Time flies...

Has it really been almost 2 months...crazy what a newborn, renting a home, buying a new home, packing, unpacking and DIYing a new house will do to your free time. Whew.

We did move. We're loving it. We're about a 10 minute drive from downtown Asheville and while it's been weird to not be able to walk to a coffee shop or live in a city center, we're loving the amenities the woods offer.

Here are some recent pics of life:
Its astonishing how 1 project can make someone else's house, feel like my home.
Next up, the front door. Ugh, black. How inviting, right? 
Elsa, almost 3 months old already.
Halloween 2010
Hiking from the backyard is a beautiful thing.
Seriously, where did he get those eyes?

So, we're doing well. Just ridiculously busy with house projects, unpacking and returning to work. We're trying to slow down a bit now that we live in the "country." It doesn't seem to be working so well, when all I want to do is work more so we can save for that next project! We'll keep you posted on before and afters as they happen and the return to paying off debt...no, we haven't forgotten about Dave Ramsey! But, it sure is nice to have some space!


Life as usual...

What we've been up to...
The Mountain State Fair with family...if only they had rat race (shout out to AK fair)

Growing & smirking...
The nature center with friends...
cooking compost scraps...
spackling holes with elsa in tow.
we've rented our house & move to our new pad October 9th. We're beyond excited.


We LAAFFed together

The Annual LAAFF fest proved to be fun as always this past weekend. The weather was gorgeous and we all had a great time watching the bike jousters and the balloon bender.

Kedzie's balloon Elmo.

PS: Did we mention we're buying a house and closing October 1st? We can will pack all of our belongings and rent our current house in (less than) a month!


Apple Picking 2010

So, I know what you're thinking. "Apple picking? It's barely September and the weather hasn't been below 80 in months." Sure, it's not ideal weather, and there was no hot apple cider and homemade donuts while sitting in the barn cozied up around the wood stove, but the apples are still really tasty. Even tastier when you take your children and nieces and make a family outing of it.

Truth is, we haven't got time any other weekend. We're under contract on a house. Yes, we took the plunge, and for a mere $300 more mortgage per month we're getting 3 1/2 times the house. We're psyched, but there's so much to do Sam and I giggle (we don't want to panic) anytime we think about it. How in the world is all of this going to get done? (We're keeping our current house and turning it into a rental...lots of little projects to finish up...Sam's already started). Thankfully, we have lovely friends and family who have already offered to do whatever it takes...like taking our kids for an hour so that we can pack without interruptions, or bringing us food, or making sure we get all our stuff from this house to the new house. All this to say, it was either pick apples now or perhaps, don't pick apples this season. If you know me, the latter was not an option. (Although I did give up making applesauce this season, as Sam kindly pointed out...something's gotta give).

The house is in a neighborhood called Bent Creek about 10 minutes from West Asheville. While we're sad about leaving our little community, we're excited about the opportunity of a new one. We have great friends who just moved there and we're excited about being next to them again.

Without further ado, here are some adorable pictures of our family...my heart swells when we all do things together. What lovely times.

It was a good weekend.


3 plus 1

Six days into his life:

Six days into her life:

Elsa Dorothy was born just short of August 12. While there may be a resemblance  to her older brother as a newborn (excepting her olive skin and absence of the trademark Rule 7-head) her arrival was all together different. Planning on a multi-day marathon session similar to Kedzie's labor, Nicole skillfully managed a Wednesday of on-again/off-again contractions, resting, eating, preparing. The storm mounted through the evening, until it took a dramatic turn after she felt a pop deep down inside. Looking back, I wish my response had been something, anything other than: "Are you sure you didn't just pee?" With intense contractions lining up on top of each other, we somehow coordinated our late-night babysitter for Kedzie, our midwives on call, and the 3-mile drive to the hospital. "Love," she told me through gritted teeth, "the bumps are really, really awful." 

After wrangling a wheelchair at the emergency room and cajoling a hospital employee to help Nicole get to Labor and Delivery, I raced to park the car and make it up to the fourth floor. Armed with her ancient wisdom and sensitive intuition, Kirstin, our sister-in-law and midwife, had made it to the hospital in time to prepare a room and the nursing staff. Six minutes after arriving on the ward, with one intense push, Nicole delivered Elsa into the arms of her aunt. I am still speechless. 

The past 10 days have been similarly intense. It is, as they say, different with two. Gone are the hours of sitting beside my bride staring into the eyes of a newborn as she nurses.  Instead, we are tag-team wrestlers bouncing between a toddler and his new partner. More than time management, though, we are learning how to love our children fully and freely. It is not a question of having enough love, it is only a process of learning how to express it. It is a good lesson to be learning.

Things will change, I'm sure, when I return to work at the end of the month. But, for now, and I'm trying really, really hard to live right now, these are the greatest days of my life. I am grateful.



Lots of words.

As we unloaded the cache from our weekly trip the market, the grocery and the still surprising secondary market wunderkid, I commented that Saturdays are when we hit the reset button around here. By the weekend, our small fridge is little more than a cooler for ketchup, a shriveled carrot or two, some yogurt starter and some leftover steak from the tacos on Thursday. The bathroom is long past time for a scrub. The dog hair is ready to sweep up and spin. On special reset days, like this one, as the rain falls and breaks the heat of a difficult summer weather pattern, Nicole and Kedzie are both able to embrace meaningful naps (Kedzie, at the time of this writing, is approaching 3 hours and 10 minutes), and I can rest in a quiet moment that is so hard to find during the week.

It seemed like a good day to hit the reset button on this little journal as well.

When we embarked on this blog, our hope was to take this trip with you beside us. I don't know how many of you there are, it doesn't matter really. The point was to expose our hopes and failures and commitments and joys and fears, to be accountable and buttressed by the publicity of this very public place. Then, life happens.

