Coronavirus

I have not had much time to write in the last year. I stay busy working in my business, Little Hawk Yarns, and running kids around. As of March 16, 2020 though things have come to a screeching halt. Well, not halt really, just more focused on the one location of home. Our world got introduced to coronavirus around January. This meant that by the time March came around we had figured out that it isn’t a nice thing and we as a society needed to do something to try to stop it. So, along came social distancing. What did that mean for you? For my family it meant spring break got extended first by one week, then two more weeks, then until May 1st, then as of the 31st of March they said my kids will not be back in the school building for the rest of this year. Our district gets out May 22. That has put us into a sudden home/remote/online school situation. I’m not sure anyone is happy about the situation. We are dealing with it the best we can, but I can’t say we are very happy.

Besides kids school changing, my shop is closed other than by appointment (online is open), the colleges have gone all online, most states have stay home orders, shopping for anything other than essential groceries is basically non-existent and everyone is on a roller coaster of emotions.

I am finding solace in making things and gardening and getting outside even if it is only to get the mail or go work in the garage. Here is a quick list of things that I have done that has helped my brain deal with the unknowns of this situation.

  • Re-organize the pantry and assess what I have in there
  • Plant seeds inside to for the garden that will be
  • Prep the garden area and remind myself not to get too excited. I prepped the garden almost a week ago and we’ve been snowed on twice since then and last night we dipped below zero. So, not time to plant much yet.
  • Work on a new to me weaving loom that has been neglected and needs repairs.
  • Work on a new to me drum carder that has been sitting and needs a couple of parts to work well again.
  • Spin the wool I carded two days ago on the drum carder. Gosh! It is lovely wool that I’ve been wanting to spin for some time.
  • My to-do list is a mile long so I try to remember to keep it to a minimum.
  • Make sure the kids are doing something with school-like activities. For example, we read a lot and are now working on a family book project. My middle schooler will be missing the April book project they would have normally done which was a diorama. He was very much looking forward to this so we as a family have picked books to read from the literature section and we have a literary lunch on Fridays where we talk about our books, then at the end of the month we will all build dioramas of a scene from our books. We haven’t been too strict on the sticking to literature, but we have tried. Our books are Becoming, by Michelle Obama (mine), Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (my husband’s), The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (my nine-year-old), and Maus by Art Speigleman (my middle schooler).
  • Remember to enjoy the time without obligations outside of our house.
  • Teach my kids more about cooking and life skills.

I am hoping that overall we will come out of this whole thing with a new appreciation for our families and human connection. I’m hoping this teaches us all to slow down and appreciate what we have. We don’t always need to be busy just to be busy.

Take care of yourselves. Stay well. Stay home.

 

 

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Decision

So I made the decision to not race up at Mt. Rushmore.  I went back and forth for quite a while, but ultimately I decided that I’d be better off going with a flatter half marathon for a first time or even doing a 10K before I jump on the half band-wagon.

I’m not sure how people do the training. My motivation has been nil and my schedule has been bonkers. I don’t even work outside the house anymore. That has actually been part of the issue as far as scheduling things. My kids don’t go to daycare. So I either have to get up super early to run or run in the evening after Dad gets home. My kids aren’t quite old enough to be on their own for the length of a run. Soon, but not yet.

I’ve been awful about staying up late too. That means no getting up early for me. By the afternoon I can find all kinds of excuses for not going. A-number one is the heat. We have already hit triple digits twice this month. It is early for that.

I am determined to get back to it this week. I am working on going to bed earlier so I can get up early. I have my oatmeal ready to go so I can actually make it through a run. Now to complete the process and set the alarm and get up and go. I know I will feel better and be happier for it. Despite my inside voice who justifies sitting around all the time.

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Not an easy journey

Running is not an easy journey. Especially if you don’t run. I’ve been on a pseudo-break. Nope, scratch that. I was on a break. I didn’t run for about 2 weeks. There was nothing pseudo about it. I haven’t been sick or injured. Just didn’t want to run. It is that much harder to get out the door when you just don’t want to.

But, I changed that this morning. I went out and ran a mile. Yep, only one. Nothing fancy or fast. Just a quick mile under my belt to get me back in gear.  And then I checked my email and the person who talked me into signing up for the half marathon has not been able to make the logistics work. Such as life. Now I need to decide if I am going to continue on and make this crazy route my first half marathon or if I’ll bag this one and do a 10K about the same time of year (mainly due to schedules).

