Friday, March 30, 2012

The Mama's Mama

A week ago I was having a rough morning. It was the culmination of a stressful couple weeks dealing with some of my husband's work stuff, combined with the stress of keeping our fingers crossed that the rental sale would go through and it would close and we could move on with our lives in that sense, and then a neighbor's huge pile of burning garbage was the straw that broke the camel's back. I had already vented at length to my husband about the situation, and besides, he's in the middle of most of the stress too, even more so than I am for parts of it! So when I was feeling near tears just thinking about the idiots burning garbage, and the fire department not fining them for it, and, and... I called my mom.

She might not always know what to say to get me back to feeling level headed again, but she always tries, and usually succeeds. We chatted and she let me complain and complain about how unfair things were, and how things weren't right, and how it was wrong, and so on. By listening and giving good feedback, she let me see what I was really mad about (my husband's work situation) and what was just irritating but ignorable (idiot neighbors burning garbage). She let me move on with my normal day-to-day things, and feel that I still had a handle on getting to a solution that worked for the stresses in my life.

I feel very lucky that I have such a great mom who will drop whatever she's doing to talk to me about whatever random thing I want to talk to her about. So Thanks Mom, I love you :)

[PS, Dad, if you're reading this, thanks for letting me use these pictures of yours without asking you about it first, love you too! ;) ]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Little M's weekend fashion show

Over the weekend I went through Little M's closet, pulling all the almost-too-small 18 month clothes out, and putting all the still-a-bit-too-big 24 month old clothes in. She had a ball trying on a bunch of the too-big outfits, so I pulled the camera out and kept it handy throughout the weekend through several outfit changes... I'm sharing them on here this week mostly for my parent's enjoyment - they normally have only dial-up internet which means they can't see the pictures on here, but this week they are traveling in the southwest and I expect they will have high speed internet at most of their accommodations.

Living across the continent & in a different country means they don't get to see Little M much in person, and having slower-than-molasses dial-up means we can't skype or share pictures via facebook. We make do, but I sure do wish they would join the 21st century soon ;) In the meantime though, they catch up on pictures when they visit my little sister in Ottawa, we talk on the phone once every week or two, and we email shrunken-down photos back and forth every so often. So with that, here are the photos!
A suitable outfit for this time of year - nice dark colors

Yeah mud & snow & dirt!

Trying on a way too big dress...

Complete with hidden zebra tights and fuzzy slippers...

Not to mention a striped beret & flower fairy headband
We decided to go outside, so took the dress off and got on a more suitable pullover, but got sidetracked playing with blankets

And then started playing hide and seek behind the beret...

Where is she?
There she is!

Then we got ready for outside... complete with a still-too-big rain jacket previously loved by her cousin J

And white socks and sandals from grammy... yeah, not so practical for our way of life...

We found some rocks & dirt

And watched Lily race around us

Love that little girl!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Our Weekend & Spring Seedling Progress

Well, it was a warm and mostly sunny weekend here, and man did we enjoy it or what! Little M and I did all sorts of fun chores outside, and kept our time inside to a minimum. First we raked up the winter's worth of bark chunks and sawdust from the carport/woodshed area, pitched them into the back of the truck, and took a full load of them down into the burn pile area in the lower field.
Ahh... all raked out and ready for more wood to be split and stacked!

One evening last week, a work friend of my husband's was over with his family to help us prune our orchard trees and have supper, we had a whole mess of twigs and branches on the ground under the orchard trees. We had managed to get all the branches piled up, so during one of Little M's naps I filled the truck bed with branches and took two loads of them down to the burn pile too.

Normally we put the bark chips and orchard trimmings in a pile area across the creek to decompose on their own back to nature, but when we took the first load down there I realized there was still a couple feet of snow on the pile, plus a big snowbank at the edge of the road... So that was a big no-go! Oh well, I guess we'll burn them and not compost them this year!

I also moved the seedlings around under the grow light so that instead of having a plastic cover over them, they have a plastic tray under them so that they can stay a bit more moist. Little M of course kept a close eye on the proceedings. We've got some Kale sprouts, some peppers, lots of onions, a bunch of cilantro, and just yesterday some marigolds coming up too.

This week I'll likely start the tomatoes, some more Kale, and hopefully more peppers will have sprouted on top of the freezer. I'm really hoping that by next weekend we'll be down in the garden doing a bit of prep work! The snow was melting really fast over the weekend with the warm sun, but there were only a few patches melted through down in the garden, the majority of the garden still had a half foot to a foot of snow on it...

