Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Urban homesteading

I come by it honestly, I really do.  I grew up running around on five acres of land, climbing trees, milking goats, collecting eggs, running with the dogs, and even (for awhile) riding a horse.  Mom had a tremendous vegetable garden out back, not to mention wide swaths of flower gardens surrounding the house, and my dad used to give her weedwackers and rototillers as gifts.  So it really isn't that strange (right? right?) that I would end up fascinated by the urban homesteading movement.  I may live in the city, but at my core I'm a country girl, and you can only keep that bottled up inside for so long!

So in the six months since we moved into our house on 10,000 square feet of land, and the 5 months since Timothy made his entrance, I've been digging, and planting, and weeding, and watering, and rounding up friends to help me move insane things like chicken coops.

I just re-read that sentence, and realized that this may not be quite normal. 

Anyway, here is an update on my little urban homestead.

1) We have CHICKENS!  Six of them, to be precise, which is the maximum that the city will allow on our parcel of land.  They sleep in this cute little blue coop, but during the day they range around our back yard, eating bugs, scratching up all kinds of trash from the previous owners (which is good, because then I can gather it and throw it away!) and giving themselves dust baths under the trees.  Happy birds, yes they are.

 And when they're not molting, they lay beautiful eggs.

2) I'm composting.  Everything.  I really can't seem to help myself.  But I didn't want a loose, messy pile for the dog to play in, so I picked up some pallets (thank you, craigslist free page!)

 conscripted some helpers,

and built a large "containment field" for the big compost pile in the back.

This is the long-term pile that will slowly work its magic over a year or two.  This photo was taken a few weeks ago, and the left side is now entirely full.  In the next few days I'll probably turn it, and then start filling up the other side.

For quicker production, I have worms!  I've experimented with worm bins for some years now, and I really like them.  Right now I have a typical set of five stacking trays, which I purchased (used, on craigslist).  I like it a lot for ease of use, but it is limited in size and scope.  So on Sunday I started making an "in ground" worm bin.  It is made of cinderblocks, with wire mesh down the center to split it into two halves.  I add kitchen scraps to the "working" side until full, and the worms eat it up and then migrate through the mesh to the fresh scraps on the other side. I'm hoping that by giving the worms more room, they will breed lots more little wormies and eat their way through the scraps that much faster. 

3) Actual gardening has been sparser than I'd have liked, due to the timing of our move.  By the time we got into the house and I'd actually birthed the baby, high summer was in full swing.  I got some cherry tomatoes in, and they have done well. I rarely get to use them in the kitchen, because the boys eat them right off the plant.  Not that I'm complaining!  Mostly I've been trying to revive plants that were already here, weed, and weed, and weed, and weed, and WEED (I'm losing), and plant some easy things like radishes and poppies since Thomas and Josiah are studying plants right now.

That's ok.  I'm focusing on long-term goals and trying to remember that even though Southern California's weather is bizarre, it still really is autumn, and winter is coming, and this is the appropriate time to be putting gardens to bed, composting, and cover-cropping to renew and replenish the soil. 

That's all for now; the (nearly five months, can you believe it!?) baby needs me.  By the way, he has started to hold a toy, which is adorable.  And also grab his pacifier, pull it out of his mouth, and then drop it.  Useful skill, that.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Six weeks as a family of six

I guess the most notable thing about being a family of six (at least notable to you, if you're reading this, and really probably no one is anymore...) is that I have NO time to blog.  I've been keeping hasty little notes on my phone in a vain attempt to not forget all the little unforgettable moments that come with a new baby, and telling myself that I will blog about all of them - eventually.

All that to say that it is quite likely this will be the last blog post my corner of the internet will see, at least for quite a long time.

But for now, let's catch up, shall we?

After days and days and days of being VERY PREGNANT,
I finally went into labor at 41 weeks and 4 days.  And for all that I knew the statistics and the normality of being so-called-"late", and even though I could tell myself what I always tell my clients ("your body and your baby know exactly when to go into labor") it sure felt like I would be pregnant forever.

 Anyway.  Some of the labor was pretty good,

and some not so great. Transition lasted way too long (it usually does, from the mama's perspective!) and Timothy's shoulders got stuck on the way out. Ouch.

 But at the end, there was a baby. :)

The kids were there for the birth, too, which was pretty special.  I'm glad we planned it that way.

I had the best midwife in the whole world.  Sue has helped me birth three of our four kids!

