Working From Home

First of all, I just want to mention that I very badly want to write about our amazing family camping trip on Canada Falls Lake this weekend (where we were only a few miles from the Maine-Canada border!), but I’m going to try to wait until I can post a few cute photos of E. and beautiful (well, “beautiful”, I’m not a very good photographer) pictures of just what we were surrounded by. Amazingness.

But now that we’re back in civilization (my parents’ upstairs hallway to be exact), my mind has turned to a new, very close to home direction: my house.

We’ve been in our cute little home for just over a year now and while there have been some huge changes from the day we moved in (namely, we have an upstairs), not too much has changed. It’s both frustrating and freeing. I mean, I have so much I really, really want to do to the house, and it doesn’t help having all these home magazines floating around, plus being addicted to really liking the blog Young House Love. That said, I grew up in two homes where we were constantly under construction (if your a renovation nut, you need to read my dad’s retelling of how he and my grandfather totally refurbished our 18th century home in Massachusetts about 30 years ago). I know first hand that home improvement takes a lot of time, especially if you want it done right and to your personal specifications (unless you’re loaded/are extremely talented/have lots of time). This knowledge helps me realize that it’s okay if very little has been done since we moved in, because I’m not a DIY genius (neither is Mike) and we just don’t have the time right now to get a lot done, but we will, especially if we get organized, which I’m trying to do.

I’m currently forming plan in the very small part of my brain that is dedicated to home improvement. The first part of that plan? Try to figure out what exactly it is I want to do, short and long term, to this house. Of course, I need to confer in part with my husband and see what he wants as well, but those conversation are best held, I’ve found, when you already have something in mind.

The second part? A list. Not a schedule, as I had originally thought, but a list of all the projects I’d like to do and the general order in which I expect to do them. A schedule, I’ve decided, won’t work, because we’re so inexperienced that I don’t really know how long something will take us. Plus, I’m not clear on funds for each project, so if we need some time to put aside money, obviously a project with an expected “finish by” date might have to change course. And when you base your success on your ability to finish something they way you expected it, sometimes putting yourself on a specific time table is setting yourself up to fail.

I’m also planning on having a running list of things I’d like to get for the house/yard. Things that I can pick up easily while out, while yard sale-ing this summer, or ask a friend or family member to keep an eye out for. It’s crazy to expect us to be able to go out in one or two (or even a few more) shopping trips and buy all the accessories, artwork, and little knick-knacks we might want.

I’ve yet to decide if I’ll post any of this on a blog, things can end up collecting dust. That said, sometimes it’s a great motivator. If I do post of what I mentioned above on here, it’ll probably be after I’ve gotten a bit of a start.

What do you have going on at home?

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In Which I Choose to Make No Sense (but feel good while doing so)

I haven’t been writing as much lately and I’m not sure why. Sometimes I write to put down how fully I’m appreciating the little things in my life (like yogurt popsicles and goat’s cheese with my breakfast), but other times I just can’t write things down because I am too in awe of my world and the life I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy. There are some moments in my day where I am simply dumbstruck (difficult imagine, right?) by where I live, the people I live with, and how much I have ahead of me to enjoy.

That’s not to say I don’t have days that aren’t fraught with anxiety, because I am a fairly anxious person by nature, but it’s not the same. I find myself feeling a teensy bit more confident, less abrasive to myself (and hopefully others – I can have that kind of personality at times), and slowly becoming “grown-up” me. It’s weird. I feel like I’m meta growing up. Like, growing up in how I grow up.

Yeah. Wow. This is getting super ramble-y.

I guess my point is that I think I haven’t been writing as much lately because I’ve been just going through life, enjoying it, unable and unwilling to take the time to write some of it down. I suppose if something earth shattering had occurred I would have been better about writing, but things have been moving along as usual. Which is good.

I’ve been blogging for over a year now (not all on here, obviously), and while I have no intention of giving it up, I can sense a slow down (but maybe when school is done in a few weeks it’ll pick back up – I can never tell what I’m going to do). As I write I can feel a few blog posts boiling in my brain, so there will be more, I just have to remember to write the ideas down and then actually follow through!

Well, here’s to completely nonsensical, rambling posts – every blog needs one (or many).

Summer Signs

It’s a sign of the times, my friends. E. and I spent an entire day in our bathing suits and/or sundresses. We lounged around in the deliciously warm sun, finally brought out the wading pool, and made these:

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It’s my own, quick and dirty version of frozen yogurt (quite literally). Today I bought E. a four-pack of kid’s Greek yogurt. Then we went to The Dollar Tree and I found these popsicle molds. At first, we thought we’d freeze some orange juice until I got a chance to pick up more fruit during my next grocery shopping trip (in the past we’ve pureed strawberries, bananas, and raspberries to make popsicles instead of just using fruit juice), but E. wanted to save the juice to drink. So, I used up three of the four yogurts to make eight popsicles, each with a little raspberry in them, for a treat.

