Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New House: Month One

We moved into our first home one month ago.

It's a nice little home for our family.  We chose a home well-within our current means with the idea of not taking 30 years to pay it off.  Also, with the idea that, since we finally have a real income, we'd like to be able to have some of that income available to make plans with and do things along the way to paying off the mortgage as well.  

That said--the home is a bit of a fixer-upper.  It's totally livable and we are so happy to have it.  We just also have lots of ideas for improving it.  

The project that I din't think would be first, but ended up being first, was some stripey wallpaper in the extra room.  

On day two, Jeremy said, "That's gonna be the first thing to go!" 

I was surprised, as I never dreamt of keeping the wallpaper, but hadn't realized it bothered him so much.  

On night three Owen was sitting in the reading chair in that room and said, "It's making me dizzy." And truth be told, it was sort of like one of those mind bender puzzles, "look at the dot in the center and watch as the outside begins to appear to swirling around the center point like a washing machine!"

So right then and there I started peeling off the wallpaper.  It took two nights and left a completely unfinished, unplastered, drywall with joint-compounded-seams wall. After a few days I searched the shelves in the garage and came up with some beige paint plus primer, and started painting.  

It looks much better now--in that "different colored accent wall" kind of way.  And it's perfect for waiting out further plans.

Then I tried hanging up our flower alphabet cards (as this is our "dining-turned-computer/school/reading room off of the kitchen), but since living in Texas requires ceiling fans running at full blast, half the cards fell down by the end of the first day.  It's now been two weeks and the rest have stayed put, so. . . apparently I need to come up with a plan to get the first ones back on the wall.

But the wallpaper removal and painting are all we have done so far inside the house.  We've done a lot more outside the house, though.

We have a 1/3 acre lot.

That's one of the reasons we bought an older house as well.  Newer houses are on much smaller lots, and have HOA's--Bleh!

The lot was one of the most important factors in choosing a house for us.  And we ended up finding a home on a third acre, mostly open lot.

After watching the neighborhood hummingbirds fight over our feeder of imitation nectar, we figured we could put in an actual pollinator garden for them.

This is the beginnings of that (with cardboard mulch to kill the grass) and I have already seen a hummingbird at that tall one in the center with the small orange flowers!

Speaking of killing grass. . . I layed out three beds for raised garden space.  It's time to be planting already, but I have plenty of experience with fall gardening and season-extending, so I'm not worried about it yet--just being patient.

This is the beginnings of our permaculture swale and berm food forest.  (More on that another day.) Jeremy and I placed our first order from a Texas nursery for trees and other edible perennials last week during a free shipping sale, but they won't come until planting season--probably November.

And this is the beginning of a homemade play structure.  We kind of planned something out, and Jeremy went and bought the wood, but came home with a bit of sticker shock.  So we looked up the cheapest play structure on Walmart.com and proved to ourselves that we were indeed doing it significantly cheaper as a DIY.  

The plan is to erect it under this oak tree, so that it is not really a "tree fort" but a fort up under the canopy of the tree--still fun?  We hope so. 

And those are our accomplishments of month one as homeowners. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Day I Learned to Not Resent Doing Dishes

Housekeeping is not my strongest suit.  I love being a homemaker and stay-at-home mom--but housekeeping is a struggle for me.

Dishes, in particular, have been my least favorite task. (One of the problems is that I love to cook, but make a big mess doing so.)  Jeremy and I have had a loose agreement since getting married that dishes were going to be "his job".   The problem is--dishes aren't really his strong point either.

Me, in an apron.  (For making, not cleaning!)
I remember one time early in our marriage my dad came to visit us in our 7 foot high basement apartment with one small sink in the kitchen, and (if my memory is correct) he literally spent multiple days doing dishes to get us caught up.  (Without a hint of disappointment in me--which was the greater service?)  And over the years there have been multiple occasions where a good friend would help me work on dishes when she came over to hang out.

The thing is, I always felt like dishes were my responsibility.  So in the same breath as asking Jeremy to take care of the dishes I would claim responsibility for them.  Because "everyone knows that dishes are a woman's job."  Jeremy was not saying this, nor did he believe it, but I was telling myself it.  So I would sulk and moan over the dishes, and resent the time I spent working on them.

Until one night, while in the midst of a pile of dishes I was pondering my resentful feelings and pondering my responsibilities in our home and the words of The Proclamation to the World on the Family came to my mind:

"Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."

That's what it says.  It doesn't say, 'and that means women do all the housework and change all the poopy baby diapers.'  In fact in terms of physically caring for our households the proclamation speaks of both parents:

"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live." 