I’m undecided. There are a couple of other races, including half marathons, that are about the same time of year and on much flatter courses. I may just have to do one of those. A couple of deciding factors: One is where we just moved from and is a road race. The other is in my new town and is a trail race. A trail race sounds a lot more interesting but the appeal of getting to visit friends is a strong bonus for the other race.

I know I won’t run without the incentive of having a race coming up. I especially won’t run in the summer. Ugh. I hate running in the heat.

So I’ll wrap this up staying undecided. I’m not asking for a refund and pulling out of the race yet, but I will be doing some hard looks as some of the other races around the area.

 

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Running/training

Slow going lately. I am trying to remember that until January of this year I’ve been working a desk job. That means I’m terribly out of shape and was gaining weight on top of weight I’d never lost after having kids. And yes, those kids are 7 and 9 years old. Too long to blame “baby” weight and yet that is a lot of it. I just never took that off. I only added to it. Ugh.

As I’ve aged and changed after having kids taking weight off is even harder than it was before. I’m slowly re-learning how to get healthy and take the excess weight off so my heart and joints don’t have to work as hard. I used to just be able to work a physical labor job and the pounds would melt away. I used to have to have a milk shake with my lunch to make it through the afternoon with the amount of physical labor I was doing. Now, I can starve myself and run and I still don’t lose the weight. Changes are frustrating when they hinder what you want to do.

I don’t have a job that works my physically like that anymore. I’m learning how to feed me and the family on a healthier bit of food that will keep me feeling full without overwhelming me with calories that won’t come off as easily.

Why do I talk about this with running? Well, because I have to get into shape for a half-marathon I signed up for in September. That means in order to run that half my body would be a lot better off if I lost a lot of the excess weight. I’m packing a 50 pound pack of extra weight if you think about it. Imagine how far and fast I could run if I could set that down. Wouldn’t that be great?

I will say that I don’t really give a toss about my body image etc. I’m still rather comfortable with how I look. Its how I feel that bothers me. I want to be able to run with ease. I want to set a good example of health for my kids.

Those are big parts of my why I’m running.

A quick overview of my running plan for the summer:

May-June: prep for a 10k. I may or may not actually run one. I haven’t found one that doesn’t conflict with my schedule yet.

July-Most of September: My actual half-marathon training.

Most of what my training will consist of will be walk/runs with my dogs. And hiking. The half I’m doing is all on a mountain. It is a pretty steep route too. Of course I couldn’t do a nice flat route for my first one. Figures.

A couple of notes for me to keep track of… I am finding that I can run a lot longer and feel better after eating instant oatmeal with added protein for breakfast. Those mornings my runs feel pretty good. The mornings I don’t eat that I feel pretty crappy.

Like I said, this is a learning process to figure out what to eat and when to have the energy to run and still pull the weight off to make running easier.

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Whew…

Mid-December left us with knowing we would move but that was about it. We made it! Our old house sold, we bought a new house. We got the kids into school and they are adjusting just fine. Tom, my husband, is settling into his new job nicely too. I am adjusting. We bought a place in town so that is a large adjustment to make. In a lot of ways good adjustments despite missing my acreage, large garden, chickens, and even the adventures of living where we had all sorts of critters to protect our pets from. The good stuff is that we walk a lot. We are basically across the football field from my daughter’s school, a 15 minute walk from my husband’s work, and a couple of mile drive from my son’s school (although he’ll be across the football field next year). I’ve actually met people in the first 3 months of living here because we live in town.

On the other hand, I have no idea what I’m doing with this yard/garden. The previous owner had quite a few perennials, which is great, but with everything snow-covered until basically now, I am just now getting to see what we have for a yard. No chickens this year. We’ll need a new coop and to figure out where exactly I want them. I have plans of moving at least one garden bed. It is in the way of the driveway. Because we have two cars we need that parking space more than the garden space.

I am working on building my yarn business back up. Slowly I’ll find my market again. In the meantime I have several avenues I’m working on.

The big thing besides moving to town… I am running again. I was talked into registering for a half marathon in September. Yikes! Tom says I should blog about that. I might add a page, or blog, or just make this one about running for a while. I don’t know yet. I do know that I am going from a sedentary desk job and next to no exercise to doing this half marathon. And it is NOT a nice flat race. So… I may end up talking a lot about that. I’m sure I’ll have some gardening, and family, and pets in there too. Those are all a pretty big part of my life.