E. tried one tonight after supper and the verdict: very cool!

That’s good, right?

Breakfast of Champions

Have you ever found yourself liking weird stuff? Like, things that just sound like they’d be weird,but in actuality are quite good? Like, calamari or haggis (haven’t had haggis…yet). A couple of years ago I decided for reasons unknown to try goat’s cheese. And you know what? It’s kind of delicious. Definitely has an acquired taste, or you at least have to be willing to try unusual tasting things, but you really can’t beat goat’s cheese on toasted bread, a pesto and tomato sandwich, or, as I had it for breakfast today, on an English muffin with strawberry jam. Dee-lish!

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What’s your favorite weird food?

My Pursuit of Happiness

It’s nearly nine o’clock at night on a Sunday and I’m exhausted. But it’s one of those pleasant exhausted feelings – that sort of mentally blissed out way of being.

For two days I’ve been stuffed full of every kind of information about birth, women, and the feelings they so strongly feel (both physical and mental during birth) during the amazing even that we so simply call birth.

After talking and listening and doing like I haven’t in over a year (the last time I sat in a college classroom), I feel a strength and readiness to begin to pursue more strongly a dream I had been keeping at an arms length. There is so, so much I still want to learn and to see, some things I need to think about, and my future, as it stands now, seems fuzzy and unsure, but it’s all good. It’s like the future ahead of me is hard to make out because it’s clouded or foggy, but so bright it will take just a bit for my eyes to fully focus.

Let me come out of the vagueness of above and give it to you straight. I spend this weekend learning the beginnings of what I need to know to properly attend a woman as a doula (a labor support professional – a person who helps a woman through labor and birth). The workshop I attended this weekend is one step towards becoming a certified doula through the organization DONA. I have a few more steps to tackle, but one of the largest is attending three births.

And this is where I say that if you are in Maine (or know me personally) and would be interested in having a doula attend your birth, my services will FREE while I remain uncertified, because I am training. This does NOT mean I will be any less effective than a certified doula. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact me (either comment below with a way to contact you OR contact me via Facebook (if you know me in real life).

I also have a couple of other workshops left to attend and some reading to do, but I’m thrilled this workshop is what I did first. It has given me a confidence and thrill to see what I could be doing not just as a hobby, but as a job. I do not yet know where this path will lead, if it’s a minor detour or the beginning of a lifelong journey, but it is exciting and beautiful all the same.

I know I’m starting to sound like one of those goofy New Age people (and maybe I’m slowly morphing into someone like that), but sometimes those over the top cliches are what best describe what you’re experiencing.

I’m just happy.

And I wanted you to know.

Going Local: Nezinscot Farm

One of the best things about living in Maine is the plethora of small farms and farm stands that are scattered around the state. Any little rural town worth it’s while will have some sort of little farm stand or farms store somewhere along the main drag or down a winding country road. At these stands and stores you can buy anything from fresh veggies and fruits (depending on the time of year), to preserves, baked goods, local meat, and soaps and candles. One of my absolute favorite farm stores is in Turner, Maine: Nezinscot Farm.

It’s places like Nezinscot Farm that make me feel good about where I’m buying food and other products (like yarn, herbal tinctures, and soaps). And though it’s the kind of place that is incredibly dangerous for me to visit, because I could spend hours/tons of money there, I love that I can look out the windows of the shop and see the source of much of the food I’ve placed in my shopping basket. Buying local, especially at a well run, just plain nice place, makes the “chore” of shopping for necessities so much more.

Nezinscot Farm is one of those rare places that manages to provide multiple services and does it well, if casually. The shop is clean, attractive, and feels just as a little farm shop should: not overdone, but organized and well-stocked. One of my favorite offerings is their cheese. Attached to the store Fromagerie where their cheese is made on site, and they offer quite a lot of it in a large variety. As a huge lover of cheese (this makes me sound like a dork…and Steve Urkel), this is kind of a big draw. They also offer organic, free range eggs at about a dollar less than what I can get at the store (and it’s kind of cool that I can see the chickens right outside, happily wandering around), delicious local meat (and by local, I’m talking just outside the store) – everything from beef and pork and chicken to lamb and goat (I made a great stew with the goat meat and it was YUMMY!). In addition to all that, they sell fresh, organic produce, some local, some from away (depending on season).

