Week 13: Transition Back to Work

Holy cow…our little Oak is already 13 weeks old! We have had some great adventures (first trip to grandparents, week at the WA coast), survived the first 8 weeks of her life without a functional kitchen (!), harvested nearly 100 pounds of tomatoes from the garden, attended two weddings, cleaned up the remodel multiple times, and had countless afternoons filled with tears, smiles, and everything in between. So where are we now?

This is a big transition period for our little family. I am back at work and Matt is home full time juggling baby and remodel. We have tweaked our routine daily and are still settling on what works the best. So far nothing has been missed, everyone is getting a decent amount of sleep, and we are generally pretty happy. The 5:30 alarm clock has been a shock to my system after three months of sleeping as long as Oakleigh and I wanted to, but we have developed a good bedtime routine where we are all (usually) in bed by 9:00. We set up our guest room and cleaned the main floor bathroom so I have space to get ready in and let the rest of the house sleep. I get up, shower, dress, pump and then get out the door.

We also have been focusing our energy on SPECIFIC projects and steps for getting the house wrapped up. Generally speaking, we are at finishes: trim, paint and tile. Huge right? Countertops are on, demo is done, the heavy “construction” is behind us. We did a massive dump run a few weeks back that gave us a TON of floorspace back, as well as a sense of normalcy that things are getting done. On Saturday morning, Matt and I sat down to talk through each remaining step to totally get the kitchen done. We don’t have time to waste repeating steps or doing the same thing multiple times, so this plan helps us focus. We are also calling in some backup from grandmas to watch Oakleigh so we can tag team the house.

Speaking of our little love, she is AMAZING. We are totally smitten with her, and love watching her grow and change everyday. Her main tricks these days are looking at her right hand/arm (she has not figured out she has a left one yet…), ahh—goo coos, big gummy grins and lots of feet kicking. She loves to look at trees and the cats, and standing is WAY cooler than sitting or laying down. This lady has places to go! (ahem…remodel needs to get done before the moving is actually happening!!!)

Going back to work has been hard…and good…and a lot of logistics. I am beyond grateful that Matt can be home to take care of Oakleigh. He has the best time just being daddy. And I enjoy my job and feel very supported and appreciated with my returning role. Early mornings, pumping, milk management, more pumping, not forgetting stuff, reengaging my work brain, pumping, catching the ferry on time, and still more pumping are just the pieces that will take some time to adjust to. And I miss my baby! It feels pretty unnatural to be away from her, and I try not to dwell on it or I will end up in tears. Again…so grateful she is home with Matt! I am also only commuting 3 days per week so I still get far more time with her than many working moms do!

Every day is just so different. But those gummy grins make every single hard moment worth it.

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State of the Garden

Two years ago we rebuilt our garden from scratch. Installation of a 45×65′ 8 foot tall deer fence was only the start. We then had to rip out well established grass, add tons of compost, and start to figure out a useful layout.

That first year we only planted about half of our usable space. Last year we changed prep methods again and planted 3/4 of our fenced area. Winter cover crops became part of our routine and the soil is dramatically different than when we started.

What is also dramatically different this year is the amount of time we can devote to this garden. We are 9 weeks out from Grain’s due date (eek!) and we are pouring 100% of our time and focus into the house. So, as you might imagine, our garden is a bit neglected. The cover crop is waist high and very happy (and thankfully doing good things for our soil and keeping weeds at bay!), our garlic that was planted in the fall looks great, and the raspberries are taking off like crazy. We have been harvesting the spring greens from our over wintered kale and chard…but the whole thing looks pretty messy. Bolting kale “trees” are tall and buzzing with bees.

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Messy, overgrown garden this spring. but check out those second year asparagus in the raised bed! We are looking forward to our first harvest next year.

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Matt taking a house project break with Alki

We do have roughly 70 tomato starts in our living room, alongside zucchini and pumpkins. We plan to get them in the ground towards the end of May (it is still pretty chilly at night). Tuck in some of our favorite beans and call it good for this planting season. Whatever we don’t plant we will (hopefully) at least scuffle hoe to rip up weeds and throw down some more cover crop. It may not look “pretty” but will be a garden that still works to improve the soil and make next year even better.

If anyone wants to come work in a garden, you have an open invitation!

PS – baby Grain update. We are 31 weeks. Baby is moving a TON, and I felt hiccups for the first time today!

