The Homestead Weekly

The Homestead Weekly, 7 June 2020

This week was exhausting.

I felt like my well of energy and emotional wellbeing started to become severely depleted by the end of the week, so I tried to take some conscious steps to regroup and recharge. I still don’t feel like I’m operating at full capacity (it would help if the baby would give us a full night’s sleep!), but I’m at least a bit better than I was mid-week, at any rate.

I was ecstatic to see, however, that the weekend forecasted stormy weather and drizzly days. Our summers here are often extremely hot and dry, so I am soaking up these cool rainy days with everything I’ve got and going the full nine yards—hot soup, fresh-baked bread, naps under cozy blankets. Rainy weather is my favorite.

In the Kitchen

Last month I tried something new with menu planning–rather than plan each week’s menu on Sunday night as I did my weekly to-do list, I opened up a new Google Doc and made a list of 23 dinners based on ingredients we already had on hand and then just chose from the list each night based on how I felt and the weather outside. There might be sometimes in the future when weekly planning would serve me better, but for these months when the weather is so up and down and so much of my dinner prep depends on my mood, this system was, in a word, revolutionary. It made it so that I didn’t have to do the 4 o’clock scramble about trying to decide what I could make, but it also meant that I wasn’t groaning when I’d planned a time-intensive meal on a night when I just wasn’t feeling it, or a dinner that required a 450-degree oven on a boiling hot day outside.

I still have yet to do one for June, however, which meant that our dinners this week were not nearly as impressive or as well-thought-out. I do plan to sit down and make one today or tomorrow though, and one major change I’ll make going forward is to actually link the recipes in the Google Doc to their primary source, at least if they’re available online (as opposed to out of one of my cookbooks).

My favorite food blog–Mel’s Kitchen Café–has a series of gluten-free muffins you can make in a blender, and I’ve slowly been making my way through all three of those. We finally made the final one this weekend–this double chocolate banana one–and even though it’s our least favorite of the three, they were still pretty amazing.

Each month I’ve been cooking at least four recipes out of a different cookbook that I own, and June’s cookbook is Whole30 (aff link). We’re not actually doing the whole program, but as the recipes in there are all gluten-free, it will help to simplify things that way.

On the Menu Last Week: springtime penne w/ peas + asparagus, Instant Pot sausage + veggie casserole, baked Amish oatmeal w/ apples, Instant Pot chicken, rice, and kale soup

In the Yard

After a week of hot days and a weekend of drenching rain, our plants are thriving. I noticed when I compared last week’s garden bed pics to this week’s, there was a noticeable difference in pretty much everything. While most of what we’re growing is doing remarkably well at the moment, there are a few notable exceptions–caterpillars or some other bug has been taking greedy gouges out of our cabbage leaves, and our peony buds (which we have been beyond excited about!) seem to be shrinking smaller, and we don’t anticipate we’ll get blooms on them this year. (Any idea on why? This is now the second year this has happened!) We’ve never had much luck with roses in our yard other than the one wild rosebush in front, which is currently blooming (pictured above), and this year, we lost yet another rosebush to who-knows-what. We got blooms on it last year–delicate, antique-looking peach blooms with gilded edges–and then this year, the entire bush is dead: no leaves, nothing. It’s a bit frustrating, but seeing as we’re not likely to be here for too much longer, we’ll just plan on starting again in another place and hoping they fare better there.

On a more positive note, almost everything we direct sowed early last week is coming up, and a few are already a few inches high. All of our plants that we’re trying to train up the arched trellises–cucumbers, beans, peas, sweet peas– are *almost* latching on, and we think that once they do, their growth will likely accelerate. We have blossoms on our blackberry bush (though not nearly as many as usual, not sure why), and I finally glimpsed our first green strawberry.

We also started trying to measure out how many square feet of wood chips we would need to cover everything, and…it’s a LOT. So we might just tell the local company to give us a certain dollar amount worth and then make it work. Once those are in place, we’ll just need to do a good weeding (though it’s not too bad at this point because we’ve been doing a little bit on most days), some pruning around a few of the shrubs that have already flowered for the year, and mow and edge the lawn, and our yard will basically be ready for when we put our house on the market.

Blooming This Week: the first of the roses, foxglove, beardtongue, Mexican primrose, salvia, the last of the Siberian irises, phlox (?), butterfly bush (I think that’s what it is–see the shrub the kids are sniffing at below), Jupiter’s beard, columbine

Still chilly enough in the mornings this week to need jackets and gloves!

