Lazy Hippie Mama

One woman's attempt to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort

Change Your Lighting, Change Your Mood – a Moodies Review and Giveaway

*I received a free sample to facilitate this review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Change Your Lighting, Change Your Mood - a Moodies Review and Giveaway | LazyHippieMama.comIs there a certain room where you feel happy, relaxed, stressed, productive or sleepy? Perhaps it is the color of the space that’s affecting you.

Studies have shown that people react in certain ways to differently colored spaces.  Being in a very yellow room can speed metabolism and increase concentration, but it is also linked with losing one’s temper while pink is so calming that some professional sports teams paint the visiting locker rooms pink to keep them mellow before a game.  In spaces that are blue people are more productive – so much so that weightlifters have actually been shown to be capable of lifting heavier weights in gyms that are blue!

It’s not just the paint colors that get to us.  The very light in a room can change our brain chemistry. A large study showed that people who slept in a room where they were exposed to blue or white light struggled more with depression, even though their actual sleep habits were not disturbed at all. On the other hand, red-tinted light didn’t bother them.

Have you ever wished that you could change or soften the light in a room for a romantic dinner or party?

If you don’t have the time, money or energy to remodel your room or buy expensive, colored lights Moodies may be just the ticket.

Change Your Lighting, Change Your Mood - a Moodies Review and Giveaway | LazyHippieMama.com

Moodies are silicone covers for light bulbs. They are made from the same heat-resistant silicone that bakeware is crafted from, so they are safe against the new “pigtail” lightbulbs* and they are super easy to use. You just slip them on over the bulb and tug them off again when you are done. When they originally reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing their product I had never heard of them. I had, however, read about the ways that the colors around us affect us, and so I was intrigued.

My camera isn’t great, so the images here don’t really do the color changes justice, but you get the idea.

The space, with regular lighting:

Change Your Lighting, Change Your Mood - a Moodies Review and Giveaway | LazyHippieMama.com

Yellow:

Change Your Lighting, Change Your Mood - a Moodies Review and Giveaway | LazyHippieMama.com

Red:

Change Your Lighting, Change Your Mood - a Moodies Review and Giveaway | LazyHippieMama.com

Blue (though, for some reason the camera makes it look much more green that it seemed in person):

Change Your Lighting, Change Your Mood - a Moodies Review and Giveaway | LazyHippieMama.com

Moodies come in every color you can think of and a few you probably wouldn’t. One of the covers we received didn’t change the light much at all. I thought, “well that one is kind of lame,” but then I turned the light off and it was glowing quite brightly in the dark! It would be perfect as a nightlight. Others, like the red and blue, created a very dramatic change.  With Halloween coming, I can think of lots of ways that making a simple change in lighting might be fun!

One place I’d like to give my new light covers a try is in my youth room at church. I have always hated the harsh fluorescent lighting in there. I think a lamp with a colored cover on the bulb would go a long way toward making the space warmer and more interesting.

Of course, my kids immediately wanted them in their bedrooms. Sweet Hippie Daughter liked the purple and Toddler-saurus Rex was partial to the green.

If you’d like to try Moodies, they are only about $3 each. I also have a few to share!

Leave a comment, below, or a “like” or comment on the Facebook post related to this post and I will enter your name in a drawing to win one.
What space do you think you might like to change the mood in with a fun colored light?

*Moodies ARE NOT designed to work over the old-style incandescent lightbulbs and are not safe used in combination with them!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Easy DIY No-Sew Alien Costume

Easy DIY No-Sew Alien Costume | LazyHippieMama.comI have found, in the past few years, that I have a ridiculous amount of fun crafting with duct tape. I couldn’t give you any logical reason but, judging by the fact that there is an entire aisle of the stuff in my local supermarket, I’m guessing I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Last year, Sweet Hippie Daughter came up with a wonderful idea for a robot costume made out of duct tape and odds and ends from around the house. It came out beautifully and held up brilliantly through a night of trick-or-treating in some of the most miserable Halloween weather we’ve had in quite a while.

This year, when we started to look at $65 Disney Store costumes, I remembered how much Toddler-saurus Rex loved the hat from that costume and an idea was born. The hat would be recycled and the boy would be the cutest little water-proof alien on the block! Also, $5 worth of tape sounded significantly more reasonable.

I started with a roll of silver tape and some old footie jammies that had holes in the toes. I kept telling myself I was going to mend them but, since he’s got half a dozen other pair of PJs, the reality was he probably would have completely outgrown them before I got around to it.

Easy DIY No-Sew Alien Costume | LazyHippieMama.com

I cut the feet off just below the elastic at the ankles and began taping over the entire thing from the bottom up, keeping the legs stretched open as roomy as possible.  I like to do the back side first because it creates a little bit smoother look in the front but it really doesn’t make a huge difference either way.

Easy DIY No-Sew Alien Costume | LazyHiippieMama.com

When I was done with the back I flipped it over and did the same thing to the front. I taped across the whole thing. Unless you start with something that is 2-3 sizes too big your duct tape suit isn’t going to have enough stretch for your little one to put it on with the zipper anyway. More on that in a minute.

I do suggest leaving an inch or so of uncovered fabric at the shoulders. It will make it much easier for your little one to move his arms.

I left a little patch of the PJs showing, only because I thought the little “space mission” insignia on this pair of PJs was perfect for the outfit. Normally I would have just made it solid silver and maybe drawn a “patch” on the breast with a colorful Sharpie or something.

Easy DIY No-Sew Alien Costume | LazyHiippieMama.com

When it was all done I added a few embellishments made from bright green tape, including a ray-gun holster made out of an old cell phone case I found stashed in a junk drawer.  They do sell reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape which might be a good idea if you have trick or treating after dark in your area.

For the gun I covered a cheap plastic toy gun with silver tape.

Easy DIY No-Sew Alien Costume | LazyHiippieMama.com

Once the whole thing looks just like you want it, flip it face down and cut it open.  If it’s roomy enough you will be able to get away with cutting it only from the neck to the seat. This one was too snug for that so I cut straight down both arms and legs as well, leaving the cuffs around the wrists.

Have your child put it on like a backwards coat and then use a few strips of tape (or a several strips if you want to make it look seamlessly perfect from the back but Lord have mercy on you if the child has to use the bathroom and they’re fully duct taped into their costume!) to fasten it shut. In the photo I did a pretty minimal job because I knew he’d only be wearing it for a few minutes, but you get the idea.

