How to be of help to a Firefighter Family

Asking for help is really hard for me. Even accepting help is not easy. I don’t know why us wives and moms think we can do it all. We may appear to be holding down the fort while our spouses are on shift, but I think most of us are just making do with the situation.  Truthfully, we are quite stressed and burning the candle at both ends.

I will be the first to admit I wont ask for help. And if you say “call me if you need help” I probably won’t. But in the past week I’ve started saying “yes please, I need help.” And boy does one small act of kindness really make a difference. One friend offered to watch my daughter while I went to Costco. She loves grocery shopping, but she’s 40 lbs more in my cart so I accepted the offer.  My fire wife friend up the road met me as I pulled in my driveway from Costco (by the way Costco is 45 minutes away) and unloaded everything up the stairs to my house and noticed I had tossed two bags of chicken feed by the driveway and took them to my chicken coop for me. At 32 weeks pregnant these tasks would have landed me with horrible Braxton hicks and exhaustion.

I was reminded that “accepting gifts of time or talent is actually a blessing for the person offering.” A women commented on my blog post asking what would be the most useful way to help the family of a firefighter. Not knowing how to answer this, I turned to one of my favorite Facebook support groups specifically for CalFire wives & girlfriends.

When wives began answering the questions there seemed to be some reoccurring themes. Below is a list of ways you could bless a fire wife and their family while their other half is on shift.

  • Mow the lawn. Just say “what day works best?” Or better yet do it before they even get home from work. I love mowing. But many of us have small children that need to be watched. Just about every wife said this *Hint Hint!
  • Provide a meal. Cooking for small humans or for one is not easy or fun. Even before kids, when my husband was on shift, often dinner was a smoothie or cereal. Unfortunately, our family dinners don’t happen as often with dad gone. I usually just eat what they don’t and try to hurry and clean up the kitchen while they are occupied with food.
  • Be a listening ear and provide adult conversation. We don’t always get enough time on the short & infrequent phone calls with our husbands to speak our mind, help us with struggles or everyday life.  Talking to my children is lovely and I am so thankful to stay home with them, BUT days go by and I have had zero adult interaction!
  • Offer to watch the kids for an hour so we can do something like laundry, mow, or run a quick errand. Buckling kids in & out a 5-point harness and packing food just to go to the store for diapers and bananas is quite the ordeal. Or better yet, call or text “I’m heading to the store is there anything you need?” When my husband is home, usually I can run to the store real quick alone for something I forgot on the previous trip. Many of us have been without our other half for weeks or a month.
  • Handyman work! Without fail the moment our husbands leave the driveway something breaks. Help fix a sprinkler, dryer, gate latch, hang a shelf, change a light bulb, move something heavy, etc. We are all fully capable strong women, but lets face it my 5’5″ petite build will NEVER be able to do the things my 6’4″ husband does effortlessly. (My ceiling light went out literally 10 min after my husband left for shift July 11th.  Today is August 12th. The cover has bugs in it. I need a small ladder that is out in the barn. I’m sure the ladder is filthy & my kids will try to climb it. I’ll make do without a light!)
  • Drag our trashcans down our long driveway. Maybe even crush all our Amazon boxes! I still don’t know how my husband fits so many boxes into a can.
  • Check in on us. We often feel forgotten. Maybe even show up with a coffee and hug.
  • This morning, August 12th, my husband got off shift!! 32 Days away. He will be home later this afternoon. We get to keep him for 3 whole days before he heads back to his station.

Be Wild. Live Naturally. Love Genuinely,
The Homeacre

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2018 A late-summer update from a CALFIRE wife

 

IMG_2368Wow, where did this year go? It’s August? Most of you know me from reading my blog post at the beginning of the year titled “2017 A year in the life of a CalFire wife.”  If you havent read it please read it first and come back!

I have such a great update, our year is going so wonderful. I know a lot of you fire families had the same year we had last year, and the year before as we did and have been up against another long year. I won’t refer to it as a “Fire Season” anymore because that has changed. My husband is in is 14th year as a firefighter and I have been by his side for 8 of those years. It takes a long time for them to put in vacation requests. You can’t always do it as a seasonal for the following year and then when they finally get a promotion, attend a lengthy academy 10 hours away that they are notified about 72 hours in advance, your vacations aren’t always easily planned. They accrue an incredible amount of paid days off, just don’t always have the opportunity to use them.

After the longest year in 2017, my husband was finally in a position to request some good chunks of vacation days. My husband works a 72 hour shift (If there are no fires, no short staff, no staffing pattern, no shift trades, and the stars are aligned!!) when he requests one shift off, he can also get the 4 days on either side off which makes for 11 days off. This is a great amount of time and allows him to rest when he gets home, help pack for a trip and then also decompress and get some things done at home after vacation.

My husband has worked some decent stretches of a few weeks at a time, but guess what? They haven’t been too unbearable. You know why? Because he has all these approved vacation times which is my “light at the end of the tunnel.” I know that on a specific day he will be home, and not just for 18 hours, a guaranteed 11 days. You know what effect this has on the health of our relationship and family? I can’t even explain it. I just know that in previous years the never-ending stretches of 56 days apart followed by 96 hours off have been almost detrimental to our relationship. He would come home and it was like heaven for a few hours then strictly business having him help me get work done at the home before leaving again and not knowing when he was coming home.

In my post “2017 A year in the life of a CalFire wife,” I wrote “we hope 2018 allows us to be a family in person, to grow and strengthen our relationships with each other that have weakened and to enjoy the everyday ups and downs TOGETHER. (Maybe even a date with my husband? We haven’t been alone without a child since March 2016).” I am happy to say that its August and in the past 7 months our family has spent an incredible amount of QUALITY time together. We did a Disneyland trip in May and IMG_9858.jpgsaw a lot of other awesome Fire Families there. We went on a week-long tent camping trip to McCall, ID. We spent many days at our lovely one acre farm; fixing fences (kids and I watched), planting a garden, building a playground from scratch (ok we watched that part too), catching chickens & ducks, cleaning the coops, doctoring pets, disciplining children, cooking, cleaning, organizing, doing bath time, bedtime, yelling & laughing, parenting and being a husband & wife in person. Just like we hoped and prayed. And guess what? We finally had our first date alone without kids for the first time in over TWO years! It was actually a 30 hour date away to Tamarack Resort.

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Would I say this year has been easy? Absolutely not. We still face all the ups and downs that goes with marriage, raising kids, owning a home, and everyday struggles. The important thing is we have been able to handle these things without the added stresses of being a long distance family the entire year. My husband has been able to watch the kids grow and learn in real-time not text messaged videos.

