Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Catching up

I've been trying to catch up on everything the last few days and I've finally got some of it under control.

Paul spent all of last week in Cleveland for a training seminar for his new job. He said it was very informative but the best thing was being able to see Pastor and Barb Kavouras and attend the Advent service. That made the week away from home bearable.

The kids and I stayed home part of the week. The kids spent Wednesday through Friday with Paul's mother and I went to spend time with friends. It was great for me to get away and not have to worry about the kids. For my birthday they took me to a great sushi place, I had the most incredible food! I had such a great time I didn't want to come home.

Ever since Paul got home it feels like we have been running to catch up. On Christmas afternoon we cleaned the house, as best as we can considering we do not have a home for the stuff the kids received. I admit I procrastinated too long on a couple of Christmas presents. They are sitting here half-finished. My goal is to get them done this week. Can I still give them out, maybe as Epiphany gifts? One way or another they will be given to the people they were meant for, I put too much effort into them at this point to not finish them. I've learned my lesson, I need to start these projects in October or earlier. 2 moves this year have really put me behind in everything.

There is no way to catch up on school, we will just have to start up again and go from there. Even though we started the year last June I still feel like we are behind. Maybe we will actually get an entire month of school in without interruptions next year.

Monday, December 18, 2006


This is what we woke up to yesterday. Since the rain turned into snow the roads were solid sheets of ice. Of course we had to leave at 4 am to take Paul to the airport for his business trip so it was a bit frightening until we got down to the highway where it hadn't snowed. By the early afternoon most of it was gone. The kids didn't get to play in it much since it was so short lived but Malachi did manage to throw a few snowballs at his sister.

Who says it's always sunny and warm in CA?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


For once, there isn't much going on here. That's a really good thing but it feels a bit odd.

We spent the weekend at a friend's home. On Friday they had a pre-Christmas party and we met yet another homeschooling family. This is the second one we have met at one of their parties, which I find amusing since they don't have any kids themselves. It is always such a great thing to meet people you have something in common with, especially as the kids get older and more and more people question how long we are going to do this.

I'm beginning to cringe whenever I hear that question. We plan on doing this through high school and although the idea of homeschooling is so much more accepted now it still seems odd to most people that we want to continue this all the way through. So when we meet people who we don't have to explain this to, people that understand and don't start judging our decisions, it is a relief from the norm.

Of course just as I'm extolling the virtues of homeschooling Malachi decides to show me this new use for marshmallows!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Boxes Update

I thought I would take a few moments and give an update on how the unpacking is going. I'm sure you are thinking that I should be done by now, but I'm not. There always seems to be something else that comes up during the day that keeps me from finishing. There are very few boxes left in the house. There are still a few boxes on the deck and a few pieces of furniture in the carport. I keep meaning to get more done but life gets in the way.

Here is what the living room/dining room/Malachi's bedroom looks like.

It's cramped but livable. I need to do a bit more organizing under his bed but everything is coming along.

Here is the kitchen. I'm just about done with everything I wanted to do. I have a few more shelves I'd like to build but on the whole it's serviceable.

Here is our bedroom. I finally got the shelves hung up yesterday and I'm slowly unpacking all my sewing stuff. As you can see I crammed a few bookshelves in our room. I just couldn't bear the thought of getting rid of books so I decided to sacrifice space to walk for keeping our books. Who needs to be able to walk next to the bed?

On the whole I'm pleased with how things are coming out. I like the inside of the house, it's homey and comfortable although a bit small. The outside needs some work but that will have to wait. We still hope to one day get a yurt but all of that is on hold due to monetary resources being tight. The area has turned out to be a good place for us. There are very few people in our immediate area, even though there are a number of homes. The few people that are right around us seem friendly enough for California standards.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dog House

This was my project for yesterday.

Temperature here took a dive a few days ago and I was feeling really guilt that I had put off building the dog house. So yesterday I was able to almost finish it. The shingles will go on in the next day or so and we will paint it as soon as I can find some clearance exterior paint, but it will do.

This is the fourth dog house we have built in the past 6 years. Each time we have had to leave them behind because they are too heavy. Since we have always had large dogs, and now we have 4, the house has to be able to accommodate all of them. That size house has to be assembled in place since it can't be moved once it's done. This time I got smart. Each of the sides has the framing attached so we were able to move each of the walls, the floor, and the roof in pieces and put the last few screws in at the site. We should be able to dismantle it when we move. It's not as cute as the first house we built, that one looked like Snoopy's house, but it will work.

I felt guilty for nothing, two of the dogs spent the night sleeping on the dirt. I guess the cold doesn't really bother them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanksgiving madness

As everyone around us is getting ready for the holiday, we once again are reminded how odd we are.

The kids haven't, in their mind at least, ever been to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It has been a number of years since we have done anything special for a holiday. None of us care for turkey or most of the traditional foods served during this particular celebration and because of circumstances we don't spend the holidays with our extended family.

A number of years ago we started the tradition of making a number of different appetizers and just eating throughout the day. That fell by the wayside last year in the yurt and I don't think I'm going to revive it. It's just too much work and I just don't care. Since we will once again be spending the day with just the 4 of us I don't see the point of doing anything special.

That's not to say we aren't thankful for the gifts God has given us. We have wonderful friends, a great church we attend as often as our monetary resources allow, and Paul is employed. Especially given everything we have gone through this year, we feel very blessed. Even though it feels as if we have lost some extended family this year we are thankful for the family we have in Christ.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Birthday Celebrations

Lorna's birthday was last Friday, the 17th. When we asked her what she would like to do to celebrate she asked to have dinner with friends. So she got her wish yesterday.