And we had wonderful helpers: Lani was my doula, and Sean and Carolyn were caregivers for the older boys during my labor.  We have good, good friends and I have been so grateful for all of them, not only during the birth but in the days leading up to them (Kristen, thank you for all the time in the pool!) and afterward (people bringing meals and coming over to clean and/or play with the kids).  Thank you to all of you: your gifts have blessed us!

Jonathan, Thomas, and Josiah have been amazing big brothers.  They love having a new addition to the family! 

One of the early days after Timothy's birth, he started fussing and Josiah came barreling into our bedroom crying "Oh, he NEEDS me!!"

Timothy has been a remarkably laid back baby since birth.  He manages to sleep through the very loud chaos of three older brothers in a house with wood floors!  (Seriously, the kids sound like baby elephants tromping around.) At night he sleeps with Gabe and me, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how much sleep I actually get.

He had his first bath when he was about 2 weeks old.  Turns out he likes the water!  Jonathan thinks this makes sense, seeing as he's been "swimming" for the previous nine months.

At four weeks old he started giving us real smiles.  There is nothing as sweet as a baby smiling back at you.  Around the same time he finally figured out how to grip with his hands.  Most of the time babies come out with strong grasping reflexes, but Timothy really didn't.  He never held onto our fingers or grabbed my hair or anything like that.  So it was extra sweet when the first thing he did after learning to grasp was to put his arms around my neck and grab my shoulders while being burped.  It's a baby hug! :)

At five weeks he outgrew all the 0-3 baby clothes that we'd been given (the newborn size never fit at all!)  He also realized that it was nicer to be held than not, and I got to start using the sling much more frequently.  Smart little baby!

Which brings us to the present, in which he found his thumb and sucked it for the first time, and is starting to coo at me.  Sometimes when he's nursing he'll pull away for a minute, smile, coo, and then nuzzle back to nursing.  As Sarah would say, love love love.

I do love these handsome boys of mine. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

27 weeks

Pictures don't always turn out quite right when a certain 7 year old takes them for you. :)  I wanted a picture of my 27 week belly, and he wanted to include the pink tulips in the garden.  So the lighting is a bit off, but you get the idea!

This was my semi-professional "look" that I wore to a meeting with the principal at our neighborhood public school.  I wanted something more put together than yoga pants and a t-shirt!  The pants are a lovely dove-grey pinstripe that I found for $6 at Savers (you can't really see them in the photo - sorry).  The shirt is borrowed from a friend, and the pearls are a legacy from my grandmother.  It was nice to feel pretty!

Oh, and the school meeting went really, really well!  I met a lot of teachers, observed about six different classes, and was very impressed with the passion and pride that is clearly evident in the teachers and administrative leadership.  It looks like a good place for our kids next year.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Things that are making me happy today

This morning, while I was cooking breakfast, Jonathan asked Gabe and I to please not come into our room because he was "working on a surprise".  I was surprised indeed when he proudly led us into our room, where we saw this:

He had picked everything up, carefully made our bed (with all the decorative pillows!) and even lit the candle beside the bed.  At the end of the bed was a card, which said the following:
From Jonathan
to mom and dad.
I love you 5,000 tims more evry secent 
 That boy has a deep sweetness inside, and I am so blessed to be the recipient of his surprises!

And the second thing to make me smile?

Beautiful tulips that bloom in spite of the utter lack of care I have been devoting to my poor neglected garden. 
"Behold, I make all things new."  Revelation 21:5

Saturday, January 26, 2013

This is one competent 7 year old!

This afternoon I fell asleep while the kids were watching their movie. Two hours later I woke up to find that the kids had put themselves in quiet time, and Jonathan, who said he "didn't want to be in the bedroom and disturb me" had CLEANED THE HOUSE.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  He had put all the toys and art supplies away (no small feat, after our busy morning!) put away the food from lunch time, organized my desk, and wiped down all the counters and the table.  Oh, and rinsed the dishes and started the dishwasher.  This is what the house looked like when I got up.



Living room:


He even lined up my pens.  I may have walked around with a stunned expression for awhile.

And then praised and thanked him extravagantly.  Because you know what?  That was an extravagant gift that he gave me. 

And it was definitely the best way to wake up EVER! :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pregnancy, week 19

It is hard to take a good belly photo of myself, but now that I'm looking actually pregnant (rather than simply thick around the middle!) I thought it might be a good time to try.  Thanks to Mom and Dad for the cute shirt!  This is the first actual maternity shirt that I've worn this pregnancy.  The jeans are still my regular ones, with a bella band (fabulous invention!) to hold them up. :)

And here is an illustration of what our peanut probably looks like right now. Eeety Bity Living Space!