Well we made it. We are now in our new home in Michigan. This home has been in the family for 18 years now, but this is our first time living here. I’ve been letting it as a furnished rental for 4 years, so the home is already stocked with furniture and kitchenware that I chose myself and love. Our belongings are yet to arrive, so currently it feels like we are staying in a vacation rental that I run… which we basically are.

Because we are coming from out of state we have to quarantine for two weeks due to Covid 19. So we are just resting and getting used to the home and observing the land.

We are tired from our long months of preparing and packing, saying goodbye and navigating Covid. But we are relived to be in our new home and so grateful for the chance to sit back and relax.

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Well folks it’s really happening. In a few days we will be moving. After delays and confusion caused by covid, we are actually on our way. Soon we will be in our new home and can begin to learn the land there. My dream is to do permaculture and slightly alter what exists already to create a landscape that benefits and provides for both our family and the wild animals and insects who already call that land home.

Although we will miss our Portland community greatly we are excited and ready for this new chapter of life. A chance to get to settle in and mellow out.

See you on the flip side.

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It’s Happening

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Homeschooling During Covid

Like many of you parents we are homeschooling here. Or crisis schooling as some aptly call it. We are doing a combination of workbooks, reading, and science at home mixed with some of the work that my daughter’s teachers are assigning online.

It is important to note that here in Oregon all online work assigned or suggested by teachers is optional. Students will be graded and either held back or move onto the next grade based on where they were when school buildings closed.

We have a pretty good rhythm going with homeschooling in the morning after breakfast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours five days a week. This work includes River reading from an early reader book, reading 20 sight words from flashcards, and doing workbook pages. We have a Scholastic workbook that I am very pleased with which is intended to bridge the gap during the summer between second and third grade. We also have a phonics workbook that we use sometime and a printing workbook that we use regularly.

Another aspect of our homeschooling is nature study, or science. we are lucky enough to have a microscope that my parents got us several years ago. This has been a wonderful opportunity to use the microscope on a regular basis. We have looked at crystals, feathers, and a variety of plant leaves. The next object we will look at under the microscope is a monarch butterfly. For nature study we also slowly read through a children’s book on ponds. This book had interesting illustrations, good explanations of the cycle of life for a pond, and definitions of ecological words. River had a small homemade notebook in which she took ‘notes’ in the form of drawings.

As I mentioned earlier all online assigned work in Oregon is optional during COVID-19. I have been in regular contact with Rivers teachers via email and short phone conferences about our homeschooling. Since she spends a decent amount of time watching videos each day I am not hot to trot on her having even more screen time. Her teachers have been very supportive of us continuing the homeschooling routine that we began prior to online school being offered. We do check in with her class a couple of times a week online. It brings her joy and comfort to see her classmates faces and hear her teachers voices. We have begun using a math website assigned by one of her classroom teachers on a regular basis.

Overall our homeschooling generally does not take more than two hours a day. This fits within the guidelines that I have seen recommended for second grade homeschoolers. Outside of our homeschooling time we also do activities such as crafting, cooking, baking, and outdoor time.

While River does watch more videos then I would like I feel ok with it especially due to the fact that she does not have young siblings at home to play with. Some days are hard, but overall I feel we have reached a good balance with homeschooling during covid.

Hope all of you are finding your own balance during these trying times.

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River and I are about to go outside into our lushly overgrown backyard and I will read to her from the chapter book Lyddie by Katherine Paterson. This book is fantastically written and highlights the difficult working conditions for some people in the textile and clothing creation industries. I loved this book as a girl and I am excited to share it with my own daughter. Historical fiction such as this can be helpful in gaining an understanding of the world. This book helped me form my worldview in which buying used clothing is an important part. Many new clothing items today are made in China where labor regulations are loose enough to allow for the mistreatment of workers in some factories. By buying used clothing we not only make a gentler impact on the earth, but we also do not contribute to the mistreatment of workers in the production of clothing.

