Growing Family Ties

This is a two-fer. Two-fer-one. Two totally unrelated topics, squished together in one post.
Topic Number One. Family. What does your family mean to you? Who do you include in the definition of family? And here’s the big question of the day: What do YOU do to nurture your family bond?
I came to the conclusion this week that each family member has a job, a duty. And that’s to nurture the family bond.
But the thing I haven’t figured out is how to do that. We all know that a family is what you make it, right? But specifically. Exactly. Precisely. What? What does each member need to do to help it along?

I mean, is there something a parent can do to make sure their children like each other? Is there something children can do to make sure they grow up liking each other? Is there someway to assure that there is a close relationship between the children and the parents?
Do you notice a pattern in families that are falling apart? And for families that are thriving?
One of my observations is that families seem soooooo busy; maybe they don’t have time to work on their relationships with each other. The kids are involved in a different activity every night, the parents are tired and distracted, the teenagers are texting their friends, and the computer is a constant distraction for everyone. Where does the family unit fit into all of that? Do you think it’s falling by the wayside? That everybody treats it like it is last on the list of priorities?
I visited with a family last week that has me thinking about this. I was so uplifted to watch them together. There was the Mom and Dad, with two grown daughters and their children. One of the sets of grandparents was there, as was one of the daughter’s husbands. I observed them. It was wonderful. It was inspiring. It was refreshing. It was so different from what I usually see.
Since then, I’ve been wondering what they were doing that other families weren’t? How do you grow a family that is so very close? What kinds of things can you do to make sure everybody gets along with everybody else? I also wonder what the secret is in keeping the kids close to home once they grow up.
So I’m starting a list, and I hope you’ll help me with it.
Things Family Members Can Do To Make Their Family Unit Stronger and Healthier
1.       Eat together (If children in home, then most nights. If children are grown, then every Sunday.)
2.       Engage in genuine communication (some families can’t talk without arguing; some families can’t talk openly to each other)
3.       Create rituals together
4.       Share hopes for the future together
5.       Show each other lots of love and acceptance
6.       Talk about memories and repeat family stories
7.       Like Mother Teresa said, smile at each other
WHAT ELSE??????? If you have time, please leave a comment and help with this list.
Topic Number Two. Gardens. What’s going on in your garden? Fall gardening here is all about greens and herb flowers.
I’ve got some salad greens and some baby radishes.
I planted my other greens late, so they are still little tiny babies. I love the way the shadows of the picket fence hit the turnip green bed in the morning. Stripes!

Since mine aren’t ready, I’ve been hitting the local farmers’ market. We have been eating turnip greens. Mustard greens, all kinds of kale, like Russian red kale and Tuscan kale, broccoli rabe, even beet greens. Oh! And the beets have been yummy this year from the market. I roasted some beets and turnips together (peel, cover in olive oil, kosher salt, rosemary, thyme and freshly ground pepper. Oven at 400 degrees. YUM!)
I’ve also got a banana pepper plant that keeps going and going and going. My father-in-law brought it to us this spring and that baby hasn’t quit producing yet. I couldn’t tell you how many peppers we’ve picked from this plant. 100’s!

This is the first year for my asparagus bed, so I’m not sure what to do with it at this point. The ferns are turning yellow, so I hope that’s normal. I need to look up what to do with the plants for the winter.
And guess what? I also picked up a shitake mushroom log at the farmers’ market. I was so excited when I saw it. My yard doesn’t grow grass well or vegetables well, but law-hidey, it goes mushrooms like you wouldn’t believe. So I couldn’t resist. I leaned the log against a tree when I got home, and I’ve already got my first mushrooms!
And do you remember me talking about TOO MANY YELLOW TOMATOES? Now, I prasie each and every little yellow tomato I see. I’ve got one plant that I didn’t pull up and that booger is still producing. Lots! And now I love them because they are as close to a tomato as I can get. Attitude is everything, isn’t it?
The herb tarragon is such a winner in the garden. In autumn, it is covered in little delicate yellow flowers. I ADORE adding my tarragon blossoms to salads. That burst of licorice flavor in the salad is so refreshing.

