We made some ambitious garden plans this year, more than doubling our existing garden plot. I was a little nervous about how I was going to manage it all with a new baby and a toddler.
At first, I would wait until they were napping, grab the baby monitor and sneak outside while the big kids played in the yard. But they didn't always sleep at the same time or I would soon hear them stirring in their beds and have to head inside. They also took their naps during the hottest part of the day, which left me baking in the afternoon sun.
I decided that if I was going to tend a garden, the little ones would just have to join me and this soon became some of the sweetest moments of my summer.
I spent our days taking the little guys on a wagon ride while I walked around the yard watering plants. It wasn't easy trying to pull a wagon full of kids and drag the garden hose along, but they loved being a part of my garden chores.
They helped me drop seeds into the dirt, and while all my rows grew crooked, I would never trade perfectly lined up plants for their beaming smiles.
The kids and I talked about everything. We examined the shape of the seeds and they were amazed that something so small could grow into something so big. They learned to identify plants by their leaves. They practiced self-control to not pick every pretty flower because the flowers turn into fruits and vegetables.
My two year old learned his colors because "we don't pick green strawberries, only the red ones". Green beans have purple blossoms and snap peas have pink ones. Sunflowers are bright yellow.
They sniffed my lavender and mint and felt the prickly leaves of the zucchini.
We talked about which garden bugs are good and which are bad.
Potatoes and carrots grow underground and harvesting them is like digging for buried treasure.
We counted as we picked and took guesses as to how much we would harvest that season, keeping tally marks in my garden journal.
And now as my summer garden is fading, they are learning where the seeds are hiding and helping me save them for next year.
The garden is a family project, full of lessons and moments that we will never forget. I am so thankful that I let go of my perfectionism and let the kids get their hands dirty. This summer spent in the garden, surrounded by my children, was my favorite place to be.