We had dinner at our friend's house where they invited over a few of her friends to celebrate.

Since we are not a normal family, this was not your average birthday party for an 11 year old. But my baby girl is happy and that's all that matters to me!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Trees, Power Lines, and Water Tanks

We learned an important, although obvious lesson, a few days ago. These 3 things don't go well together in high winds.

The wind knocked down a tree that had the power lines strung through it. The tree didn't break the line because the water tank broke its fall. The tree and tank duelled but although the tank fought well, it lost. The tank now has a hole the size of a large orange in the top. That would have been bad enough without the rest. The power line is the main line into the house. It is attached to a riser that goes into the main box. So as the line was pulled down it pulled the riser with it.

We called the power company out to fix the line. They unhooked it but told us the riser had to be replaced before they would reinstall the line. We called every electrician in the valley and finally found one who squeezed us in. By 2:30 pm the riser was replaced. Upon replacing the riser the electrician found a problem with the main box. It's old and since the home inspection a wire has come loose, it got hot and welded the connection in place. We need to replace the box asap. It's a bummer because it will have to wait as I don't have that kind of money laying around.

Once the riser was replaced we called the power company out again. They arrived at 9:15pm to rehook the lines. Amazingly it was the same guys who came at 8 that morning. So the power is reinstalled, our bank account is much lighter, and we have a new riser.

We have 2 more trees in that area that need to come down. Unfortunately one has the phone lines run through it. Both will have to wait for a ladder to be purchased because they need to be taken down branch by branch since they are in between the water tank, dog run, and tool shed.

Oh and just so you don't think it was that easy, in cutting up the tree to remove it from the water tank a branch fell on the clothes line and ripped the support out from under the carport. I could really use 6 months of boredom right now.

Friday, November 10, 2006


I was reading through the blogs I like to visit and found the following comment from traininup3:.

"My soul is searching for something, but I doubt "it" will ever be found. I mean, I've felt like this for so many years that I've forgot what it feels like to be whole. And how exactly does one find something when one isn't even sure what that something is?"

This really hit me. This is exactly how I have felt over the past few years. We left CA because we were searching for something. We tried living a more self-sufficient lifestyle because we were searching for something. We found things we loved while searching but nothing that ever seemed to fill that void. I thought this was just something Paul and I felt!

But here's the problem, what if you find that something? Do you then dare let yourself have it knowing there is always the possibility of losing it?

I have no idea if we have found "it" but we have found something that makes us feel whole. In moving back here to, once again, follow a job, we rediscovered the feeling of being "near" the people we love. I'm not talking about our biological family but about our church family and especially a few dear friends. They may be 3 hours away but we are closer than we were living out of state and have the opportunity to be involved on a regular basis.

But do you really allow these relationships to fill that void? Every time I think of how much I've allowed these people to touch my life I freeze wondering if this is such a good idea. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and it's probably more than anyone wants to know about me but... I think I've found the thing that makes me feel whole but it's something that makes me feel vulnerable at the same time. So now instead of searching for it, I struggle with it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Boxes are still everywhere.

Just in case you are wondering, yes boxes are still everywhere. I'm not even going to bother to post a picture, it's too depressing.

I hate the sight of them, they depress me since they are a reminder of what a failure I am as a wife and mother. I just can't get excited about unpacking anymore. There is no more room. We still have the deck full of boxes, although the house and carport have been taken care of. I have bills that are MIA, they are probably in a box on the deck. I really need to find them so I can pay them as they are the few that can't be paid online.

So I feel like a complete failure. My goal was to not have boxes everywhere since we were going to unpack things as they were moved here. My goal was to have my kitchen completely in order by now. My goal was... I failed at all my goals. The shed still doesn't have the roof fixed, it's supposed to rain tonight, I can't find any of the tarps...

To top it all off, I'm in email withdrawal. It's been 24 hours since I've received anything. I usually have so many it's hard to keep up, I like it that way! I rely on my IM partner and email lists to keep me sane, it's hard when those things are taken away even if it's only temporary. Besides, what excuse am I going to have to keep from unpacking anymore?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Deep Breath

I need to take one of those every few minutes right now. If you don't want to "hear" me whine just stop right now.

We found that the table won't fit. You know, the dining table where we eat. I bought it 6 months ago and I love it. It's round, I've always wanted a round table. It has a leaf that extends out so it's not all that big when it's folded in. It's a perfect size for school work. And it won't fit. I'm trying not to cry. Nothing is working out the way I wanted it to. Every time I come up with a solution for a problem two more crop up. So I'm going to take a deep breath and try to think up a solution.

To top it all off, Paul brought home 2 more boxes of junk today. Work related stuff that was sent to his boss by mistake. That's the last thing I wanted to see right now. The new job is going good from his perspective. From mine, it's frustrating. We had to buy a cell phone. We had to buy a new computer because the company's software is not Mac compatible. I'm tired of fighting with employers who think you have all the money in the world to spend on stuff for work. And no they didn't have anything in writing about needing a computer let alone a PC.

I'm breathing. I'm trying to be calm. I think it's time for chocolate.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Boxes everywhere!

Our move is almost over. The rental is empty except for the appliances and there is another load or 2 in the garage. Most of that stuff is Christmas decorations and large things like the lawn mower and bikes.

The nightmare at the new house is just starting. I thought I'd give you an idea of how we are living right now.

This is the living room/ Malachi's bedroom. Most of these are his toys that will be going, somewhere (my favorite phrase right now).

