What I Learned in July

Emily over at Chatting at the Sky has made it a practice to record the things she learns each month. It’s a valuable habit, this habit of reflection, and so I’ve been joining her in it this year. If you’d like to join us as we remember, you can comment on this post with what you learned, or head over to Emily’s site and link up there.

1. I am a lazy housekeeper. Recognizing this and acting accordingly help.

With a toddler, two shedding cats, and an indoor/outdoor dog, my kitchen and dining room floors need sweeping multiple times a day. We have a central vacuum, which makes the chore more painless than it would be otherwise, but the hose is stored on the other end of the house. Ridiculous as it is, having to walk down the hallway to get the necessary tools prevented me from cleaning the floor unless it desperately needed it.

Well, no more. Early in the month, I began leaving the hose coiled on the floor against the wall in the dining room unless company was coming. It’s now a two-minute job to plug it in and do a quick sweep, which means that it actually gets done. I’d like to be the kind of person who would take the extra three minutes to get the vacuum and then put it away when a job needs doing, but I’m not. Realizing this defect and changing my behavior to accommodate it mean that my floors are much cleaner now.

An added benefit? Katie and Euclid think playing in the middle of the coils is great fun. 20150728_123956

2. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

We have a walk-in shower in our master bathroom, which used to make my life easier. I would put Katie on the floor with a pile of books or a few of her favorite toys and bathe, watching and communicating with her the entire time. Two weeks ago, however, my busy girl decided it was more fun to climb into the shower and play in the water. At first, I tried to deter her – at the first hint of her trying to join me, I’d carry her to the opposite side of the bathroom and demonstrate the great fun to be had there, scattering water over everything in the process – but to no avail. In the past few days, I’ve started stripping her ahead of time, and this seems to work for both of us: she gets to play in the water and be close to me, and I get to take my shower in (relative) peace, without worrying what she’s doing.

3. Speaking of showers, I like cold ones.

That statement is one I’d never thought I’d utter; for as long as I can remember, I have made my showers as hot as I can stand them, often emerging with red skin into a steamy room. After a run at the beginning of the month, however, when the temperatures soared and I thought the heat might kill me, I decided to try something different. I’ll admit, the first few moments were a bit difficult, but once the initial shock wore off, I found it to be rather pleasant. Since then, the majority of my showers have been cold – which only makes Katie’s enjoyment of them all the more puzzling.

We’ll see whether this trend holds once fall temperatures come, but for now, cold showers are the way to go.

4. Ants farm aphids.

In a strange (and frustrating, for those of us trying to grow bush beans!) symbiotic relationship, ants actually farm aphids for the honeydew they produce. Bizarre, right?

I learned this one the hard way – by finding swarms of both insects on my bean plants. They’re persistent, but I am determined. Stay tuned for the outcome of this particular battle.

5. The tomato hornworm is my nemesis.20150701_074734

Doesn’t look that harmful, does he? Don’t be deceived. He is vicious and destructive and terrible.

But fear not! I have vanquished him! (At least for the time being).

Also, who ever told me that caterpillars are cute and cuddly and harmless? There are even children’s books about such things! Every time I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Katie now, I am ready to exact revenge. He seems all nice and innocent as he eats through everything in sight, but he’s probably destroying some gardener’s hard work in the process.

6. I enjoy running. Kind of.

Ever since I joined the cross-country team my freshman year of high school, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with running. I wavered, never able to make up my mind: on the team for a year, then off, then on again, then off. I’ve pursued it now and then in the time since then, always feeling as though I should do something to be fit, but never really enjoying the process.

After months of forcing myself to run, even when I didn’t feel like it, I think I’ve finally reached a point in my fitness level where running is fun. To qualify: it always takes some convincing to get myself going, and the first few minutes are awful. So are the last few, if I’m pushing myself. But the time there in the middle? I actually find myself liking the rhythm, the exertion, the challenge. Beyond that, I’ve found that my energy levels and general feeling of well-being are better on the days I run, even if I slept poorly the night before.

7. Some days, it’s good to dress nicely “just because.”

It’s good for me to put on a sun dress or a skirt now and then, even if I’m only going to the grocery store.

Lest you become concerned for this jeans-and-sweatshirt-loving-woman’s welfare, rest assured: the skirts and dresses I choose are comfortable and allow plenty of freedom of movement for playing with and chasing an active toddler. And you’ll still find me in shorts and t-shirts more often than not.

What about you? What lessons have you learned lately?

This Thing Called Life

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