Thursday 27 May 2010

Garden Dad In Charge

For the moment I have given Garden Dad charge of the garden. I have managed to line a couple hanging baskets and fill them with some compost and I have done some idle weeding but really Garden Dad is enjoying the time with Garden Girl and Garden Boy in the garden while I feed a hungry Garden Lass and try to get some rest.

Garden Boy's enthusiasm for planting and sowing seeds remains and he has helped me transplant courgettes to bigger pots and helped Garden Dad sow swede and turnip seeds. Garden Girl has been less interested in the garden since the arrival of Garden Lass, preferring instead to remain close by the side of her new little sister, She intermittently runs out to assist Garden Dad but she quickly returns to check on Garden Lass. Garden Boy meanwhile has been enoying some father/son time with Garden Dad, helping him dig and weed and playing with his new wheelbarrow. Today between the three of them they managed to plant our pumpkins out, build a couple of wigwams for the runner beans and plant them and prepare the bed for planting.And Garden Lass? Well she has done a lot of sleeping and feeding, enjoying the garden from the cosy comfort of her moses basket or relaxing on my knee taking in all the new sights and sounds of our garden.

The garden is in good hands and Garden Dad has been working hard to keep things going out there and I'm sure it won't be long before I get the opportunity to do more but I'm not complaining. I've got the best job of all, looking after Garden Lass.

Monday 24 May 2010

A New Garden Helper

Garden Lass, now almost one week old, was born happy and healthy, weighing 8 pounds 11and a half ounces. She has been feeding well and letting us get at least some sleep and with the lovely weather we have been having she has already been relaxing in the garden. Garden Boy is a little shy of his little sister but very gentle with her and has taken on the responsibility of helping with nappy changes. Otherwise he has pretty much carried on as normal, playing with his toys and winding up his big sister. Garden Girl is behaving in much the same way as she did when Garden Boy was born and just wants to be wherever her new sister is. She has given Garden Lass endless cuddles and kisses, she has been singing her songs, reading her stories and telling her all about the things she likes and the things she will teach her.

Garden Dad and I are a little tired but we are enjoying the time with our three little garden helpers. It has been nice to have the sunshine so we have all been able to get outdoors although there has been very little gardening and much more sitting on the patio feeding Garden Lass for me and running about playing for Garden Girl, Garden Boy and Garden Dad.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

The Calm Before the Chaos

You would all be forgiven if you thought that my lack of posting was due to the arrival of Garden Bump and the accompanying chaos and fun that comes with a newborn. But in reality, all is calm in the world of our Little Garden Helpers, in particular with Garden Bump who seems quite content to remain snuggled inside my tummy for the time being. I am hoping that the sunshine we are now enjoying might help to encourage Garden Bump into the world. In the meantime I have spent the last couple of weeks wondering if every ache and pain and every braxton hicks could be the start of labour. I have ended every day exhausted, though perhaps less from running after two toddlers with a big bump, and more from all the tense moments of 'could this be it?' only to be flatly disappointed when it turns out just to be backache from spending too much time sitting on the floor playing trains. 

Today I am sitting on the patio with a cool drink, looking at all the plants hardening off and wondering whatever possessed us to sow so many seeds which are now healthy plants needing attention I am not able to give them. Whenever the weather permitted, Garden Dad, Garden Girl and Garden Boy did venture out into the garden at the weekend to transplant some of the plants and try to keep on top of the weeding but last year I did so much of the gardening midweek with our Little Garden Helpers that this year, by comparison, we are far behind schedule. And I am missing the dirt between my finger nails. Still, now that Garden Bump is a week overdue at least I know that he or she will make an appearance within the week.And hopefully the weather will remain as beautiful as it is today while Garden Dad is on paternity leave so he can occupy our Little Garden Helpers with garden tasks whenever they need distracting from the baby.