I know so many fire wives got a quick visit home around Christmas from their husbands before they got sent to academy and then off on strike teams for another never-ending year of uncertainty. (It’s truly amazing how there are so many of us pregnant right now!)I am nowhere near a “seasoned fire wife” but I would like to offer this advice. Use the vacation time. Request a bunch of it. Spread it out through the year and don’t feel selfish or unworthy of it.  Your children are only little for a short window of time and no amount of overtime money will ever compare to the times spent as a family. There will always been over-time now that fire season is all year.  And while there will be days, weeks, months that your firefighter is held on shift without an option of getting off, having had the family vacations throughout the year has allowed us to make so many memories.  And if you don’t have children or you are empty nesters, use the vacation the time to build and maintain a healthy relationship with each other.

I know a lot of families just keep on with the old ways of the fire-life and don’t use their vacation time.  They save it until right before retirement or they try to work as many days of over-time during summer to ensure they have the savings to make it through winter. But remember what I wrote above? It’s now a FIRE YEAR, there is now always an opportunity for overtime most of the year.  Request the time off.  Build and maintain your relationships at home. Make time to enjoy your hobbies.  Steven and I were chatting on our drive to our childless date, and we both said we don’t want to be the fire couple that come retirement has a business relationship and doesn’t know how to be husband and wife because the time and effort was never intentionally made to keep the fire burning.

When my Husband left on July 11th, I had an overwhelming sense of loneliness. He leaves the evening before his shift and I always put on TV for the kids and I go in the kitchen to prepare dinner.  I can’t describe the feeling so well, but it is an aching heart along with a pit in my gut. Thoughts of Can I do this on my own? Can I keep these children, this garden, these pets, and my very pregnant-self healthy? Can I survive the challenges that always seem to arise when my husband is on shift? The feeling usually lasts a day or so until I establish a routine of my own.  I tend to use an abundance of essential oils (and chocolate) to help with these emotions. The kids really miss him and it is hard for them to express their emotions about dad being away. The other night my 4-year-old daughter cried herself to sleep after telling me “I think daddy might not ever come home.” My heart broke and I was all choked up consoling her as I had just been reading the tragic news of the fires.

img_3134 img_3131It is now, August 6th and my husband is still on shift. The soonest he could be home will be August 12th for a few nights. My children and I miss him to the point of feeling sick, but we go about our summer days finding fun things to do and explore.  Sadly, in the first 3 weeks he has been on shift, we lost three brave firefighters in the line of duty on the fires in California. Words cannot express how tragic this is. We only were able to discuss it through texting until this weekend.  We were talking about how wonderful the ceremony for Braden Varney was and that is when he broke down. We still haven’t had an in-depth conversation about it due to time. He never had a chance to meet him, but our families are the same age and I think thoughts of “that could be my wife up there speaking and my children left without a father” really uprooted emotions that often get buried in this line of work.  Recently, he was on a fire and I would get a “Good Morning I Love you” text really early and then not hear from him until super late that night or the next morning. As a fire wife, you start searching through all the Fire incident reports and forums looking for their Engine, helicopter or dozer number to see where they have been called to or what the fire situation is. Then you just continue to pray for their safety. When my cell phone made a tone for his text, I felt instant relief. He is okay. I didn’t even care that his text said “Don’t know if I’m gonna make it home tomorrow.”

I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant and have only 56 days left until my due date. Not only have the children done lots of growing since he left, but so has my belly. Between now and my due date of September 29, my husband has for sure one hunt but maybe two Archery Elk hunts if he draws a tag. We NEED the meat in the freezer so it is necessary that he goes. Our Elk supply is extremely low and we can see the bottom of the deep freezer. He does have a new satellite phone that I will be able to contact him on incase this baby comes before 40 weeks.  Our last child was born at home on his due date 4 hours after my first contraction! img_3146We continue to pray he will fill the freezer and be home for the birth of our third child whom we don’t know if it is a boy or girl!  Being a firefighter wife & a hunters wife is quite the adventure, but I am grateful to be married to a hero and a man who provides a freezer full of meat.  He is taking six full weeks off, just as he did with the first two children, to be home with me & love on our sweet children.

Stay in touch! Subscribe to my Blog with your e-mail.  You can follow me on my Instagram TheHomeacre to keep up to date on what is happening around our one-acre farm.  I have been trying to tend to the garden & begin preserving things.  I’m still learning a lot about homemaking and would love any tips or tricks you could share with me.  If I can figure out a way to squeeze more time into my evenings, I would share some recipes with you on my blog! For now, please enjoy the lovely photos I share on IG.

Be Wild. Live Naturally. Love Genuinely,
The Homeacre

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WILDFIRE STRONG Subscription Box Review

subscription box review

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I was very exited when some fellow fire wives were talking about this new subscription box marketed to fire wives and girlfriends. After chatting with the owner, Ren Samuelson, I was very excited to receive one of the first boxes her company mailed out.

Wildfire Strong is a fire wife owned and operated company. Ren is a mother to three young children.  Prior to starting her business, Ren was a Wildland firefighter, Fire & Medical Dispatcher and a Forestry Logistics Officer.  She started Wildfire Strong so that Wildland Firefighter Wives would have something specifically for them; it’s a lifestyle that is impossible to understand unless you live it. With all we go through while our husbands are gone, this subscription box is designed to be something to look forward to each month that acknowledges that we are Important, Brave, and Strong.

Gifts included in the subscription box are from other Fire Wife small businesses.  This allows subscribers to discover some great products while also supporting other fire families. Each month they feature new fire wife business(s). Ren included a great page highlighting the featured fire wives along with their business information.

What is a subscription box and how does it work?

1. Reserve your box. Just fill out your information. (Questions also include whether you are a fire wife/girlfriend/other)

2. Delivery. Your box will be shipped on the 15th of each month.

3. Discover & Enjoy. Discover Fire Wife businesses and enjoy other goodies.

I have never had a subscription box and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the package.  My 4 year old daughter was very excited to see what she got!  It killed her that I didn’t rip it open and dump out the contents, but instead, slowly pulled things out and took photos. Included was a description of each item.

Below is a photo of each item. Under the photo I will include some of the descriptions Ren included in “italics” and my personal Pros & Cons.

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Spaced Out Eye Mask: Sometimes blocking out the worry and stress of the day can be difficult. Use this fun sleep mask to at least block out the light and attempt to get some Zzzzzz’s.

I wasn’t sure if this would be useful for at this stage in my life because I’m either watching a baby monitor or napping by accident! But this morning my 4 year old woke up before the sun so I took the opportunity to include her and I in my 1 year olds afternoon nap! It was nice to have the eye mask to help me shut off my brain and out the light.

