Living With Down Syndrome: More Alike Than Different?

I’m not sure where it got its start, but More Alike Than Different is a phrase that’s been used in the Down syndrome community for a while now.  It’s also a frequently used hashtag on Instagram.

It has just never rung true for me and our experience with parenting a child with Down syndrome.

Before I’m strung up or stoned, will you hear me out just a minute?

I understand the reasons behind the hashtag, and they’re all good ones, but it isn’t a sentiment that resonates with me.

I agree that many people with Down syndrome have the same wants and desires, hopes and dreams as people without Down syndrome.  But in my experience (and I hear the same from other parents I know) almost everything about parenting a child with Down syndrome is different.  More alike than different just doesn’t feel like an authentic testimony, either for me as a parent or for Jessie.

Why do we assume “different” is bad?  Can’t different simply just mean different?

With my older two children (one boy and one girl) there were great differences in each of them and what parenting each of them required of me.  In the case of our third child with Down syndrome though, the differences were even greater.  Some of the differences have been because of health concerns.  Almost every health concern that happens to people with DS occurs in the rest of the population, some just with greater frequency.  Many of the differences we’ve experienced have been because of the cognitive differences, delays and communication issues.

Per NDSS, The majority of people (95%) with Down syndrome have trisomy 21, which means that extra chromosome is replicated in every cell of the body.  This is different from all other people who don’t have Down syndrome.  Genetically speaking, there’s much about Jessie that is the same as the rest of our family, and there are some things that are different from the rest of us that don’t have Down syndrome.  Why does acknowledging that mean I’m saying something is bad or wrong?

This morning, my phone rang around 1 am.  It was Jessie calling me from her bedroom.  She had started her period while she was sleeping and she was having very bad cramps.  Because she was both tired and in pain, her ability to communicate everything to me wasn’t as good as she usually can.  It took me a few minutes to realize that she wasn’t being obstinate in not answering some of my questions, but that she herself was having a hard time knowing the answers.

This morning as we sat at McDonald’s having breakfast before heading to Cooking Camp, Jessie said to me, “I don’t feeling good last morning.”  Expressing time (this morning, last week, last year) is something Jessie has difficulty with.   And she sometimes puts her words in a sentence out of the typical order or not grammatically correct word choices (don’t feeling good).  My point is, Jessie is 16, and this wouldn’t be a sentence you would hear at that age from a “typical” 16-year-old.

When Jessie tore open her jelly packet she struggled with it, made a sound of exasperation, then was able to get it open on her own.  The fact that this was difficult for her was not a “normal” or “typical” experience, it was different.  So was the fact that as I watched her, I resisted the urge to immediately help her in her difficulty and then felt so proud that she accomplished it on her own.  Yes, we experience those same struggles with our other children, just not over a jelly packet at 16.

If you’re a newer reader to my blog, you might think Jessie is more cognitively affected than she is.  She is very capable.  She learns and grows more independent every single day.  She speaks pretty well, but she thinks with so much more clarity than she can sometimes express.  She reads well.  She struggles the most with certain types of fine motor skills and she has a foot issue (unrelated to DS) that affects her balance even more than the average person with Down syndrome.

In about a year, when Jessie is 18, we will begin the process to become Jessie’s guardians.  While she is so very capable in many ways, she will always need someone to oversee her care and help make medical and financial decisions.  When she out lives us (her parents), her siblings will assume that role.  That is different.  It is not more alike than different.

Different doesn’t infer good or bad, it’s just different. 

A while back, I read this blog post, “On Radical Acceptance (And Not Fixing Your Kid), and it resonated deeply with me. Written by a mom whose child has a different chromosomal abnormality,  I cried when I read the part about “The Button Man” and I sobbed with understanding as I read this:

“Somehow, somewhere, the urge to want to change my kid subsided…Maybe it subsided when I saw all these differently abled people–people in wheelchairs and people who ran, people who ate orally and people fed by gtubes, people who spoke and people who didn’t–and I finally felt in my bones that all of these ways of being were good.  And by good, I don’t just mean, “Hey, it’s all good.”  I mean in that deep affirming way that things are proclaimed good in Genesis.  There is dark, and it is good, and there is light, and it is good, and there is a grown woman who gets around by scooting on her butt and she is good, and here is my daughter, one year old, twelve pounds big, who has just started learning to hold up her head (thanks or possibly no thanks to our tummy time), and she is goodShe is so, so good.

It seems to me that one of the reasons parents use this hashtag is showing that living with a person with Down syndrome is a positive experience.  And I will agree with that all the day long!  But it is different.  Jessie’s life is good, but her life experiences are a lot different than that of my other children.  And, for the most part that isn’t because of any way that she isn’t being included or accepted or supported.

Our Down syndrome group last year bought shirts that say, “Different, not less.”  We didn’t at the time know that was a slogan used for autism awareness, but I like that SO much better than “more alike than different”.  That sentiment much more accurately expresses what I feel is my experience as a parent and how I see Jessie.  Different.  Not less.  We’ll broach the whole subject of “special needs” another time 🙂

We want to be an encouragement to parents who are expecting a child with Down syndrome or have a younger child with DS.  We also want the world to see that our children with Down syndrome aren’t a burden to us.

Sometimes, not in spite of their differences, but because of them, our lives are richer.  Have you never rejoiced in your heart over a jelly packet independently opened or the toilet paper roll replaced?  Well, I have.  That’s just one tiny thing that comes to mind.  Jessie gives me a lot of reasons to be thankful that God allowed me to be her mother.

What if, instead of “more alike than different” we project that different is ok? In fact, different is very, very good.

Josette

I was a kid who rode the bus to church.

If you’re in church ministry (like you do anything at your church besides just sit there) you are probably affecting the lives of others in a way you may never know.

I hope sharing my experience will encourage you, that even when you have no proof that what you’re doing matters, it does.

I don’t remember how old I was (10ish?) but for a while I rode a bus to church with my best friend. Most Saturday nights I would spend the night at her house and we would ride the bus to church on Sunday morning. Often, her mama would have spaghetti waiting for us when we rode the bus back home.

I don’t remember the name of the church. I don’t remember the name of even one church worker. But the folks at that church impacted my life by putting the word of God before me in a turbulent time in my life.

Things I do remember:  I remember that the people there were very kind.   They looked at me with kind eyes and had sincere smiles. I remember that I was pretty sure their home life wasn’t a lot like mine. I remember there were adults who seemed joyful (I wouldn’t have used that word then but I see it now.) I did get even then, that love for God probably motivated their bus driving and their kindness to me.

