What a year it has been

27 Jan

Wow, 2013 came and went in a blur didn’t it?

Last time I was on here, we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our second child. Apparently, he was pretty eager about it too. So eager, in fact, he made his whirlwind entrance to this world a full 5 1/2 weeks early. Fortunately, he arrived without any major complications, just a minor kidney issue that will hopefully resolve itself. But what a wonderful baby he has been. He is such a joy to have and be around. I can already tell he’s going to be such a sweet and loving child.
2013 also saw me become a part time stay at home mom. It’s been an adventure, but one that I am loving. I am so fortunate to be able to be home with my children and witness the milestones I would have otherwise missed. Adjusting the decreased disposable income has been a challenge, but I think I’m doing okay so far…my husband would probably disagree haha.

2014 is going to be our year of new starts. We’re still looking for that perfect home. The search has been expedited by the arrival of our son, being that we currently live in a two bedroom house, and he’s sharing a room with mommy and daddy

This is also going to be the year I finally get to take my body back. Two children in three years hasn’t exactly done wonders. I look at my wedding photos and wonder where that person went. I have the desire to do it, I just need the commitment and the time to back it up.
I would also love to take this year, and really improve my crafting skills, and hopefully be able to turn it into a business venture by 2015.
So watch this space…I have a feeling that great things are to come!


The End of an (Accidental) Experiment

25 Mar

So, a few months ago I decided I really needed a vacation from work. I had taken a day off here or there, or a half day when I had a doctor’s appointment, but I hadn’t taken a week or more off since maternity leave 2 1/2 years ago. I couldn’t wait, I got giddy at the idea.
But then, it sunk in. It would be a week of just me and my two-year-old daughter. Now, before you get all mad thinking I don’t like to spend time with my kid, let me explain. I work 40+ hours a week. I love spending time with my daughter, wish I could spend more time. I am amazingly envious of women (and men) who get to spend all day every day with their kids. But the fact of the matter is, for the time being, I work. I wasn’t upset at the prospect of spending all day every day with her…I was terrified. I know her, I love her, I just didn’t know how to spend all of my time with her.
But here I was, getting ready to spend my week’s vacation with my daughter. The first day was amazing. We had so much fun together and we didn’t really do much. We just spent the day in each other’s company.
My husband and I kick around the idea of me becoming a stay at home mom once our son is born. And after the first day, hell, even after the second day, I was like “I can do this!” I was spending time with my daughter, having the house cleaned for when my husband got home, and we were spending our evenings as a family, not running around trying to get stuff done.
Then Thursday hit. I hadn’t showered, my daughter had decided she was sick of happy mommy and wanted to do the exact opposite of whatever I was telling her to do, and I swear I was constantly straightening my house…either that or I was hallucinating every time I did. I was getting cranky and desperate for adult interaction.
I started to believe that I was going to suck at this. And this was just one kid? What would happen when I had two?
I was saved by some adult time, away from my house and child, spent in the company of my mom, who herself had raised two kids while staying at home. She reminded me that while it was very important to take care of my children and home, it was equally important to take care of myself. And to not be afraid of asking my husband to take over for an hour or so while I had some me time.
Common sense you say? It should be, but I think I got so wrapped up in being the perfect wife and mother, I forgot there is no such thing.
So, sitting here, about to get ready for my first day back to work, I’m a little sad. Sad that I won’t get to spend all day every day with my daughter. But I’m also a little more confident in myself. I know now, that should we decide it, I can be a stay at home mom…provided I can remember to spend a little time with myself too.

Limit Your Desires

21 Mar

The title of this post is drawn from a Buddhist tenet…Limit your desires. It means, to me at least, to stop looking for things to want. Focus on the things you need. If you are constantly desiring something, when will you ever be happy? The other week I saw one of the memes on Facebook that just makes you go, “you know what, you’re absolutely right.” And it wasn’t one of those annoying willy wonka political memes. This was just a simple design with a simple message-“There are people who are happy with less than what you have.”

