mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

A garden of one’s own, the (sort-of) “square foot” way July 7, 2010

Filed under: home & garden — Deborah @ 10:29 am
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I live in the city, and I have a teeny, tiny yard. Great for having fun on the weekends because I don’t have to mow my lawn (it takes about 10 minutes to mow the front, there is absolutely no grass in the back), but not great if you want to grow your own vegetables.

When we first moved in we put a garden in the back, near the garage. We had great veggies those first two years. Then shrubs and trees and the reality of having to put the tomatoes in the same place every year (encourages blight) and the harvest dwindled and dwindled to the point where last year the “garden” was a big patch of weeds. I actually convinced myself it was a “native prairie garden.” Yeah right. A big patch of weeds does not look so great in a teeny tiny yard.

Square Foot Gardening

"All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew

Years ago I had heard of “square foot gardening” and I thought it was a bunch of hooey. Probably because it’s proponents were kind of nutty about it – competing to see who would get the most harvest from the smallest space. Weird zealots.

Fast forward to March and my eight year old bringing home seeds from school, asking, “Mom, can we grow some zucchini and carrots this year?”  And then me looking out at the “native prairie garden” in the backyard, and then looking at my insane schedule, and then my looking at my cute, sweet daughter and saying “of course we can sweetie.” Hmm.

First thought was BOX GARDENS. That’s the new, hip and cool way to build gardens, right? So, I need a box. Lots of instructions on the web to “build” your box, all of which require lumber, and drills and tools and a concept of geometry that escapes me. Next option, BUY the box. Again, lots of choices, most costing slightly less than the mortgage on my house. Enter Sam’s Club. Worth joining for $35 to get the deal of a lifetime on two box gardens. No tools needed. Perfect.

Then on to to calculate how much dirt I would need to fill said boxes. It was a lot (1.5 cubic yards). Way more than would fit in the back of my VW Beetle. So I did the next best thing and call our handy local landscape service (a nice father/son business, reasonably priced) and found they would deliver the dirt and put it in the boxes for about $40 more than me just getting the dirt myself. Way worth the price.

So one bright sunny Saturday I cleared the weeds. Well, not really. I cleared some of the “big” weeds and the rest I just rolled some weed barrier fabric over. I installed the boxes (literally took about 30 minutes for two 4×7 foot boxes). Then lay down mulch in over the weed barrier fabric in the aisles. Next day the landscaper came and delivered the dirt and we were in business.

I planted my daughter’s zucchini and carrots. Now granted, we are in Milwaukee, and it was mid-June by the time this all got done, so it’s not very likely that we’ll have any zucchini before the snow flies. But we may have zucchini flowers (and the Italians do this great dish with zucchini flowers and ricotta cheese …). I planted some tomatoes, which may or may not grow because I don’t think we get enough sun there any more (the shrubs and trees). Some herbs, some beans, some lettuce. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get my gardening mojo back.


hard of hearing July 11, 2009

Filed under: general — Deborah @ 3:32 pm
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I used to be able to sleep through anything – thunderstorms, tornadoes, earthquakes, LOUD snoring – BEFORE I had children. Then my daughter was born, and that blessed talent disappeared.  Why is it that moms can always hear the faintest peep of the little ones, even when they don’t WANT to? Even when it’s THEIR TURN to sleep in? Me actually getting an opportunity to sleep in is kinda pointless, as my super duper mom ears tune in to the faintest whisper.

This “skill” is apparently not limted to children – it apparently applies to all young’uns in need. Case in point, our 11-month-old German Shorthaird Pointer puppy Clifford (okay, so the 7-year-old named him, what can I say?). Our daughter was at her grandparent’s house this past weekend, we stayed up late watching movies on Friday, and we had nothing we had to get up for on Saturday. I was really looking forward to a few *extra* hours of sleep Saturday morning. Well, Clifford had other plans. At 5:40 AM, the highest pitch whine on the planet began.

I tried really, really hard to ignore it. I even tried the old “pillow over the head trick.” No use, I ended up getting up at 5:50AM to start the dog’s morning routine (out/food/play/out again & walk/naptime). Funny how men don’t seem to have the hearing problem. Hubby was literally 3 feet away from the dog (sleeping downstairs on the couch because the A/C keeps it much much cooler downstairs than up in our rambling bungalow), and didn’t wake up. Not once.

It’s hard not to get frustrated, although I sometimes just have to realize that at some point in their lives (both the kid, and the puppy), they won’t need me as much. So grin, listen and bear it.


bad mom hall of shame June 24, 2009

Filed under: family,general — Deborah @ 10:02 am
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Radio Flyer Tricycle

Radio Flyer Tricycle

Our house has been overrun with too much kid stuff. We have toys and gear coming out of our ears. My daughter is an only child of an only child, so let’s just say grandpa and grandma (and daddy) go a bit crazy when it comes to buying her things. While I wouldn’t want to deny her, the first thought that crosses my mind when the next new gegaw is being considered is “holy crap where are we going to put this?” Let’s just say I’m usually the big party pooper.

At any rate, I was in the process of trying to at least START clearing out the basement of all the extra BIG stuff that she doesn’t play with anymore. Things like a giant plastic basketball hoop, and a plastic kitchen set, and the tricycle. Yes, the tricycle. Let’s just say that was a controversial move and one that nearly put me in the bad mom hall of shame.

Me, I’m the practical type. If we’re not using it, and don’t foresee ever using it again, then we should get rid of it. But woe is me for even considering decimating the memory of all the fun times had on that little trike. Let’s just say that while I think I’m being practical, the rest of the family thinks I’m unsentimental and heartless.

In retrospect, I should have been more sensitive to this issue. One of my most vivid and painful memories of childhood was my mother’s stony insistence on selling my favorite doll from babyhood (my lovey) at a rummage sale, despite my cries and pleading with her not to sell it.  She, of course, was the practical type. I hadn’t played with it in years, it was just cluttering the house. Never mind watching the doll walk down the driveway with a new owner broke my heart.

I don’t want to turn into my mother. The trike is staying.


Welcome to Mom Who Works – a working mom blog June 17, 2009

Filed under: general — Deborah @ 9:32 am
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That’s right, mom first, working girl second. Well, not working GIRL, per se, but you get the drift.

This is about the joys and challenges of being a working mom – someone who is just like so many other working moms out there trying to be all things to all people – a jack of all trades and master of none.

We’ll talk about family life, working mom life, tips and ideas to help working moms find balance, kid gear and baby gear, and some “mom gear” too like beauty, good reads, cool tech, style, and other things that trip my trigger. Enjoy!