Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boredom Part II: Parenting as an Introvert

I began this topic in an earlier post--starting to think about how boredom may be good for parents as well..Not just our kids.

I have a huge drum of dish soap that I use to refill the smaller container that I use in the kitchen. I use a funnel to refill it. The soap is very viscous and takes awhile to run through.  Usually, I run a load of laundry while waiting for it to drain downwards (the first time); however, I need to do it four time and while I am waiting, I am hoping that my 2 year old is not getting into mischief.

While I wait for it to drain through, I experience discomfort.  I want to "fill" that time. I look around for what else i can do.  God forbid that that moment is wasted in waiting.  As a teen, I had a poster on my wall that read, "when you wake up, get up and when you get up, do something"

I also feel discomfort when my son is in student council.  There is a forty-five minute period of time between picking up my daughter and picking up my son.  Last week, the weather was nice for playground time during the wait.  I usually follow my two year old around the playground, shadowing her, mainly to make sure she doesn't fall off of the play structure or wander away too far.  It is boring doing this.  I spent already a chunk of time doing this with my other two children when they were at this stage.  I long to play on my phone, read, or knit, but instead, I need to keep track of the antics of a toddler..  (sounds horrible, huh!--LOL)  Still, I am impatient...antsy to do something else more challenging or fun.  I feel I am being held back while my engine is revving to race.

In my earlier post, I was longing to write. It was during a part of the evening, where I needed to be off-duty..It had been a long day.  My children needed me to be present mind and body and there was no time or place to go within myself or to move outside of what was beginning to feel like shackles. I tried to write anyway, and was constantly interrupted by my toddler.  She was getting into drawers climbing up, pulling things out, and then finally hurt herself; at which point, I had to quit.

It was painful.  It is boring supervising those antics sometimes.  I think when my other two were this age, I had more freedom to take them places.  Now, I am locked into the school routine, which requires being around for pickup, regular mealtime, homework time, etc..

This sounds like I am belly-aching.  I really do not mean this to be.  I consider it a wonderful privilege to be able to do this.  Still, after ten years, I have to admit, that now, I am feeling restlessness and boredom at times.   (more often lately than I want to admit)  My children force me to be "present" which is difficult for me.  I am most definitely an introvert..I bask in being able to reflect, write, read, knit...I bask in quiet.  I am not antisocial..I love people too, but it is in those quiet moments, I refuel.  Those moments are like food--and  I often feel I am close to starving.

(right now my toddler is pushing me away from the computer, wedging between)  (-;

But, what is that "restlessness"???  That part of me that does not feel patient to enjoy the moment of following my toddler around the playground. That part of me that looks for a way to fill the wait time of the soap draining into its receptical??  Is this a part of me that comes from being an edgy New Englander/ East Coaster?  "Hurry up and get there, get it done, already!" (perhaps this is part of the midlife crisis?  I will be hit forty this year!)

I think of Thich Nhat Hanh:  In the Miracle of Mindfulness.

He, I think, would advise, not trying to be somewhere else, but to appreciate the present..doing the dishes and really thinking about what you are doing, not trying to be somewhere else. We waste so much of our lives wanting to be somewhere else; and when we are there, we want to still, be somewhere else.

In Simplicity Parenting, Kim John advocates that boredom is good for children.  Having less in the house, fewer toys, fewer screens, fewer distractions.  In this environment, they will find their creativity, find themselves, be more peaceful, etc.

What of  parents' boredom.  Reading the same book hundreds of times, doing the dishes day in and day out, looking at the endless pile of laundry, taking the children to school day after day after day??  It is exciting at first, the first day of school, experiencing the milestones, but at at point, it becomes monotonous.  (not that every day is the same and without challenge--THAT is FAR from the truth. Children create a ton of drama on a daily basis)  lol!  And life is quite busy in that routine, there is always something to do and tons of work..Still, what is this boredom, and what do to about it?  What does it push me to do?  In my case, it has pushed me to learn---learn about sustainability, growing food, nutrition, cooking, knitting..but those are done in my stolen moments..What about those moments I need to be "present"  How do I get over "boredom" and enjoy washing the dishes??  and not longing for the next moment I have to myself...How do I keep going when the "newness" has worn off; when I am at a stage, I take for granted what I have accomplished, when cooking Pho Ga no longer seems remarkable?  When juggling 3 children no longer seems like an amazing thing?  And Coffee no longer gives the boost it used to.  Could it be that I question the value of what I am doing--being worn down by how our culture undervalues this role; this job? thinking that in order to have a valuable life; I must also be successful in the material/elitist sense..

I often feel like a car revving my engine sitting in the driveway unable to move.  I am moving, all the time, still, it is with the weight and distraction of 3 children on my back. (and as wonderful and warm and fuzzy as it can be..and as grateful as I am to have them, love them with ALLLL my HEART!--and I would never ever ever ever trade it in a million years)  I move as if in quicksand at times.  And sometimes, it makes me feel a little crazy.

