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Riley's Miracle Plant

Riley's Miracle Plant


One dream I have is to cultivate a salsa garden. I want all the fresh ingredients of my favorite salsa to grow and and be available to me in my very own yard. This a big ‘someday’ dream of mine. Currently I enjoy having salsa ingredients on hand from the store and greeting my family with a batch of fresh salsa and chips (one of my most favorite things to snack on). One year for Mother’s Day Ryan built a garden box for me in the backyard. I planted, but nothing ever grew. This is only partly due to my lack of gardening skills. Unfortunately, our backyard is hostile to plant life. There is very little sun, something is always dropping from the trees that surround it, and we have uninvited animal guests that like to frequent.

Twice we have put in fresh sod only to have it swirl into a patch mud and dirt. We now have fake grass. I have a love hate relationship with it. I love that it keeps the dirt down and can just be blown off. I hate the plastic uniformity and general ‘fakeness' of it.

So when Riley found a sprout in one of my planters, we were all shocked. I have pots around the yard with soil but no plants. When Riley eats something with a pit or seed he will often go bury it in one of the pots. He hasn’t lost hope that something besides a carpet of green plastic could grow in our yard.

Riley’s sprout shot up very quickly once it had fully breached the surface. Riley has cared for it daily. He believed that it was from a pumpkin seed he had remembered planting. It continued to sprout upward which even with my limited plant knowledge told me it was no pumpkin. I know those are on vines and stay close to the ground (See my good plant knowledge!).

I didn’t know what it was but it could be any number of seeds that Riley has planted. It grew up fast and was so strong. Riley continued to water it and admire it. We were all so hopeful for it.

Then little buds began to sprout and we were all wondered what would happen now. We hoped the true identity would be revealed. The miracle plant was taller than Riley. The day the buds opened I realized what we were dealing with. It’s a common weed. It sort of looks like the yellow flower of a dandelion but it has a much taller stronger stem. Anyone (but me) would have been able to solve this plant mystery much more quickly, but as you now know, I’m much more capable of eating salsa than growing it. It wasn’t until I saw the telling flowers that I realized no good would come from this plant.

It is the most loved and well tended weed that I have ever known. I have had to break it to Riley that it won’t ever produce a thing to eat. Despite his love and attention it will never give one good thing back. He still enjoys it. I told him that it was a dandelion even though I know technically it’s not. It’s some other weed with a yellow flower. At least if it were dandelion part of it would be edible (Hmmm, maybe I know more about plants than I thought.)

I could have told him it was a weed but he is so proud of it I wanted to give it a better name. I also would rather him not go to school and announce to his teacher and classmates that we are growing a weed in the backyard, it could easily be misinterpreted! So dandelion it is!


This did get me thinking about the things in my life that I give my time and attention to but will never return fruit. I will never get as much good from them as I give. The resources of my time and attention won’t produce much when poured out on them. My return on investment will never balance out. This could really be anything that takes my attention from where it should be and drains me of resources that could be, maybe should be, going elsewhere.

That’s what invasive weeds do they detract from the beauty of the garden and drain the soil of the nutrients that the garden needs to stay healthy and grow.

This got me thinking. Reflecting. Trying to be sure that the things that are taking up space in my life are things of lasting producing value.

I have a love/hate thing going with social media, much like my feelings about the fake grass sprawled out for all to see in my backyard.

If I am being totally honest, I spend more time than I would like to admit mindlessly scrolling. It’s how I pass time when I am bored, feeling drained, or disconnected. I’ll put the phone down and without thinking pick it back up. Hardly any time may have passed. It seems that I am scrolling virtually the same feed over again but still my thumb pushes the same images up and up. I’m not even really thinking but a precious commodity is draining, my time and attention.

I enjoy social media. This isn’t going to be one of those ‘down with social media’ posts. You might not even have the same unhealthy relationship with social media that I sometimes do. A weed could be anything in your life that is taking up time and attention but not producing much good.

The thing about Riley’s weed is that it is in a pot. If it were in the center of the salsa garden of my dreams, I would rip the sucker out and quickly be rid of it. Riley’s precious plant would have to go. But, because it’s contained to an otherwise empty pot, it’s welcome to stay. He is free to enjoy it. It won’t produce fruit but Riley gets joy from watching it grow and watering it. Good boundaries means he is free to do have a giant weed with no harm done.


I need those boundaries in my life as well. Like I mentioned, social media keeps my phone in my hand more often than it should be. I need to watch where allow my attention to go and the example I set for my littles in relation to electronics. I have strict boundaries for them regarding electronics and screen time but my example is teaching a different lesson.

I have tried to find an app to help me limit my time but as of now I haven't found anything that works for me. What has been helpful is deleting social media from my phone completely. When it is a good time for me to get on there and scroll around, add something, or respond, I just simply add it back to my phone. It’s an easy step when I want to be on, but a strong deterrent when I pick up the phone just to randomly scroll and my attention belongs elsewhere.

Anyway, like I mentioned, this is no ‘down with social media’ post. I love a few of the various platforms! As long as they stay in their rightful place in my life, I feel free to enjoy them.

My brother and sister-in-law have a mint plant that has gone wild in their backyard. It started small but not contained it has spread quite a distance beyond where it was originally planted. Mint is great, but there is really only so much you can do with it. That’s how I feel about a few things in my life (social media as I mentioned). They are good things, in moderation.

Anything that takes resources from your life needs evaluation. Is the pay off worth it? (TV series, book, working, commuting, snacking (Lord help me!). The list is really endless.) Remember all these things can be fine, good even, in the right sized pot.

Is there anything you need to reevaluate (or evaluate for the first time) in your life that zaps precious time and attention? What do you get from it? Is it in balance to what you give toward it?

Mark my words, one day I will have that salsa garden. The time spent working that garden will be well worth it when I enjoy all that freshly chopped goodness on a salty tortilla chip. Although I don’t know much about weeds, I understand that they multiply and spread rapidly. Their roots lock themselves in firmly unless you catch them early. I’ll have to regularly watch for them. If given free rein, they choke the happy right out of things.

I want my life to more resemble that fantasy of a salsa garden. I will try and tend it well making sure I keep an eye out for invaders trying to take root. I want my time and attention to be spent on efforts that will produce good things.

Thanks for reading!



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Mother's Day 2016

Mother's Day 2016