A Week in the Life

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I have been meaning to write this post for a while now. I have always been curious about how other people live, and now that we are expecting a baby, wanting to capture how WE live pre-baby. I am sure it will be fun to look back on when we are a family of three with a very different schedule!

A few facts to start on:

  • We purchased a house with just under an acre of land nearly 4 years ago. At the time, Matt and I were both working, but always had the intention of being on one income at some point.
  • In 2014, Matt moved his focus home full time. Remodeling, cooking, cleaning, growing food. It has been THE.BEST.DECISION.EVER for our family. He is far happier, we have more free space to do things (only one work schedule to accommodate!) and had planned for this so financially it was an adjustment, but manageable.
  • I work in the city, and commute 4-5 days per week. Most of this is on public transportation (bus, water taxi, bus) but once or twice per week I will drive for work meetings, and get reimbursed for mileage. On these days I also make time to run our off island errands and do the bulk of our grocery shopping. Matt keeps a dynamic list of what we need and I can pick it up when I am out.
  • We have one vehicle: our trusty but little mini cooper!

Now that there are a few basics in place, our story becomes pretty routine.

I am up at either 5 or 6 depending on my work schedule that day, shower and dress while Matt puts together my breakfast and lunch. By 7 or 8 I am at the office and Matt is home doing is morning routine (take care of chickens, cats, doing dishes for previous night, playing some guitar). While I work so does he. Right now, the focus is our house remodel…which is extensive and we have been cranking on for nearly 14 months.

I walk in the door around 5:05 which means the work day is over for Matt as well. We make it a priority to not work past 5 o’clock on any day (unless there is a real exception that we need to keep going on a project) and get cleaned up and dinner going. Most of the time we whip something up from scratch, but recently I have been making a larger meal on Sunday that can get us at least through two nights of leftovers.

During the week, I usually shower off the work day (being on the bus feels kinda gross when I am back home), and start cooking while Matt puts away the chickens, plays a bit more guitar and winds down. Eating by 6:30 is the goal, and these days are in front of 2-3 episodes of something on Netflix. It is a low key evening, and we leave the kitchen a mess. Ha! Around 8 or 8:15, we are off to bed.

Weekends are a little more flexible, and we give ourselves space to sleep in and have a slow breakfast. Often we will make pancakes or waffles one morning, and then smoothies and eggs the other. We eat and hang out and listen to a slew of radio shows. By noon, we are usually moving towards more “productive” things: Matt working on the remodel, I am cleaning the kitchen, bills/taxes/paperwork, cooking, making sea glass mobiles for my Etsy shop, or in the garden. If the weather and tides cooperate we will do a beach walk. A quick pause for a snack if we need it, but often times we will just work through lunch. Dinner is not much different than the weeknight routine, but we may stay up till 10 (!) or so watching a movie. Big night!

We also try to pack in weekend adventures (though those are on hold with remodel taking #1, #2, and #3 priority!!!) of surfing/camping at the coast, going to Matt’s parents lake property, hiking, visiting family etc.

So yea, that is how our life generally looks these days. As we prepare for a baby this summer it was important for us to consider many aspects of this lifestyle to help us figure out what we needed/wanted for a car/stroller/sleeping arrangements etc. It was a worthwhile exercise to really focus on! We are certain that things will change as a family of 3, but this is a solid baseline to adjust from.

 

The Good Season

As time passes, we find ourselves moving through seasons. Season with weather, seasons with the garden, and with family and friends. When we decided to move from the mainland out to Vashon Island friends and family were one of the hardest aspects of the change. We knew that there would be some relationships that would continue to grow even with a ferry separating us, but others we knew would fade and disappear. It was hard to predict which would be which, but we knew that they would not all last.

It has been a challenge these nearly three years to not have a community on the island. Now, we do have a great community that we feel a part of, but we did not have OUR tribe. Our little collection of friends that would stop by for dinner or just call on a whim. It has been lonely. I get a good dose of my girlfriends because we make a point to meet for lunch or coffee in the city during our working lives, but home was just me and Matt. Thank goodness we like that! But something was still missing.

This spring has been the start of a new season though. All of a sudden we are in the middle of three couples, making plans, hanging out, cooking, sharing and inspiring each other. All of us are young, no kids, passionate about the island, growing things and being real. It is so refreshing. No competition, no negativity, just honest to goodness enjoyment of life. Best part? We are all only 10 minutes apart at the most. Perk of island life!

