24 October, 2012

Eating Elephants

The big D. 

We're now in the thick of it. Back to solo parenting. Clinging to the 20 minutes of phone call. Missing his smell and his arms, his presence and his guidance on those parts of our life together that he just does a little better or easier than I am able to. 

Oh, and we moved last month. We got word that we might be staying at our current base for a while yet and decided to start house hunting. I was certain we wouldn't find anything suitable before he left. And I was wrong. *(Insert life chaos here.)*

And if you ever get the chance to move just before a deployment? Well... let's just say it's not something I would recommend if you could avoid it at all. 

My head is still spinning. I am so tired. Frazzled. Shouldering the load of managing EVERYTHING in our already full lives, and by myself at that, is a heavy load to carry each day. But sometimes the only way to get through something is to just keep going through it, because stopping to pout just makes tomorrow's load feel heavier. 

So we're eating this proverbial elephant one bite at a time. 

02 August, 2012


I have this mental picture.

This simple living- what that means for my life, my family's life. The vision that I have in my head includes homegrown food and handmade clothes. Upcycled t-shirts turned into dishcloths and pretty scrap fabric repurposed. Lots of outdoor time. Time together, making memories instead of clutter. Exploring with all our senses instead of watching so much TV. Camping. Time for reading books together, reading books alone. Drinking hot cocoa or tea and watching the rain fall when we should be so blessed to have rain.

I want to teach my daughter to sew, if she'd like to learn. I'd gladly teach my boys too.  I picture them helping with the household chores joyfully. All of us working together at the same time. Learning new things together. Trying recipes. Cooking and baking. Friends at a moment's notice. A slower pace. An older kind of life. An underscheduled life. 

A life with enough margins and buffers to allow for spontaneous dirt-playing and mess-making and rose-smelling. A life of discovery, of joy and love, of hard work and reward.

A simpler life.
I have this vision. And what a life it could be.

19 July, 2012

The Value of Homegrown Veggies

 Have you ever eaten a tomato that was picked just minutes before, ripened on the vine, washed and eaten still warm from the sun? 

I have.

It is worth all the work, the digging, the research on what tomato varieties will grow well here, the 20 plus bags of compost. The planting and watering, the weeding, the sweating and waiting. 

Have you ever known the flavor of a tomato like that? Tangy, slightly sweet, and strong.  A flavor that surprises you? That makes you say, "So THAT is what tomatoes are supposed to taste like."

I do. 

I am privileged enough to be able to experience this whenever I like, at least for this season, whenever I happen to be home. My tomatoes are the most fantastic ones I have ever eaten.

But to garden, to grow your own, is more than that. It's a source of pride. A conversation starter with fellow gardeners in the neighborhood. It's a small gift I can give my friends. A way to nourish my family.

 It's a reminder in the busy of my life, of the bigger picture. This part of life can only be measured in seasons and years. It's a practice in delayed gratification and patience. A tomato worth its salt cannot be hurried into ripening. A way to practice accepting what is, because sometimes in gardening things don't go the way you want and the payoff doesn't come. 

The value of hard work, of callused hands and dirty fingernails. The value of knowing where your food came from and how it was treated (or not treated, as in pesticides). 

The value in knowing my children are watching. And doing. And learning. Faces covered in dirt and joy.

Do you know how much a garden is worth?

Because I sure do.

16 July, 2012

Simple Living and Kids: it's easier than you think.

It's been more than 6 months since I first made the announcement that we really ought to get rid of a lot of the stuff we don't use in favor of a better life. (Missed that one? Find it here ) And it got off to a good start. Our bathrooms for the most part have remained clutter free. The playroom got a major overhaul, and the rooms of my Persistence and the Junior have both had a first round of "stuff" extraction.

And let me tell you, don't underestimate your kids' abilities to part with the things they don't love.

When we started this, I was bracing myself for fights, kicking and screaming or at least crying about living with less. These are my kids, who have told me in the past, that they love ALL their toys, with tears in their eyes and worry in their voices.

