When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. Isaiah 43:2

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Mountain--Walking the Line

What's the latest on the mountain pursuit? (Breckenridge Mountain ("the mountain") is pictured above.)
It's not really a mountain per se. It's a tall hill, but it's at 1200 ft., and the parcel looks down on so much that it feels mountainous to us.
Well, we had been pretty single-minded the past few weeks. Basically, acquisition of the mountain and beginning our lives there consumed most of our thoughts and conversations. It has been so much fun coming up with creative solutions to the lack of utilities, lack of family support, lack of available financing. We came up with an alternative energy plan, a written plan including our dreams and goals and financing a small organic poultry and egg farm on the land to encourage the nay-sayers with a written description of our vision, and we found some unique financing options that actually looked feasible.
But then, after church, Scott felt really drawn to walk the property line of the parcel, which includes some very rocky steep terrain, to see what this 40 acres really included. He wasn't sure why, but he felt it was important.
When you stand at the top of the mountain, where we would likely have our home, it all looks so surreal and beautiful. But, there is 40 acres around that house pad that we wondered...what would we do with that?
So, he walked...and his friend Ben walked with him...
And it wasn't so much a walk apparently as a hike. At times, belaying equipment could have been of some assistance. At times, there was no going any further due to shear drop-offs and/or impassable steep sections...and that was only half the property. At times, Scott thought perhaps Ben would not be his friend much longer.
It was the first time we had a realistic, non-positive thought about our move. Do we really want 40 acres, 80% of which is essentially unusable?
...to be continued...

For Brooke

For your shopping ease, here's the link.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mommy Baby Nursing Set

I have been reading quite a wonderful Biblical study called The Power of Motherhood, and today I read about breastfeeding and its wondrous effects on baby and mommy. I think I may write more about this later because even though I have nursed three babies, it was eye opening and really gave some great insights about breastfeeding and now I am really excited to do it again!! I was a bit on the fence about it previously because the first few weeks have often been challenging physically and emotionally for me to nurse. I will spare you the details...but now, armed with this new encouragement, I am once again prepared for the challenge and ready to nourish a newborn in this special way.

Then, as I browsed the ON SALE at OLD NAVY Maternity section, I found this mommy and baby nursing set:
Doesn't it look comfy and oh so cute? I can't wait to snuggle up with this little precious princess and nurse. :) I can't afford the outfit, but it is making me yearn for my soft PJ's and a tiny newborn (though mine are rarely tiny) for a nice soft cuddle.
Size L please. :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shopping Makes Me Happy

Is it just me or does shopping for new clothes/shoes/handbags tend to make you think you are going to look cuter and skinnier?
Because I am fat and pregnant currently, I enjoy shopping so much more because it seems like it might make me feel a bit more feminine than a beached whale.

Don't get me wrong, I love pregnancy. I really do. The magic of life inside you is surreal and unfathomably lovely. But, then I see a picture of Jennifer Aniston's legs and I want to be skinny. So I shop.

Now, I can't go craaaaaazy shopping, so I find key buys that make me smile both because they are cute and because they are inexpensive. After all, it wouldn't be right to smile at my handbag while my children are eating Ramen...though I have contemplated the sacrifice at times. ;)

I like to feel like a princess now and then, and since I can't wear princessy heels or wedges right now (swollen sad ankles and legs), I got these fun princess gold sandals and a nice big bag to match.

I also bought some nice brownish gold nail polish (for 99 cents) over which I put a fantastic top coat so it doesn't chip for oh, maybe, TWO days instead of just one! :)

This maternity maxi dress (it has removable straps and don't worry, I'll wear a little cardigan to avoid showing my pregnant arms--how is it that my ARMS actually look pregnant???) was a splurge (at $15 after sales and coupon codes) but will be so flowy and nice (and black is slimming!) for those hot summer days to come.

MAKEUP: I got this sparkly lip gloss from that NYC cheap brand area at Target a few months ago and now I have five of them...one in every drawer, every purse, diaper bag, makeup case. Because I LOVE IT! And it's $1.29, so when Caden smears it into the carpet or eats half the tube, I don't have to cry (like I did when my Mac foundation was used to fingerpaint the bathroom wall), I can just buy a new one!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Stage

I can't find my camera cord, or there would be a very messy picture HERE.

Yesterday, I put Caden down for a nap and he kept making noise--thumping, talking, crying...not entirely unusual, but it went on for a very long time--almost an hour, which IS unusual, especially because he had to be exhausted after a long morning out and about.

