2020 – The Year of Change

When I first started writing this post a couple of months ago I was looking forward to the year 2020. To the challenges, to the changes, and to the triumphs. But January started off rocky with world-famous Kobe Bryant’s tragic death along with his comrades and family on the helicopter. My husband was and is a big fan of Kobe and seeing how it brought him much sadness and confusion over the loss of this global icon was eye-opening for me as well. Then as news started to spread about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in February, the world was still waking up from this unprecedented event. Rumors, gossip, and inaccuracies were flying about in the media, in stores, and even with friends and family. Who do we trust? Who do we believe? And who do we turn to for accurate information? Was this new virus man-made or was it passed through human contact with an animal? People were being biased and xenophobic, dividing our country and humanity even more. And then suddenly…the tragic events of China, Italy, and even the US started to bring people together. People started to realize that we are indeed just human – not superhuman, or impervious to assault and danger. When I say people in this sense, I’m talking about the norm and not everyone in the world, of course.

Sure, there are those out there who think they can arm themselves from this new virus with guns and violence – surely you can’t possibly shoot a virus away, can you? But as fear and confusion spreads throughout the world, and people are buying up supplies to last them for years, what does that really say about us as humans?

While you’re stuck at home with your kids or working from home, take a look across social media to see the good in people. Companies out there are donating their extra food and services. Neighbors are donating food to each other. Apartment residents are leaving unopened food in the hallways ready to share. And in Italy, one of the most devastated countries to be affected by this, people are singing and bringing songs of joy and encouragement to their neighbors. They are not blaming or shaming. They are all banding together during this unprecedented event to help each other out. It’s a confusing time and it’s most definitely the right time to do the right thing.

When I was writing this post, I wanted to share an inspirational quote. And while it doesn’t directly transfer to what we are all experiencing right now, this quote still brings inspiration and hope to those who need it.

“With faith, discipline, and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The year 2020 was supposed to be about “clear vision”. But clearly – excuse the pun here – not all of us can see “clear” right now. There are many affected on a personal level. And there are many that feel the pain and compassion for others who are suffering. Let’s not forget that everything is connected. No one is better than the other. And certainly no one can predict something like this can happen. No matter what you believe – remember that kindness and humility is the strongest action we can take for ourselves and for each other. You don’t have to like what someone is saying around you, on the streets, or on social media. But you can be kind. And you can be humble.

So, onto a bit of lighter news. As a parent, I feel for those who have kids at home either working on their assigned homework or driving you batty with their arguing and fighting. Kids are properly having a harder time at this “stuck at home” situation than if they were on holiday break. Because yes, most kids across the US do have assigned homework. I’ve included some links below that could help you and your kids during the mandated school closures across the US.

Be safe, be diligent, and be healthy.

Free resources for education: https://www2.ed.gov/free/index.html

Free Amazon reading: go to Amazon and enter “free books” and hundreds of free books will pop up in whatever genre you prefer. Many are for children.

Home Depothttps://www.homedepot.com/c/alp/kpqfspbe0a/kpqfspbe0a

Great Kindness Project: See “Fun Activities for Families”

Martha Stewart gardening ideashttps://www.marthastewart.com/search?q=garden

FUN ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES

  • Join our Happy Heart Hunt. Let’s blanket our world with LOVE! It’s simple! Just make a heart from any object and tape it to a street-facing window to send your love out to the world. Encourage all your friends to do the same. Then, in a few days, take a family walk to search for other hearts on houses. How fun it will be to watch the love grow! Learn more

  • Host Family Game Night – get out the board games, decks of cards, chess sets and puzzles.

  • Create an obstacle course with things from your home.

  • Have a spontaneous dance party! Crank the tunes and DANCE!!

  • Play charades.

  • Clean your closets together. (Seriously!) Put on some fun music and then joyfully declutter. Keep only the things that are useful and spark joy.

  • Create a family “masterpiece” out of recycled items from your decluttering.

  • Listen to a podcast: “Wow in the World”.

  • Learn on-line together.

  • Teach your child a skill or a share a talent. Teach them to cook, change a tire, sew on a button, balance a checkbook, play the ukulele, etc.

  • Go on a scavenger hunt.

  • Explore nature. Continue to spend time outdoors. The fresh air is good for kids, and for us as parents. But please do this as a family rather than meeting up in groups.

  • Create a family vision board.

