Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Into Action

We're currently obsessed with the Aston/Long books. They are informative and beautiful and Keats loves learning all the different names.

We are, as of now, calmly ignoring the fact that we have been ill. I declare us healthy and ready to face the world like the incalculable blooms and leaves popping forth everywhere I look. The animals on the farm are giving birth, the sky has turned a purplish shade of grey, and the green on the pussy willow bushes pops like never before.

It is so refreshing to see the farm start again. It brings a gravity to the seasons that I don't feel when I'm away. The lambs coming just on time, the kids nearby coming after, the leaves on the willow trees pushing out past their buds, and the wild mint showing itself at last. The fields of the surrounding farms are freshly tilled and ready for seeding. Keats points out all of the different machines with impressive accuracy and knows what they're each doing and why. 

I've put in the fresh spring plantings in my parents' front garden and sowed seeds for summer. Next up is the back vegetable garden. We've got to put something new in the usual tomato planter and put the tomatoes in a different one to refresh the soil. Seeing as the tomatoes have always been in the same planter for as long as I can remember, this couldn't happen sooner. My parents have been good sports in letting me head up their garden this last year. It's good experience for me and with the flooding issues we've had at home, it's been the perfect gardening outlet while we get our own yard sorted. I spent most of my childhood weekends with my dad digging in the dirt so this continuation years later is fitting.

Birch has planted some radishes and other random seeds in random spots around the house "just to get something in the ground." Can you tell we have different project styles? I have to give it to him, he gets it done. I really am grateful for that. I overthink just about everything and Birch reminds me, gently, that sometimes it's just better to have completed a project than to have done it to our ideal standard. That is a hard lesson for me.

I've admitted to myself that I am a perfectionist. I have a pretty heavy fear of failure and so I obsess over a project so much that sometimes I never finish it purely because it's not coming together exactly as I envisioned. I never once submitted a philosophy paper in college for this very reason. Looking back I can see how ridiculous that is. I was terrified by the critique, but come on! It was a PHILOSOPHY paper. That critique was the point! In fact, even earlier in school I had this issue. I think my parents assume I just never did my homework. I never told them I just refused to submit it. The work that was genuinely difficult for me, I was too scared to ask for help. It didn't even occur to me that I might have a learning disability until college. Then, when I explained how I felt and thought about learning math and learning languages, my special education teacher of a husband just nodded and said, "Yeah, that's a learning disability." Oh, great. The point is: I could have had help when I was younger, but I was too afraid of failure. I was too afraid of not being smart! The truth is, struggling doesn't mean you are not smart. It doesn't mean you're worthless. It shouldn't be embarrassing. I could have asked for help, I could have been placed in a special education math class, I could have asked for intensive tutoring. There were things all of the adults in my life could have done differently, sure, but when it comes down to it, it was my failure to accept failure that led to my academic downfall. I just let myself get horrific grades and accepted the storm at home when that report card dropped in the mailbox. That attitude has permeated other parts of my life as well.

I didn't understand it then, but I do now. It's okay to not understand things, to have to work hard, to not be inherently gifted at what you're doing. The success you accomplish on completion is far more powerful than the success of a natural talent. I hope I can work through this enough to teach my children that trying is better than succeeding, enjoyment is better than easy, and most of what we really pine for in life takes hard work, focus, practice, and passion.

So while I plan out flood-proof planters for our vegetables and veggie/herb planters for the chickens and ducks to munch, Birch is busy checking his seedlings in the yard and pulling weeds when he finds them. Together we make a fairly effective team. We'll figure it out. We have time.   

For now, I want to enjoy spring and practice my new life as a non-perfectionist. I'm not even going to look up the appropriate word for that.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sorting and Wearing

Clothes breed, don't they? I swear I've gone through my clothes every time we've moved. Each time I've saved certain pieces attaching some sort of sentimental feeling to them or just hoping I'd fit in them again. Yeah... So now we're in this house and Birch and I are feeling the spirit of renewal and purge. New Year resolutions abound and I am not the only offender when it comes to clothes hoarding. I cannot tell you how many shirts Birch has with holes and/or unspeakable stains. I mean, he's had most of them since middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL. I'll remind you, he's 32. Yeah. So while I reassemble Birch's wardrobe with appropriate wear, I'm shredding unthinkably ridiculous shirts and things for a rag rug and cutting up squares of the nicer prints for a quilt. The rest... well, I don't really know what to do with the rest. The whole point of these clothes is that they are not fit to be worn so I don't want to drop them at Goodwill or anything.

