Life in the dirt is all about choices.  Some are easier to make than others,  some SHOULD be easier to make than others, and others you HAVE to make.  For those of you who may be confused let me share with you some examples:

Choice I HAVE to make:  I would love to be making my living blogging about every recipe I have ever made followed by a day filled with chatting and increasing my virality on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all day long.  However, I HAVE to work my full time job or there will be no money for groceries to make all the delicious food I create.  

Choice that is EASY to make:  Sending my children to bed as close to 8 o'clock every night as I can, so I can have a relief from the arguing.  Of course they don't argue all of the time, just 75% of the time (its a joke people, laugh!).  Actually, I send them to bed at a decent hour every night so that they can get a good nights rest and be ready to learn, grow and play the next day the best that they can.  And naturally argue a bit, they are siblings after all and ALL sibling argue from time to time.  

Choice that is EASY to make: Covering my tomato, eggplant and pepper plants when there is a frost/freeze warning, but not my cucumber plants.  I don't think I need to explain why this choice is easy.  And I know some of you can feel my disdain for cold temperatures and winter as you read that first sentence but the inevitable in Michigan is coming.  

Choice I HAVE to make: Cleaning, need I say more? Yes, I was born without the gene that loves to clean.  However, I do like things organized yet my 100 year old house, with its lack of storage space and small awkward sized rooms fights me on this daily!  The lack of organization actually sends me into a panic every time someone stops over because the clutter is everywhere.  So I have to make myself constantly reorganize, re-purpose, rearrange, etc. to try and calm the anxiety and dysfunction that lives with being in a disorganized space.  

Choice that SHOULD be easy to make: What to wear to work.  I am sure that I am not in the minority when it comes to this dilemma.  I also don't think I need to go into all the factors that play out in my head when deciding on what to wear, we all think about weather, comfort, fashion, etc.  

And now for the choice that inspired this post in the first place (insert drum roll)!!

Choice that SHOULD be easier to make:  Choosing which beer to have with the ribs I am making for dinner tonight!  I decided to go to the store quickly before starting work today as I wanted to make ribs and they needed to get into the oven first thing this morning (I slow cook them all day).  This decision should have been quite easy because, as many of my friends know, I have a love affair with Summer Shandy.  The arrival of Summer Shandy to the store is like Christmas for me because that means summer, my favorite time of year, is near!  However, once fall begins I am once again left without it, until now!  Leinenkugel's just announced their Lemon Berry Shandy for fall, naturally this made me very excited so I planned on this new beer with dinner tonight.  However, when I turned the corner of the beverage aisle something caught my eye in the form of an orange slice sporting a wheat mohawk and sunglasses.  Yes, Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat was staring me down and immediately I was torn between which beer to purchase.  There I stood at the end of the beverage aisle giving myself a case of whiplash over beer at 8:30 on a Monday morning thinking, "deciding on a beer should not be this hard"!  And then the stares from other shoppers began, many of them (okay, the 6 other people in the store near me) were of an older generation than myself, so I am sure they wondered about my sanity and sobriety as they rounded the corner from the HBC aisle with their new supply of Metamucil and Aquanet only to encounter the scene described above.   

Before you start thinking that I may have a drinking problem, let me get to the point.  Just like indecision over beer, what to where to work, or whatever choices you need to make in your life, we all have choices to make and some are easier than others and some are more life changing and serious than others.  Example, I choose to live a pretty healthy lifestyle, some days are harder than others to commit/maintain, but I do the best that I can for myself and my family.  Life is not easy and neither are our decisions each day, but if we can make them with the best of intentions and what we think is the best for ourselves and our families then we have to just commit and move forward!  And like the other shoppers who encountered me this morning, it is not necessary for us to worry about what others think of our decisions.  Because you see, they are just that OURS!  And until you have been in a persons shoes and lived their life you don't get to make rash judgments about their choices.  Now, I would be a hypocrite if I said I did not judge anyone, I have done it in blog posts right on this very website, but I try my hardest to make them more informed comments rather than judgments.  

So, go forth and make the best choices you can this week!  Live your life with a purpose and set your intention be to a healthier, happier you!

Rachel 


PS.  I chose the Pumpkin Wheat

 
 
What does one do when they already busy trying to manage a blog, work full time and being a mom?  Start a garden and not just a little garden, but a big garden that takes up most of the lawn!

So a few things to note for those of you who don’t know me well.  First, I am notorious for killing flowers.  I forget to water them or water them too much.  I have also been known to ignore the level of sunlight certain plants need and move my plants, simply because I don’t like where they are planted. Second, goes along with the first point.  I planted my seeds on the thought that I would kill at least half of them before they could get very far.  Third, I figured if I was going to start a garden it was go big or go home.  I planned on having a raised bed garden but still being able to keep the plants in containers for the most part.  This thought seemed to work for me and the room I had in my backyard.  