Easy DIY No-Sew Alien Costume | LazyHiippieMama.com

And there you have it! One sweet little alien!

If you’re wondering about the hat, like I said, it was recycled from last year’s costume but it’s just a stocking cap. The antenna are made from pencils covered in tape with little balls of foil stuck on the ends.

When I was finished, I did have the thought that a pair of silver space boots just may be in order. It would be simple to make them from old rain boots, but I’m not sure if I’ll get that ambitious between now and Friday. We’ll see how it goes.

Easy DIY No-Sew Alien Costume | LazyHiippieMama.com

Happy haunting!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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If you enjoyed my blog, it would mean a lot to me if you’d toss me a vote by clicking the Top Mommy Blog banner. Thanks!


ONLY ONE MORE WEEK UNTIL NOVEMBER!

Last November was life-changing for me.   My dreams and goals took a whole new turn.  My confidence in my own ability to accomplish something huge was strengthened in a big way. I pushed myself physically and mentally further than I had in years – and discovered (remembered?) that there’s something very satisfying in that.  I found a very special way to connect with both of my daughters. November became my favorite month of the year.

November = Nanowrimo!

All of that came about when I discovered Nanowrimo: National Novel Writer’s Month.

Only One More Week Until November! | LazyHippieMama.comI had vaguely heard about this idea the year before but I was a new blogger in a swirling sea of terms and language that was unfamiliar to me.  Last year I dug a little deeper and found out it works like this:  There is a website; Nanowrimo.org, where you sign up to participate.  You can plan and conceptualize all you want, but you’re not supposed to start your actual manuscript until November 1. Then, you have from 12:01am on the 1st until midnight on the 30th to write 50,000 words.  Everyone who hits 50,000 wins!  Prizes are, for the most part, things like free or discounted editing or graphic art help from well-respected professionals.

That’s it. Easy as pie, right?

I agonized.  I’d been cooking up a book for just about as long as I had the ability to string a sentence together.  I would start to write. I’d finish a chapter. I’d edit it. I’d write chapter 2. I’d go back and edit chapter 1. Then chapter 2 didn’t quite fit right any more so I’d re-write it.  By the time I got to chapter 3 I couldn’t remember how chapter 1 went.  I’m not sure I ever got past chapter 3.

What if I signed up for this and couldn’t do it? What if I did it and my book was terrible?

My husband, in his wisdom said, “What if? Who cares?”

Good point. If I failed, I failed. This is not the equivalent of failing at walking a tight rope over the Grand Canyon.  If, at the end of November I had only written 25,000 words of garbage… well… so what?

But what if I could actually do it?

That urge to go back and edit is the downfall of untold numbers of wannabe novelists.  It’s impossible to get to the end because you can’t get the beginning exactly perfect.  Nanowrimo is the cure for perfectionism.

In order to keep on-pace you need to finish 1600-1700 words every single day for a month.  Lord have mercy on your soul if you, like me, start late or miss a few days in the middle.  There is no time to spell check or re-consider whether or not the previous chapter creates a hole in your timeline.  It’s a sprint to the finish. Don’t look back. Just run as fast as you can.  Keep writing.  Did you change tenses in the middle of your story? Don’t worry about it. Just keep running.  Did your main character just switch ethnicity? Gender? Acquire a new name? Just keep writing.  Go, man, go.  Write like the wind!

It was totally and utterly exhausting. It sucked every bit of thinking power from my mind and I was consumed and obsessed with constant thoughts of my story world and what was going to happen next.

Only One More Week Until November! | LazyHippieMama.com

It was wonderful!

Last year, after throwing all my fears to the wind and jumping into the already boiling Nanowrimo waters on November 6, I wrote like I’d never written before. If I got stuck I just skipped that scene and went on. I wrote and wrote and wrote and then I wrote a little more and, with HOURS to spare, I hit the 50,000 word mark!  About 10,000 words after that I finished my book.

It was a mess.  A few friends said they wanted to read it. No way! I wasn’t sure it would even be comprehensible!  But it was done. Beginning, middle and end, all strung together in a row.

I DID IT!

Only One More Week Until November! | LazyHippieMama.com

Just as good, or maybe even better, is that both of my daughters did it with me!  There is a Nanowrimo Young Writer’s Edition that they signed up for.  One finished and one didn’t but I was so proud of both of them and awed by their creativity.

It took every bit of the year since then to edit and re-write and edit and correct and re-write again that heap of words but, because the ENTIRE foundation had been laid out, editing was a much smoother project.  I could fix the issues in chapter 1, knowing what was going to happen in chapter 8.  Just last week I put the manuscript in the hands of a major literary agent for the first time.  That’s still a long way from seeing it on the shelf at Barnes and Nobel but… you know what? I think it may actually get there some day!

Only One More Week Until November! | LazyHippieMama.com

And now we are just one week away from the beginning of November again!

Only 7 more days until Nanowrimo!

No late start for me, this year.  I’m standing at the gate with my outline in hand.  Book 2 is leaking out of my pores. My characters need to live the next part of their story!

If you have a story itching to be told, I can’t encourage you enough to go sign up.  Nanowrimo isn’t an editing system or a writing tool – it’s more like…

Picture a major marathon.  There are people lining the streets cheering the runners on, providing support and encouragement to get them over those tough hills.  There are little stations for the runners to get a drink of water. There’s a festive finish-line to strive toward.  And there are hundreds of other runners on the track with you as you run.

The difference between trying to run 26 miles entirely on your own and trying to do it with the encouragement and accountability of that official marathon structure is the difference between writing on your own or writing as part of Nano.  Something about knowing that others are striving alongside you and having a goal to reach for just makes the whole thing easier and more fun.

Sign up!

Go on!

Just do it!

If you want to be writing buddies, look me up on the Nano site and I’ll cheer for you all month long.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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If you enjoyed my blog, it would mean a lot to me if you’d toss me a vote by clicking the banner, above. Thanks!


How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial

I’ve had a few people approach me over the past week or so, inquiring about the idea of balance.

“How do you manage working outside the home, inside the home, volunteering AND homeschooling?!”

These folks have seen the pictures I’ve shared online and on the blog of our family enjoying life to the fullest and, really, honestly… no “Fakebooking”….  we do have a ton of fun. We laugh far more often than we cry, to be sure!

But the truth is, it isn’t always easy. Balance is difficult when you have 26 hours worth of “to-do” in every given 24 hour period. I know that other homeschool moms (well… moms of all sorts!) have exactly the same dilemma so I thought I would lay out an easy step-by-step tutorial of how to organize your day, using a day of my own life for an example.  Of course, you will need to make a few adjustments according to the needs of your own family.

