Sunday, March 11, 2012

Growing Anew

Ugh, I hate failing.  I try to remember how great people always failed.  Lincoln failed.  Edison failed.  And even from a worldly view Jesus looked like a pretty big screw up.  The thing that I admire about utter and complete failures is their ability to bounce back and not let their failure define them.  And so, I spam you with inspirational quotes that teach us how to properly look at those events in life that tear us down.


I'm taking steps forward.  I'm looking onward, and upward.  I'm finding a new path for myself and realizing that the reason this is all hitting me so hard is because I've tied my identity to what I do and how I do at it rather than who I am.  Which makes for a fragile ego.  Ever changing depending on what I've done and how well I've done it.  Looking at it like this sounds so exhausting.

So, I'm going back to the start (yes, I singing Coldplay as I type that).  Who does God say that I am?  

I am a child of God and an heir with Christ.  
I am accepted by Christ.  
I am the temple of the Spirit of God.  
I am chosen, holy and blameless before Him.  
I am God's workmanship, created to do good works.  
I have been made complete in Christ.

It's really been a call back to His word.  For a long time I've been having one way conversations with God.  I've been talking and talking and talking, but not taking the time to listen.  I think it's very easy to get caught up  in other identities when you're not taking in wisdom.  My starting places in the bible when I've spent a season out of the Word is typically Hebrews or 1 & 2 Kings.  So, I started in Hebrews.  I'm going to inextricably tie my identity in the One who never disappoints.

In other news - I started my seedlings.  There is new life everywhere.  I even took pictures of them, but I'd have to manage to find my cord o share those with you...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

That didn't take terribly long

And now, I'm having an identity crisis.  For so long I was 'Stay At Home Mom'.  I had playdates, I went to the park, I cooked a TON.  Then I had three kids, and something changed.  For some reason "THREE" was the magical number of kids that made it nearly  impossible to leave the house, or get to other people's houses, or, it seems, still have some kind of life beyond my identity of 'Mom'.  So, in short, this had been a hard year for my SAHM self.

Insert part-time job.  Insert the assumption that if I did great at part-time, I'd do even better at full-time.  And so, I did it.  And I rocked it.  Seriously.  I did amazing.  I'd forgotten what a freaking rock-star I could be.  How well I could do.  And then I got fired.

One day I was doing amazing, all of my feedback was amazing, my employees loved me, my customers loved me, my boss loved me.  Then I got sick (maybe bronchitis?  or pneumonia?  something pretty awful with a fever and horrid cough) and before I could get better I was told "this isn't working".  The only clue to why was that my boss didn't think I'd been there enough.  Because, somehow, 65 hours isn't enough.

I handled it so well.  Gracefully, professionally, showing nothing but praise and understanding for them.  But, I'll be honest, I'm angry, and my self-esteem is shattered.  I can know that there's nothing more I could've done.  I couldn't control whether or not I got sick, I couldn't really work more than I did, especially being sick.  And I'm sure it's all a part of God's grand plan, but right now I just feel defeated.

I'm back to working on projects around the house, this week we've gotten chickens, I've moved my garden beds so I can better mow around them, I've dug out and gone through my seeds, I started building a fort for the kids out of pallets, I've been cleaning.  But I have no idea what I'm supposed to do next.  Do I stay here and wait until John finds a job, do I continue my job search and find... full-time?  part-time?  work again?  I just don't know, and I'm in a rare spot of being terrified.  Terrified of being clueless and of not having any clear path or direction in life, because I ALWAYS have clear direction.

I went to Crystal Bridges yesterday with my friend, Michele, and saw a beautiful piece of art that I'll leave you with, it's by Mary McCleary and it's called "The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer".  And it's a mixed-media mosaic.  Those aren't brush strokes.  It's amazing in person!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Phase in Life

When I got pregnant with Kate I was an assistant manager at a fast food restaurant.  I had been desperate to get MANAGEMENT on my resume, and I was willing to work whatever job I could get that would pay me enough and get me there.  So, I ended up in fast food.  I don't really even eat fast food.  I discovered I was pregnant because my first symptom was that I literally thought I was going crazy.  It didn't seem that far off for me.  I was working 6 scheduled 10 hour shifts a week, plus driving where ever they needed me floating between stores up to an hour away.  I worked the opening shift, so I was going to bed at 8 pm to be at work at 4:30 am.

After 6 months of being pregnant and working that schedule I was just about done.  Because of the strain on my body (60 hours a week of being on my feet with no real breaks during the day) and the stress of working fast food my doctor advised me to quit for the sake of my pregnancy.

