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 – 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.

Garden – March 2018 Update

Overall, we’ve had a nice winter this year. It’s been warmer than usual and relatively dry, both of which have been conducive to spending a good amount of time working in the yard and garden. We have had different batches of snow come through as well as cold snaps, but in general Milo and I have been able to spend many many more weekends than normal puttering outside.

So, Milo is at the most fun age right now. The past couple of years, he hasn’t been old enough to really play in the garden or help me with the work, so my gardening efforts were limited and fairly unsuccessful. Now, he loves being in the garden with me, whether he is playing in the dirt doing his own thing or actually helping me.

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Arguably, Milo truly has been helpful in the garden. Yes, as evidenced above and below, he does enjoy playing in the dirt in which I am growing plants, but he has been mindful about not destroying my plants. But even more than that, he is a good helper.

Several weeks ago, he helped me dig up the potatoes that I didn’t have time to dig last fall. And that was the perfect example to contrast last year’s lack of success in the garden with this year’s productivity. He honestly was very helpful in digging up the potatoes and we were able to get the project completely done. He has also been helping me to clean up the debris on all of my garden beds.

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Above, here is Milo playing with his construction vehicles in my asparagus bed. Probably not the best idea to let him do this, but I would prefer to encourage a love of digging in the dirt over retaining an intact asparagus bed. I’m sure many gardeners would be shocked at this perspective, but asparagus I can replant. Right now, fostering a love of gardening in my son I feel is so much more worthwhile.

Other gardening tasks I have accomplished include:

  • Direct sowing to beds of sugar snap peas
  • Cleaning up the overwintered beets and chard – – I’ve even been harvesting some chard the last several months
  • Caught up on so much garden clean up – trimmed back perennials, raked leaves, etc.

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Above, this is a random silly picture – – Milo thought he’d be able to crawl through my tomato cages.

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I do have a good start on my seed starting. Milo has been helping me with these as well. Initially, he helped me to fill the different containers with dirt and gently add seeds and then water. Then we’ve been watching the seedlings grow and he’s been helping to water them. It’s a cool science project to share with him.

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We’ve also been working on a lot of landscaping and ornamental gardening projects. Above, this is our dirt mound in the front yard that Milo loves rolling his trucks on. I managed to bring out a haul of landscaping rocks that we found buried in our back yard several years ago. I’m still trying to figure out where to place them.

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Another project that Josh has been working on has been installing a walkway next to our driveway. It’s about 90% complete.

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In the backyard, I’ve continued to work on this flower bed that I started last year. I also laid several layers of cardboard on an area that I want to get rid of grass.

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Front yard again, our lovely neighbor across the street gave me a ton of ornamental plants that I’ve added to the front yard. For example, that bit of ornamental grass in the foreground of the above picture (obviously, is dormant for the winter). I’ve bought oodles and oodles of flower seeds that I’m going to scatter over all of our dirt areas in the front yard and I’m so excited for this to become a colorful wonderland.

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The weather is predicted to be in the mid 50’s this weekend and I’m looking forward to spending many many hours working in the dirt.

Belated Update

I am astonished at how long it’s been since last I posted. Things have been great, overall. My newish job is going well, but is so very busy that I don’t tend to feel inclined to spend time at the computer when not at work. Hence, the months of silence.

What follows will be an inadequate update, but it is more adequate than no update.

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Milo is doing awesome. His language skills continue to EXPLODE. He speaks in full sentences, using pronouns occasionally and conjugating verbs appropriately. At day care for several weeks, they’ve had a learning theme around opposites and each week they focus on a different set of opposites. This week is hard and soft – – he knows that his teeth are hard and his skin is soft. Last week was clean and dirty, before that was inside and outside, etc. It’s been fun talking about opposites with him at home. During bath time, we talked about empty and full, while filling up cups with bath water and then dumping the water out.

He has also learned that Josh and I have actual names, rather than just mommy and daddy and, on occasion, he calls us by our names. When he does, he says “Gosh” for Josh and “Genfer” for Jennifer. It’s pretty cute.

We’ve been working more on potty training. It had been going great – – Milo had actually gotten to the point where he would ask to sit on the potty before going a few times – – but then he got sick and he hasn’t sat on the potty hardly at all for about a week. He’s also used the potty several times at day care.

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We got him a balance bike for his birthday (way back in August) and he’s gotten really good at it.

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He’s gone ‘mountain biking’ quite a number of times and is pretty good at it. Josh and I will run along after him on the trails

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Obviously we take him on very easy trails, but they do have a slight grade and he can get going decently fast (for a toddler) on the downhill. He’s had a couple of crashes but nothing that phased him at all, he would just get back on his bike and keep riding. But he’s also really good at keeping his speed under control.

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In a few months, I expect to be able to have him ride his bike while I run and for it to actually be a great workout for me. Pretty excited about that.

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We had a lot of fun this past summer. There were so many great activities around town and we even got out of town a fair amount.

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In October, we went to a corn maze at a ranch and Milo got to ride a pony.

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I took him to a pumpkin patch at a local fire station and he got to explore a fire truck.

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He also had a bit of a meltdown because I wouldn’t let him climb to the very very top of the hay bale structure by himself.

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He LOVED playing in the leaves after I raked them into a pile.

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Halloween was fun. I made him a rainbow turkey (???) costume and we trick or treated along the very busy Harrison Blvd. It’s so busy that they have police stationed at all of the intersections.

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We went to an air show at the local airforce base.

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We went to the Idaho Botanical Gardens for their annual Winter Garden Aglow and it was lovely.

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Okay, well that’s a super quick update of a few things happening.