This is my bedroom. It gives you an idea how small the rooms are. The desk and table in the corner are about a foot and a half from the bed. Who needs room to walk? We are the lucky ones with the only closet in the house, it's not big but at least we have one!

This is Lorna's room. She opted for less floor space and more storage. Her bed goes from the headboard to the opposite wall. She has to climb over the bed to get to the other "aisle" of her room.

Here is a shot of the back of the house. There are a lot of boxes and even furniture. We have a big job ahead of us going through all this stuff but at least we can take our time, as it doesn't rain all that often and the deck is completely covered.

The animals made it here okay. The horse doesn't care where she is as long as she has food. The dogs aren't happy at all. All four are crowded around the gate waiting for an opportunity to run out and into the house. They will settle in eventually.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Feeling sorry for myself

I know it sounds all whinny and pathetic but I'm lonely.

The last month Paul has been home most of the time. He would go over to train his mom on the computer and work on insurance jobs as they came up but then that died out (he was let go) and I had him to myself. I have become very accustomed to spending my days with him working on the new house.

But today he started his new job and I'm at the rental with the kids. One car means we have to stay here while he is out in the real world. So I'm feeling lonely. The job is a good thing, he has to work so I can stay home, but adjustments to our schedule are always difficult.

I should be excited, all the major stuff is done at the new house and we start moving our stuff in today. But I can't seem to get motivated about packing. I think I'm just being hormonal which usually means I'm needy and lonely, bad timing for this to come on now!

To make things worse I've had no email for hours. How can such a busy email list and all my friends just vanish when I need a distraction? Bad timing all around. Okay enough complaining, I really do need to pack. Or maybe I'll just go back to bed with my favorite book...and some chocolate!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Phone Service Frustrations

We called to set up the phone in our new house last week. We ended up using a third party connection service because it saved us the $46 connection charges and we got a really good deal on unlimited long distance. At the time we called, the anticipated date was October 10th. They said we would receive a confirmation package in the mail, we never did.

We did receive an email over the weekend. It confirmed what we ordered and said they would set up service on the 24th! I was a little annoyed. We had already had issues with our address because they couldn't match the post office records, which makes sense since the whole area doesn't have mail service. I called Verizon yesterday to see about getting the service turned on sooner. They were less than helpful. One lady said it might be because of the weather. I was confused since we have been clear and sunny for months. Another asked if it was new construction, when I said it wasn't she said that was the problem. What difference does it make? Finally the last person we talked to said it was because they are a nationwide company and they are very busy. How does their service offerings in New York affect getting our phone here?

It comes down to the fact they don't want to help and know we can't go with anyone else. We have one car which Paul takes to work, no cell phone, and live in a remote area with a child with a medical condition but they don't care we will be cut off for long periods of time. Nice company.

We found it very easy to set up satellite internet though, they will be here on Monday.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


We finally finished the floor this evening!

It was very exciting and satisfying to finish.

We have also finished the hardware on the shower.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Flooring continued

We have been not so diligently working on the flooring. We took a few days off to attend church and relax with friends. We are very blessed to have friends that allow us to invade their home on a semi-regular basis and stay the night. Since church is over 3 hours away, it makes it so much easier to spend the night. The drive is much more bearable.

Since we were gone Sunday and part of Monday we didn't make it up to the house until yesterday. I admit we procrastinated and didn't actually get there until after lunch. But we got a tremendous amount of work done. We finished the hallway and only have the tiny kitchen and entryway to finish. The quarter round will go in after that along with all the other end moldings. We did have a few setbacks, the door moldings on 2 doors need to be replaced as the wood split when we were undercutting the frames. Frustrating but very minor.

We are still fighting with the pedestal sink. The drain doesn't want to seal properly so we are going to completely dismantle it and start over again. I'm really hoping we can get it finished this week.

Paul got a call yesterday for a job interview this morning. We are really hoping this works out. He is completely qualified for the job and it is really low pressure sales. The position he has been chasing is much more high pressure. The more pressure the more money but we both agree that we would be happier with less money and stress. I am anxiously waiting for him to come home and tell me how it went.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This is why we drive so far

This church sign is on our way into town.

We are often asked why we drive so far to church, now you understand! This is one of a few churches that is in our area. Many of them frequently have dumb signs but this one takes the prize for the most tacky.

Will this ever end?

We still don't have the flooring in. It is extremely frustrating. We need to get finished this week but we keep running into snags.

My mom and her husband had to leave unexpectedly, we were sorry to see them go but understood. This puts us back to only being able to work on the house when Paul is off work. We are hoping to get a good start on things this afternoon but nothing ever goes as planned.

Paul's job situation is not good at all. He is currently working outside the office and the other employees have been told he quit. To make a long story short, his stepfather has been less than truthful where compensation is concerned. He has been pushing Paul to work on his day off and wouldn't take no for an answer. Instead of fighting with him, Paul decided to leave early a few Saturdays ago thinking it was better than saying something that was inappropriate. At first this was okay with both his mother and stepfather. But each subsequent conversation with them changes their feelings.
First it was, "See you on your normal work day." Then it was, "We want you to work from home this week." The next week it was, "See you on Tuesday." Then Monday night we got a call that he would be working out of the office again with his mom. Now it's, "Once you are finished training your mother, you will no longer be getting paid." So we went from everything's fine to you no longer have a job. We knew that this was not the ideal job but this is ridiculous!