In terms of other chores we did, we also raked a bunch of weeds from the side field that got a bit out of hand last summer after the riding lawn mower died. Hopefully we'll get it back up and running soon so that I'm not attempting to use the push mower on our couple acres of fields! As Little M wandered here and there, often after whichever dog I had out with us, I meandered along after her, thinking about our long term plans for the property...

Last week Little M and I went over to a coworkers house, to see one of his ewes, who had given birth a couple days earlier. She had two 3 day old lambs, and there was a hour and a half old new lamb freshly birthed by his other lamb. My coworker and his wife have a really lovely set up, 2 donkeys, 2 ewes (and now 3 baby lambs), a flock of chickens, and in the summer, a nice garden. Not to mention their cute little house that they've been slowly remodelling. All on just an acre! It really made me stop and think about how much potential we've got here on our 3ish acres of farmable land! Ah dreams for the future! :) I hope you all had a great weekend, and that your garden seedlings are coming along as nicely as mine are!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Peek at my week

Ok, so these are actually photos from last week and weekend, but the amount of clutter everywhere hasn't seemed to go away, so although the areas might be different this week, this is basically what I've been wading through this week. I find it so funny that some days I can look around and feel that I've gotten a handle on the clutter in our home, and then not even a week goes by and all of a sudden it is out of control... At least we are working on controlling the clutter, with a combination of better storage solutions and boxes to fill to give away :)

Little M's closet part way through her makeover, hopefully more details to come after this weekend!

pile of clean clothes on the spare bed, Remi covered with a blanket and being served tea!
Contents of Little M's closet spread over the spare room, along with boxes of outgrown baby clothes & other items
Whew. Looking back at these piles makes me glad I'm started down the path of dealing with them! As of last night I had 3 boxes worth of things to give away sitting in the spare room. And if my husband manages to convince me we don't need to keep all of Little M's outgrown clothes in case we have another girl next time, well then there might be a heck of a lot more boxes to add to that give-away pile! Ah... spring organizing!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

and more snow...

Well, after a busy weekend filled too full with trying to get Little M's new closet system built and installed before my father-in-law came to visit for a couple days, I'm rather behind on a number of things. Like cleaning the bathroom before he arrives (not gonna happen!), and doing anything about the large pile (ahem, HUGE pile?) of boxes and things between the end of the bed and the wall in the spare room. Oh, and blogging!

I was hoping to have a great before and after post to share yesterday about how Little M's closet went from packed disaster to organized and pretty, but it just didn't quite happen. Don't get me wrong, the closet is looking very organized, but the shelf I built for the middle of her closet isn't all the way installed, and definitely isn't painted. I just had to get all of her clothes and things off of the bed in the spare room, so I started filling her new shelves up! I figure next weekend I'll have some time to pull everything out, properly install the unit, and get started on painting.

There was also a little incident with some of my pepper starts falling off the top of the freezer at 10:30 one night when I was trying to use up some of our ridiculous number of eggs... so Little M and I spent some time reseeding our hot pepper plants, as well as some time starting seeds for Marigolds and Kale (not on my original list but I saw these White Russian Kale seeds which came highly recommended for picky young eaters and couldn't say no).

Oh, and it's snowing again! After getting 3-4 inches as measured on our back deck on Saturday morning, its now coming down thick again. I am getting rather tired of switching the carseat back and forth between my car (front wheel drive & non-studded tires = no steep hills in the winter) and the jeep (gas guzzler and stinky hunting rig, but does great under almost all snow conditions! 8"+ of unplowed snow on hills sometimes causes problems though!).

I'm so ready to be out in the garden doing this:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pinterest inspired challenge - wall art for Little M!

So months and months ago, back when I was just starting to get hooked into Pinterest, I found and pinned a cute little kids name wall art piece that I thought I could easily replicate for Little M. I found my inspiration at this cute little shop called Penny Paper Co.

Well, as it turned out, I didn't find it quite so easy to recreate this in any of the programs I typically use, since I don't have any real drawing or designing programs. Then I realized that it might be easier to do in powerpoint. And after a while longer than I really had to devote to it, and longer than I planned to spend on something so seemingly simple, I was done! I think it turned out fairly nice, and looked even better once matted and in a frame on her wall.

I'm linking up to Young House Love's Pinterest Inspired Challenge. There are lots and lots of great projects over there, so head on over and check some of them out!


At first I wasn't sure if I had anything to write about today. Then I realized that I did: patience. I'm not a very patient person by nature. But I seem to be doing a lot of waiting lately. Mind you, I've been keeping myself very busy with lots of other things, but there are a number of things I've just had to wait on. Its a balancing act for me, between the waiting and the keeping busy. I don't want to be focused so much on waiting for things in the future that I miss out on the present, but I also don't want to be focused so much on the present that I miss out on opportunities to get to the things in the future I'm waiting for.

