The Land of Boys

Learning to live in a house full of testosterone

Botany Lessons

This year the younger two Gilliland boys are learning Botany. Bleh… Of all sciences, I think Botany is my least favorite.  I took Physics in high school to get out  of Botany. Now I’m teaching it. Strange, huh? I am not what you would call “green thumbed”.  At all. Every time I have gotten a houseplant, it dies. Once, at a store I suggested to Mark getting a fern because it was pretty. He said, “Well, once we get it home it won’t be pretty anymore. It will just die.” (he was probably right, by the way!)

So now I am in the midst of teaching on a subject that I have no experience in, no interest in, and no real desire to be teaching. Despite all that, I have been fascinated by a few things I have learned.

We started a light hut this fall. For anyone who might be wondering a light hut is just a foil-lined box with a light bulb attached to the top. We bought peat moss and seeds with the intention of planting a kitchen herb garden and some lavender to make into homemade soap to give as Christmas gifts. Then Fall allergies hit. Mark was sick, not just with allergies. If you have peat moss under a light bulb, it dries out quickly. If you have a mom run ragged by everyone and their ailments, she forgets to water the plants. If you forget to water the plants, they die. So when the dust settled and everyone was feeling better, we tried again. This time they were destroyed by the box being lifted up and dropped by an unnamed cutie.  We gave up until recently. We got a new, bigger box. We got more seeds, these for some pretty flowers to put in our very neglected flower beds. New moss, new light bulb, everything is all new.  So we planted out seeds almost a week ago. Several of them have sprouted already. It is amazing to see how the plants are sprouting at different times. They were all planted the same day. Some are just shooting up more quickly than others.


These moonflowers came from the same seed pouch and were planted all the same day, at the same time, yet each seed is sprouting at a slightly time than the others. It makes me think of my kids. They were born of the same parents. They have all been raised pretty much the same, yet they each have their own distinct personalities. Nathaniel is very serious. He likes to know the technical side of everything. Going to the mailbox, he stops at the end of the driveway, looks both ways and crosses, gets the mail, looks again, and comes back. He is sensibly modest. In a dressing room, he goes in, shuts the door and tries on his clothes, gets redressed, and comes out. Benjamin is the cut up. Everything has to be funny. Even things that are very not funny he tries to make into a joke. He does not take many things serious enough. He goes to the mail box and if he remembers someone might be looking, he looks one or two ways, crosses the street, then comes back while looking at the mail. (Wherein he gets scolded for not looking before crossing the road on the way back.) He is extremely immodest. He has been known to strut through the living room in just a towel when we have company. (He’ll say “it’s just _________. They don’t care!” I think he’d say that if we had a queen or something as a guest) In a dressing room, he goes in and starts undressing before the door is shut. He’ll kick his shoes off and they might or might not end up in the dressing room hallway. Samuel is somehow different from both of them. He is very sweet. He always looks to the rosie side of things. He is funny without trying to tell jokes. He is cautious, almost to a fault. Going to the mailbox, he stops at the end of the driveway, looks both ways, looks both ways again, sometimes looks a third time, holds my hand and crosses. (He’d probably look more times, but I tell him to stop, that we have looked enough) On the way back we have to look multiple times, too. He is very modest. When he takes  a bath, he bathes himself, but I still wash his hair. He does not want me in the bathroom when he is undressing or getting in the tub. He keeps himself covered when he walks from the bathroom to his room. In a dressing room, he shuts the door, checks the lock, jiggles it to be sure, then tries it again, just for good measure. He was trying on several things one day so I wanted to go in to help him. I had to promise not look while he was changing. Benjamin tried on a shirt that did not fit that day. He came to Samuel’s door (shirtless, of course) and tried to walk in. Samuel said”It’s a good thing that lock is there. Benj would have just barged right in and me in just my pants!” My little sproutlings are all very different.

Another thing has been a spiritual lesson.  Yesterday the weather was beautiful. I started getting the weeds out of the flower bed. (or weed bed as we call it) I was shocked by the roots of some of the weeds.  They went so deep. They were so strong and stable. It was hard work to get the roots out. However, I know what will happen if I do not get the roots. I have cleaned this flower bed out before. Just cutting the tops off of the weeds, getting part of the roots does no good. The weeds spring right back up. It is only digging very deeply and removing the entire root that gets the ugliness out so the beauty can thrive. As tough as the weed roots are, however, the flower roots are that much delicate. Some flowers have roots that almost look like hair. Some flowers have delicate stem that if they are broken or damaged, the whole plant dies. It is much harder to keep beautiful flowers alive than to keep weeds alive. I have never watered or fertilized the weeds, but they keep thriving. Last year we had a few zinnias and a sunflower in our flower bed. They had to be watered frequently or they wilted. It took work to keep them growing. I kept trying to kill the weeds, but they kept coming back. No work on them, no special attention. I see a pattern in  my life. The things that have beauty, value and goodness take work. Those are the things that I have to put forth effort to accomplish. However, there are things in my life that I don’t have to work on that if left to themselves would grow out of control and consume and overpower any good and beautiful thing that might try to be there.  Just like the weeds left unchecked  can choke the beauty out of a  garden, sin left unchecked can choke the beauty out of  a believer’s life.

Lord, please help me to dig deep and remove the roots of my sinful behaviors. Help me to cultivate the beautiful things that bring You glory.


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5 thoughts on “Botany Lessons

  1. I love this post. And it is very funny to me that we both have a black thumb. 🙂

    It is interesting to me how the word “grow” can be applied to so many things–> plant life, physical life, spiritual life. As I was reading your post, I was thinking that the differences in growth also manifest themselves in new believers. It is so amazing that God can create so many people, *so* different.

    BTW, did you know that stamps are now 44 cents? I did not. I let Rebekah put a 42 cent stamp on her envelope. Dumb Mommy. It goes to show how many letters *I* mail.


    • mskelli on said:

      The cost of stamps is outrageous! The post office wonders why people don’t mail letters more often. It’s because we buy stamps and then they raise rates two weeks later and our letters come back to us! Grrrr…..

      It is so good to know that there is another homeschool mom who does not seem to be gifted in the plant field. I see other people’s pictures of these beautiful flower beds and scrumptious looking organically grown vegetable gardens and feel like like a failure that I keep forgetting to water the houseplants the boys brought home from church.

  2. Mark G. on said:

    Reading this makes me so thankful that you are my wife.

    “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:29)

  3. What a great post! We have our own botany bit going on at our house, too. It’s taken over the place.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and playing along with my birthday “party”. Your memory was really wonderful! -Amy

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