STEP ONE: Give yourself a helping hand by planning the night before.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Before bed, make a list of all the things you need to do the next day. I find that each day includes tasks that I really need to work on in peace and solitude and tasks that I can do while my children are up and about.  Plan on doing the “quiet tasks” early, before the kids wake up.  Calculate how much time you’ll need.

Accept that you won’t get that much time. Compromise with yourself and set the alarm fro 4:00 am.

Laugh at the idea of getting up at 4:00 am. Change the alarm clock to 4:45, acknowledging that you will hit “snooze” at least once.

Be sure, in planning, to jot down notes about starting the day with a great breakfast. Nothing will set you off on the right path like a nice hot plate of organic bacon and farm-fresh eggs with a green smoothie made from home-grown kale!

STEP TWO: Go to sleep.

Image from justIn.com

Image from justIn.com

Now that you have your schedule all worked out you can sleep soundly without giving a single solitary thought to the 400 tasks looming over your head. Be sure to fall asleep as fast as possible because your alarm is going to ring in… like… 5 hours. But don’t think about that or you’ll keep yourself up all night. Really, just don’t think about it all. Easy enough, right? Shut your brain off and go straight to sleep.

STEP THREE: Rise and shine!

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Start by ignoring the alarm. I mean, it’s 4:45 am. What kind of insanity is that?! The sun isn’t even going to START to rise for 3 more hours for the love of God. Turn the alarm off.

Burst out of bed like your butt is on fire at 6:45, realizing with horror that you’re already 2 hours behind schedule and the youngest child has been awake and roaming around the house unsupervised for an unspecified amount of time.

STEP FOUR: Don’t forget that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

For the love of God why did you think, yesterday, that you would have time for bacon and eggs this morning? Toss a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter on the counter and yell at the kids to eat something.

*TIP – you probably planned on showering but, since you’re already behind, you’re going to have to skip that.  Use a baby wipe to tidy up the stinkiest spots and grab a hat. It’s fall. Call it “cool weather fashion.”

STEP FIVE: Check in on social media.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Be sure to write a post about how crazy your morning is.

STEP SIX: Get the family dressed and ready to face the day.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

What?! You just spent AN HOUR on Facebook?

How did that happen? Oh, crap. Quick! Get the kids dressed! Wake up the husband! Feed the animals! Collect the eggs! Choose 5 things off your “to-do” list to move to tomorrow. You know you’re not going to have time today, right? Surely tomorrow you’ll get off to a better start and you’ll be able to get those things done then.

STEP SEVEN: Be prompt.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Work starts at 9:00am. Or 9:15… ish.

STEP EIGHT: Take care of the errands.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Work is done at 1pm. Co-op doesn’t start until 2 and it’s 30 minutes away. That means you should TOTALLY have enough time to grab a few staples that are running low.

Yes, the 93 year old woman in front of you has 42 cases of Ensure and a lifetime supply of Banquet Frozen Dinners in her cart and she is standing in the “12 items or less lane.”  But she’s old. She’s paid her dues. It’s going to be OK.

And, yes, the 15 year old cashier is talking to her co-worker about next weekend’s party which is causing her to take a LONG pause between scanning each of those frozen dinners. We were all young once.

And…. OH, MY GOODNESS! SERIOUSLY?! SHE IS JUST NOW PULLING OUT HER 46 COUPONS AND READING THROUGH THE FINE PRINT ON EACH ONE TO SEE WHICH SHE CAN USE.

Try to stay calm. You can use this opportunity to catch up on important world news. I hear Kate is having morning sickness and Kim’s butt got 2 inches bigger since last month’s photo. These are crucial world events. It’s good to stay informed.

STEP NINE: Be prompt (part 2)

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

You should now be arriving at the co-op class. It’s exactly 2pm. Er… well… 2:08… ish.

STEP TEN: Re-evaluate.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

OK. One kid is at co-op and one is sleeping in the back seat. Take a moment to decide how best to approach the next part of the day. Look at your list. Is there anything on there that is really, truly, seriously VITAL?

Tip: Keep in mind, here, that “vital” means “critical to life.”  Making sure you pick up insulin is pretty vital. Unfolded laundry? Not going to kill anyone. Therefore folding laundry doesn’t really need to be done at all. It’s not that you didn’t accomplish it. It’s more like… you’re become ever more efficient!

Cross off everything that isn’t an issue of life and death.

Look at that! You’re already 90% done with your list and it’s not even 3pm! Buy yourself a pumpkin spice latte. You deserve a reward!

STEP ELEVEN: Take time to play.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Life is too short to be so busy! Toss the list. Go to the park. Don’t just watch. Swing from the monkey bars with your kids. (Hey! Turns out you DID fit a work out in today!)

STEP TWELVE: Order pizza.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

There will be no 4-course dinner tonight, but there will be happy people with full tummies.

STEP THIRTEEN: Bathe the children.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Since “bathe the children” is one of the items that has, for 3 days now, been moved from a previous “to-do” list onto the current one it probably really should be done.

STEP FOURTEEN: Read stories.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Silly voices and wild, illustrative hand motions are strongly encouraged. Though not, perhaps with the pictured book.

STEP FIFTEEN: Tuck everyone in.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

STEP SIXTEEN: Tie up the loose ends.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

OK, so the day didn’t exactly go as planned but you kept the kids alive AND they are clean. Well done! Go you!  And, since you had pizza, there are only a handful of dishes. No worries about that. It’s not so late just take a moment to….

wait….

listen…

STEP SEVENTEEN: Clean up pee 

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The toddler just peed all over the bed so fresh PJs and sheets will be required. They are probably in the clean laundry pile. See? Aren’t you glad you didn’t waste time folding them?

STEP EIGHTEEN: Tuck everyone in.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

STEP NINETEEN: Tie up loose ends.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

The pee pee stuff really is fairly stinky. Just drop it in the washer and… aw, crap! The stuff from last night is still in there and all musty? Ok. No worries. Just run those one more time while you knock out those dishes.  Once the dishes are done, you can switch the laundry over and start the new…

wait…

now what are they doing up there?

STEP TWENTY: Get in touch with your inner theologian.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

It is extraordinary the deep and thoughtful questions young children think of late at night.  Of course, they couldn’t POSSIBLY be able to sleep until they have reasonable answers to things like, “why does God let bad things happen?”