It wasn’t that we never went to church as a family, but it was inconsistent. When we did go to church together we never stayed until it became a church “home”.  We visited a variety of churches of different denominations.

That was a long time ago; I’m 53.  I have a church home now, and it’s a small church.  In a small church everybody works, because it takes everybody doing something to keep things going.

Some folks teach Sunday school. Some folks drive the church van. Some fix things, others shop for the church, reorganize the pantry and keep things tidy.  For VBS, most everyone has a role.  Whether it is cooking and serving food, playing outside games, telling the Bible story….there are so many roles in which God might use you in a kid’s life.

You might never know if it made any difference at all.

Don’t be discouraged if that kid riding the bus or in your VBS group doesn’t remember your name or open up to you in any way.

You may be just one part of what God is doing in someone’s life. But it all matters.

And the one who needs to know does. And one day you will see Him face to face. And that will be one sweet day.

Josette

 

Food Prepping Ahead for a Family Day with Very Little Cooking

We had been hoping for a day trip to the beach on Saturday. It had been raining here though, every day for more than a week. When we saw that the beach wasn’t going to work out, we still wanted to spend the day together in a leisurely way.  In order for it to be leisurely for me, food needs to be mostly prepared ahead.

We couldn’t be sure if the weather might cooperate to let us sneak in pool time between showers or if we would be spending the day inside.  I wanted food planned that would work for a pool day or watch a movie and play cards kind of day.

I wanted to have some easy, snacky-but-filling food on hand so that whatever we ended up doing wouldn’t have to be interrupted with food preparation.  I also wanted to have a simple supper and dessert prepped that could be thrown in the oven without having to be tended to.

What to serve?

At Christmas time when we were at the mall shopping for my daughter, my son-in-law pointed out the meat and cheese baskets for sale and told me he loved them. I made a mental note. I instinctively knew my other two carnivorous guys would like that too.  I decided our day would start with a meat and cheese tray and fixins that would go well with it.

For this family day, I set out to create something similar.  It hit all the important points: filling, easy to make ahead, flavorful, easy to put away and get back out throughout the day if we wanted to.

*** This post includes affiliate links, see disclosure ***

Our Menu for the day:

For all day snacking: a meat and cheese tray served with a tangy pineapple mustard, raspberry chipotle fruit spread, club crackers, kalamata olives, grapes, and french bread with olive oil for dipping.

For supper: I already had ingredients on hand to throw together a spaghetti-ish casserole and made another loaf of french bread (can you have too much french bread?) and salad.  Earlier in the week I cooked ground chuck with onions for another meal.  I cooked the whole family size pack and froze about 2 lbs to use for later, it came in handy for this meal.  The romaine hearts were already washed and cut so it only took me 5 minutes to cut a cucumber and grape tomatoes and add some parmesan cheese to the salad.

Dessert:  a peach cobbler made from peaches I had frozen earlier in the week when a friend had picked some and given them to me.   I put the cobbler together while the spaghetti casserole was in the oven then it cooked while we ate our supper.

I prepped all the food the morning before the kids got here, except the peach cobbler which was super quick to throw together last-minute.  I put the bread in the oven when I knew they were on their way.

I have included some pictures from our day but don’t have pictures of everything. I wanted to keep the day easy and not worry too much about being able to document everything. I’m too willy-nilly, throw-it-together-on-a-whim and don’t measure anything to be a true food blogger, I just enjoy sharing with you all what is working for me.

The Meat and Cheese Tray

I planned to serve just the summer sausage, but for my picky eater (Jessie) I added some mesquite flavored turkey.  She didn’t care for the summer sausage.

I will save you the running around like a crazy person in Wal-Mart (like me) and asking two different employees where to find summer sausage. I knew I had bought it at Wal-Mart before, and was pretty sure it was out in front of the deli area. Nope, not this time.  You can find Summer Sausage in the section with the beef jerky and microwave popcorn and nuts (for snacking not the baking section).

There are of course a variety of cheeses you could choose; I went with cheeses I already knew my guys liked. Sharp cheddar, smoked cheddar (found in the cheeses not behind the deli counter but in that area) and Muenster.

I sliced all the cheeses using a cheese slicer. When my now SIL saw me use it when they were engaged he added one to their registry. We enjoy our kitchen gadgets around here.

If that looks like a lot of meat, it is! I was feeding 6 total, and 3 of them are guys that can eat! We did have leftovers, which we were happy about.

I was excited to use my new daisy tray for the first time.  I painted this recently (my first time doing ceramics) when I went with other Down syndrome mamas in our F.R.I.E.N.D.S. group for a mom’s night out.

The Sauces are what really make this special.

I wanted this to really seem like the fancy baskets with the sauces and not just meat and cheese on a cracker. How have I never known about these yummy sauces? The sauces really make this so deliciously savory.

I’m completely in love with this raspberry chipotle fruit spread and am going to find more ways to use it. It is so, so good. Sweet, a little tangy and not truly hot, it has just the right amount of kick.

I also wanted a tangy but not hot mustard. They had a LOT of choices of different types of mustards at Wal-Mart. Even with all those choices I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for so I made one. I can’t find the recipe I used 🙁   It had Dijon mustard, soy sauce and pineapple preserves in it.  I added more preserves than it called for.  It was good but could stand to be perfected, so I won’t mind trying another recipe next time or shopping ahead somewhere else for a store-bought version.

French Bread with Olive Oil for dipping:

I bought a loaf of pre-sliced french bread at Wal-Mart for $1 in bakery area.

I melted butter in the microwave and used a silicone basting brush to brush the butter along the top and drip some between the slices.  I  baked the bread for a few minutes (till it looked right) at 400 degrees.

I used this Taste of Home recipe for olive oil for dipping.  I accidentally left out the rosemary and it was still good.  I had intended to go get some fresh from the garden and then forgot to.  If I had realized how much it would make I might have made less than the whole recipe.  It leaves you with some dry mix to use for later.  So, consider if you want to have leftover or you might want to make less than the full recipe.

Spaghetti-ish Casserole

These are estimates for your convenience.  I was just using what I had on hand.

elbow noodles approx 1 1/2 lbs

ground chuck cooked with onions approx 2 lbs

large jar of Ragu traditional sauce (or your favorite)

italian seasoning to taste

mexican cheese blend, its what I had on hand, use whatever you have! (however much you want melted on top)

A loaf of pre-sliced french bread (I got at Walmart for $1 in bakery area)

Saturday morning, I cooked and drained elbow noodles that I thought would be the right amount for the pre-cooked meat and sauce I had.  I mixed the meat, noodles and italian seasoning together,  covered it with foil and stored in fridge till ready to bake.  Everything in it is pre-cooked, so it just needed to be heated.  I cooked at 350 till warm then added cheese on top and baked a few more minutes to melt the cheese.

