Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Keeping It Together

Jaxon & Vegas
A lot has changed over the past few months. We had 2 additions to our family last October. Identical twin boys! Making us a family of 7.

Here's a little sum up of my life now.
I live off grid with my husband and 5 kiddos, work 4 days a week teaching music both privately and in a public school, I homeschool my 2 oldest daughters (6 and 8 years old), while trying to teach my 3 year old not to be a rude human being (haha), oogle and lose sleep over my 6 month old babies, manage the house hold, mid remodeling, etc. So, how do I manage to keep it together with all this to up hold on the daily?

Well, here are 5 tips on how I do it. (Even when I think I'm failing.) I thought I'd pass this along because no matter what life entails, there are struggles and overwhelm of one kind or another. If I can muddle through maybe I can help one other person do the same.

I often hear, "I don't know how you do it" and "you have your hands full." This is true. (Though it could be worse.) So how do I do it? Here is my anecdotal how to. 

Living off grid is hard. Having kids is hard. Homeschooling is hard. Having twins? ....yes it's hard too. Luckily, my personality craves challenge. Especially when that challenge has rewards that would otherwise be unobtainable and perhaps unforeseen.

1. Have your "reward" in the forefront of your mind.

Why do we live off grid if it's so hard? Well, we want to live more freely, we like our space and run of the land without close neighbors. We are able to spend more time at home with our family instead of the normal 9-5 because we don't have a mortgage, or utility bills. So it is well worth the hard.

Phoenix and Jaxon
Homeschooling and working? It is tricky. However, having my own music business allows me to make a schedule to be present for my family during the the day and aid others in realising their musical potential in the evenings (and let's face it, income is a must). But I LOVE doing both. My kids get ME. I will not always have them near to teach, talk to and snuggle with so spending this precious time with them is priceless. When my kids say they love homeschooling and I hear my daughter read knowing I taught her, my heart beams. Even while having the wee ones to take care of they get to listen and learn while being held, feed or changed. I am lucky too that my husband works from home and can spend time with the kiddos while I'm out. Doing something I love and am passionate about outside of the home is greatly fulfilling. When a student plays a song beautifully and skillfully, their pride is mine as well. It is worth every hardship that being home and away from home brings.

My husband and I work as a team, albeit an exaushted team. I am very thankful to have a husband who is knowledgeable and caring for us all. Even when our time together is spent non-stop with kiddos voices filling the air...and our arms, and our bed at times. But as a wife I give my support and love. That means biting my tongue ...a lot, because a lack of sleep doesn't generally lend itself to the best immediate reaction.

2. Know WHY you are doing it.

Keeping it together amid all this, is very important to me. It can get rough at times. Those of you who know me may have heard a rant or two. But if I remember WHY I am doing all I do, it is because I want to make positive effects on those I love in all circles of my life. That includes myself. Because if I'm doing well, I can be a better me to everyone I am around.

Family trip to the Sportsman's Expo
3. Focus. On. The. Positive.

In addition, I keep my focus on the positives, not the negatives, because there will always be both (and yes sometimes I have to force myself). ....especially first thing in the morning.

4. Do what you can and let that be ok.

I do what I can with the energy I have. I haven't had a full night's sleep for months. So sometimes it's cereal for dinner, or leaving the house a mess for one more day, or having the kids play with the babies so I can make a good meal and clean. I know that stressing myself about not being, or doing enough has no reward and makes me less then pleasant when it comes right down to it. I am not perfect and that's ok.

5. Does it make you happy in the long run?
Finally, decide if it's worth the hard and ultimately brings you more happiness in the long run.

I hope this gives you some encouragement to:
Keep it up,
Let it go,
or Go for it.

Keep it together!
Thanks for reading.


Monday, September 4, 2017

The Bright Side Part 2. I am Lucky. I am Loved.

Since my last few posts have had some time to reflect on many things. My perspective of my life, my rapidly growing family with twins on the way and my life into the future. I have told about my shadows. Things that I have kept to myself for fear of letting others down or in. Fear of letting those who know me see anything other than happiness and a smile. Fear of being a bad example. I have since reaped benefits that didn't occur to me as possible.

Among them being love, acceptance and friendship. Each have met me where I truly am, as opposed to where I wanted others and myself to believe I was. Raw and exposed truth has opened the door to a more authentic version of myself.

