Saturday, April 30, 2016

seven reasons everyone needs a garden

this post is sponsored by the lovely people at cvs minute clinic. the thoughts and opinions are all our own.

i love the spring. each march (sometimes even end of february if i'm lucky here in the south) i emerge from my wintery cocoon and venture out into the great outdoors. i'm not going to lie, the sun can be blinding the first two times but that fresh air quickly becomes addicting and i've learned that i'm a better person for each minute i spend outside the walls of a building. 

over time i've learned there are many benefits to having my own little garden (or a big one as mine has grown to be.) the benefits are endless and are certainly not limited to these seven but maybe, just maybe these will give you enough reason to venture out to plant something of your own.

seven reasons everyone needs a garden

1) it gives you some measure of success every spring.

let's be honest. parenthood sometimes feels like running on a hamster wheel. life can feel like that too. there is always more laundry, always more dishes to wash, faces to clean, meals to prepare. each day brings more work than the next and, let's be real, it can be weeks before we see success in some areas. i know with my own kids i some days have to search for those nuggets in them that show that i parented well. not so with a garden. if you plant it and water it, it will usually grow. each day i walk out to my garden, i really wish there was someone next to me to high five because, "look what i did!" is so much more effective when said out loud to a human. as it is, i share my excitement with the furry woodland creatures nearby and carry my head a little higher as i walk back to the house. a little bit of success every day feels amazing.

2) it's good to have fresh produce.

fruits, veggies and herbs can be expensive. here in the south a bell bell pepper can cost one to two dollars...each. it's ridiculous. i plant a ton of bell peppers and each plant will produce from may through october. they also freeze beautifully. think of some fruits and veggies that your family will eat and find a way to grow them. the money it saves adds up very quickly.

3) it's important to remember that food doesn't come from a grocery store. 

let's face it, many of our kids don't realize this. "what? this hamburger is from a ground up cow?" yes, babies, it is. and it's delicious. "what? apples don't come off the tree shiny?" nope, that's just wax added to them to make them appealing. all of those fine life lessons are important to learn for kids, and important for adults to remember as well. 

4) kids are magical outdoors.

when i step outside, my entire clan of children follow...and they love it. they are happiest when they are running around, digging holes, playing tag, and doing cartwheels in the grass. some days i make them work with me. on those days they plant and weed and water with the best of them. they actually love it and are the happiest harvesters you'll ever find. there is serious joy in picking plants off of a tree or a bush. serious joy. other days they just play and have the time of their lives. we have become a society with a lot of sedentary, computer screen addicted children. don't get me wrong, my kids have screen time like others do. i just find that they are a thousand times happier when i pull them away from the screen and into the sun. on top of that, it reminds me of my own childhood and that makes me very, very happy. 

5) gardening teaches everyone patience.

some things are worth the wait. this is reinforced everyday with gardening. some trees take years to produce fruit after planting. all plants take time to mature before they can produce whatever it is they are supposed to produce, from flowers to fruit to vegetables. it is a great life lesson to learn that things take time. maturity doesn't happen in a day. growth doesn't happen overnight. if my kids (and i) can learn that through gardening, then that's a successful day.

6) it's teaches that if you want something to thrive, you have to take care of it.

gardens require work. plants need water, fertilizer, to be free from weeds. this life lesson goes way beyond the soil. whatever it is that my children are caring for, it's important to know that with the proper care, it can become all it was meant to be. without proper care, it will probably die. this lesson translates to pets, relationships, marriages, jobs, the list is endless. 

7) you learn to push through things that may be uncomfortable.

spring and summers in the south can be hot...and ridiculously humid. gardening can be labor intensive. my kids and i all have allergies. a garden means that sometimes we have to push through things that aren't comfortable in order for it to be successful. thankfully, where our allergies are concerned, we don't have to suffer alone. when our symptoms are at their worst, and we are suffering with itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, wheezing and coughing, we know just where to go. our local target now has a cvs minute clinic in. the. store. stop it. now i can get a starbucks, groceries for my family and stop by the minute clinic to get my allergies under control. the nurse practitioner or physician's assistant can prescribe or recommend the best treatment for me and my kiddos to get our allergies maintained. our nurse practitioner knows us so well that she even has little treats for my kids when they come by. they are actually excited to go see her and she will send the prescriptions right over to the cvs pharmacy inside the target store as well. it's my one stop health and shopping errand rolled into one outing and it means we are quickly back on our way. with the help of cvs minute clinic nothing stops us from getting everything we can from our outdoor gardening experience. it doesn't get any better than that. 