I finally ventured into his room, only to be greeted by the strangest mix of smells...

Poop, so that explained PART of why he wasn't going to sleep...



I had left my very favorite lotion (expensive too) on the changing table because it is a diaper rash CURE (thank you Angie!). And the little Go Go Gadget Arm reached it through his crib slats, pulled it into the crib, took off the lid and dumped it EVERYWHERE...carpet, sheet, blanket, up and down many crib slats (super fun to clean.)

Lesson learned Caden. Lesson learned.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More Space Please for Big Ol' Mommy

Remember that commercial where everyone was too big and all the furnishings, hot tub, etc. were too small? Was it Geico? I don't know.
Well, about this time in every pregnancy, I start to feel like that. Everything is too small, too cluttered, and I am way too big to be comfortable anywhere.

So, images like this, and the idea of minimalism start to really appeal to me. We may have nothing left in the house by the time this baby is born. But, we'll have plenty of room to move around.
Hmmmm, maybe I need a big mountain's worth of space? Stay tuned. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Mountain

We are currently in the first stage of a potential adventure. I hesitate to write too much as nothing is set in stone, but we are creatively attempting to finance the purchase of beautiful mountaintop property. It is 40 acres, with a view like nothing I have ever seen in these here parts (y'all know I can talk Okie when I want.) There are four potential building pads, one of which is currently occupied by a renter who has her own mobile home. She has six dogs. And no electricity. I have never actually seen her...

Anyway, the road to the parcel from the main street is dirt, but sufficient. It takes us through rambling hills, free grazing horses, past an English bulldog breeder's estate, and up to the top of a "mountain" at 1,200 ft. From there, you can see 360 degrees the entire valley, orchards, parks, homes, hills, cows, widflowers. It is breathtaking.

Scott has had the unusual opportunity to safely shoot "clays" up there (a fun luxury we have previously only enjoyed on our trips to Texas.) We have stood together, literally and metaphorically, to pray on this mountain. We have enjoyed fellowship with the current owners who are struggling and wonderful and wanting to help us in any way they can.

The gentleman who owns it sunk every fence post around the 40 mountainous acres with his bare hands. A little part of his heart and soul remains there and we intend to keep him and his family as friends if we acquire it. He is a good man.

The problems we are encountering thus far are:

1. Bare land requires 50% down; (Ours is not "bare"--there is a renter there in a mobile home, there is water to the property, road access, but no electricity from the grid);

2. Apparently, no electricity from the grid essentially means property is worthless, from a typical banker/mortgager/financing standpoint; and

3. Loans for residential and commercial acreage are generally very short term (like five years max) and often carry very high interest rates (like 12%) despite our outstanding credit and very well developed and intelligent (we think) business plan for the land.

We are continuing to get creative. And we know a God who can make all things possible when they are part of His best plan for us. We know in our hearts that this will be an amazing investment for whoever assists with financing and, of course, for us. This land will only go up in value in the future, especially with an eye toward shared electricity to the land (for which there is already a plan in place), and considering the truly unique and beautiful rural mountainous environment, still close to town and community.

The future will depend on our desire to take a risk on this opportunity and bank on the fact that it will pay off down the line. There is so much still to contemplate, but we are very hopeful. I would like to take some photos and post them soon to really start adequately journaling this adventure.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Off the Grid

We have been attracted to an "off-the-grid" lifestyle for years. We have never, of course, had the courage to take that step, nor the finances to make it a reality. But, as of late, our desires and God's open doors seem to be lining up for us to make this bold step.

Are you familiar with the "off-the-grid" lifestyle? Below, you will find an overview from Wikipedia. In the next year or two, I will be regularly updating this blog with our journey toward off-the-grid living.

Let me tell you, I am very aware there will be many ups and downs in this process, and I am quite sure many of these I can't even anticipate, but we are committed and excited about the journey. Changing this city-girl, bubble bath loving, appliance abusing, electricity guzzler into the conscientious environmentally aware, energy saver I know I should be, is going to be an interesting, sometimes painful process.

Stay tuned for Part One: The Mountain, to live vicariously through us if you don't have the courage (or desire) to do it yourself. If nothing else, I imagine, there will be a lot of drama and laughter to be had by all.

