I have been doing some thinking lately about this blog space. It is one I'd like to keep up, because it is sort of the only catch-all that I have left for thoughts and photographs and documenting the kids hallmarks and milestones, etc... It also serves as a portfolio for the handwork & art projects I do manage to finish, believe me, they are few and far between these days. And apparently, the free crochet headband pattern I posted WAY back is still a hoppin' source of pinterest traffic, which is funny, because I'd never before written a crochet pattern and haven't since. It is also a nice way to relay pictures and life-going on to far away family (or close by family when busy schedules don't allow time for visiting). So, in short, I don't want to quit on bloggin' but something has been troubling me about it lately. I don't want this space to make other moms or DIYers or human beings in general to feel inadequate, or like their own life doesn't somehow measure up. In the last couple of months I've had two different mom friends ask me how I do it all. The truth is I don't. Nobody does. This blog is a place where I like to post picturesque snapshots of our life, or moments that make me feel proud and joyful, but in no way does it represent our WHOLE lives. So in the spirit of blog transparency, and using social media to promote an honest picture of things, here are ten things about my life that I bet you would never guess from reading this blog.
1. I totally slacked off at gardening this year. There were many reasons, the main one being chicken containment issues. Did you know chickens will eat your entire garden? They will. Pshaw... here in Southcentral Alaska it is usually a moose that terminates your cole crops, but for us it was the cluckers. We did what we could, and we were able to eat out of the garden all summer but the only thing I put up in the freezer were raspberries. It was my goal to have a ton of frozen and canned veggies for this winter, but alas, it was never meant to be.
2. Speaking of chickens, we decided to take on a flock of 30 meat chickens in addition to our 13 laying hens and one two roosters. I'm not gonna lie, I'm not feeling the love for the meat chickens. They are smelly, destructive, agressive, and not growing nearly fast enough to make them financially worth while. We decided to raise Red Rangers because they are good foragers and don't have the leg problems that Cornish Cross breeds do. Those two things have proven to be true, but at 12 weeks they are barely big enough to be a decent sized meal, so we keep having to put off butchering till they are bigger, and now we are fighting the cold temperatures. I think it's a good thing to be able to raise your own food, but we are going to have to rethink this whole process before we try chickens again. Maybe for now it's better to stick with moose and salmon and fresh eggs.
3. Another reason my homesteading skills have been seriously sucking it up this summer is that I have been recovering from an exhaustion related hormonal imbalance (something akin to adrenal fatigue) that started this winter. Actually, it probably had been fomenting for quite a while. Four straight years of pregnancy and nursing and not sleeping (neither one of my kids became a good sleeper until they quit nursing) doesn't exactly do wonders for the body. The kids caught a couple bad tummy bugs last winter and the total misery and exhaustion from dealing with the last week of that while single parenting was the straw that broke the camel's back. I seriously thought I was dying or suffering from an auto-immune disorder. It seemed to get better in early spring, but then it got bad again in May-June when I stopped breastfeeding Eli. I sort of had the equivalent of really bad post-partum depression two years after having a baby complete with panic attacks, heart irregularities and vertigo. Thanks to some strict medical orders to take some personal time and do things that are restorative, a vitamin and herb regimen and two months of regular acupuncture treatments I am almost feeling like a human again. I'm putting this out there in case another panicked, exhausted mom stumbles across this. I want you to feel hopeful, and encourage you to seek some alternative health support. I can't even say enough good things about acupuncture. I was a skeptic, but now I'm a believer. Sleep helps too. I'm so thankful that both my kids are now sleeping through the night. That alone feels like a small miracle.
4. This coming October marks a year of me being gluten free. Just in the last month or two I feel like I have finally gotten over the grieving process. That sounds so melodramatic, I know... but gluten was pretty much the base of so many of the comfort foods I grew up with. So while my taste buds had happily settled into a gluten free diet many months ago, my emotions still had to give up the ghost. One thing that was the hardest was the ritual of baking bread. I have so many happy memories of doing that with my mom, so I have decided to continue that tradition with my own kids, I just can't eat the results. And finally, I feel at peace with that.
