Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas, Eyes Forward...

I could post...but what more can I say than what Marxwell's House already said about our present and future...Read on People!
http://marxwellshouse.blogspot.com/2010/12/merry-christmas-eyes-forward.html

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Life changing...that's what my communications were yesterday with a realtor and lender. We've been working so hard to recover from our 15 years of raising 5 children, on our own, without outside help (or even help from the girls' bio-mom), at most times on one income (a small one at that), putting each other through college, moving...and now I have a wonderful job, with co-workers that I adore, that comes with an income that makes life and credit building do-able. We've been monitoring our credit for the past few months, watching those magical numbers rise up, ever so slightly. Rumors are swirling that a promotion is in my (very near) future...and Mark has begun his job search, adding to our income.
I've been reading a blog...Cold Antler Farm...the blog of a young woman, realizing her dream of becoming a farmer. She makes you believe that your dreams can become a reality too...When you have a moment - check her year in pictures:
http://coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com/2010/12/year-so-far.html
It was after watching that video that I couldn't wait any longer...I had to find out just how close we were. I looked online and found a realtor (a husband and wife team) who specializes in helping people find small farms in the counties that we are looking at. They guided me to a wonderful lender, who also specializes in credit counseling and helps you understand which debts you need to focus on. Our lender put together a game plan for us and everything looks like we'll be good to go once we get our income taxes back and take the first couple of months of 2011 to work on paying off and paying on time etc. SO we are going to watch the home for sale - work on the plan and HOPEFULLY try and get something going around March. The goal is still to move at the end of the kids' school year -but if we could get a home sooner than that...WOOT!
So here I sit, watching It's a Wonderful Life...and thinking about how it truly is. Our five children are in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing over their heads. I've got my favorite guy on the couch next to me. My trusty dog is "her chair". A cat sleeping under the tree and other scurrying around here and there. A coating of snow blankets our front lawn.
NORAD says that Santa is heading toward Charleston, SC...so I better be off to bed now.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nutcracker Suite

15 years ago, on December 17th, 1995, Mark and I went on an amazing date. We had only been dating for around three months. It started with getting all dressed up, having Tiffany take a picture of us in front of our Christmas tree and away we went.
We had a great dinner inside the trolley at the Spaghetti Warehouse, watched our first showing ever of the Dayton Ballet's Nutcracker and ended the night (so I thought) with walk around Lincoln Park, a park in our town that goes crazy with Christmas Lights. They remove their water from the fountains and put lit trees throughout. As we were walking through the trees...holding hands and stopping for the occasional kiss...Mark started with "the talk"...the good talk...the I'm everything he has ever imagine in a partner talk...OH! I thought - this is it! He's going to ask me to marry him! He reaches in his pocket for what I thought could be that little box filled with a band of gold and maybe a diamond that says he wants to be with me forever. But WAIT! It's a long box! Oh crap...I think I'm just getting my early Christmas present...a necklace? a pen set? :-) What could it be? It's a Nutcracker. He wanted me to always remember this night and think about this moment each time I looked at this sweet little Nutcracker, holding a tool box, with a hammer and a beautiful diamond ring! He didn't go for the single diamond either. I was marrying him...but I was also marrying his daughters too and he gave me a beautiful ring with a larger diamond in the center and a smaller one on each side (this was before the past/present/future bands came around and he had to have my ring specially created for me). He got down on one knee and asked me the most wonderful question I've ever been asked (by the most wonderful man I've ever known)...and of course I answered YES!
Last night, we were able to recreate that date with a couple of tag-alongs. Tiff, Kait, Gage, Drake and Cora - all seven of us were able to have a great Spaghetti Warehouse dinner and watch the 7:30 showing of the Nutcracker (the kids all stayed awake, loved the mice and the sheep and toe shoes and truly enjoyed the ballet) and because it was tremendously cold we drove (rather than walk) through Lincoln Park to see the lights. It was incredible to experience that night again with all of our kids.
It has been a crazy 15 years, lots of ups and of course some downs, five kids, a handful of moves - we are working on our biggest venture yet. One of the kids asked me if I still would have said "yes" and as I looked around at all those faces, thinking about how I'm the luckiest woman ever my answer was "Absolutely" and then I was asked if I would have done anything different...looking at those same sweet faces and hearing all of our laughter my answer was "Never"...here's some pics for your enjoyment.



Mark and Shelby - December 1995


Mark and Shelby - December 2010 (my how we've changed!)


In our seats, waiting for the show to start!


Princess dress...combat boots - Oh Yeah!


Look what we made! Five amazing people!!! These kids are going to do incredible things when they grow up.
I'm so excited to see what their futures hold.


The WHOLE crew!

Mark and Shelby milestones:
Sept. 1995 - We met
Oct. 1995 - We moved in together
Dec. 1995 - We got engaged
July 1996 - We got married in Lincoln Park, the same place we got engaged so the girls could be a part of our special day
Dec. 1996 - We had our wedding ceremony with the rest of the family (yes, we celebrate both anniversaries)
Nov. 1997 - We got pregnant with Gage!
Aug. 1998 - We had Gage...on August 8th, 1998...he was 10 pounds 1.2 ounces
Dec. 1998 - We got custody of Tiff
June 1999 - We got custody of Kait
Oct. 2000 - We moved to Fox Hunt Apartments
Nov. 2000 - We had Drake...on Nov. 10, 2000...he was born nearly 4 weeks early and was still 7 pounds 7 ounces
Fall 2001 - Shelby started back to college
Fall 2003 - Mark started back to college
Oct. 2003 - We had Cora...on Oct. 24th, 2003...born two weeks early and was 8 pounds 8 ounces 2005 - Moved back to our house on Culver
Early 2005 - Tiffany moved out
June 2006 - Shelby graduated from Wright State University
June 2006 - We moved to Florida, Shelby started working for Truefire.
Fall 2006 - Mark started University of South Florida
Oct. 2006 - Kait moved out
2007 - Mark worked at Great Explorations
Fall 2008 - Moved back to Ohio
Nov. 2008 - We moved into our current apartment
Dec. 2008 - Shelby started working for Ecos
Jan. 2009 - Mark started back at Wright State to finish his degree
June 2009 - Kait moved back in with us :-)
June 2010 - Mark graduated from college
Dec. 2010 - Tiff moved back in and the whole family is back together.
Dec. 18th 2010 - Recreated our engagement night with the whole family.
....and for the future...here's hoping that in June of 2011 we will be buying our farm and establishing our homestead.
WHEW!
Happy Sunday all...five more days until Christmas Eve!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Adjusting

We are working on adjusting to all seven of us being under one roof again. I thought there was supposed to be a honeymoon period where everyone is on their best behavior for a bit before all hell breaks loose! :-) Ok...well all hell hasn't broken loose (yet) - but my house is definitely a bit chaotic right now. We have a daughter that moved home...she has been on her own for the past 4 years. She has moved from apartment to apartment, roommate to roommate...No real responsibility to anyone other than herself and certainly not having to answer to her parents. Not that we micro manage our children nor do we have these tremendous expectations - we just have and expect respect. Meaning - if we aren't going to be home, we will tell you our plan - so you don't worry and we expect the same from her. I'm not sure she totally gets that. She is also used to being able to make a mess and clean it when it is convenient to her - however, when you live in a tiny place with a family of seven, even the smallest mess can seem like a mountain of clutter. She and her sister work different shifts and there is this constant flux of people getting ready for work or coming home from work - figuring out who is going to be where/when. There is a wild mix of personalities too - and too many Alphas if you get my point. (*wink)
I'm hoping this works - I love having her here we all just need to...adjust.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Apartment is Like a Clown Car

So I don't know if I've mentioned...but the place we live in is TINY. When I picked it out, I was thinking it was just going to be me and the three little ones. Mark was planning on going back to Florida temporarily to get his degree and this was meant to be VERY temporary. So I signed the lease...and Mark decided to stay (YAY!...Best...Decision...Ever) - but the apartment got ever so slightly smaller. And then Kait graduated from high school and decided she didn't want to live with/around her bio-mom any longer (Best Decision Ever) - but the apartment got ever so slightly smaller. Did I mention that she brought her cat along with her? To add to the other three cats we already have, and the dog, and the rat :-)
...So then tonight I received a phone call. "Hi, um...I need to talk...um I know this is going to be a shock..." In my head, while I'm talking to my 23 year old daughter, I'm thinking I'm going to become a grandmother...but the conversation turned to..."and well, can I move back home?" (Best Decision Ever) and our apartment is getting ready to get ever so slightly smaller...Did I mention she asked if she could bring her cat? I drew a hazy line in the sand and said "Please try and find a home for the cat".
Looks like fate might be pointing us in a new direction soon. Where's my farm house?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Snowing and snowing and snowing....

