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Try Something New…. August 14, 2011

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This summer I tried something completely new to me.  So new, in fact, that a few months ago I was appalled that this task was being asked of me, and did not believe I was up to the challenge.

This summer I coached a junior baseball team.  And it was freaking awesome.

This is how it all shook down.  We signed our eldest child up for ball just as we did the previous summer.  No biggie there, I could totally handle taking her to a couple of games a week and playing with the younger kids on the playground while she had her game.  Only her team didn’t have a coach.  So an old neighbor of ours who organizes much of the minor ball around here called Anson, asking him if he’d be able to coach.

He agreed.

Then told me about it.  I wasn’t overly impressed, as many of her games were going to be at six in the evening, and I knew he would not be able to be there on time.  I said as much, and wondered aloud how on earth I would be able to handle this task when A) I knew nothing, and i mean nothing, about the game, B) I have a really hard time with names and was honestly concerned about not remembering the kids names,  and C) I would have three non players with me, one of whom is a seriously needy and tantrum prone toddler.  Right.  Good times, I thought.

But it really was good times.  Excellent times, actually.  Coaching that team with my man this summer was a ton of fun, and we intend to do it again.  Really, with four kids who will likely all play, why not?

And I had those names down pat by the end of the first game, though there is still much for me to learn about the game and scorekeeping.

That all said, I learned a ton this summer.

I learned that……

When you don’t have enough members for a team because of kids who move away or quit the team early in the season, and you aren’t able to get help from the organizers of the teams, step up and do something about it.  The kids don’t want to forfeit, so better find yourself some new team mates, coach.  I did, (ten minutes before a game I might add) in the form of a friend of ours who had missed sign up, and our younger daughter, who wasn’t overly happy about joining in the beginning, but went on to have a great season.

Most of the young ladies on our team like the smell of gasoline. (Random tidbit of info given to me one evening by our youngest member, quickly agreed upon by many others.)  So do I.  And yes, we talked about the fact that we still shouldn’t sniff it.

The amount of skill a child can gain in a season is amazing.  I was so impressed.

Playing a team sport is so not about winning.  But it still feels awesome watching it happen for them.

Coaching your kids team makes you really, super cool in their friends eyes, and as a bonus, watching their friends win their championship game made a couple of young friends of ours decide to join up next year.  Whoohoo Owen and Talia!

Watching your daughter hit her first home run at the championship game rocks.  She was so proud of herself!  Watching her do it again during the next inning was just crazy.  She definitely played her personal best.

Some teeny tiny players think it’s super funny to tease their coach by pretending they are going to hit her in the legs while practicing swinging.  Stinker.

Enlisting the help of Grandma’s is a lifesaver.  Both for help with aforementioned high maintenance toddler, and with coaching.

Having another parent assist is necessary.  I so could not have managed without the help of another Dad out there.

It’s very hard to scorekeep with several young people talking to you.

There are a lot of rules to this game.  A lot.  I still don’t know them all, but plan to learn.

Kids talk a lot.  That’s okay, so do I.

Kids are awesome.  I’ve always known this about my own kids, but everyone else’s kids are awesome too.

I’m sad the season is over.  Not so much because I’m going to miss the games, fun as they were, but because I’m going to miss the kids.  We had a seriously awesome group of young people on our team this season, and I’m going to miss seeing them each week.

Cheers, Green Eagles.  It was great learning with you guys, you totally rocked my summer.

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The Big Picture….. July 28, 2011

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So here’s the deal.  When I went into this challenge, I didn’t take into account something.  That something?  The fact that we are here to have fun.  It’s the whole point of life.  Living in the moment.  And to some people, a big part of enjoying your moments is feeling good in your own skin.  Representing your SELF with your style.  I hadn’t taken that into consideration when I put restrictions on our shopping.  I had thought that we could buy new(to us) clothes at value village and such, but hadn’t really given a thought to things like undergarments, accessories and bathing suits. I had hoped the need for these things wouldn’t come up during the year, but let’s be honest, there are six of us in this family.

I guess I wasn’t really looking at the big picture. 

The big picture being this.  I am a twenty nine year old woman, who recently remembered what it is like to get dressed with more in mind than how easy an outfit is to nurse in discreetly.  I remembered what it is like to dress in certain things because they make me feel good about ME.  And I realized, however belatedly, that I am raising two young ladies who also care a great deal about how they represent themselves, and each have their own totally individual style.  Upon realizing this, I promised them I would assist them in vamping up their “looks.”

As a side note, I also realized that I NEED a new bathing suit.  As my old one has completely stopped being stretchy.  Makes for opportunity for embarrassment there, don’t you think?

