Gardens and Parenting

I do not have a green thumb. Most plants throughout my life have come to their final resting place in my hands. I would either forget to water them, water them too much, or just plain look at them cross-eyed. Whatever it was that I was doing wrong, the result was the same.

I have had more luck since we moved to Maryland. Therefore, with great trepidation and some nervous energy, my husband and I planted a backyard garden.

raised bed


cantaloupeWe have all the basics: tomatoes, peppers, lettuce spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, broccoli and some herbs. Things are progressing nicely. In fact, I now consider myself a gardener. It is not just a hobby, however. It is my newest form of therapy, and I have come up with some great new philosophies while puttering around back there.  I have formed some new ideas on parenting, and how raising kids is like raising a garden.

The ground that you plant your seeds in is important and it takes a lot of preparation to make it ideal for plants to grow to their full potential. With Tomatoeskids, it is important to prepare the environment that you are bringing them into, both physically and spiritually. I think that is why parents traditionally have 9 months to prepare. Whatever your parental situation is, you can prepare a place in your heart and your home for the little seedlings to grow. Whether they have been placed in your home as seeds or cucumbertransplanted there, they can and will flourish.

It is also important to catch weeds before they have a chance to take root. I had a lot of experience with this fact when the scrub oaks were shedding seeds all over my fledgling garden. It was easiest to get the seeds out before they dug their way into the ground. Inevitably, I missed quite a few. By the time those mini trees popped their heads up to where I could see them, it would take a bit more effort to remove them. If I let things progress and those buggers took and built a stronger root, it was downright difficult to get rid of them. With our kids, we have to be as progressive as we can with weeding out bad habits and behaviors. The earlier you catch them, the easier it is to correct the problem.  A little behavior in a small child might be somewhat cute, but it can turn into a full-fledged monster issue if you let it grow.

I will not bore you with any more of my musings, except to say that the nurture and care that a garden takes is worth it. It takes but a season to see the fruits of your labor. A child takes significantly longer to grow, but I know that the work and dedication that we put into our daughter is worth it. I also know that things will be the same with any other kids that enter our life. The fruits born of each child’s life are different. Yet they are all sweet.

A Year and Counting

It is hard to believe that it has been about a year since we started this process. It has run the gamut of emotions. As we have searched for that child (or children) that are to be a part of our family we have done things like passing out our info cards, inquiring about children and sibling groups in foster care and working with Spence-Chapin in New York with babies with special needs. Nothing has panned out with any of these.

It can be an emotional roller coaster. We see a child that we think would be a good match for our family and nothing happens with it. We continue our search and try other means.

We have a meeting with our adoption case worker this week to renew our home study. We have some things on our minds right now that we are praying about and thinking about pursuing. Once we have an answer from God we will share with our friends, family, and the world.


I have been thinking a lot about a very important phrase lately. Don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today. Sean and I have been practicing procrastination now for going on… well, forever. Sometimes we start projects that don’t get finished. Like blogs, for instance. We would like to apologize for our lack of postings so far and we would like to move forward and each post once a week. It will most likely be about anything and everything because I, for one, am always finding something interesting bobbing around my noggin, and it isn’t always about adoption.

I would get on my knees and beg for your forgiveness over our terrible lack of entertainment and information for you, but then I would be stuck in the past. Which brings me to another idea I’ve been thinking on. Like Lot’s wife, sometimes we just shouldn’t look back.

<3   -Jenn

And now, for something completely different:

quack, quack

Micki and Saying Hello

Micki and Daddy sitting on a bench in Louisville, Kentucky

Saying hello to someone is such a small thing, but to some people it means so much. This is especially true of Micki and others that have special needs.

Whenever we go to an activity at Micki’s school all of the staff and quite a few of the other students (and former students) always will say hello to Micki. She loves it so much even though she can’t express it verbally. She does get a big smile on her face and she will always have a great time.

It is also true at church. Micki has some special friends at church that always come up to her and give her just a few minutes of their time. It is so appreciated by Micki (Jenn and me too).

It is such a small thing, but for some people it is so big. So if you have some special spirits in your life (your church, your neighborhood, or anywhere) stop for a moment and recognize who they are and just say hello. It will make a difference in their day and in their life.

Long Time No Post

Okay so it has been three months since we last posted on our blog. The main thing we have been doing adoption wise is we have sent inquiries about some sibling groups that are in foster care. There are quite a few websites out there that have photolistings of children that are in foster care that are looking for forever families.