Pros:

  • It is adjustable and the material was cool on my face.
  • It helped me tune out the revolving to do list in my head.
  • My kids like it and aren’t afraid of it!!

Cons:

  • I was thrown off by the galaxy theme

 

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Vogue Water Bottle:  It’s Hot ladies! Stay on top of hydration with this flashy and fun water bottle.  Double walled and vacuum insulated keeps drinks cold 24 hours.

We try to only use stainless steel and glass drinkware at our home. We have a lot of HydroFlask containers with different lids. I prefer straw lids or sport lids that can be used with one hand since my other is often driving or holding a child. However, I don’t trust them not to leak everywhere when my kids get ahold of them or when in my purse/diaper bag.  I always take a 32oz bottle of water when I leave the house but find it too heavy to take in stores in my already heavy bag. I bought a 20oz hydro flask with sport lid to be lighter to carry in a bag, but it leaks when upside down. This week I took this new 17oz Vogue Water Bottle in my diaper bag/purse since it is leak-proof. And left my 32 oz in the car. It didn’t leak in my purse!!!

Pros:

  • Stainless steel
  • Leak-proof. It’s s been in my bag for 7 days no leaks.
  • Fits in my purse (and matches the inside of my Lily Jade!)
  • My small kids can’t open it

Cons:

  • Only 17 ounces which is just a few sips for this pregnant momma in the summer
  • You have to use two hands to open/close the lid.

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img_25682.jpgimg_2569.jpgTiny Love Cards: These Tiny Love Cards are the perfect size to stash in his pocket, wallet, toiletry kit, or randomly in his Out of County Bag.  The uncoated back is perfect to write or draw on and make them as unique as you and your relationship.

Pros:

  • Cute & Clever! Occasionally I use a post-it or a torn piece of paper, that might be soggy by the time he gets to it!
  • Useful for a fire wife or fire girlfriend

Cons:

  • There is no information where to purchase more or where the best place to order from if I want more

img_2572FEATURED FIRE WIFE: Patti Massingale

Wild Land Love Decal: Show your pride in being a Wildland Firefighter wife or girlfriend with this Wild Land Love Decal from Rocky Pines Designs.  These high quality decals are great for cars, windows, laptops, water bottles and so much more.

Pros:

  • Cool design to show- off your love and support of your firefighter
  • High Quality outdoor weather Decal

Cons:

  • None (I have not used it yet, still trying to decide where to put it!)

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Magnets: Use these magnets to brighten up your day and show you support the Thin Red Line

Pros:

  • It’s a fire related gift with the Thin Red Line
  • Cute & useful for anyone

Cons:

  • There is no information where to purchase more or where the best place to order from if I want more.

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Facial Mask: Squeeze in 20 minutes of self care and kick back and relax with this Pacifica facial mask.

I have several awesome face mask options in my bathroom, but I can never find the time or motivation to use them. This was appealing because it didn’t require any mixing or washing my face afterwards. I am thankful I used it after my two small children went to bed because they would have both been terrified of the white cloth stuck to my face with eye/nose/mouth! My skin felt hydrated afterwards.

Pros:

  • It was very simple to use. It doesn’t even require washing your face afterwards.
  • 100% Vegan. Cruelty-Free

Cons:

  • It was really big and felt like I was wearing a baby wipe with holes cut out!
  • There is no information where to purchase more or where the best place to order from if I want more.

img_2574FEATURED FIRE WIFE: Allison Starr

Starr Co. Candles: This lovely candle by Starr Co. Candles is made of 100% soy wax and essential oils.  Light one and kick back as it fills  your house with a gorgeous scent.

I will admit, I haven’t used a candle in over 3 years. I purged all products with synthetic fragrances listed as an ingredient. Instead, we use Essential Oils and diffusers in our home. I went to the company’s website to see the ingredients used and they use Essential Oils so I felt comfortable lighting the candle. My kids are intrigued! I have lit it a few times at our dining table while kids color. I’d love to buy this in another scent.

Pros:

  • Clean ingredients
  • Super cute mason jar matches my home
  • Handmade by a fire family
  • Not overwhelming fragrant
  • Company donates 10% to Veteran Non-Profits

Cons:

  • The ingredients aren’t listed on the product
  • I’m honestly not a fan of the smell of lavender! (However, I still use Lavender EO regularly for my kids and I will still light the candle)

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Wildfire Strong Subscription Box: Overall, I think the subscription box was excellent.  It was just as described and really gave me something to look forward to while my husband has been away.  This shouldn’t just be a gift you buy for yourself, this would be a wonderful surprise and very thoughtful gift to send anyone in a relationship with a firefighter. Even if you just sent a one-time gift to them, I could only imagine how loved it would make them feel.  Most of us are really missing our husbands or boyfriends while they are away for days/weeks/months and we are often burning both ends of the candle while running the household, raising children, and trying to maintain a healthy relationship with minimal communication.  If you know someone whos significant other is away at Academy, training or just stuck on shift, you could really cheer them up with this Wildfire Strong Subscription Box.

Pros:

  • The box had a great variety of products to appeal to many different tastes
  • The packaging and presentation were excellent
  • Great information included on the fire-wife owned companies along with their business cards
  • Receiving a box exclusively for a fire wife was extra special and made me feel connected to other wives
  • It was obvious a lot of time was spent putting these packages together
  • You won’t feel guilty purchasing a subscription because you know you are supporting other fire families

Cons:

  • The website said each month would feature a theme for additional boxed products. I feel like the theme was maybe Relaxing, but it wasn’t written anywhere that I could find.
  • Two 2 of the 7 items were from a firefighter owned company

Please visit Wildfire Strong to see if this subscription is right for you or someone you know. Please like Wildfire Strong on Facebook and Follow Wildfire Strong on Instagram

 

Disclaimer: Wildfire Strong provided me with a complementary subscription box so I could write a review. All opinions and statements are my own.

 

Be Wild. Live Naturally. Love Genuinely,

The Homeacre

Camping with kids

 

camping18-31We just got back from a 4 night camping trip in Ponderosa State Park McCall Idaho. Have you been to this park? It is so beautiful and has the best trails for hiking with small children. We hiked here last year with 2 dogs and 2 kids and had to go back. The park is a Peninsula on a lake. There are so many great trails and animals to see.  We saw lots of deer and fox. I would love to see a moose one day!

