finding our flow

We’re into our third month in Arkansas and are still figuring things out.

the ol’ 9 to 5

At the moment, Josh and I are both gainfully unemployed. I’ve applied and interviewed for numerous positions, unsuccessfully. I have a skillset and expertise that is industry-specific and nothing has become available locally in that industry. Everything I’ve applied and interviewed for has been for a very different industry, and my lack of experience in that industry is glaringly obvious. I honestly don’t think I’m very marketable outside of my specialization. I’ve thought about going back to school to get a second masters degree, or obtain new certifications… but I don’t really want to.

What I have thought about doing is resurrecting my knitting pattern design business, which fell by the wayside after I had Milo and worked a (more than) full time job. Oh, and lost all of my content when my website was hacked (see the first post on this blog for details about that). Before Milo was born, I knat hours upon hours a day. After he was born, my time was so different and I barely knat at all. Since moving to Arkansas and having time again, I have been knitting and am loving it. It’s like I’ve reconnected with an old love.

Josh has a different situation. His industry is seasonal and is currently in the out-of-season, so no one is hiring right now. He has seriously pondered opening up his own business, and is currently doing miscellaneous activities here and there.

homesteading

I have been reconnecting with my passion for homesteading. I have started seeds for a nice veggie garden and have also obtained some chicks for a small backyard flock.

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For my veggie garden, my father-in-law (whose spare house we’re currently living in) has a garden plot that has gone into disuse. I’ve been working on revitalizing the space, which you can see in the below photo. The land is on a slope and is somewhat of a raised garden plot. It’s overrun with weeds, which I don’t have much hope in conquering. I have direct sowed a few varieties of peas, including some black-eyed peas which I’m excited about.

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I’ve also been building some garden boxes (see below) and procured a mini-greenhouse (basically, shelving with a plastic cover). Today, the outside temperature is currently 34F and the greenhouse is maintaining a nice 85F for my seedlings.

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I’m excited to discover what gardening in this area is like. Arkansas is apparently one of the ‘wetter’ states and I find the area around where we live to be incredibly lush. In Boise, one of my main gardening challenges was the fact that it was basically the desert and we would rarely get rain between May and September. Combined with the heat, I tended to spend on average of one hour PER DAY watering my garden, and actually had become extremely resentful about it.

In the below photo, you can see some of my recent homesteading acquisitions. On the right is a Mantis Compost Barrel that I bought used from a guy in the area for a great deal. Since we’re living (presumably temporarily) on my father-in-law’s land, I didn’t want to start a big compost pile, even though I’m sure it’d be fine. But I had a hankering to be making compost and was excited when I found this compost barrel – – the perfect solution.

And to the left is a chicken coop that I bought, also used, from another guy in the area. I’m very excited about this coop. It’s an excellent size for the kind of flock I want, has good ventilation options, built in nest boxes, a covered outdoor space, separate human and chicken doors, predator-proof, a detachable and movable run, AND wheels with jacks to make the whole thing easy to move around.

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I bought the chicks last week from a hatchery in Missouri. I got two Rhode Island Reds, two Silver Laced Wyandottes, and three Buff Orpingtons. Right now, we have them in a homemade brooder in the house and they’re doing really well.

being sentimental

As I begin to discover gardening in Northwest Arkansas, I cannot help but be reminded of all that I left behind in Boise. So much of my blood, sweat, and tears are in the soil of our old house, where I cultivated so many plants in a previously barren space. My asparagus bed (which took so much work to get going and to maintain), my plum trees (which yielded more fruit than we were ever able to consume), my grape vines (which just this past year began yielding delicious fruit), my blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and innumerable ornamentals… It’s hard to believe that I’ve left them all behind.

And of course, it’s hard to believe that we left behind all of our friends and the other people in our life, not to mention all that we had in Boise.

So here we are, without jobs, without friends, trying to find our flow in what sometimes feels is a foreign land, but with lots of family and love.

Arkansas move

Greetings from Northwest Arkansas!

