hellooooooo out theeeerrrre

Has it really been so long since I wrote on my blog? I don’t know if there’s anyone left who reads this, but if there is, please leave a comment so I know not to go dark for so long.

I am pleased to report that all is going very very well for us. Really, the honest explanation for why I haven’t posted in so long is because we’ve had a lot going on.

Expecting Baby #2

First of all, I am very happy to report that we are expecting a baby girl to join us in a few months. The journey to get here was a lot longer and bumpier than I had expected, but thankfully everything is going great now that we’re here. I’m currently 24 weeks along and feel absolutely great.

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Milo seems to be excited about becoming a big brother and has been practicing taking care of his baby doll, with utmost seriousness. Here he is babywearing his baby doll in a sling.

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Home Sweet Home

Another big thing for us is that we recently closed and have been working on moving into a new house. We’ve been living for the past year(ish) in a manufactured home on my father-in-law’s property, which was great in a lot of ways but was also not very glamorous. Not only was it not very glamorous, but the house was basically falling apart. And with a small child living there and a baby on the way, it became a priority for us to find something more structurally intact. Of course, Josh and I are super picky and it took us months and months of very actively looking at houses to finally find our dream home.

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Four Years Old

Another thing that happened was that my baby boy turned FOUR years old. I’m pretty sure there was a rip in the space-time continuum because last I checked he was definitely a baby and now he’s a big kid. Anyway, we had a lovely birthday party with family. Below is Milo surrounded by his cousins, who he regularly gets to play with, which is amazing in and of itself.

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Ok, well that’s all for now. Again, please leave a comment if you read this and I will be mindful of not going dark for so long. There are plenty of other big things happening in our world that I will perhaps share another time.

Late March in the Garden and Life

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Life in Northwest Arkansas has been nice. I absolutely miss Boise and everything we had there, except for our overly busy lives and lack of family.

Before I get into the homestead update, a few things have happened since I last posted:

  • Our house in Boise sold and the guy who bought it has been sending us a few updates on his remodeling efforts. I am happy that our home went to someone with the time and energy to finish the remodeling that we weren’t able to get to.
  • Josh has a job! And it’s a great relief to no longer eat into our savings for day-to-day living.

Chicken Lady

The chickens are doing GREAT. Without trying to, I’ve tamed these chickens so much more than I did with my previous flock. These chickens all jump into my lap (or onto my shoulder if the lap is full) when I sit near them. They’ll really nuzzle against me as though I’m there mother. It’s so sweet and ridiculous.

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Last week, I moved them into their coop full time. They had been living in a big cardboard box in the house until the nighttime temperatures got high enough and they got enough of their feathers. Normally, they say to move chickens outside at 6 weeks and last week my chickens were only 5 weeks, but I felt like it was warm enough at night to move them out a week early. I had forgotten how much I don’t like having adolescent chickens in the house. They scratch around their bedding so much that everything gets so dusty. Additionally, chickens are just happier outside.

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I love the coop I bought. Now that I have several years of chicken tending under my belt, I had a good idea of what I was looking for in a coop and am pleased that I got the perfect coop, used and for a great price. One of the things I love about it is that it has wheels and integrated jack system so it’s easy to move the coop around, so that no patch of grass gets over-foraged and the chickens have constant access to fresh greens.

And yes, I let them out of their enclosure a lot but especially while they’re still small I only let them out when I can monitor them. We have a ton of vultures, hawks, and other huge birds of prey constantly circling overhead that it’s not safe for them to be completely free.

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gardening update

In my last post, I wrote about how I was building and otherwise setting up a lot of containers for gardening in. This is for two reasons. One is that I don’t know for how long we will be living here (on my father-in-law’s & his wife’s property) and I want to have containers that I can bring with us if we move to our own house. The other reason is that, about an inch underneath this lush greenery is a layer of rocks and it would be a huge amount of work to actually cultivate this land. I’ve joined a Northwest Arkansas Gardening facebook group and they all recommend gardening in raised beds in this area… and containers are a variety of raised beds.

Anyway, in the below photo, in the first three pots I’ve planted three blackberry plants that I dug up from my patch in Boise and brought here.

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In the wooden planter boxes, which I built from inexpensive cedar fencing, I’ve planted asparagus. One box has asparagus first-year plants and the other three boxes have bare roots. The plastic planter has rosemary and yerba buena mint.

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Alongside the house, I’ve got another round of containers as well as my little greenhouse.

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In the greenhouse, my seedlings are doing great. Amazingly, I should be able to plant them outside in just a few weeks! Already it’s been weeks since temperatures have gone below freezing at night (though we’re not past the last frost date) and the growing season here is significantly longer than in Boise.

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I’ve planted some Fort Laramie strawberries in these wooden planters and they are doing great. I also bought some variety of daisy that the butterflies LOVE.

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Milo and I took a field trip to an organic nursery this week so that I could obtain some bareroot asparagus, and of course I bought more than what was on my list. One of which was a Brown Turkey fig!!! I found myself talking with a lovely farmer couple who grow figs and described how well they grow here. After my failed fig experiment in Boise, I’m excited to try them several zones to the south.

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In this metal planter, I’m trying my hand at growing artichokes. The empty wooden planter is waiting for some strawberries that I’m actually growing from seed, which are doing quite well in the greenhouse.

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In the smaller of the blue pots I’ve planted an obvious forsythia, whose flowers are comparatively huge and so so bright yellow. In the larger planter, is a bulb for an Elephant Ear, which is occasionally grown as a houseplant in Boise but apparently thrives in Arkansas gardens.

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In the garden plot that my inlaws have generously allotted to me, I’ve planted all of my cole crops as well as onion starts. They are doing pretty well although cutworms have been ravaging my cole crops and I am not amused.

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The snap peas and garlic I planted are doing well. I also planted a row of black eyed peas, which have yet to come up and am wondering if I did them wrong.

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home preschooling

I’ve decided to take a break from looking for a job and instead to embrace my current role as ‘domestic engineer.’ In that role, I get to spend my days tending to the garden, keeping the house clean & tidy, running the household errands, managing our money, and most importantly for me, spending the day with Milo. I never thought of myself as the ‘stay at home’ type but I’m liking it. In Boise, with both Josh and I working full time jobs with disparate schedules, I was so overwhelmed with how much there was to do in my ‘spare time’ and felt spread thin. If I was spending time with Milo, the house was a complete disaster. Or if the house was presentable, then I felt like a bad mother.

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Anyway, so I’m trying out a bit of home preschooling in a little more of a formal way. We’re doing a ‘letter of the week’ theme and building a ‘word wall’. Though, it’s been so nice that we’ve been spending most of our time outside.

In the above photo, Milo was practicing using scissors and had been cutting paper for a long time with the scissors in his right hand. Then, all on his own, he switched the scissors to his left hand and successfully cut with that hand as well. All on his own, he seems to be teaching himself to be ambidextrous, which I find interesting.

And then in the below photo is where Milo had been practicing writing his name with sidewalk chalk. I had actually been tending to the chickens while Milo did this all on his own and was surprised at how well he formed these letters.

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But yes, we’ve been spending most of our time outside. Spring is definitely here and Milo is showing tremendous interest in the natural world.

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It’s nice living in the country for so many reasons, but I particularly love that we have so much space for Milo to roam around.

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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.