A part of me is embarrassed you know me like you do. Yet as this journey of life twists and turns, I will change along the way. I'd like to back pedal and say I misspoke, but it was all true. My life is different. It is hard. But I couldn't imagine giving it up. Plus I still have my own wonky sense of humor that I have always had.

I am lucky. I am loved.
I have beautiful, smart, loving, healthy daughters, a loving, funny, a do-it-yourself husband, land, home, and a healthy pregnancy. Have I been experiencing life through tainted eyes? I am realizing I get stuck on the small things. Things that are strived for and "needed". Things that can come at a soul squelching price at times. The inner comparison mechanism that makes it damn near impossible to live and not think, "I don't have that, am I raising my kids right?", "I can't afford this, am I doing enough for my family?", "we do things vastly differently, am I providing the right stuff for my family?" The list can be endless. When I make these comparisons to the "norm" it makes me feel inadequate. But here's what I've come to find.

The important stuff for isn't how much water we have or can we hold? (Full tanks of water now, thanks Dad!!) Or how clean my home and property are. (Thanks Mom for your help while visiting!) Or even weather our refrigerator works (ice chest will do until the cold season hits fyi ;). Having these things when on the grid sounds lovely, but that is not what family is made of. As well as anything else material you can plug in here.

When I look at my kids,
I see happy individuals, inquisitiveness, excitement about playing outside and a willingness to help me and each other out. How can I feel anything but joy? My husband does his best using what we have to build cool things like a wind turbine and an addition to the house so we can have another room for our boys when they come, a solar rig so we have power, and back rubs. I can complain about the mundane and be far too particular. So I am trying to lighten up and be the happy me from deep down. Not in such a trying way. Being pregnant definitely doesn't help, but I am strong, and I am willing to grow and change. I'd like to think have grown up just a tiny bit more.

Another big change is how much others have reached out to me, befriended me and opened up in a real way; allowing me to see your shadows that I was unaware of. It has helped me more then I thought possible to be ok with me from beneath the surface and feel more accepted then ever. Thank you. Truly and from my core.

I am lucky. I am loved. I am a good person without pretending all the time...and pretending doesn't make me better. It just makes me less. I will still smile when I am coming undone, but I will also allow myself to express the darker side too.

I am 30 weeks along with identical twin boys. It is really amazing feeling two little ones push and kick. I will need more support then ever with 5 kids on the horizon. Thanks to my husband and all the people who are currently giving or have given to us. Our load to bear is becoming less with a community of love and support. Thank you all for this. It is a new and amazing feeling that makes me speechless and amazed. I didn't know the possibility was there.

My husband, Jason is arranging an online baby shower for me which should be a fun experience for all involved. It is making the feelings of isolation dissipate more and more. I am crazy grateful for him and all he is doing to create a better future for us everyday. I don't say it enough, but know that I am truly grateful for all you have done, and do, and brainstorm doing so that our lives can be what we see when we look toward the future. I love and trust you my Love. Also, the coolest thing ever that my husband is throwing me a baby shower, and that it's online deserves extra cool points.

I am so proud of how far we have come. No easy feat starting an off grid life with littles, especially when I think of having two more babies. But with a more and more genuine attitude of positivity, looking on the bright side, being strong and knowing I am not as alone as I once felt. I can see things that I would like not just for now, but forever. Spending time with my family, loving each other and having more fun then all the crap and hard that comes in life. This is my new endeavor as my family welcomes twin boys in a few more weeks.

Thank you family and friends for all your amazing kindness, love and friendship you have extended to myself and my family.

I am lucky. I am loved.

Friday, August 4, 2017

What is Strong?

I have been quite the last few days. Feelings of weakness and anger, inadequacy and sadness have been filling my mind. I have been told many times that I am strong for doing what I do. But I don't feel strong.

Living off grid demands a kind of toughness you don't know you have until you have no other choice but to breath and find a way to make it work or give up.

Here's what's been happening my world this week that begs the question: What is Strong?

Last Tuesday I got the house ready for a visit from my dad who I hadn't seen in about 7 years. What get the house ready means in my world is this: Fill all the water jugs, pick up the combined dog and child mess left outside, hubby gives composting toilet a freshening, and shower bag a fill up, plus all the "regular stuff" like mopping, cleaning the kids room, etc. It also comes with a lot of disclaimers to my Dad like, "we are in the middle of a lot of projects so things are still in the works."

