Simplicity at it’s goal setting finest

Elsie at A Beautiful Mess has put forth this challenge of setting and achieving simple goals before the end of 2010.  I found out about it through Farmer’s Daughter when I was reading her goals.  I was inspired. I’ve reached a point in my life where simplicity has taken top priority over my to-do list and my ambitions.  I’m hoping these goals will help me to not only re-center my life, but to relax and enjoy the journey I am currently on.

Here are Elsie’s guidelines:

  • choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. choose things you may not otherwise get done, but that are not difficult to accomplish.
  • do not choose result oriented goals, choose activity oriented goals. for example… instead of “lose 10 pounds”, choose something like “eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day”.  positive actions instead of just the end result!
  • choose goals that are personal that you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! they can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.
  • choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! it can be a small or large reward.
  • blog your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year!

Exercise Regularly.  This is big one for me.  When I was pregnant with Liam, I was so miserable the first trimester than any ambitions of moving went out the window.  Looking back, I honestly wish I had done the yoga and the walking.  This time, because Liam is so active, I have no choice but to be so myself, so I am hoping to channel this into constructive times of exercising through play (ie, wrestling, walking, etc.) or restorative exercise (prenatal yoga dvd).  Reward: New yoga pants that are actually flattering, not dumpy!  
The Art of the Handwritten Note.  I used to take the time to write a few friends and relatives on a monthly basis.  Just a note to say that I care and am thinking of them.  In time, I’ve gotten away from it.  Also with this goal, I’d like to start making my cards again.  I love doing it and then being able to send something that I made (not just threw together).  Reward: Getting to pick out fun stamps with which to mail my letters!
My Mastery List.  I had thought I could complete this in 1 year, but have come to the realization that it may take me a smidge longer.  My goal for this is to simply work away at it and enjoy each new skill/recipe.  Reward: Something for the kitchen.  Maybe a mezzaluna?
Post a New Recipe Once a Week.  I’m not sure if this is too ambitious, but I’m going to try anyway.  Perhaps it won’t always be a recipe, maybe it will be a tip I picked up or a skill tutorial.  I’m not sure.  But I do want to make sure that even though I am wrapped up in the house, baby #1 and baby #2, future garden plans and everything else, that I don’t forget to write about the very thing that got me started. Food.  Reward: Personal pleasure.  I love to write about what’s going on in the kitchen and I don’t want to miss any of it!

Of seeds and water and environmental things

“I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil.”  -Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder
When I was in college, I took an Ecology class.   I was thrilled to be introduced to the information and to put my passion for the environment into action by helping lead the Environmental Stewardship Society with a friend who is now National Park Ranger.  During the course of the semester, I listened to lectures, read books and took plenty of exams.  I even wrote a paper on the impact that DDT still has on our communities today.  It was during this semester, though, that I realized that even though I am a primarily visual learner, I do gain a great bit from a tactile experience.  Which is why my insect collection, although one of the greatest challenges of my college career, was also one of the greatest revelations of my young adult life.  I have such serene memories of those months, punctuated by feelings of terror when I remember my misguided attempts at capturing an angry bumblebee, and they are primarily due to being outside.  I grew up outside, but I didn’t really know much about nature.  I made a declaration that I would make sure my children not only got the opportunity to experience the world around them, but also the chance to understand and appreciate it.

I have been waiting for the chance to introduce my son to the natural world.  We went outside in the snow and ice so that he could feel it, but it wasn’t really the experience that I had hoped for.  Mainly because at 6 months, there isn’t going to be the enthusiasm I feel being mirrored back at me.  But now.  Now that he is 9 months old, I am getting to watch the light bulb turn on as he realizes the difference between surfaces and substances and I knew that he would begin to enjoy our walks for a different reason.  So this week, we made trips to the compost pile where I explained how and why it works.  We even hung around and watched Daddy turn the compost so that we could see the rich, black soil at the bottom.  I took Liam to a greenhouse where we purchased some plants and then showed him the root systems as we transplanted them into our herb potters at home.  We ended our week with a trip to COSI yesterday.  We were really there to celebrate my nephew’s birthday and see the Titanic exhibit, but Liam and I got some chances to talk. 