Nothing has come of any of the inquiries that we have sent out even though we felt really good about one particular sibling group. We only wanted what was best for them. They really loved the foster home they were in and at first the foster parents did not think that they could take all of them. It turned out that they fell in love with them and are probably on their way through the waiting period to adopt them.

We are ready for whatever God has in store for it is just difficult to be patient.

Effortless Parenting Article

Happy Halloween everyone. I sit here waiting for little kiddos all dressed up in their costumes to come and ask for some candy. We have had a few more than last year, but still our neighborhood is not that big on Trick or Treating.

Anyway as I was sitting here I pulled up my Google Reader and was browsing through some articles. I came across an article titled The Rules of Effortless Parenting by Leo Babauta. I had never been on his blog before, but I totally agree with some of his rules. They were used when I was a kid and we try and use them with Micki as much as we can.

Here are a few of them and some comments from me,

Teach Kids To Be Self-Sufficient – My mom raised four of us and she got tired of doing multiple loads of laundry per day. She taught each of us how to do our own laundry and then stopped doing it for us. If we did not have any clean clothes it was our own fault.

My mom also taught me how to cook some basic meals. Cooking is something I enjoy even today.

My father taught me some basic car mechanics. When the brake pads need changing I fix them for the cost of the parts instead of $100 an axle. I can even do it probably in the amount of time it would take me to drive to the shop and have them do it.

Teach them to solve problems – Too often today I see kids who can’t think through math (or other) problems. In school they are just taught a method of solving math problems not how to think things through. My father was the person who I went to when it came to my math homework. He taught me how to think things through.

Read with them and read in front of them – There were quite a few times growing up when I remember my mom reading. Most of the time it was for some class that she was taking to further educate herself to try and make her life (and us kids life) better.

In our house we have a bookshelf full of books that Jenn and I have either read together or separately. We also read the scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, etc) every night as a family. We also like to talk about what we are reading as we read it. This is probably the most important part of any scripture reading.

Anyway there are a few more tips that the author gives. I am not going to spoil the whole thing, but you can go and read it on his blog.

Pumpkin Patch Time

Yesterday we continued our fairly new tradition. We took a trip to a local farm for a hay ride and pick some pumpkins right from the field.

This year we went to Brad’s Produce.They have a nice size farm with all sorts of fruits and veggies available. We headed out and waited a little while to hop on the hay ride to the pumpkin patch.

Hay Ride at Brad's Produce

Micki loves the bumpy ride and had a smile the whole way there and back. When we got out to the patch we saw lots of beautiful pumpkins. Jenn wanted to find a regular pumpkin shape with lots of warts. I liked the green (under ripe) one because they are different. Micki walked around a lot and finally just before we got in line to get on the hay ride back to the barn to pay for our finds she found a white pumpkin.

We are going to carve our pumpkins for Family Home Evening tomorrow. And use them for the Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat at church on Wednesday and then use them for Halloween. Unfortunately we do not get that many trick or treaters in our neighborhood, but we will have fun anyway.

Discipline in Our House

As a couple we believe that there is no type of discipline that works for every child. With Micki we totally believe in bribery rewarding good behavior. Bribery Rewards for good behavior really helps her to get things back on track.

Let me give you an example. Micki has an awesome teacher at school. Mrs Baker really knows how to keep Micki on track and knows how to keep her behaviors under control. Unfortunately Mrs Baker broke her arm and has been out of work for a while because of it. Well lately Micki has had some problems at school controlling her hands. Whenever that happens the teachers aid takes her to the resource room and she has to do some learning tasks that she does not normally like to do. Then she comes back to the classroom. Well she had quite a few days in a row where she had multiple resource room trips per day. We would talk to Micki to try to see why she was hitting people.

Well last Wednesday I sat down and talked with Micki. I offered a bribe reward if she could go a whole week without a resource room trip. The bribe reward was that she would get to go to the restaurant of her choice with daddy and would get to go to one of her favorite toy stores (5 Below). Well she came home Thursday and Friday and had good reports from school. Each day we would remind her of our deal. Monday and Tuesday came and her report was that she had a great day. When she came home today I brought her in from the bus and sat her down for her afternoon snack. I pulled her folder out and took a look. She had a great day. I made a really big deal out of it and told her what a good girl she was and how hard she had worked. (It is really hard for her to behave sometimes)

I pulled out her iPad and launched her communication software (Proloquo2Go)  to ask her where she wanted to go to eat. She chose Baja Fresh.

We took off just before dinner time and went to 5 Below. Micki picked out a basketball. Then we went to dinner and had a wonderful evening.

Bribery Rewards work!