with (free) mulch to make it look nicer.
  • You can get free “mulch” from tree trimming companies. Find out who the city uses for tree trimming and ask for free mulch. It’s not beautiful, dark mulch that costs a ton of money, but it does the same thing. And it’s free.
  • Cover smaller plants that need a bit of protecting still with plastic 2 liters. Cut off the bottom of the bottle and carefully place over your plant (or seeds) and press lightly into the ground, enough that it won’t blow away in a storm. Besides giving it a bit of protection from the weather, it creates a little greenhouse and does wonders for plant starts! (If it’s early in the spring, keep the top on. As it gets hotter, take the top off so the plants don’t bake.)
  • Put on your tomato cages now, before your plants are too big and you break branches by trying to stuff them in the cages.
  • I can’t stand gardening gloves. They are always too big and I can’t feel anything through them. But I also HATE having dirt stained hands for 2 days after I garden/weed. Instead, wear disposable kitchen gloves – you know, the kind some women wear while doing dishes? They are AWESOME for gardening!
  • Lastly, save seeds from your current crop to use for plant starts next year. Let them dry on your countertop first, then place in paper envelopes. Don’t forget to label them!

I hope this helps you this summer and next. If you have another tip, please share!!!

Breastfeeding: The (Hard) Truth

When I had my first baby nearly 9 years ago, I knew I wanted to breastfeed her. I knew nutritionally that it was the best option and let’s be honest, it’s free. What I didn’t know was how hard it was going to be, physically and emotionally.

I’m now nursing my third child and am reminded (again) of the truth about breastfeeding: It. Is. Hard.

And no one tells you so.

I think no one tells you how hard it is because they don’t want to scare you away from trying. For some people, this may be the case. For me, knowledge is power. And knowing what to expect, and that MANY others go through the EXACT same thing, is beneficial to me. And keeps me going.

So I’m laying it on the table. I’m telling you the truth about my breastfeeding experience. I hope it gives you the strength and confidence to try breastfeeding and keep with it.

  • Nursing is natural. It’s how God made our bodies. BUT, it doesn’t feel natural at first. Having a baby suck on your boob for the first time is weird. Sorry, but it’s just an odd feeling. And…
  • Let’s face it. Your boobs are big. (Even little boobs are big when you’re pregnant and even bigger when your milk comes in.) And your precious little baby’s mouth is not. It takes a ton of practice to make sure your baby opens his mouth big and wide before latching on. The bigger the mouthful, the less it…
  • Hurts. When your milk comes in a couple days after delivery, it will hurt. Your boobs will be engorged (filled with your baby’s yummy milk) and when baby nurses and your milk lets down? Well, breathe. Don’t hold your breath. Breathe through it. And relax your shoulders. I’m pretty sure that letting down during the first few weeks is one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve experienced. When your milk regulates and you aren’t engorged, it’s not painful. You just have to get through those first few weeks.
  • Use lanolin. Religiously. Starting after the first time you nurse until your nipples are used to the action they’re getting. It’s like chapstick for your nipples. Believe me. It’s a lifesaver.
  • Don’t stand facing the shower without first covering your nipples for the first few weeks. It seems silly, but your nipples are tender and shower heads are not friendly during this time.
  • But, warm showers are great when you feel tired and your breasts are engorged. Stand facing the shower with your nipples covered and let the water gently massage your breasts.
  • It is okay to fall asleep while nursing your baby. I promise you that if you lean your head back and close your eyes in the rocker while nursing, you will not drop your baby if you fall asleep. I have woken up an hour later in the exact same position with baby still latched on (or not).
  • A tip if you don’t like nursing pads: When you start to let down, press on your nipple and you won’t leak 9 out of 10 times. I don’t know why this works, but my mom told me this trick with my 2nd and it works like a charm. (I guess it’s something you learn after working in women’s health for so long.)
  • Pump. If your baby sleeps through the night, pump in the morning so you’re not full of milk and leaking endlessly. If you leave baby with Dad or a sitter, don’t miss a feeding. Pump when you can (before and/or after you leave) so your body doesn’t make less milk. If you don’t want to buy a pump, borrow a friend’s or rent one.
  • I only nursed on one side at each feeding for all three of my kids. I think it gives the other breast more time to recoup before nursing again. All of my kids were nourished and grew perfectly fine. (And there’s plenty of research that supports this way as another breastfeeding option.)
  • TALK about any problems/concerns you might be having. Call a lactation consultant – all hospitals have one and your doctor can recommend one also. Call a friend who has breastfed a baby. I’m always available. And willing. It will help – maybe you have a problem that your friend has an answer for. And if not? At least you have a friend who will listen. It’s amazing how much that will do for your soul.
  • Breastfeeding is a commitment. A big one. But so worth it.

Remember, not all babies nurse easily. Not all women produce milk easily. Don’t take it personally. YOU HAVE NOT FAILED. There is a reason that formula was invented. You need to be the best mom you can be. And if nursing is stressing you out to a point that’s not healthy and you feel you’ve exhausted all options, IT’S OKAY. Stop breastfeeding. Your baby will love you just as much.

Please, add to my list if you have another suggestion or tip. The more, the merrier the breastfeeding mom will be. 🙂

It’s everything.

My little guy just turned six months old. This is him.

But this? This, at 11 days old, is how I’ll always remember him.

What is it about babies that makes you go crazy inside? That makes your heart swell? Like you never want to be without one?

It’s the smell after a bath.

It’s the open mouth drooly kisses that attack your face.

It’s the excited, legs go crazy, grabbing your hair, burying his face in your shoulder moments.

It’s the peaceful, sleepy face with no cares in the world, except to be loved by his mama.

Let’s be honest. It’s everything.

I told my husband everyone that I was done having kids after my first was born. It was so hard and I wanted to protect my future relationship with her. Then she grew up and talked me into having another.

I told my husband everyone that I was done having kids after my second was born. The transition for my first (and for us as a family) was extremely difficult. Then the girls grew up and I decided I couldn’t possibly NOT have another baby.

Last night, Baby Jedi pushed up to his hands and knees. I couldn’t believe that he was big enough to do that already. My first thought was: I can’t believe he’s getting so big. I want him to stay a baby.

“We have to have another.” It even came out of my mouth. *gasp*

I will never say I’m done having kids again. I know myself too well. Because that thing that make you go crazy about babies? Well, it’s everything to me.