We met him in Medford on Wednesday where we had an ultrasound apt. (Kiddos were watched this time.) All is still looking great.

Thursday I was gone all day. I gave 7 piano and 7 guitar lessons. I was running late when I was done so rushed home to get my oldest, 7, to a birthday party.  I wasn't able to find my phone with all the rushing around but it was in the car...some where. Once we were close I stopped to find my phone to get the address. Well I found a text waiting for me that said the party was moved back an hour. Of course it I have an hour to Dad is at home and the next morning Jason had plans to go out of town so killing an hour in the car wasn't what I had in mind. But we made the best of it. Brooklynn and I looked at homes for sale in the area. $425,000 for a nothing special home. Brooklynn was shocked by the cost. I love showing her new things about the world we live in. Ok, then it was time for the party.

I get home, we eat, I lose track of time as usual then head out to pick her up.

On my way home I get a call from my husband, Jason. "Seattle has a red rash on her body. Are you almost home?" "No. I'm just pulling onto the hwy. Does she need to go to the hospital?" I ask. "I don't know. Get here as soon as you can."

I rush home to see my 5 year old covered with a rash. Blotchy, red patches covering her chest and neck, and the rest of her body. Our biggest fear was it moving into her air way. So into the car we went. My Dad and our friend stayed with Seattle and Phoenix. Jason got us to Mt Shasta hospital very fast...scary fast. We pulled up and he carried our little champ into the emergency room. They are already seeing her in the minute it took me to park and join them. It was terribly scary. We were lucky it didn't travel into her air way. She did amazing. My kind, sweet and mischievous Seattle was fine after a few hours and some benadryl. My night ends finally after midnight back at home. By this time I was just grateful she was fine and fast asleep.

Friday. I wake the next morning to my husband asking me to go with our friend to his new place so I would know the way. (The dirt roads don't have street names marked). I get up and head out the door at about 8 (early for me especially with the last few full days). It's just 15 min down the road. After I know where he is and what I need to do for his cat we head out. We reverse and then as we pull forward the car get stuck in two gears...of course it breaks down. Perfect timing. See my husband and him are taking a trip to Colorado together to fix up his rental home and get it ready for new renters. His car that broke down was going to be my ride while they used our car for the road trip. Nope. No car for me...kinda. He has a truck that's non-op'd so it's not street legal.

This is so my life.

But I decide it's not so bad because my Dad is in town, so we can get around fine. I think maybe I can persuade him to stay a little longer before he heads out to see my brother in Washington. I last remembered him saying he would be leaving on Monday.

Nope. Wrong again. I was assuming...I didn't even realize I was assuming. I blame pregnancy brain. Come to find out he had a plane ticket to leave Monday 5am. Also meaning he was leaving on Sunday.

We had a nice visit and I took him to the lake, he took me to the store, that was super helpful. I think my kids however took it upon themselves to be the worst versions of themselves. For example my 3 year old threw a rock at Seattle (5) and bruised the side of her face. Don't worry though she got her back by throwing a pine cone a Phoenix's face, after I had already disciplined Phoenix for the rock throwing. That was the worst instance. So glad the first time got to be with my Dad and his first meeting of them. Good job Mom.

So Dad leaves on Sunday and I am stuck at home. No sitter. No Car. So I had to cancel lessons and loose more money.

Now I am not a home body. At least not in a home that is over 100 degrees. So I keep the fan on. I have filled water with the help of a few friends (THANK YOU!) and the rest is up to me.

So we stay in front of the fan and watch shows cause it's been between 105 and 110 all week and playing outside is horrid. Did I mention I can't go to the lake? Or grocery shopping...

I finally couldn't take it and used the non street legal car to drive down to the local convince store/gas station. There isn't a/c in the car but with the windows down we all cooled off a little. My tightly gripped hands on the steering wheel and constantly looking over my shoulder for a cop was worth the popsicles and smile on my kiddos face and mine.

Then...the refrigerator stops working....good by cold drinks...and well, everything in the fridge.

Now it's Thursday again. I had to push my luck (with the truck at least) to drive to my music lessons 45 miles away. I'm banking on rural back roads to be empty. I have 7 piano lessons and 7 guitar lessons and I wanted this day to be better then last weeks rush around and hospital visit. My girls are able to come with me and play with all the kids in air conditioning and well water ready for water fights. So I was happy we chanced the drive to escape the heat as well as make some money. We stayed for a while and went to the pool with them after their lessons. We even got the treat of one family having heifers (that's a cow before it's had a baby). They show them. That means they wash them twice a day to keep them pretty. The kids got to help scrub, rinse and scratch them. So they had an incredibly memorable day. I made it home with out a ticket by the way. (Yesss!)