This was a super simple casserole that I made because I had the ingredients on hand and wanted to keep the day super simple and focused on family time, not cooking.

I melted butter in the microwave and used a silicone basting brush to brush the butter along the top and drip some between the slices then baked the bread for a few minutes (till it looked right) at 400 degrees.

Peach Cobbler

I’ve been using this cobbler recipe for years.  In fact I keep this recipe in the clear cover on the front of my recipe binder because for a while I was using this pretty frequently.  although the recipe is for Blackberry Cobbler (my absolute favorite!) I’ve also made it with blueberries, peaches, or frozen mixed berries.

I used the peaches I had and I’m not sure the exact quantity.  I had not measured them when I froze them.  I wouldn’t use a lot less than what the recipe calls for, but if you use a little more it never hurts.

By the time of day the kids were all here, it wasn’t good swimming weather so we spent the day inside.  We sat around the table for a long time talking and eating.  We watched a movie and then ate supper and played some cards.  We played a card game called Nuts that we all enjoy.  Jessie loves it and begs us to play more often.

When we’re all together, it doesn’t really matter to me what we do, as long as we’re together <3

Till next week friends,

Josette

If You Struggle With Transitioning to Summer, You’re Not Alone

Every year this happens and I react the same way.  Why does that still take me by surprise?

As the school year ends, all of Jessie’s Special Olympic sports and other activities come to an abrupt stop all at the same time.   She is sad when they end and I’m both sad for her and relieved that there will be a few weeks between these activities and the summer camps (just mornings) she participates in.

For as long as we’ve been homeschooling (forever, now, I think) I’ve always collected in my mind all year long things I’m going to accomplish around the house when the school year is over.  I always at least think it will (and it is after the first 2 weeks) be easier to keep my house reasonably clean.

Those first couple of weeks of summer I completely flounder and can’t decide whether to work or rest/play and don’t feel satisfied no matter what I actually do.  I can’t seem to make myself get fully into any projects and I feel guilty if I just do nothing, which is what I really, really want to do.

During the school year, our days are completely structured around Jessie’s activities and when they suddenly stop, there’s no framework in place.  I find that for those first couple of weeks I want to be a complete slouch and just rest and read and do nothing, but feel guilty to do that.  I partly feel guilty because, hey, the hubby is at work I feel I should be working too. He doesn’t say that, that is something I put on myself.  Secondly I feel guilty because it means Jessie isn’t doing something productive either.

When I’m working on house projects Jessie is on her own and when I’m doing my own thing (reading, etc) Jessie is on her own.  Jessie has some chores, but even with those she has a lot of free time.  On her own = she’s watching videos on her tv or phone.  She plays Barbies a little or her wrestling action figures a little and a plays a wrestling video game.  Most of her time on her own though is with some type of screen.

With my other two kids I restricted the amount of time they could be in front of the tv and they were older by the time cell phones were a thing. If they complained of being bored, I told them I could find them some chores to do, and I meant it.   That usually worked 🙂  There was still occasional whining about that and they too had a transition period before they got into the groove of being able to fill up that free time in a way that didn’t get them into trouble.

I have a harder time though, finding ways Jessie can spend her time besides tv and cell phone that doesn’t require help from me.  Anything else she would enjoy requires me for instruction or help of some kind.  She has her adult coloring books, markers, gel pens and such in her room but she is only content if the tv is going too.

I have taken to telling Jessie if she’s bored (acting whiny and sad about us not going somewhere) I will find her some chores to do.  When she was younger, there were fewer things she could do around the house but now I really can almost always find her a chore she could do.  But it is just different and I struggle with it all in a different way with her.

For this week, the pattern I’ve fallen into has been very little productivity in the early part of the day and then mid-afternoon the guilt kicks me into gear and I get a little something done.  I cleaned Jessie’s bathroom last night at midnight 🙂  I just left the floor for her to sweep today, cause she needs something to do besides tv.

If this year is like the others, in a couple of weeks I’ll sort of find my way into a loose summer routine and still feel guilty though when I take time to just relax.  Why must mamas feel guilty about that?

If you find that the transition from the structure of the school year to the complete freedom of summer isn’t perfectly smooth, I’m right there with ya.  I’m hoping we all get it straightened out soon. If you’ve got tips, please share them!

Talk to you next week,

Josette

PS:  Did you notice that the photo at the top has some brown on the leaves?  You probably did, I did too.  But you know what?  The intracacy of the detail of those blooms are amazing.  Such variety of size of bloom and colors. The green of the leaves is so lush.  Yep, there’s a little bit of brown on them.  And I will soon cut that brown part of the leaf off.  Even though there is some imperfection there, this is my first hydrangea and I love it 🙂  It isn’t perfect, but I think it’s beautiful.

We Are All Designed to be Creative~ My Recent Trash to Treasure and Ceramic Projects

I believe we were all meant to be creative in some way.  If you don’t think of yourself as creative, maybe you’re thinking of “creative” with too narrow a definition.  I haven’t always thought of myself as creative either, and there are some ways that I’m definitely not.

I say all the time I’m not the one you want to decorate for a party, because I mostly choose practicality and comfort over beauty and I simply don’t see the point of going to a lot of trouble.  Anybody with me? I’m just not frou-frou in that way.  But I have friends that are so good at that, so I ask for their help in this area.

YOU are designed to be creative, you just have to find your niche.

There are so many different ways that creativity could be expressed and sometimes it takes us a while to find what we like.  When I have time to pursue it, I enjoy being creative in a variety of ways.  If you aren’t sure yet what you like, just get to trying some stuff.

Everything I do is as inexpensively as possible.  If you’ve been reading my blog just a minute, you probably already know that about me.  You already know I love gardening and repurposing home decor in new ways.  Although I’ve been very focused on de-cluttering and paring down, before getting rid of an item I always evaluate if it could be reused in a new way or beautified with a little DIY.

I hope that in showing you the ways I fulfill that inner need for creativity and creating beauty for my home, it will stir up in you some ideas of ways you can do the same in your own life.