Even now, I rush to write these words before my daughter demands the ultimate in how I am right now ignoring her as she pushes on my legs trying so hard to get my attention.I feel guilty and selfish. I am "stealing time" write now to fulfill a need of my own, which I know I can not do for much longer.  She is a timer ticking and there is only so much ignoring that she will endure.  I will not conclude this essay..I do not know the answer yet, just the observation.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Constipation Aids for Toddler or Anyone

My little one is constipated right now, so I looked up some foods that could help.  I am crossing my fingers that it will help her.  The good news she liked both drinks and at the very least, it was a way to get more fluid and fiber into her.

Here are the two things I made for her this morning.

Smoothie for Constipation
1 celery
1 prune
1 strawberry
(pear/apricots/blueberries would be a good choices too, I think).

Tea for Constipation  (fennel grows really well here in the NW. You can also grow your own chamomile as well in your yard or in pots)  This tea has a very nice flavor, in my opinion)
steep with:

Other Remedies:
 Lots of walking
popcorn and olive oil

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I've been reading for awhile that there are benefits for children in experiencing boredom.  It encourages them to find creative ways to appease the discomfort of boredom.  Without boredom; they will not have those coping skills. Without boredom; they will not have opportunities for creativity.

What about parents?  What about the boredom that comes from "not being able to do the creative things of their own adult ...In writing this far, I have been interruped 3 times by my very creative toddler.  (-;

(just to illustrate what I am trying to say)

What about the boredom that comes from wanting to write a blog entry, but being stopped constantly?? and instead needing to find ways to meet her needs.  It is a ....

There we go..  I cannot write what I long to write about (yet)  Just can't..right now..

Sunday, May 5, 2013

DIY Kiwi Arbor

For a couple of years, I have wanted to grow kiwi and to build an arbor for them to grow.  This Spring, it developed into a plan, but at first I did not know what kind of arbor to make.  At one point, I had an idea of an elaborate arbor that doubled as a tire swing for the kids, but such a project would have been quite consuming, and someone mentioned that the kiwi might attract bees, so having an arbor doubling as a rigorous play area, might not be the wisest choice.  Swinging around might upset the bees and cause many stings. 

There are many things to consider in beginning a project.  Where to place it; how to design it.  We decided that simple was best.  My neighbor has a beautiful tall arbor with at least 6 to 8 posts; and her kiwi is very tall and expanded.  Our yard is much smaller; and I did not want to have to stand on a ladder that tall to harvest and prune kiwi.  Hence, we have a short 2 posted arbor. 

For the past couple of months, I've been looking at and studying every arbor I would pass.  None of them were quite what I wanted until I saw one just down the street, I hadn't noticed before.

I stopped my car, and took a picture.  If they saw me taking a picture into their yard, they might think I was some kind of a weirdo.  

This was the kind of design that I thought might work; only I wanted to make the ends deeper.  

Still, we didn't really know the first thing about making an arbor, using cement, etc.  So, I consulted some DIY websites.  

Our result is a combination of using this picture as a guide and consulting different arbor building websites.  

 Here is the recipe we came up with. Ingredients first:

2 4x4 8' posts pressure treated
4 2x4 8'
4 2x6 6' end pieces
6 2x2 8'   pole pieces

(4)2x4 braces made from scraps

gravel to put in holdes under posts
150# cement
2 tube forms 
carriage bolt and washers 12”/ and 12' bit
3" screws

Drill, saw, auger

The first step we took was to rototill and level the area we chose for the arbor.

Then we rented an auger to dig the holes 2' deep.  This part was a bear.  It took both of us all our strength to hold the machine and it got stuck at first.  Lesson learned,  make sure you don't just dig down; dig a little down, lift up, dig some more downward, lift up, etc.

Our auger looked like a BORG!
After diggging the holes, we inserted the tube forms and  shoveled in some gravel

(After cutting the lumber to the right size with corners cut diagonally: We had a neighbor who graciously let us borrow their skill saw.)    We placed the posts into the tubes, centered; drilled on supports, leveled, etc.

Once we had the posts as we wanted them, freestanding; we poured the dry cement (about 75# each hole)  We put on goggles/respirator to protect eyes and lungs.  

For each 50# of cement, you need about a gallon of water.  You just pour it on top and let it seep into the cement.  We covered it to protect our pets from getting into it while it set.  We let it be for the next 24 hours.

When it was dry; the next day, we pre-drilled and drilled with the very large bit to bolt 2 of the 2x6 pieces to the each post. Measuring to center and leveling them.

Then we predrilled and drilled on the 2x4 perpendicular on top of the 2x6 at an angle into the the 2x6. We measured again and leveled, making marks in pencil to guide us.  My husband fashioned a little extra triangle piece to help support the structure.  

The last step was to measure, place, predrill, and drill the 6 poles onto the top.

After it was all put together, I planted the Kiwi!  (you need both male and female plants unless you know a neighbor has another male plant)


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