STEP TWENTY-ONE: Tuck everyone in.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

STEP TWENTY-TWO: Tie up loose ends.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Since the children so graciously helped the time pass you can now switch the laundry. Just forget the dishes. Tomorrow is a new day.

Now is a good time to start working on “STEP ONE” for tomorrow.  Using pretty paper and a fun, glitter-colored pen may…

Wait…

Are they SERIOUSLY out of bed again?

HOLY CRAP! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET THEIR LITTLE BUTTS IN BED RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME GOD THERE WILL BE SWIFT AND TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES!

STEP TWENTY-THREE: Just go to bed.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Seriously. Sleep. And rest well knowing that no parent in the world had a perfect day but if you loved and laughed and lived life you did very well. Some day the house will be tidy. Or not. Who cares? Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’re doing just fine.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

Top Mommy Blog

If you enjoyed my blog, it would mean a lot to me if you’d toss me a vote by clicking the banner, above. Thanks!


Sharing My Story – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

Sharing My Story - Pregnancy and Infant Loss AwarenessI have two babies that died.

I don’t really talk about it and I don’t think I’ve ever written about it before. Not because I’m ashamed, but because what happened seems so intensely private to me.

I have come to realize though, that I have found healing in hearing the stories of others and realizing that I’m not alone. It is my hope that my story will help someone else.

October is Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Month. That means a lot of things for a lot of people. Research – let’s find out why this happens and try to stop it. Remembrance – let’s mourn for our littlest ones, lost. Support – let’s show our love to those close to us who are hurting.

For me, it is a bit of all of that.

Around the time that Sweet Hippie Daughter went off to school that little internal ticking became more and more distracting until I had to sit down with Handsome Hippie Hubby and tell him how I felt.  I REALLY want another baby!

We discussed it for a long time. Finances were an issue. We were scraping by without a penny to spare. He was feeling too old. “I don’t want to be raising kids until I’m a senior citizen,” he told me.  But, after a year or so, on my November birthday, he said, “You know, I think maybe I’m ready for one more baby, too.”

We did everything right. I cut out caffeine and alcohol and took up walking. I went to the doctor and got checked out from head to toe. I was older, but not so old – still in my early 30s.

In March we got the news we’d been waiting for. Baby was on the way! I was ecstatic! I ran out and bought a maternity shirt that day. My arms were already aching to hold my baby. I felt just like I did with my first pregnancy – perfectly healthy with very little appetite but no major nausea. I was an insomniac and dry toast gave me heartburn just as surely as hot-pepper-covered pizza.

Toward the end of April I had a sudden urge to use the bathroom. I sat down and found myself in a horror movie. There was so much blood! I didn’t have pain at all. Just bleeding. A lot of bleeding.

I screamed for Sweet Hippie Daughter and she came running, right away.  “Go next door to where Daddy works and tell him I need him. It’s an emergency. I need him to take me to the doctor right away.”

It seemed like 10 seconds later that he was at my side and helping me to the car. I cried a little. I knew what was happening. I knew they couldn’t stop it. But I kept telling myself I was wrong.

At the hospital it didn’t take long at all for them to confirm my fears.  “Your hormone levels are far too low. This is way too much blood. The pregnancy is ending.”

That’s when I lost it and started truly sobbing.

The doctor, who had been very cold and more physically rough than any I’d ever been to, actually asked me, “What are you crying about?”

I was sent home to recover with instructions to follow up with my OB/GYN in the morning.

I asked myself the doctor’s question, “What are you crying about?” I didn’t ever hold this child. I hadn’t really even told anyone about the pregnancy yet.  It was so early in the pregnancy that the embryo probably never even had a heartbeat.

But it wasn’t just an embryo. It was my baby.

More than that, it was the hope of a baby in the future.  If I lost this one, who’s to say that I will ever be able to carry another?

It seemed like it should have hurt more. As the hubs tucked me under the blankets of our bed and sat there, brushing my hair away from my forehead it seemed like my body should require some nursing. But the truth is my body felt fine, even as a piece of my heart withered up and died.

I only told a handful of people what had happened.

To my surprise, very nearly every woman I spoke to had her own story.  I couldn’t help but wonder. How common is this?!

In May there was another positive test and I was very happy but there was a shadow this time.  I didn’t run out and buy anything. I waited.

I had learned that the vast majority of miscarriages happen in the first 8 weeks. How many? Some reports guess that nearly 75% of women experience an early miscarriage at some point in their lives – often without even realizing they were pregnant. I passed 8 weeks and started to have hope.

In week 9, in the middle of Sunday morning church I felt that now-familiar “letting go” feeling and knew that the bleeding had started again.

Another baby was gone and hope was even further away.  Even my doctor started to hint at a problem. “Do you remember having issues with your IUD? Did you have a lot of pain after your daughter’s delivery?”

There was no reason that anyone could give me why my body could not hold on to my babies.

The doctor told us to stop trying for a month and, when I had another positive test I should call her that same day.

In August I called her. She immediately put me on hormones and sent me for an ultrasound. I was 5 weeks pregnant and my little bean showed up beautifully in grainy black and white.

“There is no heartbeat,” the technician told me.  “But that’s nothing to worry about. It’s very early. We’ll try again in a week or two.”

At six weeks there was no heartbeat.

At eight weeks there was no heartbeat and the tech stopped trying to be cheerful.

The nurse from my OB/GYN’s office called and said, “this is not a real pregnancy. There’s just an empty sac there. I expect your body will reject it any day now. Call us right away when that happens.”

Not “if.” When.

At 9 1/2 weeks I was still waiting for that moment when I went in for yet another scan. I stepped into the bathroom and there it was – a tiny spot of blood. Just one tiny spot.  I came out and told the tech and she said, “it’s OK. It’s not so much. Let’s look anyway.”

And there it was! Fluttering away like mad. My little bean was alive! And I was bleeding.

It was one of the most terrifying times of my life. I was afraid to move. I was afraid to sneeze. I was terrified every time I went to the bathroom.

I would talk to my belly. “Hold on in there! I know it might be hard but I saw how strong you are. Just don’t let go, OK? Hold on and I promise to do everything I can to help from my side of the wall.”

Thanks be to God that at about 14 weeks the tiny trickle of blood stopped.

We dared to start sharing our good news and at 20 weeks our ultrasound showed us a rather large, perfectly formed baby boy.

He held on. He held on until contractions started at 36 weeks.