Cosi has a wonderful section that is for children age 5 and under (accompanied by their parents, of course).  It was here that we were able to spend quality time at the water tables playing with the simple toys and watching the water react to how he slapped it or what it was passed through.  I had hoped for a bigger reaction, but he wasn’t feel tip-top, so we will simply have to return at another time.  In the main play room, they had giant light switches.  I was super excited about this because Liam knew just what to do.  Every time we leave a room where the light is on, we turn it off.  He puts his tiny little index finger up to the switch and we “save electricity” and turn the switch off.  If you leave a room without doing so, he wants to go back and turn the light off.  I think it’s great.  Already he is aware of a routine so that when he is older and actually understands kilowatts and such, he won’t think that I’m such a nerd.  Once inside the Titanic exhibit, he fell asleep waking only just before the rooms outlining the crash and the final hours of the ill-fated ship.  It was in this room, that I realized that he’s never been outside when the stars are out.  He was fascinated by the way the “stars” twinkled in the night and I made a mental note to take him outside and show him the night sky this fall when it’s dark before his bedtime.  Before we left, we went to see the movie about Whales on the 7-story screen.  Liam hadn’t been himself much of the trip, wanting to be held and somewhat fussy, but as soon as he saw the giant mammals swimming across the screen, he lit up.  He waved his arms and called out to them as though they were right there.  I can only assume that he thought they were in an aquarium like we had seen at the zoo.  What is fun is that I had just opened a Christmas present of bath toys that had several whales in it that were featured in the movie.  So now when my little guy plays in the tub, we can talk about the Orkas and the Hammerhead sharks and he’ll have heard those words before.  
Here’s the thing, Liam doesn’t know the difference between sand and dirt yet.  He doesn’t understand the concepts of erosion and it will be some time before he does.  However, he can still listen to me explain to him why we plant trees and why I cry when I see the hawks scrounging up the carrion in the middle of the city.  We read our books and we talk about waste and it’s impact on the environment.  I showed him the recycling bins at home and told him that someday, he’d get to make a trip with me to the center to drop off our stuff.  When we go for walks, we talk about what we see.  Or rather, I talk and he babbles back his response.  Liam doesn’t talk all that much on a day to day basis, but when we are outside, he does.  He loves to watch the geese in the pond along the bike trail and he thinks it’s funny when the trees blow in the wind.  I’m hoping that through this and many other exposures we can continue to learn together about the environment and nature; and that in time, he too will learn to love it as much as I do.  And as much as I learned from my insect collection, I am honestly hoping that he doesn’t develop a real interest for that species until later.  Maybe in his own ecology class.

Challenge update

 Pear blossoms

I had signed up for the No Waste challenge in an attempt to get myself back on track after being so lax in my efforts.  I signed up, approached my kitchen with greater purpose and have thrown nothing away in the last 2 months.  Nothing.  I have never been so proud of myself for actually using each and every item I purchased.  This week, however, I did have to pitch some questionable food in my fridge that a relative had sent over and my husband stuck in the fridge without telling me.  I never knew it was there until the fridge smelled odd.  Last night, a bag of scary looking potatoes went to the compost as well.  There was little I could do to rescue them.  Also, I bought a few bags of Sunchips since they now have the nifty compostable bag!  I’m super excited to see how they break down!  I checked into the research that Sunchips posted on their site, so I won’t be able to actually report on the progress for a while yet, but it’s exciting to see each trip I make to our little pile.  Also, I think the compost at the bottom of the pile is ready (finally!  It only took about 2 years to get everything broken down.), so we will be adding it to the garden this spring.

Transplanted Rhubarb that seems to really be doing well!

I’ve been going over my garden plans a lot, but haven’t really settled on my official plan.  Today, I did get some herbs in, but it started storming before I was able to get my deck boxes ready for the lettuce I’m anxious to plant.   The grand plan is for Matt and I to work on the gardens/flower beds/yard over the next week (culminating with a big work day next Saturday) and then I will plant as I am able through the following weeks.  I decided not to do peas this year since we just haven’t been able to get rolling with the prep work and I’m not certain that it’s all that worth it for me to plant them when every year I wind up finding plenty at the farmer’s market.  Also, by not planting the peas, I can get down to business and try broccoli and brussel sprouts since I’ve been dying to do those but never have the room.  Also, I’m not doing potatoes.  I tried them 2 years ago and they were a total bust.  I was really frustrated since we worked so hard on them and only got a few potatoes back.  I’ve found a local farm that sells 50 pounds for 10 dollars, so I feel that it is a good choice for now. 

 Helping Mama plant Basil

Also this week, I’ve been taking Liam to the compost pile and talking about the fine art of vermicomposting.  He is mainly interested in throwing things into the pile and not so much in my lecture, but we’re still talking about it, right?  Which then brings me to my next challenge update.  I decided to participate in Abbie’s Environmental Education Week Challenge since I can actually start the environmental education with Liam now.  I’ve got a post percolating about what all we’ve done this week and some photos to share.  But I’m saving that until after tomorrow’s trip to COSI (the Center of Science and Industry) since I’m sure there will be something to talk about there as well!