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I planted my seeds on Memorial Day Weekend.  We had been hit by some really late frosts and I was not about to plant any earlier for fear that I would lose them and it wouldn’t even be my fault this time.  Plus, I really did not have any time to be planting because “busy” season was in full force in my household. 

Well as luck would have it, it appears that my “black thumb” does not apply to seeds and plants for the garden, only the landscaping as 90% of my seeds sprouted, far surpassing my estimate of 50%. Panic ensued because the raised bed garden was not going to work, so it seemed that I was in the market for a new plan!  

Thankfully the purchase of the lot next door, which was not due to my needing a larger space for my garden but a previous purchase that was going to pay off in more ways than one, would allow for additional space to execute plan b on the garden.  Little did I know that the lot I envisioned for a garden and a lawn (gasp, a lawn what a novel idea) was sanctioned for other plans by the men in this household for…wait for it…a basketball court.  Being a smart and convincing mom, the space is now being used of a garden.  Full disclosure causes me to mention that in reality the basketball court is on hold until next year thus the actual reason for my garden now occupying this space and not my keen negotiating skills.  But I like to think that those skills are what caused the expanse of cement to be on hold temporarily to make way for the garden.  I mean, what boy doesn’t like food?!?! And playing basketball on a nice new court isn’t going to help put food on the table!  


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So we set to it, removing the sod, tilling the area, and transplanting the seedlings.  I was forewarned by my father in law that some of my plants did not take well to transplanting.  However, my previous black thumb turned green proved everyone wrong when I lost a total of 5 plants in the transplant process.  I want to take a minute to let you know I am not tooting my own horn, but conveying my astonishment that my green thumb was lasting.  Next year’s garden progress blog may have a totally different tone if none of my transplants survive.  But rest assured there will be a basketball court so we will be able to spend our time playing a mean game of Horse, instead of pulling weeds and picking a bounty of vegetables, if the garden flops next season.  

I made sure the boys were busy in the garden as well because they might as well work for their food right?  Actually, they like working in the garden and since the 10 year old has a cabbage project over the summer he wanted to make sure he was the one doing the work, and of course I agreed!  Some days were harder than others to get them out in the garden because Beyblades and arguing is way more fun than pulling weeds, setting up the sprinkler and checking for bugs. 
 
The times we would peek into the garden at night and watch the plants sigh and breathe at the cool night air and watch the pumpkin tendrils uncurl was almost magical.  Magical to almost make a mommy forget about the arguing and the pain she feels in her foot from an implanted Beyblade.  Yes, the miracles of a garden hard at work even at night! 


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Fast forward a month and half and the bounty is beginning to show its full force!  In fact it is never ending (note to self: plant half the amount of cucumbers next year), and my cucumber cup runneth over!  It is a good thing that I like cucumbers and the boys want to make their own pickles but even with that our neighbors will be getting gifts of the green so I may stop dreaming about drowning in cucumbers and pickles!  And soon to follow will be the beans, lima beans, corn and tomatoes.  Yes the bounties and joys of the garden; the unexpectedly successful and large garden!   


This garden hasn't been as easy as the above paragraphs would allow you to believe.  No, there have been some not so pleasant things too.  Like the day I found teeth marks on my squash from a "lovely" chipmunk, or the disease that infected my squash plants, or the Japanese beetles that decided my eggplant plant and corn would be a great vacation site!  Oh yes there have been bumps on the gardening road but if it were easy all the time then I guess I would take for granted all the good times, success and the bounty! 

 
 
I love the Detroit Tigers...love to watch the Tigers, I have even been known to watch Tigers Weekly.  In truth I am a girl who loves lots of sports (baseball, hockey, college football and basketball) and do love to watch and support my teams.  But when I can’t watch I am fine with reading about and seeing the highlights the next day. 

My 10 year old, not so much.  He eats, breathes, dreams and lives for baseball, in particular Tigers baseball (evidence by his Tigers hat above that I practically have to tear off him at times).  Currently it is 8am, I am exhausted from working an 18 hour day yesterday and trying to get a jump on my day so I can spend time this afternoon with my sister while getting my haircut and not work the entire time.  And my loving, awesome, overly stimulated by baseball 10 year old is eating breakfast and giving me a play by play of the Tigers game from last night.  While I enjoy his enthusiasm, I asked him to please stop so I could concentrate on my work items.  He gave me a baffled look and then turned back to the game only seconds later return to his banter.  Affectionately, I call him my “little Dickie V” because he has something to comment on all the time and each play results in an exuberant expression of awesomeness (yes, this may not even be a real word), shouting, and a subsequent rewinding of the DVR recording followed by “Mom, you gotta see this” over and over until I watch. 

