~The Blue Nymph, and it's current inhabitants, braving the snow and cold this winter with a smile~
I started blogging here on July 20, 2007. It's now almost 2 1/2 years later. When I started this blog it was with the intention to try and document our journey. And this morning I find myself feeling a little reflective. Perhaps it is the biting cold outside, though I must admit today is warmer than yesterday and that I like the cold anyways.
We call our home "The Blue Nymph." It was built in 1890 and has it's own definite and unique personality - we decided it needed a name, so we named it.
In the two years plus that I have been blogging, the house has seen some changes. We've added a fence out front, as well as a proper picket fence around the main garden in the back yard. We've added a brick patio at the base of the deck, a small outdoor pond, rain barrels, more garden beds, more trees, and of course the chickens. We've made changes indoors as well, the most major was the addition of lots of insulation and a new boiler heater.
The house still likes to fight back though. The big bathroom seems to refuse to warm up this winter, as does the sunroom. The latter seems to show the house's true sense of humor and irony.
We're currently waiting on a contractor (nothing new there I suppose) to come look at what we fear is a leak around a chimney. It's a completely internal chimney, not attached to any outside walls, and since we haven't had a leak there before (not since we've been here anyway), we're assuming the recent snow and ice is to blame. We shall see. We are anxious though. This will prove interesting.
But that is part of the journey. Part of owning a home. Part of having an older home especially.
When I started this blog, Shannon was 3 1/2 and Tristan was not yet 1. Now Shannon will be 6 in a week and Tristan is 3 1/2. We've officially begun our homeschooling journey.
Right now we're unschoolers. Most days it feels as if we're "no-schoolers" as it can be hard to readily identify knowledge being learned. But we, they, are learning everyday. Right now I would be completely lying if I didn't fess up to the fact that they're NOT learning that Mommy is getting ready to whip their butts if they don't quit fighting.
............ I typed the above an hour and a half ago and with one massive blow-up/meltdown (a Mommy thing) from me later, and the kids have been fed lunch and are now down for naps. I've eaten my lunch and read my comics. So let's try this again. I thought about deleting the above, but for now, I'll leave it in.
In the last 2 1/2 years here are some of the things that've occurred:
*We made both small and gigantic steps in urban homesteading. It is a new world in front of us. Not everything was a success, there have been many failures, but we've learned from every bit of it & are eager for the future.
*We've realized that while you can work with all your might to weave a closer-knit community, you can't please everyone. Some people will down-right hate you, for no good reason. My personal line here is that if you're going to hate me over flowers, then go ahead because I just can't reason with you.
*We've had to tell our children that people aren't always nice and that the world isn't always friendly. Even typing that brings tears to my eyes, a child's innocence should never have to be shattered.
*We've realized that the world has changed, and our street, in it's mere design, is not a neighborhood. But that having a close-knit community doesn't require that we all live within a block or two of each other, and that the web is a wonderful tool in developing a good community.
*We've learned we very easily can produce a significant amount of food on this land, and that we haven't even hit the tip of the iceberg yet. And it feels really good.
*We've stood our ground, known our rights, and felt how strong we can be and are.
Some things we've learned:
*I've learned I cuss, a lot. That wasn't anything terribly new, but I'm more aware of it now. As much as I adore house-dresses of the 40's, I am not a delicate housewife. I am one tough mother, and that isn't always a bad thing.
*That just because you want a blueberry bush to grow "here" doesn't mean that it will. It might grow if you move it 5' to the left though, even if that isn't where you wanted a blueberry bush.
*That keeping the heat turned down low has to have it's limits. We killed a guinea pig (we think) this way. The house is now set at 66 degrees. Some rooms feel warm, some feel cold, and that can sometimes depend on the time of day or not.
*The importance of truly dressing for the seasons. Why Southerners move slowly - in the Summer it is hot, not running about keeps you cooler. On that note, we've learned that everyone crammed into the dining room for cake & ice cream in the middle of August is a guarantee for an instant sauna.
*That even though you're not "in school" you're still learning. Sitting in an English class isn't the only way to learn English.
*That each kid really does have their own time-table for learning.
*That child-led learning still requires guidance from parents and that, like most things, isn't as smooth or as easy a process as we may have hoped.
*Being broke inspires creativity. Actually, it doesn't inspire it so much as it requires and demands it, but saying it inspires it makes me feel like I have a choice in the matter.
*That we do things as a family. "Everyone helps" is our motto.
*That you CAN make most things you need, and you will save a lot of money.
*That you have to unlearn things if you do that one above. Our laundry isn't scented, and I will admit that, at times, I miss the scent of fabric softeners, even though I know how gross the commercial ones are and won't use them.
*Vinegar + Water = a very efficient multi-cleaning spray. The smell of vinegar goes away quickly. Use old cloths for wiping, and silently curse fuzzies from those cloths - wiping till all is dry and they too fall away.
It's both difficult and amazingly easy to live on an urban homestead. The things we do and grow we had to learn how to do. The saying that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step is true.
For me the hard part is remembering that we live in town, in the heart of our little city, and how to handle that. That, as much as I may want a cow or goats or sheep, I can not have them. The houses are close together around here, and I don't think there is one that can't see into our windows at some point of the day. It's a constant scrutiny, something that comes as part of the deal when you live in a small town or city. Being different makes you stand out, for the good and for the worse. You can't just decide you're going to live a certain way, as much as I try to. It isn't the late 1800's, I don't have 500 acres, I can't send the boys out to chop down firewood.
And, most importantly, given how long it has taken me to write this post is that I'm constantly reminded that things don't always work or flow the way I/we want them to. I woke up feeling reflective and ready to write. But I hadn't checked email since noon yesterday, so there was a lot of work there. And then there were dirty bathroom mirrors and surfaces needing cleaning. And laundry needing folding. And phones that rang and little boys that needed time-outs.
So I've learned to take my moments of Zen when and where I can get them. Hanging laundry outside, something I must fess to not nearly doing often enough; the sips of warm tea and the feel of the warmth from the mug in my hands; quiet dogs lying under foot; kids who still like to cuddle in bed with you and watch cartoons; the warmth of my husband beside me, and the way the scent of him lingers on his pillow after he's gotten up in the morning.
That is where our last 2 1/2 years have gone. We look forward to where the next 2 1/2 years will take us.
We're grateful for those who read this blog and enjoy it, even more grateful for those who leave comments and let us know you're out there. You're part of our community, part of our lives, and part of this journey, and we thank you for it all. Namaste.