Monday, August 20, 2012

Life's a Whirlygig

It is now August 20th.

What a two months it has been.


Where do I start?

We are no longer where we were living...the landlords decided they aren't interested in landlording anymore. I do not think this is our fault; I'm pretty sure they just took advantage of the management company's failure and our situation with the lease....basically it's a long frustrating story which teaches the lesson to never ever ever rely on the goodwill of someone in authority over you, even if they insist it's what's best for everyone. We were rushed out but got out clean.

We are now 45 minutes away from just about everything we do, church, homeschooling co-op, friends, etc but we have discovered some new opportunities here that we are looking forward to (I just signed my 4 oldest up for archery!). We are back in an apartment complex, so we've lost the yard but gained a pool, we are close to a number of parks and one state park with fishing, and much closer to a larger library.

The best thing about this move is the forced downsizing. I've thought for years that we could get by and be happier with less stuff, and continued accruing more stuff. After all, we had the space to put it and maybe we'd make use of it someday! Well, this apartment, though it has the same number of bedrooms, is about 700 square feet smaller, AND it has no garage for storage and no yard. So we dumped a lot of our stuff off with Goodwill, including some large pieces furniture we weren't making good use of, got a storage unit for items like winter clothes, holiday decor, and boxes and boxes of books, and squeezed in here. I have is discovered that I like it! It is sooo much easier to clean a small place! I am so much less overwhelmed with everything I must do before everything I want to do. I don't really want a bunch more space. I do want a yard. I miss that. And I'm not saying it was easy getting rid of so much. But my dream house has shrunk down by several hundred square feet and has sooo much less stuff in it.

So. We've moved.

We also had a baby.

Meet Octavia (Tavi). (not her real name. sadly. I lobbied for it, though.)
She was born August 10th, 2012, at 1:38 am in a water tub at my midwife's birthing center. She was 10 lbs 6 oz, and my next post here will be the birth story. She is healthy and wonderful and I am healing and Supermom ;)

And now my parents and in-laws are coming at the end of the month and then school is starting (I'm starting late, wanna guess why?) and life isn't going to get any slower or less busy for a long long time.

This is my life, and I'll take it and enjoy it and be thankful forever.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Exciting week

This week did not go as planned. We have some school to catch up on! We spent all day Thursday cleaning out the garage....can that count as school? The garage looks pretty good though. We hadn't cleaned it out since we moved here, 5 years ago, and for all 5 years it was just the "dumping" ground for anything we didn't have a place for inside. I really should have taken before and after pictures, but that never occurs to me till after.

Yesterday representatives from our landlords showed up to inspect the house before they renewed the lease. This is the inspection they are supposed to do every year, but again, we have been here 5 years and this is the first time they've come. Supposedly they are in hot water with the landlords. I'm nervous; I don't know what they were expecting but we have been here for a while and when we moved here I was pregnant with number 6 and now I'm pregnant with number 8 and there is a significant bit of wear and tear on the house. My husband doesn't think it is excessive for 5 years and $55,000 paid for living here; all I can see is what I should have done better. Plus, this company has a policy of no more than 2 people per bedroom (any other large families out there find this ridiculous?) and we have passed that up by two people now. We thought they were going to bring us the new lease and have us sign it yesterday, but that didn't happen. They said they'd contact us after talking to the owners. We'll see. They should let us know soon. Well, at least if we get kicked out, it will be a lot easier to pack and leave since the garage is in such good shape. Also the rest of the house....this may be the best it's looked since we've moved here. I've been nesting quite a bit, I guess.

So anyway, after they left I had no intention of piddling around the house stressing and trying to finish doing what I thought should be done before they got here, so I loaded up my pregnant self and all 7 kids, then went to a friend's house and picked up two more kids, and went to the YMCA. Can I just mention how thankful I am for their Open Doors Scholarship? Being able to take my kids to the pool this summer, being able to float and take some pressure off of my back, the swimming lessons and Zumba and free babysitting so I can swim without having to watch my is a real gift. I will not take it for granted.