My mountain mint is also in bloom right now. Very pretty, though I haven’t tasted the flower.

My mystery herb is blooming again. Beautiful, but still a mystery.

And what’s this? A baby strawberry! Wrong season, sweetie pie.

The white flowers of the basil plants are all gone, being replaced by seed pods.

And the garlic chives have produced the flowers and now the seeds are falling out.

So that’s it for my fall garden. I waited too long to order garlic and missed the supply from maryjanesfarm. There are some volunteers in my raised garlic bed, so I’ll see what they look like next spring.
I’m thinking about trying to do a winter greens garden. I’ve never attempted that before, but reading about making a cold frame in MaryJane’s IdeaBook*CookBook*LifeBook makes me think that I might  actually be able to do it. We’ll see how the season rocks on.
Oh! And p.s. my Jack-O-Lanterns have been relegated to the compost pile.

Oh! And p.s.s. my Encore Azaleas are in full bloom. Such a pretty autumn surprise each year!

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

  1. Beverly K says:

    When our oldest son started Kindergarten, we instigated no television during the week. It has helped immensely with focusing on the family and helping make evenings less stressful. We also focus on little rituals, like our annual trips to the pumpkin patch, Christmas in the Park, and even local college sporting events. You can create great bonds over a tub of popcorn watching great athletes!

  2. Jerre Petal says:

    I always look forward to your blog Rebekah. Regarding winter gardening, it is the best! I live in Grants Pass, Oregon, zone 7. We garden in raised beds with a very simple tent frame with a plastic sheet thrown over it. I grow all of the greens you mentioned in your post and they are so delectable. I feel so blessed to share my salads with friends and neighbors. It is the most carefree gardening imagineable. If the weather warms up, we have to remember to throw back the plastic sheet as the greens can cook. We do have some severe freezes like down to 15 degrees but it is very occasional and not often. The greens still survive under their mini greenhouse. The bed is 8 feet long by 4′ wide. It really is the way to go for winter salads and braising greens.

  3. Deena says:

    This blog spoke to my heart today. I have been asking these questions and trying to answer them for my own family. Maybe with Thanksgiving coming it is that time of year. I have 4 older children. My daughters are 20, 18, and 17. What makes my life different is: after home schooling my kid for 12 years I returned to Community college 2 years ago when my oldest daughter came to college. The other two are here with us now and I will be taking my exit from homeschooling at the end of the semester.
    I am graduating from college and closing my homeschooling chapter at the same time.
    1) Eating together means sitting in a Fast Food Place and talking to my kids at least once a week
    2)Open communication in the car…if it isn’t pleasant, the driver will not talk, so keep it nice or I clam up…any subject is allowed as long as it is civil
    3)Rituals: Yes, we go to church, but I almost think Starbucks on the first day of November when I can get a Peppermint Mocha sounds like a ritual
    4) The kids talk about their dreams and goals all the time, I think I need to talk to them about mine more too.
    5)Love and Acceptance is a challenge with 3 teenage girls and the 15 year old little brother… sometimes he needs a little more credit for having a brain. Putting him in a public charter school and walking away was a very hard day.
    6)Memories are my favorite thing. It is so funny to me how styles of now are so much like the 70s when I was in their place. I spent the last 20 years trying to make teachable moments and memorable experiences. (Of course, as teenagers they are not always on board for some of the memories I am getting them into)
    7)SMILE! I love that it. A smile can change my mood and hopefully the person I give it to.

    I don’t know if this is something you want to share on your blog, but thanks.