Last night we took our kids to the spot that we got engaged and married...Lincoln Park in Kettering. They celebrated their annual tree lighting and we couldn't have timed the night more perfect. When we got there, we immediately got in line for the horse-drawn carriage rides...as time passed and we got closer to the front of the line - it also got closer to the time to light the tree. We walked up the steps and were finally next in line and the town's mayor came up to the stage and lit the tree, along with all the other trees and poles and everything in the entire park. It was beautiful. The kids' faces lit up...they were so excited about all the lights. Right after the park was lit, we were escorted onto the carriage and took a ride around the entire park. It was breathtaking. We came home and grabbed a bite to eat, watched the Polar Express and enjoyed the pudding that Drake made (SO GOOD).
This morning we woke a dusting of snow...no big deal, I thought, we can still go through with our plans of watching the horse-drawn carriage parade tonight, I thought. But then it started to snow again...and it just keeps coming...it's not horrible - only about an inch and 1/2...but I don't really see an end in sight. It might be a night for hot cocoa and blankets on the couch.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What a girl wants...

So another blog that I read said something along the lines of writing down what you want to make it happen...so here it goes...

See the roof-line of that barn??? Perfect. For many years, I loved the typical old gambrel roof style, but recently Mark's passion for the round roof barn has become my passion too. We notice them here and there while out driving for work. I'd love this roof, but with a tin roof instead of shingles. We want to capture as much rain water as possible to help with gardens and animals. So a rain barrel or better yet a cistern set up would be great.

Barn interior:
The perfect size would be a 40x48 ft. barn. Here is the plan for the interior layout:

In the top left corner of the picture, you see our living room...I want two couches that are around 10 ft. long (yes, 10 ft - we will probably have to build these); however, this length will allow tons of room for everyone to flop and snuggle together. Remember - this place is being built with the future in mind. We already have 7 in our family (me, Mark, Tiff, Kait, Gage, Drake, and Cora) and when our children start having children - we want to make sure we have room. We want a long coffee table that is tall enough to store storage cubes underneath. Each child will have their own storage cube for stuff they'd like to keep in the living room (without always having to be out) - we can also use the cubes for extra seating when family comes over. Along the wall in the living room - I'd love a large window to look out into a bird watching area. We'd put bird feeders and houses out there and be able to just sit and watch. In the living room, I'd also like a large, hearth style fireplace.

The living room leads into the dining room (this whole side of the house -living/dining/kitchen is open concept). The dining room will be big enough for our entire family to sit around the table without anyone being trapped in their seat and not having enough room to walk around. Along the wall: built in mega pantry of the WORLD! I want enough space in my pantry to can enough food for at least 6 months (preferable a year) - I also want addition storage in here for large stock pots, bowls, and crock pots etc.

The kitchen will be perfect. The sink will have a window in front to be able to look out while washing dishes. A dishwasher is a MUST - I know there is a "green" debate on dishwashers - but last I read, if you have a very efficient dishwasher you use less water than you would hand washing. Plus, we spend SO much of our time hand washing dishes - if we had a dishwasher, during canning season especially, life would be SO much easier. I'd like to have a stove/oven combo and a wall oven - we cook SO much and on the farm we'd be home cooking even more often and having the ability to cook at multiple temperatures. I also want a HUGE island to be able to use as a prep area for canning, baking etc. I want both a fridge/freezer combo and a stand up deep freeze to have easy access to stored food.

In the main hall the runs the length of the barn we'd like a nice wood burning stove to keep us warm - we don't plan on having a furnace. Also, we'd like a large, but narrow storage area on the side to store our Christmas and memory boxes etc.

Opposite of all that will be mine and Mark's bedroom - we are happy with a simple room - we just want enough room to walk the bed without having to turn sideways or crawl over something. Our bathroom will be roomy - we want a big bathtub...because frankly sometimes we like to relax in the tub, together. Next is our office area that has built in storage under the stairs going to the loft/kids bedroom area. and then the laundry room, that has a 1/2 bed off to one side and walks through to an extra bedroom. In the laundry area - I want retractable clothes lines to hang clothes during the winter and rainy days. I still want a dryer - but hope to only use it in emergency situations. **Up near Cora's bedroom, I want a laundry shoot so it makes it easier for the kids to throw their dirty laundry downstairs.

Speaking of the kids - lets talk about the upstairs. I want the central area to be an open loft area with games, a library/reading spots, a pool table??? If it is open, then we can still be connected to the kids even if they are doing something different. On either end of the loft area will be a bedroom - Cora gets her own with either a double bed, or a single with a trundle. The boys will either share a bedroom - or have smaller separate bedrooms - depending on what they decide at the time (we go back and forth on this one).

I love the idea of having the suspended, sliding barn doors, instead of the swing open doors. I'm thinking something along the lines of this:


Having doors like this just allows more room for better furniture placement etc.

Outside we want a nice deck space with an area to cook outside (we REALLY enjoy grilling out). I'd love some of the deck area to be covered to be able to get out of the sun, but still enjoy the outside area. We want a smaller barn area to house whatever animals we have (but big enough for them to be comfortable). We also want a CUTE chicken coop - yes, we are one of those...who want our coop to be cute, with flower window boxes for the ladies etc.

We'd love to have a minimum of 5 acres - but honestly the more the better! My dream is like 30 acres. We wouldn't farm all 30 acres - I don't think that is necessary. We only want enough to sustain our family and some extra to help others. I'd like for us to have plenty of room for our barn, our pasture and animals, a play yard for the kids, garden, wooded area for hiking and exploring - a creek would be AMAZING!!!! In a perfect world, we will also have enough property to add a few (hopefully 5) "shanties" - MUCH smaller homes on the property to allow our children a place (Tiff and Kait could stay there now, the kids when they are older) to still live close to home to go to school, work on their career, start their families - without the stress of HAVING to pay for an apartment - but having individual space so we aren't all right on top of each other. While the little ones are still little we'd only need a couple shanties and build them as we need to.

So what are we waiting for? Credit score, down payment and to know where work is going to take us. The hope is that by the kids are done with school in June we will have all the direction, credit worthiness and savings to get everything we need...or at least enough to get us in the right spot and we are willing to work on building the rest.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Celebration and Sorrow