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moving…

We are packing and moving. That is about all I know right now. We do not have a new place yet. My husband starts the new job on the 2nd of January and kids start school on the 4th of January. They have temporary housing, but that temporary housing does not allow pets. We have pets. Two large dogs and two cats somehow don’t fit into campus housing.

Lots of changes coming and I’m having a hard time putting words to it all. I have mixed feelings about this move since I really like where we are at. I really like our 25 acres and house, but the job is a good one that my husband has taken. I’m hoping this will give me time to work on my business as well. This is officially a bit nuts. All of the unknowns are kind of driving me bonkers. I can’t really know anything until our house sells. Uff-da.

Moving checklists are kind of a moot point right now. We don’t have an address yet. I don’t have a moving date for the pets and I yet. So many unknowns… Argh!

Yes, I’m having lots of small panic attacks. My to-do lists looks a bit like this:

  • Close my store and move inventory to the house — have to be out of my building by Dec. 31
  • Get kids done at school on the 20th of Dec. – Make sure they clean out desks because they won’t go back to this one.
  • Keep house clean to show
  • Finish Christmas shopping, shipping, wrapping, and get stockings hung.
  • Get stuff ready to leave at work.
  • Find home for single hen.
  • Get Luna, dog, updated shots.
  • Don’t forget husband and daughter’s birthdays.
  • Pack.
  • Find house.
  • Do inventory for store.
  • Keep tax documents available because I have to file payroll taxes and sales tax in January.
  • Make mittens for E.
  • Make snacks for 1st grade Christmas Party.
  • Kids’ dentist appointment
  • Make eye appointment for A. She is complaining about headaches when she reads.
  • Get bank accounts switched to bank in both towns.
  • Call on one cat’s microchip to update.
  • Piano lessons wrap up.
  • Swim lessons wrap up.
  • Get account at private school done.
  • Get kids registered at new school.
  • Once we have an address and moving day: utilities need to be cancelled/started.

We will get through it. Each day something comes off the list. The majority of Christmas is done. Probably the only time in my life I have been able to say that 10 days before Christmas. See? Silver linings. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. That way I don’t end up a blubbering mess under a desk.

Slowly I will adjust to this moving. I’m still very much in the processing stage.

 

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Coyotes are assholes

I’ve had a bunch discover my chickens and I’ve gone from eight chickens to two in less than two weeks. The ruckus woke us up at 5 a.m. this morning. Chickens squawking and dogs barking. My husband got up to see what all the noise was and saw a couple of coyotes in the backyard with chickens in their mouth. He let the dogs out and they did their job of chasing the scoundrels out of the yard and off the property. Two hours later when we left for work and school the dogs were still out on patrol and I was three chickens shorter.

I have one rooster and one hen. Of course it was the rooster I don’t like who survived. Such as life in the country. The big large guardian dog will be sleeping out tonight and the chickens will get secured this evening. Looks like I won’t be going through much feed this winter. I don’t think I’ll restock chickens until spring. I think this will be a good time to totally redo the coop and fence situation.

 

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Travel wrap up

We survived our big trip. I was incredibly proud of my kids! They are great world travelers. We managed to get everything into backpacks for each of us. We did take one small additional wheeled carry-on because we had that many Girl Scout cookies to deliver to Oma. This was not a big deal because we only had the backpacks and my purse.

We just used backpacks we had so the kids were in school backpacks, and to be honest I was too. My husband has a larger travel backpack that has some convertible straps so it can be an over shoulder bag too. My backpack is one I found many years ago that seems to have all the right sized pockets in the right place for me to travel for 3-5 days so long as I don’t have a ton of clothing. It gets a bit tight if I have to travel for a work trip or something and need more clothing and shoes, but it is great for quick camping or weekend type clothes.

I would change the kids backpacks. We did a lot of walking and it would be nice to have some extra support straps and wider straps to make the backpacks more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. The kids did well with their stuff but there were complaints of shoulders hurting. I am not surprised as we walked about a mile to the hotel from the train station each time while we were in Munich.