At that time God had already laid on my heart to stay at home with my new baby.  I'm glad He spoke so strongly to me, because it made it easier when I just wanted to take things over and make our life happen the way I thought it should.  I'm good at working, bordering on workaholic... John is... on island time.  The control freak in me would go nuts sitting by and doing nothing while John did things the way he knew how.

It was an incredible time of learning for me.  Learning patience, learning that God provides, learning that I can trust John, learning to be a mom, learning to be still, to be alone.

About 9 months ago John asked me to consider working some.  Now, he didn't go about this quite the right way and it was NOT well received.  I felt like I was failing at staying at home with the kids and John asking me to work felt like him agreeing with me.  But after he got his foot out of his mouth he explained that what he'd like was for us to determine what our family wants, what we need, and then go for it.  Take everything off of the table and start over with deciding what works for us as a family.  What works, what doesn't.  Re-evaluate everything.

So then, I decided I could work part-time.  John was going to school full-time and had been working part-time while I stayed at home.  I offered for him to stay at home with the kids while I took on a part time job, but I put in a ton of safety nets.  I told him I needed to be able to come home if it wasn't working for me.  I thought getting out more would be good for me (hello!  extrovert here!), but I was REALLY attached to my stay at home mom identity.

The perfect job popped up working at this amazing little French inspired bakery/cafe less than 2 miles from me.  I was... awkward the first few weeks.  I'll be honest, my problem solving skills had taken a dive after hanging out with tiny people all day.  I yelled at a co-worker, not just a co-worker, but my boss's brother.  So embarrassing, I had to apologize profusely and I still couldn't get over how unprofessional that was.  I had to remember what it was like to be out in the real world... apparently there was a learning curve.

It was really ideal.  I still FELT like a stay at home mom, but I also got to be around people and try on some old skills that had been totally dormant.  Like... thinking.  LOL...  then we got to a place where we NEEDED my income, which I thought we wouldn't.  So, I started thinking about how I could get more money working the same number of hours.  So, I started applying to upscale restaurants, planning to do just a few nights a week earning tips and then my normal hours at the cafe. But then, the bakery started doing amazing.  They got a huge account and then they asked me to work more.  So, I was looking at more hours, which would've made it hard to wait tables also.  So, I turned down the extra hours but told them that if they needed to take my hours to give to the new person, that I completely understood because at that point I'd been hired on to work dinners at the high end restaurant I'd been looking for.

The restaurant I'd gotten hired on at told me dinners were fine, and I wouldn't have to work lunches, and that they'd put me on the schedule after the new year.  So I finished up with the bakery December 23rd on good terms, and just relaxed with the family through the holidays.  Money was tight, but I had a job all lined up, so I wasn't worried.  You know, until I called after the new year.  And apparently not working lunches wasn't okay, and the whole situation was no null and void.

That's when I figured out that my faith might not have been in God after all, but in my and John's ability to provide for ourselves.  I had a huge panic attack, and spent all of that day applying to every job I thought I might stand a chance at.  Even looking beyond what I felt like I wanted to do.  I figured with John and I both out looking for work something was bound to happen.  And it did.  Quickly.  That was a Wednesday.  On Saturday I got called and had a phone interview that went amazing, then on Monday I had a lunch interview to follow up the first one, and by Tuesday I had received an offer to be the general manager at a new cafe opening in Rogers.

After my amazing interview on Saturday I kind of panicked.  Was I ready to go back to work full time? Would my family be able to survive without me?  Was I capable?  Could I really do this?  Was this best for the entire family?  For my marriage?  Was this changing my role because I wasn't trusting in God and responding to crisis mode?

John and I sat down and discussed all of these things, and the more we talked, the more I talked with those closest to me, the more we prayed and were prayed for, the more peace I felt about it.  On Sunday night I listened to an audio management book and realized that I could learn what I didn't know.  It inspired me to sit down and write out what I wanted to do with the store to present at my interview on Monday, and I really think that instilled the confidence I needed to really do this.

So, I start Wednesday!  I'm in charge of hiring 12 people straight off, so if you're local and reading this and know someone good, please let me know :)  I love staff development, hiring and training were always my favorite parts of managing.  I'm excited for the challenge.  I'm excited to work for a Christian who offered me flexibility and the understanding that my family comes first.  I'm excited to do something that I know I'm really really good at, even if I haven't used those skills in such a long time.  I'm excited to see John get to grow in relationship with the kids as he stays home.  I'm excited for God's provision for our family.