I chose this book to read to my daughter mainly because I love the story and the writing is phenomenal. But re-reading it as an adult also helped shed light on one area where my values came from. I look forward to the rest of our day in the sunshine bonding over A book while my daughter gets exercise.

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Covid 19

Hi Everyone,

We have been in our home and yard seeing no one but each other for a bit over a week now. I think we are doing pretty well, but some days are definitely hard. We are doing a mish mash of homeschooling and ipad land. I am re-reading an amazing book, Hideensee, by Gregory Maguire, the man who wrote Wicked. River and I have several chapter books going as well, all of them a bit twisted. She is into ‘drama’ these days, as she likes to call it. The weirdness and awkward beauty of Hiddensee definitely suite my mood. I spent the entire day Sunday reading in my newly remade tiny garden.

You see, I took the entire garden fence down, and gave most of the fencing away. I let the land renaturalize itself, along with help from my bunny and chicken. And then I heard that I may need to stay here for months and that planting seeds would be a great idea. So up the garden fence went, around one of the best bits of garden. And into the ground went my rooted clippings of Tree Kale I was planning to take to Michigan. I also planted radishes, peas, beans, spinach, and greens.

I feel lucky that I have worked to gain so many useful skills over the years. My time alone at home with my daughter when she was young taught me so much. Now I am simply pulling those skills out of sack to use again because they are needed. Baking bread, soaking beans, cooking from scratch, fun at home, at home learning.

Our plan was to move to Michigan in mid June after school got out. What this will look like now I have no idea. We are just being patient with the process and knowing that no one can predict the future right now. We are lucky that we have a cozy home here with a large yard, and a nice home in Michigan to move into. Many others are faced with much harder choices right now. We will just wait and see.

As for homeschooling I ordered River two workbooks that were recommended by a fellow mom I trust. We have been doing several workbook pages each day. Some days she reads to me, some days I read to her. We practice our recorders outside each day together, which I love. We try to be active and get outside (again, loving the big yard). We do art projects. One day we sewed. I made this chart to help us keep track of what we are up to; it helps keep a form to the homeschooling without putting us into a stiff routine. One of the best parts of being home is not being forced into a routine.

So that is where we are in life right now. Hope you all are doing ok. I know everyone has different struggles in this situation. If your struggles are not too severe I hope you are able to take some of this time to slow down and breathe. peace.

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Big Changes

Hello Everyone,

We’ve got Life! happening around here. Our family is preparing to move back to our home state of Michigan to the beautiful home we are so lucky to own there. As we prepare for this journey my stepdaughter is preparing for her own life journey. She is ready to live on her own and excited for it. Sometimes it feels like a big ball of energy is swirling around our family, even as we just sit around at home, having normal days. Big life changes are in the works for us and occupy most of my mental space. I am pleased and also grieving. And packing.

More to come…

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Running Hard

Sometimes when I’m running hard it’s difficult to slow down. Even when I get an off day to relax lately I hit it like a to do list: drink coffee, read a book, watch a show, go outside, do yoga. I rush it. It’s hard to slow the breathing and the check-list mind set when I have so much to do. I force myself to stare at the blossoming plum blossoms because I know how beautiful they are. I know that in years past they have brought me so much joy. Birds, fresh air and sunshine seem to be the only things that can slow me down. I stare at them and breathe deep.

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My Makeup Kit

Here’s a glimpse at my natural and long lasting make up kit. I feel like it’s fairly sustainable and a number of the items can be mostly composted when they have finished their life.

My make up brushes I got for myself as a wedding present at my ‘bachelorette party’ (spa day) 10 years ago. The handles are bamboo and the bristles are natural. These babies have held up. They are still in wonderful shape after a decade and they work very well. The brushes could be thrown into a compost pile if you were willing to pick out the metal rings a year or two later. Or you could saw them off at the end of the handle and compost the handles. These brushes came in a natural fiber wrap which I use as a travel case. It is fully compostable.