But I had them get in the habit of cleaning up at the end of each day. And I talked to them about how much nicer it must be to play in a clean room, to have all that space and not have to look for the things they wanted before they wanted to play. I talked to them about how it would be nice to not have so much to clean up, and how it would be even nicer to have even more space to play, and how fun it could be if they didn't have to take care of the things they didn't truly love. I talked to them about not having room for nice new things because their rooms were too full of things they didn't really use. I let them see me sorting through my own stuff.  And then I asked Persistence to start in her room, and I sat with her and piece by piece we went through it. I asked her for each thing, if it was something she truly loved, and if the answer was no, it went into a bag to get rid of and she was totally fine with all of it. 

She wanted to have more space, and more fun, and less searching and cleaning.

That's my girl. I am so proud of her. And shocked how smoothly it went.
The hardest part was keeping my opinions to myself about what she should get rid of and what she should keep, because after all, she's going to be the one living with the decisions. I did insist she keep SOME vegetables in her food toys, instead of having a bin of fake cookies and donuts. But mostly, if she wanted to let it go, I just helped her bag it, even if I had my own sentimental ideas about whatever it was. That was a little hard at the time, but I don't even remember what those things were now.

For the Junior, I just kept an eye on what he liked to play with for about a week. And then I took out all the toys that weren't age appropriate or used often while he watched a movie. He's still a little young to understand what this is all about, and so until he gets a little older I will be making decisions on his behalf. But he hasn't seemed to mind, he's enjoying the toys that are left SO much more, and hasn't missed any of the "baby" toys I took out.

So that's all it took. I helped one clean her room out, and for another I just decided for him. And both worked. I can't promise this will work for everyone, but it's gone well for our family, for my kids and their personalities and stage of growth.

So does that mean we're done? Not by a long shot. I still have to get through the Wise Owl's room, and the younger two kids' rooms likely need revisited, and of course my bedroom needs done top to bottom, and the rest of the house will need a deeper purge before I'm really happy with it. But so far, so good. In the interest of keeping this short and sweet, I'll post more on the method to my madness in the near future. But the kids? Once they know why we are doing what we're doing? It's really no problem at all.

11 May, 2012

Hello Milspouse Appreciation Day Bloghop 2012!

Welcome! I'm Anastasia, and I'm glad you came to check out the Wild Blue Wonders here at my blog.

 In a nutshell: I'm a homework helper, mess cleaner, food preparer, stuff sorter and lost-thing-finder, a runner, a gardener, a patch sewer-on-er and word maker-upper.

What does that mean? I'm an Air Force wife and stay at home mom to my three kiddos, who are known around here as the Wise Owl, Persistence, and the Junior, ages 10, 6, and 3. 

 I like to cook and eat, and I especially like to cook and eat things that I grow. I try to keep it healthy but I know how to indulge too. And with all that food love going on it's a good thing I love running and working out as well!

There's a lot of cleaning. But sometimes I have helpers.  We use a lot of non toxic "greener" cleaners (like baking soda and good old fashioned elbow grease).

I do a little bit of sewing here and there, but usually my sewing machine only gets brought out when the Hubby needs patches sewn on his uniforms. But I sure am proud to be able to sew those patches on for him. 

My blog is about a little bit of all of that. The title Wild Blue Wonders is a play on the first lines of the Air Force song "Here we go, into the Wild Blue Yonder, flying high, into the sun..." Here you can find my perspective on parenting and on life. There's a lot of me just sharing my joy. And coming soon, more posts about our project this year to clear out the stuff we don't need to live a simpler (and better) life, and how I am managing to do that with kids.

So feel free to stay a while and look around. And I love comments, so please leave me one!

Happy Military Spouse Appreciation day. A might thanks to all my fellow military spouses, for all your service and sacrifices. And one more thanks to the HH6Diva and Wife on the Roller Coaster for hosting the blog hop!

30 April, 2012

My Blog-less Spring.

So I haven't blogged since February. And now it is nearly May.

I was going to write yet another post sounding something like, "poor neglected blog, I've missed you, I'm sorry and it will never happen again". But I didn't really miss it, we were busy doing life and I hardly thought about blogging at all. And you and I both know by now that it will happen again.

It's time that I just be honest with myself and realize that is just the way I blog. That's how it's gonna be. And I'm okay with that, so from here on out no more apologies for being gone so long.