Throughout our entire homesteading journey, my husband and I have been looking for ways to downsize and simplify our lives. And we’ve done pretty well. We don’t go around buying stuff just to have it anymore, we look for ways to repurpose stuff we already have, and it’s really worked for us so far. But there are things we have been putting off getting rid of. And I think it’s for no other reason than being used to having it there. Take for example our cable and TV…When we do watch TV, it’s to stream Netflix through the Wii…rarely do we ever watch anything on any of the network shows. Occasionally I’ll pop a DVD on for my daughter just so I can get some stuff done. But, even that makes me feel guilty. I should start getting her to participate a bit more, even though she’s only 2.
But still, at least once a week, either I or my husband will say “we really should just cancel the cable,” and the other will nod and say “yeah you’re right.” But months later, we’re still paying for a service we barely use.

I’m finding that the saying is also holding true in our search for a new home. Early on in our new home search, we were looking for a home with plenty of room for 4 people (since number 2 is swiftly getting closer to his arrival) and plenty of land. But what constitutes plenty of room and plenty of land? More and more I’m reading about urban homesteaders who live in city apartments and do all of their homesteading on roof top gardens, or balcony gardens and manage to do just fine. I’m not saying I want to give up country living for the city…goodness no. But, I’m also learning you don’t need five acres and a large farmhouse.

So, as much as anyone, I really need to learn how to limit my desires, or at least start changing what exactly it is I am desiring. And I’ve got a long way to go in this department. If anyone doubts that, they need look no further than my shoe rack 🙂

Ever Feel Like You’re The Only One?

27 Jan

2012 was a great year for my family. We discovered homesteading, found out we are expecting our son, put away some money for a house with more land, and learned a lot of new skills. But it was also the year I began to feel like we were sort of out there on our own with our approach to homesteading. Not so much in that we’re atheists. I mean, when people hear homesteading, they tend to get this picture of religious zealots preparing for end times. But, that really isn’t the case. Yeah, there are some religious zealots out there that believe society has gotten too evil to exist in, but there are plenty of non-believers as well. But, I’m finding myself bumping heads with this group as well. In just about every online community I’ve found, most seem to be striving to party like it’s 1799. They envision building a cabin in the woods somewhere with no electricity or running water. I was with them until they started talking about showering outside and having to trudge through the snow to the outhouse. Sounds romantic doesn’t it? To them, it’s a matter of living a more environmentally-friendly life. Yeah, but they make solar panels, wind energy, and stuff like that to lessen our impact on the environment.
Then, came the big discussion on whether or not we considered ourselves submissive wives. Yeah, my mind went right where yours is going right now. I was sitting there thinking “I’m almost six months pregnant, I’m not much of anything in that department right now.” But, oh no, I was wrong; a submissive wife isn’t one who likes to be told what to do in the bedroom. She’s one that chooses to be told what is going to be done in pretty much every area of her life. I’m being overly dramatic about it, but in nutshell, our lives should be governed by our genders and our husbands get the final say. Uh, no thanks. One of the things that make my marriage work, is the fact that my husband and I are equal partners, each with an equal say in how our household is run. We are each other’s best friend, and we trust and value what the other has to say. Plus, if I succumbed to my wifely role and took over making dinner each night, I’m pretty sure the dog would be eating better out of his bag of dog food.
I guess it really made my head spin to hear that kind of talk from women who hold no religious beliefs. I can understand having that belief if you also had strong religious beliefs, but without them…
I’m not even going to get into the fun conversation we had about homeschooling.

So I guess I still haven’t found my people. I’m still a homesteading mama who still wants to live in the 21st century; feminism, public education and all

It’s Been a While

26 Dec

And I’d like to say its because life got really busy, but truth is, it hasn’t. I just got lazy and ran out of things to say. Don’t get me wrong, life has been moving merrily along. The growing season ended, and I ended up buying more and putting away, than growing more and putting away. I discovered that, while making your own soap, candles and cleaning supplies is fun, cheap and easier on the environment, I also have a two year old, a house , and a full time job. That translates to being a little short on time, and sometimes it’s just easier to grab a bottle of store-bought cleaner. And, in August, hubby and I discovered we were expecting Baby # 2…in late May, just in time for planting season. Let’s hear it for timing!

And, humility caught up with me. I wanted to start this blog to share my experiences with homesteading. But, I guess I thought I was going to come off a little more…oh I don’t know, inspiring? Maybe that isn’t the right word, but, suffice to say, when I went back and read some of my blogs, I felt blah. And, I sounded a little bit like a jackass. So, I decided to put this on hold. But after thinking about it for a good while, I decided to say screw the inspiring and jackassery (yeah, I made it up) and just be honest about it…my life, my homesteading experiences, everything.

