So Many Snow Days

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The polar vortex of 2019 didn’t miss us like it seemed it would. Instead, we got a week of intense winter weather that rocked our state. It’s been a lot of fun to embrace the change, but it’s proved challenging after a full week of endless snow. Between not being able to get to work, losing power, stores running out of goods, and damage being done to buildings, enough is enough. Thankfully, we’re on the road to slightly higher temps and melting snow, and that has us all looking forward to spring!

I’ve been surprised at myself for having such a bad attitude toward the winter weather, I’m usually not so pessimistic. The first day of good snow excitedly found us outside with sleds, and Remy’s first trip down the slopes (although she wasn’t really the biggest fan, she preferred snowy walks). After that, I was struggling to pull myself out of a pool of negativity. I made myself do little things just for my own happiness and at least one thing interactive with my kids each day.

We baked a few things, watched a few movies, and read some books. But we also began a bible study of sorts, which proved to be my favorite thing of all. I’ve been looking for ways to have better conversations with my kids, more meaningful and engaging. My favorite church is the one where I feel most connected to life: out of doors. I honestly hadn’t thought before to do anything like it, but stumbled upon a series of mini lessons with overarching themes (time management, anger, self image, etc…). Again, to my surprise we’ve been enjoying it a lot, and we’ve had some of the best conversations this past week because of it.

I’m not sure what the future of this sort of thing will look like, but for now, I’m really enjoying this connection with my kids, and I hope it’s that part that will last.

I'm Done With Grad School. Now What?

It’s been a longer journey than anticipated to finish graduate school. I had this timeline planned with anticipation of jumping right into the world of academia within nearly a year timespan. With our sweet surprise baby girl, that one year timeline became two. Now, I’m done. It’s rather surreal to think about, since that means that miserable pregnancy is finally over, the ups and downs of studying with a 3-13 month old is over, and I have time. TIME! I have so much time, it seems. There’s room in my brain for deeper thought that doesn’t involve literacy theory, writing composition, or due dates. I’m not even mad about it.

I’m getting to do things like catch up on editing, the never-ending game that it is. Sit and play with my little ones, without guilt that I should be studying. Coffee dates with my dear friend. And reading, oh how I’m so happy to have time to devote myself fully and patiently to reading whatever my heart desires.

It’s actually been a surprisingly difficult transition though. It has taken some time to fully settle into the notion that I don’t have any assignments due, no more texts to read, no discussions to participate in, and so on. At first, I couldn’t quite forego the whole idea, but a few months later, it’s sinking in.

This year, my aim is to take my time building a resume that will land me a job I want. I’m in no hurry since that sweet angel mentioned above is still so small. I’m fortunate to not have to trade my time with her, with a daycare, and I can plan accordingly for the work that awaits me.

What about a doctorate, you ask? Well, I just might! It’s an even longer and more intense commitment than graduate school, which overall, I loved. While I keep finding reasons why I should start (and there’s no promises that I won’t!), I really do intend to ensure this career field is fully right for me, or if I should tweak it to fit in a different sort of way. Mostly, I’m taking this year to figure all that out, to soak in leisure time again, go on trips with my family, play with my children, and read all the books I can get my hands on.

Spring Garden Harvests and "OH NO's!"

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Our first spring at our Havenwood Garden has been a lesson and a treat! But aren't all the best gardening stories?! I mapped out the space, planted everything from seed, added two new garden beds and a cold frame as we've welcomed spring this year. At our previous home, I had my micro climate dialed to perfection, so I've been adjusting bit by bit as we figure out this new space this season.

As I got those first seeds in the ground as our last frost FINALLY got the hint and bid adieu, I meticulously followed my garden plan and "knew" where everything was. My little white plastic labels lasted all of five minutes, of course. Who knew permanent marker washes right off those little suckers during April showers? An Instagram friend mentioned using wax pencils instead, so I'll give that a try next. 

After what felt like FOREVER, the radishes were finally coming in! But much to my dismay, however, our free ranging chickens were scratching that freshly planted bed like crazy. Lesson learned: you cannot have free-ranging chickens even if you think you shoo them away frequently. It is still not enough. They do not learn. I turned to my husband and desperately pleaded for options. "What do I do?!" Well, for now they stay in the chicken run. They're safer from eagles that way, too. I digress. 

I planted what I though would be plenty of radishes to get us through most of spring, but that beautiful bowl full, plus a few strays, were all we managed. I'm still thrilled for them though, those are my first ever homegrown radishes! Spicy and perfect on salads and thrown in most every dinner along the way. In place of the radishes, it looks like I have broccoli raab coming in, so I'm not sure what's going on there. I didn't plant broccoli raab. I did put in regular broccoli on the far side of that bed, but again, I digress. This is an experiment year whether I like it or not, as much as I'd love it to be a full-fledge, perfect 12 months of harvesting garden, let's be realistic.

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Thanks to another Instagram friend, I planted a cut-and-come-again style lettuce bed. Giving plenty of space to full heads of lettuce, I wanted those early spring salads with tender young greens, and friends, it has not disappointed. More arugula popped up than anything else, and I was surprised by its strong fragrance and peppery flavor I've heard so much about. Still, my family of four (plus baby who is not yet eating salad greens) has had more than enough to enjoy day after day. If you've never tried this, it's worth it! Even if you have a container on your patio, a small garden bed in your backyard, it takes nothing to sprinkle some seeds in whenever you remember, throw some water on, and watch the magic happen! A real treat in early spring!

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Along with tasty radishes and abundant greens, chive blossoms are endless and herbs are filling in lusciously. If gardening is not yet your thing, do yourself the favor of picking up a few pots and planting some perennial herbs. The effort is almost none and they return year after year, supplying fresh and beautiful herbs. Just throw them in with your meals in place of dried spices and you'll never want to go back. I take a small bundle of each and make herbed biscuits, pure heaven! Even if you don't dry and store them over winter, they're attractive to flower and keep out for your viewing pleasure.

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Aside from the few spring harvests, we have strawberries growing like crazy (YES!), corn has popped up, squash, melons, tomatoes, garlic from last fall, kale, peas, greens, raspberries, blueberries, and carrots. I'm perpetually feeling like I'm behind, and failing for the season, but I don't let this feeling get the best of me, I just get outside the next day and plant what I can. 

This gardening journey has grown so much over the past six years and while I know I've learned so much, I still have a long way to go. It can be overwhelming, but the reward is so worth it to just start where you are with what you have. 

Happy spring and happy hardening!