There are exceptions to my more casual view on sports of course; I have been known to pull up a game on my ESPN app while at Les Miserables, Fourth of July fireworks, the beach, etc.  But they have to be “really important games” or at the bidding of my boys to have updates. 

So you are probably asking, “why in the heck is she writing about this”?  Well, I think it is something that we all have to deal with in our lives.  For you it may not be a 10 year “little Dickie V” but something else; a friend who wants to vent about their life struggles when you are pressed for time, a neighbor that is always turning your polite “hi” into a 30 minute conversation, a family member who doesn’t quite get the meaning of the Readers Digest version instead giving you the whole play by play.  These interruptions/disruptions/irritations may be just that, interruptions, disruptions and irritations.  But you may just make somebody’s day by taking the extra time to listen and watch and encourage those “little Dickie V”s in your life.  Because the relationships in our lives (the healthy, loving and supportive relationships) are worth the same effort that we give our jobs, our gardens, our blog ;), etc. 

So while it may mean taking a little more time to complete everything in your day, look at those interruptions as opportunities to grow and learn about life…in their dirt!





Rachel

 
 
So today was a day of "first"s.  Sometimes those "first"s are monumental; first steps, first words, first day of school, etc.  Today's "first"s were not so monumental, so if that is what you are expecting you can stop reading and go back about your business.  No, these are just a series of "first"s that happened to fall all in one day.  Thus, I thought I would share with the bored of the world who may need to be amused.  

I had my first taste of blog envy.  A friend of mine has started a blog, Mid-Life in Michigan, that I love to read because Marie is a friend and because it is so funny!  Then I thought (insert gasp here), my blog is not funny...I am a funny girl...why can I never make my posts funny.  This post, and my life in the dirt section, is my attempts to be funnier in my blog...in reality I know that it will just give some everyday insight into the craziness that life brings to moms everywhere and all attempts to be funny are futile.  In all seriousness, make sure to read Marie's blog, you won't be disappointed!

I had my first "vision" of being a mom who turns to the TV/Wii to babysit.  I realized at 2 pm today that my boys are starting to absorb the Wii controls and the TV remote.  Yes, they are permanently attached to their hands, they aren't eating, they are fighting and that means the unthinkable in my house, I can almost HEAR it knocking at the back door now, summer learning loss!  Thanks to this realization, the boys will now have a schedule of things to accomplish each day for the rest of the summer.  Call me a tiger mom if you will, but I will not have my children become rocks in front of a screen over the summer.  I would have said vegetables...but that is an insult to produce everywhere.  Really, nobody should be called a vegetable...it makes vegetable seem boring and unappealing when they are quite the opposite in fact.  Starting tomorrow a check list with items such as; reading, piano practicing, putting away laundry, journal entries, and others yet to be named will be completed before we can have fun or go to the lake.  Side note: I hope this doesn't become a punishment for me by cutting into beach time because I am really getting to like that break in the afternoon.  

First action shot, on the first "take"...with the camera on my phone because of course I left my good camera at home..  The wonderful picture below is a picture of my boys at the lake today.  After having the "vision", which in reality was a nightmare of the remotes becoming an extra appendage to my boys, I decided it was lake time!  Yes, time to burn off some energy, change the scenery and get some exercise.  The boys played catch and Frisbee, splashed around, counted fish and then had synchronized jumping off the dock, which resulted in the photo below.   

Normally, this type of shot would have been accompanied by take after take because the camera, the boys, or in a majority of the cases, the photographer mom did not cooperate.  This usually created a whole host of issues including but not limited to; a crabby photographer mom, fighting boys, dead camera or phone batteries, water in ears or eyes, crying or heaven forbid an injury.  Yes, these errors resulted in a less than perfect picture (see below).  A horrible picture, no.  Do you get the idea of what they were doing, probably.  But it isn't the gold medal of pictures either, unlike the one above.  Pssst (Insert whispering here)....Did you catch that, my reference to synchronized swimming, an Olympic sport to which you can earn a gold medal...funny right (nudging elbow to the ribs)... never mind, lets move on.
I discovered the first thing I dislike about summer (other than the obvious of mosquitoes...who has heard of someone liking mosquitoes?!?!  If you have, let me know, I want to meet this person and their obvious delusional state).  If you know me, you know that I LOVE summer!  The heat, the sunshine, the fresh produce, spending time on/in the water, fishing, etc.  Today, I discovered the one thing that I dislike about summer almost as much as I dislike snow and any temperature under 55 degrees...smelling, wet, sweaty boys!  I love my boys, they are my whole world.  Their smell and the lingering of it in my car, not so much!  I don't remember this smell in years past and the lake has not moved farther from us, nor us from the lake, so it must be boys and their "growing older".  Deodorant is a must in the morning...I will have to add that to their check list so they don't forget.  I must also remember to get more air freshener for the car...in fact I should maybe double up on the stuff...and leave the windows open at night in the garage.  Wait, I wonder if there is still a mouse in the garage, I guess that would be one way to get rid of it!  On second thought I know the car would be safe as the smell would be too much for him/her to endure for too long.   

