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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Dry winter

Still very little snow here this year. We’ve gotten some but I’ve been hearing about fires starting from sparks from a burning barrel. In December. Usually we’ve had enough snow that isn’t a problem. Not the case this year. It makes me nervous for what the summer will bring.

As the year 2016 comes to a close I always like to reflect a bit on the year past and the upcoming year. This year has been quite the year.

Things that happened or that we did this year:

  • Made a couple of trips to South Dakota with the family (this is a fun easy get-away for us)
  • A trip or two down to the Boulder, CO area to meet up with family
  • A trip to Seattle to visit family
  • I opened a yarn store
  • I’ve decided I really don’t like my office job, but it pays the bills and makes the yarn store possible because it is my safety net. I hope to soon work without a net.
  • I would love to run a farm, but haven’t figured out how to manage the juggling everything with animal care.
  • My kids make me laugh every single day, and sometimes that laughter is because they drive me a little insane.

Those are the major highlights. I’ve been terrible about running this year. I started out the year with an abscessed tooth and it seemed to affect everything so I was off to a bad start, then I got crazy busy and wasn’t good about keeping up on it, and now it gets dark so early it is hard to squeeze a run in. That is one of my plans for the upcoming year is to get more running in. I enjoy it (never thought I’d say that) and it will help me to get my blood pressure back down.

I don’t really do resolutions but I do tend to make some yearly goals. This year my goals are:

  • Run on a regular basis again
  • Fit in at least a 5K race and maybe try to train for a longer race
  • Get my blood pressure down
  • grow my yarn store business
  • quit my other office job
  • new roof on the house (we got hail over the summer that makes this a requirement)
  • re-work the chicken coop so it will be warmer, easier to clean, and accommodate more chickens
  • plant more trees
  • actually garden
  • Do another Eat Local Challenge
  • Clean up our fences
  • clean out the old goat pen
  • fix up some better outdoor shelters for our cats (we got a new one and they’ve gone all strangely territorial so one that has been here the longest doesn’t seem welcome in the garage anymore)
  • Enjoy our travel to Europe in March
  • meditate on occasion
  • write more often again

I think that is a good start to the year. Nothing crazy, just some overall goals. I never have understood the resolution thing. Most folks don’t stick to them for long as it is.

I’m off to continue on my taxes and books for my business. That is by far the worst part of owning your own business. The bookkeeping.

 

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