It has been 15 days since my last post. What a confusing, maddening, happy, frustrating, disgusting, loving, tiring 15 days it has been. I've had such a mix of emotions. Shortly after my last post came Drake's birthday. I cannot believe that my youngest son is 10. Drake had such a rough start to his life...a few weeks before he was born I was rushed to the hospital because I was bleeding out...bleeding to death. I was home with only Tiff, Kait and Gage (ages 13, 9 and 2 respectively at the time)...Mark was returning the truck to his work and coming home soon. When I lifted Gage to give him a snuggle I felt a gush. I thought for sure that my water had broken. When I went to the bathroom it was a different story. Blood had gushed so heavy it bled through my jeans. Deep, dark blood. I immediate controlled the situation and Mark got us to the hospital in time. They delayed labor and assessed the situation and determined that I had a previously undetected complete previa and had been bleeding internally...when I lifted Gage, I dilated and the blood all came out at once. So came weeks of bedrest in the hospital with a two year old at home, with his older sisters - while Mark worked and tried to get us moved into our new apartment. A very sad, lonely and scary time for us all. Born at 36 weeks and two days, Drake was the largest baby (7lbs, 7oz.) in the NICU - he was intubated - I was told he might "expire". But he didn't - after 8 days in the NICU, pulling out his tubes and his IVs, two doses of surfactant, blowing out some of his aveoli - we were released. But here we are ten years later, stronger and healthier. Drake is an amazing little boy - he fascinates me. He is strong and strong willed. He is smart and a smart alec. He collects shiny things. He accepts everyone for who they are. He's not afraid to wear fairy wings. He's not afraid to climb trees. He's not afraid to get dirty. I love him for all of those things and more. He is an incredible ten year old, who again, I am so proud that he chose me to be his mother.
The sad part of Drake's birthday is that he felt jinxed. The night before his seventh birthday he got seven stitches over his left eye. Certainly scary but not life threatening. This year his birthday was different. It started with normal birthday morning kisses, delivering treats to the class (yummy homemade pumpkin muffins with homemade cream cheese icing with vanilla and cinnamon) - and then Mark and I went off to work. Then, I received a call from my Dad. I could tell from his tone that something terrible had happen. I know this is going to sound morbid...but I have this list in my head. The "hello Shelby, this is your Dad/Mom/Mark/Uncle and so and so has passed/is in the hospital" list. I know...it's horrible that this list exists but there are certain people in our family that aren't in the best of health or are very elderly and I would imagine that sooner than later we will be receiving the dreaded call that something has happened...but again, this time it was different. My dad continued to say that my Aunt Lynn, my 57 year old aunt, was struck by a car and killed instantly. The story began that she and my uncle were walking my cousin's dog on a beautiful, clear day, just as the often do...and the story ended with learning that a "man" who had taken ambien, valium and geodon and was overly concerned about his "missed cell phone call" had veered so far off the road that he struck my aunt with the driver's side of his car, throwing her body 50 ft. in the air, nearly struck my uncle (if it hadn't been for the dog pulling him to the side) and as Lynn crashed to the ground - my uncle didn't even realize that was his wife for the past 15 years of his life. Mother to his stepdaughter and stepmother to his children, grandmother, best friend. He ran to be by her side...but it was too late and she was gone. What makes this man feel like it is ok to drive in this condition? At what point will he learn his lesson? Did I mention that this was his THIRD accident this month? One accident he hit a woman's car so violently that it pushed her car off the road into a telephone pole, another accident the other driver said that he saw Forshee (the driver) coming up behind him and braced for the crash...at impact you would think Forshee would immediately stop his vehicle - instead he continued to accelerate his vehicle for a while before coming to a stop. This man needs to be rehabilitated but he also needs to be jailed for his actions. This "man" has a wife and children - he has already killed someone - could you imagine if his family was in the car and he killed them?! Or if they had to experience this horrific accident? What if he would have killed my uncle as well? I don't understand how much has to happen to make this asshole realize he has a problem.
In addition to this accident, another Chittenango HS grad's car went off the road and rolled and she passed away and yet another Chittenango grad, a soldier in Afghanistan was killed by a roadside bomb...I know that this strong town will recover...but right now they are suffering from such extreme devastation. I feel so much sorrow for my little hometown. But here is what I believe and what I told Drake...his birthday is certainly NOT jinxed...we could have died on his birthday...but we didn't. On his seventh birthday he could have lost his entire eye and instead he only got a few stitches and his scar makes him look handsome, rugged and tough. Finally, although Aunt Lynn passed on Drake's birthday - if she had passed just two months earlier, she wouldn't have been able to make it to her daughter's wedding, or take the trip to China with my uncle to visit my cousin and his partner, or make a work trip to Vermont to see my other cousin and his partner...while it is unbelievable, heartbreaking, devastating that she died, I believe that when it is your time it is your time and fortunately she was able to leave her children and grandchildren with such wonderful memories.
So here I sit, watching Elf, on November 21...four days prior to Thanksgiving. Normally, such nonsense is boycotted until after the Thanksgiving holiday...once Black Friday arrives, I'm all about Christmas...but this year, I think it has hit me a couple days early. I think I just need the love, snuggles and warmth from my family that the holiday brings...it has been an extremely hard week. After we got back from NY I worked about 60 hours. trying to catch up and spent the weekend working a holiday event and giving away light bulbs.
I could really use a break right now.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

All work and no play makes Shelby a dull girl

Breathing in...and then out...that's all I feel like I can do these days. I am extremely busy at work. Needing to do a ton of store visits, continuing to learn about my potential new role, events...I logged nearly 60 hours this week...I'm tired. I just want to snuggle with Mark, perhaps knit a bit. If I close my eyes too long I might just fall asleep...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cora...AKA Belly

My baby is turning seven years old tomorrow. I can't believe it! She is such an amazing little person. In her seven years, she has grown her hair out not once, but twice to donate to Locks of Love. She has developed a sense of humor that resembles the Royal Tenenbaums or Monty Python. She has an incredible sense of style "do these combat boots go with my dia de los muertos skirt?" and I say "ABSOLUTELY" :-) We were discussing today what she wanted to serve her party guests tomorrow...pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese (yum) and caramel apples with mini M&Ms, chocolate chips, chopped peanuts...Mark asked if we were just melting caramel squares and she said "no daddy - we are doing homemade caramel because homemade tastes better than store caramels." Geez, I love her! She is kind, she is beautiful, she is so smart, she raises worms, she loves to garden, she is my daughter.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I got the itch!

The itch to buy the farm...the itch to take my plants out of their pots and let them root into the ground. To let my children plant their roots in a home. To have a place that Mark and I can forever call our home.
I wish our path would switch on a light or point an arrow or SOMETHING! How frustrating to stand at this fork in the road and truly have no idea which part of the Y we should go on. I despise this place. Hate it. Am willing to do just about ANYTHING to get out of here. I'm ready to go pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere. But my fear is that the moment we take fate into our hands and buy our piece of Heaven, work will say "BUT we need you HERE" UGH.
I do not enjoy living in limbo. I'm a planner.
We spent a couple evenings at my parents' campground this weekend - it is really beautiful there. Lots of stars, a cutie little pygmy goat and the best Trick or Treating ever! Yup, the kids got to do a trial run with Halloween this year and start stocking up on candy early. This is an annual event at this place and it is FUN! My parents found a really great location to store their RV and spend some nice time with neighbors and friends that they can get along with. Funny thing is that the people that live right across the "road" - the woman works at Cora and Drake's school...SMALL WORLD!
So today I went to the store and grabbed some more yarn to finish Cora's sweater...I'm dreaming of the day when I'll have a big enough kitchen to spread out, cook, can, preserve and prepare..a yard where Mark can play with the kids without fear that the neighbors are going to say or do something harmful. On a beautiful day like today...I'd love nothing more than to be knitting on my back deck and looking out over our land.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

SICKO

It’s cold here…cold, grey, and a little rainy. It’s a good day for snuggling under the covers. But we were out of bed by 8:00am…UGH! Mark and I are both sick…just a cold – but sick enough to mess up our weekend. We love weekends, especially fall festival weekends. It sounds good to put on a pair of jeans and wear a hoodie, hold hands while our children run around and burn off some steam. For now though we sit on the couch in our pjs, sneezing, coughing and blowing our red noses.
Oh! BTW we FINALLY sat down to watch Food, Inc. last night and lets just say I hate Monsanto a little bit more now...need to get our land A-SAP!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Duquesne

This past weekend I was asked to travel to the Duquesne Light area in Pittsburgh, PA to help some of my co-workers launch their new program. The drive there was scheduled to last around 4.5 hrs.; however, after going 3 miles in two hours - we realized something was REALLY wrong. Apparently they CLOSED I-70...WHO DOES THAT!? Both sides of 70 were directed to leave the highway, go back roads until the next exit and then get back on. But hey at least we were entertained by the teenage kids figuring out another way to use their traffic jam time...ahem, she kept disappearing...ICK! We arrived only a little bit late to meet up with a handful of my co-workers. Saturday we helped at a launch event for the Duquesne Light - Residential Lighting Program. On Sunday, we got FULL USE out of our tickets to Mother Earth News Fair. We attended a few of the seminars - visited all the booths - dreamed about our off-grid farm and realize more and more each day about how "doable" the whole idea is. We got some goodies too! Information, a book, a spearmint plant, a lavender plant...Oh! We also learned about a new method for bee keeping! Check out BeeLanding - this guy is amazing. He's sharp and helpful and if you are AT ALL thinking of becoming a keeper - he will be a great resource for you.
We got back late Sunday and are still trying to catch up from the weekend.
I was able to have a sit down with our new Senior Manager this weekend and have a renewed excitement for my job. I've always loved my job - but this gives me an idea of what my future looks like...and it looks bright!!!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow...