But, finally after 33 years, I'm beginning to understand that life is for living not for reacting to. This little blog is a mini-representation of how I chose to live my life - intentionally pursuing community, remaining vulnerable and honest and open. I must, I am painfully aware, make that choice every day. So, be it.

Now, let me catch you up on a few things:

1. Nicole is just about ready to pop. She's struggled through one of the hottest summer's on record, limped after an energetic toddler and held together a home with grace and beauty. It's safe to say, 38 weeks into this pregnancy, it's been a challenging second-go. She's amazing. We'll keep you posted on the results. If anyone has tips on how to help a sensitive, mama-centric 20-month-old adjust to a whole new life, we're all ears.

2. Interest rates are low. Really, really low. When we jumped into this journey, we settled into the notion of settling into this tiny house for the long haul. There was, I will admit, a bit of self-congratulatory arrogance when I explained to family and friends that our 780 square feet was more than enough - look at families the world over...we're living in luxury. Our mortgage is such that we can be a family free of anxiety while still working toward our goal of being a family free of debt. Interest rates, though, are really, really low.  The thought of finding a home that could be ours for decades rather than years, one that could let our friends sit on something other than the bed in our living room, is a nice thought. As the real estate market is prone to do, we're nervous that in 10 years, when we're debt free "things" will have "recovered" and we'll be priced out. But, if we find a house now, our debt bombs will be much, much less and our debt load much, much more. We spend a lot of time at night looking at each other saying "arrrrrgggghhh."

So, friends, walk beside us. What do you think? What would you, a piece of our sacred community, have us do? Let's hit this reset button together.


Strawberry Season!

So, last week was strawberry week at the Rule household. Kedzie and I went to the farmer's market and picked up 2 gallons of strawberries from a "local" farm in nearby South Carolina. The town is really only an hour drive, so I consider that local. (Compared with the usual Florida or California berries found in our supermarkets). I knew I wanted to freeze some and also make some jam.
These buckets started out heaping...Kedzie and I had already gotten into them a bit.
Self-portrait of me and baby 2 canning in my grandmother's old apron. I am always very nostalgic for her whenever I put food up.
Pre-wash of strawberries in Fit fruit wash. Since we can't afford a large amount of organic strawberries, this is my attempt at cleaning as much residue off these bad boys as possible!
Here's the after picture of our booty. A gallon of frozen strawberries, 6-7 pints of strawberry freezer jam and a small bowl of cut up strawberries (for Kedzie and) for strawberry shortcake that was to be devoured that night. To freeze the strawberries so that they could be taken out of the freezer one berry at a time, they were washed and dried and then placed in the freezer on these cookie sheets. Once frozen solid, we put the strawberries in old yogurt containers we've been saving through the winter. So far, so good. As for the freezer jam, I simply followed the recipe found on the insert of Sure-jell low sugar recipes. The pink box is the one that we prefer as it's a low sugar recipe that still jells nicely. Easy peasy and so delicious. Everyone who tries it, raves about how fresh the jam tastes. It's true, it beats cooked jam in my book.

To make the shortcake we usually follow this recipe (we omit sugaring the strawberries as we like it a bit more fresh) but we had some leftover scones that we crumpled up, put sliced strawberries on top and then whipped up some cream. So fresh, simple and scrumptious. 
Sam's parents have a huge mulberry bush in their backyard that is currently overflowing with fruit. I'm thinking Kedzie and I might head out there this afternoon and do some picking and eating and, perhaps, some jam making.

Oh, and this morning we worked on this homemade money saver. I'm about to use it for the first time on some cloth diapers. I'll let you know how it goes. We used Dr. Bronner's baby Castille soap so it would be unscented. I love scent in my laundry but little Kedzie's skin is very sensitive. We thought we'd keep it simple! Oh, and the washing soda (found in the recipe) can now be found at Ace Hardware on Merrimon Avenue, the lovely lady said she'd had two people special order it (including us) and will now be carrying it on the shelves! All you Asheville people who want to make your own laundry detergent, now's your chance!



this week in a moment

[a friday ritual: the week captured in a single moment to pause and remember always. something that made us smile, reflect, love more fully]...inspired by soulemama.


this week in a moment

[a friday ritual: the week captured in a single moment to pause and remember always. something that made us smile, reflect, love more fully]...inspired by soulemama.
p.s. if you don't have this app, you might want to think about investing.


The Perks of Pregnancy

Today was my test for gestational diabetes. At New Dawn, pregnant women get a choice. Option 1: fast for 12 hours, come in and drink a super sweet orange drink and then get your blood drawn an hour later. Option 2: fast 12 hours, get blood drawn, go out to eat wherever you want and indulge in as sweet a breakfast as you want, come back in 2 hours later and again get your blood drawn. Needless to say, both pregnancies I've went with option 2.

This year Sam took the morning off work and finally got to go to one of the prenatal visits with us. After 20 or so minutes of drawing blood (I'm a difficult stick), we headed downtown to Tupelo Honey. Most people have heard of this restaurant, even if they don't live here. Tourists don't leave Asheville without eating here. Usually, Sam and I opt for something else as the line is around the block most days and hours. Today, we walked right in a got a table. Good start for a fasting pregnant woman.
It was delicious. I gorged on the homemade black raspberry jam and biscuits along with a large glass of OJ (I threw in some protein here and there). I think the happiest out of our bunch was Kedzie who ate an entire biscuit (loaded with jam) and then got the kids order of sweet potato pancakes (once again loaded with jam). He was a sticky mess.

We had to wait a couple hours before I could get my blood drawn, so we walked around town a bit. Lovely day with my lovies.

hope your day is lovely.