Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gardening 101

My only memories of gardening are the little plot we had as kids, in the shade of the garage—I think all we grew were tomatoes (which I loved), squash (which I hated) and chives, which I think my sister liked eating… and I remember my dad had a worm farm, which I always thought sounded kind of gross. I’m sure my memory is faulty, and we probably had lots of yummy vegetables, but it was so long ago I definitely didn’t retain anything useful for gardening as an adult.

So I’m a gardening rookie. And let me tell you, gardening is the thing to do around here. As well as having gorgeous flower gardens in their front sections (right by the road, so everybody can compare as they drive past), everybody gardens up the entirety of their huge backyards and cans everything for the winter. It’s like living in Blueberries for Sal. Now, I can actually see the benefits of having canned veggies and fruit to last you through the winter, when the fresh veggies you can get are not just expensive but awful—looking and tasting. However, gardening is totally daunting when A) I’ve never done it before, and B) I can hardly find time to read my Bible every day (top priority), much less garden. But I am determined, and fascinated, and it’s definitely a lot easier to take a toddler outside to dig in the dirt with you than to get him to be quiet while you read.

Temperatures have been fairly balmy this week, and even though it snowed last Saturday and is supposed to snow again this Saturday, the ground is soft and spring is in the air. So last night I asked James to show me what to do, and we went out to our huge backyard and decided where to put our garden. We marked out an area the size of Texas, and he showed me how to rake off the leaves and sticks, and start “turning over the earth” with a spade… which looked easy when he did it with one foot, but required me jumping with both feet and my entire body weight when I did it. But, like I said, I’m determined. So this morning Will and I were out there for an hour during Ben’s nap, me jumping with both feet to get the spade into the packed dirt (every jump earning a belly-laugh from Will which made it totally worth it), gloating together over every earthworm (did I say they were gross? That was before I had a two-year-old), and I managed to turned over about 2 square meters (yards) of dirt before crashing completely. I feel very proud of myself, which is good, because everything else aches: my back, my abs, my shoulders, my feet are bruised from jumping on the cheap, warped spade (James bought me a new one today—what a guy). I filled up a bucket with dirt and picked out most of the weeds by hand, and Will “helped” me spoon it into the yogurt containers I’ve saved to start some seeds in… I’m feeling very agricultural. Let’s hope it lasts through the planting… weeding… watering… more weeding… harvesting… chopping… boiling… canning…

Speaking of boiling, as I write this I am boiling to within an inch of its life some oatmeal cereal for Ben on the stove… We’re trying to start Ben on cereal even though he’s barely 5 months old, because he is just one big healthy kid. He never made it to a 4 hourly daytime nursing schedule—he’s been eating every 2.5 to 3 hours since he was born, and hasn’t started sleeping any longer at night—in fact we’ve been going backwards lately from 8 hours back down to 6. So. Cereal time. We bought three different kinds of cereal to try—“Wheat with Banana” (too risky for allergies), “Rice with Apple” (too binding), and “Buckwheat with Prunes,” which Ben loves. He figured out the spoon thing on the second feeding, and was going like a champ, but – it has sugar added. They all have sugar added. Should’ve checked the labels before we bought them, but they’re all in Russian anyway… So I’m trying to make my own, but getting oatmeal to a perfectly creamy consistency without a blender is …not happening. Except I don’t want to fill my kid full of sugar. Which means—lots of extra work for me. Pray I can find a blender before we hit veggies and fruit, or pray Ben learns to “like it or lump it.”

The THIRD new thing in our lives is… dun dun dun (ominous music)… Potty Training. Well, sort of. Will, being Will, is holding the reins with a clenched fist and absolutely will not be moved faster than he is willing to go. Fair enough. All the books say DON’T RUSH. However. When your two-year-old is the size of a three-year-old and has adult-sized BMs that smell even worse, and when he makes an absolute stink (no pun intended) about having his diaper changed—thrashing, kicking, wincing when I wipe anywhere sensitive… well, fair stops being fair and becomes completely frustrating.

So. We bought A New And Improved Potty at the bazaar, a red plastic number shaped like a little chair with a convenient little plastic tub that pops out (rather tightly, which is difficult when the contents are liquid). The New Potty is replacing the little blue potty seat we bought with high hopes last summer, when Will was 18 months, which sat forlornly in a dark corner of the bathroom the entire summer. Last week I perked up one day when Will said “Win-duh-Pooh go pee-pee on potty?”, trotted into the bathroom, dug out the little blue potty and perched “Pooh” jauntily on the lid. Will even consented to sit on The New Red Potty next to Pooh to keep him company—insisted on keeping all his clothes on, though. At least he’s interested, I thought hopefully—that’s a good sign…

Then, another step forward—we had our teammates staying with us last week due to fears of their village being flooded, and their 20-month-old quite happily did pee after pee on the blue potty all week long. Will did consent to sit next to him on the red one—with pants down and diaper off—and even managed to share his success a couple times (receiving HUGE cheers of encouragement from the hopeful peanut gallery), but his success was usually on the first sit of the morning, and then that was it for potty-sitting the rest of the day… “I’ve done my dash, I’m done, thanks”… completely oblivious to the fact that you’re supposed to pee in the potty every time you have to go pee.

Now, this week, with Moises happily peeing back at his own house, Will has consented—grudgingly and with much coaxing—to sit on the potty after breakfast on Monday, and after breakfast and dinner yesterday, but that’s it. No amount of cajoling can convince him to sit more often, and when he informed me later this afternoon (while it was happening) that he was going poop in his diaper, he threw an absolute fit when I tried to rush him to the potty. In hysterics: “No! Change you! Change you!” (meaning “You change me!”), really meaning “I would rather submit to the agony of being changed than submit to this new phase of my life!” That. Is our son. To a T.


Gardening. Solids. Potty training. No wonder I have no time to learn Russian.


  1. So the question is...did you do your gardening in your lovely animal print gown?

  2. How could you forget the mint! we had tons and tons of mint that ran wild once we gave up tending the garden all together and the weeds took over and grew to the size of trees. And yes, I did like eating the chives - one of the many reasons I was the most pungent 5 year old in history.

    I don't know how obstinate Will really is (this could totally backfire if he's not) but you could try reverse psychology. "Only BIG boys use the potty, Will. I hope you stay my little BABY forever! Oh PLEASE don't use the potty, then you'll be such a BIG GROWN UP boy and I'll MISS my little BABY!!" This can also work for unliked vegetables that make you grow big and strong.