Seasons of life

Phew. Its been a minute.

Turns out writing, reflection and putting together sentences don’t go hand in hand with having 3 small children home every day for the summer while you’re packing up one house, and remodeling another one.

Oh right, this is the perfect time to tell you….. we FINALLY bought a house!

We got the keys on the 4th of July and I have pretty much been spinning right round like a record player ever since then.

Both of my hands were needed in this juggling act, thus I took a break from the blog, writing, and my sanity creativity in general.

But buying a house is supposed to be exciting right?!?

I suppose like anything I expected to feel one way (complete elation and unending joy) and was both surprised and embarrassed to feel, well……. differently……. (overwhelmed, unsettled, undeserving and freaking EXHAUSTED by the process).

The excitement and toasting and sketching out plans is all fun and games until one of you is brave enough to say out loud what both of you are thinking……

“Alrighty…….now we just have to MOVE. “

Cringe.

Moving is hard. Change is hard.

I realized with this shuffling and shifting of all of the things…. how much of my happiness is wrapped up in a warm blanket of routine and predictability. How much of my daily joy and peace was weaved in with my string bean vines, rooms that smell like us, peony blooms and evenings with my hose.

Moving is not a warm blanket.

It is making phone calls. Having meetings. Signing papers. Buying packing tape. Painting walls. Putting things in boxes. Crying with your face buried in your baby’s crib sheets because at the new house he will be sleeping in a big boy bed. It’s saying goodbye to rose bushes. Neighbors. Empty rooms that now sound all echo-y and weird. It’s scheduling floor installations and getting mad at Ron because he didn’t talk to Nate and now here John is with the wrong floors and oh, no, actually we cant just live without floors for another 3 weeks. It’s paying a babysitter so you can drive to the new house while your kids are sleeping to tear out a wall and paint cabinets. It’s feeling bad that your kids drew on the walls. It’s rearranging your whole life.

It was a summer of rearranging.


But now we are here.

And isn’t it lovely?

It’s everything we dreamed of and more.

It is where our boys will grow up.

With space to roam, trees to climb, dirt to dig in, and rooms to laugh in.

We will grow food here, and flowers and magic.

And finally now….. as I snuggle up in my sweater with my laptop and a cup of coffee…. I begin to write again.

The leaves outside are changing colors and starting to fall…. The things in my life are starting to fall into place again, as well.

The boxes are slowly being unpacked.

Paintings are getting hung, then hung again somewhere else.

Rooms of the house are looking like we live in them. Not just exist in them…. but live in them.

I walk around and look out our windows and smile.

Sunlight streaming in and the wood floors feeling warm.

The boys are back in school.

The rhythm of our life is beating again in our house.

Our home.

Things that grow

It is my greatest joy…
watching things grow.

Tomatoes.
Chickens.
Sunflowers.
Children.

Just look up at any given time and you’ll find yourself surrounded by things that are growing.
Being around these things every day you don’t notice how fast it all happens.
The daily routine keeps you focused on the task at hand…
And then all of a sudden there is lettuce where there was just dirt.
Feathers where there was just fluff.
A toddler walking across a log no longer requiring your assistance.
A grey hair in your pony tail.

With everything that grows I fight a constant ‘hurry up’ and ‘slow down’ battle.
“I cant wait for you to grow up and get yourself dressed, but could you please just stay little and snuggle on my lap?”
“I am so excited to harvest that Kale, oh dear, is it already May? I haven’t planted my zucchini!”
“When will these chickens lay eggs? oh golly, not yet! We don’t have the coop done!”

What also comes with growing things is a tremendous sense of pride.
Every carrot plucked from the ground is triumph.
Every first step, first word, first day of school is another milestone.
Here is a picture from my potato harvest, staged like a newborn child…

I am always trying to learn more about the way things grow.
Evenings that once were spent sipping raspberry vodka, are now full of you tube videos on pruning raspberry plants.
Instead of consuming platters of hot wings I am looking up chicken feed for laying hens…
reading articles about vitamin c and composting…
potty training and booster seats….
fertilize, but not too much.
water, but don’t overwater.
throw a cheerio in and try to get them to aim at it….

But of course, what I have learned in all of the research and experimenting experience,
is to REALLY understand how things grow,
all you have to do is observe.
Know your own soil, your own kid.
What works for a farmer in Michigan isn’t going to work the same for a Whidbey Island tomato.
The cheerio trick only works for the kids that won’t cry when you throw a perfectly delicious snack into their potty.
You must give space for things to grow on their own, but offer support when needed.