So, from here on out, more me, less how-to. Because, if I’m honest, I’m flying by the seat of my pants as much as the next person.

Starting Out Small

22 Jul

I’ve been approached lately by people who are interested in homesteading, but either their current living situation, or pure apprehension keeps them from jumping in. I completely get where they are coming from. It’s a big deal. To look at the life you are currently living and deciding to turn it on its head is a big deal. You are making a huge committment when you decide to homestead.

But, instead of jumping in with your eyes closed, try wading in. Starting the small is the key to success of any endeavor, and homesteading is no different. My husband and I are most certainly in no position currently to realize all of our homesteading dreams. We live on .17 acres. Definitely no room for the 1/4 an acre garden we dream of. And definitely no room for a small herd of chickens. But we do what we can. We grow four varieties of peppers in a 22 square foot garden plot. The rest of our veggies are grown 35 minutes away on my parents’ property. So that means stopping every other day after work to tend it plus one day on the weekend. Not ideal, but it works for now.

We do what we can in the space we are given. If you don’t have a large plot of land, or any land at all, try container gardening. If you have a deck or patio, buy a bunch of containers and start planting your tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. Don’t have room for peas, beans, lettuce, and broccoli? Hit up your local farmers market. Try to remember to buy organic as much as possible. Start paying attention to exactly what it is you are putting in your body and the bodies of your family.

For me, another aspect of homesteading is starting to take stewardship  of the earth. To achieve that, I’ve started to make our own cleaning supplies out of natural ingredients, not harsh, toxic chemicals. That way, whenever I dump my bucket of dirty water down the drain, I know I’m not putting anything harmful into the water table.  If you want to start small by making your own cleaning agents, there are tons of resources out there for you to draw from. One great book is called “The Naturally Clean Home” by Karyn Stiegel-Maier.  Conserving the energy my family uses is also very important to me. On nice days I will hang our laundry out on the line, and we try to keep the lights off as much as possible, until they are really needed.

And lastly, homesteading really does start at home. Take a look around your house. Is there anything there that isn’t needed, or maybe is taking away valuable family time? Start to declutter. I’m not saying get rid of all your possessions.  But get rid of the unused things that are taking up space. That dead plant could easily make room for an art project one of your kids brought home. Make sure the things in your home reflect the values of your family. It’s a hard project to start, but I promise it gets easier (and dare I say more fun) as  you go along. Hold a yard sale, turn some of that clutter into spare change.

Most importantly, research is the best small step you can take. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.  Maybe all of it isn’t for you. And that’s perfectly okay. But who knows? Maybe you’ll find a whole new way of doing things that will bring  your family closer together, and closer to Nature.

Patience Is A Virtue….

8 Jul

Second Attempt at Candles and First Attempt at Soap

…That I do not possess. It’s getting aggravating to watch the housing market continue to stumble. And it’s equally aggravating waiting for that perfect house to pop onto the market.  I’ve got all these great ideas and visions in my head of our perfect homestead, and I’ve got nowhere to go with them. It moments like these when I wish I believed in playing the lottery so I could win (haha) and build my own perfect home. Or even have the cash to fix up something that is almost, but not quite there.

To keep myself from going crazy, I’ve dived into the “make your own” craze.  And you know what? It’s really fun! So far I’ve attempted my own candles. I haven’t gotten the scent to wax ratio quite right yet, but I’m getting there. I’ve got a nice looking that candle that burns great, but has no scent. But hey, practice makes perfect right? Making my own soap is next.

A word on making soap. If you look up any recipe for making soap, you can see that you’d be playing with some caustic stuff. Enough so that they suggest you wear gloves and goggles. However, if you want to avoid giving  yourself serious burns, or maybe damaging your kitchen, you can head to any craft store, where they have soap making kits. Everything is all mixed together already for you, all you have to do is melt it and mold it. And it’s pretty cheap too.  The same goes for candle making kits. They have all kinds of dyes, scents, and molds.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of opening my own farm stand one day, and I think homemade soaps, candles, and other crafts would make a great addition to the merchandise I want to sell. Considering that we will probably be down to one income in a few years, it’s probably a good idea to have some ways to bring in a few extra dollars.

But, until the day comes when I can really dig my hands in, I’ll keep playing around with what I’ve got!