I had this ugly candle holder…

Y’all, don’t judge me for having owned this ugly thing in its original state.  It was ugly.   I picked it up years ago at a thrift store and knew it had hidden beauty.  I didn’t like it gold, but I wasn’t sure at the time what it needed.  I used it gold, then I added the little bit of green (sometimes the first time is a fail, keep tryin’) and then stuck it in a closet for a very long time and forgot about it.

See, it was ugly. I don’t know what I was thinking with the green. It’s like I tried the green and didn’t finish my thought? Who knows. But I’m happy with the way it turned out this time.

I saw it in the closet.  I had the idea to paint it in a way that I’ve been loving for a while now and then put some dried flowers in the candle holder instead of a candle.  Well, I ended up changing my mind about that, but I share that with you on purpose, so you can see that sometimes a project keeps evolving.

This is painted white, till all the gold is covered and before the creme wax. I think it took 3 coats. When adding these pics to the blog I realized that all the stuff on my kitchen table was in the background. #reallife at least at my house.

I already had the paint and wax on hand from a previous project and absolutely love this combination. I got these at either Wal-Mart or Michael’s, I think it was Michael’s.  They are just your ordinary acrylic paints.  Until recently, I had never used a wax over acrylic paint, but I love the effect.  The wax is sold right in the same display with the acrylic paints.

After covering the gold with the Warm White I applied the brown wax with a rag.  Instruction on the wax say to use a lint free rag.  I didn’t have a problem with lint, but I just used an old rag I had saved for cleaning that I knew it didn’t have any chemicals on it.  I quickly wiped the brown wax off, leaving just a little color.  You can see that there isn’t the exact same amount of brown all over, that was on purpose.  I then applied a coat of the clear wax.  Even with the 2 coats of wax (one brown, one clear) it doesn’t have a truly shiny appearance, which is just what I wanted.  It’s not perfectly flat/matte but also not shiny = perfection to me.

I love the candle holder as an addition to the mantle. The candle on top of it – it used to be in a jar and our cat, Bad Buddy knocked it off and broke it.  I saved the candle and now it has a new home.

I posted here about the plants growing in the water pitcher and bottles.  The “Family Gathers Here” was a gift from my son this past Christmas. The “be thankful” was a half price find at Hobby Lobby.  Years ago, the mantle itself was a project.  It was originally a natural wood color.  It didn’t contrast enough against the dark brick to suit me.   It looks a little more yellow here, but it is a shade of ivory with a yellow undertone and I used the same type of antiquing to add some dark shading.

Even a little bowl and some dead flowers can add beauty.

Dead flowers, dried flowers, are they kinda the same thing?  Well I decided to use some flowers from a vase that had died/uh dried.

Jordan (my oldest) had given these mini carnations in a vase to Jessie at her pageant recently.  When they died I thought they were too pretty to throw them away.  Initially, I planned to put them atop the candle holder, but it turns out they weren’t quite right there.  I just snipped the blooms off and put them in this little white bowl.

I love the pretty detail on this little white bowl so I had to show it up close.  I found this little pretty at Tuesday Morning on clearance.  Less than $2, maybe $1.  I had seen little bowls of this type used to corral small items on a desk (paper clips etc.) and bought 2 of them.  I knew at least one would be used on my desk.  It could also be used for bobby pins, etc in a bathroom or rings/jewelry in a kitchen.  I bought 2 knowing they could and would be used all over my house at different times.

That first time I painted something at ceramics:

Our Down syndrome group, FRIENDS, had a mom’s night out recently where I got to try painting ceramics for the first time.  We went to You Never Know Ceramics.  If your project will come in contact with food you use glaze paints, and it needs to have 3 coats. If your project won’t be used for food you can paint it just once and they will seal it before you leave and can take it home with you. There is a variety of items to choose from starting as low as $5.

The cost for this good-sized platter was $20, including all needed supplies.  They had books with ideas and patterns you could use.  I traced this daisy pattern onto the platter using carbon paper (they provided everything) and then painted it and left it to be fired for a second time.

It was such a relaxing time just visiting with the other mamas as we all painted our projects.  There are imperfections, you can see where some of the black got smeared a little, but I’m still proud of it and can’t wait to use my platter for the first time.  I love daisies and will probably add some other pieces that can be used together.  I look forward to going back with moms again and also want to take Jessie with me sometime.

Okay, so you’ve seen my creative projects.  What can YOU do that will lower your stress level and add a little beauty to your home?  Got something ugly (like my sad candle holder) that needs a little beautifying?

Whether you know you’re creative or think you aren’t,  I hope you’ll find just the thing.  In every season of life, and parenting, what we have time for and can afford is different, but there is always at least a little something we can do.

If you have a friend that might be inspired by this post, it won’t hurt my feelings if you share <3

Till next week friends,

Josette

Motherhood: God Uses Everything

With Mother’s Day being this weekend, I’ve seen lots of profile pictures of friend’s moms and expressions of thankfulness for their mothers.  My mother died when I was six, so I won’t celebrate with my mother.  I will, however, get to celebrate with my kids.  This might not be your typical Mother’s Day post,  but everyday I think about how thankful I am to be a mother and the ways God has blessed and grown me through motherhood.

I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to be a mother.  I always knew I wanted to be a mother.  There was a time it looked uncertain that I would be.

We went through a period of surgeries, infertility medicines, monthly heartbreak and uncertainty.  But now I am the mother of 3 wonderful kids.  Well, 2 are adults now, but still.  With two of those we took fertility meds and with the third….well, we knew when she came without the help of those, and without planning, but with Down syndrome, she was just meant to be.

I haven’t always felt this way, but, aren’t you glad you don’t get to decide everything? See, I would never have chosen to go through that time of infertility and heartbreak but God has since used it for my good.  

Maybe I would be just as thankful to be a mother as I am, but maybe I would take it a little more for granted.  I’ll never know.

Maybe I would have accepted Jessie’s Down syndrome as quickly and easily, maybe I wouldn’t.  I’ll never know.

With my particular infertility issues, it didn’t seem that likely that I would get pregnant by accident and not have a miscarriage, but I did.   In the hospital, shortly after Jessie was born, all those thoughts flooded over me.  I knew right away she was meant to be here.   In that scary time, when we didn’t know yet what health issues we might face, realizing that helped me quickly accept Down syndrome in a way I might not have as easily otherwise.  I’ll just never know.

One Thing I Do Know:

Whether you’re in a season of life filled with  exhausting days with littles, trying times with teens, adjusting to your children being grown, or caring for an aging parent of your own, you can know you that God will teach you things in each season and use every difficult thing for your good and his glory.  Amen. (So be it.)