Both my husband and I grew up camping and sleeping in a tent. I’ve never actually slept inside a camp trailer, but I would imagine it would be a much different camping experience. Being in a tent and hearing Raccoons viciously fight over food 100 ft away, the trees squeaking above you in the wind or an animal brush the side of your tent in the middle of the night is quite exhilarating. My husband never seems to hear it and I’m always kicking him “Do you hear THAT?” From my observations camping with our kids, there didn’t seem to be too many other families with small children in tents. Everyone had some sort of trailer, pop-up trailer or much older children in tents. Did you or do you camp in a tent with your small children? I would love to know.camping18-11.jpg

The first night in the tent our daughter said “you know what the best part of camping is? Sleeping in a tent!” That made me feel good. I do think a trailer would be convenient and nice to have, but that is a different experience than I would like our kids to have. I love not having the modern conveniences of a sink or microwave. (I may feel differently after baby three, but would still rather build a garage than have an RV!) At night we would warm up a pot camping18-25.jpgof soapy water over the fire or stove and wash them up. They both had a look of pure relaxation when I wrapped their smelly camp feet in a steamy hot wash cloth while they sat on the edge of their sleeping bags.

While I wouldn’t say how awesome it was to sleep on the ground 6 months pregnant with just ONE pillow, no bathroom and a low of 30*, I will say we made some fantastic memories and I am proud of myself and kids.

I admit that tent camping with my husband might be much more luxurious than you may think! See, he is a firefighter of 14 years & a hunter since like birth which makes him practically a wilderness professional! He is incredibly efficient and routine with his set up. He is one or two steps ahead of me on everything. The fire never dies, food is always hot and ready before the kids get grouchy, he does almost all the dishes & every morning & night he critter proofs our site. I kept the tent tidy and swept and made sure kids were covered at night.

The afternoon before we left, he smoked 2 racks of ribs, made delicious elk chili in the Instant pot, chopped a watermelon and gathered 90% of our camp gear. We always eat well and for the most part healthy on our camping trips with some added treats. I premade a broccoli salad and Hawaiian chicken kabobs. We packed a bunch of fruit, camping18-16jerky, nut bars, fresh eggs, coconut water & yerba mate teas. Before kids, we would just pack ingredients and enjoy an evening cooking in the Dutch oven, but now we pre-make all of our dinners! My husband is the better cook, so I let him do that and I am the better baker, for now! All the photos of the delicious food is on my husbands phone and he is currently battling the Lane Fire in CA with minimal contact.

Last summer we invested in a nicer tent and received my Father-in-Laws old rusty tent stove that keeps us warm. Actually, it pretty much roasts us like a marshmallow. Before bed my husband will set up the stove so all that needs to be done is to light it. As soon as I think the kids and I are too cold to sleep (usually about 3-4 am) I wake my husband to start the fire. Within 5 minutes the tent goes from 30*-110* and we are all sprawled out on-top of our sleeping bags trying to unzip the door for a breath of fresh air.
camping18-29The downside to the stove is there is a whole in the floor and roof of the tent which is inviting to bugs. The awesome part is that we get coffee in bed! We set up our coffee percolator so all we have to do is put it on the stove. (Ok, maybe he does that too!) We keep a small plastic bin with a jar of cream & sugar, tea bags, coffee cups, and a spoon in the tent. This year we also brought some instant oatmeal cups, bib, spoon & pot with a bottle of water. Our 17 month old wakes up starving everyday so we were able to make him a healthy cup of oatmeal & drink our coffee and daughter an herbal tea before we get everyone dressed and out of the tent to make a real breakfast usually cooked in bacon grease. Mmm.

The kids each brought a few books, a stuffed animal, sand toys and some coloring supplies.  I’m not a huge fan of toys at home and when we go on vacations I only let them bring a couple which never seem to get touched.  As usual, they read socamping18-9.jpgme books and played with their sand buckets & shovels, but preferred to play with the natural elements in the campsite than anything else.  The beach was really pretty, quite windy, & the water was freezing. The kids could care less.  I volunteered myself to hold down the beach tent so it didn’t blow away and watched my husband get in the freezing water with the kids.  I really am a hands-on mom & am usually the one that has to get in the freezing water or chase them around, but any opportunity I have to watch him do it, I gladly take it.

Everyone is always overly friendly at a campgrounds pair that with people in Idaho being awesome and you have the nicest people camping around you. There was a large group of girls that took up 5 sites and had a whole staff to cook & supervise them. We camping18-30-e1529901750685.jpghad fun watching them and we had to pass by them on my 1000 waddles to the bathrooms. They just loved our kids and gave them each a balloon on a stick. This occupied them for TWO days!! One family offered us their firewood, another their dinner, and my husband was approached by three older couples that had the kindest things to say about our family. My viewpoint was much different. I felt I was trying hard not to yell at the kids for throwing pinecones and dirt at each-others faces and running by the fire. Also, that I was spending too much time in my camp rocking chair playing mom-police while husband cooked & cleaned. Always nice to hear compliments about how you are raising your kids.

We went on a 3 mile hike on our second day. I was pretty proud of myself because I’m not as energized this pregnancy. I was also very impressed with our 3 year old daughter. She hiked the whole way with a hydration pack and had us carry it the very last part. The following morning we hiked another 2 miles. She was awesome. Our son literally passed out in the Kelty all 5 miles. This wasn’t really “hiking.” I’m sure it was painfully slow for my husband! If you have ever hiked with him or heard any fire or hunting stories of him and his fitness capabilities, then you know he was incredibly patient with us on our nature walks we like to call hikes!

On the morning we left, my husband took the kids on an hour walk while I packed up the inside of the tent. Then when he came back I kept the kids alive while he packed up the entire campsite. We had to be out by 11am, and as we were pulling out of the campgrounds all loaded up, I looked at the dash clock and it said 10:59! Our kids were passed out 4 minutes later.

Please enjoy these photos of our trip,

The Homeacre

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Elk Lettuce Wraps with Cilantro Cashew Sauce

Elk Lettuce Wraps

It was a rainy Fathers Day here which was awesome. All I had planned was to make something with Elk steaks. This is a Homeacre original recipe. I browsed Pinterest for some ideas and then went through our cupboards and while we were outside puddle stomping with kids, I went to see what was ready to pick in our garden. The Lettuce, Cilantro, Jalapeno, & Onion are from our garden.  The Elk compliments of my husband.  I winged it and was/am completely congested and couldn’t smell or taste it, but I was told it was delicious. For best results, use fresh organic ingredients!