A while back, Mark and I took a trip to Amish country in Northeast Ohio and were introduced to the wonder that is Lehmans. If you don't know what that is...you should. Lehmans has every non-electric, wood-powered, propane-powered, human-powered trinket imaginable. Their business caters to the Amish community that surrounds them. They have a hand clothes washer, compostable toilets, wood heat stoves....essentially my heaven (OK, I could do without the toilets :-)). So this weekend they are having a sale, which includes samples, demonstrations and more. We decided to get up at the crack of dawn yesterday morning and make the long trek to Kidron to let our children experience this store, this community and the Amish way of life.
Most of our children were very excited about our adventure; however, Gage, our city boy, was none to thrilled. We explained that sometimes we do things that accommodate things he thinks is fun (our recent trip to NYC) and sometimes we do things that the rest of us like. Drake stopped in the middle of the store - looked at me and said "Mommy, I LOVE this store" - he and Cora wanted to buy one of everything :-) (so did I!). After the store, we drove through the rolling hills of the Kidron, Millersburg area and saw so many beautiful farms and horses. We passed a ton of black, horse drawn carriages...some with open tops so they can enjoy the beautiful day. Some had just single young men, others had older couples (just a man and a woman), and some were filled to the brim with mama, papa and a handful of kids...little girls decked out in their bonnets. I am so fascinated by this culture. Did I mention that Gage said "Yeah! I thought it was really cool!!!"...when asked what he thought about our adventure.
Today we are going to A Wool Gathering at Youngs Jersey Dairy, outside of Yellow Springs, Ohio. Apparently they are going to have a number of wool vendors, sheep shearing demonstrations and yummy ice cream.
Next weekend Mark and I are going to go for our get-away weekend. Courtesy of my work :-) One of our programs needs help in the Pittsburgh area, so Mark and I are making the drive there and staying a couple of nights. We were trying to look for a way to spend our Sunday and an amazing opportunity fell into our lap! The Unusually Unusual Farmchick offered two free tickets to the Mother Earth News Fair...and Mark WON! We are going to try to sneak over there on Saturday too...but Sunday is going to be FILLED with learning about sustainable living...another GIANT leap toward our own sustainable farm life.
Last night Mark and I perused some of the land available in this area (online listings)...and drooled over a couple of the plots and one old farmhouse in particular. The plan is to build our dream...but if we can find something that someone has already built and it fits all of our needs we'll be happy to take it off their hands.
I wonder where life is taking us...I get frustrated but I think that is a twinkle of light I see at the end of this VERY long tunnel.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm looking forward too...

Fresh eggs.
Sitting on the porch/patio with Mark and watching the kids explore our land.
Drinking sun tea with our own herbs mixed in.
Picking through our harvest.
Having a big island in our kitchen for canning.
Bread dough rising near the fire.
Watching movies on the side of our barn.
Watching the chickens scavenging through the yard.
Watching the goats play around.
Having time to stare, relax, crochet.
Taking a shower in our outdoor shower after a hot day in the garden.
Looking into a pantry filled with veggies and fruit from our garden.
Making apple crisp and apple pie from our very own apples.
Taking a tractor ride to the back lot and letting the kids pick out their own pumpkin.
A pot of soup made from our fresh veggies.
Having our dining room table in the middle of the room so no one is stuck in their seat and we can freely move around the table.
Dinners at the kitchen table (rather than TV trays).
Going an entire weekend without turning on the TV or playing on the computer (especially for the kids).
Being prepared.
Snuggling up on our extra long couches and watching the fire.
Having a great kitchen where we can bake, cook, create our hearts out.
Having a dedicated area for the sewing machines so we can just hop on and be creative.
Swinging on a hammock with Mark, watching a spring rain sweep through our land.
Having an area outside good for cooking out.
Eating peaches and pear, still warm from the sun.
Compost bins.
Fresh honey.
Rows and rows of berries - blackberries, raspberries, black-raspberries, strawberries.
Fresh grapes.
Having a space for everything.
Being organized.
A comfy spot to be lazy on our patio.
Homeownership.
Landownership.
Finding an old barn to tear down and use the wood to create elements of our new home.
Driving the nails into the wood to form our home.
Not living in the ghetto.
Challenging Mark to a game of scrabble on our game board end table.
Hearing the "clank" sound of our bottles as Mark and I "cheers" to a dream come true.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fall Cleaning!

Oh my goodness! Who knew that my kids were such pigs!? Their room was TRASHED!! Mark and I have been trying to let it go...thinking that eventually they will get sick of it and just clean it - we tell them to clean it and it becomes this big fight about stuff not being theirs. So Mark and I are in the process of gutting their room...GUTTING! We've dumped every toy in their closet onto their floor and played keep or toss...we've gone through every book on their bookcases and figured out if there were actually going to read them - if not...we are donating them. We've gone completely through their dressers to donate old clothes and figured out what needs to be displayed on top of their dresser vs. what is just a special item that can be put in their own tote. We've moved the computer desk out of their room and into the living room. We've actually gone as far as moving out the beds and dressers to wipe down the walls and vacuum behind them (we are donating four BIG boxes of toys and books...not to mention what we've already taken in clothes!) But...when it is all said and done, the room will be a much nicer place for them...and with the coming of cooler weather and less travel - they will have more of an opportunity to clean the room themselves and keep it nice.

We are trying to do our ultimate spring cleaning...now that it is almost fall...to make this apartment a nicer place to live. I know with Ohio winters we will be spending much of our time inside and we need to have space to be able to spread out a bit.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shhh! Don't tell my kids what day it is tomorrow!

Haircuts...Check!
Go through the clothes and find out who needs what...Check!
Buy new backpacks...Check!
School supplies...Check, Check, Check!
Cora's hair dyed raspberry...Check!
Drake's hair dyed blue...Check!
Gage's hair dyed Midnight blue...Check!
Met Drake and Cora's teacher...Check and Check!

It is close to bedtime at the Roberts' and the kids are ready for a brand new school year. I find it unbelievable that Gage is going into 7th grade, Drake 4th and Cora is in 1st. Kait is starting her sophomore year in college. I'm not ready for my kids to grow up this fast. Don't get me wrong...I find it awesome and amazing to watch them grow into these the incredible human beings - so different and complimentary, so sweet and conscious of others feelings (most times), so wild and crazy and yet very well behaved. I'm proud of my kids. Sometimes though it is hard to stretch out that umbilical cord and hopefully, one day, I'll be ready to cut it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

YARIS!

As we work to build our credit and our new life, we have found that driving our minivan for the primary source of transportation is just not working out so well. It puts a ton of miles on the van (that already has 120,000+ miles) and it wastes gas...we just feel very wasteful driving it when we only have one or two of us in the car. Frankly, "the brown car" - our older Honda is just not reliable enough for a steady work car for me. So we went spontaneously car shopping...We have always known that we want a little car...we dream of a Prius...but know that we'd love a Toyota/Honda - something that uses barely any gas and will last forEVER...FOR - EVER. So I submitted a credit application and two days later we left the lot with a BRAND NEW 2010 TOYOTA YARIS! We are super excited! She is candy apple red...has five doors (2-front, 2-rear and a hatchback), has 7 cup/bottle holders, awesome storage, a decent trunk space, AND the rear seats fold down (which will be great for work and play). I'm so excited that we were able to qualify...I mean, don't get me wrong, we did get a sucky interest rate and a long payment period - but hopefully we can refinance as we work on our credit even more (after 1-2 years?) BUT we have a NEW, RELIABLE, BABY CAR! So STOKED! Now, all I need is a promotion :-) Oh! and a farm...and that's all I need...and that goat, and an apple tree...and a couple of chickens...but that's all I need.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Philly, NYC, Hershey, Atlantic City...Oh My!

I'm awake...Mark had a difficult time trying to sleep and I decided to get up and join him. I thought I might be his comical relief...but I'm just sitting here like a lump....staring...sleepy eyed...not very comical...but I'm here.

We had a crazy trip last week. Two weeks ago today I was notified by my company that they needed some help with their Philadelphia program and they asked if I would be able to come and help for a few days/week. Mark and I were going to make the trip together and then the three little ones decided they wanted to tag along too.

