Newsy Update Spring/Summer 2017

Time for a teensy blog update of only twenty-three paragraphs.  It’s fine, I’m just blogging like it’s 2009.

First things.  Currently in bed at 8:30 listening to Dino and drinking english tea because #oldlady.

Next, where have I been since April?  For part of it, behind a desk writing and photographing a book of 109 pages.

Then, to Maui (for a week)  No DSLR photos of that because I was busy enjoying that island life.

Mostly I have been in my yard, pulling up weeds and shoveling dirt and rocks.  (Not to brag, but I’ve acquired some skill with a shovel and wheelbarrow.)  Believe it or not, I found that I thrive on manual labor.  It does good things for my well-being and sense of feminine power.  It just feels a tad more meaningful than a treadmill, you know?

Sooooo, a first book has been written.  A yard has been leveled and partially covered with weed cloth and river rock.  A tenth anniversary has been celebrated.  I feel very accomplished, a little tired, and ready for this next chapter!

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About the book: my friend Kate and I wrote a resource guide for early homeschoolers.  It’s the book I was searching for last year when I attempted to do kindergarten at home.  It’s sort of a map or topical overview of homeschooling that anyone starting from scratch could run with.  We did have to narrow it down to basic themes from the Charlotte Mason method to keep things from getting unwieldy, but anyone considering starting homeschool with their little ones would find it helpful in navigating the homeschooling world.  The book is full of gorgeous images, inspiring quotes, and curated resource lists for various homeschool topics.  It’s currently available on PDF and I’m working on getting it up on Amazon for Kindle.  I will be pretty glad when “Formatting Nightmares” are off my list of things to do. (You can buy a copy of the book here!)

About Maui:  As wonderful as the picture post cards say.  There is no better place to celebrate an epic first decade of marriage. To list all the things that we have accomplished in the last ten years would be it’s own blog post.  (We couldn’t afford anything like this for our honeymoon ten years ago.  But if you are not poor like us when you decide to get married, you should GO TO HAWAII.)  My mom and dad flew in and stayed with the girls for the week while we celebrated at a resort with all the palm-tree shaded lagoons and many other manufactured comforts.  We had no need to “go adventuring.”  At this time, we prefer sleep, heavily air conditioned suites and blended drinks. We did leave the resort to obtain malasadas, for which I definitely DO recommend an adventure to a real Hawaiian bakery.

About the yard:  This mess all started in about February when I committed to being outside with the girls for at least two hours a day and most of those days ended up being in our yard. (Charlotte Mason and all. I blame her and Karen Andreola for all of this.)  That got really boring fast because we live on a huge suburban lot with no natural life aside from a hachiya persimmon tree.  (But why, I ask?  Why did we plant the hachiyas? By “we” I mean people who lived here before us.) After a few weeks of this, I couldn’t stand looking at the desolation anymore and thought cheerily, “Nothing is stopping me from planting some lavender here and there while the girls ride their bikes!”  Oh, for those innocent days of lavender dreams.

Nothing was stopping me… AFTER I removed the established beds of weeds, rogue palm trees and roving roots from old boxwood hedges.  Oh, and then there was this concern about getting water sources in there because supposedly lavender needs water to live!  Anyways, I started spending all my spare time from February to April cleaning up our property.

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(Yes, I’m cramming a lawn post in here because I’m backlogged.  Do scroll on.)  

One day, and do not ask why, I shoveled up a quarter of our “lawn”.  (It was blind hope for lavender plants).  Problem is, it was just a shoveled up section of yard that air quotes…didn’t make any sense.  So my husband and his “logical planning” forced me to make actual designs for the different sections of our yard.  Don’t worry, he totally redeemed himself by digging the butterfly irises out with an axe and finding out that our property line extended out five feet further than we thought.

So I now have a beautiful row-style vegetable garden in one side of my front yard, some beds of mediterranean herbals, and a remaining patch of dirt lawn that shall soon become a Spanish-style permaculture garden! (That’s not grass growing in my yard, it’s palm seedlings.)

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We finally have all the trash consolidated into one spot of our back yard (the third, and I pray final, pass of trash removal), a main water line in place, a garden shed, and nine yards of river rock around our pool deck.  (When you look at these pictures of my back yard, it’s hard to tell we even did anything…I promise WE DID.)

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I can now say that I totally understand why Californians have more rock in their yards than lawn. (I see you, retirees with rock yards.)  My greatest victory in all of this is that we can now park both cars in our garage and our garbage cans behind our fence.  I feel so civilized.  Oh, the little things.  The cleaning out has paid off though.  We found so many decorative rocks and boulders tucked away in random places!  I even found the missing glass panes to my front doors!

I have endless plans and dreams for our yard.  But unlike the gratification of buying a piece of furniture, landscaping is a good exercise in patience.  While perhaps this is not our “dream” house, it is the house we plan to have for a long time, and gardens it shall have!  (What makes a dream house a dream house anyways?  Someone put enough work into it, that’s my thought for the day.)

I couldn’t have achieved the heavy lifting on the yard work without my brother, who stayed with us all summer.  We will have many memories of shoveling dirt to John Mayer and Dixie Chicks on blast.  We laid a lot of really boring ground work (literally) and soon my visions of pretty things will start to come true.

Other updates:  The photography business that my friend Ari and I started last summer!  I loved it.  My favorite kinds of sessions were probably the branding clients!  Uploading images into Lightroom after a session is better than opening presents from my Amazon wish list.  Yet, as you photographers know, running a service-based business is a hustle.  Even the minimal hours I spent working outside of the house was a lot for our family.  Right now I am still taking clients, just not pushing the business end. Production work (writing, blogging) is a better fit for our priorities, since there is no time table or client on the other end needing anything.

Homeschool: we are homeschooling for “first grade” through a charter school in our area called Visions in Education.  I am using my own tweaked version of Ambleside Online curriculum with Ruth Beechick’s method for math.  (Libby can go right along with us in our first grade work for her “preschool”.)  We are going to read so many amazing works!  Kipling, Shakespeare, A.A. Milne.  Peter Pan, Pinocchio and Paddington Bear are on our family read aloud lists.  We are also going to study artists like Monet and Degas, spend tons of time outdoors and hopefully come away with some beautiful notebooks of our work. I am reading a life-changing book called “Teach Your Children Shakespeare.”  (Teach your children?!  Teach me!)  I am prepping a post with pictures of our homeschooling space and a copy of my plan for the year that you can steal and write your own name on and use as your own.

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I’ll still post our main homeschooling updates here, but I’m also channeling a lot of my homeschool-focused content into the blog that we will be setting up for our Small Beginnings brand.  Most of you guys won’t want to be overloaded with all of that, but those of you that want to can get alerts for those posts by following the Instagram account @smallbeginningsco!

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Ahh, my zinnias have begun to fade.

We have an end-of-summer camping trip planned at the beach and are swimming every afternoon as long as we can until the evenings cool off.  Aside from some sickness in our house, we are enjoying these last summer days and hope you are too!