What’s Next?

I’m at this point in life where I often feel that I don’t know what to do next. My job is ok for now, but It was never supposed to be long term, it was supposed to be an in between thing. And now I’m quickly  approaching two years there. I don’t want to do it for two more. I’m frustrated with a feeling of getting stalled. I see Ace making progress with his dream while I feel like I’m floundering.

I realized that I need take these frustrations and focus them on achieving what I’ve always wanted to, starting a skatepark. When I sit and think on my options in life that is the only one that sounds totally appealing. I think about in-home daycares, and urban farms, and homesteads and they all have some appeal. But I think about a fantastic, clean, modern skatepark, with a youth center, and classes, and camps, and healthy food and I can’t stop the joy and the dreaming. It takes all my passions and funnels them into one amazing thing. Its just a really really hard thing to make real and it’s overwhelming thinking about what it will take to make it happen Then I think about the people in my life and the things I’ve been a part of and I know its possible.
I’ve always worked for small businesses or jobs where I was basically in charge of myself; dog sitting, the local skatepark, my family’s pizza restaurant, doggy daycare, nannying. Heck, I already helped start a business when we started Light House Church. I was a key member of the launch team and designed every single program for the kids from the ground up. I didn’t use any curriculum the way it came. I dissected them and rebuilt them into what I wanted. Typically it was something far less structured and allowed for actual discussion, not just parroted answers. I learned a lot about how to start a not-for-profit in a different state. Now I need to figure out how to start a for profit business in Oregon. It seems so overwhelming, but yet totally possible at the same time. Maybe that’s why it’s a great idea.

I left Light House to start another church community from the ground up. That wasn’t terribly complicated to be honest. It mostly took a big heart and lots of time, but it is another thing that has helped shape me into who I am. Its another experience in managing a small group of people.

When we came to Oregon we came hoping to start a small business. It was the plan. Then the plan got sidetracked, partly because our down payment on our house used most of our money, and partly because Ace was inspired by the thriving Portland music scene to give his music a legitimate chance in a new place. After some floundering of his own and trying lots of venues and genres for his music he discovered YouTube. Through YouTube he’s found the widest audience for his music yet, as well as a growing community of creators for which he can do custom projects.

I came here hoping to be a stay at home mom. It was soon apparent that we weren’t going to be able to afford that unless Ace got a 9-5 job. I don’t wish that torture on him, so we both got part-time jobs while he pursued his music. He was basically forced to quit his job at the beginning of the year and since has been pursuing music full time. We’ve cut down our bills enough to be able to afford this for now, as long as I’m working about 30hours a week. Now I’m really ready to find something new. I’ve been itching to move on for about 6 months now. I know what I’m going to do. I just need to figure out how to do it.

Skating in the Wheels of Fortune contest in Seattle.

Skating in the Wheels of Fortune contest in Seattle.

“The LEGO Movie” Mini Review

Just got back from “The LEGO Movie” and I was pleasantly surprised at the great plot, and at the beautiful theater we saw it in. 

I’m used to living in suburbia. I grew up in the sprawling “suburbs” (how can you call something 50miles away a suburb!?) of Chicago. I watch the farms turn into best buys, and condos, and libraries. Everything there was MEH it was all OKAY. Nothing was really nice or really bad. 

Here in the city, in Portland, there are lots of really scary crappy places, but even more beautiful places. Places I only used to see when I would visit “The City” (Chicago). Here I drive 10 minutes to Hawthorn Boulevard to check out the “Bagdad” theater. I tried to do this theater justice thought my typed language, but I can’t so I’ll quote the website to help you get an idea of its magnificence. 

“This marvelous relic of Hollywood’s Golden Age is a movie palace full of wonder and surprises. For nearly four generations now, the Bagdad’s Mediterranean/neon persona and daily films have made it an icon of Portland’s vibrant Hawthorne District. The interior is an attraction in and of itself, with barreled arches, ornate wrought-iron fixtures, brilliant mosaics and painted Mediterranean designs and characters.”

Before the movie even started I was happy just to be in this beautiful building from another time. I’m so glad McMenamin’s does what they do in preserving these fantastic historical buildings. The Bagdad is also a “Brew and View” meaning you can purchase a lot more than your standard concessions. It was too early (for me) for alcohol so I got a burger. It was delivered right to my seat! There also wasn’t a bunch of fluff before the movie like at the other chain theaters. There was one preview, and it was for the next family movie coming to the theater. Awesome! 