I've kind of solved the problem a bit by making sure I make long term plans for where I want to be in 5 years, 3 years, 1 year, and 6 months, and by making sure every six months or less I review those plans. And by setting yearly goals and monthly goals that seem right at the time yet also correspond to my long term plans. I've been working the past couple months to improve how I translate my monthly goals to weekly goals so that, with my busy schedule, I still manage to get done what I want and need to get done weekly to make those monthly goals.

I bring up my goals because I've found that when there is something I could fall into the impatient trap about, it helps me to see it out in the future on my goals list, or on my long term plans list. For example our rental house. We've been trying to sell it off and on for almost 3 years. Now we've accepted an offer and are waiting for it to close. We've been here before. A part of me wants to jump forward in time to the end of April to get to the place where we either have all that mortgage & sale stuff done and set, or know that it fell through. But I know that by jumping forward, or only focusing on that place in the future, I would miss out on all sorts of things in the next month and a half.

So I make sure 'selling the rental house' is on my plan & goal lists. Good, there it is. On my long term plan list it's under my 6 month plans, so we're doing good there. Its also under my financial goals section of my 2012 goals, so we're doing good there too. On my monthly goals, which we set before we had the increased interest in the house, I didn't even have 'accept an offer on the rental house', so we're doing great there. I likely should add something to my monthly list along the lines of 'keep the house sale moving along to closing', which would remind me to put items on my weekly list such as 'submit the report from the home inspection fixes we did last fall' (which actually is currently on my weekly list).

If I was just doing items that related to the sale of the rental, then I would worry that I was missing the here and now, and just focusing on the future and struggling with my impatience. But since I know from looking at my weekly goals list that I've got several non-sale related items on there, and since I know my days are filled with non-sale related items too, I can remember to relax a bit and know that I'm managing to wait without just sitting around being impatient :) I know in my heart that the good things in life come from letting go and letting things happen as they will, but sometimes in my head I have to do a bit of fighting with feelings of impatience and eagerness before I get to that calm state where I let go and see what comes, while still making sure things get done as they need to, to allow good things to come. My to do lists help me with that :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The good & the bad

As the weekend draws to a close, I'm feeling a bit unsettled. A bit aimless. A bit scrambly, as in scrambling to stay on top of a stack of marbles that really don't want to stay in a nice little pile. Yup, I think I just made that there word up. Scrambly. But as I say it over in my mind, roll it over my tongue, I think it fits really well with how I feel.

This weekend we accepted a (counter) offer on our rental house. Still some contingencies to be met, same buyer as last fall, closing in late April - if the buyer's house sells this time. After the last minute falling through of that deal last fall, I'm not very eager to get all excited. To be honest, I just want to skip forward to the closing date and see how things are sitting.

But there are things we need to do to keep the deal going - I need to write up the actions we took as a result of the buyer's home inspection last fall and send the write-up in. We also need to figure out what we will do with the seller mortgage on our current home when the rental closes: attempt to get a 15 year mortgage or stay with the so-few-years-left-to-almost-be-scary seller agreement on our current home. And so many of these decisions could go either way dependent on this crazy situation that is going on with my husband's work. Which of course has been going on for months and I really can't say any more than that due to the situation.

But really, accepting this offer is a good thing. And so to is the brand new baby that my cousin back in Ottawa had last week. Little Z. And I'm going to have to figure out how to type those fancy little dots over letters, because cute Little Z (and I assure you, she is the cutest!) has two! Mother and baby, and father too I hear, are all doing well. Not getting much sleep, but I'm sure that doesn't come as a shock to any of you who have had newborns and young children! I can't wait to see her in person, but we won't be back there until the fall. I'm sure Little Z will enjoy Little M so much more at 6 months though compared to now!

On the bad side of things, my husband's cousin's wife found out recently that she'd had a miscarriage and they lost their to-be-second baby. And then her brother's wife gave birth and the little one had to be transported to a different hospital and although it seems she is stable now, she had some trouble breathing and things were close for a bit. Our thoughts are with them, to help them heal and strengthen the bonds that hold them together. Their side of the family has had a string of hard times lately, and I just hope that they move past these and maintain the positive & loving attitude that my limited interactions with them has shown me that they have, even throughout these times.