Trying times are hard (duh) but there is peace in knowing God will use it, even if we can’t see how just yet.

God Used Motherhood to Teach and Change Me:

I was shy and self-conscious; he used my kids to make me more brave.

Raising kids is not for the faint of heart; I had to learn to trust him more.

He blessed my socks off so many times (using my kids) that I couldn’t help but become overwhelmingly thankful and joyful.

With Jessie, who has Down syndrome, he opened up a whole new world of friends and experiences that I would have missed out on.

Jessie, and her Down syndrome, helped our family gain eternal perspective in so many ways.

Each of my kids, with their personalities and what they have needed from me, have changed me.  God used each of them to grow me in different ways.  I’m not the person I would have been without them.

Motherhood has been the greatest joy of my life.

Some were more trying than others, but I have enjoyed and learned from every season of mothering.  I am now embracing a phase of life and motherhood that is a bit slower paced.

I have known the joy being a girl mom and a boy mom and everything that entails.  Girls and boys, first-borns and middle children, with different personalities, they view life differently…. and my life is richer for every part of it. I’ve gotten to witness a young woman become a wife, and a boy become a man.  What a ride it has been.

If your children are younger, look forward to enjoying the friendship of your adult children.  It is a sweet reward at the end of all that hard work.

God used Motherhood to teach me about himself.  Then, I taught my children about him.  

Motherhood has helped me to better understand God’s unconditional love for us (me)  and appreciate the sacrifice of his son in a completely different way than I ever could have otherwise.

I have had the great joy of teaching my children about the Lord, whom I love. I’m thankful they know and love him.  I wouldn’t have the same level of peace about each of my adult kids if that weren’t true.

For every step of motherhood–good and beautiful or trying and hard, I am thankful. I could have missed all of this and maybe knowing that makes me appreciate it all the more. 

I am looking forward this Sunday to spending the day with all my kids.  Last year, Jordan and Josh invited us and Josh’s parents for a delicious steak meal.  Not sure what we’re eating this year, but I’m sure it will be good.  And the company, the best.  With grown up kids, any time I get to be with them, I treasure.  If you have grown up kids, I’m sure you know all about that.

God Uses Everything

If you aren’t yet a mother and you want to be, I know your pain.  It won’t be in vain; one way or another, God will use it.  Whether you become a mother ( I hope you do!) or God knows another way for you, He is good and will fill you with another purpose.

If you are a mother, I know many of your joys and sorrows.  God has or will use them all!

If you have lost or never knew your mother, God will use that too.  In his goodness, he never allows our pain to be in vain.

Trust God with your past and your future; he is trustworthy and good.

Till next week, and thanking God this Mother’s Day for the joy of motherhood,

Josette

 

Conversations With Jessie

Kids say the darndest things. Without even meaning to be, they’re hilariously funny, sometimes profoundly insightful, and other times so sweet it will make you cry.  Occasionally, it’s all 3 in one sentence.  Kids.

There was a time when Evan was around 3 or 4, we made a rule that he couldn’t say ANYTHING about how ANYONE looked without running it by us first.  Whisper it to mama first was the rule.  Yes, in complete innocence on his part, he had embarrassed us on more than one occasion.

Times have changed.  With Jordan and Evan I used to jot things down on slips of paper or the back of an envelope and hope to get it transferred to a calendar or something more permanent.  These days, I’ve started making notes in my phone when Jessie says something I want to remember.

Here are some of the recent conversations I remembered to take note of.  Each of these made me giggle or made my nose itch (how I feel right before I have to cry).  I hope they add a little something to your day too.

Sometimes funny:

Lots of times while we’re in different parts of the house, I call Jessie on the phone rather than go to her room. I call to tell her supper is ready, or get ready to go somewhere, get ready for bed, etc.  Recently when I called Jessie she answered with, “This is Jessie; may I help you?” 😂

I had a good laugh (which she appreciated greatly), and since she was rewarded with laughter, she has started answering her phone in similar ways more often.

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Background information you need to know in order to enjoy the full benefit of her response to my question:  Jessie has always been upset by the sound of a baby crying. Partly because it’s loud and partly because she knows it’s a distress signal, it upsets her. When she was younger and in the church nursery, if a baby started crying she would cry too.  A crying baby sets off alarm bells inside all of us, she just can’t ever cover up her emotions.  She handles it somewhat better now that she’s older, but it is still unsettling to her and she can’t handle it for very long before she has to escape.  Now back to our story….

We were on our way to pick Jordan up, then going together to visit a friend of ours at the hospital who just had a baby.  Jessie asked me if Jordan (her older sister) was pregnant.  I answered no and then asked if she wanted her to be. She replied with a yes. I asked Jessie, “If the baby cries, will you hold her and comfort her?” We could see multiple emotions cross her face then she replied dead seriously with, “Just a little bit.”  Gotcha, Jessie.  I feel the same.

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Jessie watches WWE wrestling every week (sometimes daily) and the girl knows her moves, the  real ones.  The moves have names and she knows those too.  She loves to wrestle with her dad and they do it often.  There’s always lots of smack talk before and during.  Sometimes when they talk on the phone they’ll promise each other a beat down.  Often when they’re wrestling, it sounds like there is a real killin’ going on in there.  And, sometimes she tries to get me involved to help her.

One night she was wrestling with daddy and he wanted her to stop. She told me to “Kick him!” and  told him, “Come onnn, let us have some fun!”  (She wasn’t really wanting to hurt her daddy, it’s just smack talk.)

Profoundly insightful:

This conversation hits every category. It is both insightful and sweet and at the time was a little sad. Jessie has adjusted pretty well to her sister getting married and her brother working out of town. Sometimes though, she really misses them (the way things were when they lived at home), especially Jordan.  Before Jordan got married, they slept together every night.

Jessie had looked at a picture I have pinned on a board in our kitchen. A few minutes later when we were in the car she mentioned the photo. She said the photo was when we took daddy to the airport. Talking about her sister she said, “This was when her name was Hall. She can change her name (back to Hall), she can be friends with him (with Josh instead of being married to him).”  She loves Josh to pieces, but she still knows he’s the reason why Jordan doesn’t live here.  Her fix:  they can just be friends.

Jordan and Josh with Jessie at a special event recently.

Sometimes, when she spends time with Jordan, instead of feeling satisfied with the time they had together, she will be sad when they part and go to different homes. For me, that happens less often now than when she was first married, but I completely understand how she feels.  Bless her bones.