We left on Saturday morning...it's about a 10 hr. drive from here to there...but on the way in we decided to make a pitstop at Hershey's Chocolate World. We rode the ride, we sampled the chocolate, we bought some goodies...and we got back on the rode. An hour and 1/2 later (ish) we were checked into our hotel in King of Prussia. Sunday morning we got up and made the just over 2 hr. drive to NYC for Mr. Gage's birthday!! Gage is definitely my city boy and loves everything that the bright lights of New York have to offer. This was our first time getting out of the car and really being able to explore the city. We parked near Central Park and climbed the rock structures there, we walked down Madison Ave and 5th, we went into the Trump Tower and made our way down to the Empire State Building (with a limited budget...just a glimpse from the outside would have to do this time)...After that, we made our way back up Broadway and through Times Square...we got to see the magical "ball" and I realized it was MUCH smaller than I expected. The trip was amazing and I'm so glad we were able to do it!
Back in Philly, I had a ton of work to do...but we were able to fit in a couple of side trips between work. We made our way into downtown Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell, toured Independence Hall and stood in the rooms where the Declaration and the Constitution were signed and took a walk through Chinatown. Finally, on our last night there, we took a drive over to Atlantic City...dude, this place is a fairly shifty. I guess I had mini-Vegas strip in my mind...but it was more like casino - scary ass ghetto - casino - scary ass ghetto...not really a place that I'd got to "hang"...we just parked at the Taj Garaj...we walked into the Taj Mahal and I introduced the kids to the wonderful world of slot machines (I truly hate slots...but they were on the edge of the main hall and the kids wanted to see what those things actually did...BTW, I'm up $5!), we walked out onto the boardwalk...all the way to the end...past the rides and games...we walked out onto the beach and dig our toes into the sand...the dirty, yucky sand - but hey, it counts! We let the water run over our feet (and in the kids case...their entire legs, some of their shirt etc). Once we sat on the bench on the boardwalk for a bit we decided we should head back to the hotel. Oh! I nearly forgot...they had this big, circular, birdcage type thing out on the boardwalk, near the taj Mahal...at around 10:30p or so, they had a family (Dad, Mom and two kids) come out and ride their motorcycles in the cage...one at a time, doing 360's, multiple people in at once, a little girl standing there while her dad rode around her...scary and cool at the same time...the kids thought it was amazing.
I'm so fortunate that my work allows us these occasional trips...that I can take advantage of a free hotel room and while I might be putting in long hours...it also allows us to play and adventure as a family and do things we were certainly not expecting to do. This unexpected trip will hopefully get our family through another couple of months in the ghetto...before our next adventure and hopefully (eventually) the ultimate adventure of moving!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Streets of Philadelphia...

It all started when I determined that I would have some free hours this month for work...so I reached out to some other programs to see if they had something for me to do. Three different programs contacted me almost immediately. For a couple of the programs they have work on I can do over the Internet/phone training etc. and possibly an opportunity for travel next month - the other program needs hands on help next week! So, I'm heading to Philly! At first, I thought it would be nice for Mark to tag along and we'd have a week to just chill out and then the kids wanted to join in too... How nice will it be to work all day doing store visits and still be able to hang with the family and do fun stuff in the evenings. We decided to head out a couple days early and leave tomorrow - we're going to make a pit stop in Hershey, PA and then on Sunday perhaps a trip into NYC and/or Atlantic City to get a Big City and a Beach Fix! I'm SO excited! This trip keeps me in the eye of the higher ups at work (hopefully), but will ultimately get me more training about some of our other programs, it gets us out of the ghetto for a bit, Gage's birthday is Sunday (WOOT! Happy Birthday G!!!!) so he'll be spending his birthday on a really cool whirlwind vacation and we'll get to do the hotel dance!

In garden news...after harvesting nearly five pounds of potatoes last week...we decided to eat them (they were amazing!) - the skin was very thin, the potatoes had a nice flavor and most importantly - we GREW them! We have baby tomatoes growing out there - our tomatoes seem to be late bloomers...but then again we grew from seeds and had a late start after our first set of seeds were AHEM destroyed! But they are growing cute little baby ones. The cucumbers are tasty and I THINK I might be seeing some beans out there (checking from the window, we need to venture out there). All of this part is just trial and error - we'll see what works and what doesn't...this doesn't seem to be a stellar year for the garden, but anything home grown is better than nothing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prop 8

Down with Prop 8! I am so excited that a judge has the sense to overturn the ban on gay marriage. There is a separation of church and state (or at least there should be) in the US and our laws should not be governed by religion. My cousin and his partner have been happily together longer than most hetero couples that I know. I never closed myself off to the idea of being with the same sex or another race...if I could be lucky enough to find a person to spend the rest of my life with, a person that makes my tummy feel warm whenever I see them (even 14 years later), someone who loves me in all my craziness...I'd marry that person (which I did!) and I couldn't imagine if people out there were telling me it is wrong and/or illegal.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Checking off the to do list.

I'm so tired. Here it is 10:38 PM EST and I am so tired but feeling so accomplished. I woke up and sat with my morning cup of coffee, looking through the newspaper and cutting coupons. We went through all of the ads. Then I ventured out to the front yard and started pulling weeds. I knew we had a plan of harvesting our potatoes and didn't want to waste the compost and dirt from those bins. We figured that we could move the dirt/compost mix from back to the front garden area - but first those weeds had to go. We sat and pulled and apparently it wasn't quite as bad as I thought or we are just really efficient because we went through it in no time and were off to the potato bins.
POTATO! POTATO! POTATO! It is so exciting to excavate and find those little nuggets of gold. We found little tiny baby ones and ginormous ones - so so exciting! Not to mention that we grew (I'm guessing) around five pounds of potatoes!!! SWEET...these will go nicely with some pork tenderloin in the next couple of days and I'm sure another meal (or two?).
Then we (and by "we" I mean "Mark") brought the dirt around and we spread it over the front garden - which makes it look so nice. Strangely though, us being out there cleaning encouraged some of the other neighbors to come out and clean up their spaces...I mean, I'm talking baby steps here but still...counts! We had one neighbor come out and sweep up her door frame and main hall area - she asked if we were coffee drinkers and if she could have an old container to add dirt to for cigarette butts...others were talking to us about gardening (both the flower garden in the front and the vegetable garden in the back). We had kids playing in the front yard, neighbors being somewhat neighborly and our garden looks really pretty.
After all that, we went through the remaining items from my friend and her daughter from their "great move". We finished playing "keep or toss" with the toys and browsed through a ton of books and took the remaining to Goodwill (I'm talking boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff...I'm thinking it was 3-4 VAN FULLS)...amazing what she collected over the years and was ready to get rid of and after our children went through and kept all that their hearts desired and still had that much to giveaway. Our friend is ALMOST settled, I'm impressed by everything she has been able to do in the past couple of weeks.
Then, we went over to my parents' house and visited with a family friend that we haven't seen in many, many years. It was nice to catch up and share old stories, talk about babies (who have now grown into young adults) and make tentative plans for future get togethers. Did I mention that we were even ON TIME for the party and brought a cucumber (mostly from our garden), tomato (mostly from Aullwood Farm) and Mozzarella Salad (YUM!).

Gotta say...I think we kicked a little ass today.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Today was a good day.

We had so much fun today at the farm - the alpacas were super cute. They had an activity for the kids, a shop area with goods from all different women (photos, finished yarn projects and raw fiber). I was able to snag a bunch of misc. fiber balls in various colors - I'm going to try my hand at spinning my own yarn. We are debating getting a couple of sheep and/or a couple alpacas for the farm - but it doesn't make sense for us to do that if I don't like to spin. SO - I got some stuff to play with for a bit. We'll see! They had three different women there with various skills - one woman was on a loom making rugs, another spinning on a wheel (which is fascinating to watch) and the third was weaving on a tri-loom (a loom shaped like a triangle to create shawls and the like on).
Another great part of the day...when we were on our way to the farm, right in our neighborhood, we found the garage deals of the century! As we were driving past, Mark says "hey, I think that's a water bath canner" (yes! I love my man) - I jumped out and Mark was absolutely right! It was not JUST a canner - but a canner with the wire rack - for $4!!!!! FOUR DOLLARS! I doubt that it has even been used! I also found a blue and white pitcher and wash bowl for $5 and a serving bowl for $.75!! I couldn't believe it! All that for less than $10. SCORE!!!

Today was a good day.

Alpaca Farm!

I'm going to an Alpaca Farm today! I'm going to an Alpaca Farm today! I'm going to an Alpaca Farm todaaaayyyyyyyyy! WOOT! Stewart Heritage Farm is hosting an open house, for people to learn about raising Alpacas and how to use their fiber. They are going to have a live bluegrass/rockabilly band playing, activities for the kids and merchants selling alpaca oriented goods. I'm excited! Mark, the kids, our friend's daughter and I are all going together - so it should be a good time.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Just one fix...

...And because it breaks my heart to see the previous post as my "current post" - I'm going to put something on a lighter note.

I got some of my farm fix this week...Mark has been working all week with a group of 4-5 year old kids at Aullwood, for their "Farm Babies" program. Since a lot of my work this week required me to be in this area - I've been spending my lunch hours snuggling with pigs, goats, a baby cow, some sheep, a bunch of chickens and being in awe of their garden. Their sunflowers reach high above my head...they let us come home today with a green pepper, a handful of tomatoes and a couple of carrots. I LOVE LOVE farm fresh food and I love sharing our garden and others sharing with us. I can't wait until we have our garden and can teach our children the importance of growing enough to share with family, friends, neighbors and strangers.

Love the way you lie...