Life has changed dramatically since I last wrote. In the past several months we have packed up all our worldly possessions, driven approximately 1,600 miles through six states, and have begun settling into life in a very different space and culture.

The day we set out on this journey was possibly one of the most stressful days of my life. We had been prepping for the move for several weeks; collecting free cardboard boxes here and there, packing up that which we treasured or could not live without, and getting rid of stuff we didn’t want to move. I had reserved a moving truck for the Monday after Thanksgiving and we were planning on loading it up and then driving to Arkansas that week. However, as Josh watched the weather reports for the various places we were going to be driving through, he began to worry about a big winter storm projected to hit Wyoming that week. Considering that this was the end of November/early December, we weren’t confident that the weather would necessarily improve for our momentous journey, so we decided to speed up our timeline and leave as soon as we could. I was able to change our moving truck reservation to that Saturday, and we had some friends come over to help us load it up. I should also mention that Josh’s mom, Kathy, had come to town to help us, which was very helpful. We hauled some proverbial ass getting the moving truck loaded up.

I’d also like to mention that there were about four hundred million administrative things to do to get ready to move. Giving notice to our jobs, filling out paperwork for Milo’s day care, cancelling various services, as well as finding new homes for my many creatures (ex. Lizzy the bearded dragon and her roach colony went to a nice family). So there was a lot of intense lead up to this Saturday moving day. And of course, we began moving day very early in the morning. Oh, and another thing that I occupied myself with was preparing for a long road trip with a toddler and a cat. Josh was slated to drive the moving truck, Kathy would drive our pickup, and I drove our Jeep with Milo and Kiko. I was definitely worried that driving 1,600 miles with a toddler and cat in a small enclosed space would not be very relaxing. I prepared little gift bags of little toys and things I found at the dollar store to occupy Milo. I also downloaded five seasons of Paw Patrol, but I was hoping for Milo to spend more time looking at books and doing various activities rather than just zoning out with a screen. But this was also a unique situation that we basically needed to survive.

Anyway, so it was a lot of work getting ready to move across the country and the day we loaded up the moving truck was the climax of this frantic busyness and go-go-go. Early in the day, Milo did a great job of helping but as the hours passed he became less and less helpful. Around about noon, I decided to have Milo relax in the bedroom with some Paw Patrol. At this point, there was only a mattress in the room. I also put Kiko in there with her litter box, to keep both of my babies out of the way and contained. As we got closer to 1:00, Josh and I began to discuss how I should probably leave a bit early so that we could hit Milo’s ideal nap time and get to our first stop in Utah before night. We cranked up the pace of our work to make this happen. At some point, I went into the bedroom to check on my babies and discovered that Milo had dumped the litter box out onto the bed, had thrown litter everywhere, and was jumping on the litter covered bed. I thought I was going to lose my mental sanity. It was decided that I would be leaving with Milo and Kiko immediately, while Kathy and Josh finished up the last of the loading. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more stressed out than when I was trying to secure Milo in his car seat after the litter incident and he was yelling at me for taking him away from the fun cat litter. I got into the driver’s seat with my toddler having an epic tantrum and the cat freaking out in her carrier next to me, and it seemed like my whole body was shaking from stress and anxiety. After we hit the freeway and Milo fell asleep for a nap, it took me several hours to relax, all the while Kiko was meowing with her own anxiety.

That first day, we drove down to a town in Utah where Kathy’s brother and his wife live and we were able to stay with them that night. That was a good start to our journey because they had a lovely home and she is a wonderful cook. The next day, we drove through Wyoming and avoided the blizzard that would hit the following day. The day after that, we drove through Colorado, and the day after that, Kansas, Missouri, and landed in Northwest Arkansas.

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The main thing that made this transition feasible for us is that Josh’s dad, Jim has a spare house that we are able to live in until we get our ducks in a row. Jim has several acres of land in the countryside and we are able to stay in this modular house on his property. The house is very comfortable and actually has a nice layout. It also has two bathrooms, which is amazing after living in a one bathroom house for so many years.