So, we are going shopping.  Some of the items we buy will not be second hand, as I refuse to buy a bathing suit or undies second hand.  I’m just not that hardcore.  Of course we will be hitting up value village as well…..but you get the picture.  I’m a big fat failure at my own freaking challenge.  Meh.

So while maybe I haven’t lived up to my own expectations, I have learned something at this half way mark in the year.

Things aren’t as black and white as we think they are.  Whatever your cause is, there is always a grey area.  For me this grey area comes in realizing that while I want to walk as gently upon our beautiful planet as I possibly can, I also am here to live in the moment and enjoy life.  And sometimes enjoyment is found in painting your toenails bright purple, dying your hair,  buying a new bra, or enjoying a fabulous cup of coffee.

I could potentially live my entire life attempting to cause absolutely no harm to our home planet and it’s inhabitants, while also feeling quite deprived of some of the niceties this age on our earth has to offer.  And while there are many niceties I have no interest in, there are some I would very much miss.

Or I can do this.  I can live in a way that is comfortable to me, being conscious of my choices at all times, even if i acknowledge that some of those choices are less than ideal.  If all of us made this small effort, the effort to boycott those things we don’t support, and pick and choose the things we do, it will have far more of an impact than one persons individual, though very admirable effort of a lifetime ever could.

So, are you with me?  I still plan on my “challenge” being with me every day, every purchase I make.  But I am, at times, going to cheat, or modify the rules, to suit my family and situation.

Yup, that’s me.  Total rule breaker.  Such a rebel…..

Barn-Warming….. July 24, 2011

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We have some seriously generous, wonderful people in our lives.  Getting started with this property would have been much harder without them.

We have been gifted lovely outdoor wicker furniture, beautiful wall hangings for the house, plants for our flowerbeds (complete with volunteers who planted them!), and a wonderful dishwasher (can’t believe I’d been missing one of those…..).

All of those things were given to us as house-warming type gifts, to help us get settled in our new home.

But, as my mother pointed out, our home does not just consist of a house.  There is also a barn….and alot of yard.

And so we received barn warming presents as well.

These took the form of fifty-four bales of hay, and five laying hens.  Like I said before, these people are generous.

And to top it all off, we were also given a yard warming gift.  A nice little used john deere lawnmower complete with a red bow tied on it. 

I was starting to feel pretty strange about all of the wonderful things we have received in the past while, and commented to my father in law that although I understood that a flow of giving and taking is how the universe works, I didn’t feel we were giving nearly enough to deserve all we have been receiving.  His response,

 “You have given us four beautiful grandchildren, we can’t top that.”

That comment made me think.  It made me realize that these people all want to help us get started, because they have all been here before, or will be here again.  And that while we may not be able to repay them all in our lifetimes, we will have our chance to give more than we receive in our future, with younger generations. 

Because that’s just how it works.

It truly does take a village.  Not just to raise a child, but to live your life.  We are so very thankful for our village.  You know who you are.

And then there were two…… July 18, 2011

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Yesterday my lovely husband finished my pasture by building the gates.  Yes, he loves me very much.

While he was at the hardware store with our sons buying the hinges we needed to hang said gates (yup, another new purchase, gasp!) I rode my paint mare two concessions from my parents home, to our home.

This is where I will explain that my mare is not in the best athletic condition, having been retired for a couple of years.  And not only has she been retired, her previous job was not very strenuous in the first place.  So the ride took quite awhile, as we walked the entire way.  And when I say walked, I mean I also walked on my feet for part of this “ride”.  I am so glad I have her on my property now so that I can give her the excercise she so depserately needs.

But oh my, the deer flies!  My overweight, lazy friend actually wanted to jog at times, because they were biting her so much!  An aspect of summer trail rides I had totally forgotten about……suffice to say we were both so glad to get home.  And we are both fairly sore today, as I am not in the best riding condition myself after a break of over a decade.  My bum is sore today!

But the best part about our fence being finished and Blessing living here now didn’t arrive until today.  That best part arrived in a trailer, neighing her large, fool head off.  Boy, was Blessing ever excited.  She still is, although her new friend has tried to kick her several times since they met.

My lovely sister, devoted mother that she is, bought her horse crazy ten year old daughter her very own horse last weekend.  When we bought this property I told both my sister and neice that they were welcome to keep a horse here as well.  I had to offer, having been a horse crazy ten year old once myself.  (and now being a horse crazy twenty nine year old….)

So, I introduce you to Luna, the almost-too-large-for-her-owner new addition to our farm.  She seems to be settling in just fine, and I hope she will be a wonderful match for her excited young owner.

My apologies for the craptastic phone pictures.  My camera batteries are dead, and I’m entirely too lazy and impatient to wait for them to charge.

Life Without a Dryer….. July 5, 2011

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I’ve been dryer free for over two months now.  I still own a dryer, but it has never gotten hooked up since moving in to this home.

