Little Earth Mama

Last summer when I was up in VT with the kids, some family friends gave Amelia a Sesame Street DVD about loving the Earth.  It’s a nice little DVD formatted like a normal Sesame Street episode, a storyline that’s interspersed with little vignettes (some old-school, some new).  For a while she watched it religiously and sang along with all the songs (water, water, water), but that seemed to be it.  Yesterday she pulled the movie out again and asked if she could watch it.  She was so excited when I said ‘yes’ (meanwhile I was JUST as excited because I had stuff to do without the help of a 4 year old).  A few minutes later I heard her singing along and thought about how sweet it was.  At one point, she shouted from the living room “Mommy…we should love the Earth!”  and I shouted back “Absolutely!”.

I was doing the dishes when Amelia walked into the kitchen, walked up beside me & said “Mom, it’s important that we conserve water.”  Now, I don’t use a lot of water to do dishes.  Call it environmental concern, but it’s actually the result of the same thing that leads to most of my “green” habits….complete and utter cheapness.  Yes, I love the Earth.  Yes, I think it’s important to save the environment.  But when it comes down to it, I’m constantly looking for the cheapest and easiest way to do everything.  Let’s just call it “Living Simply”, that seems to make everyone happy.  So, Amelia came in and seemed to criticize my water conservation.  I told her that I was already trying hard to use as little water as I could, thinking that she’d back down.  She just looked up at me and, completely straight-faced, said “well, try harder.”  Uh, okay.

Later, undoubtedly inspired by this number, Amelia walked into the kitchen with a yogurt container and said “We should re-use things.  Can we re-use this?” and placed the container on the counter.  I can’t even explain to you how sweet she sounded when she said this and how overwhelmed with mama-pride I was when I heard it.  I definitely lean toward “Reduce” & “Re-use” and tend to blow off “Recycle” (don’t judge me  I try.  It just doesn’t always work out).  I had a tiny moment of panic trying to decide whether I was supposed to wash the cup immediately so we could re-use it or hold off so we could conserve water.  I decided to give a quick rinse and distracted Amelia with brainstorming uses for the cup.  She’s really into feeding birds, so she thought that maybe we could use the cup to help fill the birdfeeders.  My 4 year old is a genius!

For the rest of the day, Amelia brought me all of her…well…trash and asked if we could re-use it.  I tried to draw the line at a Capri Sun pouch (gotta love grandparents doing the grocery shopping), but Amelia suggested that we could make stars out of the shiny silver. 

I love it.  I just love it.  I love that my daughter is so creative and innovative.  I love that she connected her DVD with her own actions.  And I LOVE that she got all of this from Sesame Street.  While people love bashing television and children’s programming, I will always stand by my belief that Sesame Street taught me about the world.  As a little white girl growing up in rural Vermont where everybody looked and sounded just like me, I learned Spanish from Luis & Maria, I saw Gordon’s shiny dark scalp & Olivia’s braids, I saw Bob use sign language to speak to Linda & I saw that kids could run and play in the city just like they could in the country.  How can any of that be bad????  But I’m getting off the subject……

Amelia is embracing her place in the world and I think it’s fantastic.  The other day we were at Disney store (dude, she TOTALLY tricked me) and I agreed to buy her some Tinkerbell swimming goggles.  When we got up to the counter to pay, the cashier asked if we’d like to buy a reusable shopping bag for $2.  I thought it would be a great idea because Amelia loves carrying one when we go to Kroger and all of mine are pretty boring.  They had several different styles and Amelia picked (after passing over Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, High School Musical & Wall-E) the simplest bag with Mickey Mouse hugging the Earth.

I am so proud of my little Earth Mama.

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Digging in the Earth

There is something so satisfying about digging in the earth.  Something so wonderful about planting something beautiful or useful or good.  Something so good about creating.

Lately we’ve been doing a lot in our yard.  It started with the woman running across our lawn.  It needed to be fixed…so we fixed it.  But once we started fixing one thing, we realized how much nicer it would look if we did this…and that…and maybe this too….

It should be said that when I say “we”, I actually mean “mostly Jason, but me a little”.  My main jobs have been to cheer and encourage and get tall glasses of ice water so Jason wouldn’t pass out while shoveling dirt in the mid-day sun.  My other job has been to create and maintain the potted herb garden on our porch that Jason has very little (absolutely no) interest in.

Our yard has made a complete transformation this year.  It’s suddenly this wide open, completely lush space.  It’s actually the NICEST lawn on the street.  It’s a bit more manicured than I usually like….but give it a few years for the new plants to spread and flourish and it’ll take on that “Secret Garden” feel that I like.  Yesterday, while discussing the backyard (which, oddly, we’ve done absolutely nothing to) I was thrilled to hear Jason use the word “sanctuary”.  It makes me feel like someday our house will be nothing but flowers growing wild and beautiful.

As much as Jason doesn’t care, I am so completely, nerdily, over the top PSYCHED about the herbs that I’m growing.  I’ve wanted to do it for years.  Every spring I’d think about how cool it would be to plant something (besides the random houseplants that we occasionally replant).  I’ve always thought that it would be cool to grow something useful like fresh herbs.  That way I’d finally be able to make those gourmet meals that I’d been meaning to whip up.  Yeah.  But, as with a lot of things, I’d always completely procrastinate.  I was intimidated.  I had no idea what I’d grow or how they were supposed to be planted.  For some reason, I also felt like once I missed my window in the spring, I’d never be able to grow anything  (Um, it’s not like I was planting a garden in the ground or anything).  

So, one Saturday morning, when the kids woke up early and I was trying to let Jason sleep in, I packed us all up and went to Lowe’s.  I already has that giant pot that was plastic, but looked like terra cotta.  I bought soil and 4 plants- dill, cilantro, mint & basil.  Within a week, the dill, cilantro & mint had taken off (the basil got a little too cold and never really grew, more on that later).  The pot is on my porch right next to the front door and every time I walk in or out, I smile.  The greatest feeling came when I was making dinner last week and needed some mint….and I went outside and CUT IT FRESH.   

It’s made me so happy that yesterday, when Jason started formulating the plan for our next project (which, no joke, was accomplished because we were BORED), I tagged along and bought more herbs.  This time I bought oregano, stevia (which I didn’t even know they sold) & another basil (try, try again).  So, last night, after hours on the latest flower bed (that I DID help with…I planted 5 of the 8 plants and with Georgia clay that’s no small feat), I planted my herbs.  I was sore and exhausted from the yard (yes, I did more that just planting), but I sat on my porch in the cool night and gave my plants new homes.  I replaced the shriveled basil with stevia, mostly because it looked sturdy and seemed like it could hold its own with the spreading mint & cilantro.  The basil & oregano each got their own pot.  And now, with a fledgling jade plant that’s trying to grow, I’ve got the most perfect line of mismatched flowerpots on my railing.  It makes me happy just to look at it.  After I arranged everything, I sat there and stared…almost waiting for everything to grow. 

I felt weirdly relaxed after all of that.  Actually, I’m feeling weirdly relaxed after WRITING about it.  I don’t want to whine, but I don’t have a particularly relaxing job.  Although it DOES occasionally afford me the time to write in a blog (cough, cough).  Maybe all those obsessive gardeners have something….

I’ve felt this relaxed, earthy “shift” lately.  I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be (take that as you will..).  And that place is feeling the earth under my hands and knowing that I’m connected.  More to come…..