So much for trusting family! He has been actively pursuing other employment for many weeks. He has sent off a number of resumes, had a couple of calls, and repeat interviews with one company. We are hoping something comes up very soon.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More home improvements

The tile may be finished but that's the only thing that is.

We had problems with the faucet hardware for the shower controls, it seems that the rough-in on the plumbing was 1/2 inch too far into the wall. We had to order an adapter kit which was $40! The kit came on Monday and contained a brass ring, a 1 inch stem extension and a long screw for each of the 3 controllers. I expected something more complicated for that much money but it did the trick. But then we realized that the faucet pipe wasn't far enough away from the diverter, Paul made it fit by slightly bending the wall plate. This is when I asked him if he measured the piping when we first started this to make sure that this stuff would all fit, his response was, "Why would I have done that?"

The flooring still isn't here. It was held up at the manufacturer because of problems at the store. Then they shipped it but didn't deliver until over a hour AFTER the warehouse closed so no one was there to receive it. Because that was a Friday, it didn't get put on Monday's truck since it got back to L.A. really late. So it was out for delivery yesterday and we haven't seen it. I'm really hoping it got there late yesterday so we can pick it up today. The old flooring is up and the subfloor is ready for the new stuff.

We should be able to paint the bathroom today and put everything back together. The shelves I bought didn't fit so they will go back to IKEA on Friday, we are getting away for the weekend and going to be near a store. Once the bathroom is finished I will start focusing on the fencing for the animals and the shed for the tools. Once the flooring is in we can start moving our junk in.

My mom and her husband are here visiting so we have help with all the remodeling and they are going to watch the kids so we can get away for a few days. We aren't doing anything spectacular, just visiting with friends and enjoying some time with adults. Which is perfect for me!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Shower pictures

Here are the promised pictures of our bathroom remodel.

We started with Paul cutting out the old shower enclosure.

Here are the bare walls and mess that was generated after we finished cutting out the old junk.

Paul and I cut the Hardibacker to fit in the bare walls. At first we used a circular saw but found that scoring and snapping the pieces was much easier and less dusty.

Malachi really wanted to help throughout the whole project. We needed to replace a few of the spacer strips of wood that leveled out the wall because they had rotted.

Here I am putting on the first few rows of tile. This particular wall was a nightmare because of the window. I would have loved to put glass block in the window but we needed the ventilation.

This is a picture of the spider that came to visit the first night we were putting tiles up. The hole in the wall is the size of a quarter and the spider couldn't get it's body through the hole! The legs you see are just the bottom tips of his long hairy legs. We are going to be replacing the light bar and medicine cabinet with a mirror and light so we will be closing up this hole.

It took two days but we finished the tiles and proceeded to grout last night. I didn't expect it to take 5+ hours so we were there until almost 2am. Needless to say we haven't gotten any school work done the past two days. I disregarded the instructions on the grout about wearing gloves and am paying the price today. I have tiny puncture wounds and blisters on the tips of 4 fingers.

Here is the finished product of almost a week's worth of work. It was definitely worth it!

We have a few days to wait before we can seal the grout. We will be installing the new shower hardware tonight and getting the floors ready for our new flooring. I am looking forward to working in some room other than the bathroom.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Home Improvements

Why do they always take longer than expected?

We closed escrow and immediately started trying to do things to get the house in shape to move in. The first project was tearing out the old shower enclosure and replacing it with tile. It's a good thing we did! The house was built in the late 50's so there was drywall behind the plastic enclosure. The drywall was moldy and crumbling away so we tore it all out. We are still trying to get everything ready to install the cement board for the tile. I foolishly thought it would only take a day or so but we keep running into snags that require things we don't have on hand like 2x4s or saw blades.

We have made numerous trips to the hardware store for various pieces and parts. Paul got on the roof to check out the swamp cooler. It needed new pads so we thought no problem we would also install PVC to vent the overflow off the roof. Nothing is ever easy! The pads were $100! It seems we have a really spiffy and great swamp cooler so it needs special pads. Luckily they can be used for a number of years before being replaced again. Of course the PVC fittings didn't match up to the threads on the overflow so we had to make a few trips to get various adapters and ultimately a new overflow since the one up there snapped. Now we are back to the store again tomorrow to get a new water line, it has sprung a number of leaks.

Lorna's room has gone well, we dry brushed on a top beige color that goes well with her horse theme. I should be able to finish painting the moldings in her room tomorrow. At least one project was easy and nearing completion.

We had the very unpleasant surprise to find that the tile in the main part of the house has to be removed. The house is on a post foundation and the subfloor moves a little. Because of the movement in the floor the tiles keep popping up. The grout has crumbled away in places and we figure that there is no point in replacing it so it can just crumble again in 6 months. Since Paul manages a flooring store we were able to get a really good deal on some laminate. Not what we really want but all we can afford at the moment. Even so it's money we hadn't anticipated spending.

We also found we need to do a little foundation work. The posts are in great shape but they are not anchored to the floor joists. Because we live in earthquake country they need to be better anchored. Two of the posts are leaning at a weird angle. We are currently in the process of ejecting the rats and squirrels that live under the house so we can get under there with a house jack and some support bracing. Luckily we are familiar with the concept since this is what the yurt deck was made of. It may not be expensive work but it's going to be very dirty work and we are not looking forward to it.

I am hoping to have the tile done by the end of the weekend so we can start the flooring installation. I'm sure it's just wishful thinking! We really need to start on the horse and dog fencing so we need to get something accomplished this weekend. Someday I might have time to upload a few pictures of the renovations but not tonight :)

Friday, September 01, 2006

I'm done!

I finally finished that album!