Please, if you think of it, pray for our family as we transition.  There will be a lot of new things in life, and not all of them will be peachy and perfect, we're going to have to adapt.  Thanks for the love and support we've gotten so far in this.  :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

... well, this is awkward.

This happens every time I start a blog.  Maybe you can relate?  I have so much to share, and say, and I look forward to getting feedback about what's going on and then... I stop writing it all down.  I stop taking the time to share.  And then the gap between posts gets just plain embarrassing.  Know the feeling?  So, here I am, attempting a blog resurrection!  Bear with me ;)

On my reading list right now is "You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide To Start & Succeed In A Farming Enterprise" by Joel Salatin, "Lasagna Gardening" by Patricia Lanza, "Living With Chickens" by Jay Rossier (with tons of great photos in it) and "Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food" by Pamela C. Ronald & Roul W. Adamchak.  Now I just need to stop watching mindless movies and sitcoms and actually spend my winter reading!

Here's 2011 in review in terms of homesteading:
I created 5 raised beds, filled 3 of them with dirt and have two more that I'll develop next year.
In my garden I had a great crop of melons, cukes, snow peas and corn, but didn't do well with edemame, tomatoes (heat), and squash (bugs).  Also, had TWO $150 water bills over the summer - yikes!
I planted 4 fruit trees (an apple, peach, cherry and plum) - the cherry tree didn't make it though.
I planted 4 seedless blackberry canes, which all survived, and even produced a few berries their first year!
I planted 4 raspberry canes and 4 blueberry plants which all died, but I think they just weren't very healthy to begin with.  That's what I get for buying plants at a big box store!
I planted a box hedge that's small, but doing well.
I built a chicken coop, got five chicks total, all of which died by the end of September (insert wah-wah here).
I started a compost pile
I built up a frame for a garden around a tree in the front yard.
I planted roses, rhodedendrons and hydrangeas around the house.  1/2 are still alive... so that's something...

So, lots of successes, and LOTS of failures, but that's the joy of getting to try new things.  Failing isn't failing so much as it is an opportunity to learn and try again :)

In 2012 I'm going to:
Get enough dirt for all of my beds
Grow only veggies I really really like
Replant raspberries, blueberries and add strawberries
Plant some attractive edibles in the front yard
Plant bulbs around the front yard trees
Try chickens again!
Replant my cherry tree
Build rain barrels
Start more seeds inside and start it earlier
Build solar panels
Refinish kitchen cabinets

So, that's what you have to look forward to in 2012 if I can keep up with it ;)  With my track record, I'll probably bomb about half of those, but I still plan on trying!

Happy New Year ALL!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

why i've been too busy to blog...

I've been very busy as of late.  I built a chicken coop and pen for my little chicks, who have now become miniature chickens.  I built 5 raised beds for my garden and have filled and planted 3 of them.  And I've been landscaping and mowing and trying to create some kind of order out of the chaos WITHIN my house.  That's probably been my least successful venture...  BUT!  The children are alive and well, John is fed and happy, so I'll live another day to figure that all out ;)

So, the chicken coop was MUCH more of an endeavor than I imagined.  I mean, I though it would be a challenge, but the coop itself wasn't the biggest hassle, it was the pen.  In fact, even though my chickens live in the coop and pen, there's still work to be done on it to keep out the millions of things that like to eat chickens.  Oh, and P.S. - turns out I hate chicken wire.  Ridiculous, like playing with blackberry brambles.  Eeesh.  I'd say I put 30 hours into the whole thing all said and done, and I'd really like to do more to 'pretty it up', but here it is!
jack pretending to help ;)

i finally figured out how to do the nesting boxes!

i got the outside done and it was a little crooked...

but the inside looked great and i used an extra piece of wood as a perch

the nesting box i'm so proud of

and the inside!

yikes, you can see the crookedness even better with paint, so i'll be adding some trim pieces to hide that!  but i really like how the color turned out.  a very pale robin's egg blue.

i painted the inside because it was floor and porch paint and i thought it would be easier to clean than plywood.

when working on my projects, my kids run a little wild....

finished and in position!

we had a grand ceremony of putting the chicks in

getting the kids OUT of the chicken pen is the hard part now!
three beds prepped and ready thanks to help from my friends Sally and Grant

then my friend Mel came over and helped me plant and make the pretty, and Jack... well, he played with cups

squash, beans, edamame and corn

lettuce and cukes

the middle bed is peas, corn and some things that i hope are squash that i started as seeds and made the mistake of marking with washable marker.