So sweet:

Often I tell Jessie, especially at bedtime, that I thank God for her and that I’m so glad God gave her to me.  I tell her that I’m so glad she’s my girl and not someone else’s.  I tell her I can’t imagine what I would do without her.  I’ve told all 3 of my kids these things.  It’s important for our kids to know we love them unconditionally, exactly the way God made them.

It took me a minute to figure out what she was trying to say. She got her words all jumbled up out-of-order, which happens sometimes.  We were crossing the parking lot, meeting friends at a restaurant and I was holding her hand.  Not for safety, because we’re mostly past that, but I often hold her hand when getting out of the car and going in somewhere, just habit I guess.  And we both enjoy it.  Sometimes we hold hands when we’re driving down the road too.  Anyway, although her words were out of order, she was trying to say the same to me, that she’s so glad God gave me to her and that she is thankful to  God for me.  

I would learn to accept it if she couldn’t communicate in this way, but I’m so grateful that she can communicate not just her needs, but her thoughts, sweet and otherwise.

Jessie still has some issues communicating, but since I’m with her all the time, I understand most everything she says these days.  I remember though, when she was young, and we had no clue how much she would or wouldn’t progress with speech.  We didn’t always know what she was thinking.

When she was about 6 or so, often at bedtime it would be very clear that she was thinking about things from her day or wondering about the next one.  It became more and more clear that she was thinking about things in her own head all the time, whether she could express her thoughts or not.  Even though she couldn’t always perfectly verbalize her thoughts, it gave me such hope for the future that I could tell she was always busily thinking.

Jessie brings me so much joy.  I hope in sharing her with you, you get just a little bit of that too.

Till next week friends,

Josette

Our Journey to Becoming Accidental Unschoolers

In the same way that The Pioneer Woman, (Ree Drummond), calls herself an “accidental country girl”, I think we have, with Jessie, become accidental unschoolers.

If you aren’t a homeschooler yourself, you might not know what an “unschooler” is.   Even amongst homeschoolers it isn’t always defined the same way.  For the most part though, it probably means you don’t use a full, prepackaged curriculum (we don’t) and often it also means that what you concentrate on is somewhat student lead (according to what their interests are).

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When I was homeschooling my older two kids, we would not have been considered unschoolers.  We used a variety of curriculum that I put together, but we did use formal curriculum that followed a typical “preparing for college” way of schooling.  We followed a schedule (mostly) and if we didn’t complete the year’s work (too many extra-curricular activities) before our last “official” school day, we would work into the summer to catch up.  We weren’t super high achievers or extreme slackers.   We were, I think, kinda your average, typical homeschoolers.

Initially, we came to homeschool Jessie, who has Down syndrome,  for most of the same reasons we homeschooled our other kids and some reasons that were a little different.  I plan to share more in a future post about factors we considered in deciding to homeschool and the resources I found helpful in the early years.

Jessie went to preschool for 2 years when she was 4 and 5.  The first year her small class consisted of only kids with special needs and the second year was 1/2 kids with special needs, 1/2 “typical” students.  It was a good experience; there was nothing negative (other than being sick a lot the 2nd year) about her preschool time, but it did help confirm that homeschooling was the right route for us.

Fairly early on, I felt that I wanted us to follow whatever seemed to be OUR best path in homeschooling, whether that was or wasn’t what is typically taught in whatever grade she’s in.  Typical homeschooler way of thinking 🙂  It was helpful that I had already homeschooled one kid who required me to think outside of the box.  I tend to speak in emojis a lot in texting these days, and my mind just went to all the emojis I would use after that last sentence (imagine laughing till you cry emoji and wide eyed emoji here)!

We used an all in one adapted curriculum for kindergarten. After kindergarten, each year I pulled together a variety of sources to teach from. For quite a few years now we haven’t used much regular curriculum at all.

Jessie relatively easily learned her alphabet and letter sounds by about age 4.  She learned her colors and numbers and began to sight read by around 5.  She learned her letter sounds long (years) before she was ready to blend them into words.  I mostly followed the way of teaching sight reading first, then progressing to read phonetically, as is laid out in Teaching Reading to Children With Down Syndrome.  This is a very good resource for teaching reading to a person with DS at any age.  Later, Natalie Hale taught at one of our DS group meetings.  Although I have not read this book, based on having learned from her, I am certain that her book,  Whole Child Reading: A Quick Start Guide to Teaching Students With Down Syndrome and Other Developmental Delays would be good as well.   Jessie was reading pretty well by the time she spoke to our group or I would have bought her book then.

In the early homeschooling years we concentrated heavily on reading above all else, other than your normal everyday life stuff.  I wanted Jessie to read well, and made my efforts toward that end top priority.  If you can read well, other knowledge is accessible to you.  We did some math, she learned about her body and health.  In the earliest grades we did more of what is considered typical school stuff, just not as much of it and not at the typical pace.

I haven’t done any kind of testing to know what her reading grade level is, but Jessie reads well, what I think is really well. Her comprehension though is a good bit behind her reading ability.  She can read many things that she might not understand.  If it’s a subject she finds extremely interesting (all things WWE wrestling) she is more motivated to understand more complicated words or concepts.  With life experience and continuing to read though, I see her comprehension growing, just slowly.

Jessie’s in the 9th grade now, but she isn’t doing typical 9th grade work.  As she got older, what was usually being taught in her grade just weren’t things that were going to be the most helpful for her over the course of the rest of her life.  Over time, our schooling evolved into what I consider more like unschooling.

I don’t think Jessie is ever going to “typical” college.  I don’t think who our past presidents were, or a study of  history, is ever going to be meaningful for her.  She is capable of learning those things, but I would rather concentrate our efforts in areas that will serve her better.

We work on reading and spelling (in a chill kind of way) and don’t study grammar.   We study in science mostly what seems will have interest or benefit to her in her life.  We prioritize time for her to be active, physically and socially, in Special Olympics and other activities over a heavy emphasis in academics.  I am purposeful to notice any things that happen in everyday life that present opportunities to learn.  We focus a lot on life skills.

As for life skills, what do you need to know how to do in order to live as independently as possible?  It isn’t really our goal that Jessie live on her own, but we want her to be able to take care of : her own body (as much as possible), her own needs (food, house cleaning, laundry), relationships (family and friends, communicating well ) as much as is possible.

If you caught on to my use of “as much as is possible”, that’s really our goal.  In all things, as much as is possible. There’s no exact fixed end in mind.  Jessie will be, as we all are, a life-long learner.  We will just keep working, learning and improving in every area.  When she graduates (she wants to in the same way her siblings did) the only thing that will change is we won’t  report grades or attendance or be part of a cover school.

