Alrighty, so you’ve obtained some straw bales, laid them out into the raised garden setup you would like, and spent the past 12 days watering them and sprinkling them with fertilizer.
(At this point, your neighbors, having witnessed you mysteriously watering straw bales, are probably starting to ask questions. This is perfectly normal. The decision to give straw bale gardening a try, as it turns out, often includes an implicit level of straw bale gardening evangelism as you explain what in the world you are doing. Do not be surprised if lots of people say “Oh I think I heard about that,” and maybe even imply that they are going to be keeping an eye on what you’re doing because they want to see how it works. For me, at least, this has ended up being a really great opportunity to get to meet several of my new neighbors. And since my boys are almost always out working with me on the bales, the connections and information on which families are around the neighborhood with kids their age came fast and furious. This was an unexpected bonus, and a welcome one!)
Anyhow, we’re to the point you’ve been waiting for, because it’s time to start planting!
Happy that Coltrane is talking enough now that he’s starting to contribute to these things. Even if I do have to wash his mouth out with soap now.
“Oh no. No no no no. Where did he learn that!? He’s only two!”
“Anna is going to KILL ME.”
“What do I do? WHAT DO I–”
“We all fall down!” *THUMP!*
“Oh. Well, carry on then.”
“Hehehe. Okay Dada.”
Just when you think advertisers have been paying attention, you’re reminded that we still have a long, long way to go.
It doesn’t take long after becoming a parent that you start to become hyper-aware about the choices we all must make when to comes to the things that entertain our children.
Sure, there are questions like “How much screen time is okay for a 2-year old?” and “What age do I let my kids watch Star Wars?”, but I’m talking more about questions like “How do I make sure my kids never, ever fall in love with Barney?” and “Is there any children’s music that isn’t terrible, annoying, or both?”
Thankfully, if you really take the time to look, the answer to the latter is a resounding “yes.”
My wife gets up very early, every day of the week.
By the time the boys and myself are up, she is almost always already out the door and on her way to the office. She leaves so early because it means she can be done with work, and home, later in the afternoon. This gives her time with the family before, during and after dinner, and through bedtime. It also means going to bed herself shortly after the boys are asleep, most nights, but it’s a sacrifice she makes every day for us.
While I take the boys throughout the week to run errands, to buy groceries, to get a bite to eat, or for a fun (and hopefully educational) trip to the zoo or aquarium, she sits in an office, footing most of the bill.
Certainly she enjoys her job, and the interaction with adults, and the chance to make use of her education and abilities…
But she doesn’t do it because she loves going to work, she does it because she loves us.
(Read part 1, Straw Bale Gardening: Part 1 – Introduction.)
Okay, so you’ve gotten yourself a mess load of straw bales. What now?
Well, first of all, it would probably be a good idea to make sure that what you have is actually straw, not hay.
I currently have 21 bales of straw laid out in various configurations in our front and back yards, in which I plan on growing a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables this year. My neighbors ask a lot of questions, because clearly they can tell I’m onto something (if not on something). And I want you in on it too.
But perhaps I should start at the beginning…
I’ve long been a Star Wars geek, and proudly. I’ve written before about trying to figure out when and how to introduce my boys to the epic saga (I even participated in DorkDaddy’s brilliant white paper on the subject with other prominent geeky dad bloggers). As a family we watched the first film over a few weeks (and by “first,” I of course mean Episode IV, A New Hope) and my son liked it well enough, though he didn’t really understand it. He has an X-Wing fighter and a TIE fighter, and he enjoyed Star Tours at Disneyland. But I’ve yet to really see that spark of Star Wars love yet.
And so, when I saw that what I received was, in fact, a selection of Hasbro’s new Angry Birds Star Wars toys, I knew I’d found my gateway drug.
Because, really, what 21st century kid isn’t obsessed with Angry Birds?
A couple of years ago, my wife Anna came home from work and told me that she’d done something that day that made her entire day better and she couldn’t wait to tell me all about it.
She explained to me that she’d been inspired by something she’d been reading (Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, I believe), and had made it her personal goal that day to look for the opportunity to validate someone. She’d keep her eyes peeled for someone who seemed to be doing a thankless job, and make sure they know that someone saw their hard work or personal qualities and appreciated them. And so, at some point that day, Anna went out of her way to validate one of her co-workers on a job well done (the details of which are lost on me now), which led to hugs and bonding and both of them feeling like a million bucks.
I was so proud of her.
And I wanted to do it too.