 

 

Summer Garden Ideas for Kids

As we gear towards summer and with the weather warming up, now is the perfect time to start your summer garden plans. As the kids are getting ready for whatever summer activities that you’ve planned, incorporate a summer garden for them as well. Gardening is therapeutic as well as tons of fun! It’s great for getting kids outside and for them to connect with nature. As long as you provide even a small area for them to work on then I guarantee your kids will develop a life long joy in gardening.

There are several different types of gardens but the easiest to start and maintain would be these: vegetable and fruit garden, cutting flower garden, and herb garden. Any one of these three gardens would be great for beginners as they can easily start with seeds or seedlings from a garden store. The benefits of these three types of gardens are that the bounty is usually enough for a full harvest and that they are beautiful to look at in your yard!

Let’s start with the basics:

Tools – small gardening shovel/spade, gardening gloves, small hand held rake.

Seeds – lettuce, radish, cucumbers, beans, sunflowers, marigold, herbs. Try to buy organic as you’ll be eating these plants.

Seedlings – tomato, broccoli, cilantro, wildflowers, corn, strawberries. Try to buy organic as you’ll be eating these plants.

Vegetable and fruit garden:

Vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and greens including lettuce, spinach, and kale, citrus fruits including lemons and oranges, beans, radishes, pumpkins, carrots, beets, and bell peppers are all very easy to grow and maintain. These types of fruits and vegetables have been cultivated for years to ensure a healthy growth and popularity. Plus, most of these species are recognized by children and have probably been eaten on a regular basis. Start with the basic and generic varieties and then experiment with heirloom ones. 

Cutting flower garden:

Cutting flowers are ones that usually grow in stalks and can easily be cut to put into vases. Great varieties include sunflowers, zinnias, lavender, daisies, dahlias, and salvia. Notice that there are annuals and perennials so plan according to how you want your garden to look during the year or years. Annuals are plants that have to planted every year so it’s natural that they die out after a couple of seasons. Perennials come back year after year if you remember to take care of them during the various seasons. 

Herb garden:

Herb gardens are probably one of the easiest garden to maintain. Herbs grow super fast and can spread widely if you’re not careful of spacing. Plus, herbs are delicious in meals, beverages, and even to keep away those pesky garden pests! Best herbs to grow are mint (spearmint or peppermint), parsley (try this yummy recipe that kids will enjoy: http://deliciousliving.com/herbquiches), basil, chives, sage, and cilantro. They are all quite fragrant and works well with most recipes. Try fresh mint in lemonades and juice and chopped fresh parsley over tomato soup. If your kids are hesitant about herbs, have them rub their fingers between the leaves and then smell the plant or fingers. The delicious aroma will encourage them to try gardening with herbs and they’re fun to harvest as well.

You can start your garden either directly in the ground or in planters. Planter gardening seems to have grown in popularity and it’s really easy to move the planters around for sunlight and shade. Plus, you can get really creative with your planters such as using soup cans, milk cartons, and tires. Or you can use the traditional planters such as terra cotta and ceramic as they will look just as beautiful and unique. Just remember that most planters attract a lot of heat so keep the plants well watered and fertilized. For in-ground planting, start off with a small patch of space such as a 5’x5′ area and make sure the soil is well amended. A good rule of thumb with any type of planting is making sure that the soil starts off right. If you want the proper type of soil, check out gardening stores and speak to experts on the type of soil in your region. Remember to also water your plants thoroughly and well. Some plants require daily watering while some can grow well with less watering. Take care of pests as well by using natural pesticides so that it’s safer for your children and for your garden. Wear gloves if you’re unsure of what type of soil you have and wear a hat to keep out the harsh sun rays.

So start planning your summer garden with your kids now. Take them to a garden center and let them browse the entire store. They’ll get inspired when they see all the beautiful and colorful plants and hopefully you can take home some plants and seeds that same day. Remember that the garden doesn’t have to be big. In fact, start off smaller so that it’s easier to maintain for yourself and your kids. Once you get the hang of gardening, experiment with rare plants or make your garden area even bigger.

Happy planting!

For some great gardening ideas, be sure to check out Martha Stewart’s gardening section: https://www.marthastewart.com/286309/vegetable-garden-101

And for easy and delicious recipes for the summer, check out Delicious Living Magazine: http://deliciousliving.com/recipes/6-hydrating-summer-recipes#slide-0-field_images-306921

*photos courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

 

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