Sunday, April 20, 2014

Acceptable Risk

Recently I read this article. It's well worth a read, even though it's pretty long. To sum up very quickly, and maybe not so well, it talks about a park in Europe. It's basically an overgrown, fenced in lot. It has adult supervision, but parents do not accompany their children to it. There kids can basically do anything they want. Whittling sticks, lighting fires in a fire pit, playing with old tires, and a lot of exploring. As I said, there is basic adult supervision, but that adult does not step in unless the child is doing something truly dangerous. Not "oh, you'll hurt yourself a bit" dangerous, but the "oh my goodness, you'll maim or kill yourself" dangerous. I am fascinated by this concept. It goes on to say that most children now are never more than an arms' length or two away from their parents. They rarely are allowed to explore outside on their own or are given the responsibility of taking care of themselves. Because of this the children are growing up without a concept of "Acceptable Risk." Growing up with out those valuable experiences they are not fully equipped to take acceptable risks as adults. Take that new job. Invest their money. Etc.

Looking back on my childhood a few things stand out in stark contrast to they way we are expected to raise our children now. My mother, in my memory, never played with me. At least not much. I was expected to amuse myself everyday. If I couldn't think of something to do, my mother would give me something to do. And I did NOT want the activity she would assign. I was also allowed, before I was in first or second grade, to go play at the park next door to my house by myself. As long as I was where I said I'd be and came when I was called, I was allowed to go. When we went camping I was allowed to explore on my own. Again, as long as I came when I was called and used good judgement, I could wander to my heart's content. I was even allowed to go play in the sand by the river. And I knew from a VERY young age not to do the things that would get me badly hurt or worse. I took risks and many of them paid off. (Minus the decision to walk barefoot across an old wooden bridge.) These were happy memories and I think it made me a much better adult.

Now, after reading this article I've decided that I want a little of this for my daughter. Not to say I'm going to bundle her up and send her off to the neighborhood park tomorrow, but I want her to have some freedom to explore and learn her limits for herself. This year it'll just be in our own backyard. I'll be out there with her, but either in a chair, gardening, or in our screen porch. And of course our 120lb dog will be with her, too. We'll be there, but letting her do her own thing.

This decision has had an impact on how we are getting our yard ready for the summer. Today we spent almost the whole afternoon outside raking out the garden and cleaning up old brush and cutting down bushes and saplings we don't want. All the while looking for places that could be dangerous for a wandering three-year-old. We've identified a couple places that'll need garden fencing, but for the most part it's good to go. And the whole time we did this? The three-year-old was playing happily on her own. With minimal supervision. As long as I could hear/see her I didn't bother her. And she was the happiest little kid in the world. A minor fall will most likely result in a black-eye. (She tripped while carrying her watering can.) Her knuckles are skinned pretty bad, but she hasn't even complained about those. But it is all worth it when she calls out to me, "Mommy this is my favorite tree. I love it. When I'm here I can just be me."

I think it's going to be a good summer.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring has Sprung...

So it's been awhile. I've been on Spring Break this week. And Sweet Pea had her birthday. All week-long festivities of it. I swear she was able to spread it out for what felt like forever!! But it was a happy birthday for her. Busy for Mommy and family, but it's worth it.

Because of the festivities, some travel, and a hectic work schedule crochet and everything else has been on hold.

George has been hibernating. I fed him and put him directly back in the refrigerator last week. This seems to have done him some good, though, as he is very happy and active this weekend. I'll make our normal batch of bread this weekend and call it good.

I've been crocheting very little. With the exception of the drive to my hubby's parents' house last week. I took that time to make some kitchen scrubbies. I hate sponges. I think they are dirty, smelly, and hard to keep clean. So I made these little scrubbies that work really, really well!! This is the pattern. I made it with some cotton yarn I purchased years and years ago and never knew what to do with it. The bumps on the scrubbie seem to work really well to get stuck on gunk off of the dishes and you can just throw them in the wash. So much better than sponges. And the pattern is super easy and fast. I've memorized it so well that I can make a scrubbie in about 20 minutes. I've made about 4 for our kitchen and 2 for my Mother-in-law. I'll keep making them until I run out of yarn. :)

The other big project I tackled while I was on Spring Break (my "break" was basically one day after the traveling, working... during break, and getting Sweet Pea's birthday stuff done) was to clean and organize the playroom. UGH! two and half hours later and it was finished. I can safely say that the child does NOT need anymore toys. Does NOT need any more art supplies, and the next person who gives us play-doh is going to get an earful from me. (Of play-doh that is....) It looks wonderful, though. So much better. And we're working on the kid to get in the habit of picking up her toys and putting them away as she finishes playing with them. (yeah....right.)

Yesterday was so nice out that we even got to go outside and play. Sweet Pea's swing-set and playhouse are open and ready for the summer. My dad got her a new glider swing for the set and we got her some plastic drums that attach to the swing-set. We will attach those today. With the nice weather I got to get out in the yard. I got the puppy-poop cleaned up, the sticks picked up, and my strawberry patch raked out. Everything seems to have survived this horrible winter. My apple tree is budding and both my blueberry bushes survived. The raspberries are....well I don't think you can kill raspberries.  As soon as it is a little nicer we will dig up the suckers from the raspberry patch and transplant them along our other fence. They are Sweet Pea's favorite food, so we can't have too many. (Famous last words.) Last summer we found some wild black raspberries in our yard and we are really hoping we can encourage those to spread, too. I think I was most surprised to see that my rhubarb lived. I really thought I killed it last year. 

I really can't wait to get out and clean up my garden and start planting. On the list to grow this year:
Tomatoes (Heirloom varieties.)
Red Bell Peppers
Black Beans

I'm going to have to go get some nitrogen rich fertilizer this year. I try and rotate my tomatoes every year, but with the black beans and cucumbers needing the fence to climb on, I'll need to plant the tomatoes where they were last year. I'll find some good fertilizer and it'll be fine. I hope. We have friends with pet bunnies, so I can get some bunny poop. Best fertilizer in the world.

The artichokes will go in pots as will any herbs we plant. So excited! I got canning supplies for Christmas so we are planning on canning jellies and pickles for sure. I also want to buy peaches, pears, and apples from the farmers markets to can fruit for Sweet Pea's lunches next year. She is a fruit bat, and I'm so tired of buying fruit cups for her.

We always freeze tomato sauce, and my hubby likes that better than canning so we'll continue to handle the tomatoes that way. I also want to try canning roasted red peppers. And maybe invest in a food dehydrator for sun-dried tomatoes and dried fruit.

Well, the sunlight and my back yard is calling me. I'm sure I have more puppy poop to pick up and my lavender plant needs to be uncovered before it smothers. So happy to be able to get outside!!