Do I mind you ask?  Not in the least.  In fact, I think it’s quite wonderful.

For years now I have wanted to get rid of my dryer, but haven’t been able to because I didn’t have the space for an indoor clothesline to line dry year round.  In this home, I do have the space.  Both indoors and out, I will have clotheslines.  (Huge thank you to a dear friend for the clothesline poles!)

The thing is, hanging out our laundry is a chore I actually like.  Shifting it from the washer to the dryer takes less time and effort, to be sure, but it just isn’t the same.  I like hanging it out, I like seeing our clothing hanging on the line, and I don’t even mind our towels being a wee bit crunchy at first.  It’s well worth it to me for the energy that we save by not using a dryer.

So tell me, what household appliance that we deem necessary in our modern society could you do without?

And, does anyone need a dryer?  Mine is taking up space where a nice big laundry sink could be…..

Confessions…… June 28, 2011

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This is the post where I tell you guys the ways in which we haven’t lived up to our Challenge.  Gasp.  I know, I know.  You thought we were succeeding wonderfully, didn’t you?  That I hadn’t bought a loaf of bread at the grocery store in months, right?

Sorry folks, but we are just human.  And I don’t actually like to bake, so……

Here are the confessions that I have thus far for the year.

I will state my blatant disregard for the challenge first, I suppose.  Back in February, I was getting really burnt out from tandem nursing the boys.  I had intended on child led weaning, but really was just done with nursing two (I had been doing so for a year.)  Anyhow, my three year old had been bugging me for a webkinz like his sisters have.  (You see where this is going?)  Yup, he traded in our nursing relationship for a blue dinosaur webkinz, because, as you know, only BIG KIDS have webkinz.  I didn’t even think about this.  I mean, I know webkinz DO NOT fit into our challenge rules, but I really didn’t care.  We jumped in the van and headed to the store as soon as he stated that he was a big boy and would rather have a webkin than nurse.  Mind you, he has tried a couple of times to trade that webkin back in since then…..but I still view it as a worthwhile failure on my part as I am now only nursing one child and Liams’ heart was not broken over weaning.

EPIC FAIL – having Anson pick up taco bell on his way home from work one night back in the spring.  Not only was it a fail in our standards for food, it was also super gross.  Totally not worth it.

I have gone back and forth between success and failure at baking all of our breadstuffs from scratch.  I’d say it’s about even, how often I buy these things and how often I make them at home.

The pets are back on kibble.  The cat started refusing to eat raw and was basically starving himself, so I switched them both back.  I’m happy not to be gagging over their food anymore, though I do still feel guilty about this one.

I bought brand spanking new water containers for the ducks and chickens on a whim while at the hardware store.  I fully expect they are made in china, though I didn’t check.  Yes, I didn’t even check.  Terrible.

I mentioned the new dehumidifier we bought in a previous post.  As this keeps the basement and it’s contents from getting moldy I don’t mind it, though I do wish we had taken the time to find a used one.

I ran out of Dr. Bronners soap and bought regular shampoo from the grocery store.  I miss the Bronners and can’t wait to order more.

We have had to buy new parts for the car, and spend more money on it than I’d like to mention.  This could be an entire post in itself…..but I try not to think about it.

I bought disposable diapers.  We still use cloth most of the time, but there is a box of sposies here for night time, mostly.  That said, we went to Toronto for a weekend recently, and I only took the sposies.  The worst part?  I really, really liked it.  Very cool that they go in the green bin in the city too.  Points for TO.  Boo to me.  I’m pretty burnt out on the cloth diapering thing these days.  No worries though, I will see it through til potty training.

I bought ziploc bags.  Our snack baggies are wearing out, and I was packing food for our weekend away.  I didn’t even reuse them.  Just threw them out.  Yup, I suck.

I bought a new pair of sunglasses.  I couldn’t stand driving without them anymore.  Oh, and while I was buying them, I also bought lipgloss.  Just because.  It was a fun impulse buy, and the girls and I enjoyed wearing it to the wedding we attended. 

I haven’t been to the bulk food store in a couple of months.  Which means I have been using more packaging for peanut butter and such.  This is pure laziness on my part, I find it a hassle to stop there with the four children sometimes.

 

I buy candy.  Almost every week.  Cheap, non organic candy. Delicious failure, indeed.

Forty Nine Holes….. June 22, 2011

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That is how many holes Anson and I dug for our fence posts over the past couple of weeks. 

Here is the part where I have to tell you all how proud I am of myself.  I knew Anson was very capable of digging these holes, however I doubted myself and my own strength.  (I wasn’t the only one…..)  Anyhow, Anson did the corner posts (which are quite a lot more work) and about 5 others. (don’t quote me on that exactly, I didn’t count.)