“No! Not yet!” I told my belly.  “At least another week or two, OK? It’s getting close but it’s not time yet.”

And he held on.

38 weeks came and I was exultant.  “You can come out now!” I said.

And he held on.

40 weeks came and I was massive and miserable. “Please, for the love of God, come out, son!”

And he held on.

42 weeks came and it was time to call in reinforcements. “Go in and get him out!” I begged.

And they did. It took a c-section, one nurse kneeling on the table, pushing down on my belly, and two on the tail end, pulling with forceps and a vacuum. The hubs stood there looking horrified while trying to reassure me and I lay on the table thinking, “golly, that guy got somebody’s blood all over his shoes,” and wondering if I was going to throw up because something felt very weird in my abdominal region.

A little side note: They give you some pretty powerful drugs at times like those.

A whole OR full of med students Oohed and Aaahed when they finally dragged my reluctant, perfectly round, very pink, squalling, nearly 10 pound baby boy into the world.

He had a perfect knot in his umbilical cord. It was explained to me that every time I had a contraction he would be pushed downward. That motion would tighten the knot and cut off his air supply. By pulling away from the cervix he would stop the contractions and be able to breathe. If labor had progressed he would very likely have been stillborn.

He is our miracle baby.

The second he was in my arms he latched on and started nursing and I swear, in 3 1/2 years the kid hasn’t stopped eating yet.

Finally, our baby was with us, whole and healthy and loved so very much.

I still hold him and wonder about my other babies. Would they have been boys or girls? Would they have Sweet Hippie Daughter’s extraordinary insight? Would they be as insatiably curious as Toddler-saurus Rex? Would they have had eyes like mine or, like their siblings, looked more like their Daddy?

I will never know. And I don’t think I will ever be OK with that. The loss of those children left a mark that will always be tender, though it’s no longer as raw as it once was.

I understand now, that I am not alone. Millions of women deal with pregnancy loss every year. We are not alone, but each of our stories are as unique as the babies we loved and lost.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

 


A Review And A Great Deal From Collage.com

*This is a sponsored post. I have received free trial products for the purposes of sharing an honest review with you.

A Great Deal From Collage.com | LazyHippieMama.comI shared a great deal from Collage.com a few weeks ago and promised a product review when my own books came.

Well, they came and I certainly was not disappointed!  They are beautiful!

The larger book (11.5″x8″ hardcover) has a gorgeous, glossy cover with sharp, clear colors. The pages are thick and reasonably sturdy and the background that I chose from the several offered adds a very nice touch of “pizzaz” around the photos.

In doing the layout I was a little concerned that some of the pages that had 4 or 5 pictures would be too cluttered and the photos would be too small to see but they were just as clear and lovely as the full-page selections.

The smaller book (8″x6″ softcover) was nice as well. The front cover was similar to a glossy print that you would get from a photo developer. The pages were not quite as bright as the larger book but they were still very nice and not at all flimsy.

In the 8″x6″ version some of the photos really were a tad tiny. The quality of printing was still quite clear, they were just very small images. If I had it to do over I would probably only put 1 or 2 photos on each page.

A Review and a Great Deal from Collage.com | LazyHippieMama.com

The process of making the books couldn’t have been any simpler. The collage.com editing system allowed me to adjust the color and brightness of the photos, crop the images and add text within the photo or as a title on the page. It’s possible to put just one photo on a page or to add several, arranging them within different layouts. It didn’t take long at all!

In the end, I got a beautiful “scrapbook” without having to buy a bunch of special paper, stickers, adhesives, hole punchers and more. It was fairly quick, very easy and entirely mess-free.

You can get a great deal  too!  Just follow this link for 51% off a 20-page 11.5″x8″ Hardcover Photo Book From Collage.com.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  


Partnering With Monsters To Prepare For Zombies

 

Partnering With Monsters To Prepare For Disaster | LazyHippieMama.com

It’s easy to joke about “the zombie apocalypse” but did you realize that, just last year alone, there were more than 85 national emergencies declared? These situations can range from wildfires to hurricanes, tornados to snow storms.  As much as we hate to think about it, disaster can strike in any place, at any time and it comes in all too many forms.

We live in Michigan and two out of the last three winters have seen people trapped in their homes with no way out and no power for days.  Just a few weeks ago our neighbors down the road in Toledo found themselves suddenly without access to clean water.

Children aren’t oblivious. They see smoke rising from the mountains or hear hail pounding against their windows and they know that Mother Nature is not always gentle.  It can be really scary for them!

A huge part of keeping your family safe is being prepared ahead of time. Letting your children see that you have taken steps to ensure everyone’s safety will help them feel safer in these frightening situations.  Even better, let them help you create an emergency kit.

Don’t let the idea of putting a kit together become overwhelming. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. Keep in mind, an emergency kit doesn’t have to be a two year stockpile of food and medical equipment!  Having enough food and water to take care of your family for a few days and a few flashlights (with good batteries!) can mean the difference between riding out a storm in relative safety or finding yourself in a  life-threatening situation.

If you do want to make your kit a little more elaborate, other things to consider keeping may be a first aid kit, a crank or battery-powered radio, a whistle (to signal for help), a dust mask and plastic sheeting, wet wipes and trash bags, a few simple tools like a wrench, pliers, screwdrivers and duct tape. Consider what you might really NEED if you couldn’t get to the store. Diapers? Maxi pads? TP? Medications? Dog food?

A tip that my family learned the hard way during a nasty ice storm: Have a manual can opener on hand if your emergency food is stored in cans!  Yes, you can get cans open without one, but using one is A LOT easier!

If your child struggles with anxiety about these situations, involving them in this process can be huge. Ask them what they would like to include. Would it make them feel better to have a certain toy or book tucked in the box with the food? It might not make sense to you but if it makes them feel better it’s totally worth the little bit of space.

Also, for your child’s safety, be sure that they know their full name and yours as well and also their home address. If you get separated and they are looking for “mommy and daddy” you’re going to be hard to find!

I am so excited to be exploring ways that LazyHippieMama.com and America’s Morning Headquarters on The Weather Channel can partner up to bring families helpful and important tips like these.  This week, AMHQ’s host, Sam Champion, had a super cute interview with Elmo. They talked about all of this information and I’ve included the clip, below. Coming from an adorable fuzzy monster, emergency preparedness tips aren’t quite so intimidating.  And, really, even for children, being able to keep calm and think clearly in tough situations is just as important as all these other things!  I’d encourage you to watch the little video clip with your children and share it as well. This is such super-important information!  Being ready for disaster before it strikes can truly mean the difference between life and death.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Then And Now: How Being A Public School Kid Turned Me Into A Homeschool Parent

My best friend will tell you that public school cheated her out of a real education. Her husband will say the same x1000 and, in his case especially, I think he may be right. He’s a remarkably bright guy and a quick and eager learner that got marginalized for all the wrong reasons.  As for myself, I never really felt cheated.

