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From planting a garden, to swimming at the lake, to camping and canoeing the Tahquamenon River, we have had a refreshing and relaxing summer, mostly.

Of course, I came home to make sure my mom was fed and kept on her meds while she recovered, but it wasn’t the only thing I did. Now that she is starting to get back on her feet again, I feel I have finally have enough time and energy to get to updating you on our life and a relatively mistake-free summer.

The Garden

We started our summer with getting some plants in the ground. The garden beds needed some TLC and Auburn was happy to help. She helped shovel in new soil, plant some vegetables, and put in this beautiful sunflower that is now standing taller than me!

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What We Grew

From tomatoes to kale, marigolds to other types of marigolds, the garden did quite well this summer. That is, except for the tomatoes. Why? Because we planted a few varieties with indeterminate growth and didn’t have a trellis system in place to support them. So what did we do? Improvised!

Gardening tomatoes, growing tomatoes
An old chair that I axed the seat out of to use as a support system for the tomatoes

Gardening is a learning process year-to-year. To me, it doesn’t matter if the garden looks professional, is well spaced out, or has an particular aesthetic to it. As I’m trying to learn in life and gardening: plant your seeds, care for them, and make due. If people want to judge you, oh well, that’s on them. Set your own standards and you won’t be flailing for reassurance from anyone else. The tomatoes will turn red either way, and they taste no less delicious.

Growing tomatoes, unconventional methods
An old guitar stand I used to prop up another tomato plant

If there’s on plant I can’t recommend enough to grow, it’s kale. It’s a delicious superfood that goes great in smoothies, salads, and steamed with butter. It grows quickly, has a a solid yield per plant and is also quite attractive on it’s own. Gardening with children helps them learn about where food comes from as well. You may find your own children are more likely to eat vegetables with them grow them themselves.

Kale, dew, gardening
Morning dew on the kale.
Tomates, gardening
Tomatoes growing

Marigolds are a great addition to any garden. They come in many varieties and colors and are incredibly easy to take care of. Give them water, and dead-head the dying flowers. At some point you might even be overwhelmed with how well they do. One of plants went from a tiny sprout to a flower plant nearly 2 feet in diameter with flowers sprouting from all over!

Marigolds, flowers
Marigolds: blooming and wanting to bloom.

Gardening with Children

Auburn has helped me create the garden at my Mom’s for several years now, but this was the first time she was actually helpful! Previously, she was keen to shovel out the soil I was shoveling in. This year however, she managed to fill several of plots all by herself and loved it! There’s nothing like watching a little kid get dirty and enjoy themselves, it makes me wish I was still a child sometimes. Aside from the fun they having gardening, there are numerous health benefits to it: fresh air, exercise, relaxation, and the microbes in the soil that get under your nails are beneficial to your immune system. Dig on, my child! And parents, try gardening with children and see how they do, it could be your next family activity 🙂

Gardening with children
Putting in work with her Auburn-sized shovel

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No One is Required To Share

So my daughter brought her dinosaurs to the park, and you didn’t. You want to play with her dinosaurs, and she says no, tough luck, kid. She’s not obligated to give you a dinosaur and if you run to me to tattle on her I’m gonna say, ‘so? Get your own dinosaurs.’

Forcing your child to do anything they aren’t comfortable with, including sharing with a stranger who rudely interrupts her play session thinking they have a right to her toys, is not going to help your child develop into a well-rounded adult. Likely, your child will grow into a pushover, someone who gets used and abused by the adults who were once kids tattling on other children who wouldn’t share with them.

She loves being forced to share her hand

I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but teaching my daughter to not melt like a snowflake is not one of them.

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Do You Share As An Adult?

No, you don’t. If you’re at the park, ‘watching’ your kids by falling face first into your phone, I doubt very much you’re going to let me watch a few YouTube videos, no matter how politely I ask. That’s because you’re setting boundaries for yourself, and that’s okay. You don’t even have to ask for forgiveness, because non-snowflake adults will understand just fine, and the snowflakes will melt no matter what.

So when my daughter says ‘no’ to your little snowflake about her dinosaurs, teach your kid to suck it up and find something else to do instead of coddling them and suggesting to them that my daughter is the rude one.

Sharing too much can drive us crazy

Boundaries Are Healthy

Teaching my child that it’s okay to set boundaries, and that it’s equally okay to be refused something because someone else set a boundary, is part of learning to be a good person. I don’t want her to grow up thinking she has to be a super kid, to do everything that someone asks of her (like I did), or else think of herself as rude, or an incomplete person. Why? Because doing so lead me to saying yes to peer pressure throughout my young life, doing things I didn’t want to do when I was emotionally or physically exhausted, or losing time for myself because I didn’t want to appear to be rude.