My personal resolution for myself is that any new clothes I purchase must fit these requisites:
  • It fits me NOW.
  • It makes me feel BEAUTIFUL and FIT.
  • It goes with clothes I already OWN.
  • It is HIGH QUALITY and will last over a years' worth of wear without warping or fading.
Very simply, I haven't made it a priority in my life to primp everyday, but I've begun to feel like I'm letting go a bit hence the rules above. No more clothes that fit poorly, no more that shrink or warp with one washing, and no more struggling to find something to wear out. I don't want to just be buying things all the time. I want each purchase to be calculated, budgeted, and thought out.

There is also the issue that my life is somewhat erratic when it comes to clothing needs. This is true of us all, right? So our closets have to accommodate different needs and occasions. Mine vary thusly:
  • Clothes able to be covered in chicken nastiness.
  • Clothes for date nights and parties.
  • Comfort clothes for sick days.
My most recent purchases since this resolution have been mostly from Anthropologie, but I'm looking to Etsy and its many sellers creating handmade items from organic, fair trade cotton, etc. Leggings, especially. I swear I've died and gone to heaven looking through the various shops for leggings. I swoon just thinking about it.

Fox print leggings by Supayana; image courtesy of seller
Spirit Bear Print leggings in black by prettypennydesigns, image courtesy of seller
The Bees Knees leggings by blackbirdtees; image courtesy of seller
As you can see, I have an affectionate love affair with Color and Pattern. They are jealous of each other at times, but when the three of us get together all at once it's just steamy and fantastic.

The last step of sorting is storing! I have a few ideas floating around and a Pinterest board I'm slightly ashamed to call my own. With literally nothing to show for all the planning in my head, Spring isn't going to pass by without this project cementing itself on the checked-off list. That is paramount.

Love to you all. What are your favorite pieces of clothing? What do you have your eye on?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Falling Behind

It was inevitable. I'm officially behind on all of my resolutions. Wahhh.

Our little family has been playing tag-you're it with fevers, colds, the full-on flu, teething, and zero sleep for about a month. I was keeping it together for a while there, but I have been struck down by the Yuck and so I sit on the couch, wrapped in a down comforter, in front of the heater while Birch (taking a sick day off) takes the recovering but fussy children out and about the farm before it rains again. I made a horrible breakfast mistake involving cheese and Crystal hot sauce and now my belly is rolling around laughing on the floor. I'm telling you, the things it has said to me this morning would astonish you.

I started decorating March's mantle last night but it just doesn't feel right. It needs more potted plants, I think. Maybe twinkle lights to add a bit of brightness to all the gloomy, rainy days ahead. And a garland. Definitely. Also, I have a lot of rabbit-related decor.

As you might imagine, Date Night has been pretty much obliterated. We've declared a few nights as stay-at-home date nights complete with delicious, extravagant meals, but any other effort has been nonexistent. It's all right. We've been doing better. We had a run-in at the lumber yard recently that made us both think. There are certain areas where Birch and I just do things differently and we've come to realize that when discussing projects we both have to put extra effort into saying our ideas nicely and staying friendly throughout the process. It feels fake still, but I'm confident that it will start coming naturally and feelings will be spared (while still getting the project done and looking lovely).

I still haven't finished ridding ourselves of books galore we don't need/read and I'm at a complete stand still on the clothes purging. We have, however, built a new chicken run that will actually keep the chickens in. (There were about five or six that consistently flew out to explore and demolish the neighbors' plants. Always the same hens, too.) With our neighbors' invaluable help, the run is now taller, slightly bigger, and easier to upgrade later. I'm still mourning the loss of our first chicken coop but what are you gonna do? Additions in the coming months will include a decorative top edge, a coat of whitewash on the inside of the coop, an upcycled window door, an indoor dust bathing box, and another set of nesting boxes.

With Keats' third birthday and party coming up next month, we are gearing up for the Great Switch. Keats and Frida will have the big bedroom while Birch and I go into the smaller room. All we really need is a bed and the closet but we'd like the kids' room to have tons more space for playing and storage. The Switch is necessary. I'm hoping to finally build a lofted bed for Keats over a playhouse and a small/medium-sized play table for their trains (with built-in storage). Keeping it simple is key.

I borrowed a lovely book from the library and I'm a few chapters in now. I'm really enjoying it and highly recommend it. When I finish, I'll do a full blown review here, but for now, if it looks interesting and useful to you, I can say that it is motivating, sympathetic, and useful.

With all that, this is the (hopefully) final month of flood season. If the house makes it through, I'll feel much more secure in all the effort I want to put into making this house our home.

I hope you and yours are healthy and well. What have you been working on lately?