It took me a good 4 weeks and lots of frustration but it's finally done. I will never again get everything out with the intention of finishing a whole album. The whole thing is almost too large to fit in the album. I ended up taking all the extra pictures that are good and putting them on the last 2 pages in a pocket. The pictures were too good to get rid of but we don't need that many in one album. I have included 3 pages below.

We also closed on the house yesterday. It is very difficult to get too excited. We have made a few decisions about the projects we are going to complete before moving in. We will be gluing down the tiles that are lose and regrouting as opposed to replacing the flooring. Neither of us likes the tiles very much but I don't want to invest that much time and energy on something that is in decent shape. We will be leaving the kitchen cabinets alone but changing out the knobs. The shower surround will be replaced with tile since it needs to be redone but we will just clean up the tub that's in there. We are not going to paint the living room because it will be too dark with the exposed beam ceiling. Outside we will be redoing the two sheds and moving them. As always there are lots of plans for after we move in but that's about the extent of the stuff we will be doing right away. We had our first dinner there last night while we measured windows, made some decisions, and just tried to get a feel for the place. It's going to be tight and very cluttered until we can get the yurt but we will find a way to make it work :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Employer's ability to dictate your life

Paul has looked for jobs quite often over the past few years due to all the layoffs and we both have appreciated the ability to apply for jobs via the internet. But in my opinion the new requirements of prospective employers have gotten ridiculous.

Increasingly we are coming across employers that want to speak via cell phone only, it sounds simple enough but we don't have cell phones. Today Paul received an invitation to apply for a position, part of that application process involved a personality test. This is something I don't like but it's really common, the catch this time was that you have to have some type of broadband!

Okay this is ridiculous, the cost to just apply to these jobs by having all these things is just stupid! We don't have cell phones because we can't afford it. We live on a very strict budget and the money just isn't there. We don't have DSL available in our area and we certainly can't afford satellite. Even if DSL were available, I don't know that we could afford the monthly premiums.

When did employers start dictating people's way of life? I know that this is part of the reason Paul lost his job in CO, his boss didn't like or agree with our lifestyle. I thought that was pretty invasive and wrong but I also thought it was a freak thing. But now these prospective employers, ones that haven't even offered you a job, require you to have a private cell and broadband! If this was just a one time incident I wouldn't be so upset but it's not. It's like we are stuck in this vicious cycle, without money we can't have these things but in order to obtain a job that will allow use to afford these luxuries we need money.

Maybe I'm just whining but it's frustrating. Maybe we are an oddity because we want to live without credit card bills. In order to do that we don't have all the latest gadgets but we aren't living in the stone ages, we do own a computer :) So what's the solution? I don't know but I do know that we aren't going to do the easy thing and bow to the pressures of society to take on needless debt just so he can apply for jobs!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

After talking it over for a few days we have decided to order another yurt for our new property. We have some money saved and decided instead of trying to add on to the new house, a yurt was the more economical way to go.

We are all very excited as we really miss living in a yurt. There is something really neat about living in a round structure. So now that we have decided that we have to figure out where to buy it from. So many decisions, but at least they are good decisions :)

We think that we will get a 16 foot yurt to use as a school room/office and bedroom. We desperately need another bedroom and our daughter very enthusiastically offered to have her bedroom in the yurt. We will be attaching it to the house so that you can exit the house and walk through a breezeway into the yurt.

We have narrowed it down to either Rainier Yurts or Spirit Mountain Yurts. We like the finished aspects of the Rainier Yurts but like the price and options of Spirit Mountain. We have found a number of platform plans online and will be pulling the best aspect from each of them to hopefully get the best deck for our money.

I just can't stand to be normal! This seems the perfect way to live in a house but still be different :)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Perceptions of isolation

A few weeks ago a well meaning friend mentioned that we isolate our kids too much and wondered how they would learn to live in the "real world". Of course this is in response to the fact that we homeschool. According to this friend they would encounter the "real world" if they were in school. I, of course, took up the usual banner and countered that the real world doesn't segregate us by age and job. He couldn't really argue with that since he is 15 years older than me. But on the whole he didn't seem to agree.

Fast forward to last night and an email list I belong to. A few participants were discussing the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. One warned of the possible inappropriateness of the movie since there is implied sex and the man proposes while lying in bed with the woman (she is clothed at the time and they don't show him below his shoulders). I was pretty shocked, I honestly think this movie is very clean. There is no nudity, no foul language, and although the sex is implied nothing is really shown.

So I guess it's all perception. By many's standards we isolate our kids but by other homeschooling families' standards we allow our kids to watch inappropriate movies. I find the whole thing very interesting!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Home update

Well, the seller signed the addendum extending escrow through the end of this month and the water tank is finally in. Supposedly we will be closing at the end of this month.

I have mixed feelings about this whole thing. We found an area we would really like to live in but it's just a tad bit out of our price range. We even found a home in our price range that we love but it has virtually no lot and we couldn't keep the horse on it. That seems to be our biggest problem, finding a property that is zoned for horses. Even if we boarded the horse, where would the kids play? I am afraid we are really picky and want a place with some "room to roam".

Paul has been actively searching for a new job since his is going to disappear rather quickly. At first we thought about just uprooting and moving across country again but we decided that we should at least attempt to make this work for a couple of years. Something I had not anticipated with jobs here are how little they actually pay. The cost of living here is so high compared to other places we have lived but the jobs don't pay any more. How do people live here? I was beginning to think it was because we live on one income but then I was reminded of how expensive it is to work. With the extra added expenses we can't afford for me to work. Paul is looking for a job that will actually make it so we can squeak by on the one income but it looks like he will ultimately end of with two jobs again. It's not the end of the world but it's not a comfortable thought.