The movie itself started strangely as you just jumped right in to the action. I was unsure if the movie had even started! Being right in the action was pretty much the rest of the movie. t was very fast paced and action packed, I’m sure Mark only picked up the very very bare bones of the plot. At some points the non-stop action was hard even for me to follow. 

The plot was fantastic and, without any real spoilers, I can say that it was a very unschooling friendly movie. The LEGO Movie pits conformity and creativity against each other and of course creativity is what becomes the most valued by the end. The cast is incredible with many of my favorites including Liam Neeson, Chris Pratt, and Will Arnett (I vote he plays every batman ever from now on). It also included some appearances by some much love cult-icons (I won’t spoil it). 

I do have one other criticism besides the non-stop, overwhelming to small children action. That is the lack of female characters. There are three, in the whole movie, and more men that you can count. One of the females is a kitty-unicorn-thing with obvious anger issues and another is wonder women who gets all of 3 lines. Why can’t movies have, oh lets say, approximately HALF female charters, you know, like life? I would really like it if they just took some of the exact characters they already had and just made them female, change the look just a smidge and change the name. Thats it. Ok my little “almost feminist” rant is over.

The twist at the end movie ended up being better than I expected and even Mark was moved and had to hug me several times. It will hit all the families right in the feels and make all the unschoolers silently applaud their own awesomeness (don’t go thinking you’re above doing that). 

In short, go see it! If you have kids who are overly sensitive to high action films maybe wait for the blue-ray. I loved it and we are already talking about seeing it again when it hits the second run theaters around here. This is probably going to be one of the top family movies of the year, if you like movies, you’ll love The LEGO Movie!


I’m finally getting started on growing my own food! Last week Mark and I planted a few seeds in some old strawberry containers. We did one on of spinach and one of early cherry tomatoes. In the processes I accidentally got ALL the tomato seeds wet! In an effort to save some I put a bunch in a wet paper towel in  plastic zip lock bag (like in grade school). If they sprout, then my first plants in my aquaponics will be a TON of tomatoes!


This is my very simple seed starting set up. Old (well washed) strawberry containers filled with fresh clean seed starting mix placed on plastic (water proof) plates. With this set up you can water from the bottom without needing to buy a seed starting tray from a graden supply, and you can’t beat free (well almost, I bought the seed mix).


Here are the extra tomato seeds I’m trying save. :(


Here are our two little spinach seedlings that have sprouted!

Tomorrow I need to move my grow lights and get that set up so I can get these guys under them! At the same time as the seedlings are maturing I plan on fish-less cycling my tank so in 1-2 weeks its ready for plants and fish all at once.

New Years Resolutions

I don’t like New Years Resolutions, but I do them anyway. But to me its more of an “After Christmas Resolution” as I LOVE Christmas. I spend all year waiting for Christmas, and then when Christmas comes I eat whatever I want and do whatever I want “Because its Christmas!” This year this was compounded by a vacation 2 weeks before Christmas. Christmas + Vacation + a well intentioned Mother in Law giving you way too many sweets is a bad combo! 

Anyway, Christmas is my time to fall of the bandwagon, on EVERYTHING (well, at least I didn’t get drunk). So this is the week I pick myself off, dust myself off, and think “How am I going to fix this?” This year as a family we really have one major focus, becoming more self-reliant. We want to earn our own money, grow our food, buy our own stuff, take care of ourselves. There are two focus, finances, and health. 

Financially we are better off than most of the world. I realize this. We are in a good place. But we want to take better care of what we have, and make our money go further, so that we can do more, and help more with what we have. Ace has the goal of either doing music full time or opening his tea shop. My goal is to actually outright own our home, both take a lot of money.  I am working on a budget, and keeping track of ALL our spending. Our biggest waste by far is eating out, followed by entertainment and buying stuff we plain old dont need. 

Our second goal is to take better care of ourselves. I’m going to hit this one from many angles (most of which will benefit the first goal). First, we plan to grow as much of our own produce as possible. That means we have lots of healthy (organic, heirloom)  choices we will be excited to eat. We have a long growing season here, with lots of plants that do well. Our yard already has 2 kinds of fruit. Soon I will be starting, lettuce, tomatos, cherry tomatos, watermelon, strawberries, and peppers. I hope to add to those as the season goes on. I am also building an aquapoics system to grow fish and food together in a soiless medium (more on that in my next post). 