Growing up in public school I always felt like I was learning. I still remember specific lessons and when I started college I had the tools I needed to keep up.

I never felt like school was all bad.

On the other hand, I was bored.

So. Very. Bored.

What school looked like for me...

What school looked like for me…

I remember clearly the first moment it hit me. I was in the first grade and we were reading out loud in groups around little round tables that I loved because they were just the right size for me.  I read my paragraph of “Run, Spot, Run,” and then the next kid went and it was just painful. She had to sound out every letter and syllable. She didn’t pronounce the words right. She didn’t do the little inflection thing that the teacher had told us goes on the end of a question. It took FOREVER. When she was done, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then the next kid started and, God help me, he was just as bad!

I couldn’t take it so I started reading ahead. I needed to know where that dog was running to, darn it, and I didn’t have all year to find out!

The sweet grey-haired teacher who actually wore denim jumpers with little apples stitched on the pockets, reached over and put her hand on mine. “Don’t read ahead, dear. Stay with us.”

And that was the beginning. “Don’t move ahead. Stay with us.”

It was a constant battle. If we hit a chapter of the science book that was especially interesting I wanted to read the whole chapter. I wanted to know everything and then learn more but, no, that’s not how it works. The class is ONLY working on page 12 for the next 3 weeks. Just page 12. No other pages. For THREE WEEKS.  I’m not making that up. That actually happened once.

In high school my algebra teacher said some beautiful words. “I’m giving you homework as practice to help you understand how to do the work so you can do well on the test.”

*Just a little sidebar here: Note that, in his wisdom, he did not say, “practice to help you understand these concepts so you can apply them to every day life.”

Then And Now | LazyHippieMama.com

AH! Great! I already understood, so I didn’t need to do the homework. I took the test. I got an A. I got an A on EVERY test in that class. And then, when I got my report card I was failing. My mother, who felt anything less than a “B” was completely unacceptable in any circumstance was furious. A meeting was held.

“She hasn’t done any homework,” the teacher said.

“You said I didn’t have to!” I practically screamed.

“I said no such thing!” He said.

I explained my reasoning.

“Well… you still have to do the homework.” He insisted.

“Why?! If I understand well enough to ace every test, why in the name of God do I need to spend an hour of every night IN ADDITION to the hour I spend every day in your classroom practicing? I clearly understand the material!”

He just sat there for a moment, flustered. I thought maybe I’d won. But then he said, “You need to learn sticktoativeness.”

WHAT?!  THAT’S NOT EVEN A WORD!

To this day my lip curls when people use that “word.”

Then and Now | LazyHippieMama.com

And school was a social nightmare for me.

I’m not terribly shy, but I am an introvert. I don’t make new friends easily and I’ve never been head cheerleader material.

I had a few great, close friends without whom I would have been lost. To this day those people are my great, close friends without whom I would be lost! But God help me if they weren’t there for some reason. Where do you sit at lunch when your friends aren’t there? If you’re me, alone in the bathroom. Better to go hungry than to face the lunchroom without backup.

Being teased, as kids usually are at some point, didn’t teach me to be stronger in a harsh world. It taught me to curl up and become invisible, to keep my voice inside and never ever put myself out in front of people if I could help it.

We all graduated and everyone was weeping over “the end of an era.” I had my bags packed and one foot out the door. I had better things to move on to. I was over it.

It’s been 20 years and I recently skipped my reunion. I’m still over it.  I had no desire to re-live “the good old days.” Those days were sort of a wash, at best, in my book. There was some good. There was some bad. I survived. I’ve never been happier in my life than I am now so I’ll just live right here in 2014. Thanks, anyway, for the invite.

I say all that to say this:

There are a lot of reasons why we homeschool. Handsome Hippie Hubby and I came up with 115 of them this year. (You can read them here.) But I’d be lying if I said that my decision wasn’t shaped, at least in part, by my own experience.

My children are bright and curious (as pretty much every child I’ve ever met is). They are strong readers and quick learners. I don’t want them to ever have to sit on page 3 for an hour while someone else tries to sound out words. I still don’t see the point in doing homework if you clearly have a strong grasp of a subject. You get it? Great! Let’s move on. Life is to short to dilly dally in the world of mediocrity.

What school looks like for my daughter.

What school looks like for my silly daughter.

Conversely, I see that there are certain subjects where my children struggle a little. Homeschooling gives them a pressure-free environment where they can spend as long as they need to finding their way. No teasing. No impatient girls, tapping their foot and sighing because they’ve been stuck on page 3 for an hour.

My daughter is the kind of child that is utterly crushed by harsh words. When she encounters life’s inevitable bullying situations as she plays on various sports teams, attends co-op classes and so forth, she isn’t left all alone to try to figure out how to deal with it.

Public school was not horrible for me. It wasn’t perfect, but I survived. I came out with what I feel was a decent education and a few great friends. I homeschool, in part, because I don’t want “I survived” to be part of how my children feel about their youth. I’m realistic enough to know that, regardless of the choices we make, our children will look back and see some good and some bad. I’m hoping that, by homeschooling, we will be tipping the scales a bit in favor of the good.

I’m curious to know how your own childhood experiences have shaped the choices you’ve made for your children. I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Not In My Name

Not In My Name | LazyHippieMama.comThis is not my usual post. I know that many of you come here for gardening tips or homeschooling support and I love that! I hope that, even though this is different it is a benefit to your spirit. I also hope that you will stick with me, regardless of your religious beliefs. Consider it a personal favor to hear me out. It would mean a great deal to me because this is heavy on my heart to the point where I’m literally dreaming about it at night. It’s high-time I say what I’ve been choking back for a long time and, since I’ve got this little corner of the blogosphere to call my own… here it is.

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law shared an extraordinarily powerful story about a close friend of hers who is Israeli. I won’t go into all of the details here but it came down to a moment when this young woman, along with a small number (relatively speaking) of her like-minded countrymen very literally placed themselves in between two armies. Both armies were committing acts of unspeakable violence against civilians and the true battle between the opposing forces was about to commence. These protestors stepped out into no-man’s land and said – to both sides – you will not do this in my name. I am a citizen of Israel and I stand for peace. If you want to kill each other you will need to kill me and all of these peace loving people between you first. 