And further notes to do so in unity and equality:

"In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

And it hit me and sunk in--Doing the dishes is not my "responsibility" as the woman in the home.  It's just not.  And for anyone that thinks, from a cultural standpoint--as I used to--that "yeah, but it really is," is wrong.

When I die and stand before the judgement bar, I will not be asked if I faithfully washed all my family's dishes.  

That moment changed my outlook on doing dishes.   I no longer work on dishes resenting the cultural mandate that it is my responsibility.  I know it is not my responsibility, and when I work on the dishes, it is as a service to my family.  It's as a service to my husband.  It is as an opportunity for me to help make our home the environment we want for our family, but it is not because dishes are the "woman's job".  

Dishes are still "Jeremy's job", but since that day I've chosen to do this dishes much more frequently than before.  I feel a greater sense of satisfaction when I work on the dishes.  And I'm grateful for the knowledge of what my responsibilities as a woman and a mother truly are.  

It's the twentieth anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and there's no denying that the topics were revelatory for this current issues of this generation, and I believe the doctrines were as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


We're visiting my sister in southwest Washington--checking on the job market, among other things--and we are once again enjoying blueberry season with her family.

The season is just ramping up with lot's of unripe berries covering her bushes.

Along with plenty of ripe ones as well.

It's a part of our daily rhythm here to spend a few minutes every day walking down her row of bushes scanning for the pops of blue.

Even Rory.

Yep, he can spot the berries, and if we don't pick them fast enough for him he lunges out of our arms to get them himself!

He wolfs them down so quickly I doubt he's chewing them.  And he makes sounds that make me think of the tremendous mouthful little bear eats in Blueberries for Sal.

I also feel strange security knowing that If I was to loose little Rory in the woods he could feed himself to stay alive until he was rescued!

Just kidding.

But some days we pick colanders full of berries and make all the delicious blueberry things we can think of: blueberry muffins and pancakes, blueberry pie and cobbler, plenty of blueberry jam.  And a new one this year--blueberry cream cheese!

Sometimes I forget that anything I've eaten as a processed food from the grocery store will invariably taste more delicious than imaginable when recreated with fresh ingredients at home.

(Move over little silver plastic tub--here comes the real deal!)

The homemade blueberry cream cheese my brother-in-law made was a delicious hit, and a perfect match for Jeremy's homemade bagels.  (It's true my sister and I both scored in the husband department!)

Blueberries every day.

Can you blame us for wanting to move here?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Try Again

Obviously there was a hiccup in the video as originally posted in the last blog.  The soundtrack took over the video!!!

Here's the fixed version:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Moving the Bee Colony --Video Blog

Like a love-crazed fool I dreamed we might just be able to move the colony of bees across the country with us somehow. 

Commercial colonies get moved all the time.  --We even saw a bee-transport truck when we were on our road-trip for spring break.

(Buzz Buzz)

But of course while I was trying to convince myself of the legitimacy of my plan national news broke with the story of a bee transport fiasco!

So I had to downsize my plan and come up with "plan B".

I lay out my plan here in video blog #3:

Here's the link to the source of the plans I consulted.
*   *   *   *   *

In the end we went with "plan C".  We sold the entire colony to some friends.  I didn't want to weaken the colony by removing a nucleus colony, and then have the remaining colony die on our friends.  It was a really strong colony and probably would have been fine.  But I didn't want to lessen the chances of our friends being successful in beekeeping. 

It was a really difficult thing to do emotionally.  Just feeling like I was giving up something really important in my life, and--most significantly--that I don't know when I will be able to get started with again.

In the end "plan C" was just about as crazy as plan A--it still involved moving a full colony of bees.  

They sell all kinds of fancy equipment for moving bees.  We didn't buy any of it.  We did it our own crazy, cheap way.  

 We waited until night after dark, when the bees were all hopefully in from foraging.  Luckily it wasn't too warm and the bees were not bearding much.

So we stuffed the entrance with a cloth.

Then we separated the super from the brood boxes and wrapped the bottom of the super and top of the brood boxes with packing paper.

(Very quickly trying to not let out all the bees!)

Then we loaded them into our van, and drove them away.  The top super was full of honey, so it weighed as much as the two brood boxes together.  

We got to our friends' house.  Unloaded it, set it up, added the second super.  Instant honey-factory!

It was way more complicated than that!

I had a wardrobe malfunction (user-error) and ended up running around with bees in my hair!  I was swatting at my ponytail with my hive tool trying to remove the rubber band without using my fingers and getting stung.  Also, trying to not scream and freak out the friends who were going to be taking over bee-duty! (We had told them "It's sooo easy!")

And then it was over.  Our bees were no longer ours.


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