It's hard to hear about things like this and not want, heck need, to hold Little M close. To keep my fingers crossed that when things work out in our work-drama-filled lives right now and we can start trying for another baby, we will find that road easy and not have to go through the hardships that my husband's cousin's family is going through right now. I wouldn't wish their struggles on anyone, least of all them, but the little glimpses I get of them and their strength as they move through it makes me feel not so alone in dealing with our struggles, although ours are of an entirely different sort, and gives me the courage to keep being strong. After all, if they can be strong dealing with that, then we can be strong dealing with this. Strong and scrambly. All at the same time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Planting seeds (with Little M)

Over the past week and a half I've planted peppers (March 1st), and onions (March 6th). The peppers I got started on a beautiful sunny Wednesday afternoon after work and right before picking M up from daycare. I started 3 varieties I grew last year - Golden Treasure, Chocolate Beauty, both from Seed Savers, and Marconi Rosso from a friend at work. Unable to resist the pull of new seed packets, I also started one new one, a combo packet - Hot Pepper Combo, from Irish Eyes.

Like last year, I have them sitting up on top of the fridge & freezer, centered over the warmest spot. I can see a couple that look like they have germinated, but nothing definitive popping up fresh green leaves.

The onions weren't so easily started. It was after supper on a night the mister worked, and Little M and I decided we needed something exciting to do. I'm not sure if she really realized what we were about to do, but to her, doing something on the sunporch sounded fun. Whew. Prepping seed starting mix, repotting a couple of houseplants that were rather potbound, and planting onion seeds was a challenge for her and I! Luckily we made it through, and got 4 containers of onions started - Cipollini and Walla Walla, both new packets from Irish Eyes.

I set them up on the new grow unit out of the reach of small fingers, and started getting some reused plastic containers set up over them to keep the moisture in. Then I noticed what I at first thought was a bat fly out over the eaves and towards the tree row between our property and the field next door. Mid-flight I realized that it was far too large to be a bat, it was an owl!

It was a great horned owl, sitting in one of our trees, listening for mice! I got a couple of tolerably clear shots, but it was basically dark, so it was hardly more than a silhouette. It didn't stay on the tree very long (can you see how it obviously grabbed onto a thin branch to sit on, and bent it over with its weight?) but it stayed there long enough for me to run and get my hoot flute, which of course Little M then wanted to play with.

That worked fine for me, she blew on the hoot flute and I finished setting up the light unit over the new seeds to get everything adjusted to the right level. I also put new batteries in the temperature sensor we have on the sunporch, since I hadn't bothered replacing them last time they ran out. This way we can monitor the temperature over night to make sure it isn't too cold for them out there. In fact, the next morning I wasn't very happy with a low of 48, so I might see about getting a heating pad. Or bring them inside for a little bit until they germinate. We'll see. What about you, getting any seeds started? Seen any owls lately? Have a little one running around underfoot who likes to 'help' sprinkle onion seeds & call in owls?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Americauna Eggs

On the weekend, our lone americauna lady laid her first egg! It was pale green, and on the small side. She laid it in one of the worst spots, in the corner by the way outside. The day after, she laid another, larger this time, again beside the coop exit! Likely she'll lay another one today, hopefully in one of the nest boxes this time!
Little M and I were out with the chickens yesterday afternoon, and Rooster Cogburn was getting rather friendly with several of the ladies, so hopefully in the future some of these pretty green eggs will get incubated and give us some new baby chicks! Although with 13 females right now, laying 5-6 eggs a day, I'm not sure that we need to be adding any more layers to our flock!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Our weekend

My husband normally works weekends, so from late morning until bedtime, Little M and I fend for ourselves. This means I get to be the one choosing to have the TV on or off, music playing or quiet, etc. Not to mention, I don't get time to really work on any current projects, mostly we just do the routine stuff - light cleaning, meal prep, feed/water the chickens & dogs, and some playtime.

My husband came home sick from work Saturday, and stayed home Sunday, so while he lounged around as he started to feel better Sunday afternoon, he kept an eye on Little M for a bit so I could get out of the house and work on some projects outside in the beautiful warm weather we were having. I was able to put a roosting bar up in the chicken coop, thin out some little trees in the front yard, and get the last couple door trim pieces cut. Pretty great progress I was thinking.

Then I realized that it was 4:30 on Sunday, and I hadn't started supper yet! And the house was a complete disaster, clean clothes waiting to be folded and put away, the floor needing swept, the table needing tidied up, the sunporch needing vacuumed, and Little M's toys strewn about the living room. Not to mention the kitchen wasn't quite as tidy as I would have liked either. Whoops!

I managed to get supper on the table by 6:30, and the house cleaned up while the enchilada casserole was in the oven. What a relief! I feel so much more calm and relaxed when the space around me is clutter and mess free! After supper Little M and I finished our cleaning spree, vacuuming the sunporch and getting it straightened up from my projects. No photos from the weekend, I guess we were just too busy! We did get our first blue/green americauna egg over the weekend though, which was pretty exciting! It looks so pretty next to the various shades of brown eggs! I'll try and put some pictures of the selection up later in the week :)
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