We stayed at the YMCA for about 5 hours. My friend showed up half way through and we had a good time relaxing and talking. When we got home we had one of our favorite easy meals, Chili Dogs, and watched Macgyver. (Five years ago my oldest daughter said he was the "real kind of superhero." Then I put them to bed and watched Highlander while eating brownies and ice cream. I'm pregnant, not on a diet. And I've been good. Mostly. Don't judge.

My husband has been trying to get to watch Highlander for years, and recently I was looking for something I could watch that was already over. I don't mind waiting a week for the next show but season breaks annoy me. I'm spoilt, I know. Hulu has all 6 seasons available so I am about half way through the first season.

It's interesting for me to watch. The Ninja Time Lord told me early on that, while Highlander isn't a super deep show, it is morally driven. It also has pretty people to look at and funny fashions to laugh at, and occasional fun sword fights. It's a show I can do chores during because it's not a huge deal if I look down at the towel I'm folding; unlike most of the shows made nowadays Highlander moves fairly slowly, there are whole minutes taken up with a random person walking down a hallway. No kidding. It has a bit of the 80's corniness but has the humor to poke a bit of fun at itself. This will not be a new favorite show, but I am enjoying it.

Basically, after a stressful morning I had an enjoyable stress-free fun afternoon and evening and slept until 9 am this morning. Nice.

I'm going to work on cleaning our school/craft/overflow room today...once it is done my whole house will be decluttered and neat (the mind boggles). Well, partially decluttered and neat-ish. Then maybe I'll sew and knit and paint again. I have so many cool projects to do on my pinterest I would love to get to. How cool would that be?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Me, taking the "Getting to Know Yourself" Quiz

This is from the Happiness Project website.

If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more?

Depends on who is doing the forbidding and why. I don't usually spend a lot of time thinking about forbidden things, but I am very passionate about having the right to make my own stupid decisions and the government staying out of my life as much as possible.

Is there an area of your life where you feel out of control? Especially in control?
Laundry makes me feel out of control, or at least hopeless of ever having a handle on it. I feel out of control sometimes when I think something really needs done, or I just really want to do something, but the Ninja Time Lord isn't on board with it. I'm sure he feels the same way sometimes.

If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time?
I'd probably spend a little bit of time making myself feel good by doing something I'm supposed to do, like exercising or cleaning, and then spend most of the time rewarding myself by eating brownies and dancing to way too loud music or watching tv I can't watch in front of the kids. If I'm having a really great day, instead of the tv I pull out my painting, knitting, or sewing supplies.

Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorderly environment?
I can be comfortable in a disorderly environment if I have my focus in one area: a book I'm reading, the computer, paperwork, sleeping, etc. If I'm having to move about or am jumping from task to task a disorderly environment gets under my skin and can drive me mad. (I answered this question thinking about my house...outside of my own house my frustration is directly influenced by the amount of responsibility I feel for the place. In other words, if it isn't my problem, it doesn't bother me.)

How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find?
Far, far too much. Mostly it's my kids' clothing/shoes. But at least once a week I have to go on a cleaning spree just to find a particular piece of paper or my husband's keys.

Are you motivated by competition?
A little bit. I'm more motivated by teamwork.

Do you find it easier to do things for other people than to do things for yourself?
O yes. Yep. Sure do.

Do you work constantly? or think you should be working?
No. Yes. LOL I believe that I could always do better, but I don't give myself a very hard time about it, most of the time.

Do you embrace rules or flout rules?
Yes. I'm sorry, but that is either a one word answer or a blog post of it's own. Perhaps I could say that in most instances, I embrace rules and flout convention, but I will also reject rules in favor of my own common sense.

Do you work well under pressure?

What would your perfect day look like? 
Too many options for a "special" day, so a perfect average day would look like me getting up on time, going for a walk, coming back, waking the kids, making breakfast, the morning routine getting done quickly, eating, doing the prayer and starting school on time, finishing by noon, eating lunch, doing a few chores with the kids help, and then either going to the YMCA to swim or pulling out my crafting supplies and going at it till supper time. Supper, evening routine and prayers, then playing a game or reading a book to the kids till they go to bed. My perfect day mostly consists of what we do anyway, except without the yelling, whining, or dawdling that all of us do. 