That said, I'm not exactly sure where the blog goes from here. This page will be subject to changes in format, design, and topic without notice. Most likely in a good way, hopefully you will like it. I'm learning as I go here.

And now that the blog housekeeping is done, here's a little of the random I've been up to since February:

I bought a used Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It still needs a good scrub, but I've found a recipe I'm thinking is perfect to break it in with: 
Photo credit to Divine Baking
Deep dark chocolate cookies. These have no flour, oil, or butter in them (not that flour or butter has ever stopped me from making a cookie before). And they look scrumptious. I plan on using her less sugar adapted recipe, because (though my kids are welcome to share with me) I'm making these cookies for me.

I planted a vegetable garden! A pull up the grass, dig up the clay soil and add 20 bags of compost and realize that would still not likely be enough to un-heavy the soil kind of garden.

Yes, that's me, digging in a dress. Because that's how I roll. It's a comfy dress. 

So I planted stuff and I'm hoping for the best.Tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and green beans this year, with an afterthought of lettuce. By the way if anyone has any tips on why my green beans and pepper plants look incredibly yellow, and how to fix it, please share.

See the one in the middle, still in the pot? Green. To the right, a much yellower green bean. Left is jalapeno pepper. 

The family went on vacation, but more on that later. 

I've slowly been going through and decreasing the amount of stuff in our home. Still a work in progress. Which, in fact, I ought to get back to now so I have time later to clean up my mixer and eat chocolate cookies.

So The end. 

06 February, 2012

The 10 mile run

I don't know if you remember, but way back when, I decided it would be a good idea to run 10 miles of trails.

So I trained. I ran on the treadmill in the gym so I could watch the littlest munchkin. I ran outside on the weekends while the hubby watched the kids. I ran in the cold with numb ears and an icy, runny nose. I ran in the heat, dripping with sweat, because hey, sometimes 75 degrees in January is normal here. I ran through achy knees and achy arches and achy ankles. I ran even when I didn't feel like it, when it seemed far more appealing to spend Saturday afternoon napping. I ran when I really needed to get a break and blow off some stress.

I ran with this song stuck in my head:
"...and I raaaaaaaaan, I ran so far a-waaaaaaaaaaaaayyy... I just raaaaaaan, I ran all night and daaaaaaaaayyy, I could not get a-waaaaaaay....

and this song:

"ain't nothing gonna breaka my stride, nobody gonna sloooow me dowwwn, Oh no, I got to keep on mooooovin...  ain't nothing gonna break my stride, I'm running and I won't touch ground, oh no, I got to keep on mooooov-in'"

Don't I sound fun?
Stop rolling your eyes.
Come on. You know you've done that too. Right?  No?  Well I bet now you will next time you run.
You're welcome.

And if you're too cool or young to know what songs I'm referring to, I'll post some youtube clips down at the end of the post.

So anyway.

It was rainy a few days before race day. Cats and dogs kind of rain. More than enough to turn the course into a puddley, muddy, sloppy mucky messy kind of mud-and-puddle obstacle course kind of trail.

Running that course was so much fun. Jumping over puddles, dodging around puddles, running through puddles, sliding through the mud. I was really glad to have shoes with great drainage. (Thanks, Brooks, for making great shoes!) It was joyful fun.

I am glad I spent all that time training. The distance was not an issue. No achy knees or feet or ankles. I was cheerful enough at mile 7 to ask the water station volunteer how his morning was going while I chugged down some water. Then I bounded down the last 3 miles like they were easier than the first three. It felt like I was lighter than air. It was great.

I am also seriously glad my high school cross country coaches taught me how to run on hills. That is a skill that served me very well in this race, and I'm sure will be incredibly useful for as long as I run. I love running hills because of it. How many people do you know that can say that?

I made my goal of finishing withing 2 hours. I didn't exactly break any records, but I finished strong, and I felt good. And you really can't beat that in a race.

Until next year, trail run.

And as promised, 80's awesomeness videos. One word for you: synthesizer. Enjoy.

A Flock of Seagulls- I Ran (So Far Away)

Matthew Wilder- Break My Stride