My purse got a bit heavy as well because I had my laptop, liquids, magazines, snacks, etc. in there. The purse I brought was great except it didn’t have any way to close the top. Not exactly the best or safest way to travel. I got away with it this time, but I am sure I would not every time. Next time I’ll make sure to have a more secure purse with me. I debate about having taken my laptop. I didn’t use it much. I did use it a couple of times but when I really wanted to use it on the airplane I was unable to because of the seat arrangement and the person in front of me being reclined as far back as possible. Frustrating but wasn’t a deal breaker this trip. I am glad I wasn’t on a work trip with deadlines though. I would have been angry had that been the case.

A few things I could probably leave home the next time:

Clothes line and clips – Although this would depend on where we travel. We had a washer and dryer available. If not these would still need to come with us.

Laptop – I still go back and forth on this. It will depend on the trip. This one I could have left it home. A work trip, not so.

Second pair of shoes – I ended up not using my second pair at all and they were just extra weight and room taken up. I wore a pair of boots the whole time. Again, it would depend on the trip, but this one I could have left the second pair home.

Scarf/blanket – Debatable on these. This is the only trip I’ve ever had where the airplanes had the heat cranked. We spent the first nine hour flight sweating. I didn’t see a single person in our area of the plane with even a jacket on. It was hot! Now the flight home was more normal and was a little cool (the way it should be). I think we could have reduced the number of blankets we had, but the kids did like having a blanket from home in the hotels so maybe it was worth it?

Really that was about all that we didn’t use. I could have left the shampoo/conditioner home, but we used it up and got new in the hotels. If I traveled a lot to Europe I would invest in a travel adapter/converter for electronic stuff. I forgot about the power difference and cooked a Vick’s diffuser thing. I didn’t even think about it until it was too late. We had adapters but not converters and forgot that they run 220v over there not the 110v we run here. Just glad we didn’t start a fire.

Oh, one other thing we did this trip is we left our water bottles home. A little more expensive but nice in that we didn’t have to pack them around and in Europe we have found that most of the time even your water in a restaurant is bottled unless you specifically ask for tap water.

We had a great trip! I think my kids learned a lot about being in cities very different from where we live. We learned a tiny bit of German, ate some wonderful food, and the kids and Oma got to know each other a little bit. That has been long overdue.

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Travel Adventures

Hmmm… So much going on that I’m not even sure where to start. How did I get to be the person that has a bazillion projects, obligations, and more? It has always been my goal not to be that person and yet, here I am. I have become the mom that always forgets the kids’ projects and snacks. It isn’t the end of the world but it does get frustrating.

We are planning a vacation so that is on my mind constantly. This is a big trip so there is air travel, trains, and hotels to consider while travelling. Not to mention animal care for while we are gone. This is when it would be nice to live much closer to family. No such luck so we do what we can.

I’m excited about this trip. It will be my youngest’s first big trip. We have a 3 hour drive, 9 hour flight, a 2 hour flight, a 5 hour train ride, and a 1 hour car trip to get to our destination. Should be entertaining with two young children. Actually it should be a lot of fun. I love travelling with my kids. Of course there are moments when we all need some space away from each other, but for the most part they are a joy to travel with.

Our goal is to have each of us pack a backpack. We are only traveling for a week and there is a washer and dryer on the other end to use. There are some things we need to deliver so I don’t know if we will be completely successful. In general we will have some clothes, our entertainment, and our travel documents. I feel like we can do this because our kids are a bit older now being 6 and 8. Maybe not all 6 and 8 year-olds could do this, but these two I think can. They both enjoy being responsible for their own stuff and helping us out.

If you are like me you are asking, “So, what are you taking?” We are four people. Two boys, two girls.

Here is what our packing list looks like:

  • Pants 3 pair for the kids 2-3 for us adults, us girls mostly in leggings because they pack beautifully. 1 pair of jeans will be in there as well for everyone.
  • Shirts 3-5 each
  • pjs
  • underwear 5 pair
  • socks 5 pair (we don’t want to have to wash these or undies every day)
  • a thin blanket (the kids) or scarf (me) for the plane
  • 1 sweatshirt or sweater
  • 1 longsleeve
  • a pair of sweat pants/lounge pants/after being out in the cold cozy clothes
  • 1 rain jacket
  • electronics and chargers – we’ll each have a phone or tablet and we’ll need chargers and ear buds. We are also experimenting with a power pack and we of course need adapters as we are travelling to Europe.
  • small supply kit of clothes line and sewing items
  • journals/sketchbook/coloring books
  • kids will have homework
  • pens/pencils
  • 1 small “pet” (stuffed animal) per kid
  • glasses – both prescription and sunglasses
  • gloves because it is still cold here and there
  • 1 pair good walking shoes that we’ll wear to travel in
  • 1 pair of slip on comfy shoes for evenings