How much TV do you watch in a week (include computer time spent watching videos, movies, YouTube)?

Too much. I've actually been keeping track of this lately, trying to come up with a realistic amount to cut back. Right now, I'm watching an average of 90 minutes a day. More when the NTL is home, because I tend to watch with him, even if it's not something I would usually watch.

Are you a morning person or a night person?
If I get up early I get more done and have a better day. But it is much easier for me to stay up late than get up early.

What’s more satisfying to you: saving time or saving money?
Good question....I think saving money, because while I am very bad at it, having a bit stashed away makes me feel pretty good, and I haven't figured out a way to "stash" time.

Do you like to be in the spotlight?
Sometimes? Only for good stuff, and only if my makeup is done. LOL

Is your life “on hold” in any aspect? Until you finish your thesis, get married, lose weight?
In some ways it's on hold till I have this baby; in other ways it's on hold till we have some money saved up and some debt paid off; in other ways till we can move onto some land. I put some real effort in living life in the ways I can, right now, though.

What would you do if you had more energy?
Paint the house, decorate it more, take the kids out to the YMCA and parks more

If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it?
HAHAHAHA. I wonder how many rooms I would have to have before I would think of one as "extra?" I would love to have a dedicated craft or school room though. But, honestly, I'd rather have less stuff and a smaller house to clean.

What people and activities energize you? Make you feel depleted?
Cleaning house and never feeling like it is good enough depletes me badly. Usually hanging out with friends energizes me, but sometimes it can be a drain, if the conversation is just about "what's going on with everyone." I like dancing and singing, even though I stink at it. Exercise usually energizes me, though I rarely enjoy doing it. Pinterest and magazines and nonfictional books about my interests can inspire and energize me, so long as I don't spend too long looking at them. Writing and painting energizes me. Acting energizes me. I like gardening and knitting and sewing, but they tend to deplete me. Sex usually energizes me.

Is it hard for you to get rid of things that you no longer need or want?
No, because I tend to want everything I have! I'm getting better about it though; I want a clean uncluttered house more than I want to have that bag of dryer lint or that magazine or that pile of unused fabric. I am also learning the joy of NOT looking through boxes and bags of stuff that I haven't looked into for years before just tossing them. Sometimes I shiver to think of what I may have accidentally thrown away, but it's worth it. I haven't regretted it yet.

Do you get frustrated easily?
Seriously, do they expect the answers to these questions to be a solid 'yes' or 'no'? Of course it depends, but I believe I go into things with high expectations, get very frustrated, then breathe and re-balance and can keep going much longer and "better." So long as I don't shriek or throw things in the frustration period, it all works out okay.

On a typical night, what time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep do you get?
I go to sleep between 11 pm and 2 am on a typical night and get up between 6:30 am and 9 am. My goals are to be in bed by 10:30 pm and up by 6:30 am.

If at the end of the year, you had accomplished one thing, what is the one accomplishment that would make the biggest difference to your happiness?
It feels wrong to say anything other that "have a good delivery and a healthy baby" since I'm due in August, but while every child is an increase to my happiness I don't know how "different" it would be...does that make sense? Having a clean, organized, and somewhat decorated house I would feel okay with friends seeing would be huge. Huge, I say.

I would love to hear y'alls answers, or if anyone else recognizes themselves in my answers. Don't leave me all alone here!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I don't think this counts as fulfilling the assignment, exactly...

My 11yo daughter's writing assignment today (which she was under pressure to finish quickly):

"Imagine what the world will be like 100 years from now. Maybe you think robots will be doing our work for us, or that people will be living on the moon. What will our houses look like? What will school be like? Write a paragraph or two describing what you imagine. Be sure to use future-tense verbs."

This is what she wrote:

"Jesus will come down to erth, and all of the christians will be rebowrn on the new erth."