i planted hydrangeas in front of the rail there, and a rosemary, and prepped a site to plant something where the trellis is.

and i planted rhodedendrons along the north/back side of the house

then i found a beautiful white climbing rose to put up the trellis

and here's a sneak peek at my next project!  putting flower beds around the trees so that i don't have to keep mowing over their roots!  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mini Road Trip

I just have to get my fix in sometimes :)

So, John's Grandpa Jack had his 80th birthday party in Dallas last weekend!  We drove down on the scenic route - 540 to Fort Smith and 71 S to Texarkana then 30 W.  The drive was beautiful!  And so much more interesting than driving the interstate through Oklahoma!  It was cold and rainy when we left, and as the rain let up, we drove in fog for a few hours.  It was kind of eerie seeing all of the dilapidated rural Arkansas towns and homes on the back highway and bright purple buds all over the red bud trees all shrouded in fog.

As we drove further south I kept seeing wisteria growing.  Eventually I became convinced that it grew wild, because there was no way people were planting that much of it in the woods.  It was all in bloom and SO beautiful :)  Just north of Texarkana we drove through Freedom, AR, home of Tracy Lawrence.  We had no idea who that was - I guessed old movie star, John guessed country singer (saying that it's the only thing the south would be that proud of) and sure enough, he was right!  Lol, should I know who he is???

We got in JUST in time to drop off kids and head to the restaurant everything was being held at.  It was too short, but it was wonderful to see all of John's extended family (who I love and have adopted as my own very nicely!) and hear stories of Grandpa Jack from his friends and family.  It was adults only, so Niko was the only 'kid' around (well, besides John's brother, Adam, who is 12?) and he got passed around the whole time. I tell you what, that kid is C-U-T-E!  And gets more so every day!

That night in the hotel was a NIGHTMARE!  By the time we picked the kids up, they were so hopped up on adrenaline, we couldn't get them to crash.  I think we all got to sleep around midnight.  But, NOTHING is more frustrating than having two hyper kids playing off of each other in the dark while you're trying to sleep.  GAAAAHHHH!!  That must be the root of insanity.

The next day John went back with his folks, and I took Kristen, John's sister, with me.  We hung out with John's cousin, Jane, and her ADORABLE daughter, Georgia, who was born on Kate's 1st birthday.  The two girls professed that they were 'best friends' - SO stinking cute!  Jane picked kale out of her garden and made a batch of kale chips (kale sprinkled with olive oil and salt and then baked) for us.  They were really good - kind of tasted like popcorn?  But with the consistency of paper?  Strange, but good, I'll make them sometime :)

After we left, we went downtown in search of good coffee, and came up with just coffee.  Then drove to Frisco to go to Ikea.  Oh, big shiny Ikea, how I've missed you!  We were there WAY too long, and spent WAY too much money, but I got a guest bed/futon/play room couch out of the trip, so I'm super happy!  We got out of there later than we'd wanted to, and then I got on a highway going the wrong way for a long time, so it was a LONG trip back in the dark.  We got home at 1:30 :P

Since then, I've been assembling Ikea things, hanging shelves, pictures and what not and waiting ever so impatiently for the weather to get good again!!!  I tried to go outside to build my chicken coop today, but my fingers went numb pretty quickly and I didn't want to risk operating a circular saw like that...  probably a good move ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things I Like To Hug

Babies and trees.  Took me a while to think of what these two things had in common.

Today we went to my friend, Rochelle's house and I got pictures of Jasper, who is 5 weeks older than Niko, and Niko together :)  AND I got my mail order trees today.  I was so unsure of how they'd look and how healthy they'd be, so I thought I'd post pictures so you could see if maybe YOU wanted to risk mail order trees.  I got these from Stark Bros. in MO, I read reviews on a few places first, because I kept reading about some companies sending out dead trees :/  But these looked great!  Buds on some of them, and the roots were packed in shredded newspaper to keep damp!

This is to show the box they came in.

It was late when I got home tonight, so I packed them in water in the bag they came in and hid them in the shower so the kids won't mess with them!

Oh, also - I got a new camera!!  Enjoy the superior pictures it takes :D

Niko and Jasper

I took this picture as I was driving home tonight.  I <3 Arkansas!

Some friends of ours just opened a great coffee shop in Siloam Springs.  Today was their grand opening!