I'm still plugging along with our wedding scrapbook. Every time I think I'm just about finished I find more pictures to add. As soon as I'm done with it I will pick out a few pages and post them here :)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mass Dumbness

"Mass dumbness first had to be imagined, it isn't real." -John Gatto

I'm currently rereading a book called The Underground History of American Education which is where the above quote came from. I decided to pick it up again after having a discussion a few days ago with a friend who decided to challenge our reasons for homeschooling. He wanted to make me think long and hard about our current priorities, it worked. What I came up with was that our number one priority is our kids. We may have changed the reasons why we are homeschooling but we are still committed to this lifestyle.

I call it a lifestyle because our schooling doesn't stop when we close the books and "school time" is done for the day. I have *gasp* become more of a believer in unschooling over the past 2 years. We are still structured but that structure has more and more taken a backseat to life. I have noticed during this time that the kids have learned more than I could have ever imagined! Our son went from not reading to reading chapter books one day, it just finally clicked. Now he has read most of what we have available in a week or so. We have read about giant squids and whales because the topic was in a magazine article we saw. We have done an extensive amount of reading on bats because we have a colony living in the attic. The kids remember what we read because it has a connection to the real world, that doesn't always happen when we read things for "school".

So what does that have to do with mass dumbness? The friend I mentioned earlier wanted to know why we don't just put the kids in school. One of the big reasons I mentioned was that our son would be labeled and stuck in a "special ed" class. He thinks differently and that is just not valued in today's society. I think this is part of that mass dumbness, because someone is different they are labeled as dumb. The assumption is that kids need to be taught not that they will actually learn just by living in the real world. I disagree. I think they are kept in ignorance by being taught in a classroom. They are fed only what the experts think they need or can handle, in short their abilities are grossly underestimated. Unfortunately, the mind and ability to think are like muscles, they need to be used and exercised. This type of schooling only allows those muscles to atrophy and eventually they wither.

We now have a society where mass dumbness is a common belief. It's so sad!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Good Day

We had a great day and I just had to share it here.

We spent the morning at church, which is usually great, and the afternoon with friends. Even though all of our friends are so different it's great to get together and be with people that can accept us for who we are, especially since we are so weird! It's not often that we are accepted and we feel so truly blessed to be with people that do so readily.

To top it off we had a great lunch at one of our friend's homes which made dealing with our kids so much easier. It's just so much more relaxing to know that I can talk and not have to worry about the kids getting into trouble. That's not always the case when we go out, they are normally well behaved but I constantly worry that their boredom will drive them to misbehave.

Just an update on the house in escrow...

The date of closing has been rescheduled for August 31st. Supposedly all the agreed upon work will be completed and everything will be in place so we can close. We found an absolutely perfect property in between all of this but even if we had the ability to pull out of escrow this new property cannot be financed. It does give us something to dream about though, some day I want to live like that!

In case you are interested here is the listing.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What I've been making

I realized that my last few posts have been so negative and that was never my intention so...

I've decided to post a few pictures of my latest projects. I normally sew and have been very busy the last few months making new dresses for our daughter. But I've taken time out of my sewing to finish my first scrapbook. Since I was able to finish our 8x8 album of the yurt I thought that it should take me no time to finish our wedding album. I know it's way over due since we just celebrated our 12th anniversary but I thought it shouldn't take longer than a week or so. I was wrong and honestly haven't gotten very far. I do have an excuse though :)

My mil asked me to make Thank You cards for the business. I was very happy to do so since this would allow me to make a little bit of money to buy more paper and tools for my scrapbooks. So here are a few pictures of the completed cards.

The pictures don't convey the texture in the paper or the true colors but it gives you an idea of what I've been up to :)

Home buying and other minutiae

Have you ever had one of those times when nothing seems to go right?

Our life has been like that for a year and a half. I'm really hoping that we are at the end of that stage right now and maybe headed for some normalcy, whatever that is :)

As I mentioned before we have a house in escrow. It was supposed to close on July 31st but it didn't. The seller didn't have all the work completed and we refused to close no matter what kind of assurances she wanted to give us. She also wants us to sign an addendum to the contract for a couple of things and we have refused. I don't understand waiting a month into escrow and wanting to change something in the contract! We have asked to extend escrow through the end of this month, August, and close on the 31st. We will lose our interest rate lock but at the moment that would be to our benefit as the rates are slightly lower. We can't close after the 4th in any month because we would owe an entire month's interest which is substantial.

Both Paul and I are tired of fighting this and, in many ways, are kind of hoping she will just let the contract expire so we can go our separate ways. All of this for a house neither one of us is thrilled with, a property that isn't ideal with a ditch running through the middle, and in a state that neither one of us wants to live in. The whole thing seems stupid.

At this point I'm sure you are wondering why we put an offer in on this house to begin with. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do. But let's just say that things here are not working out the way we planned. The promise of a living wage has yet to be fulfilled which makes this whole thing seem pointless.

I know that we are difficult people asking for a lot. We want to live on one income in a society where that is all but impossible, and we don't want to live hand to mouth but have enough for necessities and a little savings in case of emergency. We want to have animals and eventually raise most of our own food. We want to be left alone but be within driving distance, 2-3 hours, of a decent church. In my mind that doesn't seem like a lot to ask for but in reality it has been next to impossible to find.