(From Wikipedia:)
The term off-the-grid (OTG) or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-the-grid homes are autonomous —they do not rely on municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas, electrical power grid or similar utility services. A true "off the grid" or "off-grid" house is able to operate completely independently of all traditional public utility services. The idea has been recently popularized by certain celebrities including Ed Begley, Jr. who stars in Living With Ed television show on the Home & Garden Television network. Actress Darryl Hannah also promotes "off-grid" living and constructed her home in Colorado according to those principles.

Electrical power
Electrical power can be generated on-site with renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or geothermal; with a generator and adequate fuel reserves; or simply done without, as in Amish communities. Such electricity system is called a stand-alone power system.

On-site water sources can include a well, stream, or lake. Depending on the water source, this may include pumps and/or filtration. Rainwater can also be harvested.

On 13 April 2006, USA Today reported that there were "some 180,000 families living off-grid, a figure that has jumped 33% a year for a decade," and cited Richard Perez, publisher of Home Power Magazine,as the source. Assuming the same rate of growth, there would be a quarter million off-grid households in the United States by late 2007. Because many third-world citizens have never had the chance to go on the grid, current estimates are that 1.7 billion people live off-grid worldwide.

Environmental impact
The State of California is encouraging solar and wind power generation that is connected to the electrical grid to avoid the use of toxic lead acid batteries for night time storage. Grid-tie systems are more expensive due to the extra hardware costs (such as a grid-tie inverter) especially when old car batteries that can no longer supply enough current to start a car are re-used.

Going off-grid can be done for altruistic reasons or to lower the environmental impact of living, as the typically limited amount of on-site renewable energy available is an incentive to reduce its use.

It is often done to residential buildings only occasionally occupied, such as vacation cabins, to avoid high initial costs of traditional utility connections.

Other persons choose to live in houses where the cost of outside utilities is prohibitive, or such a distance away as to be impractical. In his book "How to live off-grid" Nick Rosen lists seven reasons for going off-grid. The top two are saving money, and reducing the carbon footprint. Others include survivalism, preparing for the collapse of the oil economy and bringing life back to the countryside.

Economic consideration
See also: Grid parity
In situations where grid parity has been reached it becomes cheaper to generate one's own electricity rather than purchasing it from the grid. This depends on equipment costs, the availability of renewable energy sources (wind,sun) and the cost of a grid connection. For example, in certain remote areas a grid connection would be prohibitively expensive, resulting in grid parity being reached immediately.

We are on our way friends! And though many of you already thought we might be a little crazy (homeschooling,etc.), I am quite sure this move will confirm the notion! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Book...

Starting this book today! Can't wait to stop worrying. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Closet Conundrum

Image from here.

I would like to shop for new updated clothing...well...honestly...every day. I enjoy a crisp new outfit with matching shoes and purse, as much as the next gal. But, I know that there are more important things in life...things of substance. I know that having new clothes is a temporary high that quickly leads me to wanting more new clothes, and more new shoes, and well, that's just not healthy...for our finances or for my mind.

So, I try to focus on other things like gardening, studying the word of God, training and playing with my children, feeding my household in a frugal and healthy manner, and cleaning/organizing. But, sometimes, I still get the itch.

Today, I am starting in our closet, throwing things out, getting rid of items that don't fit (or won't fit even when this baby is out) and color coordinating my very favorite wardrobe items...which consist of about five things right now...some dark blue denim maternity jeans from Old Navy, a long gray hoodie sweater, also from Old Navy, a black maternity sweater from...you guessed it...Old Navy...do you see a trend here?

Anyway, I may only have a few things left in my closet after today, but they will be things that I like, that fit, and when this baby stops making me fat (I love you baby, and I adore feeling you growing inside me; it's not personal, but you are making me fat...well, you and the quesadillas), I may have to do a little shopping here and there to repopulate my wardrobe, but with prices and quality like what I've been finding at Old Navy, I am OK with that.

As a sidenote, I got a card with Old Navy last month, just to capitalize on the no shipping and online discounts afforded to cardholders and I saved a TON. It will be a good long while before I can afford to do that again, and I will...probably...cut up that card, but oh my, it was fun. :)

Where do you like to shop?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Change of Bloggin' Plans

I was contemplating blogging about my obsession with the movie I didn't even want to see that ended up being seriously one of the best movies I have ever seen (Avatar.) Then I realized there was silence in the home and I turned around to see that after the kids made a bed on the living room floor, they actually went to sleep! So sweet and unexpected, it almost made me forget the h-e-double hockey sticks they put me through this morning...almost.