Happiness Project, Getting Started

I didn't make it to church this morning, because while frustratingly searching the house for any one of my girls' three combs I went into their room. And freaked.
So....I and the girls are at home, cleaning their room. Or they are while I supervise. I'm not messing with this kind of mess, especially when there is cat poop involved and I'm pregnant. Sigh.

Later today we have the first official meeting for those of interested in forming an intentional homesteading community. I'm really excited about that.

While the girls' are cleaning their room, though, I am working on starting my "Happiness Project." I think I have my "11 Priorities" figured out. 11 Priorities are the eleven most important things in my life, and I am going to focus on them, one per month, for the next year to increase my overall happiness. Bear with me, I'm really not sure if I  am doing this right.

My 11 Priorities, in no particular order, are:


Nothing there is unique, even a little. Now I'm trying to come up with 4 or 5 resolutions to support each one. Some of these are easy, like Health. Creativity, future, attitude...I'm not coming up with a lot. I'll let you know when I have this figured out.

I am also trying to come up with my personal 12 Commandments, my Laws of Christine-hood, and my Eight Auspicious Symbols of Happiness.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ignore that last post

That last post is a great example of why you shouldn't jump into things all gung-ho and without realistic expectations, and especially why you shouldn't write a blog post while at the peak of any emotion. That day got a lot better.

And...I've been ridiculously busy since then! All in good ways. May 24th was my last day of work! Woo hoo! Moving on now to a more difficult and important job: full-time homemaker and homeschooling mother.

We also found out what this new little one is: our third girl! After four boys in a row I admit I'm shocked, but very happy. This was Time Lord Ninja's reaction (He comes home from work after I am in bed and I get up before him.):
Names are going to be difficult; we had a name picked out for a boy, but we are clueless for a girl. Well, we still have 10 more weeks to go.

Homeschooling is going well, I think. It's taking us a little time to readjust; the kids aren't used to me after a year of their dad and I'm not used to everything that has to be done! I found Khan Academy the other day, wow. I'm going to start using it a lot, I think. Today I had my oldest watch a math video which explained the kind of problems he was doing...It was much more effective than knocking him upside the head and asking how he could be so dumb. I never lost my patience, he didn't get frustrated and he understood it very well. I also love love love that it is free, of course!

Today I started re-reading The Happiness Project. This time I actually going to work on my own "Happiness Project" at the same time. I think my daughter Right Hand Girl (RHG) may join me. I'm going to post a lot of the work here.

Tomorrow after church we have the first "Meeting of the Minds" with friends and acquaintances who are interested in possible forming an "intentional community" within the next 5 years. I will post about it here; I am very excited. It sounds like it may be a do-able way to have our homestead sooner rather than later, and without having to be so "on our own" and an hour away from all of our friends. We'll see.

So these are the things I am currently planning on using this blog for: life journal, homeschooling/crafting/cooking reports, happiness project, and our baby steps toward having our own homestead/intentional community. I'm not promising that is all that will be here, or that all of that will be here, I'm discovering this as much as anyone else! If you are reading this, thank you! Be sure to say 'hi' and add me to your reader!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Less than 24 hours later I want to crawl into a hole and die.

I don't know if making this house a home is possible. I don't know if it's possible with these kids. I asked Rambo Bug Boy (RBB) to wipe out the inside of a gross kitchen drawer for me, using a damp warm sponge. I took the drawer out and set it on the ground so that he wouldn't lean on it and break it. He turned it over and stepped on it, and of course his foot went straight through the bottom. He wasn't being bad; he thought the drawer would support his weight. I can't even tell you how many things in this house are messed up because apparently it never occurs to ANY of my kids that they aren't for jumping/hanging/standing on. Doors, drawers, cabinets, couches, bookshelves, chairs...I tell them, consistently, but they don't get it. Is that normal?

So another kitchen drawer is broken and useless. In addition to most of the pantry shelves, the baking cabinet shelves, and all of the lower cabinet doors, which hang crooked. I've got to be doing something wrong that my kids still think this house is indestructible. That and they've got to be dumb as posts to not have figured it out yet themselves. After all, it keeps breaking.