My point is – I did the rest.  With the help of the older children lending a hand when they were interested, I dug over forty three foot holes myself, a few each day.  And I feel better than I have in years.  Total awesomeness.

Anson was digging the last few for me, and made a comment about how now he could say he finished the fence.  Um no, I’ll take that auger, thanks all the same.  Yes folks, I  finished the last hole for this pasture we are building.

Now comes time to fill them all in.  Some good quality time spent with my man.  Yes, we think home improvement projects are quality time…..

These posts were purchased following the rules of our challenge.  We got them used from a local gentleman, at about half the price it would have cost us to purchase them new.  Not too shabby in my opinion.  I’m still stuck on trying to find wire fencing used though, I’m hoping some will manifest itself before we’re ready to finish the fence.  I really do not want to have to buy new materials for this project.

So there ya have it.  Forty nine holes and some serious strength training later and I’m well on my way to having space for some equine friends out there……

 

Awesome….. June 18, 2011

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This post is going to be rather sappy.  So, if you’re not interested in that, better go find another blog to read. 

If you’re still reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tomorrow is father’s day, and while I have an amazing father, awesome Papa, and fantastic father in law, each of whom I am very grateful to have in my life, this post is not about them.

It’s about my man.  The father of my children.  Their Daddy.

He’s awesome.  I’m not just saying that, he really is.

Allow me to tell you why…..

He’s awesome because he goes to work for long hours every day, driving over two hours to and from, to provide for us.

He’s awesome because he fully supports me being a stay at home parent.

He’s awesome because at the end of such long days, he still has the patience to read to his children, or listen as they read to him.

He’s awesome because he takes much longer to complete any given project, just so that any of his children can “help.”

 

He’s awesome because it makes me giggle every time he puts a cloth diaper cover on inside out.  I mean, really, they aren’t that complicated.

He’s awesome because he encouraged me to not throw in the towel on breastfeeding in the early weeks because he knew how much it meant to me.

He’s awsesome because he is fully on board with raising our children as life learners rather than sending them to the local public school.

He’s awesome because he plays along with whichever superhero our son is pretending to be.  And helps him make super “spidey jumps”.

He’s awesome because he plays.

He’s awesome because he doesn’t judge me or think less of me when I get overwhelmed with my duties as a wife and Mama.

He’s awesome because he always takes the time to really listen to our children.

He’s awesome because he NEVR DOES THE FREAKING ONESIES BACK UP WHEN HE CHANGES A DIAPER.  Okay, maybe I don’t really think that’s awesome.  But, I also know it’s not important.  We all have different standards.  And hey, he changed the diaper.

And the biggest reason I think he’s awesome?

Because he’s not only awesome for the three children he gave his dna to create.  He’s equally as awesome for the one he chose to be a father to.

I think my Aunt said it best in a facebook post.

“Any man can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad. So true.

To the men and their chosen children and all the special Dads this weekend, your awesome.”

See?  I told you he’s awesome.

The Sky…. June 14, 2011

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There are so many things I love about this small peice of the planet we get to call “ours”. 

I love the barn, in all it’s old and spectacular, rustic beauty.

I love the space, the wide openness.

 

I love how very secluded it is, like an island in the middle of a corn field.

 

I love the gardens I am able to put in, and the vision of the ones that will come in the future.

I love the creatures we are able to welcome to live here with us.

I love the wildlife that already lives here (excpet for the racoons living in my barn, and I only dislike them because of the threat the pose to our chickens and ducks).

I love the house, and how easy it is to live in with four young ones.

But the thing I love the most?

The sky. 

I didn’t realize how much I had missed it, didn’t realize I missed my view of the sky while living in town, where trees and other peoples homes blocked my view.  Here, I can walk out in my huge backyard and look up, and I feel like I can fly.  It’s the feeling I grew up with, and I am so very grateful to have it back, and to give it to my children as well.

Team Boaks’ stargazing club is scheduled to begin this weekend.  Love it.

Catching up….. May 12, 2011

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I’ve been missing this space. We don’t have internet currently in our new home (yes, we’re moved and settling in!) So I’m giving blogging on my phone a try. It isn’t nearly as bad as I though it would be, and as I’m not sure when we’ll get our computer up and going, I better get used to it.

Anyhow, I have many things to share in the coming weeks. My enery levels and productivity are awesome right now, which is good because I have a very long to do list. This home is wonderful, the land is wonderful, the barn is wonderful.
We have had to buy a couple of new items due to our move, such as hardware for plumbing and a dehumidifier. But the raised beds I will be building will be made with barn board we already had in our barn, and we are trying very hard to stick to our challenge through our move and home improvement projects.

The first morning I woke up here, I walked around my yard…..enjoying the peace, the beauty. I was brought to tears…I am so happy to be here.

I am incredibly blessed.