There is a new song out that really gets to me. When it comes on, I can't seem to bring myself to change the channel, but when it's over I always have tears in my eyes. The song is by Eminem, with the help of Rihanna. It's about the pattern of an abusive relationship - loving with such passion that you could never imagine hurting that person...but it's that same passion that causes you to do terrible, unimaginable, things. I was in a relationship like this once. It never got to the point that I was physically broken, hospitalized or otherwise...but I was thrown down stairs, shaken to the point that you could see handprints in my upper arms. My spirit was very broken...and, at times, still is. I don't think this is something that you can ever "get past". I use that experience to grow from. From this, I knew that a man like Mark was the person I needed to be with - someone who knew when to call my bullshit, but would never hurt me on that level. From this, I know how to protect my girls from monsters like the one I was with (hilarious, life of the party with a nasty, abusive streak). From this, I feel like I'm never "good enough"...but hope that one day I'll realize that I am.

Love the way you lie....
Eminem/Rihanna
Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that's all right because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that's all right because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie

I can't tell you what it really is, I can only tell you what it feels like
And right now it's a steel knife in my windpipe
I can't breathe but I still fight while I can fight
As long as the wrong feels right it's like I'm in flight
High off her love, drunk from my hate, it's like I'm huffin' paint
And I love it the more I suffer, I suffocate
And right before I'm about to drown, she resuscitates me, she f**kin' hates me
And I love it, "wait, where you goin'?"
"I'm leavin' you," "no you ain't come back"
We're runnin' right back, here we go again
So insane, cause when it's goin' good it's goin' great
I'm superman with the wind in his back, she's Lois Lane
But when it's bad it's awful, I feel so ashamed I snap
Whose that dude? I don't even know his name
I laid hands on her
I never stoop so low again
I guess I don't know my own strength

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that's all right because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that's all right because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie

You ever love somebody so much you can barely breathe
When you with em you meet and neither one of you even know what hit em
Got that warm fuzzy feeling
Yeah them chills used to get em
Now you're getting f**kin' sick of lookin' at em
You swore you'd never hit em, never do nothin' to hurt em
Now you're in each other's face spewin' venom in your words when you spit em
You push pull each other's hair
Scratch claw hit em throw em down pin em
So lost in the moments when you're in em
It's the face that's the culprit, controls you both
So they say it's best to go your seperate ways
Guess that they don't know ya
Cause today that was yesterday
Yesterday is over, it's a different day
Sound like broken records playin' over
But you promised her next time you'll show restraint
You don't get another chance
Life is no nintendo game, but you lied again
Now you get to watch her leave out the window
Guess that's why they call it window pane

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that's all right because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that's all right because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie

Now I know we said things, did things, that we didn't mean
And we fall back into the same patterns, same routine
But your temper's just as bad as mine is, you're the same as me
When it comes to love you're just as blinded
Baby please come back, it wasn't you, baby it was me
Maybe our relationship isn't as crazy as it seems
Maybe that's what happens when a tornado meets a volcano
All I know is I love you too much to walk away though
Come inside, pick up the bags off the sidewalk
Don't you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk?
Told you this is my fault, look me in the eyeball
Next time I'm pissed I'll aim my fist at the drywall
Next time there won't be no next time
I apologize even though I know it's lies
I'm tired of the games I just want her back
I know I'm a liar if she ever tries to f**kin' leave again
I'ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Come on! Let's do this already!!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Score

Score ONE for the non-ghettoans (is that a word?)!! So here's the deal - this morning I had Drake take out our dog...with her leash, in a polite manner, conscious of our neighbors. As he was coming in, I hear him say "No! Go!" and he was talking to one of the pitbulls down the building! So I marched outside and there sat the owner of the dog. I said "you need to have your dog on a leash" - he said, "I just got up, I'm out here smoking a cigarette so I don't smoke around my kids"...I said "you need to either take the dog inside or put it on a leash or I'm calling the police". So there he sat...he said "you just gonna stand there? I'm getting ready to go to work", I explained that I was already "at work" (since I work from home) and that I was going to just go ahead and call the police since he obviously was not getting the leash. So in I went and I immediately called the police...they sent animal control out and unfortunately her hands are tied unless she witnesses the dog out/off leash but that she was able to give warnings and information about the laws of the State of Ohio pertaining to dogs (and specific to "vicious breeds") - we discussed the two neighbors that continually have their dogs off leash (the one this morning has a pitpull mix and the ones across the hall from them have one pitbull/ridgeback mix and one little dog). And then...as if the Gods were looking out for us...as I was talking to ANIMAL CONTROL the two dogs came bounding across the front lawn...unleashed!!! PRICELESS!!!!!!! They went right over to another neighbor who had her dog on a leash and got all tangled up with her - oh! It was poetry in motion...I couldn't have orchestrated anything better than that. The animal control officer walked out the door and immediately spoke to our neighbor - he lied to her and told her that they just got the little dog and that is why they didn't have a tag (they've had that dog for more than a year)...but he did have a tag for the pitbull mix - she explained the laws, told him that they needed to be on a leash, told him that the pitbull mix is listed as a vicious breed and that within 30 days they need to have an insurance bond on her or else they would not be able to keep the dog and they needed to get a license for the other dog. Oh! Sweet victory! I gotta say that I do fear the backlash from this....but for now...SCORE!

BTW - I'm not a dog hater...I LOVE all animals but these animals aren't treated properly...owners get them because they want to be cool pitbull owners - if were respectful of their animals and their neighbors, if they took the time to train their animals to stay with them and not shred gardens, knock over other animals and people - we'd have no issues.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mark

Mark is working this week, half days at Aullwood Farm/Audubon Center in Englewood. His class is 10 - 4/5 year old kids and he is teaching about farm babies and their life on the farm. Too cute! At the end of the week they do some type of performance/song/activity to show the rest of classes what they learned - so Mark is having the kids do the Chicken Dance. Too Cuter!
I miss Mark when he's gone. I get used to him being here. Sometimes when I go to work he tags along (which I love). He's my very best friend, he's intelligent, he's a dreamer, we're very much the same, but very much different and he's the most handsome man I've ever seen. While we were camping we celebrated 14 years of marriage (we've been together for nearly 15 years). In that time we've had three children together, gained custody of his two daughters, moved from the Culver house to Fox Hunt, back to the Culver house, to the beaches of Florida, to my parents house and to here (the ghetto), we've gone to college and both have graduated, we've worked at different companies, saw many people join or be born into our families and we lost too many people, life has been a struggle for us at times but we have always faced the challenges head on and learned from those experiences. I look forward to the day when we are relaxing on our porch with a glass of sun tea and I'm kicking Mark's booty in scrabble.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

...ain't no sunshine when she gone...

...Although this weekend maybe it should be more like "too much sunshine when she gone". My parents invited us to join them at a local campground (about an hour from here) to enjoy a weekend of fishing, swimming, campfiring, s'moring and the like...They said they were going in their RV and that we were able to "rough it" with them in there. "Rough it"!? C'mon! We are tough - we are tent people, we are sleep on the floor of the tent with a sleeping bag kind of people, we are cook over an open fire people. EXCEPT when it is the hottest weekend of the year. How hot? FREAKING HOT! The heat index hit over 100 degrees...it was sweltering! We couldn't get into the pool fast enough - we'd spend 3 hours at a time floating in the cool water - when we weren't in the pool we put our tails between our legs and enjoyed the "roughing it" of the air conditioned RV - we cooked sometimes over the propane grill, hiding behind the RV in the shade, other times we cooked inside the RV and another time - well...we gave up and went for pizza. Apparently we are all about roughing it, unless it is just too damn hot to rough it. We did spend two of the evenings around a campfire, laughing, dreaming and watching the heat lightning off in the distance - we shared stories, talked with the kids, enjoyed my parents and their stories of their trip out west (and I think my parents enjoyed being out of their RV and around the fire with their grand kids). I love our times around the fire...a fire ring is a definite at our farm.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Outta Here (again)

"Leaving...on a jet plane...don't know when I'll be back again". Ok WEELLLLL not exactly - but we ARE leaving in the minivan, following my parents in their RV to a nearby campground and I do know when I'll be back again (Sunday). A short trip but it will be good to be away from the ghetto, apparently our plan is just to stay away from the 1900 block most of the time...it will make our remaining time here go by faster.

Our garden is growing and our bushes and trees are looking gorgeous. I was worried that we might have lost one of our peach trees from the late replanting...but I saw new growth and that made me excited. Can't wait until next season when (hopefully) we'll have enough fruit to maybe make a pie.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ode to Ghetto

Oh sweet ghetto, where we live. I adore you. I love the flies that swarm around the 1/2 empty 40-oz cans of "beer", I love the 3 leg...make that 2 leg "grill" that has been laying on its side for a couple of weeks - obviously not able to function as a grill anymore, I love the toys strewn across the yard for days on end. I love the "man" urinating in the street and being so drunk that he rides the child ride on toys down the hill. I love the child who thinks it is ok to use nail polish to paint my car. I will be ever so sad when we are done loading up our moving truck and drive away laughing and giving all of you the finger in ghetto fashion.



