Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I'm sitting here, drinking a canned Creme Soda, which is my all-time fave soda. I know I shouldn't, but...I am. I'm sleepy. They're there. They normally aren't there, because I had stopped buying them as a baby step in trying to be healthier family. We had actually gotten pretty good about it. I had maybe a caffeinated drink or two on the weekends, and Isaac was really cutting back on his coffee, sometimes even going days without it! But, I sorta fell off the wagon a little. So it got me thinking as a I sit here, getting ready to make my meal plan for June. (I know, this is a big detour, but I've gotten much quicker at meal planning!) How far have we come? Have I really made changes? Or am I still eating just as badly as before?

Now, I have tried to take it one day at a time, and not let myself get so discouraged by little failures that I just throw in the proverbial towel. I think I've done pretty good about that. And, in all honesty, I think that attitude has made all the difference. I'm allowing myself this small failure of soda at the moment (no justification!) yet I am still planning healthy meals simultaneously. I'm forging ahead, continually choosing whole, real foods to our ever-maturing diet. I decided to do an encouraging assessment of progress.

We no longer buy processed snacks - even if they're on sale.
We buy only organic milk and eggs.
We buy only whole grain pastas and breads.
I cook with lots of beans.
I try to make our meal 2/3 veggies - and our taste buds are following quite nicely!
We buy more locally, when possible.
We buy grass-fed local beef.
We buy organic when possible. (Now, organic=expensive, but there are certain foods where it's important, and others where it's not as important, so I cut corners for now.)
I make a monthly menu plan and cook every night we're home.
We drink lots of water.
We started recycling.

Now, these represent a lot of big changes to me. We used to eat convenience foods, and we hardly ever cooked. If we did, it was nothing great. I disliked most veggies, but have come to crave them! Your taste buds really do change (thank goodness!). We love the flavor difference in organic dairy, and have fallen in love with rye bread. There are still so many things I'm striving towards, but I know it will be a process. This is not an overnight change, and it will require many small steps.

I'm about to embark on baking my own breads. We have a large veggie garden that I plan on canning/preserving from the harvest. I want to start a real compost bin. I want to find a local farmer to provide us with chicken. I want to begin making our own cheese, yogurt and kefir. I want to soak more of our foods to aid digestion. In the distant future, I'd love to have our own chickens and maybe even a dairy cow. (Raw milk!)

I am enjoying this part of our self-sustaining journey very much, even with its ups and downs. It's so satisfying to know I'm changing my family's health for the better. Plus, I love that I'm becoming a better cook! It's also been interesting to see what God has shown me in this process. I began to be overwhelmed initially because I felt like I had so far to go, and that we'd never make it there. But then I realized the baby step process I needed to follow, and that, if I allowed it, eating healthy could become an idol. I decided immediately I would not allow myself to be overwhelmed, burdened or stressed by this process. I would enjoy it, learn and probably fail along the way. But as long as I pick myself up, and keep going, I think my effort is worthwhile. Now, it's time to finish my meal plan, but first, I'll go put this soda can in the newly used recycle bin.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Experiment in Under-Estimating

So here it is, halfway through May, and I'm just now getting to a blog post about our garden. You know why? Because we just got the seeds in the ground. Yup, that's right. I'm gonna go ahead and suck it up and admit that this was definitely bigger than we ever thought. Now, in all honesty, part of that is because I'm somewhat of a perfectionist. I wasn't gonna just throw some seeds in the ground and see what happened. I figured if we were going to invest time and money (both of which we possess sparingly) I was going to count the cost and be good stewards. I have read, researched, and read some more. Fortunately for us, we live in Georgia and have a luxuriously long growing season that will be very forgiving to our late start.

Our first delay was the raised beds. I know they will pay off in the long run by increasing the quality of our soil tremendously, but phew! They were a lot of work. (Which, yes, I'm sure was magnified by the fact that we built 9 of them.) We were so wonderfully blessed to have all the topsoil we needed given to us. It was, indeed, a lot of scoopin', however. A lot. And Isaac would add, A LOT. Thanks also to my physical therapist friend who worked the 3-week kink out of my neck from the whole experience. (Apparently, neck muscles have a good memory. No kidding.) Here are our beautiful raised beds.

As you can see, the mulching isn't quite complete surrounding them. I'm laying down a layer of newspaper, followed by a thick layer of (free-yay!) mulch to help minimize the weeds. We'll see how that goes. :)

Next up is the fencing. We already have the 4x4 corner posts in, and also the metal posts too. This has been another big delay in planting the seedlings. I really don't want to get anything going before our fence is complete because we have major wildlife, and I'm not particularly interested in an open buffet for all our hard work. The first night we decided to start our garden, we had to wait to pull in our driveway for 7 deer to cross. Seriously. There are also lots of bunnies. Cute, but stay outta my garden.

Hopefully the fencing will go up this weekend, as we already have little seedlings emerging. I had been waiting and waiting, because our life schedule just doesn't lend itself to concrete planning. All you parents of small children know what I mean! I didn't want to bank on the fence going up and not get to it. But, I finally gave in for fear of too late a harvest. Our weekends are busy, and hubby doesn't get home until 7. The boys go to sleep at 8, so him doing outside work when he gets home means he doesn't see the boys really, and none of us enjoy that. We've sacrificed a night or two to get some things done though. They have 'helped' by sitting in the stroller outside while we worked a little. They particularly enjoyed when Daddy hammered in the posts. (They aren't really able to play/run around yet. Soon though.)

I'm already seeing some tomato and asparagus babies, and it's very exciting! I know we won't see much by way of the asparagus for about 4 years, but I'm really looking forward to the tomatoes :) Ooh! And the bell peppers too. Yum.