This summer I was completely immersed in growing things.
Some things were planted with intention… Walla walla onions all neatly in a row.
Compost carefully mixed into soil…
Rules followed…
Tomato plants bursting with fruit.

Other things were growing despite being planted by 4 year old hands,
who dump entire seed packets into holes and then have their 2 year old brother tromp back and forth over them for the entirety of summer…

Some plants were propped up with sticks, some were thinned out to help them get bigger, some were in beds that had been recently weeded, some were climbing up a trelis.

… and some were growing in mangled heaps, through cracks, over fences, anywhere they could find sunlight.

One sunflower that popped up behind our fire pit that grew against all odds, without bird netting or compost or even anyone noticing it until it bloomed.

I stood there thinking as I gazed up at that sunflower.
Stewing on the different ways that things grow.

I think of my own boys and how different they are.
One who is outgoing and confident but also incredibly clumsy and goofy.
This one could go about his day wearing nothing but dirt and backwards undies and be perfectly content.
He could grow in a pile of manure, provided it was well watered and had plenty of worms.
He would be a ground cover that spread out, twisting itself around everything he came into contact with, eventually taking over your whole garden.

One needing more patience and assurance.
My little perfectionist.
He likes his garden weed free and a Ph balanced soil.
He would be a bulb that you plant in the Fall.
when the blooms finally come in the Spring,
they are bright and beautiful, each petal just right.

And one who is…
well…
picture the most hardy, grow-anywhere-despite-the-conditions plant…
maybe a cactus?
and that’s Finn.
There is no fence or pot that can contain a Finn….
He’s a wildflower for sure.

They are all thriving.
Each requiring different things to grow…
…and a few things that are the same.
They just want to be seen for who they are and be encouraged to grow in their own way.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with my Dad in High School.
We were driving and I was telling him my newest plan to take over the world.
Back then there was a new plan every week and he listened to them all.
I remember on this particular day he said…
“I am not worried about you, you’ll be successful no matter what you end up doing… that’s just who you are.”
And I thought about that over and over as I grew up,
I believed those words he said to me and still do.
I often wonder if I hadn’t had such a ‘non-conventional’ gardener for a Dad,
if I would have been encouraged to take a more stream-lined ‘go get a real job’ path.
As it was I was the lone sunflower behind the fire pit, just needing a little water and some sunshine to live the life I wanted.

I read somewhere that when sunflowers get tall, they may need a stick to reinforce their stem in case of wind.
I think sticks are for sunflowers what words of encouragement are for people.
All of the sunflowers in my garden get sticks, even the ones I didn’t plant.
With everything that grows there is opportunity to observe,
but also encourage.
Fertilize, but not too much…
water, but don’t over water….
One thing is for sure…
Things always grow in the direction of the sun.
If you can be that sun, that stick, that encouragement for others,
you might find that it will actually help you grow as well.

next up…. It’s not easy, but it’s simple….

Let’s start at the very beginning…a very good place to start…..

If only I could send you a curtain adorned Julie Andrews, to strum her guitar and sing for us.
“When you read you begin with A-B-C… when you sing you begin with Do-Re-Mi Pro-per-ty.”

It has a nice ring to it, right? Property. A piece of land all your own. A blank canvas. We began this journey with an old farmhouse filter on. All I wanted to see were old farms that had stories and creaky wood floors. I wanted a house that needed to be loved again and land that begged to be tilled.

My husband was on board with the old farmhouse idea… barely… he was on the edge of the board. The edge that knows how happy it would make his wife, but also has a very sweaty upper lip when agents start talking about rewiring the whole house, rebuilding entire barns, and oh by the way, it won’t pass an inspection, so do you have $500,000 cash? But he was on. Golly, I love that man.
I would walk him across falling down porches squeezing his hand and saying “oh, honey can’t you see it? You and me out here sipping our wine and watching the sunset…” and he would just squeeze my hand back as his leg fell through a board and say “I can see it. I also see other things…. but I can see it.” Did I mention we were also each carrying a baby?

We wanted a home, but more than that. We wanted a homestead where we could raise our boys. We wanted to teach them that food doesn’t come from a store and eggs aren’t made in a factory, and oh boy, just wait until you see where milk comes from, kids. We wanted to dig in a garden that was ours and paint our own walls. We wanted a way of life.

