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My Barnhouse is Quiet, but Dirty

4500 square feet.  What the fuck am I thinking?  Who does that?  Who lives in a 4500 square foot home?  I thought I’d be in full on panic mode.  How on earth do you make sense of the chaos that is living with children and animals, in a 4500 square foot home?  It’s seriously going to take me 30 minutes just to sweep the entryway.   And the windows, now I get to clean slobber and greasy handprints on four times as many windows.  I’ve got windows I can’t reach, and strangely enough they have handprints on them too.

We bought this home because we loved it when we walked in.  The outside is nothing special, huge, but not unique in any other way.  When we walked through the front door we knew it was ours.  We knew it right away.  It was perfect.  Not priced any higher than the other, smaller homes we had looked at.  It’s the perfect combination of old and new.  I’m living in my dream home, only I didn’t realize it until I moved in.

dreamy kitchen ceiling

This house needed every square inch cleaned.  The previous owner, and I’m just speculating because of the state of the cobwebs and inch of sand on the walls, did not enjoy cleaning.  It’s a LOT of fucking work.  Like so much work that I’ve lost weight even while I eat potato chips and pepperoni like a hog.  Like an ACTUAL hog.  I just can’t stop eating.  Our Radical Unschooling is playing an interesting role here in that I’ve never required my kids to do any chores.  Come on kids!  Seriously, now would be a good time to pony up with that housework you’ve been dying to get in on!

carpet shampoo contrast. other people’s mess is so much grosser than your own, isn’t it?

It’s peaceful here.  Inside and out.  The dogs are calm, the cat is calm, I feel calm and the kids are throwing bouncy balls off the loft trying to hit the 30+ foot ceiling.  You didn’t think they’d be calm did you?  Oh hell no.  But now I have space!  And if there’s one thing this Capricorn appreciates it’s a little personal space!  Though, I am just shocked at how much more connection we are experiencing in this big barnhouse.  It’s like we all have ENOUGH space that coming together is never an issue and we’ve hung out, played more games and enjoyed each other’s company more in this past week and a half than I can remember in our entire RV trip.  Well, that’s not entirely true but it’s surprised me enough to make that statement, even if it is a lie.

my ridiculously peaceful backyard

I’ve got a list a mile long for today.  The kids are sleeping in (there’s that unschooling thing creeping in again) and that gives me lots of time for scrubbing down the cabinets and steaming the bedroom floor.  While I KNOW some of you are cringing; Yes…  I’m actually enjoying this.  Just find me in a year and we’ll see where I’m at with all that cleaning.  Maybe I’ll still love it or maybe I’ll be selling the children’s artwork on the street corner to pay for the maid.

Four Months of Transition: From Washington to Vermont

In two days time, life as I currently know it, will be over and a new chapter will have begun.  It feels so normal and comfortable and right to sit here in my cozy RV bedroom with Azula, while TJ works outside and while Skylar cooks eggs and Phoenix and Milo have a spat over some plushies.  Josie is in her self-appointed cat perch away from the commotion and Linky is undoubtedly sleeping in the midst of angrily hurled toys.  It’s not everyone’s heaven.  Actually, it’s probably not most people’s idea of a home, but for the last 4 months it’s been our home.  We left our tiny island of Vashon, WA on May 31st.

We’ve watched sunsets in the vast landscape of Montana.

We rode horseback in Idaho.

We made beds for the dogs in the back of the van and all drove through Yellowstone for an entire day and saw everything we could possibly see in 14 hours time.

 We found that North Dakota, for all of it’s vast landscape of not-a-whole-lot-to-see has a growing gem of a town named Fargo.

We rode roller coasters and bumper cars until our hearts were content in the Mall of America, two days in a row.

We had campfires and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows all across the United States.

We celebrated not one, but two of our children’s birthdays while living in this RV.  There’s been haircuts and hair coloring and ear piercings.  We’ve spent time fishing, celebrating, canoeing, hooping and so many more things I couldn’t possibly list them, and we’ve done it all almost exclusively together for just about 4 months.

On Wednesday, we’re moving into our new home, which is 2250% bigger than our current home.  When we were looking for a home here in Vermont, I lost the small house battle in a major, cathedral-ceiling and our house-has-a-library kind of way.  Nevertheless, I’m ecstatic to have found such a glorious property right in the middle of all the people that I love.