Score!

Ok...so it was my birthday and I got a decent amount of cold hard cash to spend on whatever my heart desires. This doesn't happen very often...in fact it is typically once a year that I get Shelby money and spend it I did!
I bought the supplies to create the cutest little change purse (if I do say so myself) for Belly. I've had a couple of requests for these (a-hem...looking at you Aimee and Drake) and just maybe one of these days I will get time to do them!
So then the AWESOME, AMAZING thing happened...I drove past a house, ya'know the one that always goes to auctions and then pieces the items out and they had a 1913 Free (brand) Treadle Sewing Machine in a beautiful cabinet. All it needs is a good clean up, maybe a sanding and staining on the top and it needs a belt. I am so excited! I know it's like "what's the big deal about a sewing machine" - Well, let me tell you...I've been searching for a sewing machine just like this and I've only been able to find them for $300+ AND I got this sewing machine with another treadle base (to put an awesome piece of reclaimed wood across the top for a table) for $55!!!! WOOT WOOT! I love it! THE BEST BIRTHDAY FIND EVER!!!! Check it out...





Saturday, July 17, 2010

Freedom

So tired...but it feels so good. Mark and I helped our friend move into her new apartment yesterday. She had one storage unit filled to the brim, that had been there of around a year and another unit that was even fuller than the last...this one from 9 years ago. In three loads were were able to move everything she owns to her new home. Most everything went into her living room - because after 9 years you kinda forget what ya' packed. So she has this ginormous job of sorting through every box. We helped her get her and her daughter's beds set up, her washer and dryer hooked up and one of her miniblinds replaced. I know she is a little overwhelmed - but I am excited for her.

Today, we have NO PLANS! NO COMMITMENTS! How did that work out? I mean, usually we are filled to the brim with work, or family, or life plans - but today - NOTHIN' not a thing. Am I going to work in the garden...maybe...(ok, probably), am I gonna clean the house - who knows I might just do something wacky like grocery shop. I'd love to use this time to hit a couple shops that I've been dying to check out - their is a hydroponics place that I'd like to look at (we are thinking of trying out aquaponics on the farm...that we will be getting eventually...) and there is this cute vintage shop that I just want to see what they have. Oh - and I MIGHT just fit a nap in this weekend. You just never know how crazy this Roberts family can get when we aren't committed to everything else.

Hope everyone has just as an amazing weekend as we plan to have.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

These are my last few moments of being 35...about two and a half more hours. I'm hoping that 36 is going to be this amazing year, filled with so much growth and change. In a way, I feel like I'm just getting old and not exactly where I thought I'd be in life...in another way, I am amazed at all that I have accomplished by age 36...
14 years ago, tomorrow, I made one of the best decisions I could have ever made. Mark and I went and got our marriage license. On my 22 birthday...I was young, but ready to become a wife and an instant mother to two young girls. I'm not saying I was perfect - or I did everything right...but I feel that I have been the best wife and mother I could have been (could be) with the tools and training that I was given. We've added three more amazing children to the mix and I think I've done a great job with them too...At least I've made it this far and it feels like the kids all still like to see me every morning and kiss me goodnight every night. I'm proud of the fact that I went back to school and got my degree. I'm proud of where my career is at right now and looking forward to see what the next year brings for that. I've realized that it truly doesn't matter what what anyone outside of my family unit thinks about the decisions that we make, because Mark and I ALWAYS consider what is best for us, our children and our family unit. I feel like I am a good person - I help others less fortunate whenever I possibly can and love Mother Earth.
So...Happy (early) Birthday to me!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Garden Update...

One of my very best friends got the keys to her new apartment yesterday. I’m so excited for her – this is a giant leap in her life. She lived with her now EX-husband for many years, in his parents’ home. Since her divorce, her life has been pretty tough, she’s been living with her mother and step-father, and now this new door opening is very exciting. The apartment is in a nice area and has two bedrooms, 1 ½ bathrooms, a laundry area and a back patio (just to name a few things that will make her life easier). She will have her very own room and so will her teenage daughter. I’m very proud of her. Last night, we went over to the apartment for a tour and to help clean…it’s getting there. She has a lot to do before it will be to her standards…but I am confident that she will get it done and we will help as much as we can.

Mark is helping so much around the house. I cannot express how much I appreciate what he is doing. I know it is hard on him to be in limbo – it’s hard on all of us. We had always imagined that when he was done with school he’d jump right back into the 9-5 world and start teaching right away. Strangely though, it feels (to us anyway) that he should put that on hold for the moment. He will be an amazing teacher once the time comes – but to have him here, helping with the house, packing stuff away, cleaning closets etc…is incredible. He is making it so that our move (whenever that may be) will be a million times easier. (Thank you baby!)

We keep waiting for that call/email that “feels right” to us. I imagine it will be with the company I am with now – because I really like where I work and what I do – but I realize that there may be other opportunities in store for us too. Yesterday I was nominated for the Outstanding Employee Award…that makes me feel good. My boss is a great person and always seems just as concerned about my career as he is his own. That is a very good thing.

On Sunday we spent time in the garden…we repotted two of our VERY END OF THE SEASON peach trees (not sure if these are gonna’ make it – but they still have green leaves) – we also moved all the trees to a spot that isn’t QUITE as sunny as the last. Being that our trees are in pots, rather than the ground, they dry out much faster and the sun can really do them in if we can’t be there to water as much as we’d like – plus we’d like to conserve Mother Nature’s water as much as possible. We went through the whole garden and weeded and cut back the grass that is growing too tall. Our garden, after a few weeks at mom’s and another week in NY, needed a lot of love…and it still needs more. We have yet to setup our trellises, so our beans are reaching out for anything (including our fencing) to grow on…to cute! Cucumbers are growing and so are the beans, we’ve got a couple of onions ready to pull and blossoms everywhere. I’m loving in…

For your viewing enjoyment…

Eventually...our orchard...right now, we have 4 apple trees (Empire, Macs, 2-yellow), 3 peach trees, a nectarine, and a pear.
My farm crew...
The garden before the great weeding event...
The after shot...
Mmm...what's that I see...

Urban Farming at its finest :-)
How many peach trees can fit into a 1989 Honda Accord?

Mmm...Fresh Compost in the morning

Smells even better in the back of my van...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

By the way...We have baby cucumbers growing!!

I Love New York

This summer has been wonderful so far (with the exception of the heat wave…and broken air conditioning)…first a “staycation” at my parents’ home and then a true vacation in upstate New York…what’s next for us??? A move??? Hopefully…hopefully soon.

We just got home from a little piece of Heaven called Chittenango, New York. This is my hometown, my first hometown that is. This was the place I was born and lived until I was nearly eleven, but my roots grew deep here. I have family still in the area, many of the Eggerts are scattered in Chittenango and Collamer and a favorite Aunt in Lakeport. It has been a few years since we’ve been able to go as a family. I’ve only visited a couple times and only to say good-bye to Grandparents that have passed. This visit was very different. It’s hard to explain – of course it was different because the visit wasn’t related to a sad event – but it was something more. We stayed at my Aunt’s house – a number of years ago, she bought a home directly on Oneida Lake and has a three tiered deck that looks out onto the water. Being the water-moon baby that I am there is nothing better than to wake up in the morning, drag my ass out to the deck, sit next to my favorite guy, drink a cup of joe and watch my kids explore the shoreline. Mark and I sometimes sat quietly, staring at the water and other times we laughed and dreamed about the future.
We ate at Eddies (one of our favorite restaurants), enjoyed some REAL NY pizza, hiked Chittenango Falls, dug our toes in the sand at Sylvan Beach, toured my hometown (pointing out “where I used to live” and sharing stories about the different places), visited with family and just really enjoyed being a family.
We drove up a creepy road (Gulf Road) that winds through the forest and ends up at a place called Top of the World. You can see forever…literally. We drove up there during the day and came back at night. We saw more stars than I have ever seen in my life…we actually saw satellites and the Milky Way and just missed a sighting of the Space Station. I deeply wish Tiff and Kait were able to go…but life got in the way for them…money, school, and work (Oh My!) but eventually they will be able to join us in NY too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Some like it HOT