Our house in Boise has been on the market for a little over a month. I had really hoped that it would be sold by now, but maybe that was wishful thinking. Putting it up for sale a few weeks before Christmas was probably silly. Josh and l have been diligently job hunting. He has a second interview tomorrow and I have an interview later this week. Although, I admit that I’ve been enjoying spending so much time at home with Milo and have entertained the idea of being a stay-at-home mama for a bit.

I’ll write more about our new life in Arkansas but overall it has been wonderful and I’m glad that we made this move.

fiddling on the roof

Hello! [echo… echo… echo…]

I don’t know if anyone is out there anymore; maybe this is tantamount of me writing a letter and throwing it out to sea in a bottle.

Quickie Update

We are all well. I’ve been meaning to write for months upon months.

Since I last posted, Milo turned 3, I turned 38, and Josh turned 44… for all of us, our unit of measure is ‘years young.’

Milo transitioned to a new preschool classroom that he loves. He continues to be amazing in everyway. In addition to becoming more ‘book smart’ (knowing his letters and numbers, etc.) I’ve recently noticed that he’s developing an ability to sit still and focus on something (like coloring or tracing) for a more extended amount of time (10 – 20 minutes). Sitting still and focusing on something has never been a strong point and I’ve honestly wondered if he is a little ADHD, but suddenly all of his own volition, he will sit down and color or play with play dough or read books by himself and appear to be very content.

Big Changes Ahead

Our family is currently on the cusp of a huge change. In two weeks, we are moving to Arkansas so that we can be closer to family. It has always been a challenge being parents and not having any family around, but now that Milo is older I have been feeling so guilty that Milo doesn’t have any other family relationships. Growing up, I had my grandparents around and that was a very special relationship for me. Two months ago, as Josh and I were in the throws of this decision about whether to move to Arkansas or not, we took a semi-spontaneous trip to Arkansas to do some reconnaissance (we didn’t tell anyone in his family except for his brother & sister-in-law what we were thinking). And Milo had such an amazing time playing with his many many cousins and it was so wonderful watching him with his grandparents.

So yea… we’re moving to Arkansas. I’m definitely heartbroken about leaving Idaho and our friends here, but I believe this is best for our family.

The last few weeks, since we officially made the decision, has been stressful as we’re getting ready to move and put our house on the market. I hate having the house in such a state of disarray as moving creates and trying to do all of this with a 3 year old is not the most tranquil experience.

Logistically, there are several things that make this move particularly feasible for us. One is that the housing market in Boise is a seller’s dream and we seem to have a ridiculous amount of equity built up. Conversely, the housing market in Arkansas is a buyer’s dream and it’s looking like we’ll be able to very nicely upgrade our house AND have significantly more cash flow. Honestly, we’re moving because we want to be closer to family, but the idea of upgrading our house is so exciting. Our current house is really not ideal for our family – – by way of just one example, the house only has one toilet and now that there are three of us who use the toilet, it’s just really not ideal.

The other logistical thing that makes this particularly feasible for us is that Josh’s dad has about 5 acres with a second house that we can stay at until we sell our house and buy a new one.

Hopefully, additional changes

The other big thing going on is that we’re hoping to expand our family. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that we’ve all continued to get older as time goes on. Even though we’re all still young, I do feel that time is ticking.

Over and out.

 

Harvest Monday – June 4, 2018

The harvests have started pouring in and we’re having a hard time keeping up! We’ve got an ABUNDANCE of peas, strawberries, and broccoli.

Milo has been very enthusiastic about helping me to pick peas and strawberries, and also about sampling both. I’ve been so proud to be able to include home grown items in his school lunches.

Here are the totals. I think I might have to start freezing the peas because we have bowls full of them in the fridge and the plants are bursting with peas ready to be picked. Definitely a problem I don’t mind having. 🙂

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We’ve been having some bananas weather. Several times a week for the past few months, we’ve been getting these torrential thunderstorms. I have barely had to water anything at all, which is amazing because this is very much high desert climate and we usually get no rain from May to September.

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Along with the rain, thunder, and lightning, Milo has been learning all about hail. In the below photo, Josh collected some hail in a colander for Milo to touch. He thought it was pretty neat.

