Mom's Morning Out

18 September 2017

As of two weeks ago our chickens are laying eggs - or at least three of them are laying eggs? maybe more?

After I spent two months checking the nesting boxes twice a day and underneath the tractor and the parked trailer and behind the crepe myrtles on one side of the house and the nandena on the other side of the house to no avail, Jacob found the first egg. Which he of course left there for a baby to find, because it just so happened to be our baby's birthday.

The freshly minted two year old came in mighty proud of himself and his "burday ugg. iss my burday ugg, mom!" and we promptly cracked it into his cupcake batter.

Worn out on his big day:
So the baby isn't so much of a baby anymore. He's two and he's in mother's day out two mornings a week along with his big sister and the big man's in Kindergarten,

Look at this coolio.
I feel like - in the course of a week - I graduated to a whole new phase of parenting - like I have one leg firmly out of the trenches. I don't know what to do with myself truly. I get to make annoying administrative phone calls in the calm of a morning instead of in stolen moments while locked in the bathroom hoping it doesn't sound too echoey on the other end. I don't have to overthink every single errand that needs to be run. I get to stop in at a coffee shop, stand patiently in line, and nestle in with my laptop...and blog!

So far I've loved it. I love the hectic mornings of making the lunches and watching people toddle into school with their backpacks. I've loved how they run to me when I pick them up. I love the alternate mornings of being home with just the little ones who are still content to simply dig in the garden and splash the watering can around. I've loved having a schedule that I have to work around, and times when I have to be out the door, and a reason to get out of my proverbial or literal yoga pants.
We'll see how long the high lasts. I've struggled with a weird narrative that I don't "deserve" to get breaks like this - even if I'm spending my "breaks" catching up on our business accounting, freelancing little jobs, or doing otherwise "worky" type things. I've become so accustomed to always feeling frazzled and behind on things and listening to my broken record of the "poor poor overworked overtired little mama." Now I drop little kids off and then get back into the empty van with sunglasses on and skinny jeans and ankle boots and I don't even know myself.

Having a schedule and seeing the week in chunks of time has really helped me find space. A few hours of personal space. Space in my week for laundry or for meal-planning or for reading a chapter book to the six year old during the opportune nap.

And more space in my heart for the same old shenanigans.
With that I must go. I'm at my town's beautiful old library which typically smells of equal parts  musty books and children's story hour, but someone has put on some potent and vaguely peach-scented lotion which is my cue.

Happy day and happy week to you!


Before and After: A Remodel Story

14 September 2017

The house was listed as a "charming cottage" and it had been all but abandoned for two years. 

Thankfully by the time we moved in the previous owners had removed all the stuff. The last fixer upper we bought was full of personal property that we had to deal with and it was such a time suck. You know that it's pretty much trash, but you don't want to accidentally throw away something super valuable. 

We punched out this wall to widen the entry from the living room to the kitchen/dining room. 

Walking into the kitchen and turning right we have the nook:
Kitchen Before:
Kitchen After:
Dining before:
Dining After:
Kids room before:
Old Master bedroom before:
We punched out that back wall to end up with this:

We took the third bedroom - which was too small to actually count as a bedroom - and expanded it into this:

And added a master bath:

Above is the side yard after we'd done a considerable amount of work on it. It had a deck that was rotted through and a "sauna" which had trees growing out of it. We got into so much poison ivy on the weekend of this picture.

So there you have the buttoned up version of what was a very grueling process.  

We'd planned on selling the house, but after the hurricane we decided to rent it out to some flood victims, which I'm really happy to be able to do. 

Even though the house survived Harvey with no damage, it was hit by looters who stole the appliances -and my banjo and Jacob's guitar - in the hurricane's aftermath. Looking at all these photos is bringing some sweetness back to the recent frustration of being robbed. I hope you've enjoyed them!

Chickens, Books, Clothes

20 July 2017

First off: we have chickens. Buff Orpingtons. They all look exactly the same, which will probably be a comfort when they start dying.

Jacob built me a cadillac of a coop that cost approximately three times more than we'd planned to spend. By the end we were both shaking our head at the ridiculousness of it, but I took comfort in the old economic wisdom: You can only have two out of the three: fast, quality, inexpensive.
So fast and quality it was, and now we have a coop. We just have to paint it. We're not sure if we should go really playful with the paint color or not. I'm inclined to paint it white, but we've painted a lot of things white in the last three years and maybe we should paint Or barn red? Do a mural?

We got the chickens from a breeder out near Luckenbach.

She had on thick rubber boots and the grisly edge of someone who lives alone in the hills with two donkeys and a bunch of poultry. She gave us the up down in our t-shirts and sandals and nordic offspring, but we were eager and we had cash, so she took us over to the chickens. In my memory she had a limp. But this is probably just a romantic exaggeration.

She had the jankiest of coop/pen operations - and made us feel like even bigger yuppies with our board and batten beauty smelling of sawdust back home.

She hadn't wanted to box the chickens up for us in the morning since we couldn't come and get them till the afternoon, so we got to put the "fun" in "free range" as Jacob Sr and Jake Jr chased down a dozen hens in 100+ degrees.

The breeder complimented Jacob on his chicken wrangling and we left with a dozen chickens which turned into a baker's dozen by the time we got home because it is very hard to count identical chickens.

