Mar 24, 2015

The big update

Animals, Food, and Kitchen


After a year of construction, the process is nearly finished. It hasn't been pretty and a lot of things have suffered because of it. The kitchen and our food has probably been the biggest hit. With weeks of no counter space (or tops some weeks) food prep went to what was quick and easy. We've eaten a lot of mac and cheese, canned chili and pizza. Our food budget went through the roof as we hit fast food more than we ever have before (even as newlyweds!). I killed our Kombucha SCOBY and the Kefir grains. Somehow our sourdough starter ended up with sawdust in it (who knows) and thus found it's way to the chicken scraps.  Thankfully, I am finding my rhythm again in the kitchen.  I'm nearly back to normal, with a starter bubbling on the counter. Even our animals suffered to a degree. We sold our milk goats to friends because it just became too many things to pay attention too. Those girls were fabulous and deserved far more love and attention than we were giving them. We butchered our pig in late October. Holy Cow! We will never have anything but pastured pork from now on. So incredible. The chickens had a hard winter. After a horribly cold snap (-35) we lost 11 in one night. We found them frozen in place in the run. Why they didn't come into the toasty coop is unknown. We are now down to 5 layers. We are getting 3 eggs a day now and they are beauties!

Dean and I Have some big plans for the kitchen. We both are working on some health issues that will result in a lot of play time in the kitchen. Our goals/needs are on the opposite sides of the spectrum so creative cooking is going to be making its way to our very boring (as of late) kitchen. Thankfully we work well together and have opposite talents. It should make the transition period go fairly smoothly.



The House:



As I mentioned above, the house is nearly complete. We are left with the final projects like painting trip, touch ups, and finishing off the bathrooms. To say it has been chaos is an understatement. For 1 year we have lived in a state of constant change and mess. With no closets we have shuffled all of our belongings from one place to another every couple days or weeks. With no garage we have had tools stacked on tables, under tables, in corners, and even on the piano. I can't find anything and probably wont be able to for still sometime. Every single surface in this house has been changed in the last year. Paint on the walls, flooring, counter tops, cabinets, ceilings... Everything. This of course has led to severe burn out for us. Projects that should have taken a week have drug on for a month in some cases. Our family has rolled their eyes and voiced their opinion on our state of mind more than once. They all thought we were crazy for buying this place to begin with. The especially thought we were crazy when every single room was a mess for months and months. This house became the snowball that would not end. To start one project we had to start 10 others. The prep time for painting was influenced by wiring updates, or new walls, or flooring. There was no smooth way to change this house while still living in it. Thank goodness kids are resilient!

The great news is our realtor came back with her listing advice. Oh boy do we have it in the bag! We bought this house to stay in for a long time. Shortly after purchasing it we realized we had bigger plans in life and the way to achieve those was by selling this home. Our improvements added with the steal of a deal we got for the house, will net us some crazy amounts of cash to start on our dreams. We are nearly giddy with excitement to be honest.






Yes we are still at it. Our homeschool has changed so much over the years. It's so much more different than the strict Classical Education that we started with. Each year we have relaxed a bit. This year I've noticed some decent gaps in the older kids skills. We will be focusing on those more over the summer after we wrap our year. The great things is the kids are excelling in so many other areas. The two youngest love working on stuff and happily do so multiple times throughout the day. At this point I'd almost call us interest led homeschoolers which is drastically different than my original goal. However, it makes sense for my kids and their goals. And that has always been a goal, to support them in a way they learn best. Caitlin will be in 7th grade next year so I've turned some of my research time to high school. It seems crazy that in two short years we will have a high schooler. She has some specific goals for high school and beyond. It's time to start making a loose plan on how she might achieve those.


The RV trip and the future:
Ahh the future, my favorite place to go. We have so many big plans in store for the next while. We have shortened our big RV trip. Opportunities have come our way and we really want to harness them and go with it. To do this we will have to have a solid home-base. Our trip will be a very specific trip with a very specific purpose. Not as much fun as wandering to and fro, but in the end I think even more rewarding. As that time comes I will share more information. For now there are still many variables that we need to solidify. Now that our life and home have slowed down we can re-shift our focus back to what it was and do some of the things that we haven't had time for in so long.

I won't promise to blog regularly but I do hope that I will return to this space. I like writing and I like cataloging our days here. There is a season for all things and I hope the upcoming one will include this blog.

Sep 15, 2014

Reading: Simplicity Parenting

So it's safe to say that none of us have all the answers to raising a healthy and happy child.  I sometimes feel like I am especially unequipped to do this.  While my parents did the best they could, I feel like they failed me in some ways, and it has had an effect on the way I parent.  I imagine nearly everyone out there could nit pick their own childhood and find where their parents failed them.  I know I'm not alone in this.  When I think about the ways I wish my parents had done something differently, I inevitably come to the conclusion that my life now is my choice.  Yes, I grew in a house that yelled a lot and yes I yell when frustrated but that is not what I have to be.  I have the ability and option to choose something different than some sort of inherited set of coping mechanisms.  I think about this often as I try to structure my day, learn more about my stress triggers, and relearn coping techniques.  Part of how I try to better myself as a mother and parent is to read.  As most of you know, reading is basically how I tackle anything in life.