Toiletries – All travel size to make airline travel easy. I will have 1 bag and my husband will have 1 so we can get a fair amount of stuff in there:

  • toothpaste 1-2 small tubes we’ll all share
  • toothbrushes
  • 1 hairbrush the kids and I will share this
  • my makeup (this doesn’t take up much space since I wear very little)
  • deodorant
  • shampoo/conditioner (normally we would get some there but we’ll be in a hotel mid-way and we want to be able to freshen up. 1 set for the girls 1 for the boys.)
  • perfume/cologne in small sample size
  • lotion because winter and airplanes
  • small thing of Neosporin and band-aids
  • Chapstick
  • facewash
  • baby wipes – do wonders for spills and sticky fingers
  • tissues
  • hair ties – long hair and I hate to have it in my face

I think this is all of it. I will try to note what gets used and what doesn’t. You’ll notice I don’t take jewelry. I don’t wear a lot to start with and after travelling in some areas of the world I’ve learned it is just better without it. I’ll have a watch on, a single copper bracelet that I always wear, and a single pair of earrings that I always wear.

I’ve taken photos of our documents and backed those up too.

We shall see how it all goes.  Off to our adventuring!

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Food Stamps

Argh! One should never read Facebook comments regarding a topic like food stamps. I get so frustrated by them. Obviously most of the commenters have not ever had to use food stamps, do not live in situations even close to what folks on food stamps are living in, and have no concept of how the “other” is living, working, or cooking.

I see comments like, “Provide the necessities only” or “Make food stamps only for FOOD.” I have questions for those folks commenting: Have you ever used food stamps? Have you ever tried to get the food stamps? Have you tried to buy those non-food items with food stamps? Did you know that if the person buys that steak dinner that one night that their entire monthly budget is likely gone? Have you thought that maybe they are celebrating that they got a job that will allow them to get off the food stamps? Maybe they got a second or a third job that will help with getting off of assistance? Do you know how much a month those folks are getting in assistance? Could you provide food for your family on that amount? You tell them to eat healthier food, not the processed junk. Do they have a way to cook that healthier food? Do they know how to cook? Do they have the time to cook? Do you have any idea how much fraud is actually involved in the food stamp program?

All these questions and more. So, why do I feel so strongly about this? Because I have had to use the assistance at two points in my life. I was not the exception to the rule. Most people I know who have used food stamps have used them for a little while and then quite happily gotten rid of them. Did I have a job? Yes! Almost full-time and I was a full time student. Were the benefits large? No. Around $100/month. Could I buy anything other than food? Not a chance. Even food that has been prepared already is a no-go. They require you to do some sort of preparation. Deli food is not allowed. Nor is alcohol, cigarettes, diapers, formula (this is provided through WIC benefits which is NOT food stamps), magazines, dog food, or any other non-food item. Did I buy steak once in a while? Absolutely! A person has to have a decent meal once in awhile. That does mean that I got that one good meal and not much else the rest of the month.

So how about the process to get the benefits of the food stamp program? Well, you have to prove you need them. How do you do that? Rent receipt, pay stubs, utility bills, school bills, etc. It is about a month or more to get all the paperwork in order to get approved. That is a long time to wait, especially if you have little kids who need to eat in the meantime. I was lucky. I was a “starving student” when I needed mine. Also, to provide that proof I had to take time off of work or school to make the appointments (that are required to be in-person) because like any good government office it was only open on weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

The other aspect of all this that folks don’t take into consideration as a possibility is that like me, lots of the folks using food stamps have jobs. Probably have since a young age. I never felt bad about using the food stamp program for a total of about year since I’d been paying income taxes since I was 14.

And last but not least; Why is trying to make ends meet and helping your fellow human out such a bad thing? Why are we so bitter about helping someone out? Has no one ever helped you? At any point in your life have you ever had a hand up? If not, I am so very sorry that you have been treated so poorly. I’m sorry that you that much disgust and hate toward another human that you are embittered toward them for trying to provide a basic need for survival.

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