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Elk Lettuce Wraps with Cilantro Cashew Sauce

  • Servings: 2ppl
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3 Small Elk Steaks, thinly sliced
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Green Onion, chopped (separate whites & greens)
  • 1 Head of Lettuce. Romaine or anything good for wrapping
  • 1 Large Carrot, grated
  • 1-2 Limes
  • A Handful of Cilantro (I would have done more but it was all that I had)
  • 1-2 Jalapeños, sliced
  • 3/4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Cup Raw Cashews soaked for 3+ hours & drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh water
  • 2 Cloves Pressed Garlic

Directions:

Heat olive oil on Medium in cast iron skillet. Add chopped onion white and stir until browned. Add chili powder & cumin. Stir. Add Elk steaks and cook until they start to brown, then flip. I cooked it medium. Remove steaks from pan and squeeze 1/2 a lime over it. set aside.

 

For the Sauce:

  • half of your Cilantro
  • 1 Jalapeño, sliced
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Cup soaked Raw Cashews, drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh water
  • 2 Cloves Pressed Garlic
  • 1/2 lime juice

Place all the above ingredients in a blender or food processor. I just used our single serve Ninja cup. Blend until smooth.

To Serve:

Place lettuce leaves on plate. Add Elk, carrots, top of green onion and remaining sliced jalapeños. Drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle other half of cilantro on top and garnish with lime slices. There will be lots of extra sauce for dipping!

Enjoy!

Elk Lettuce Wraps2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wool you be my Valentine? What I love about wool clothing

Wool you be my Valentine_Wool you be my valentine? What would you think if I told you I love to wear wool leggings, wools shirts, wool beanies and dress my children head to toe in wool? Would you think it was itchy? Would you wonder why? I was first introduced to wool by my good friend Nichole about four years ago when she sewed me some wool diaper covers and gave them to me at my baby shower. I put them over organic cotton prefolds and I only had to wash the wool covers maybe monthly? They never smelled. I just air dried them. Crazy!

Since then, we have collected invested in quite a bit of wool products.  It is one of those things that is a bit of money upfront, but then you don’t have to replace because it lasts so long.  Wool fibers are very durable and flexible, they can withstand being bent over 20,000 times without breaking. In comparison, cotton breaks after 3,000 bends and silk after 2,000 bends.  So when you see that $90 price tag on a Merino Wool shirt just realize how much longer it is going to last you compared to a $30 cotton one.  

More cool facts about wool:

  • Wool can absorb 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp or clammy.
  • Wool is naturally antibacterial and does not retain dirt or odors.
  • Wool is virtually odor resistant. It does so well at managing moisture, odor causing bacteria does not have the moist environment it needs to thrive.
  • Wool is a natural UV protectant.  It absorbs light and has no UV reflection.
  • Wool does not make any sound when it rubs together or on anything. Perfect for hunting and hiking. Unless you love the sound of your track pants when walking!
  • Wool is biodegradable when it is disposed of.  It will decompose in soil in a matter of years, slowly releasing valuable nutrients back into the earth.
  • Wool keeps you warm when the weather is cold and cool when the weather is hot.
  • Wool is static resistant because it absorbs moisture vapor, it does not to create static electricity.
  • Wool is naturally flame resistant.  It is self extinguishing.  Wool never melts so it can’t stick to the skin like many common synthetics.
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Wool Knit Overalls

We have a few different types of wool. Merino wool, knit wool and boiled wool.  Boiled wool has a high lanolin content making it nearly waterproof. It also protects against cold, is almost entirely windproof, and balances hot and cold temperatures. When wool is boiled, thousands of tiny air bubbles are trapped in by the material, forming an entirely natural barrier against hot and cold temperatures. The kids and I all have organic boiled wool beanies which are lined with organic cotton. I love how it looks too. Look how cute it is on my kids. My son wore this green boiled wool suit for 6 months. And has been wearing this red one now for 5 months. Yes, they were expensive, but neither of them have ever been washed. Not once. They don’t smell and they get worn at least 4x a week crawling outside.

One of my favorite things about the wool is how and breathable it is.  It is not bulky so we are able to dress the kids in a few 100% cotton layers underneath and then put wool on top and still have them safely snug in their car seats.

I wore my Smartwool base layers top for 4 days straight tent camping.  I slept in it and wore it hiking, fishing, and everything in between. It didn’t smell like campfire smoke, bacon or sweat and didn’t stretch out. Yes, I could have changed but why?

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My husband started converting his hunting layers to merino wool. He went on a week-long elk hunt and only packed 2 pairs of wool boxer briefs. When he told me that’s all he was packing for 8 days of hiking and camping in the woods, I gave him a look that said “you’re disgusting!” He came home 8 days later and when I asked how those two pairs held up he replied “wool underwear is the best, I didn’t even need the second pair!” None of his wool clothing smelled and I’m ashamed to admit that I unknowingly smelled his week old wool base layers and boxers on the floor when I was trying to figure out where a smell in our dark bedroom was coming from. It ended up being the bath towel from his first shower home. We had a good laugh over this!

My husband and I often discuss our dream home, which happens to be a small log cabin off-grid. I dream of wool pillows, a wool mattress, wool rugs, wool blankets.  Maybe we will even wear matching wool onesie base layers like they did on the prairie! And I’ll find time to spin our own wool and churn butter! Anyone else dream of living in a different time period? I do love my Electric kitchen Aid and my flush toilet. But, If you had to wash laundry by hand, chop wood, milk cows, churn butter, bucket water and make everything from scratch, you could eat so much BUTTER, bread, cake, bacon and still be in great shape!

What are some of your favorite wool products? I’d love to know.  I have a wool insulated lunch box on my wish list.

Wool products we love:

For babies & kids:

Disana Boiled Wool Romper

Boiled wool Beanie

Wool Overalls

Wool diaper cover 1

Wool Diaper Cover 2

Wool Diaper Cover 3

Wool bonnet

Smartwool socks

For Me:

Wool Nursing Pads

Smartwool baselayer

Smartwool Baselayer top

Helly Hansen Leggings

Outdoor Research Boiled Wool Beanie

For Him:

First light Merino Wool Tee

Kryptek long sleeve

Kryptek Boxer

Kryptek baselayer bottom

Merino Wool Socks

Preparing for Winter & Homeacre Elderberry Syrup

Preparing for WinterFall 2017

Fall weather came so quickly and I know winter wonderland is just around the corner.  This will be our second winter in Idaho and we intend to be more prepared than we were last year.  Apparently, it was the worst winter anyone had ever seen around here! After the first snow, we expected it to melt away, but instead we accumulated more and more and it eventually turned into solid ice.  We had tools, hoses, toys, sprinklers, and all sorts of yard stuff stuck under ice and snow for months on end; which was not visible when we had the snow plowed. Last year most my brain went to planning the home birth of our son and little thought went into preparing for the North Pole! He was born right at the beginning of the snowpocalypse.