Now they are all in the van waiting for me to take them to breakfast and a park. The plan was to take them to the farmers market, then swimming, then Costcos, but that's not going to happen. We got up too late for the market, it's too cold to swim, and without breakfast I'm not going to risk Costcos.

I want to send them all away for a month and work on the house the whole time they are gone. That's the only way I can see accomplishing anything. After all, what good are babysteps forward with all around you everything is taking great leaps backward?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Disappointment to Re-motivation


This is not what I was hoping to type today.

That house, the mini homestead, isn't going to work out. Even though we know we can afford it, the landlord isn't convinced, and we really can't blame him. We look awful on paper, and it isn't unusual for us to wonder how we are making it ourselves.

Anyhow, we won't be moving this year. I allowed myself to be thoroughly depressed for two days. I'd really set my heart on moving. I'd really swallowed my friend's assurances that her landlord would totally go for this idea. I'd spent a lot of time thinking about how we were going to set up the new house, what we were going to do with the land, getting excited about getting rid of so much of our stuff... I should stop typing this now because I might get all depressed again. I don't have time for that.

So here we are. In this epitome of wasted space and inefficient energy use, with 15 year old smelly torn up carpeting, broken window screens/doors/garbage disposal/garage door, and ugly unwashable wall colors. Filled to the brim with junk we've collected, thinking "this" would be the item which would finally turn this "temporary shelter" into a "home." Yep. I'm depressed again. Give me a few minutes to regain my motivation. Again. Re-re-gain?

A big part of the reason I wanted to move was so I didn't have to face this place again. I could start from scratch. That's not going to happen, so what is going to happen, is I'm tackling this place. We've been here 5 years and I've only sporadically tried to make it "home" because I kept thinking we were going to move. I still think we will move soon, but I'm not going to live like this anymore. Getting this place nice is going to be a huge job. Huge. And some things I simply won't be able to do (ie: carpets). But I'm going to start treating this place like people I love live here. 'Cause they do, and I've been cheating them of my best homemaking by putting it all into my dreams and pinterest boards. My son was 7 years old when we moved here, and now he's 12. That's a HUGE chunk of the time he will be spending with us, and what have I been teaching him and his siblings? That they don't deserve a home unless it's MY dream home.


Enough. The garage door will get fixed. Walls will get washed/painted. Stuff will be tossed, lots and lots of stuff. Pictures will be hung, cobwebs swept, and I'm going to look into painting my own drop cloths and using them to cover up the carpets. Also...I'm thinking rabbits. We can't have chickens here, but meat rabbit hutches should be do-able in the back yard. Container gardening, since digging up the yard doesn't work so well here. Little bits at a time, no biting off more than I can chew. I can't, shouldn't, won't spend a lot of money on this place, but a little here and there will be worth while. Maybe someday I can actually have friends over again.

Meanwhile, I will also be saving up for our bit of land, someday.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Incremental Steps (Still Scary)

When I first decided to do a blog about "achieving our homesteading dreams" I was working on coming up with a 3 to 5 year plan: saving money, paying off debts, working together with like-minded friends, and culminating in a 5-10 acre tract of land on which we built our own straw-bale home. That still may be what happens. However, before I even wrote my first post, an unexpected opportunity was offered to us. A friend of a friend has been renting-to-own for the past 3 years, but circumstances are forcing her out of the house and off the land. She offered us all of her built up equity, if we would just move in a take over the payments. We just had to decided in about 4 days. This is not our dream home/land she is offering us on a platter (house is a bit too small, land is a bit too small, we are a bit unprepared timing-wise) but there are a lot of advantages to consider. We would be out of this house, which we have rented for 5 years, in the middle of a very suburban subdivision with a small yard and difficult neighbors. We could have farm animals and a large garden on the offered 1.5 acres. It would be cheaper to live there, provided, of course, that you aren't counting the cost of a large garden and more animals. I just sent the application off to the landlord. I'm nervous, but it will be okay, whatever happens. We'll either stay here and continue with our initial plan, or take an unexpected step both toward and off-set from our dreams. LOL Life is funny. Let's see how this ride goes.