It's hot! REALLY hot! Freaking hot! It's kissing the 90's here and guess what...no air! I know I'm supposed to be all "green" and eventually I will own a home positioned on my land to take advantage of the natural air flow and plant trees to help shield my home...but for now - I am in a badly placed brick home with crap circulation and no air. UGH - We're dying here...everyone is miserable and sweaty. The kids hair is lined with wet sweaty hair. I don't feel like moving. After a crazy weekend at the WPAFB Tattoo (from 2 until midnight) and then yesterday at the West Carrollton Summer Fest from 9 until nearly 5 PM...I was hoping for a day of relaxation - chill in the air for a bit, then go clean up the garden, then back to the air...but NO! I feel like being a slug today.
I wish this feeling of anxiety would go away. I have that jitterbug feeling - like I forgot something...I think it's because of the move (or non-move as it stands at this moment) - but it is a frustrating, annoying feeling.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bursting

...Tick...Tock being back at the apartment makes me hear the clock tick tocking even louder. I feel a little like a broken record but it is so close... I spoke to my boss today and it sounds like there is a potential of greater things in store for him - does that mean growth for me too? Perhaps.
We've completely outgrown this place - we are bursting at the seams. So, we've started packing. That's right! We've started the process of sorting, purging and packing our items that aren't regularly used. That feels good. Although the house seems strangely messier while we are in this process...but soon freeing and refreshing.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Have I mentioned that I am married to a great man? Don't get me wrong - we've had our issues in the past (we certainly aren't perfect) but we are perfect for each other. Two peas in a pod...very opposite but complimentary peas. :-) Today, I got to celebrate the man that I am able to learn with, share the joy with, share the (at times) frustration with, share the laughter with and love. I am lucky to have found such a wonderful man who puts up with all my BS and still loves me through it all...lucky to have a man that, although at one time he thought he was done having children, opened his heart to having not just one but three more children. We have this huge family with wonderful children and a crazy life and I couldn't imagine growing old with anyone else.

On a garden side of things - we were able to celebrate the first bite of fresh blueberry. Drake picked our very first "harvest" (read: single berry) of blueberries :-) We let the three little ones share our bounty...and it was "good, not great, but good" - Ok...after waiting and waiting I will take "good" for our very first berry off the bush (considering that our sad little bushes weren't sure last season if they could live another year). With lots of tender touches, fresh dirt and compost mix with a little bit of organic 3-3-3- fertilizer from Marvin's Organic Gardens we were able to perk those bad boys back up and they paid us back with the most beautiful blueberry I've ever seen. There are a ton more still on the bush - just not ready for picking...

The trees recently purchased were not digging the containers that they were in - we replanted them in pots about twice the size of the ones they were in and added some sand, soil and peat...we watered them and talked to them a little bit and they immediately seemed perkier.
Our beans are reaching out to grab and climb - one of my favorite plants to have in the garden for the reason. It makes me laugh to see those silly little climbers twisting (hog tying) around another plant or sometimes even themselves...

We went to Aullwood Farm yesterday (http://aullwood.center.audubon.org) - what a great place! We saw goats, cows, pigs, sweet baby lambs and sheep - the barn swallows were super cool too...there were a ton of nests with little baby faces peeking out the top.

Ah! Farm life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

...a New Beginning

The time is here. My children and I were able to stand tall and celebrate the accomplishment of my husband. On Saturday, June 12th, Mark walked for his graduation. His degree made it through 5 children, a crazy wife (that's me!), a move to Florida, a move back to Ohio, and switching of the degree from high grades to lower ones. During this time, we've experienced Cora being born into our family, Gage's tonsils being removed, Drake getting his first set of stitches, Tiffany moving on to adulthood, and Kait moving to be with her mother and choosing to come back to us. We've had struggles in our marriage, just as any other couple does...but we've made it. Today, Mark and I are both college graduates. Through all the struggles - we have taught our children and hopefully others around us that if something is important enough, you will work hard enough, focus well enough, find those little pockets of time to relax and rejuvenate enough to prepare for the next wave, and claw your way through until you reach that goal. I spent most of Saturday morning with tears in my eyes and running down my cheeks...filled with emotion, filled with pride for my husband, honored to be a part of this accomplishment for Mark, excited to applaud him, wondering what the future now holds for us, knowing that fate is watching this step in Mark's life and hoping that our next door will soon be opening.
Someone once asked Mark if he was "walking" for graduation and my response to that was "Fuck YES he's walking"!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

We've Added to Our Orchard!

Yesterday the Home Depot had a bunch of their fruit trees at 50% (or more) off!!! So we took advantage and bought two yellow delicious apple trees and one each of peach, pear and tangerine.
I can't wait to make pies and fresh fruit salad and can for the winter and make applesauce, peach sauce, pear sauce and...Oh! Let's just say "I can't wait!"
The kids picked some OH SO YUMMY raspberries today. I still haven't tried any raspberries yet this year - but I hear that ours are DELICIOUS...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

There's no place like home...but where is that?

Being away from our apartment makes us all realize how that is truly NOT our home...just simply a place where we lay our heads while our land waits for us to be ready. It's all up to money now...we've readied the family members that might have have issues with us potentially moving away - we all feel like where we are isn't where we are meant to be. Maybe we are wrong - but it just doesn't feel like us anymore in Ohio. I feel like work will be coming with an opportunity for us. Perhaps this is just wishful thinking...but we feel that there is a better place for us. One where we can utilize the Earth, sun, water, air and land to best the needs of our family. Mark and I sat down today with the plan that we have developed for our barn home. We compared room sizes to those in my parents' home to see if we are being realistic and...we are. We know that we want space for our family as it stands now - but we also want space to fit our family in the future and guests for the near future - but we also don't want to be overwhelmed when our family is grown and has left the farm. We want to be smart about how we position the home, how we run the electricity (and making sure our home is conducive to being "off grid"), take advantage of the rain water run off, and utilize our gray water.
I got my motorcycle permit this weekend. Kait got a scooter and in Ohio you need to have your motorcycle endorsement in order to ride on the street. So since Mark and Kait will both be able to ride - I figured that I would just try it out and take the test and I passed. Now I just have to work to do the "road test" and I'll be road worthy...FEAR ME PEOPLE! Just kidding! I mean, it's a scooter...how bad can it be?!
I'm feeling the need to be creative - since the garden is growing (for now) and I don't need to get my hands dirty there - I feel like creating something with yarn and a hook! I want to try a sweater - crocheting a sweater. I don't know when I'll start or how it will go or how much cursing there will be - but I'm feeling like it is soon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summa Cum Laude Cords

11 more days! Mark will be walking down the aisle in his cap and gown, grabbing his diploma with his Summa Cum Laude Cords draped around his shoulders. Yup - that's right...I married me a smarty! I'm so excited about what this means for our lives.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Crafting playground and Big Fish

I need to make a skirt today...I've made my daughter, Cora, a few items in the past; however, when one of my friends saw the skirt I made (made with Dia de los Muertos fabric) she and her daughter fell in love with it! Now, I need to make her daughter one! They brought the fabric last weekend...and I haven't had any time to set up the sewing maching (much less actually sew) - this is another reason I can't wait to have a house - the plan is to have a set crafting area. Imagine a place where all my fabric is sorted out, yarn (along with my crochet hooks and knitting needles) will be easily accessible, the sewing machine will always be set up and ready to go and a list of started/potential projects will be pinned into the board on the wall. Ahh sound nice doesn't it?

We went to Grand Lake St. Mary yesterday - I actually had to do some store visits in the area (for work) so I grabbed the family and off we went. It's such a nice (long) ride...but what an amazing sight when the lake peeks out from the farm land. It's too cold to get into the water yet - but we plopped down on the rocks and just stared at the water. Ever see the movie Big Fish? I dry out too if I'm out of the water too long. My energy is drained. This place has me drained. I don't understand the nonsense destruction - for example, we went to our garden yesterday and someone had disconnected our hose from the rain barrel and turned the barrel to ON - so it drained all 55 gallons into the ground around the barrel. There was no benefit to them for this. Just waste. Just disrespect for other peoples things. It's disappointing to say the least.

However - AUGUST...sweet August. That is the plan - out the door August 1. We've been waiting for work to give us the word on when/if they want me to move to another location for a new program...but we are going to take control of our own destiny. If we haven't heard anything by the first of August the plan is to move to another place and go month-to-month for a while - hopefully we will hear something before then though and give us new hope and new dates to look forward to.

Mark graduates in LESS than three weeks (2 weeks - 6 days to be exact) - JOY! We are going to be doing the graduation announcements today and hopefully sending them out Mon/Tues!!