  4. Hi Rebekah, I too have my first asparagus bed, and mine are turning yellow, but everyone I have asked tells me to leave them alone. One person told me they will get berries and feed the birds and then they will eventually die back. If anyone knows any different, please share. I’m excited to see what I have next year. Are you sure your one mystery herb wasn’t catmint??
    And I agree with all your points on having a closer family. It is my prayer that my two sons would grow closer and that we could have some traditions, but everyone lives in different places and everyone seems too busy. Hopefully, one day as they grow older they will want to start some traditions as well. Maybe if they would give me some grandkids, that would help. HA!
    As always, enjoy reading your posts. Be Blessed!

  5. Brenda says:

    Rebekah, no fall/winter garden here. I may not be brave enough but probably without a greenhouse no one here in Michigan would venture there. We have not snow as yet, it is holding off longer than usual. I am not unhappy about that at all. The chickens are enjoying the garden right now. Hubs said one of them actually found some leftover cherry/grape tomatoes and a few late raspberries and was having a feast. The big garden is empty, only dirt and the strawberry bed has gone to sleep.

  6. Pamela says:

    Hey, Rebekah, pretty sure your mysterry herb is not catmint, which looks almost exactly like other mint. We always plant garlic on Halloween, and so I wonder if you still could get some in if you can find some ready to go. I get mine from Farmer Pete at Sandhill Farm in Eden, Utah. It is best to get some from a local farmer so that variety hopefully will do well in your weather. Good luck, and thanks for the thought provoking post.

  7. Linda Carrington says:

    I make breakfast every Sunday. My adult daughters and their husband/partners come over with their dogs. This makes 6 adults, and 5 dogs all together. It’s a great time to try new recipes or enjoy some old ones, and just connect before the work week, starts.

  8. Debbie says:

    Hey Rebekah!
    You are such a hoot! I guess I’ll start from the bottom… Encore Azelea’s? Really? I had no idea they existed… I wonder if we have them in New England… Believe me,when the first ones bloom here in spring it’s almost as good as uh,um,er… finding your next issue of MJF in the mailbox!
    My fall garden is BROWN! So neat you have two gardening seasons there! I’ve recently become interested in hoop houses for extending my own gardening season… Can’t you just see me outside in my snow boots trecking to the hoop house to plant sunflowers and zinnea’s?
    Family Ties: I love your list! Here’s a few more!

    1.Share and support eachother’s dreams!Understand that they are fragile so be careful when a family member shares a BIG IDEA!

    1. Keep a sense of humor.
    2. respect personal boundries.
    3. Do things together. My husband is Treasurer of our son’s Boy Scout Troop, he’s coached baseball and basketball when our son was playing. Our daughter and I took riding lessons for a couple of years together!
    4. Be crafty together! Our daughter and I love being creative and praising eachother’s creations!
    5. Love eachother and cherish eachother and the family unit.
    6. For years we have held Friday night as Family night whether it’s game night, movie, night or just a relaxed pizza and hang out night! It’s our time!
    7. Now, if we could just stop arguing all the time!!! LOL
    Too many Chief’s I think!!! It’s not that bad.. but, we do have our opinions around here, but we have love too!
    Big hug!!!

  9. joy says:

    Hi Rebekah… This is my first time commenting on your blog, but NOT my first time reading it!! 🙂 I also read the "back page" of Mary’s magagazine 😉 Anyway, I was thinking about your comment about "how" to get your children to "like one another"… I noticed when my (4) children were younger, that they re-lated to one another very closely to the way *I* related to THEM– as opposed to the way I was trying to teach *them* to treat one another. And as un-popular as this idea is: ELIMINATE (or at least "cut back") all those sitcoms that use sarcasim ‘and such’ as "humor". Very seldom do you see siblings being "close, caring, and considerate" of each other– or children/parent relations that are good and healthy on these types of shows(IF they do, it’s usually shown as something they are embaressed/ashamed of after a particular incident that occured… and they sure don’t want anyone to know it~ as they "laugh it off"). That’s enough of that soapbox 😉 Have a good day 😀

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