05 February 2013

A Step in the Right Direction

We have been living in this big, beautiful house on 5 acres for about 9 months now.
During the summer and fall, it was amaaaazing. We had a big, beautiful, productive garden. Nick had a beautiful office.
The kids have thrived in the homesteading life.
But the winter months have proven to us how excessive this space is for one family plus one grandmother. When we moved in, we dreamed of having another family live here with us to share the 5400 square feet, or to finish the basement and use it as WWOOFer accommodations and a yoga studio. However, Nick works a hard 15-20 hours a week work trade towards rent for us to be able to live here, and I work three days a week, so we haven't been left with much spare time to grow in the directions we would like to grow. We knew that leaving this place would mean we had found something even better for us, and we have. I am excited to announce that next month, we are moving to Hopewell, OR to be the caretakers at Bella Vie Gentle Birth Center. You know you love your job when you jump at the chance to move in as soon as the position opens up! I am looking forward to having my family close by while I'm at work. I'm looking forward to walking home for dinner, and walking back to teach my natural childbirth classes. Most of all, I'm looking forward to having more Nick in my life! We are better when we are able to spend more time together. Bella Vie comes with a built-in community of amazing people and families, and we are excited to provide more opportunities for these alternatively minded folks to meet up. It also so happens that the caretaker residence is in need of serious improvements, and we are exploring our options to possibly replace the current house with an energy efficient straw bale house. Ahhhh, our dreams of a natural home might eventuate this year. Life is so good.

17 July 2012

We're back, baby!!

Sooooo...... WE HAVE THE INTERNET!! It is exciting to have this connectivity after a year of not having the internet at home.

So what's new? We moved. We're not building our cob house anymore, although we are looking forward to a cob pizza oven project later this summer. I'm working as an office manager at a lovely country birth center and inching (more like millimetering) my way through midwifery studies, picking things up through osmosis, listening to women roaring out their babies while I sit at my desk. I took a yoga teacher training and am currently teaching prenatal yoga at the birth center, which I love more than I can describe.

Nate and Maya have moved on to novels. Eli is a geographical genius and can point out any country you name within a fraction of a second. Nick is a farmer. We have an amazing garden. Our dog lives the dog's life. My mom moved in and we're stoked about it. Our whole giant house is wired for sound. We have a nice deck and a beautiful view of Mt Hood. We live much closer to our friends in Portland. And now we have the internet! Life is good.

So that's what's new. What's new with you?

05 November 2011

No news is good news

So it's been awhile. Hi. Nice to see you here. Sorry I haven't written for so long. I'm a bit like that.

For what we've been up to since I wrote last, check out Nick's blog. He is a prolific picture poster too, so that's a bonus.

Long story short: we moved in with Grizzly and Sunny (and their village of kids) at the end of July. We laid out our tiny cob house plan, dug the foundation trench, laid down drainage pipe and gray water pipe, laid gravel, obtained truckloads of rocks from a local quarry, built the foundation, and started cobbing!... and then the rains came. We hung up a giant tarp to cover the building site and protect it through the winter, but it's too cold to cob now. So we're taking a cobbing hiatus until spring. In the meantime, it is an amazing place to hang out, all protected from the rain, interesting rocks everywhere. It looks a bit like an excavation site for a thousand year old house. Awesome. So that's what's going on with the cob house. Come spring, we'll be ready to cob. We have (literal) tons and tons of sand, clay and soil and a bit of straw. We have our two doors and myriad windows (we still need at least 3 little interesting windows for the kids' rooms). We have loads of people who want to help us make cob and throw it onto the walls. We're set. Just waiting on Mother Nature, and that's just fine.

Our free-range kids are loving life. We're taking a break from Village (where they took classes last year) due to financial and geographical constraints, and everyone is fine with that- it's nice to not have to be anywhere. There are lots of kids around to play with, and our kids are really thriving. We have a real village going on now. We have friends that come up to stay sometimes - our gorgeous friend Corry brings her kids and her dog and then camps out in the kitchen making amazing food for the crew and our village expands for a few days. Life is good. We have found that living with a lot of people is easy if everyone is honest and straightforward with each other all of the time. Everyone wants to be happy, so it works.