Thursday 6 May 2010

Freedom to Speak

Garden Boy has been ill for the last couple of days with a sky high temperature and the need for lots of cuddles. Consequently I have been forced to spend time sitting on the sofa relaxing. Unfortunately I have also been forced to get up in the middle of the night a lot, to provide comfort and a willing ear. All the sleep Garden Boy has been getting in the day time has resulted in a few hours of night time alertness that Garden Boy has been enjoying. You see, usually Garden Boy struggles to get a word in edgeways. Garden Girl has always been a chatterbox and Garden Boy who is currently working very hard at speaking in clear sentences is often cut off by an eager Garden Girl who speaks faster and louder than her younger brother. Now though, Garden Boy has discovered that in the middle of the night, when Garden Girl is sleeping, words can tumble from his mouth freely and without interruption.

During our night time conversations I have discovered that Garden Boy loves his sister, loves cowboy hats and pretty much anything to do with Toy Story, that he wants to help change Garden Bump's nappy, wants Garden Bump to come out of mummy's tummy, wants to cuddle and rock the baby and he wants to show the baby his garden and his greenhouse. He also wants Garden Bump to wear welly boots and eat ice lollies. He wants Garden Bump to be a boy but thinks it is a girl.

He is clearly excited about being a big brother and proud of his garden, so despite the lack of sleep I am smiling. I just hope that these night time conversations remain rare but treasured shared moments and that his future hour long monologues take place at a more civilised time.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Grow Your Own with Notcutts Garden Centre

We are all aware of Jamie Oliver's campaign to get children growing and eating more vegetables. Over the last couple of years there have been many attempts to raise children's awareness of where food comes from in order to try and help them and their parents choose healthier food options. Growing your own vegetables has proven to be one of the most popular and most successful methods of getting children involved in the food preparation process and more importantly in eating a variety of fresh vegetables they might never have tried otherwise. Growing our own fruit and vegetables has certainly encouraged our Little Garden Helpers to eat things they would not have done otherwise, so when I hear about activities taking place that encourage more people to do the same I am more than happy to pass the details on and this time it is the turn of Notcutts Garden Centre.

This summer Notcutts Garden Centre, having carried out a national survey which revealed that 61% of parents don't grow any fruit or vegetables at home with their children, are trying to get more and more parents growing their own produce as an extra curricular activity. They are calling for parents to go into their garden centres with their children and receive tips on how to grow vegetables, regardless of whether they have a garden or not. They are also offering the chance to try some new recipes they have put together which are made from the least favourite fruits and vegetables in an attempt to get children eating more if them. Recipe cards include Plum Chutney, Bubble and Squeak, Sticky Pear Pudding and Celery and Celeriac Soup. So if you are looking for something to do this wet bank holiday weekend, or over the next few weeks, why not drop into your local Notcutts and pick the brains of the garden experts in store. I know from experience that the staff at my local centre are friendly and eager to help.

And in the meantime here are some tips from Lucy Thomas (healthy eating expert and founder of Mange Tout) to get children eating more fruit and veg:

1. Children don’t like surprises either

How many times have we seen an unusual looking food and decided not to try it as we were not sure what it was?  Allow your child to touch the produce in supermarkets, ask questions and point out their favourite colour. Choose something new to take home and look at.

2. Involve children in the whole process

Let them help as much as you can with preparing the food. Yes, it might get messy but this can be a small price to pay when it will help your child take away some of the uncertainly which might be associated with the particular fruit or vegetable.

3. Avoid the words ‘Eat’ and ‘Try’

The meal table is one of the only areas in a child’s life where they can assert some power or control over their parent; by refusing to do something they are being asked to do!  Use unique methods like smelling, licking, kissing food as a way around this. And yes, you must lead by example!

4. Sharing mealtimes

It is very easy to think of mealtimes as an opportunity to “get a few things done” whilst your child is pre occupied with food. However more often than not your child is far more distracted by you emptying the
dishwasher, answering the phone or hanging out the washing than being interested in what’s on their plate.

5. Your preferences

Children are great imitators, so will more often than not grow up sharing some of your likes/dislikes. Try and give your children the opportunity to try some different fruit and vegetables that don’t normally appear in your house. It may mean you have to grimace your way through a few Brussel Sprouts, but remember children will not yet know if they like them yet or not! They will only have the opportunity to enjoy them if they do not hear your negative inference in relation to them.