For a while I've seen mention of Simplicity Parenting mentioned in the blog circles I frequent.  It's been in my Amazon cart for quite literally 2  years.  This past week I finally hit the purchase button.  I have to say I am thrilled I did.  I am halfway through the book and it is marked up more than any other book I own.  The consistent theme through the entire book is establishing a rhythm.  A rhythm is quite different than a schedule and it's implementation can be quite life changing.  It so happens that I had been reading quite a bit about rhythm before purchasing the book and had already begun to establish a few things within our daily life.  What a difference!  The book has taken that desire to the next level for me.  Dr. Payne is a big advocate of a simpler, slower childhood than many kids have these days.  He talks about limiting toys, getting lots of outside time, limited TV/device time as a way to help the child grow slowly but completely.

Here are a few of my favorite thoughts from the book thus far:
"Children need time to become themselves---through play and social interaction.  If you overwhelm a child with stuff---with choices and pseudochoices---before they are ready, they will only know one emotional gesture: "More!""

"I love this very American expression, "being grounded", because in this context, it fits.  When an adolescent is overwhelmed, in a soul fever (his term for a struggling child), the electrical current around them is so strong that they actually do need "grounding." They need to be brought back to earth, brought back to their more relaxed, resilient selves."

"By seeing only tendencies, syndromes, and labels, we risk not seeing our children's intrinsic intent, their deep biographical gesture in the world."


I am excited to read more in this book.  I know the things I find lacking in my own parenting style are easily changed (as if change was easy!).  I do believe that Simplicity Parenting will be a large help in connecting the vision I have for our days  with what we actually have going on.

I will post a full review when I finish the book.



Sep 7, 2014

Autumn Color


Last week we loaded up the van with fishing supplies and s'mores.  We headed an hour north to a little lake off the beaten path.  Unfortunately so did everyone else. :)  While the lake may have been packed we had the chance to do a little creek fishing and playing in the rain.  Well everyone else did, I of course spent time tromping through the mud, wet grasses and trees to take pictures of the late summer flowers and mushrooms.  The thing that I noticed was how early we have fall color this year.  It was everywhere I turned.  As I always do, I found myself breathing in the smell of autumn.  There is something in the air come fall that wakes me up.  I know I mention this every autumn, but seriously, autumn is perfection contained in a season.

leaves kids fishing

Every year I find myself slowing down, relaxing more, and breathing.  The other day I took our dog out as the sun was coming up.  I stood there, shivering a little, and watching the colors swirl in the sky, purple, orange, grey, and blue and everything just felt right.  Autumn always brings out (or rather brings out more) the introspective part me.  As of late, the main thing I've thought about is how just absolutely perfect life has been lately.  Perhaps it's because for the first time in years I don't feel like committing a felony, or disappearing on a very long drive, or any other dramatic sort of stunt (let's face it, mothering is tough and exhausting work).  For the first time in years my house feels somewhat organized and calm, we finally have gotten the hang of learning as a family, and I feel like I have a little bit of time for myself.

monkshood purple flower

Yesterday I had the privilege of being present at the birth of a friends baby as an unofficial doula of sorts.  Start to finish it was just over 2 hours.  The only person in attendance other than the couple was myself.  There were no doctors, midwives, machinery, anything.  It was us, low lighting, and the sound of running water.  Holding my friends hand while she had that baby was a great honor, to see the first breath of life into that small baby was miraculous.  The world seemed to pause for those last contractions and there was nothing else that mattered.  It was like a giant deep breath and when those first cries happened it was like a rush of life back into the room.

Autumn feels like that to me, a giant deep breath and a rush of life.  Autumn is about rest and regrouping, rethinking and realigning.  Autumn is about life for me.

yellow flower

Linked to Homestead Barn Hop

Jul 29, 2014

Revitalizing cucumber cream face mask

I think it's the summer heat that's been getting to me lately but I've felt the need to pamper myself a bit.  My skin has been dry and splotchy as is the summer normal for this red head.  I'm currently having another reaction to my contacts (I'm allergic) so my eyes have been dry and tired even when I wake up.  I've joined a local gym and have been going 3 times a week so my muscles have been a bit sore as well.  Basically I am starting to feel a little worn around the edges.

This last week we have the joy of milking a friends cow for 7 whole days.  She was fresh in milk (the calf is only 14 days old now) so the milk was flowing!  After batches of cheese, butter and lots of milk used, I found the fridge full off cream still untouched.  Of course ice cream still needed to be made but before that happened I took a small scoop to set aside.  I needed a little pampering and honestly, I had visions of Cleopatra in my head as I mixed this glorious potion for my poor dry face.

My advice?  Prepare the scene.  Light a candle, turn on a little Ray LaMontagne, put on your comfiest pj pants and ditch the bra.  Lay back and just enjoy a moment of quiet and a moment all to yourself.

This face mask can be used on your face, neck and chest (hence ditching the bra).  Add a few cucumber slices to your eyes to make it even better.


cucumber cream mask
1 cucumber, skin removed
1/4 cup cream (you may need a little less if your cream is really runny)

Blend cucumber in a food processor. Once smooth, add cream slowly until well blended. Transfer to small bowl. Wrap your hair in a towel before applying (saves your hair from cucumber chunks). Apply mask to your face. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with warm water.

Bask in the glow of your freshly hydrated skin.