When we started this journey, I’m pretty sure my teenager did NOT pump his fist and say, “Wow.  I’m 14 going on 15 and I can’t wait to hole up inside a tiny RV with my parents and little brothers for 4 whole months!  Wooo!”  I’m also pretty sure he did in fact have fun, even if he hibernates down in his room and I don’t see him for the next 6 weeks.  I don’t really know what I hope he learned, or what I hope I was able to show him but I am eternally grateful to have him so close for this past period of time, since I know he’s itching to get out there in the world, without the rest of us.  That growing up thing…  it’s bittersweet, isn’t it?

We’re all different people then we were when we left and I couldn’t imagine a better transition than this one right here.  Even if I am freaking out on the inside about how long it will take me to clean our new castle.  Though it becomes unlivably messy seriously fast, I can clean the RV faster than I can put back a couple glasses of wine, and since I’m not cleaning much, I’ve got plenty of time for that!

I’m looking forward to a full kitchen, enough space for the dogs to tear-ass around the house when there’s too much snow and for the physical and personal space we all crave right now.  A lot of my FB feed is full of dreams about tiny houses and living with less (I was there once).  Even though I could travel for a much longer period of time,  I’m am looking forward to quite the opposite, (as is my usual style) and having a big house and seeing my things again; my favorite painting, my sock collection and the rest of my hoops.  When we chose to buy a house, we chose against full time RV’ing, which is sad and happy all at the same time.  Though, I still picture TJ and I as retired, old people living in a sweet Class A with 4 slides and dishwasher…  Man…  I do miss my dishwasher, a lot.

Inside My Hoop

I bought my first hoop on Memorial Day weekend 2011 at an unschooling conference.  It was a beast, at 54″ in diameter and heavy as all hell. At that time I really didn’t know the scope of what was happening in the hoop community. I just knew I had a friend who was in my eyes the best hooper in the entire world and I wanted to try it out. I didn’t hoop with it at the conference AT ALL.  I let a few others try it out and I watched, knowing I couldn’t hoop with it just yet.  I brought it home where I felt safe, to look like a complete ass.  It didn’t take too long to realize that something I couldn’t do when I was child, I could do now! 10 minutes of practice and I could waist hoop with the best of them!  That giant heavy hoop was the KEY to my success.

At first I just sort of played with it. I hooped all over the house and the yard, often being silly and having contest with my husband or children. There’s a rather classy photo somewhere of me hooping with a giant spatula in one hand and a margarita in the other.  Then… I learned a trick and it was all over.  Throughout the next year and half I became inseparable with my hoop. This piece of plastic brought me more joy then anything I can ever remember.

With every new trick I learned, or every movement that felt right I gained a sense of accomplishment I’ve never experienced before. The important part?  The rules are my own. I hoop WHEN I want, and HOW I want. I have no expectations of my learning or my skill level. When I’m inside my hoop the all of the shoulds and have tos and need tos just fall away and I am happily, perfectly me.

Before my hoop, I was very much too shy to show up to a group trip or a group of hooping strangers.  Now, showing up and looking like a complete ass while trying something new (in public) is one of the best parts of it!  My hoop feels like the doorway to finding myself and it just keeps spinning in all the right directions.

The Story of a Shaved Head /hair

I haven’t blogged in ages.  I haven’t really blogged as a big part of my life in years.  I haven’t written anything at all in awhile, and I certainly haven’t written anything down before 10am.  This isn’t my big, “Hey, I’m blogging again!” announcement.  This is just too crazy not to blog.  While lying in bed last night I kept thinking about what I was going to write today.  I couldn’t stop thinking about this whole experience in the third person.  Like I wasn’t even the one doing it.

My entire life people always told me things like, “I wish I had your hair.” and “You are so lucky to have a head of hair like that.”  I have very fast growing, thick and strong hair.  It doesn’t mess easily and is somewhat bedhead resistant.  Still having so much hair is a lot of work, the washing and the brushing.  Ugh.  So what’s the problem?  Well, I never really appreciated it all that much.  When it was long I sort of felt like a slave to it.  When I was older, same, it was just too much work.  I became the queen of the knot.  The ultimate in motherhood anti-style.