We spend most of our time at home, working on projects and getting into routines. Nick and I have discovered a wonderful dynamic: I am a really great starter of things and he's a very efficient long-term doer. I get interested in a subject that I know will enhance our lives (like sprouting, making nut milks, aromatherapy), get a bunch of books from the library and read 1/10th of each of them, buy the supplies we'll need, then get started. Then I kind of drop off. And then, if it was something Nick agreed was awesome while it lasted, he'll pick up the reins, make some improvements, and carry on. Every day, that guy makes almond milk for a huge household. He soaks and sprouts beans for huge batches of food to feed the village. He makes amazing raw vegan smoothies for the kids. He sprouts alfalfa and red clover and broccoli and fenugreek seeds so that we can have leafy greens with every meal. He's a dude. And he does it all with a smile on his face. Love that amazing man.

I am currently in the running for an office position at an amazing gentle birth center near our home (well, as near as anything really gets - we're way out there). It would be 3 days a week, and I would spend my days surrounded by pregnancy and birth and midwives and babies! I'm almost too excited and hopeful to mention it in case I don't get it, but I'm perfect for the position and it is perfect for me, so I kind of think it must be mine. I should know this week. Wish me luck!!

And in more news... Nick and I have a new venture. Check out our Etsy store and think of us for your holiday shopping! After I sign off here, I'll be working on some more items to add to our store, so check back often.

That's it for now. Lots of love to everyone out there!

14 June 2011


Another weekend up at the farm, and a lot of decisions were made. Good stuff.

So our home site is no longer our home site. We checked out the septic plan, and we would have been building on top of the leach field, or whatever it's called. Not awesome for a house (or for any structure that requires digging, since there are pipes down there). However, we already mostly cleared the area, so we decided to full-steam ahead and do a controlled burn of the felled blackberry brambles. Smoky work.

When one door closes, another opens. Turns out this area is going to be our animal garden! We plan to fence this area and put in a hen house and a goat shelter. In one of the "how to raise your own laying flock" books I checked out from the library, there was a picture of a happy chicken pecking at some huge zucchini. I'm excited to learn more about chickens and goats and their nutritional needs. I know the chickens will be stoked about the abundance of worms here.

Grizzly and Sunny (The Friends) had already cleared a bunch of poison oak, but it was seriously rampant. Grizzly decided to set out with the whipper snipper to avoid more contact. He was able to clear the whole proposed garden site and our new proposed home site, which will be right next to the garden.

Sunny and I spent some time turning over the ground in the little garden cage (DEER!). Hard work. Super hard. Clay!

Since the master plan is to extend the garden to cover this whole area (probably 6-8 times the size of the cage), and since we discovered how beautiful the area behind it could be for a home site (beautiful southern exposure), we decided that we should just get some kind of tiller in there and do the whole job at once. We'll need to improve the soil with some sandy loam and/or compost, so we'll till it in. Grizzly is working on securing a tiller, and Nick and I are looking into frugal fencing options. Grizzly had the brilliant idea to tie some cob work into the fencing for artistic/reinforcement/practice purposes. That will be our opportunity to discover our own perfect cob recipe! Exciting.

Sunny and I discovered (and have yet to explore in depth because we were without machetes) a Faerie Forest. Seriously, it's magic back there. Stoked.

My amazing uncle sent me this link to an article about an urban homesteader. How inspiring! I love that he read that article and thought of me.

So, what else is there in news from the home front? The kids were pretty bummed to come back, especially Eli. He did not want to leave the farm. I did my best to explain to him that we're going to spend a few days at home working on stuff for next weekend, and then we'll be back up there in a few days, but he was just plain sad. He woke up this morning telling me he wants to go back to Grizzly's house. In 6 weeks time, we'll be up there full time. Until then, we'll work on patience.

10 June 2011

Negatives to Positives

I started a post a couple of weeks ago about the troubles I was coming up against in the parenting realm. It was all negative and no hope or solutions. I just finally decided to delete it the other day.

Lately, my interactions with my kids have been a dream come true. Nate has been going out of his way to be helpful. His emotions have been so manageable for him, even when Maya has been super grumpy in his direction - usually he explodes right back in anger (or maybe passionate sadness?), but lately he has been really compassionate and able to just let it roll off of him. It has been amazing.

