Saturday, July 31, 2010

Conquering the Jungle

The previous owner of our home was an avid gardener...we are not. We had no clue when we purchased our home the amount of effort and time it would require to maintain the gardens. We put little energy into them in the first couple of years, so it didn't take long for the backyard to turn into a jungle.

Weeds and plants were growing into the lawn, the Black Eyed Susans were crowding out all the other plants, and we discovered that we had a few rather large ant nests in the garden.

This is our rock garden, except you can't see it because of all the weeds.

After 5 years of letting the gardens go wild, I'd had enough. I was determined this year to get them under control. I spent hours and hours digging out all the weeds and unwanted plants from the gardens around the perimeter of the yard. Then we laid down 7 yards of mulch.

We are done for now, but not finished. We plan to rip out the middle garden and re-sod. We would like more grass area for kids to run around in. The rock garden needs a little more attention...we might actually take it out completely and put a shed there.

One of my goals this year too was to plant a vegetable garden. So I ripped everything out along the left side of the yard and planted corn, zucchini, peas and lettuce. Everything is growing really well...except the lettuce did not sprout at all.

I'm quite pleased with how the yard looks and I love looking out the window at it or checking in on the vegetable garden. I used to hate every second I was out in the garden, but now I enjoy it as I see the fruit of my labour. Next year we hope to take on the front yard where an evil plant we tried to dig out of the garden has decided to grow in the lawn instead and is creeping closer to our neighbours perfectly manicured/weedless lawn.

Monday, July 19, 2010

C's Softball Season

Back in the winter, C requested that we sign her up for baseball. She had been reading the junior Nancy Drew books and discovered that Nancy Drew played baseball, so she wanted to also. I was a little hesitant as soccer last year wasn't a big hit. But she was adamant that she wanted to play baseball, so we signed her up for a girls minor softball team.

C has never played baseball before, so we were quite thrilled when after a few team practices...she hit her first ball and made it to first base. C liked softball because of the variety (catching, batting, running bases) it offered compared to soccer...and she improved each week.

Partway through the season she had an amazing game...playing first base she got 2 players out, and then playing the pitcher position, she caught a line drive off the bat. She didn't mean to catch it...she was standing in the ready position and the ball slammed into her mitt...she didn't more her arm or drop the ball. She then threw to first (which I didn't see because my jaw was still on the ground) and got the player at first out. Four outs in one game...who's kid is this? Funny thing is, it was this game that she finally started to understand the game as she said to me..."I didn't know you could get people out. I thought it was just a bunch of standing around. I want to do that again."

And then...the very next game she got hit hard in the cheek with the ball. It was all I could do to get her back out on the field. And if that wasn't enough...she kept getting hit at the following practices. She was now very nervous of the longer wanted to play bases, catch balls in the air...or get anywhere near the girl who accidentally drilled her with the first ball.

As a parent, it was very frustrating to sit and watch the downward see little to no effort put into the listen to her say how she disliked baseball so much and couldn't wait for it to be hear the coach say that she thought C was just batting to get out.

It was time for a talk.

We sat down with C and explained to her how we understood that she didn't want to play baseball next year, but she needed to fulfill her commitment this year and not let her team down. We couldn't go out and celebrate a successful season if she refused to participate on the team. We also gave her a little example of what it would look like if other kids were letting her down and how would that make her feel?

C seemed to understand...and made a great comeback...even the coaches were surprised. Part of it could be the "incentive" I implemented for the last week of practices and tournament games...gumballs for getting on first, bottle cap candy when you cross home plate, and gum to chew on the way home if you've participated well. Some people would call it a bribe, but I call it an incentive...I knew she was really nervous of being hit and I was hoping the candy fun would help her to push past her fear of the ball. And it did the last few games, she was back to trying to catch the ball in the air as opposed to only wanting to catch grounders.

C had a couple of really great moments in the end of season tournament too. Playing catcher, she caught a foul ball to get the batter out. I asked her if she had planned to catch the ball, she said..."Not really, I just put my glove out and it dropped in". Then in the semi-finals, she was up to bat with the bases loaded and 2 outs. It was a tie game and the bottom of the last inning. She made the hit that got the winning run home.

C's team won second place in the end of season tournament. She loves her medal and thinks 2nd place is pretty good since she "only got 4th place in soccer last year and 2nd is better than 4th."

Will C do softball next year? She has said "maybe". I'm kind of hoping she does.