Setting boundaries for yourself is what will keep you sane and healthy, and helps you avoid overexerting yourself. And if there’s one thing you should be doing, Kamal Ravikant described it well, love yourself first.

Share When You Can, Not When You’re Asked To

If you have an abundance, you should share it. If you don’t think you have an abundance to share, you’re likely lying to yourself. Unless you are on the absolute, most bottom-rung of your society, then you have an abundance in someone’s eyes. And if you’re reading this post, then you’re not on the absolute, most bottom-rung of your society. You have access to the internet with hands to type, you have food in your belly with fingers to pick meat from bone, you have fresh water to drink with lips to hold it in your mouth, you likely have a roof to sleep under and eyelids to close. Believe me, these are excesses that not everyone has. Let me share a story with you.

The Woman On The Street Of Hong Kong, After I Fattened Myself Up

I don’t even much like fastfood because I know how it destroys my gut’s biome, adds an inordinate amount of fat, sodium, and calories to my diet, and makes my love handles wiggle like Kim’s or Kylie’s ass. I don’t really know who they are, I just know they are over-indulgent celebrities who are known for not much more than their asses, so I’m taking an unnecessary cheap shot there to make a stupid point.

That point is that I indulge in excess without even wanting to. So when I was walking home down some streets I had never taken before in Mongkok, I heard a soft and lovely voice singing in Chinese, amplified by a small speaker. This isn’t uncommon for Mongkok, there’s plenty of street performers, hawkers, and political activists making noise in this area. But this one was different.

Beauty is where you choose to find it

As the crowd parted near the corner, choosing one road or the other to cross, I saw a woman sitting on an unfolded cardboard box, clutching a microphone between her forearm and bicep, because she had no hands. Boils were rolling over her stump of a wrist. Her ear was bulging, her eyes bloodshot and twisted. Her nose and lips weren’t even shadows on her face, they just weren’t there. Now, I can’t read Chinese well enough to understand what her story was, but if I had to guess, she had been a victim of an acid attack (obviously I can’t be sure of this, but that’s what it looked like to me).

For me, it’s automatic to avoid beggars, not because I don’t feel compassion for them, but because I generally feel that if I’m going to donate my money and time, it is going to a cause that I believe in, or a program I trust. So I walked past her and crossed the street. I could still hear her singing into her microphone, occasionally saying ‘xie xie’ (thank you in Mandarin) to people who dropped money into the box in front of her. As I made it half-way down the next block I began to realize what I had just done.

They shared balloons, and their worlds were amazing

I had just obscenely filled my belly with disgusting, tortured, chicken meat, washed it down it a bubbly cup of fat juice known as 7-up, then absent-mindedly walked past a person who has obviously had a terrible life, without a second look. I was devastated with myself. So I stopped, walked back across the street, dropped a $50 HKD bill into her box and told her what I should have been feeling from the moment I saw her, ‘Wo ai ni.’ (I love you, in Mandarin).

She didn’t pay me any extra attention than anyone else who gave her money, but she held my gaze for a moment as I told I her I loved her, and uttered in her best, broken English, ‘thank you.’ I doubt very much that it had as much of an impact on her that it had on me, but I hope she goes home tonight believing it and feeling it and knowing that her looks aren’t what make her loved or unloved. Nor is it her soft, lovely singing voice. It’s that she is a person and we should all love each other.

The only language her Chinese Grandma and my daughter currently share, is love

I walked away, tears filling up my eyes, crushed, as I thought about whatever had happened to her in her life, knowing I’m probably wrong, but accepting the fact that I’m a privileged, entitled American, with a ridiculous excess in my life. When I can, I share, but not because someone told me to, or asked me to. I shared with her because I love her, because she made me connect with my own heart and take responsibility for myself. She gave me insight into the person I am, just by being there, being strong, and being human.

Do What’s Right For you

Don’t share because you have to with everyone you see, don’t force your kids to share with snowflake kids at the park, and don’t expect anyone to have to share either their time or their money with you. Just be human, love everyone you can, and then you’ll see sharing and receiving becomes a part of your life, like breathing in and breathing out. That’s what being an adult is, that’s what it means to a raise a well-rounded child into a peaceful and loving global citizen, cognizant of the world around them. So quit melting snowflakes, and little snowflakes, realize your life is already amazing, carry on, and share what you can, when you can, and don’t melt when someone sets a boundary for themselves they don’t want you to cross.