But that’s not all! The farm store is also a cafe that always has a ridiculous amount of delicious baked treats for sale, coffee and tea available, and you can even get a super, super yummy sandwich for lunch or early supper, or, if you’re lucky enough to have forgotten your lunch at home and need something quick for work, you may be able to stop in at 7 in the morning and have a wrap made for you for later in the day! Which leads me to the next aspect of Nezinscot Farm – their customer service is downright good. Everyone who works there (which includes the entire family who owns the farm), is kind, courteous, and helpful. You really couldn’t ask for more.

The very last thing I love about this farm is the rest of the store that sells a variety of dry goods/not food items. With a focus on health, local, and organic, the range of items available for purchase is heartening for those of us who are looking for alternatives to Wal-Mart or even are bigger local grocery store chains. While I don’t mind going to Wal-Mart out of sheer desperation and I do enjoy our local, large grocery store, it’s nice to have an alternative and have a place that carries more specialty items (like herbals, homemade soap, and large bags of organic flours).

Whether you live in Maine or near Turner or not, you should check out their website (link above) just to see a family run farm and store done right, creatively, and diversely. And, if you’re in the area, go visit! You won’t be disappointed. And if you aren’t local, check out your own local farms – you never know what you might find!

Doing

This year hit me with a bit of a crisis. I had spent nearly five years earning a degree that I had suddenly thought to myself, “What if I never use this?” It’s a scary thought, in some ways, freeing in others. While I covet the chance to have my own classroom, to plan units, to guide students through one year of their teenage lives, I am also open to the idea that may not be my path, at least not yet or in the way I had initially thought.

What’s more, there’s grad school. I’m going. At some point. I just don’t know where or how or for what. I have a list saved in Evernote on my iPad listing all the possible programs I’d like to check out, ranging from straight up education to library science to creative writing (and everything in between, it feels). I just don’t know what will be right for me, because, as a friend at work pointed out, what you get your Masters’ in sort of determines what you do for, like, ever. That’s a bit of a heavy decision.

So, I haven’t quite known what to do with myself at the moment. I’ve been going after a goal nonstop for years now, and with that initial goal crossed off my list (graduating with a bachelors’ degree), I feel lost without something else to work towards. I needed, more desperately than I realized, I think, something to work on. And I think I’ve found it.

This weekend I’m attending a doula training course. A doula, in case you were wondering, is a labor support professional, a woman who helps laboring women have the best, most fulfilling birth possible, regardless of circumstances. She is an advocate, an advice giver, a go-between for the parents and caregivers, and, in many ways, a birth partner, helping to physically and emotionally support the laboring woman in the most amazing event of her life.

I could get into the what’s and why’s in my decision to pursue becoming a certified doula, but I don’t want to – it’s complicated and long-winded and I seriously doubt anyone wants to read my explanation. But I will say that I am utterly thrilled that I have given myself this opportunity. Maybe the most exciting thing about being an adult is that I can choose to do this. For the first time in a long time I feel like I’m making a really great decision for myself entirely on my own. I didn’t consult anyone – I just did it.

This is, I think, the first step into creating a future of which I have dreamed.

Lemony (and Orangey) Fresh

I’m slowly starting to make the transition to all natural, mostly homemade cleaners (in addition to moving out other unnecessary toxins that my family is exposed to on a regular basis). While I love my super basic vinegar and water mixes and scouring my sinks and tub with Borax and baking soda (it’s so freaking cheap!!), one of the major things that I worry about is bacteria. I mean, I have a four year old, for pity’s sake – there is bacteria floating around everywhere! While I do have a bottle of Seventh Generation anti-bacterial surface cleaner (which is supposed to be safer than other brands), I was hoping to find something I could easily make myself and is cheaper than nearly $4 a bottle.

Here was the solution:

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The midwifery school/clinic in our area had posted this short little “recipe” on their blog and I couldn’t wait to delve in. The suggestion: Fill a jar with citrus peels (in my case, lemon and orange) and vinegar, let steep for two weeks, then clean away! Citrus, supposedly, has some antibacterial properties, as does vinegar, AND citrus is known to cut through grease and other nasty substances, so soaking the peels with the vinegar can make a powerful home cleaning remedy, and one that I’m happy to use.

So, why am I making these switches, slowly but surely? Because, one, it’s way, way more inexpensive to buy big ole boxes of Borax and baking soda and a giant jug of vinegar than it is to buy anything else, environmentally safe or not, and these cleaning supplies are toxin free. Kids these days are exposed to so much crap that I feel like it isn’t such a bad thing to bring all down a notch at home. I know I can’t control what E. breathes in the air each day or touches or is exposed to at preschool or other places, but at least at home I can rest at ease that what I clean our home and her toys with is safe.

Next step on my list of to dos: Find out how to safely dispose of the cleaners I will no longer be using but are still hanging around.