I think maybe I'm just at the end of my rope. All the moving and upheaval over the last 3 years is finally taking its toll and I'm tired. I want to find a place we can settle down and plan on living there the rest of our life. I just wish there was a place where we could live without having to struggle financially. I'm sure that's a wish most people have.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dying Churches

I've heard that term a lot lately. It seems that we are seeing a trend in that our smaller churches are slowly fading away. It has made me wonder, is there a correlation between these churches fading away and the growing number of married couples not having children?

I think there is. Our society, on the whole, values money. You are defined by your career and how much money you make. Not so much in the more rural areas but certainly in the metropolitan areas where the majority of the population lives. We have seen a decline in the housewife and the number of children families are having. Those of us who have made it a priority to stay home and take care of our families are looked down upon as being "non-productive" members of society.

So how does that correlate with the dying churches? We have couples who don't see the promise and blessing of "be fruitful and multiply". I'm not going so far as to say it's some kind of command, but it is definitely a blessing. Since these couples have chosen to pursue something other than a family the numbers in the church don't increase. Every time one of our older members is called home the numbers of the church lessen. I know this is not the only reason these churches are dying but I think it is one of the major reasons. Just to clarify, I'm not talking about those couples who have tried and are unable to have children but those couples who make a conscience decision to not have kids.

It is so sad to walk into one of these churches and see how few of the families have children. We have attended a number of these types of churches. If you are there for any length of time, you start to miss seeing baptisms and watching the children grow. Those with kids have so few opportunities for their own children to make friends with those of the same faith. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it makes it difficult for the children growing up to meet and marry someone of the same faith. Instead of looking for a spouse who believes the same way you do you end up looking in other places. Okay, maybe I'm going a bit far but these are things that pop out of my head :)

Ultimately, I think it is so sad that we as a society have gotten so selfish that we don't want to share our lives with children. As a parent, I cannot imagine my life without our kids. It would seem so empty! What's worse is to see how society has influenced our churches. They truly are dying since there are so few being born to fill the pews.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Isolation or Privacy

On one of the email lists I belong to the subject of isolation came up. It was in the context that living a life in isolation is outside of our vocations as Christians. One of the members pointed out that living in the country and not wanting to live in the city is not necessarily a life of isolation but one of greater freedom and privacy.

I whole heartedly agree. I've been trying to explain this to friends of ours that see our desire to live in the country as being almost sinful. We enjoy the space and freedom that we can have in the country and cannot have in the city. Every week on our drive to church I look at all the houses, tightly packed next to each other, and wonder how you can have any privacy. You certainly don't have a whole lot of freedom, there are city codes, association rules, etc. They all tell you how you can live and what your house must look like. They are a way for the neighbors to dictate how you live your life so as not to offend them.

We came home from the hardware store yesterday to find a note on our gate from the animal control officer who lives on our street. She insists that our one dog, we have 4, needs a dog house because he was chained up in the backyard. We don't normally chain our dogs up but this one has made a habit of climbing the chainlink fence into the neighbor's yard. We installed a radiofence to shock him when he gets near the fence but he has become accustom to the shocks and charges through. We were at the hardware store looking for supplies to hopefully alleviate the problem. This is the problem with living in a neighborhood. I really don't think this woman has any right to tell us what we should or shouldn't do with our dogs. We don't mistreat them, they are fed, have clean water, and they have companionship most of the day, which I can't say for any of the other dogs in the area.

This particular dog wouldn't go in a doghouse unless he was forced. He is a wolf-husky mix and refuses to use any shelter provided except an occasional tree, so the doghouse would be a wasted effort. The dogs have access to a carport that they use for shade very occasionally and we will build them a large doghouse for the winter, once we have moved to the house we are buying. Now we have to deal with this county worker who has to justify her job by telling other how to live their lives.

This whole experience just reinforces my desire to live a more private life with the freedom to live the way I desire.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Being Content

I have often been told that I need to learn to be content with whatever our present situation is.

I thought I had learned that lesson when we lived in Indiana. It didn't start out easy and I complained a lot. Eventually I learned to really like where we lived and was thankful for the opportunities we had instead of being frustrated with the opportunities we didn't have.

It was different in Colorado. We had a huge problem adjusting, mostly because of our preconceived notions. We really expected the small town to be like the one we had just left. We expected to have that community feeling that was just wasn't there. We expected the business owners to be above-board because this was a small community and in small communities you usually need to protect your reputation in order to stay in business. None of that was the case but I was content with our living situation and tried to look at all the positives. I really liked living off the grid, I liked the freedom from being reliant on a faceless company for my power and water. And I liked the freedom from building codes. I never was content where the homeschooling laws were concerned but nobody's perfect!

I'm having a hard time here in California. I never expected we would end up back here and I really truly feel it was a huge mistake to come back to a place we tried so hard to escape from. The homeschooling laws are better than CO but worse than IN, and I guess in that I am pretty much content. It's the rest of it that gets in the way. I don't like where we live. We live in a community, and I use that term very loosely, that is built solely on one of the things I hate the most, materialism. This place only exists because tourist and weekenders come from the LA area to play on the lake. The property values have skyrocketed in the last few years because people in the LA area can't believe how cheap the properties are, it must be perspective. The problem is that the people who live here year-round and provide the labor for all those needed services can no longer afford to live here. We will be giving 41% of our income to a mortgage company for a house that is really too small for our family, even taking into consideration my "less is more" mantra. In many ways I would love to continue renting but our rent payment isn't much less! I love our church and friends but the cost of driving there every week is too much and we need to cut back. I should be content that we can go at all but I'm having a hard time with that.