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And here’s a gratuitous photo of my sweet boy.

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Harvest Monday – 5/21/18

FINALLY. We have snap peas.

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I honestly thought it wasn’t going to happen this year. Normally, peas are an April or early May harvest for me. And normally, I have all the plants pulled by mid May to make room for my summer garden. Last week, blossoms finally began appearing on the pea stalks, which compelled me to give them a bit more time. They are occupying PRIME real estate in my garden and have been seriously dilly dallying this year. Those blossoms really sealed the deal last week and I found alternative space for my summer crops.

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I’ve been excitedly watching the peas form and grow. Yesterday evening, I picked a pea for Milo and he actually ATE it and said YUM! Regardless of how delicious sweet peas are, they are GREEN and Milo DOES.NOT.EAT.GREEN.THINGS. But these, he loved! I was so happy. Trying to get this child to eat a vegetable is one of the most challenging things about being his mama. Anyway, after I gave him a tutorial about how to pick peas (he has to use both hands – one to hold the connecting vine, and the other to pull the pea – – sadly, he forgot a few times which hand he needed to pull with and we lost a portion of the plant – – ahh… toddler coordination!). Once he figured out how to pick peas, he had such a great time picking them and eating them. And he didn’t really want to stop!  All evening, he kept asking me if we should go look for more peas.

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I finally got my garden harvest spreadsheet up and running. The unit of measure is grams. I have not been very diligent about harvesting when I should.

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In other news, we’ve been having some epic rain storms and Milo has been having a blast wading in the flooded street. Above is after the rain had gone down the storm drain but he still wanted to see where all the water had gone.

making progress

In the past week, the sweet peas have finally produced blossoms…

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… broccoli heads have emerged…

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… the tomatoes have been caged…

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… the beans have popped up… and the pests have feasted…

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… and all the curcurbits have a home.

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Garden – May Update

The weather is finally consistently warmed up and the garden is coming alive. Everything seemed to take so long this year to wake up. Here is our new Hawthorne tree that we planted two years ago, almost fully leafed out.

I’ve gotten most everything planted. In the flowerbed in the photo below, I planted my pepper plants because the peas aren’t ready to vacate their space.

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Here’s the other end of the backyard, in a bit of disarray. It’s finally warm enough to bring out the pool and have some serious backyard water fun!

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And here are Milo and Josh enjoying yesterday’s warm evening. In the background, you can see that the lilac finally blossomed.

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The grapes also have buds on them. We have five grape vines and they’ve never produced grapes. Maybe this will finally be the year.

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And the plum trees are LOADED with plums. I’ve started the process of thinning them out.

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Veggie garden. The asparagus continues to come in strong. I don’t have any pictures of the harvests, but I am bringing in about 200-300 grams per week. Thusfar, I’ve harvested 1204 grams of asparagus. My garden harvest spreadsheet isn’t setup for the year yet, so I don’t have a fancy way to display that yet.

I’ve planted my tomatoes and still need to cage them.

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Of course, my tomato cages are currently supporting the sweet peas that normally would have done their thing and been completely pulled by now. At present, I have yet to see a single blossom and am not sure if we’ll see any peas form before the insanity of the summer heat kicks in.

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Along the garden fence, I’ve planted beans and am using some old lilac branches for the vines to climb up.

The only thing left to plant/sow are all of the squash & cucumbers. I’m not sure where they should be, since the peas are taking their sweet time.

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Here is the blackberry zone, completely overrun by grass and poppies. I’ve been meaning to smother the grass and try to dig up the poppies for years, but always prioritize other projects. Good thing blackberries are hardy and resilient because they get pretty neglected.

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Also, I just LOVE these poppies but they are in the worst place. This is the side of the house where the gas meter and air conditioning unit are hidden, and the poppies get no visibility. It’s such a travesty.

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And here is my sweet boy. This weekend, he went with me to vote in the primary elections during the early voting period at City Hall.

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My heart melts so much, he is such a sweetheart.

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