Natural Lawn Care

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a little while, but just haven’t sat down to do it.  A while back I talked about some common herbicides (Glyphosate, 2,4-D) and why you should steer clear of them.

Well…steering clear of them pretty much eliminates almost all common weed killers that most people have sitting in their garage. It also eliminates most lawn care service providers.  Most of them won’t publish what they use…of course they will let you know it is their “exclusive” product, but really…it’s chock full of chemicals.

I even tried calling TruGreen not that long ago.  A number of people in my small subdivision use TruGreen (including my neighbor…and every time I see them spraying I make sure my windows are closed and we are inside…and then I avoid coming close to their lawn for a couple days).  I asked the representative what the name of the chemicals they use are – he told me they were exclusive to TruGreen, but he didn’t know the names.  So I asked what the active ingredients in the products are.  I was put on hold…for a while.  Finally he came back saying he didn’t know and maybe I should try to call the local franchise (since the number online just goes to the national headquarters or call center or whatever it is) and maybe they could tell me.

Online research didn’t turn up much – apparently they keep things pretty tight lipped.  However I did find the name of one herbicide they use – at least in some parts of the country as it can differ.  This one is called Quincept – you can see the product information label here.   It includes 2,4-D (13.24%!!) and Dicamba (another herbicide shown to cause acute toxicity in humans, chromosomal abnormalities and in test animals it has caused reproductive problems along with dead and abnormal cells in the liver ).  If this is used some places, it makes sense that something similar is likely used all over.

You should really read the user safety information – handling and the laundering of the clothing a person wears and such that is on the label…and we put this on our lawns?

So what is a person to do?

Full disclosure and honesty here: I’m a complete newbie when it comes to natural lawn care.  We have only owned a lawn for two years and I was pretty ignorant to lawn care issues for a while.

The good news – in all my reading I found a FANTASTIC article on natural/organic lawn care and maintenance.  So I’ll let someone who is far more knowledgeable that I give you the 4-1-1 on how to care for your lawn.  He titles the article “Organic Lawn Care for the Cheap and Lazy” – that’s my kind of lawn care!

Seriously…it is so full of awesome information.  I’m looking forward to working on a lot of the things he suggests.

I know my lawn will be massively helped when my other neighbor eliminates his dandelion field.  He just bought the house in the fall and is planning on completely starting from scratch.  However, if you find your lawn overrun with dandelions…you can make good use of them!  You can make dandelion jelly!!  Seriously…and it is good!  I should have done it before all of them went to seed next door.  Here is a site that give you instructions on how…I’m not sure if it is the way we made it growing up, but it must be pretty similar.  I do remember it being a consistency between honey and jelly.  But oh so delicious.  And remember that fancy or crunchy restaurants will throw dandelion greens in your salad…so pick ’em and eat ’em!  Might as well make the best of the situation until you can remedy it.

I took a mommy sick day

The inevitable happened.

I knew it would happen sooner or later.  I was hoping that it would be later.

Mommy got sick.  Not just a common cold sick – we went through that two weeks ago.  But a I-spent-all-night-in-the-bathroom sick.  I’ll spare you the details.

So I needed to take a sick day.  I am so thankful for my husband.  I know not everyone can take a mommy sick day…but I am thankful that I could.  After he went into work Monday morning he came home to my crying and desperate request an hour later.  When the little man woke up crying, ready for a diaper change and to eat I couldn’t even stand up straight to walk to his room.  His 18 pounds threatened to topple me over when I picked him up.

I don’t remember the last time I felt so sick.  I don’t remember the last time I lost all that I ate.  I do now.  Seriously though…this is the first time since we have been married that I threw up.  I don’t even think I did in college.  Maybe not in high school either.  I’d probably have to ask my mom if she remembers.  Hubby has exactly one time – on vacation, from something he ate at a restaurant.  Out it came, he was better.

I get colds (and the one two weeks ago was the first real cold in a year or more), but I don’t get sick like this.  I don’t even know what it was…GI bug? Food poisoning? Flu? And it had to happen the year I have a baby at home…a 5.5 month old to be specific.

Good thing I was working ahead on this blog and scheduled the last two posts to publish 😉

Hubby took amazing care of me – and made it to the store 3 times in 36 hours to get stuff.  Gatorade.  Crackers. Bananas. Bread. Chicken.  I could hardly get out of bed on Monday.  My body ached – over the night of awfulness I felt like I was having a labor contraction…but worse.  And I can say that now since I have been in labor.  It was like a 20 minute solid super-contraction.  My lower back ached all day.  We slathered icy hot over the whole thing.