My husband was gone 24 days in October working endless hours fighting fires in Napa, CA and the first 6 days in November (It is only November 9th as I type this) he was on an Elk hunting trip with is dad and brother.  I feel like when he left for shift in early October the leaves had just started turn and when he arrived home from hunting they were gone and I was starting to panic about the amount of work that needed to be done to prepare for another winter.  We don’t have a garage so everything has to go in a small shed (that needs a cleaning) or on/under the porch.

This is all new to me as where I grew up in CA we mainly got tons of rain and a rare snow day.  Some of the things to prepare for winter here include: running a power cord to chickens with heated water, flagging sprinklers, putting all the outdoor kids toys away, fixing the broken steps on porch, put a survival kit in the cars that include extra diapers, food, blankets, water, and anything needed if we get stuck in freezing temps with small kids, heated dog & cat waters, raking and burning a ton of leaves, and aquiring more winter apparel for the kids.  I often feel overwhelmed by the tasks because doing this alone with two small kids on top of our daily stuff is challenging, but then my husband comes home and knocks out a big ‘honey-do’ list in an afternoon and I feel so much better!

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One amazing thing we can check off our list is filling the deep freeze. My husband, his dad and brother ALL got an elk beginning of this week, such a blessing. This was the first year he didn’t pay for out-of-state tags which saved us a ton of money. My husband and his Captain went backpacking on an archery hunt in August and his Captain shared a generous portion of his elk with us. We are set!  You know what else that mean? BONES!! You can find my Homeacre bone broth recipe here

Last night, my husband made fried elk heart. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous to taste it because I’ve never eaten elk hunt2heart before, but it was delicious and I had seconds. You can read what The Wellness Mama has to say about organ meats Here. The heart was the size of a football! Have you eaten organ meat before? I would love to hear your expierence.

 


Elderberry Syruphomeacre elderberry syrup

Taking elderberry syrup is a great way to stay healthy this fall and avoid catching a cold/flu. As I mentioned in my previous post about boosting my immune system, if you aren’t interested in making it, find out if someone local makes it before you buy it from the store.  If you live in the Treasure Valley, message me to see if I have any available for purchase. There are only 3 ingredients required to make a Basic Elderberry Syrup, but I like to add a handful of other beneficial and delicious herbs to mine! I purchase all my ingredients at the local Co-op or from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Elderberries
“Elderberry Sambucus nigra is one of the most effective plants for boosting immunity and shortening the duration of colds and flu” (Gibson, 58).  “Elderberries contain fruit acids, vitamin B1 and C and folic acid, as well as essential oils. Elder also promotes expectoration, which makes it a good treatment for coughing and bronchitis” (Natural Health).

Hibiscus
“Hibiscus flower is high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and antioxidants.  It is helpful in restoring and maintaining overall health, supporting immune function, and warding off colds and flus.  Aside from all of this, hibiscus tea is one of the most lovely natural beverages and children generally adore it (Gladstar, 19).

Rose Hips
“Rose hips have an impressive amount of vitamin C, which is one of the best methods to boost the immune system. Vitamin C stimulates white blood cells and is also essential in the prevention of asthma and the general health of the respiratory system. This can be seen in the reduction of respiratory conditions such as cold and flu through the intake of rose hips and its high levels of vitamin C (Organic Facts).


Homeacre Elderberry Syrup

  • Servings: 1 Pint
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic dried elderberries Sambucus Nigra L.
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 TBSP organic hibiscus flower
  • 1 TBSP organic rose hips
  • 1 TBSP organic ceylon cinnamon
  • 6 whole organic cloves
  • 2 TBSP fresh grated organic ginger root or 1 TBSP dried ginger root
  • 3-4 organic star anise
  • 1-2 cups of local raw honey

Directions:

Place all of the ingredients in a pot except for the honey. Simmer on low for 30-45 minutes or until it is reduced by about half.  Smash the berries in the pot.  I like to use a potato masher. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and/or cheese cloth. I like to strain it into a large glass measuring cup so it is easy to pour into my jar. Let cool to less than 95* so it doesn’t cook your Raw Honey.  I like to put my honey into a mason jar and then pour the warm elderberry mixture over the honey and stir very well.

Notes:

Adults: Take 1 TBSP daily

Children over 1: Take 1 tsp daily

If sick, up your dose to every 3 hours

Store in the refrigerator for 2-3 months.  Don’t forget to label and date the top of your jar!


 

*References
(Gibson, Margie. “Amazing Elderberry.” Mother Earth Living Nov/Dec 2017 pp. 58.)
(Gladstar, Rosemary. “Herbs for children’s health.” pp. 19)
(The Complete Guide to Natural Healing. Group 1. Card 7 Medicinal Plants)

 

FALL INTO HEALTH how I’m boosting my immune system

The best way to fight off a virus this Fall is to begin with a strong immune system. I couldn’t possibly tell you all the ways to stay healthy.  So, I decided I would share just a few of the additional ways I plan to keep my family healthy and ready to battle anything that comes our way.


Immune boosting foods, herbs & teas

Cooking meals is not only more affordable, but so much healthier. With the cooler weather, it’s really simple to incorporate immune boosting organic ingredients into soups, stews and warm drinks. Here are my go to items I try to always have on hand: garlic, ginger, turmeric, homeacre Bone Broth, bell peppers, onions, kale, broccoli, fermented foods, raw Apple Cider Vinegar, local raw honey, lemons, Echinacea, Chamomile & some superfoods.


Elderberry Syrupelderberry syrup

“Elderberry Sambucus nigra is one of the most effective plants for boosting immunity and shortening the duration of colds and flu” (Gibson, 58).  I began making Elderberry Syrup fairly regularly about three years ago after I purchased an over priced bottle from the grocery store! Elderberries have antioxidant properties, are super high in Vitamin C, have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral abilities.  If you aren’t interested in making it, find out if someone local makes it before you buy it from the store.  If you live in the Treasure Valley, message me to see if I have any available for purchase.

My 3-year-old requests her ‘Elder-bewy Sywup” every morning and My husband, who is 7.5 years sober, occasionally has flashbacks of drinking Jägermeister! It’s pretty tasty!

Coming soon Homeacre Elderberry Syrup Recipe


Fire Cider

Have you heard about this or seen it at your local health food store? I had been seeing it at the Co-op and then Mountain Rose Herbs e-mailed me the recipe, so of course I had to make it!  I currently have my first batch of Fire Cider fermenting in my cupboard for the past 3 weeks. I ‘loosely’ followed this fire cider recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs.  I wanted to taste it today, and to be honest I was quite terrified.  I think hope once I strain it and mix it with the raw honey it will be better. I will let you know how it turns out. Even if it’s not delicious, I will for sure reach for it when I feel I may be getting sick.