In the Playroom

Overheard tonight as the kids were in bed: Raven praying with Mathias about whether we should buy a house or build a house, then her waiting to hear the answer and her teaching Mathias how to hear an answer. (“Try to feel it in your heart what we should do…// I feeled it in my heart! I feeled it in my heart that we should build one!”)

Well, apparently we’ll be having her pray about all our major decisions from now on, since our answers rarely seem to come that quickly or that clearly!

Oh, how we love her.

(Of course, if our answer ends up being different than hers…that will be an interesting conversation to have!)

Mathias seems to still be teething (this kid, man—it seems to take him a month to grow one tooth), and so I had a bit of a rough week again just because he wasn’t sleeping well at night or napping as long as usual during the day, and he also was crying a lot of the day (which is not usually how he is). From what we can tell, the new teeth seem to have at least broken through, so maybe it will get a bit easier from hereon out. The older two kids do have their dental checkup this next week, so maybe the dentist will be able to give us some more feedback. (Of course, Mathias’s last time at the dentist–which was his first time–was a bit of a fiasco. Let’s pray it goes more smoothly this time.)

Hyrum finally found his feet today as he was playing on the floor–now I’m just waiting eagerly to get that picture of that first time he puts his toes in his mouth. It’s just my favorite. In other Hyrum news, we had a rough few nights with him. Matt took the brunt of it because he wakes up more easily than I do (so he’s usually the one to reswaddle him, put the binky back in, etc.), but the one night I told Matt to sleep out on the couch so he could finally get a decent stretch of sleep, the baby really wailed, probably because I didn’t respond to the earlier fussing stages like Matt and soothe him back to sleep right away. I keep reminding myself that I won’t feel this tired forever–that he’ll probably be much better in a month or two. But man, sleep deprivation and frequent sleep interruptions are no joke.

In the House

My mom came up Friday afternoon to watch the kids so that Matt and I could go out to dinner and meet with a house-building company to see if we wanted to go that route, and she stayed overnight and spent most of Saturday helping us try to get our house ready to put on the market. I should have taken some before pictures, but we (and by we, I mostly mean my mom) got a lot done, including packing up nearly all of the non-essential stuff in our basement. We still have a couple more solid days of work before we’ll be ready to take pictures and list the house, but it’s at least MUCH less overwhelming than it was before.

I currently have about 10 boxes and garbage bags full to donate to our local thrift store, and it’s always so freeing to just clear everything out. Matt and I were joking that if we don’t miss all the toys we’ve packed up over the next couple months, we should just donate them. It would be instant peace of mind! We’re kind of really considering it, though I know that some of the stuff we’ll want to keep. So very tempting, though…

In the Soul

This week I was weary. There’s just no other word for it. I felt drained on nearly every level, and everything felt much harder as a result. I don’t often wish for certain stages of life to pass quickly, especially because there is SO much that is so sweet about exactly where we’re at in our lives and in our parenting right now, but WOW, it can be exhausting. We would really like to have one or two more children, but this week there were multiple days where I thought, “Maybe we should just stop at three.” Of course, we won’t be making any decisions about that based on just a few hard days, but nevertheless, that was about how this week went.

We went to Factory Homes Outlet on our date on Friday to check out the idea of building a modular home. There is so much about it that appeals, like that we could get a brand-new home with so many updated and beautiful features that we’d love, but there’s also so much to hesitate on there, like that we’d have no yard until we put one in, and that in the end, that would probably be the most expensive route once you calculated the cost of eventually putting in a garage, fencing the yard, putting down sod, etc. But it’s also almost the only way we could afford more of a “real” homestead (meaning a couple acres of land, rather than just a quarter-acre lot). Lots to think about.

This next week, we’re planning to head down south again to look at more houses and then look at a plot of land that we might consider building on. The last time we went down, we made an offer on a house that ended up not being accepted, so who knows what could happen this week? We might be under contract the next time you hear from me! Or we might be exactly where we’re at now, totally unsure about which direction our lives are going to take. Most of the time, the whole thing feels tinged with adventure and the excitement of possibility, except for this week, when it just felt overwhelming.

Here’s hoping we get a little bit more clarity on what to do in the week ahead, though. (Or if nothing else, hopefully I can start looking at it again like a grand adventure.) Wish us luck!

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