I've been wanting to homestead for so long, I cannot tell you how happy this all makes me. We have a bumper crop of okra, three hopeful watermelons, thirteen hens, and a rooster sired by "El Guapo" that the children quickly dubbed Mr. Guapito.

Dreams do come true.

The kids are still acclimating to farm life. They visit the chickens in the morning. Then they ask to watch TV.

- 6 -
My book count is going up with the temperature, so here are some of the notables in case you need some recs. Sleeping Giants - futuristic science fiction - a fun, quick read. It was written as a series of interviews which I ended up liking more than I expected. I finally read A Man Called Ove which fell pretty flat for me even though I quite like curmudgeons and aspire to be one someday. I did enjoy Morton's The Secret Keeper - which was very engaging even if some of the plot points felt farfetched. Ann Patchett's State of Wonder was delightful. I thought it ended too abruptly, but I found it mesmerizing in a very Bel Canto way.

- 7 -
I bought some new clothes recently. This is blogworthy because even though I don't blog much, I shop even less. 90% of my wardrobe is a rotation of three tank tops and one pair of shorts (these),
because I'm lazy and stingy and indecisive. So consider this a cry for help.

I bought something called a "ruffle top" from Madewell. (It has since sold out, but it was like this one, just a little less...ruffly.) It was so cute online, but when I got it, my long torso struck again and my belly button waved the white flag.

I'm not anti-trend (hello homesteading!) but I also crashed when I tried the cold shoulder. I bought this top after Anna inspired me with her capsule wardrobe. matter how I tugged or shifted, I couldn't get it to sit right, so back it went.

In the end, this swing top from LOFT made the cut. It's about as bold as vanilla, but I love it. Also these huaraches which were the closest I could find to a pair I had when I was six and have thought about every summer since.

I still have some gift cards to get through, so maybe you'll get to hear even MORE about my shopping failures soon.

Have a super chill weekend!

Moved to the Country

20 June 2017

So we've moved to the country.

The Texas Hill Country to be specific.

We moved into the house that I grew up in. We'll buy ten acres from my parents and ultimately build on them, until then we'll live in my parents' old house and they'll shift to my grandmother's next door.

It's been a big transition. We still have one foot in Houston as Jacob gets our house ready to list there. Getting settled into my parents' old house has been a monster of a task. We're slowly moving in and they're slowly moving out. Most of our furniture is staging the house in Houston. So we have these expansive empty living spaces. My parents took their cat with them. She left behind a bunch of fleas which have been breakfasting on us for awhile. You should totally come visit!

We're still running Jacob's business in Houston, but dreaming about what we might start here.

Jake turned six less than a week after we moved. His last day as a five year old he spiked a little fever while we were at dinner and fell asleep in Jacob's arms.
The next day he was no longer five and was feeling fine so he built himself a Peter Pan out of duplos and I pulled out all the cake decorating stops:

Jacob and I turned eight a few days after that. We celebrated our anniversary at a fancy pants restaurant in town and Jacob struck up a conversation with a Swiss couple next to us and we talked with them for an hour and a half. It was dreamy. And we took no pictures.

When we told Lucy June about our anniversary she looked us like we were crazy and said: "I didn't even know you guys were married!"
The kids aren't used to the country. I'm teaching them about bull nettle and carpenter ants and scorpions and snakes. We have a little armadillo living in the front yard. They chase it. They complain about bugs and sweat and just want to swim in my parents' pool all the time. But they'll come around. 

I've done my best to put in some semblance of a garden even though it's super late to be starting anything. So we'll see how my eight baby okra plants handle July.

I try to convince myself that we've done it. That we've made the move. But I still feel like we're floating. Hovering over a life we're about to start. And watching lots of sunsets and fireflies.

We Almost Cut Down the Mulberry Tree

14 March 2017

When we bought this house two years ago, the bushes and trees had all but consumed it. No one had touched them for years and they'd freely developed their green kingdoms for feral cats and precocious rats. One bush had been about the size of a dump truck and sprawled across half the front lawn.
My dad came to town and bought my husband a chainsaw. We began clearing. We would cut down one sapling and quickly expose another leggy monstrosity. Years without sufficient light and competing for resources had left the bushes and trees ugly and misshapen.

We didn't want to cut down everything, but for every tree we cut down it was like we were taking the skirts off the rest of the trees and exposing a forest of gimpy legs. Many had grown at strange angles that made sense when they'd been avoiding a gluttonous bush, but now they jutted out with no purpose, Vs and Ps, like letters fallen out of their words, memories of the old lawn, incomprehensible pieces of a forgotten story.

So we kept cutting, and in one weekend the front yard became a forest of spikes and we met all of our neighbors. The men would slap Jacob on the back. We were liberating the street.

We left three small trees at the northwest corner of the house, and they stood there through the winter awaiting the second reaping. But come March we saw the mulberries. Like some offering of gratitude. Laden with the berries in their natural ombre of green to pink to black, the branches bowed to the ground .

The squirrels and the birds mostly had their way with the ripe berries before we could, but we heeded the tree's gesture.

And we didn't cut it down.
We went out last weekend to pick berries. They fall from the tree and hide like jewels in the St. Augustine, so we hunt for them.

We only met one neighbor. She told us to watch for cedar waxwings. They love mulberries, she said.

We love them too.
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