On Saturday evening Dennis and Ali came over for a BBQ and backyard fire. We gave them bean seeds and they brought us soil. Matt and Dennis made plans to play Magic. Ali and I talked about living out of boxes. Sunday morning Justin and Hannah stopped by just to see how our projects were going, and invited us to the beach. We spent an hour laying in the sun, chatting about plants and gardens and went for a quick swim.

It feels so good. SO GOOD. This feeling of finding our tribe has been a long time coming.

We are riding this wave. It gives us more energy to work on the house and garden, both of which are coming along well. Hardwood floors are wrapping up. Next is finishing the cove ceiling. Then building cabinets and a tile entry mat. The garden is growing. 50+ tomatoes starts from seed, cabbage, kale, chard, beans, potatoes, flowers and a collection of new fruit trees are all starting to show signs of life. I am selling seaglass mobiles like crazy leading up to Mother’s Day.

Lots and lots of abundance, we are feeling so thankful.

Hooked on Sea Glass

Matt may say “hooked” does not even describe it.  I came back from Kauai with an art project in mind and have spun it up to a whole different level of obsession.

Last weekend, Matt and I collected for an hour in the chilly December rain. Before breakfast. My parents have been assigned the task of bringing back sea glass from their adventures in Curacao. Instagram, Facebook…both are turned into long scrolls of sea glass posts from around the world. I am hooked! (interested? #seaglass has a TON, #pnwseaglass (aka: us cold weather beach walkers, not so many)

In all seriousness, I needed something like this. A hobby that lets me reconnect with my artistic side and is free (well, almost. I did have to buy some storage boxes for my ballooning collection…) I am still trying to find the time (and clean surface) to get starting in making my projects, but the collection of the materials is well underway.

I am learning a lot about sea glass too. Turns out there is quite a community dedicated to it! Books and a newly released color/rarity guide (on my wish list) make this feel pretty “real”.

Can you tell I am a little bit excited about my new hobby? Looking forward to sharing see glass creations and findings!

Christmas Chickens & Fish

It was a whirlwind leading up to Christmas. A weekend with Matt’s parents, too many projects leading to late nights up working in the rain by headlamp (yes, we are that dedicated), hours of cleaning, cooking, baking and laughing. It was an awesome Christmas week.

This year we hosted in our sweet island house. That meant cleaning like a mad woman for two days before everyone arrived. I have to say the house has never looked better. The counters were piled with cookies and Matt and I prepared an epic feast for Christmas Eve. The Italian side of his family celebrates with the Feast of Seven Fishes, so we did our take on it for this party.

After many lists, coordinating with my mom to bring some of the food, thawing, marinating, chopping garlic, garlic and more garlic…we were ready. Want to know the line up? (prepare to get hungry)

  • Locally smoked black cod (with cheese and crackers)
  • Broiled clams on the half shell
  • Dungeness crab cakes from home caught crab
  • Grilled lemon garlic prawns
  • King crab legs
  • Baked salmon
  • Aglio e olio with anchovy
  • Plus bread, salad, and wine, wine, wine!

Halfway through crab cakes we realize how much food we had and ran next door to grab our neighbors, George and Linda at the Palouse Winery. Linda was busy, but George came over to eat…bringing with him three bottles of wine and then later going back for two more! What a fun night. Christmas music, laughter, stories, food, wine, food, wine, and more laughter and wine. It was a feast.

Christmas morning we opened stockings, ate breakfast, opened gifts and then took an island tour. The sun poked out just in time for a beach walk!

The best part of hosting Christmas Eve and morning? Leftovers, quiet and relaxing Christmas night. Matt and I enjoyed the hot tub, some cold salmon, and leftover wine selection from the night before. And then slept like rocks.

Boxing day is a work day for him, so I drove him in and we grabbed coffee on the way through town (to go with our leftover cake of course!) I picked up a Christmas gift for the chickens: a panel of clear roofing to make a skylight for their coop! We strapped it to the top of the mini, and 30 minutes later the girls had light in their coop! It looks awesome!

Oh, and they now have names! Cesar is our rooster, and his ladies are Mary (not in this pic), Belle (the yellow blonde), Holly (red/brown), Helen (silver grey) and Rita (blond and white one in front).

Happy Christmas! Happy Chickens! Happy Friday!