So in between being angry for getting the short end of the stick in this deal - losing my only saving grace - transportation and the ability to go and do as I please while my hubby's out of town, I have tried to be very engaged with my kiddos.

Even in over 100 degree weather we have done art projects, diy projects, cooked together, and have gone on sunset walks every day enjoying the cool air that it brings.

Some have said I am strong. But I feel like I am only trying to keep my head above water, just barley. But hell, if that is strength then I can do this. My kids are worth the hard, my land is worth the hard, my husband and friend are worth the hard.

I don't think being strong is a feeling, I think being strong is getting the job done when you hate it, when it's not how you planned, when it's not even what you want, but there is nothing but to continue on when things are unbearable. No matter how ungracefully done. I have to remind my self to look on the bright side, tell myself it's just the way things are for now, not forever and be strong no matter how I feel.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Bright Side Part 1

My favorite view of Sheep Rock and our place

Ok, so now you know some of my inner thoughts from my previous post that I dare not whisper to anyone... It feels super bizarre that I have exposed myself to so many. Uncomfortable to say the least. But I'm glad I have. Growth isn't achieved in the comfort zones anyway. In spite of how I feel deep down, I try my best to look on the bright side of every situation. Try. I smile a lot and try new solutions to problems until something works. Because honestly, life isn't so bad...

We have each other... our health, our own piece of land to do any thing we want with, super strong spunky girls that make me laugh, and I have my husband, who has some how managed to become our power, gas, water, trash and sewage company. A large task for any one company let alone one family. But of course hard days are those that surface from a lack of any of the above. Mostly water. Water, water, water.  (I must make the point to say that my husband noticed we were out of propane early this morning and went and filled them before I was even awake. Thanks Love.) We have many solutions on water but last night we ran out. We are usually on it but since the pregnancy it has not been like clock work especially on things that I usually keep tabs on. We are going in so many directions now in preparation of these babies that the "usual" stuff is getting lost in the mix since there's just the two of us out here to run our "city."

We a had a Dr's apt today and no one to watch the girls...again. So I spent an hour and a half cleaning each child head to toe with a wet rag using drinking water. Patience, I tell myself, it's just the way it is for now, not forever...look on the bright side... The bright side? Well, I guess I get to spend that much more time with my kiddos. They are little cuties after all and one day they won't need me for much. That's cool, plus we are heroes when it comes to water conservation. That's what I tried to tell myself. But really I just wanted to be done and headed to our apt. Or have someone come over and watch them. Time went by as it does and we were all clean and ended up arriving to our apt 10 minutes early! Which is a novelty for us. Our kiddos were pretty good during the appointment. There were plenty of books for them to look at including one of my favorites, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Their favorite part is hearing the twins hearts beat. While I really would rather not have gone through the effort to bring all three girls, (3, 5 and 7), I do love including them as much as possible. I especially love when they make their own sounds of the heart beats after hearing them off the doppler!

The good news for the day is that the twins and I are doing perfect. Their growth and development is exactly where it should be. I am doing great and perfectly healthy too. I'm really glad that no matter how I feel my body is workin it and doing a wonderful job. I feel them kicking so much now. The past 2 days they have been sooooo active! It's really cool feeling two separate babies moving around. I imagine they are fighting for space!

Every day my girls ask how the boys are doing. I get kisses and raspberries on my tummy. Seattle, my 5 year old, likes to tickle "them" and every night they give my belly a hug to say "goodnight" and "I love you" to their brothers. No matter what the hard, there is always good to be found. There's always a bright side even when we are out of water. Time to refill!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Way it is for Now, But Not Forever

Well here goes nothing...

First, I want to say I am a very private person. If I'm having a bad day you wouldn't guess it. I really don't like talking about myself and don't as much as possible. So this is a huge stretch for me...and important. After living in this area for 6 years I have had a professional relationship with the community as the local school's music teacher...and lets face it, when was the last time you invited your child's teacher to a friendly gathering. I can count 1 in 6 years. We of course are getting our homestead put together so inviting anyone over is restricted to a very select few. Mostly, "No, you can't come over," which I hate. But that's just the way it is for now, not forever. I have to tell myself this constantly. 