The outer lining and tag of the Aveda bag can be composted. The fish sake cup is clay. It could go back to the Earth or become garden art once broken. I often use pottery that way. I have had it for a long time and got it second hand from the thrift. It has lived with me for 8-10 years. It’s been around.

Here is the make up that lives in the Making It Happen bag. (The other bag has more assorted toiletries). Making It Happen came to me via the thrift.

Eco Bella powder in a light color (Pale). This base I add color to depending on the time of year and my complexion. I can be pale or tan. Eco Bella is a natural make up brand sold by my local high end natural grocery store. Apart from the mirror and the elastic band that keeps it closed, this case is compostable.

Mineral Fusion bronzer in Sparkle. This is my eye shadow and the darker shade I mix in when my skin grows tan. It can, of course, also be used under the jaw bones to add definition. I only do this if I’m going out at night and really dressing up.

Mineral Fusion blush in Airy. This is my blush, and I also use it on my brow bones over my eye shadow. It can be lightly brushed on the neck and chest to ease the transition from made up face to natural skin tone, and to create an overall healthy glow if you need a little extra. Mineral Fusion is a natural make up brand carried by several local health food stores.

Locally made brand of loose mineral powder in Lime. This is what I use my tiny flat make up brush for. I will lay a thin line of the bright glittery green above my eyeliner, and sometimes out in a line past the eye. I do this on St Patrick’s Day and fun nights out where the light might catch the sparkle. I also sometimes very lightly dust my arms, chest, or cheekbones with this. The light will catch bits of it and give you a glow.

My eyeliner and lip liner are both Mineral Fusion. The eyeliner is a light-ish brown called Rough and the lip liner is a brownish pink called… something. It is entirely rubbed off. That’s because I carry these two pencils with me wherever I go in my purse. If I suddenly need to up my look a bit these are my two main tools. I use them regularly and often in the car. I also have a natural dark brown eye pencil I use for going out at night or fancy occasions when a little more is needed. Simply adding a layer of darker eye pencil can take your look from day to evening.

Lastly I have Mineral Fusion waterproof mascara in a dark brown called Cliff. I choose to go with dark brown mascara these days because it matches my coloring and looks more natural.

I know there are makeup guidelines on how often to throw out makeup. And I think these rules of thumb have their place with wet makeup such as foundation or mascara. There is more potential for bacteria to grow. But almost all the makeup I use is dry (mascara is the exception), and it keeps safely for years. The green mineral powder I got the first year I lived in Portland. That was 13 years ago, and it is the same as when I purchased it. I’ve had eyeliners that last 8 years. I just finished up blush that I bought when my daughter was a baby. Since I don’t wear makeup every day, and go long stretches without it, I am able to keep items for a long time. This feels sustainable to me. Infrequent purchases of high quality, thoughtfully made make up is something I feel good about.

When I turned 35 I gave myself permission to wear makeup every day that I felt like it. I’m enjoying it during this chapter of my life.

Here’s a picture of me with my version of ‘full’ daytime makeup on. With the natural look it can almost look like you don’t have makeup on. It’s just like turning yourself up a notch.

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Just Right

As I have mentioned before, I’ve spent years now working on simplifying my home and clearing out unneeded items. Marie Kondo says that when you reach your ‘just right’ zone of organization and simplification you’ll know, that you’ll feel it. I always imagined that this just right point would accompany a sparse and beautiful for home for me. But I think I stand corrected. I think for our family home the just right point contains some clutter. We are always leaning random snapshots on our bookshelves, or adding a little decorative animal to a windowsill.

Our house feels so good right now. And our family has a peace that I have longed for for years. Our just right is cozy; mostly clean, but a bit cluttery. And you know what? It doesn’t bug me. Because peace is so much better than an absolutely clean home. When I am at peace I can rest, even if our living room had been set up like a classroom for stuffed animals .

; )

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