I actually was at a loss on what to make for dinner (gasp, horror, women fainting, men crying)!  I know scary, I actually found myself saying, somebody needs to find a new kind of meat or something (sorry vegetarian friends).  And this wasn't the kind of stumped where I knew going to the store and wandering around for a bit would spark some random greatness.  No, this was my cooking brain having a complete meltdown and not the chocolate kind either!  Thank goodness I have brilliant kids, summer learning loss must have found out there was nothing for dinner and ran away, who suggested I work on my recipe for the recipe contest (see below).  Such smart boys, I am glad they did because it was delicious and I finalized everything for the contest.   

That's right, I entered my first recipe contest!!  It was also the subject of Make it up Monday tonight, but unfortunately that recipe will have to wait to get posted until after the contest is over and the results are in.  But if you are a follower of my blog you know it will take me weeks to get around to posting it anyways, so don't worry...it will still be in a relatively timely fashion as far as my time lines are concerned.  I love a good challenge, especially when it comes to cooking, so I took the plunge!  Psst (insert whisper again)...did you catch that one too...reference to plunge and the picture above is my boys getting ready to "plunge" into the lake....Ok, I will stop pointing the dumb jokes out now. 

I am finishing my first product review for the blog!  I am excited that I have had this opportunity of reviewing a Michigan made product and the post will be coming this week!  I really hope that this becomes an exciting venture for me and  you will see more reviews and endorsements in the future on this blog.  When I started my blog a couple of years ago I never thought it would actually take off the way it is currently.  So, thank you to all who read, visit, give me feedback on my recipes, etc.  


All of these "first"s AND a full day of work.  If it weren't for that stinking energy drink that I had at 5:00pm I would be sleeping!  Now, here is the awkward part of my post, and I will blame it on the energy drink and the fact that my brain is probably getting sleepy, I have to sign off but can't think of a good transition.   

So...sleep tight,  don't let the bed bugs bite and I will see you in the dirt tomorrow!


Rachel


 
 
...a little glimpse into my life!  The more I explore this world of blogging, sharing my recipes, tips and opinions with everyone, the more I realize that there are no glimpses into my life.  So the Life in the Dirt section will aim to accomplish this worm hole :)  

As I start this first entry I am up to my eyeballs in the accumulation of stuff from the end of the school year (which coincidentally was 2 weeks ago), dry cleaning that I have yet to take the 3 blocks to the dry cleaners, baseball cards, Nerf gun pieces, mail, and paperwork that never seems to end.  This my friends, describes my dining room table.  Why am I not in my office?  Good question, because my office is currently playing a double feature of Beyblades and Legos with several sweaty crazy boys in attendance while fueling up Crystal Light and double decker grilled cheese sandwiches!  

Yes, life in the dirt is crazy...crazy fun!  Or at least I wish there was more crazy fun.  I am currently working a full-time job and just acquired 2 part-time contracts, in addition to trying to fulfill my dream of teaching kids and adults about how much fun it is to be healthy and keeping up on this blog.  However, work stops (or at least I try to stop) when it comes to my boys and their interests.  I pride myself on the fact that I only worked at a total of 2 baseball games this year and only missed 2 because of work commitments.  Some may chastise because I worked during my kids games but, there are just days when that is my reality and I make sure to always stop when they are up to bat and fielding.  

Yes, all of this goes on on a daily basis.  But, the real life in the dirt is where I prefer to be every chance I get.  The dirt of the outdoors, spending time in the garden, splashing in the inflatable pool, or at the lake.  This is where life is the most exciting, fun and full of lessons to translate into other areas of our lives.  Life in the real dirt is where I anticipate many of my posts to focus and originate.  

And on that note, I promised two little boys that I would take them to the lake today!  So we are off to make some memories and learn from life in the dirt...well sand and water!


Rachel