This way of thinking and feeling and living happened very gradually.  I don’t think we’re short-changing Jessie in any way.  She is smart, capable, learning and happy.  While some might feel our way of doing things isn’t “doing enough”, I find everything about our current lifetstyle to be so freeing and although we have our moments (as everyone does!) really joyful.  I am so grateful to God and my husband for making it possible for me to be with Jessie and enjoy her every day.

Not everyone who homeschools their child with Down syndrome feels the same, so please don’t assume I’m speaking for any other families or other homeschoolers.  I know there are families homeschooling their child with Down syndrome who use a more structured approach and teach more subjects than we do.  It works well for them.  This is just what we do, and it’s working for us.

Each of my children have changed me.  God has used each of them in different ways to grow me and teach me, both practically and spiritually.   Parenting Jessie has taught me to slow down and smell the roses, and then smell them again.

I hope you’re having a great week, smelling all the roses, and thanking God for all the good things.

Till next week friends,

Josette

Using Phone Alarm and Timers to Keep Jessie On Track

Currently, the clock app on Jessie’s iPhone is my favorite tool.  It is definitely helping keep Jessie out of trouble and reducing my stress level.  We need both of those things to happen 🙂  While having a phone of her own has been a huge distraction, it has also given her independence and been used as a helpful tool.

I’ve used timers over the years for myself and all of the kids in a variety of ways.  In recent weeks we’ve put to good use both her iPhone alarm clock and timer in several helpful ways.

Jessie doesn’t have a very good concept of how much time has passed. When we need to get dressed and ready to go somewhere, telling her you can watch tv a “few more minutes” and then get dressed just doesn’t mean much to her.

She will often say, “I’ll be ready in 15 or 30 minutes”, when really we’re leaving in five minutes.  In addition to helping us get out of the house, I’m hopeful that over time using the timer for varying amounts of time will help her have a better idea of how long 5 minutes or 15 minutes etc., actually is.

In addition to her lack of concept of time, she would just rather be watching videos, coloring, or playing until the very last free minute. I would tell her to get ready and then once I’m ready would find that she wasn’t.  For a while,  this was causing us a lot of stress as we then had to really hustle to get out the door on time.

In addition to using these tools, I did one time make her miss going to church when there was someone she could stay home with.  Along with the threat of missing out on something, we’ve stepped up our use of alarms and timers and it’s helping a lot.

Ways we use the timer and phone alarm:

To wake up in the morning:

  • As part of our bedtime routine, we discuss the plans for the next day and set her alarms.  If she already knows the plans for the next day, often she has set them on her own. She leaves some preset that she just has to turn on.
  • Jessie sets her alarm for the time to wake up. THEN, she sets a second alarm for 30 minutes later. She can lay in her bed and watch a video until the 2nd alarm goes off, then she makes her bed (she started this on her own recently!) and comes to the kitchen to make her breakfast.

Because we homeschool, this system works for us.  If she had to be up super early, she wouldn’t have as much time to watch a video.  She does still watch a video most days for a shorter time even if she has to get up early (which isn’t often).  She absolutely can get up and get ready without the video but this gives her a minute to shake the fog and be more alert when her feet hit the floor.

Transitioning from one activity to another:

Jessie is grumpy about transitioning from her free time to whatever is next. I go in her room and tell her she has x minutes. Often I give her 15 minutes. She either sets an alarm for 15 minutes later (I tell her what time to set the alarm) or sets a timer for 15 minutes. Most of the time this helps her transition more cheerfully to the next (less fun) activity.

Taking a break from a work activity without “forgetting” to start back:

If she has several chores to do that require standing, bending etc, she can’t do that for long without needing a break.  We are working on this (that’s another post) but for now, she does some chores then she can set a timer for a 15 or 30 minute break, then finish whatever she needs to do.

Doing an activity for a set amount of time:

If Jessie’s room has gotten really out of control, it feels overwhelming to her to tell her to clean it all on her own.  But, if I tell her to set a timer and turn on her music or video and clean her room for 30 minutes, that feels much less overwhelming.  Sometimes, when the timer goes off if she isn’t finished she will keep working.

I use this for other work type activities too.

Help us get out of the house on time:

On swim practice days she sets an alarm for 12:20, which gives her 25 minutes before time to leave our house. When her alarm goes off she puts on her swim suit, brings me a brush and pony tail to put her hair up and puts on her shoes. Ideally, she also brushes her teeth.

Setting an alarm for the time she needs to stop doing whatever else and get ready has been such a huge help.

We don’t have a perfect system and we do not have it all figured out but this is a tool that has been really helpful in making things run more smoothly.  Yes, I could just make her do these things, but this makes her much more compliant without as much nagging or fussing and I’m a fan of that.

I’ve had a chance to spend time with friends this week and bought some pretty new things at a garden center today.  I’m having a great week and hope the same for you!

Till next week friends,

Josette

What’s Going On In The Garden (And What I’ve Learned)

This year Jessie’s baseball season is starting later than usual.  This has allowed me to have more time working in the garden and the yard. Jessie hasn’t been happy about the delay but I have been gratefully soaking up every minute I can of this beautiful spring weather before it’s crazy south Alabama hot.

Each spring for the last 5 years I’ve done a small vegetable garden. Each year I keep wondering will this be the year I tell the hubby he has to build me a raised bed?

The first year I planted in containers and the containers were on my back deck. The deck gets too hot to walk on with bare feet and I wondered if their location was why it didn’t do as well as I hoped.

For the last few years I’ve planted in the ground.  Since my prenancy with baby #2 (22 years ago!), I’ve had a sciatic nerve issue that flares up pretty regularly, and especially when I do a lot of bending. By the end of the summer garden, I always feel unsure if I can do it again.

I’m trying a couple of things that I hope will make my life easier (and my back less painful) by keeping the weeds down as the season goes on.

Newspaper/Paper Bags for Weed Control

This year I put down newspaper as a barrier for weeds.  When I ran out of newspaper a friend gave me lots of brown paper bags. This layer of newspaper or brown bags prevent weeds from getting sunshine and helps retain moisture in the soil. Here’s a link to read more.

The layer of paper will break down over time and disintegrate into the soil (and that’s good for the soil) so the process will need to be repeated next year.

When I talked to an experienced gardener, he said either will help with weeds, but he prefers newspaper because of the way it breaks down.

Although you can put paper over existing weeds, I had pulled the weeds and then tilled the garden before I put newspaper down.  I’ve got my fingers crossed this is going to save my back some weed pulling.