I'm sure it's a failing in me but I don't know that I can make myself be content any longer. I want to move someplace I want to live and stay there for the rest of my life. We have moved 8 times in the last 12 years and I'm tired. I want to find someplace where we can live simply on one income, I am beginning to doubt such a place exists. Maybe I just need more time to acclimate to this area but I don't think so. It's not like the other places we lived, we are originally from CA and know the drill. I don't have to learn about the culture because it's ingrained in me.

So, is being content truly something we can make ourselves become, regardless of the situation around us, or is there ever a time when it's too much to ask?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sometimes I wish I could be normal

I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about this.

Our life would be so much easier if we were more like other people. If we could just let go of some of our ideas like homesteading and living on one income we would be able to fit in so much easier.

It's kind of like the movie "The Matrix". Morpheus gives Neo the choice between the red pill and the blue pill and tells him if he chooses the red pill there is no going back. I feel like we have chosen the red pill and sometimes it would be nice to be able to go back.

I'm not saying I regret our choices but it is difficult sometimes when the people around us don't understand and are sometimes critical of our choices. It is difficult enough financially without having to deal with the stress of trying to explain these things to our friends and family.

I guess, ultimately, there is nothing I can do to change these things so I shouldn't stress about them.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Dual Lives

Do you ever feel like you have two lives and they don't fit together?

I often do. After moving around a bunch and struggling to live on one income we have come to appreciate some of the insights in modern homesteading magazines. Many of the writers in these magazines and books extol the virtues of living within your means. It may sound like common sense but so many people just don't do this. That is why credit card debt is so prevalent in this country.

We have chosen to adopt some of the things we have read about. Growing more of our own food, being more self-sufficient, and living within our financial means. It sounds so easy but when we talk about this with other people we get those looks. You know, those looks that say you are crazy. We get questions like, "Why do you want to grow your own food?" or "What are you hiding from?" or just "Why?".

First, we aren't hiding. I happen to like living in the country. I like the quiet and solitude. What's wrong with that?

Second, I like doing things for myself. Why pay someone to do something that I can do myself. I get a sense of accomplishment when cooking food I grew in my own garden.

Third, I'm just happier without all the stress of trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing or buying.

That is where my other life comes in. We are confessional Lutherans. We have very specific beliefs so it's not always easy to find a church near where we live. We happen to drive a REALLY long way to church. We have friends at this church and enjoy spending time with these people. These people are our family.

But this family is very different from us. They don't have kids or their kids are grown. They probably don't even realize it but when they have parties or get togethers it's hard for us. Sometimes the kids aren't welcome because the party is an adult theme. It's so hard, we want to spend time with them but we also have to think about our kids. We don't have a huge support network here so it's not easy to have them stay with a family member. The other big problem is the money. We don't have any discretionary income. We don't have the money to go out to lunch. We have 4 people to feed and that gets real expensive. At the same time I have a hard time explaining why we can't go out, it sounds so pathetic. Although our friends accept our other life they will never really understand it.

So there are our two lives. It probably doesn't sound like much of a problem but it is very stressful. We have tried just living one of these lives at a time and it doesn't work. We need to be "near" a solid church so that puts very large constraints on where we can live. Living within driving distance of one of these churches put financial constraints on how we can live, the area we are in now is expensive! Maybe some day we will figure out how to mesh these two existences into one life :)

Friday, June 30, 2006


This working at a small business is highly overrated!

We really want to own our own business. So when this opportunity came up to work with his mom and stepfather so we could eventually take over the business, we thought it would be a great thing. There are great things about it, we don't have to worry about the way his boss feels out our wacky lifestyle. There are a lot of things that the business can pay for like insurance and cars. The one huge drawback is medical coverage.

The business is too small to have it's own plan so we had to apply for private coverage. The cost was better than we hoped for but they are really strict about who they will cover. After waiting 4+ weeks we received the approval for part of the family. I say part because they refused coverage for our daughter. I still don't have an approval for myself so they may deny me for all we know.

The frustrating thing is that we don't use the coverage much. Our daughter sees a specialist twice a year and has lab work done each time, but that's it. She hasn't been hospitalized since we started homeschooling. They didn't even offer us a conditional acceptance excluding her genetic disorder. It's very frustrating.

We are against government insurance. I don't believe the federal government has a right to offer such things. That's not what the government is for. I'm not sure what I think about the state government offering health care coverage. I don't want to apply for government coverage for the kids, there are always strings attached. But the cost and amount of coverage is so tempting. The last few years, we have had insurance that covered next to nothing. Last Year we paid a ridiculous amount in co-pays and deductibles. If we go without insurance this year we will have to save a huge amount of money to cover the few doctor visits and labs we will use. The state coverage would cost next to nothing and the co-pays would amount to $50 for the entire year! Plus the glasses and dental visits would be covered. I just have to keep reminding myself that the cost to my conscience would be greater than any monetary gain.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Why Less Is More?

That seems to be my mantra as of late. Partly it's coming out of our yurt adventure with no electricity or running water. It's also because we are buying a ridiculously small home. But mostly it's because it fits.

It's something I'm trying to teach my family. We can have a lot by having a little. We don't need the latest gadgets or the biggest home. We have made a commitment to homeschool and live on one income, that means we need to be careful what we spend. That one income has steadily decreased since we started homeschool 5+ years ago. We are almost completely out of debt, just the school loan to go, and boy do we feel free!

So here we are, paring down our possessions once again to fit into that 600 sq.ft home.