Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Every day, Keats wakes up and busts through the door asking, "Where's Daddy?" Every morning, that's his very first question. Every day, when Birch gets home from work, we see him pull up and walk up the steps. Olive wags her tail and runs around the room, Frida crawls to the door squealing and whacking the floor, Keats hops around the room yelling with delight, "Daddy's home! Daddy's home! HI, Daddy!" Every day, he takes the kids for an afternoon walk around the farm so I can have some time to myself. Birch makes us dinner every day and it is always delicious. Birch makes me an espresso while I take my morning shower and leaves it on the bathroom sink to greet me.

Every day, Birch is a wonderful father. He has Keats help him do the outside chores: feeding the chickens and ducks, giving them plenty of water, collecting eggs from the nesting boxes, cleaning out soiled bedding, giving Olive a new bowl of water. They wash off toys and fold up blankets. Birch whacks away at weeds with Frida sleeping in the carrier, her head pressed firm against his chest. They go for walks, Keats pushing Frida in the stroller or pulling his very own wagon behind him. Birch stops and talks to the neighbors about fishing and making bacon. Sometimes he picks wildflowers and brings them home for me to put in a vase on the windowsill. Birch lets Keats play in puddles and takes him out in the stormy rain. 

Every day, Birch is a loving father. He changes diapers without complaint. Birch takes the kids to the transfer station with him while I sweep up the living room. He trims my parents' apple tree and uses the wood for smoking homemade bacon. Birch snuggles with both kids on the couch and tickles them until their laughter is silent and gasping. He kisses me and hugs me and says "I love you" in front of the kids as they look on with awe. Birch puts together furniture and reaches the things that are too high.

Every day, I love the man I call my husband. Every day, I love the man they call, "Daddy!" Every day we love him and every day he just gets better and better.
My Dad's Hands
by David Kettler

Bedtime came, we were settling down,
I was holding one of my lads.
As I grasped him so tight, I saw a strange sight:
My hands. . .they looked like my dad's!
I remember them well, those old gnarled hooks,
there was always a cracked nail or two.
And thanks to a hammer that strayed from its mark,
his thumb was a beautiful blue!
They were rough, I remember, incredibly tough,
as strong as a carpenter's vice.
But holding a scared little boy at night,
they seemed to me awfully nice!
The sight of those hands - how impressive it was
in the eyes of his little boy.
Other dads' hands were cleaner, it seemed
(the effects of their office employ).
I gave little thought in my formative years
of the reason for Dad's raspy mitts:
The love in the toil, the dirt and the oil,
rusty plumbing that gave those hands fits!
Thinking back, misty-eyed, and thinking ahead,
when one day my time is done.
The torch of love in my own wrinkled hands
will pass on to the hands of my son.
I don't mind the bruises, the scars here and there
or the hammer that just seemed to slip.
I want most of all when my son takes my hand,
to feel that love lies in the grip.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Up in the Air

I have decided that this past year was a test-drive. There was a whole lot of planning, shifting, moving, rearranging, cleaning out, and yet not much progress. The chicken coop was our major home accomplishment of the year and we are so grateful for all the help we received in order to make it happen.

Truthfully, this year made me feel a bit inadequate. We were really excited to move to Pescadero and throw ourselves into the rural life, but something was just amiss. Don't get me wrong, we still love it, still want to live here, and still very much appreciate the opportunity to make our dreams happen. This year just brought out my inadequacies when it comes to self-motivation, time management, and worst of all: stress and depression management. Getting through it. That was the name of the game this year. (By the way, "the year" in this case refers to June 2011 - June 2012.)

Like I said in my previous post, our situation is a bit up in the air as we figure out what to do about rent. Thankfully, someone else on the property is moving and we have been offered that house to move into. It's a bit bigger than our current place but would be the same rent. Other details are still a bit unknown, but it has a front and back yard, a front patio, and it's easier to find as it sits directly on the main road. The owners have offered to help move our coop (it's massive). It's still all just a conversation, I believe, but we're hoping it works out.

So, instead of fixing up our place like we planned this summer, we're focusing on sorting and discarding. Yard sales, Goodwill donations, deep cleaning, and trips to the transfer station with recycling, trash, and a broken vacuum cleaner... that's our summer this year. We're now strangely grateful that we didn't garden, didn't build that deck enclosure, and didn't wallpaper the bathroom.

Here's to this year. May it be a year of progress! Keep your fingers crossed with us as we sort out details on the new place.

Thanks and all my love!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Deflated. (Where I Complain a Bit and Hope You Won't Judge Me)

Driving home this evening, Birch and I didn't quite feel the regular sense of relief and wonder as we left busy suburbia, passed the beautiful ocean, the farmland, the hawks flying overhead, the barn. We pulled up our drive and just sat for a moment or two looking at our home without saying a word. The kids slept in the back without realizing a thing. Birch touched his hand to my knee.

"I just feel a bit unenchanted. Deflated." I said.

We got word today that our rent will be raised two hundred dollars a month starting in August due to unexpectedly large electricity bills (three houses, including ours, share the bill which the farm owners pay). This was a blow. They also "hinted" that the upkeep of our place was subpar and that was also a part of the rent increase... we aren't so sure what that means but it was another blow as we know we haven't done much good for the look of the place since moving in but we were waiting until Birch had more time to dedicate to upkeep once this summer hit and he'd have shorter hours at work (thankfully, he has a job over the summer months this year despite summer school being cancelled). So while I in no way begrudge the owners for needing to raise the rent, it will be a struggle we weren't expecting.

That being said, we're sucking it up, doing an electricity audit in our house, adjusting our budget yet again, and committing to a few hours of manual labor in the yard each day. Who knows, maybe this is the push we need to get our garden going, snazz up the decks, move the coop, build a new fence for the chickens and another one in front, install rain gutters and rain barrels, and power wash the decks. Oh, and paint the wind barrier on the front deck as well as enclosing it. I'll try to make it fun by showing our progress. Months of preparation and seeking of inspiration will slowly start to pay off.

All of this has proved to us yet again, however, that we really want to buy a place of our own. In this economic climate, people keep questioning whether to rent or buy, scared of foreclosure, property taxes, house maintenance, etc. When it comes right down to it, though I fear those same possibilities and inevitable payments, I want the decisions I make for my home to be mine and mine alone to make. (Well, including my family, obviously.) I want to be able to paint without asking permission first, to plant a garden however I like, build whatever additions/remodels I can afford and see fit. Though I absolutely adore our life here, we're still renting, and we were just reminded of that today.

Tomorrow will be better. If not, there's always homemade hazelnut chocolate ice cream waiting for me in the freezer.

Stay tuned for home improvement updates. I can't possibly postpone them any longer! Time to get to work!

What do you do when faced with an unexpected expense? What other expense is usually the first to go?