Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Good and The Bad of Our New Home

It’s a bit of a switch moving from Poway to Yucaipa. It may all be southern California, but there are a lot of little changes.

Like apparently no watering restrictions. That was one of the first things I asked about, and was told there are none. Considering that all the neighbors are watering at just about any time of day, no matter how hot, I can believe there aren’t any.

Add in that the owner had put the sprinklers to 15 minutes of watering twice a day every day, and I’m just about tearing my hair out.

I think she did it because the lawn was going brown in spots. Well, that happens with poorly adjusted or broken sprinklers, and adding time doesn’t help that problem at all. We’ve dropped the time way down already, and this weekend my husband should be able to figure out where the problem sprinkler heads are and get them fixed.

On the plus side, Yucaipa is surrounded by great hiking. We’re near lots of mountains. Even walking around the neighborhood with all its hills makes for a pleasant workout.

There are also some really nice parks for the kids.

The weather is just a little hotter than in Poway, and there’s some definite humidity, especially in the evenings when the thunderheads over the mountains collapse.

I have tons of unpacking to do, and my husband is getting quite the “honey do” list. I need my clothesline up… discreetly so it doesn’t bother any neighbors. I’m not sure of HOA rules on that one, but I think we can be discreet enough about it. Not like any part of our yard is easy for anyone else to see into. Cloth diapers just do so much better drying in the sun rather than the dryer, in my opinion.

So do some other clothes, but it’s a more pronounced effect for cloth diapers.

The HOA seems to be pretty mild. I still need to get the realtor who’s handling the rental to send me a copy of the rules, which she seems to have forgotten. But lawns are decidedly imperfect in front of many homes, and cars get parked in driveways and on the street pretty regularly around here. I consider those to be good signs. Time will tell.

The house is huge in my terms, although not as gigantic as many newer homes, being 2200 square feet. That’s still close to double what we had before, and since we do want to move back closer to family we will try hard to not buy new furniture. We may need to fit back into a smaller home in a year or two, after all. Not to mention a sheer lack of need.

But the kids sure appreciate the space and the stairs for running around when it’s over 100 degrees F and humid outside.

I hope to get back to regular posting soon. I’m still unpacking and of course dealing with the kids. The older two have been fine, but the baby’s dealing with a cough and is up a lot at night, so I am too. But that should be better soon.

Despite all this, I am so much less stressed now that my family is under one roof again. There’s still way too much to do every day, but it really helps to be together.

I Guess My Attitude Toward Watering Will Be Different from the Neighbors’ in Our New Home

According to the realtor managing the house we’re renting, there aren’t any watering restrictions in our new neighborhood. That surprised me, since it’s still southern California.

I could quickly see that many people there aren’t too worried about water. They were watering in the heat of the day, with lots of overspray onto sidewalks and the street.

The watering timer in our house was set to water twice a day, 15 minutes at each spot. Yikes! And the lawn still has brown spots because not all the sprinkler heads are adjusted right or working.

I’ve managed to fix the programming part at least. We don’t quite have the time yet to fix the broken heads.

Still, the idea that there aren’t any water restrictions amazes me. I still intend to limit our water use, no matter what the neighbors are doing. Even when you’re stuck with a lawn, there’s only so much watering needed.

Does Gardening Encourage Kids to Eat Their Vegetables?

I’ve always been one of the lucky parents. My two oldest love their vegetables for the most part. I assume the baby will once she’s big enough.

I can’t really say that there’s a secret, as I’m sure that what we’ve done won’t work for every family. But it sure works for us.

I’ve often wondered if a part of it is that we introduced vegetables so very early. There’s some debate as to whether or not introducing veggies before fruits to a baby has any impact, but that’s what we did. We started our two oldest on green beans.

And when they got older, they loved green beans so much that they literally ate them like candy when we grew them in the garden for the first time. “Please, Mommy, can we have more green beans? Pleeease?”

It was cute. And how could I possibly say no?

The garden I think of as the other part of our secret. My kids love it. They love snacking from it. They love finding fresh food in it. They even had fun helping us plan it.

This year’s garden, unfortunately, is going to be inherited by whoever rents this place after we move out. I hope it happens soon enough that the garden survives. We’ve gotten some produce from it, and the kids have certainly been enjoying it all.

I won’t say my kids eat all the vegetables we’ve grown. But they’ve enjoyed most of it.

Mere exposure to a garden certainly isn’t enough. It took me a couple of days to get across to the neighbor’s kids that the front yard cherry tomato plant was not to supply them with ammunition for tomato fights. Grrrr!

I wouldn’t care if the neighbor kids wanted to snack on them the way my kids do, but I’m not going to encourage food fights! Such a waste. But they don’t like tomatoes, so they just saw them as ammo.

A big thing to remember is that even if the garden doesn’t encourage your kids to eat their vegetables, it can’t hurt to try. You’re increasing their exposure to fresh food, probably eating a bit better yourself if you’re the only one eating the produce, and so demonstrating better eating habits. It may pay off over a longer term.

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally

Ants are a big problem around here. Sometimes we can’t even tell what attracted them as they wander randomly around. It can be pretty frustrating when it’s not something that can just be cleaned.

We’ve blocked a fair number of holes, but they keep coming in. It’s great when you can seal the holes, though.

Cleaning is the most basic way to control ants, of course. No food or drink to attract them means they lose interest. I find it can be hard sometimes with kids to keep up, as little bits of food do end up in the most random of places. But the cleaner you keep things, in general, the less of an ant problem you will have.

That said, the day we moved into this house we got an ant trail going to a box full of clean clothes in a bedroom. Never did figure out what attracted them. Sometimes ants are just random, I guess.

If pet food is an issue, think about how much you put in, and keep the dishes clean. You may also want to consider putting the food bowl in the middle of a slightly larger container filled with soapy water.

My favorite method for any place the kids can’t go is the corn syrup and borax mix. The ants love it and it slows them down pretty well. You can buy this as Terro if you prefer.

Some ants prefer greasy foods to sweet.

The ant problem in this area is such that slowing them down is about the best we can hope for. We joke a bit about the entire city being built on an ant hill.

Once a particular trail has been poisoned by the borax, vinegar is great for breaking up the scent trail. I clean regularly with vinegar anyhow, so it’s nice to not have to buy anything special.

Some say diatomaceous earth works too. I’ve also seen recommendations for using dry grits, active dry yeast, baking soda or cream of wheat.

Peppermint oil and cinnamon oil are also supposed to discourage them.

If you know the location of a nest, pour boiling water over it… obviously with all kids and pets well away. You may need more than one pot of boiling water to really do the job.

Depending on where you live, you may just be out of luck on getting rid of ants for more than a short time, but you can limit the trouble they give you.

Great Books for Green Parents

Whether you read them enough to make them worth buying, or just borrow for a quick read from the library, books are another great resource for parents wanting help in taking care of the environment and their families. There’s so much to know!

Free Range Kids
I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of this one for one of my other sites. Great book, and while it’s not about environmentalism, there’s a lot to it that can be combined with teaching kids to care about the environment.

Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home
I reviewed this one a while ago. Lots of tips on living cleaner and greener, and broken into separate sections so it’s easy to pick the areas you want to get started with.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
Another book I got to review a while back. Lots of fun and a great reminder of how very important it is to get your family outside.

Books I haven’t read that sound promising:

The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Saving the Planet

The Green Parent: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Environmentally-Friendly Living

Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care