The first picture is day 1 and the second picture is day 21.


Essential Oils

My favorite oil for a healthy immune is dōTERRA On Guard. It “is a powerful proprietary blend that supports healthy immune function* and contains cleansing properties.”  Have you smelled this? YUM. It’s a warm blend of Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf.doTERRA on gaurd

Ditch your toxic candle and diffuse this instead. You can also soak apples in water with drops of this oil and/or dilute and put on soles of your feet.  The dōTERRA On Guard hand sanitizer is amazing too, I even spray it on the shopping cart before I put my kids in. For more information about essential oils, email me at MelissaHomeacre@gmail.com


Supplements

It would be ideal to get ALL of our vitamins from our diet, but that isn’t realistic for my family so we take quality supplements to help.  Each of us take a Multi-Vitamin, Probiotic, Food based Vitamin C, Omega, Turmeric (for me) and a few others.  I’m in the process of phasing out/in brands. When I’m all done, I can share what is working for us.


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My daughter pushing her baby brother in the swing on a gorgeous Fall day

On the rare occasion that my family has caught a cold, it never lasts over a week. The flu has not been present in our home. EVER. I’d like thank our healthy diets for that. We have not needed to use any OTC medicine in 4 years with the exception of Tylenol at an ER visit and ibuprofen after two home births. We have been blessed with a very healthy family!

I would love to hear from you.  How are you staying healthy this Fall?

 

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Reference:
(Gibson, Margie. “Amazing Elderberry.” Mother Earth Living Nov/Dec 2017 pp. 58.)

 

A very late Spring

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Well Hello! It’s been a while since I sat at my computer other than to pay bills.  A lot has happened around here since I last posted in February.  Spring wasn’t late here in Idaho, but me sharing about Spring two weeks before Summer begins is a bit lame.  Let’s just get started! I am currently 21 22 23 24 weeks pregnant with baby #3 and so excited to grow our family.  (You see how I attempted to sit here all month?) With that being said February-April were pretty rough.  First trimesters are never fun; add in the part where your home 4 nights a week alone and somehow have to keep two small children alive along with yourself, dogs, cat, and a decent flock of birds and then you find yourself falling asleep while sitting on the floor playing.

This Spring we added two ducks to our yard.  They are Saxony ducks and my daughter img_0984named them Donald & Daisy.  She has recently made a nest in some tall grass and is sitting on her eggs.  We are excited for her to hopefully hatch some ducklings this month.  My husband LOVES the ducks! He is not a fan of the chickens.  He will do my chicken chores, but never have I heard him say anything pleasant to or about the chickens. Now, I will see him out back spraying water for Donald & Daisy to shower in and talking to them like pets! They are pretty cool so I can’t be mad he has favorites.  I’ve only been able to catch them a few times, they come over to me when we have food.  Now that Daisy has a nest of eggs they are both being very protective when you get near it. Before she started a nest, we were enjoying a duck egg every morning to make extra fluffy pancakes and waffles.


We finally have most of our garden planted.  This is our first Idaho garden.  Steven had to put up a fence, rototill, and add a water faucet to the space. He made like 7 rows in the time I made ONE! Then he reminded me it is exactly like digging hand line at work. He was so fast, yet nothing was on fire! I like to take my time in the garden because it is relaxing, I guess he can’t relax with a McCloud in his hands!  We are no experts at gardening  by any means, but we have lucked out with having great soil at the previous homes and I believe our soil is pretty good so we will pray for the best!  This past week there were some impressive thunderstorms that blew open our garden gate and let the chickens in.  They demolished 20 heads of lettuce that were ready to eat.

Here is what we have planted right now:

  • Herbs: Rosemary, Thai  Basil, Italian Basil, Sage, Cilantro, Thyme, Mint, Parsley, Dill & Tarragon
  • Tomatoes: Pantano, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Best Boy, Chocolate Cherry, Black Cherry, Super Sweet 100, Yellow Pear, Tomato Stupice & Romas.
  • Peppers: Serrano Chili, Jalapeno, Hot Portugal, Early Jalapeno, Caribbean Red Habanero, Yellow Bell, & Red Bell.
  • Squash: Yellow Straight neck, Butternut, Spaghetti & Green zucchini
  • Everything Else: Sweet Corn, Nasturtium, Kohlrabi, Eggplants, Cucumber, Watermelons, Onions, Leeks, Beans, Lettuce & Asparagus.

Please follow me, TheHomeacre, on Instagram for more updated photos of our garden.


California Adventure 2018The first week in May we took a family vacation to Disneyland & California Adventure. Then up to visit friends and take kids to the ocean for the first time. (funny because we both lived near the beach for years before kids) I told my husband I wanted to go to Disneyland a while ago and we planned a super budget trip (airbnb, toddler on lap on plane and not eating out the whole time.)  The awesome part was we scored some free tickets.  Disneyland gives out a select number of tickets to fire stations throughout CA each year.  Never in 14 years has my husband received any, but we had two friends get them and not want them and we scored four Park Hoppers that happened to expire 3 days after our trip.  Pretty good timing. We had these cute shirts made by another Fire Wife and were given a special Firefighter pin at the entrance to Both Parks.  It was fun to see all the other fire families wearing their pins.  This was our first time flying with kids.  It was also our first ‘go go go’ vacation with the kids.  Usually, we rent a cabin or go camping…that’s more our pace. I am happy we got to take our kids to Disneyland, but I think we can check ‘that’ off our list for a while….. ‘that’ as in vacationing in California!!! Sorry friends, but since moving to Idaho, I have no desire to go back to CA.  I think we even prefer the beautiful beaches at the lakes and rivers here.

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My Husband has been working on a playground for the kids when he is home.  The honey-do list really gets prioritized when he’s only home a few days a week.  He has done quite a bit.  We have a 6′ high platform with our existing playhouse on top.  Below we have a dirt box and a water table which was actually a stainless steel sink for fire IMG_1078.jpgbase camps! The kids spend hours a day cooking things in their mud kitchen and playing up in the playhouse.  Next, he is building an extra-tall swing set off the side.  Still trying to figure out an affordable groundcover for the area.  Whatever, it is we need 12 yards of it. YIKES! It has been a long process to get a playground there.  When we moved in, there was a swampy old rundown pond with broken pipes and part of a bridge. This part of the yard is solid river rock and we had to have a tractor fill it all in. Although a pond would have been fun, it wasn’t fed by a stream and with little kids I would be a nervous wreck.