That being said, there are fewer people I call friends here then I have fingers on one hand. We don't have any family within 800 miles to boot either. So we are very much on our own.  

So if I'm being honest I want to share my off grid mom life partially for selfish reasons; having "someone to talk to" and hopefully to shed some light on the realities of both motherhood and off grid living as it relates to motherhood...or at least as I have experienced it. You are invited to partake as I document my growth, off grid mom life and and our progress on along the way. 

I imagine weather you live off grid, aspire to someday, or have a wonderful well established life in some city, you will be able to relate on some level...or at least enjoy following a life that is far from normal in every sense of the word. If you have ever felt so far removed from those around you that you can hardly have a conversation, or are in a state of change, a mom, a grandmother or just looking for something new to read, I hope you enjoy and can connect with me on some level and I with you.

So who am I? In short, I am a wife of 10 years, mother of three daughters ages 7, 5 and 3 and if that wasn't enough, we are expecting identical twin boys in October! I am currently about 6 months along. I have been living off gird with my daughters and husband for 6 years now.  We started homeschooling this past March and will do so this up coming school year unless I lose my mind after having these boys. 

What's my off grid mom life like? I'd love to say it's the most blissful thing ever; gardens gushing with fruit and vegetables, chickens for eggs and meat, horses to ride, perfect landscape that I stare at while sitting on the front porch, while my picture perfect children play happily, husband at my beck and call, ending each day with a warm bath in a beautiful log cabin or something. ...Well let me just say, if this is your life then you need not hear mine...that is a wonderful dream and the farthest thing from my life possible. 

What is my life really like? Hard. Tiring. Currently very hot. Often lacking adventure. You know typical mom life at times...but without A/C.  "I hate it," I think more often then I care to admit. I'm often lonely, and sick of waiting for life's comforts. That being said I do really like my very spacious, quite homestead even with my loud, rambunctious children. The beautiful mountain views and rolling hills in the distance are just perfect. While I don't have any of the above mentioned luxuries, it's just the way it is for now, not forever. That is the hardest part of this living. Having patience. LOTS and LOTS of patience. Especially when there is only one person for the most part doing the homesteading work while the other (me) is doing the kid stuff. 

So why am I doing this? Well, this life style is unknown and inconceivable by many and could not be more underestimated. We moved from Los Angeles and Las Vegas to rural Northern California because we were sick of the hum drum life of work, make money, pay bills, be broke, repeat and still have nothing to show for it. Every time I have a rough day, or I'm sick of seeing dirt all over the floor 5 minutes after I swept, or looking at the project that was started 6 months ago that is still on hold because of "more important things," or the unfinished kitchen without water running through the faucet, I think of having a nice normal house. But immediately following are thoughts like, "the neighbors would be way too close," (we can't see a neighbor from our house), "we wouldn't have any space for the kids to play" (we have 3 acres), my husband and I wouldn't see our kids enough since we would both need to have 9 to 5s for the bills.  ....I am quickly reminded that we are very lucky and maybe too smug when it comes to the "normal" way of life. But I am a firm believer in doing what makes you happy. I mean if you're happy then you'll do everything better then if you're hating life?  This feels more like a theory since I'm not always very happy to live this way, but I do look forward to one day building our forever home with the kids. I love the idea that we need to be on the same team. When my girls play outside they know they need to watch out for each other. Not from strangers, but from falling out of a tree. While Seattle was getting the hang of climbing trees (haha) Brooklynn would help her by telling her where to get her footing or where to grab. They have to stick together incase there is a rattlesnake. They know what they look like and sound like and the dangers they bring. It is unreal for many, but I think it's a great way to understand life and be a contributor to family early on. 

It is a hard life that requires a lot of patience, and certainty one that is the way it is for now, but not forever. Over all having space to see my girls run top speed for minutes, and climb ropes and trees and hear the birds without traffic noises makes it worth the hard. 

All these things just barely scratch the surface but it is a start. 

I am a realistic optimist. I hope for the best but certainly don't count on it. I'll be talking more about our daily life and my thoughts on having twins and how I'm doing and all that in my up coming posts. Hope you liked getting to know me a little better. I can use all the support I can get. 

Keeping It Together

Jaxon & Vegas A lot has  changed over the past few months. We had 2 additions to our family last October. Identical twin boys! Mak...