no matter the size of your garden, or even the purpose, getting outside is always a good idea. i'm learning something new every year when springtime rolls around and my children are learning as well. through the good and the bad, we have come to understand so many life lessons through our garden. if you are a beginner, consider starting small. you may surprise yourself with how much you enjoy it. if you are an enthusiast, what have you learned from gardening? no matter where you are in the process, take some time to get outdoors. i doubt you'll regret it. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

do something.

this post is sponsored by rachael ray nutrish but, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

years ago, i went to visit a friend of mine. while visiting, my friend's sweet then thirteen-year-old daughter brought out three of the most precious kittens we had ever seen. the precious little balls of fur were being fostered by my friend's daughter until they were old enough to go back to the humane society to possibly be adopted. one look at those precious babies and i was hooked. my husband, who required more convincing, eventually caved as well and we ended up with two of the most precious, hilarious and random cats known to man. never did we realize that the one selfless act of a thirteen year old girl would end up adding years of pet enjoyment to our family.

since then i have grown more and more in awe of the parenting of that sweet girl. she helped mother those kittens from their infancy and cared enough for those sweet kittens that she gave up her time and her sleep most nights to make sure they were well cared for. i don't know of many adults who would do the same and my friend raised a daughter that cared that much for the needs of another creature. that's some amazing parenting.

our family's own positive experience with our rescued humane society kitties has made me more aware and more appreciative of the work that rescue centers and animal shelters do on a daily basis. one of my amazing friends is a part of an organization called "halfway there rescue." this amazing organization finds and rescues pets that have been abused or neglected. they then find foster homes for these pets with willing families and then all work together to get the animals adopted into loving families. my generous and infinitely caring friend not only is raising three kids and caring for her own three dogs and a cat, but she also houses and cares for dogs that are waiting to be adopted to their forever homes. she has had countless pets go through her home as they wait for to be chosen and she continues to help out the organization over and over again. i'm truly in awe of all her generosity.

thinking of both of these stories, i've been challenged to do something. i may not have the ability to foster animals at this point (five kids and two cats is about all i can handle right now) but i can certainly find a way to give something of myself to animals in need. here are some ideas.

  • become a foster "parent" to shelter animals. whether a rescue shelter like "halfway there rescue" or your local humane society, animal foster families are needed to care for pets while they wait for their forever homes. if you feel like this might be a good option for you, find out what it takes to become a foster family and make it happen.

this sweet pup is one of the dogs my friend fostered. adorable, right?

  • volunteer your time at a humane society or shelter. there is always work to be done at these shelters and it is a great opportunity to show your kids a simple way to give back and help for the greater good. find a local shelter and discover their requirements for volunteering.

  • give of your money or resources. there are so many needs for these shelters. a lot of the needs are financial. consider a monetary donation for the care of extremely sick dogs or give items that shelters need. they are always in need of used blankets, cat and dog food, cat litter, cat and dog treats, pet toys and other items. if you call your local shelter, they will have information on what they need most for their facility. even if it is something small, they will be extremely grateful. a lot of small donations add up to big gifts for a shelter. we can all do something.

this sweet baby is in the process of being restored to health through halfway there rescue. they are accepting 
donations to help pay for his care. 

  • consider adopting from a shelter or rescue facility. there are so many great pets out there that need to find forever homes. if you are considering a new pet, look first at a shelter to see if there is a pet there that would be perfect for your family. you can do good for you and for a pet in need. 

this is another pup my friend fostered. these sweet babies are all up for adoption.

  • purchase rachael ray dog and cat food. rachael's personal proceeds from the sales of nutrish cat and dog food go to rachael's rescue which was created to help animals in need. to date, she has donated over ten million dollars. this money has gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for these unfortunate animals. all of the rachael ray nutrish products are available where you shop for your family's groceries, making specialty recipes accessible and convenient for every pet parent. we have been avid rachael ray nutrish fans for years now and our cats are thriving. we could not be happier with the products which were inspired by recipes from rachael ray's own kitchen. they are made with simple, wholesome ingredients and do not contain any poultry byproduct meal of fillers. i feel good buying quality food for my pets while also knowing that her proceeds go back to pets in need. if i have to buy pet food anyway, i might as well be doing some good in the process. 

rachael ray's personal proceeds from nutrish go to rachael's rescue.

whatever you choose to do, let me encourage you to find something within your abilities and make it happen. we are forever grateful for that visit to my friend's house all those years ago. the joy that our two shelter kitties have brought to our family is immeasurable. we are so thankful that someone took them in and made us aware of their needs. we can each find a way to do something...and we will all be better for it. 

to stay up to date on all that rachael ray is doing with nutrish cat and dog food and with rachael's rescue, please follow nutrish.