I didn’t eat much outside of a dozen saltines and half a Gatorade for 36 hours.  I was at pre-pregnancy weight before…now I’m below…a momentary silver lining I guess 😉

All that to say.  I am so thankful for the support group I have.  I felt all the prayers of those around me.  The students I work with, my family, the women from my mom2mom group, church family, friends and my hubby.

Brag moment: my hubby stands next to me, lays his hands on me and prays for me every morning before he goes to work.  I usually sleep through it, but sometimes I am awake though he might not realize it.  I cherish and appreciate my husband more than I can express.

I have felt God’s faithfulness these past few days.  Hubby went back to work on Tuesday and it took every last ounce of energy I had to take care of my son…but God was faithful to provide that energy.  So far hubby and baby seem to be faring fine.  I’m hopeful they won’t experience anything that I did.  This morning was hard…baby took an hour and a half nap and I was able to sleep for a large portion of it.  I’m still struggling with a general lack of energy – likely due to the fact that I am still not eating a lot and am careful about what I have been eating – and a feeling of not being fully well – there is some lingering nausea here and there, but He is faithful and I am definitely on the mend.

If only the “mommies don’t get sick” saying was wrong 😉

moving forward…despite challenges

It’s been a while ya’ll.  A good while.  It has been a bit crazy around here lately, but we keep moving forward!  I mentioned briefly in my Grosse Ile Duathlon post that I was having some health issues.  So today I thought I’d share some thoughts on how you (I) move forward when life deals you a sucker punch that totally derails your plans and goals…particularly your fitness goals.

Six months ago today (May 4th to be exact)…I started having some intense chest pain.  Like some one was stabbing me in the chest repeatedly.  Out of the blue.  That evening marked the beginning of a long roller-coaster ride that I’m not sure I’m off yet.  Over the past six months I have had varying degrees and types of chest pain…back pain…left arm pain.  I have had numerous doctor appointments, and I’ll spare you the laundry list of tests that caused me to rack up some pricey bills (that thankfully we’ve been able to pay!).  Through a few months of visiting different doctors and specialists, they found…well…nothing.  I don’t know if ya’ll have had any similar experiences, but it kind of makes you feel like you are going crazy.   I was having pain that would drop me to the floor and leave me in tears, but they couldn’t find anything.  Really?

I began to wish that a test would show something – isn’t that horrible to hope they find something wrong with you instead of praising God that they didn’t?  I’ve reformed my ways.  About 8 weeks ago I caved and went to see a chiropractor – I’ve been a bit skeptical, but figured I didn’t have anything else to lose!  The complete verdict is still out, but I think it might be helping.  I still get pain, but the last couple of months it hasn’t been as intense.  I’m praying I can hop off this coaster soon!

BUT…

In the middle of it all I have been skittish to do any high-intensity workouts…not knowing how my body will respond.  I did the duathlon in May, but outside of that I haven’t done a whole lot until recently.  It is more than a little frustrating.  I had planned on at least 3 triathlons/duathlons this summer plus road races…those went out the window.  Working out as normal…out the window.  I even gained five pounds.  Super frustrating.

So what is a person to do?  You keep moving forward.

My identity is not tied to my athletic or fitness abilities.  I am so much more than my race time or my accomplishments.  I get that is hard for many to grasp…it took me a long time to get there.  My identity used to be so tied and intertwined with my running abilities that it was hard to see who I was without it…but I am so much more and so are you.  Forward progress.

You find out what you can do.  For a month we went rock climbing at Planet Rock one to three times a week.  It was therapeutic for me and put my mind at ease more than any doctor appointment.  We used to climb.  A lot.  Back when we could climb free.  It can get really expensive to climb – we don’t have a grand to cough up for a year climbing gym membership, but Groupon helps us out sometimes!  So we bought month long groupon passes and climbed like crazy.  It was helpful to see I didn’t completely lose all my climbing skills – in fact I was climbing almost better than I ever have and I felt good about myself and my body.  It didn’t make the pain disappear. but it made some anxiety disappear (early on in the ordeal I had legit panic attacks every day for about a week – another story, another day).  Climbing helped.  It wasn’t on my list of goals for the year, but it was what I could do, and it helped.  Significantly.  Forward progress.