At a time when there seemed to be some sort of female head shaving revolution on my facebook news feed, my hair was long.  Very long.  I knew I wanted shorter hair, but still didn’t have the gonads for “boy cut”.  I suppose even then I knew I wanted one, but just wasn’t ready for it.  If you know me, you know I don’t do anything until I’m ready.  Whatever that even means.  I had TJ tie my hair into a ponytail and cut my hair.  I rocked this cute longish A-line for awhile.  This was my short haircut.  In a flash, my high maintenance hair became…  SOMEWHAT high maintenance hair!  And really, super cute.  I loved this haircut, for a while.  Then, it was boring and too easy to tie back every day.

I went to the local stylist in January of 2012 and had her stick to the same cut, but even shorter.  I didn’t really like it.  I’m sure it was a nice cut, but why is it that almost every time I go to a stylist I’m not entirely happy with what happens to my head?  I think there’s only one person who cut my hair that I was really happy with.  (Yeah, Brookie!)  Though, it’s probably my control freak tendencies.  If I fuck up my hair I can rationalize the shit out of it.  If someone else fucks up my hair?  It’s not even rationalizeable at all.  It’s a bad haircut.  (Totally, sorry to all my hairdressers who may or may not be reading this.  It’s all my fault.  I’m a terrible client.)

I decided I needed to go for it.  I’d thought about having short hair all my life, but afraid of not looking like a girl, afraid of not being pretty.  What the fuck is that?  Afraid of not being pretty?!  Like, pretty is some sort of requirement to being human?  It makes me cringe just writing it.

 

So with TJ’s help, this is what I ended up with.  I love this haircut so much.  The entire time I had that cut, I felt like it was the cut I was meant for.  Like I should have come from the womb, with that exact haircut.  It’s the best haircut I’ve ever had.  It’s fierce, badass, but still cute, girly, pretty.  Shit.  Not what I was going for.

 

It wasn’t enough.  I needed to go further.  I needed to experience having no hair.  I needed to challenge every standard of hair styled beauty I’ve ever known.  I needed to challenge traditional standards of female beauty and society’s gender standards.   I needed to love myself with or without my hair.  I needed to not think about whether it was pretty or not.  I’m sure this is the haircut I’ll go back to in a few months, but for now I’m rocking a crew cut.

If you’ve always had a lot of hair, and you’re wondering if it’s as hard as you think it is to shave all your hair off, the answer is Yes.  Yes it is.  There is one thing I’ve pretty much always had, bangs.  And one thing I’ve had for a very long time, pink hair.  Shaving just the top of my head still felt I was shaving all hair I ever had, off.  When I turned off the clippers I realized it wasn’t the clippers causing vibrations in my hands.  I was actually shaking.  I shaved from the back and moved forward until I has once tiny piece of my pink bangs left, then…  gone.  I totally felt a huge surge of adrenaline which immediately exhausted me.  I hopped in the shower for the most GLORIOUS shower I have ever taken.  (Fellow head shavers totally know what I’m talking about!)

I feel naked, completely exposed, vulnerable and I’m transitioning from noticing my hair, to noticing my face and trying to love what I see.  When I wanted this experience I really had no idea what I was in for.  It hasn’t even been a day and I feel like, it’s been just that, an experience!

TLDR: I just really wanted to know what it was like to have a shaved head.  Now I know.

 

A Sticky Situation

It’s taken me a long time to love Seattle and the PNW.  I mean REALLY love it like it’s home, which it is.  It’s taken me a good couple years to settle in and to feel completely at home.  So now I want to see more.  So this spring and summer I’m making it a point to explore the shit out of this place!  I’ve seen the Space Needle, that’s not what I’m looking for.  I wanna see the weird stuff, and incidentally the sticky stuff.  Our first stop was Pike Place Market.  We’ve seen the market before…  old news.  Instead we went below the market to Post Alley which happens to be home to the second most unsanitary tourist attraction just behind the Blarney Stone.  The tradition began in 1993, though it became an official tourist attraction in 1999.  That basically means they quit trying to clean it up.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em right?

 

Architectural Gum

Seattle Gummed Window