We just couldn’t find THE ONE. Months turned to years, the search continued as housing prices kept going up. The picture in our head of what we wanted became more and more clear, thus becoming more and more picky and frankly, there just wasn’t much out there to even look at. Gradually the thought of “maybe we should build?” would creep into conversations.
Build?
Yes, build!
Build our own house. Build our own dream. Write our own story. You want a playroom as big as Timbuktu? Done. You want your man room in the basement and I want a tub that is deep enough to submerge my entire body? Coming right up. Once the building seed was planted, I became obsessed. Taking pictures of other people’s houses, spending evenings on Pinterest just pinning ‘brick accents’…

“It can’t be just any piece of property.” we would say. Feeling the daggers being shot from the real estate agents eyes. “It has to be special.” I even put out an ad on our local facebook community page. New Years Eve 2018 came and we toasted “This is the year!”

And then we found it.

Four years of searching and dreaming and talking and wondering, and on a random sunny January day, we drove out to a piece of property a friend of mine had told me about. And there it was. The mountains, the open space, the trees… Everything we had been imagining. I later told Dan that I knew it was the one when I heard him do his ’emotional sigh’, which meant he was picturing himself there. We wrote the offer, didn’t sleep for a week straight, and then…’accepted. It was ours.

And I know what you’re thinking. But what about my original glass doorknobs and cupboards that great great grandmothers had opened??? What about my 100 year old apple orchard and root cellar? I hear you. The stories will be there. The old, the cozy, the worn will all be there. We will find the stories, they will find us, we will bring them into our home and make them part of it. But…. we will also have a working washing machine and energy efficient heating. It’s all about balance folks, thats what all of the cool kids are saying!

So welcome! Welcome to our new chapter. Welcome to our 20 acres of beginnings. Welcome to Marigold Farm.

next up…. part two

Let’s start at the very beginning…. part two

Screeeeeeeeeeech.

Wasn’t that a lovely story? Did it give you all the feels?

well let me bring you up to speed….

A week after mutual acceptance I was sitting on a deck in Leavenworth with my father in law designing our dream house.

Two weeks after that I was texting our plans to my girlfriends and gushing over brick archways and outdoor fireplaces.

A week after that we were giving tours and toasting beers in the snow and looking over ‘our’ vast land and declaring it just the perttiest piece of heaven this side of the Saratoga passage.

A week after that we were supposed to close.

The day of closing we found out that there was a ‘change’ on our contract.

The change was a height restriction that was added when the property next to ours was bought by the heiress of a company that makes green tractors.

The height restriction was 17 feet.

17 feet for ANY building or TREE on our ENTIRE 20 acres.

17 feet, people.

So my Victorian picket fence hob nob castle would either need to be quickly redesigned to something Bilbo Baggins would live in….

…..or….

We battle the tractor goddess (who, by the way, has no intention on building, living or doing anything with her property…its just an ‘investment’) for another excruciating 3 months.

The owner of ‘our’ property (also an heir…to a puffy vest and recreational clothing store) offers to pay for a lawyer, even offers the tractor goddess cold hard cash, offers us other properties…. but nope… when all was said and done…

Tractor goddess- 1
Puffy Vest man-0
Dan and Rachel- negative 678

Done. Over. Never getting back together.
We are the Taylor Swift of real estate buyers.

Ok so here is where things get interesting.

Are we sad? yes.
Disappointed? yes.
Wind out of our sails? yes.
Defeated? Good golly, NO.

No, we are not defeated.

I mean yes, I thought I was giving you Julie Andrews singing from a mountain top and that you all could follow along the yellow brick road of dreams…..

I thought I would start this blog, and by now I would be posting pictures of my vegetable garden or handprints in cement.

But I guess instead you’re getting Pollyanna… playing the glad game in a red hot Seattle housing market of ridiculousness.

I remember sitting on my best friends bed in jr. high talking about our future husbands and saying “I mean… our husbands are out there…right now…doing something… right this minute!!!”

I feel the same about our property.

Its out there. right now. We just haven’t found it yet.

This next chapter will be like the second place Bachelor gal getting to come back next season as the Bachelorette…. all those new Zillow listings may as well be chiseled 20 somethings who are secure with their emotions and ready to start breeding.

And what do they always say? “I am SO ready for love…” something like that. Im with ya sister. I am so ready.

So there it is.

Turns out you shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch…
and you REALLY shouldn’t design your chicken coop before you close on your property. 🙂

The hunt continues…

next up…. mom musings….