5. Along the same line of thought, I got into a serious food funk earlier this summer. I think the combination of never sitting down to a family dinner (Loren has to work late and long hours in the summer) and Sadie going through this super fussy complain about everything on her plate phase, while Eli just managed to constantly spill or dump his food out just left me totally fried, no pun intended. I really have to thank our friends Jeff & Laura, who stayed with us while waiting for their baby to be born, for re-inspiring me to get back into cooking with joy. It was really a pleasure to sit down and enjoy meals with other adults and also to have a break from cooking some of the time & try food prepared with a fresh perspective. I feel like now I can tackle the cooking part of my home-maker duties with more purpose and peace. And lo-and-behold the kids are eating the food I cook again. Just goes to show, love really is the secret ingredient.
6. After two years of living in this amazing house here in Palmer I am beginning to understand the curse of too much space. Can I just #firstworldproblems myself here? But seriously, I feel like one or two more families should be living in our house. All three of us still sleep in one of the downstairs bedrooms, in spite of my attempts to create a big-girl room for Sadie. She does hang out in there during the day, but at night she still sleeps in toddler bed next to us. People told us when we began this journey of co-sleeping that the kids would never leave our bed. People were right. That said, some nights snuggling up to the sweetest little sleeping angels in the world is the only thing that redeems the utter chaos of the day. It is a fleeting part of small children that will never come back. I have no regrets at all. I just think we should have bought a one room cabin on 40 acres. Maybe we need to find some awesome room mates, or rent out our basement to an amazing non-profit, or something.
7. Secretly, I keep hoping someone(s) from my family will move up here. One of the hardest things about having a hobby farm/ dogs/ tight budget/ small children is that it makes traveling really, really challenging. Also, being a homebody doesn't help. I pretty much never go anywhere now. I'm totally okay with that except that I know it bugs my husband, and I miss the heck out of my big crazy family--especially now that my siblings and besties also have kids of their own. I wish we could let all our wild bebbies run nekked together in the yard, with the chickens and dog and just drink a margarita and chill--in between the mandatory conversation punctuation marks like, "Don't put that in your mouth!" and "Stop tying string around your cousin!" and so forth.
8. My to do list is so long. As I write this I have two sheetrock repair jobs, one leaking toilet, one that wont stop running, a laundry room sink that Eli ripped out of the wall (holy crap! Can I just say it is impossible to child-proof a house from a kid like Eli?) Rooms that need painted, furniture that needs built to store and sort and streamline our daily activities and the list goes on. The thing is I LIKE doing house repair projects like this, but they are so, so hard to do with small people in tow. Someday, someday.... maybe when the kids start school. I hope the floor under the leaking toilet doesn't rot out and fall into the basement in the meanwhile.
9. I sometimes flirt with the idea of going back to work. Then I realize I'd still have to do all THIS^ with a full time job. But working and getting an actual paycheck?! I miss that. I miss having reasonably priced health insurance, adult conversations and a feeling of purposefulness, an organized schedule... a moment to drink a cup of coffee and complete a thought without....wait a minute.... my career is teaching, so never mind. Sometimes I really wish motherhood came with a prep period though.
10. Sometimes It is hard for me to relate to my kids. I love them so very much, but there are times, when Eli is throwing the umpteenth tantrum because Sadie did something kind of mean to him, that I just feel like checking out. Sometimes I yell--but I'm trying really hard not to do that. It doesn't really serve a purpose, and it makes us all feel stressed out, but still. No parents are perfect. Spending all day with small children is hard. It is actually a wonder that my head doesn't explode nearly every single day. But it doesn't. And each day I get up and do it all again, and that is a gift... a funny gift that I don't always understand the magnitude of until after the fact.
Life is messy, life is beautiful, life is perfect with is rough edges and spills and flaws. Please don't mind me if I still post pictures of my awesome home-made sriracha sauce, or rave on about my amazing kids. Of course, those things are real and wonderful parts of life, but just know that in the time it took me to write that blog post one of my amazing kids has probably fed said sriracha to my dog and I will be dealing with the aftermath for the next little while. Please be in peace about your own journey of motherhood, or person-hood or whatever it is you got going on. Comparisons are the bane of our social-media generation. Any time you feel like keeping it real--feel free to show up at my place and get a healthy dose of the bigger picture.