Maya is really an amazing person to have in my life. I have discovered that I take her for granted sometimes, because most of the time she is so easygoing and positive and sort of sets the tone; when she's not, I really notice because things get, well, hard. I'm working on being more attentive and affectionate with her during her happy, easygoing, seemingly well-adjusted periods so that she never feels like she needs to "act out" to get my attention.

Eli. He's a kid! The baby stuff is all dropping off of him, and fast. He is getting so good at vocalizing his feelings and needs and wants instead of doing the babyish demanding stuff. He is getting into doing things for himself, and that is super fun. He is just about 3 1/2, and he is figuring out just how capable he is.

Life is so good.


I already knew exactly where our home site should be, but Nick was a bit unimpressed by the blackberry brambliness of said location. But then, you know, we checked it out. And my place turned out to be the place. Well-drained, lots of winter sun, access to the septic tank, almost as much space as we feel like clearing.

Nick got right out there.

He carved out a path, then a big ring around the outside, then savaged the middle. He made it look easy. The kids watched from a safe distance. (The area in the middle is the cleared area. It was all more or less level with the stuff around it.)

Late in the afternoon, the littler two kids got hungry, and I brought them inside to clean up and eat. Nate seized the opportunity to ask his dad if he could have a go with a machete. And because Nick is awesome, he said of course. Check out my boy, the wilderness tamer. It looks like quite a feat.

Yes, I had to have a turn. And I'm a bit of a dork.

I haven't really ever spent any time on any project similar to this one. Like, not at all. I haven't "cleared land" since I was a little kid with a big stick in the "Ghoulie Forest" in my apartment complex. But it certainly looked fun. I went in hard, and after about 40 seconds I was pretty sure I was done for the day. Once I got into a rhythm though, it was really, really fun. Super rewarding, progress easily measured with the eye. I hacked for a few hours, using muscles I didn't know I had, until my hands could no longer grip the machete.

The next day, Nick got back out there and cleared for a few more hours. For the most part, the area looks like blackberry bushes shredded on the ground. We're hoping that when we go back, it will all be really deadened and flat so that we can clear it all out and start to level.

I decided to work on some steps down to our home site! The hill isn't super steep, but if we're spending all summer walking up and down, it will be a slippery slope. That was my day 2 project.

Can't wait to get back out there and hang out in the backyard.


On May 22nd, Joplin MO was hit by a devastating tornado. According to cbsnews.com, it was the "deadliest single U.S. twister in more than six decades."

That night, my sister Laura called me from the Joplin Walmart with a shaky voice. The roof had just been torn off while she and her family looked up into the eye of the F5 tornado that roared above them like a horrific monster. She didn't know yet if she still had a house, or if all of her loved ones were alive.

Since the tornado, Laura and her partner Toby have been working tirelessly to help their friends and their devastated city. The high school my niece was going to start at in the fall is flattened. Their grandparents' house is gone. Everyone in the city knows someone who is either homeless or dead. I'm floored at the destruction. Watching this video, I feel so incredibly grateful that my family is safe.

Laura had saved up a few thousand bucks to come out to Oregon/Idaho for a family reunion this summer. We were all (and I mean ALL - aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers-in-law, and my dear mom) looking so forward to seeing her and her girls, and meeting Toby. Most of us haven't seen her since at least 2005, and for a lot of the family it has been longer.

Laura's car was destroyed in the tornado. She'll receive an insurance check probably, at some point, but it won't help her get here next month. She had to use some of her savings to buy herself a new (to her) car which still needs a little bit of work before it can go on a long journey. Toby has been spending his days helping people who have lost their homes - doing handyman work (for free), transporting and storing things, trying to help people find things they need. As it looks now, they aren't going to be able to re-save enough money to replace what they have lost through this tornado. Without help, they won't be able to come out. According to Laura's calculations, they need about $1000 more to be able to get here (and back).

So here's the dealio. I want to help them out! I know so many generous souls, and there are so many people who love Laura that I know would be willing to help. Here's a list of what they will need in order to get here:

~ gas cards
~ restaurant gift cards
~ motel vouchers? They'll need a stop each way.
~ cash.

Any ideas, leads, or straight-up donations would be much appreciated!!

I love you Laura, and I can't wait to see you.