Second we are taking more walks and bike rides. I try to take Mark out everyday to walk or bike for a half hour (or more). I take one of the dogs along and we all get some good free exercise. So far, this has been really great! In the summer I hope to find some parks and hiking areas and bring lunch with. Its a great way to wear out Mark for his nap and help me stay active. 

Finally, we are tracking our weights. I made a chart and every sunday we are going to weigh-in. In 6 months we are going to take a little 1-2 night trip and who ever loses the biggest percent of weight is going to pick where we go. I’m pretty excited. 

Steps Towards Self-Sufficiency: Sustainable Urban Farming

I’d love to be able to be completely self-sufficient someday, in case of an emergency or disaster,  but that day is a long long way off. In the time being I can take steps to get us closer. My hope is have a healthier, more frugal, more sustainable way of life that we can keep up even if the rest of the world was to fall apart.

There are several things I’d like to do eventually, they include; learning and buying firearms, buying and installing solar panels, harvesting and re-using rain water, stocking up on basic necessities and food that can be stored long term (dired and freeze dried, canned, frozen), and of course, growing our own food.

I was going to wait till spring to start a garden, we have an area planned for raised beds that is currently coved to kill the grass and keep the soil warm through the winter, but now I’m thinking I may try a different approach much sooner (we’ll still start a summer garden as well). In fact if I didn’t have a sick toddler who’s been sleeping most of the day, I’d be out in the garage figuring out what supplies I have and what I need right now!

I’m going to try my hand at aquaponics. In short aquaponics is growing plants and fish in harmony in a relatively low maintenance environment that yields very high amounts of fish and plants for the food and energy put in. I’ve read that aquaponics uses 1/10th the water of traditional gardening in the soil, and the only food you put in is whatever you are feeding the fish (which I’ve read of many creative ways to feed your fish for cheep or free). I’m hoping to start a small system using either a fish tank or a plastic bin and ordering a few fingerling fish to start. The waste water from the fish tank would be pumped up into a medium sized growing tray where the plants can use the nutrients naturally created by the fish and the bacteria, creating clean water for the fish to grow in. The water would then flow down back into the fish tank. Some people use siphon system, but I think I’m just going to go ahead and use a fish tank pump on a timer to start. I plan on trying indoor and using grow lights. Even if I can just grow enough lettuce for Ace’s sandwiches and a few salads I’ll be pretty happy.

I have bigger dreams too. I got my hands on a free pool last fall that I planned to set up for Mark to swim in, but it may turn into a much larger fish tank. If I can get a few other people on board to help. I’d love to set up a large aquaponics system and share the fish with other families that help maintain and build the system with me. If I can figure it out on a small scale, why not a large scale? If we grow enough plants we could even sell them and make money. Currently selling homegrown aquaphonics fish is illegal, but you can sell the plants.

As I’m dreaming of this I think of all the things I wanted to do and haven’t, that’s why I decided to blog it. If I put it out there you guys can keep me accountable (all 3 of you that will read this). Either way it will motivate me to actually do it. If I can get this going along with a traditional garden we will be rolling in produce this year and it will save us LOTS of money!

Screen Free?

The last week or 2 or 3 or 4… not sure how long. I’ve been feeling pretty low. Not sure why, I look around and things are ok. But, I’m not motivated, I don’t feel well, I’m just… meh…. Its one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging, its just doesn’t seem to matter.

So next week I’m going to try to go screen free M-F (though I may need to post about how amazing Rush is, its pretty much all I’ve been looking forward to for over a month). I’ll take some pictures of our adventures, and get back to you next weekend. As of monday I will be shutting my laptop for a week. I’ll update the music on my phone before then, and I’ll check my e-mail from my phone. But my goal is to keep the TV off and the laptop closed as much as possible.

It Is a Windy Day, Fall is Here.

It is a windy day, fall is here. The leaves blow across our path and make a wonderful crunch under my feet and the wheels of the red wagon. We meander slowly through our neighborhood taking the time to look at everything we want to. Mark says “Hello” and “Bye-Bye” to every person, dog and motorcycle. Three little dogs chase us along the fence line and we laugh at them.

As we walk my short brown hair stick out from under my black cap and Mark’s wispy red hair blows in the wind. We take our time enjoying the warm sunshine and the cool breeze. We find an end of a 2×4 in the road and bring it home, who knows what it may someday become. Our path is unplanned and we find ourselves on a dirt road on a windy day. The dust blows around us, but doesn’t bother us too bad. We say hello to two more dogs and continue towards our house. This is just another day, but its special, it’s the first day it feels like fall. It is a windy day, fall is here.