They did not end the war, but they stopped that battle. It could have gone very differently for them, but thankfully, that day, the voice of peace prevailed. That day, in that place, lives were spared.

I have thought about that story for weeks.

“You will not do this in my name.”

I think about that every single day.

You see, I call myself “a Christian.” I truly believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God.

You believe differently, you say?

I have no beef with you.

I love the part in the movie, The Stand, when Nick Andros tells Mother Abigail, “But I don’t believe in God.” And she starts laughing and embraces him and says, “That’s OK, Nick. God believes in you.”

See, as a Christian, I accept the Bible as the message of God. Today’s post isn’t to debate how literal the stories of the prophets were meant to be taken or whether or not the correct number of gospels were included. Frankly, for what I have to say today, none of that matters because the Bible has one over-arching theme: Love.

When asked to choose a single commandment, out of hundreds (thousands?) that stood out as the most important, Jesus answered, “Love God with all of your heart, your mind, your strength.” Then he offered the runner up as well. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” His next statement was immensely powerful. “All of the other commands are hung upon this.”

You simply can’t, in good conscious, call yourself a Christian – a follower of Christ – unless you accept that loving God and loving others is the most important thing we can do.

“But who is my neighbor?” The guy in the story asks.

And Jesus goes on to tell the parable of The Good Samaritan. If you haven’t read it before it’s worth a glimpse so I linked to it here. Basically, it’s a story about a Jewish man who is badly beaten and robbed. He is then left in the gutter to die by the religious and political leaders of his own country. Finally, a foreigner from the nation most despised by the Jews – a people considered so spiritually filthy that to converse with them meant ritual cleansing would be needed – picked him up, clothed him, took him to safety and provided for his ongoing care. That foreigner was the man’s true neighbor.

So Jesus was saying we are supposed to love not just those who think and act and look as we do, but even those (especially those?) who are completely different from us in every way.

And what does love look like?

The Bible tells us this:

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

It does not envy.

It does not boast

It is not proud.

It does not dishonor others.

It is not self-seeking

It is not easily angered

It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. 

(From 1 Corinthians 13)

If you call yourself a Christian then your entire spiritual belief system is based upon the belief that God Himself loved THE ENTIRE WORLD with such a powerful, all-encompassing love that He took on flesh, was born as a man, took on the failings of EVERY person, died and conquered death, creating a pathway for EACH of us to be restored to right-relationship with the Divine.

Not some people or American people or good people or most people.  ALL people.

“Christian” means, “a follower of Christ.”

“Leave your nets and follow me,” Jesus said.

“Take up your cross and follow me,” Jesus said.

There is a whole universe of stuff that is open for interpretation and debate in the Bible and in Jesus’ teachings but that one message was given again and again in simple, clear, unmistakable terms.

God’s love is immeasurable. It is universal. It is eternal.

God’s love is for every person of every time in every place.

God’s love is consistent, selfless and without bounds.

AND

We are to love as God loves.

A quick glimpse at history tells us that Jesus lived in a time and society where many were worshipping other gods in ways that were very different from the way that the Jews worshipped. He was surrounded by people who didn’t follow the God of the Old Testament. He often encountered prostitutes and “loose women,” thieves, liars, cheats and other “undesirables.”

He showed love to all of them. He was no moral relativist. He stood firm in telling them, “what you’ve been doing is wrong. Don’t do it any more.” But he didn’t shun them or yell at them or berate them. He didn’t order them to be imprisoned or killed. On the contrary, he invited them with dinner, visited them in their homes and socialized with them. He loved them, even while disagreeing with them.

He loved them.

Do you know who he yelled at and berated on a pretty regular basis?  Those who thought they were so clean and righteous and generally wonderful that they had the authority to pass moral judgement on those different from themselves.

Hmmm….

So… here we are in “The Year Of Our Lord, 2014.”

Every day I see and hear people who put on their pretty clothes and go to church on Sunday and proudly call themselves, “Christian,” spewing hatred.

There are a lot of versions of this. Hatred toward abortionists and those who have had abortions. Hatred against homosexuals and those who are advocating for equal rights. Hatred toward illegal immigrants. Hatred toward drug addicts. Hatred toward Muslims.

So much hatred toward Muslims!

In this swirling sea of hate, I occasionally see this pop up on social media. It’s just a t-shirt, but the message is extraordinary and powerful – because it is the MOST IMPORTANT bit of instruction God ever gave mankind.

Not In My Name | LazyHippieMama.com

Jesus held people to a high standard of clean living. He told them, “it is wrong to have adulterous relationships. You’ve sinned in stealing. You must be truthful in your business dealings.”

Because otherwise you’ll burn in Hell?

No… because if you love your neighbor as yourself you won’t sleep with your neighbor’s wife or steal from your employer or cheat your client. Love doesn’t act that way.

And there is NO GREATER COMMANDMENT than to love.

If you are living as Christ lived you will love your neighbors. ALL of your neighbors. Not most of them. ALL of them. Every. Single. One.

Love the neighbors who are a little dislikable – the ones who are obnoxiously political, the ones who are bossy, rude and selfish. The bullies and brutes and the jerks.

Love the neighbors who are truly despicable – the rapists and the murders, the child molesters and the terrorists.

Does that mean you have to smile and hug them and say, “what you’ve done is perfectly OK.”

OF COURSE NOT!

That’s not what Jesus did.

But neither did Jesus wish anyone dead and gone. He didn’t cheer for their destruction or pray for their death.

Instead, he prayed for their restoration to God’s own heart and cheered at their salvation.

This is the core of my faith. It is the rock-hard, solid, center of what a life time of spiritual seeking has brought me to.

It seems that there are clear sides being drawn up. On one side are “Christians” who are opposed to anyone with a different view having so much as a voice to express their own opinion and who are screaming for the blood of the infidel.

On the other side are those who denounce anyone with a faith in a higher power as an ignorant buffoon at best and a hateful warmonger at worst.

And I feel that the time has come for me to stand, as my SIL’s friend stood, between warring factions, and say, “I am a Christian and you will not do this in my name.”

Just to be clear, no, I’m not saying that me sharing my faith on Facebook from the safety of my living room is in any way on the same level as what those protestors in the Middle East did.  I’m simply saying this:

To those who call themselves Christian while cheering at the destruction or suffering of any member of God’s creation I say, “Do what you will, but do not count my name among your numbers. I am not with you.”