From climbing I tried cycling – I did some shorter easy to moderate rides.  I occasionally lifted weights.  It felt good.  Forward progress.

I can’t say that those things were always easy – and outside of the month of climbing, nothing was consistent.  I still had days where I felt like I was going to die any moment, and days where I felt completely normal.  I went on a weekend backpacking trip. It wasn’t anything extreme and I convinced myself something was wrong the last day when every hill we climbed gave me a headache, but I was okay.

The single thing I couldn’t bring myself to do was run.

Running…the one thing I was, at one point, rather good at…and the one thing I could still count on to boost my self esteem.  If I was feeling totally out of shape…I’d go for a run.  I was still better than the average person, so I couldn’t hate on myself too much.  But now, running terrified me.  It was the one thing that still made me feel like if I did it I would have a heart attack and die on the trail…so I avoided it like the plague.

There happened to be one week in the middle of August that I was feeling good and a friend asked me to run a race with her in November – a 15K in Chicago that we had run the year before.  I thought – I’m feeling good, I’ll be through all this by then, let’s go for it.  So I paid $60 to register.  We’ve already established the fact that I don’t throw away $60 on a race and I will run unless I absolutely can’t.  Well…the good feeling I had only lasted a week and back on the coaster I went.  Running = still a big scary monster.  I’m not going to give a whole race report in this post, but let’s just say I did run that race this morning and I did finish, but I did not do any training before hand.

I survived the 9.3 miles. Without training.

I don’t think I’m scared of running anymore.  It is just hard.  Was my time awesome?  No.  Was it good enough?  Yes.  I’m content, because I’m more than that time.  I’m a fighter that conquers fears.  I press forward to regain fitness, to regain health and to thrive.  I will probably have more not-so-awesome days…but I’m not going to let them hold me back.  I’m making forward progress.

I won’t complete 12 races including 3 tri’s/du’s this year.  I won’t run as fast as I did last year…and I could beat myself up over it.  But I won’t.  Because it doesn’t define me and I am moving forward despite the challenges.  That’s more important than hitting specific numbers.  I’m not giving up; I’m simply readjusting and moving forward in the ways that I am able.

I pray that wherever you are at, with whatever is holding you back or derailing you, that you can still make small steps today.  Celebrate the small victories and keep pressing forward!

You Should Try This!

You may have seen it around with its increasing popularity, but if you haven’t you need to check out stand up paddle boarding (commonly written as SUP…like ‘sup, how you doin’?).  I started seeing it around last summer, but with limited places to rent a paddle board, and lacking the solid chunk of change required to buy one (you are looking at close to a G and up) I didn’t have the chance to try it.  Until this summer that is.

Many of the places I had seen rent paddle boards were doing so for about $40 for an hour and a half including a short into into paddle boarding.  A bit to rich for my blood.  So when we were at our local metropark earlier this summer (Memorial Day to be exact…a crazy hot day where we waited over a half hour in our car in line just to get in the park!) I saw that they were renting them at one of the beaches…for $10 per hour!  Jackpot!  All summer I’ve been jonesing for a chance to try SUP so when I got a text from my awesome hubby on Friday that said “want to go stand up paddle boarding tomorrow?”  I about jumped up and down with excitement.

So we headed out to the park Saturday afternoon and got our boards for an hour…that was an adventure in itself as the hubby somehow lost twenty buckaroos between the car and the paddle board rental counter.  A twenty dollar deposit is required on each board you rent so it seemed we weren’t getting two boards with me only having my twenty…cash only.  A big, humongous thank you to some friends we just happened to run into while they came up to buy some food at the food counter and loaned us a twenty (such a cool God thing and amazing friends).

SUP is awesome.  If I had crazy disposable income maybe I’d buy one, but I don’t, so I’ll have to settle for my $10/hour rental.  It is a GREAT activity to work on your balance and core strength.  I think it is actually a fantastic cross training exercise for skiers – they can work on upper/lower body separation and balancing in the bumps.  It’s amazing at how well I thought some of those skills translated between the two sports.  If you are afraid that you’ll fall…rest assured that it isn’t too difficult to learn…especially if you have fairly calm waters.  The water was a bit bumpy and rough while we were out, but we did it without much difficulty.  You may fall – I did once as I was shifting my weight to try to balance on one foot, but hey…you’re supposed to be in a bathing suit anyway – they are meant to get wet 🙂  You can always start on your knees if standing up seems intimidating right away.

So what are you waiting for – go rent yourself a paddle board and have some fun!!