Baby steps…

One of my friends once told me that I would be happier if I started with doing just one percent of something I wanted to do, instead of feeling like I have to do it one hundred percent right off the bat.  That way, I actually start chipping away at my goals instead of allowing them to loom over me until I feel I have time to “do it right.”  I have thought about that for a long time, chewing on it, and taking baby steps into various projects.  This blog for one.  I wanted to get it all set up and beautiful, replete with gorgeous photos and the perfect theme to set off my thoughts just right.  But I wanted to begin more than I wanted make it perfect.  Barely.  Maybe someday my blog will be beautiful, but for today, at least I am creating and sharing something.  Yesterday, I started something else that I have wanted to do for a long time.  I started a compost pile!

Every time I throw away food scraps–banana and orange peels, egg shells, carrot peelings and the like–I feel sad.  I think that those scraps have the potential to morph into rich, life-giving soil for new vegetables, and I feel sick thinking of that rich natural resource remaining trapped in a landfill where it does no good.

I have waited years to compost because I knew I didn’t want it to smell awful, and it seemed complicated to balance the ratio of “brown” and “green” components in the pile to ensure proper decomposition and preclude stench.  Hey, I can’t even keep straight what stuff is considered brown and what is considered green, let alone mix it right!  However, when my lovely family came to visit me last weekend and see my–relatively–new home, my “tiny bird mother,” who has had a compost pile for years, explained something that made composting seem suddenly simple.  She said that the green components are like a fire and the brown components are like the fuel, and both must be balanced for the compost to break down well.  I extrapolated that without the fuel, the “fire” “smolders” and that’s when the stench happens.

To return to where I began, feeling encouraged by the epiphany that I felt at mom’s simplified explanation of the process, I started my compost pile on Thursday.  I chopped up fruit and veggie peels to hopefully speed decomposition and carried them carefully to my selected spot, covered them with the leaves which have sat on the ground waiting for me to get up the guts to finally start composting, and smiled in satisfaction as I walked back to the house.

Friday afternoon, Big Sister helped me carry the scraps to the pile and raced about the yard gathering leaves to spread over them.  Before eagerly enlisting as my helper, she came into the kitchen and saw me chopping.  When she asked what I was doing, I told her about food scraps and leaves turning into new dirt to grow new food.  Seeming to catch the wonder I felt about the process, she said, “It’s like magic!”  Indeed it is.  True, divine magic.

This post on organic farming also inspired me to take my first baby step into composting.

Just a little one-on-one

“In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e.”                                                                     Dieter F. Uchtdorf (“Of Things that Matter Most”)

Today, after we dropped Big Sister off at a friend’s for preschool and stopped briefly at the store, Little Sister and I went to the indoor playground of a nearby mall.  I want to spend more time with her than I do, more time just enjoying her presence and playing together, and this morning I did just that.

She looked around the brightly colored and beautifully lit play area with wonder.  She climbed on a few toys before discovering the slide, where we spent most of our time.  She said, “My turn!”  as she ran from the bottom of the slide to the steps, where she tenaciously found her own way up.  I watched her interacting with the other small children playing on the slide and gently assisted her to develop interpersonal skills, encouraging her to wait her turn or to politely ask others to wait for theirs.

When she got to the top of the slide, she called out “watch!” and waited for me to acknowledge her request before scooting her feet to the edge, rolling onto her belly and sliding down the slide.  “I did it!”  She exclaimed in triumph.  She called for my attention every time she was ready to slide, even when I had remained focused on her during her ascent back to the top of the slide.  I remembered a principle I recently read in Becky Bailey’s remarkable book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, which is that one of the things our children want most from us is for us to notice what they are doing, to actually see it and reflect to them what we see rather than judging it with a dismissive, “good job!”  The constant stream of “watch me!”  “Look what I can do!” and similar exclamations from children begs for us to truly look at them, to “embrace them with our eyes” (see “Become as a Little Child,” by Jean A. Stevens) and to acknowledge in descriptive terms, what they have accomplished.  “You climbed to the top of the slide and went down by yourself!”  Then, the child gets to feel the satisfaction, the elation born of his or her accomplishment as well as gaining the positive attention of the parent, without feeling that the parent must pronounce their efforts good before the child can feel good about them.

Speaking of satisfaction…I felt great joy when I planned ahead, set a “five-minute warning” alarm on my phone and gently got Little Sister into the car in time to pick up Big Sister as soon as preschool ended!

Little Sister and I had a sweet morning together, and I am glad she is part of our family.