To those who have been hurt by “Christians” I say, “Not all ‘Christians’ are like those who hurt you. In fact, most of us aren’t. Most of us are trying hard to live a life of love. Sometimes we fall a bit (or significantly more than a bit) short. We’re only human after all. But, really, truly, most of us believe that Jesus loves you and so do we.”

And love never fails.

*After I published this I came across an article on Huffington Post talking about the massive number of Muslims creating a #NotInMyName movement. I LOVE THIS! My heart is buoyed by the idea that, all over the globe, men and women are standing firm for peace!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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That’s A Wrap On Summer 2014

That's a Wrap On  Summer | LazyHippieMama.com

According to the calendar, summer 2014 is a wrap and, indeed this summer’s garden is just about done. Here’s some of what we learned and experienced this year, a few notes on the autumn crops, and a really great product I had a chance to try.

We bought Kale seeds from Mary’s Organic Seed Company.  The kale grew up quickly and it’s been going strong all season long. We’ve picked at it several times a week and you can never tell. If anything, it’s only gotten bigger since the weather turned cool.

That's a wrap on summer | LazyHippieMama.com

We also got an heirloom sweet corn variety from them. It was a total bust. The plants were beautiful but we didn’t get a single decent ear of corn. I can’t put all the blame on the seeds or the variety of corn we chose. Since this is our first season in this house we didn’t realize how far the shade from our big walnut tree would reach and the corn ended up with very little sunlight. Also, I’m told that the tannins from the walnuts themselves change the chemistry of the soil which could have contributed to the problem.  Next year we’ll do things differently in that corner of the garden.

Our heirloom popcorn from Tietz Family Farms grew fairly well. It’s not quite totally dried yet, so we won’t harvest for another week or two.

This summer’s weather was a little weird. We had long periods of dryness followed by torrential rainfall that would leave the ground soggy for days. The temperatures stayed very mild, often getting downright chilly in the evenings.  Apparently these circumstances create an issue known as “blossom end rot” in tomatoes.  At one point I was certain we weren’t going to get any tomatoes at all. They hung, green, on the vine for weeks and those that turned were only turning because they were rotting.  Then, right around labor day, we got some rain and the temperatures hit 90 and, literally over-night, the whole garden ripened.  Since we’d planted about twice as many tomatoes as we really needed we ended up with a great haul. If we hadn’t had any issues we would have never been able to keep up with the harvest and processing.

We had four varieties of large tomatoes as well as some “Sweet 100″ cherry tomatoes.  Four of our plants were beefsteak tomatoes from a local nursery and they put out the prettiest, roundest, reddest, most “meaty” tomatoes I’ve ever seen. We didn’t lose a single fruit on those plants to blossom end rot!

That's A Wrap On Summer | LazyHippieMama.com

I looked up how to clone tomato plants and I’m going to try over-wintering some cuttings. I’d love to grow more of those next summer!

That's a wrap on summer | LazyHippieMama.com

Spaghetti squash grew like mad. 3 or 4 plants on 2 little hills put out well over 100 pounds of squash!

Seeds from Burpee Organic yielded a monster of a zucchini plant.  It was so big that people were commenting on having noticed it from the road as they were driving by.  Note that our garden is behind a barn, 50 yards or so off the road.  It was a BIG plant.  It was prolific in the way that only summer squash seems to be and then it started to wilt and die… but no… wait… it sent out “runners,” which are now putting out a whole second crop. I didn’t even know zucchini could do that!

That's a wrap on summer | LazyHippieMama.com

And the zucchini just keeps coming…

We lost our cucumbers to greedy chickens. The strawberries were really too young to be impressive, though the occasional bright red berry all summer long was a joy to find! Our pumpkin patch consisted of one vine that never had a single pumpkin. Squirrels ate every single hazelnut.

Look at all those shells. I bet they were delicious. *sigh* I hope the squirrels enjoyed them.

Look at all those shells. I bet they were delicious. *sigh* I hope the squirrels enjoyed them.

 

Oh, well. Win some, lose some.

All in all it was a great first year on this property. We harvested well over 500 pounds of fruits and veggies with the fall stuff still trickling in! Not bad considering the late start and total disorganization surrounding the planting of the garden that was pretty good.

ON PRESERVING:

We pickled and canned using a hot water bath this year and that works out fine. I did burn out a bit at the end and sadly ended up letting more tomatoes than I wanted to go bad. I’m not beating myself up too much. It was an overwhelming few months for a number of reasons and I was working on a stove that only has 2 (sometimes 3, if the stars align) working burners.

We froze as much as we could fit in the freezer and hung peppers and carrot tops to dry them.

Most winter squash will store very well, kept in any cool, dry place. Dry is important. We lost a large amount of our squash to mold when it got damp in the barn. Disappointing, but lesson learned.

If we really are going to be serious about being as self-sufficient as possible we really need a pressure canner, a deep freeze and a dehydrator. Four burners would be lovely as well. But, you know… we’ll get there. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.

Any sponsors out there who want to send me free appliances? Just thought I’d put it out there.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Next year I’ll plant fewer tomatoes and a greater variety of other veggies. By then we’ll have our raised beds ready to go so we’ll have that space plus we plan to enlarge the main garden a bit.

I’m hoping my little tomato clones will flourish over the winter. I’ll also save seeds from the spaghetti squash and zucchini plants that did so well. We’re also going to try to make some good cuttings from our concord grape vines. The vines we had did beautifully but we’ll be out of juice before the snow flies and I never did make any jam.  We really love grape juice. The kids were guzzling it up just about as fast as I could pick the grapes. OK – maybe not just the kids.

I’ll definitely plant sweet corn again but I’ll try a different variety and plant it away from the walnut tree.

 THE PROMISED COOL PRODUCT:

Kidecals wrote and asked if I would try out their labels and, if I liked them, share them with you.

kidecals-logo

I loved them!

I ordered these adorable little customized Christmas labels and they came just a few days later. They are super sturdy and the picture doesn’t do the bright colors and clear quality justice. They feel more like plastic than paper. This means they are water proof and also that they will peel off without leaving a messy, ugly residue on your jars.

Canning labels | LazyHippieMama.com

They had several styles of labels for canning but also labels for just about every other conceivable use, some very cool wall decals, key board stickers and more.

I’ll definitely be ordering from them again! I hope you take a minute to check out their website. You’re going to love it!

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