After you put the papers down you cover it with a layer of soil.  I didn’t want to have to buy that much soil (I did buy some) so I raked some soil away, put down the papers, wet them really well and raked the soil back over to cover the newspaper/bags.

A Different Way of Fertilizing

The same experienced gardener mentioned above (that I’m convinced knows almost everything about everything in the garden!) told me how he fertilizes.

I had already bought a different fertilizer but after talking with Bob, I bought chicken manure compost and fertilized my vegetables the way he does.

Per his recommendation, I used a cup to distribute (he says a handful) of chicken manure compost around the base of my plants and then watered it in. He said as long as it doesn’t touch the leaves I’m good. This is not straight chicken manure, which is too “hot”, but chicken manure compost.

Chopped Leaves as a Mulch for both Moisture Retention and Help With Weed Control

I’ve been dissatisfied with the mulching options I’ve tried in past years.  Pine straw worked fairly well, but I had to use a lot and I was afraid I wouldn’t see a hidden snake.  I tried cypress mulch (it was on sale and I hadn’t researched it) but its prickly when planting or sitting on the ground for weed pulling and I just didn’t think it worked that well.

I read that chopped leaves was a good mulch and also FREE.  Because we have a pool and purposely don’t want to increase our work load there, we don’t have big trees of our own, just crepe myrtles.  But neighbors on one side have a row of trees beween our two yards.  My daughter also had leaves she had bagged so we got some from her and used the lawn mower to chop them all into smaller pieces.   If they’re too large that can cause a problem.  

What I Planted in the Garden

My humble and beloved garden. You can see the grass needs cutting. Y’all see it all. The good, the bad and the ugly 🙂
In the wheelbarrow are Calendula planted from seeds. I’ve wanted to plant something in this old wheelbarrow and can’t wait to see it full of blooms! I placed the wheelbarrow beside the garden to attract pollinators.

This year I went with less tomato plants overall but more varieties. Although I want the other vegetables too, tomatoes are my very favorite. I LOVE them. I bought 1 plant each: Better Boy, Pink Brandywine Heirloom and Homestead Heirloom. I also bought 2 Heirloom Spoon Tomatoes.  I’ve never seen or tasted them before.  Dothan Nurseries posted about them on facebook calling them the World’s Smallest Tomato. They shared a picture showing about 15 fitting in a tablespoon.  I was intrigued and had to try them.

I  planted several (don’t remember how many, 6 or 12?) squash plants and several bush (rather than vining) cucumber plants.

The last several years I’ve planted the small variety of pickling type cucumbers. They’ve done ok, but I haven’t gotten what I thought was a big harvest so I wanted to try a different variety and bush type were recommended to me.  I haven’t known anyone else in our area who grows the small cucumbers and I’ve wondered if they aren’t well suited to our insane summer heat.

I planted one jalapeño pepper plant, which I’ve never grown before, because I’m dreaming of some yummy salsa from homegrown tomatoes and jalapeños. I’m also planning to add cilantro to the garden soon for salsa making.

I added some flowers to the vegetable garden. Do you know why?

At times, my cucumber plants have had many blossoms that don’t become cucumbers. I read that sometimes this is a pollination problem. So, I added two lantana plants to my garden, one on each side, to attract pollinators. I transplanted them from other places in the yard before they started to bloom so neither are blooming just yet. I fertilized them and hope they will soon.

Having learned that marigolds have a scent some pests don’t like,  I hoped that planting some near my tomatoes would help keep pests off of them. I’ve been trying not to resort to using chemical pesticides (and haven’t so far) but bugs have been a big problem with my tomatoes every year. After I planted the marigolds, I learned I probably didn’t have enough of them planted to be a big help. I still think they are a pretty addition to my garden and I notice them every day.

I don’t think marigolds, in general, are pretty. I  had never seen this cream color before and I really took a liking to them. I found these at Dothan Nurseries. I’ve not ever noticed them before at other places where I shop for plants. Dothan Nurseries does seem to have some pretties that I don’t see everywhere else.

New Flowers I Planted This Spring

Last year I wrote in Just Start, how I started a flower bed in my back yard and how I built my flower garden frugally by adding a plant or two at a time.

This spring I’ve added a “Darling Daisy”. Twice before I’ve bought one of these off a clearance rack and they didn’t make it. This time I bought a regularly priced healthy plant and made sure I added some good soil to the planting hole and it’s doing well.

I love all daisies! I’m loving seeing this new addition each time I water the flower garden and when I enjoy my coffee outside in the mornings.

I went to Lowe’s with the hubby for some other man-purpose and although in a hurry, I found this verbena on the clearance rack for $1.00. I knew it had to go home with me. It’s an annual and I won’t spend a lot on annuals, but $1 fits the I’m-poor-cause-I -owe-the IRS- budget. I just transplanted it last night so it will look fuller and healthier soon.

Flowers For My Shady Spots

I love having something flowering on the front porch but it doesn’t get any direct sunlight. Last year impatiens did well there so I’m going with those again. Begonias have done well on my porch too, but this year I’m feeling impatiens.

I bought a six pack for 1.98. Four of them went in a planter for the front porch. I planted two in individual pots for the table on the pool deck that is shaded by an umbrella. Part of the day this area gets direct sunlight and it may be too much for them. I’m going to try them there and move them to a better location if it’s too much direct sunlight.

These impatiens were just transplanted the day before this photo. They will fill out soon and cover all (or most) the space in each pot.

I want a lot of bang for my buck.

I mostly plant perennials (plants that come back every year) to be frugal and not to have to replant everything each year. Some perennials will also spread, or seed new plants that will give you plants you can move elsewhere in your yard or to share. Most of the flowering perennials seem to need full sun.

I usually plant just a couple of annuals (plants that don’t come back, when they die, they die) each year.

The impatiens I bought are beautiful color, inexpensive annuals and give me blooms in the areas where I can’t grow a flowering perennial.

For $1.98, the impatiens are a lot of bang for my buck. Two separate areas have flowers in 3 separate pots. $1.98 folks. That’s as frugal as it gets.

That’s what’s new this year

I’m so hopeful that the paper, leaves, and chicken manure compost will have a favorable outcome for my garden. I get so excited when I see the plants growing and look forward to picking anything that grows there.I’m convinced that watching something you’ve planted live and grow is just plain good for the soul.

Hope you’re having a wonderful spring! I would love for you to share pictures of your vegetable gardens or flower beds in the comments.

Till next week,

Josette