I have been avoiding blogging for several reasons. Mostly, because we only have a desktop computer and I sit on a yoga ball with my knees against a cupboard and it’s not comfortable.  After the kids go to bed, I do a few chores, kick up my tired feet & binge watching TV series on Netflix! Oh man it has gotten bad.  I stay up to almost midnight every night and am up by 6am.  Pregnancy insomnia is kicking in too.  The other biggest reason I don’t come write is that when my husband is home, I spend my time with him. OR, lately I have been sitting on my lovely porch and watching the sunset. It stays light until nearly 10pm this time of year and I love to hear and see all the animals.  Beautiful Heart in the sunset sky. No FilterThis was the most gorgeous sky after the kids went to bed.  There is no filter on this photo, and that is a heart in the clouds.  I was out with my girls & Donald!


Steven got home really late the other night; he was gone for quite a stretch.  He was home 24 hours in 17 days.  When he got home the kids were asleep and he went to look at them snuggling together in their bed and he said quietly “they grow so much on these long stretches.” Being a Fire Family is tough for everyone, especially the person who misses all the milestones.  He took a lot of vacation time this year after being gone 256 days last year.  Even though he will be away for weeks throughout the year, he will have longer stretches home.  When he gets home next, we are headed camping in McCall.

The Homeacre

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Traveling the world to motherhood

 

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This season of my life can sometimes feel overwhelming and like I’m navigating this mom thing with a blindfold. And while I’m often exhausted from the craziness of being a firefighters wife and a SAHM, I’m learning to embrace the beauty in the everyday moments with the kids. My kids are hilarious. Does everyone think this about their own children? The things I say in response to their behaviors are similar to what I used say to an intoxicated friend. What in the world is going on? Where are your pants? Please don’t lick the dog! My life was very structured before kids; formal education from age 5-23 and day shift jobs. Now, the only thing that is consistent is that at any given time of the day somebody is hungry.

I have always enjoyed being adventurous. I love hiking for the best view, camping in a tent and trying new things that scare me. I’ve hang-glided and rafted in the Swiss Alps, zip-lined in Thailand & Costa Rica, swam in questionable canals and rivers in different countries, and explored huge cities and small villages with a phrase book. I have visited 9 countries so far. I Worked and traveled in Europe for 3 months, worked and backpacked all of Thailand solo for 6 months. I’ve haggled over bananas, failed to order a black coffee repeatedly and been beyond lost walking alone with a backpack on a highway. I’ve lived in Northern CA, Southern CA and on the Central Coast of CA taking advantage of every opportunity to explore my surroundings. Even though this may all sound spontaneous, it wasn’t. I often still “planned” my adventures. Rarely, did I just see where a trail led. I always looked ahead on my map so I could be prepared. (I have a B.S. in event planning!) but the most fun I ever had was on the impromptu excursions. Actually, relocating to Idaho was a spontaneous move; a story for another time! I try hard to not plan and create expectations for my family. I don’t have a guide-book for my kids, or my husband for that matter.

And while you wont find me roaming the streets of Rome, riding the boardwalk on my beach cruiser in a bikini-top to go grocery shopping, or getting lost alone in Bangkok. You will find me negotiating bedtime & having great adventures with my kids in this new & wonderful season of life. I have been pulled into our daughters vivid imagination and learning what it is like to be a kid again. This week my daughter was a paleontologist and dug up dinosaur bones (rocks) in our yard and then we washed and painted them, we were a family of bears hunting for food, bobcats playing in the snow, snakes, dogs, and Disney characters acting out skits and stories from books.idahome5

I have been trying my hardest to let my kids be kids and encourage them to be wild and determine their own comfort level. If our daughter wants to run around at the lake half-naked and barefoot in 50*, then I let her. If she wants to wear a pig nose and a cape to gymnastics or pretend she’s a dog and bark at people in the grocery store, I play along and introduce her as her alter ego. It is a conscious effort for me to be unstructured and fly by the seat of my pants.  I want the learning to come natural to our kids. We love to play outdoors in all types of weather. Our daughter takes horse riding lessons when it’s below freezing. Learning shouldn’t be forced, structured or full of rules; it should be fun.

I love that I have had the opportunity to live and travel to some beautiful places, yet find myself so in love with small town Idaho. Everyday we see cows, goats, horses, chickens and wildlife. We get to watch the trees turn colors, then drop their leaves and expose the beautiful mountains they have been hiding. My absolute favorite part of the evening is the 10 minutes before the sun goes down completely, the mountains glow orange. We get to experience all these beautiful things from our wrap around porch.idahome7

Relocating from California to the Treasure Valley has drawn me to make meaningful connections with people every where I go. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe, because I’m constantly meeting the kindest people here. Seriously, I can’t explain it, you just have to come experience it. I was shy and took the backseat in most social situations most my life, but have slowly become the social one. At the end of the day it is our relationships and experiences that fill our hearts with joy. I have been consciously making an effort to introduce myself, learn something about someone else and make genuine relationships.

This seemed hard at first because lets face it, many days go by and it’s just me, the kids, some furry animals and 20 chickens (whom all have names incase you were wondering!). Many days I’d enjoy nothing more than talking to my kids and our pets because I need an abundance of quiet time to recharge. I encourage my daughter to meet people and ask them their name. She now asks curiously “mom, did you make any new friends today?” And I almost always say “Yes, I did!”

This season of life is full of laughter, tears, bruises, learning and pure joy…..oh and I almost forgot, LAUNDRY!

 

Be Wild. Live Naturally. Love Genuinely.

The Homeacre

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2017 A year in the life of a CALFIRE wife

CLICK HERE FOR OUR INTERVIEW ON GOOD DAY SACRAMENTO!

A year in the life of a CALFIRE wife. My husband and I spent 256 days apart in 2017. This has been the hardest year to date. This has also been one of the best years too and we have so much to be thankful for.

firewife8Sometimes people think that a firefighters station is just in town and their families get to go visit and eat dinner at the fire station when they are on shift. This is true for many fire families. But for thousands of others, their firefighter works too far away to visit.

My husband works a 72 hour shift every week and he goes in the night before because we chose to live 8 hours away in Idaho for a better quality of life. He is gone 4 nights and home for 3. This is a tough schedule. But I have something to tell you, it was WAY tougher than you can imagine. In 2017, because of trainings, horrible fires and having to go in the night before, my husband slept either at a fire station, hotel, or in his Engine 249 days of the year. He also went on a successful Elk hunt. And that left 109 days in 2017 that he slept under the same roof as me and the kids. That is Less than 1/3 of a year. This number really saddens me.

I can’t tell you how hard it has been on him because that would be for him to share, but for the first time in our marriage I can see it on his face that he is exhausted and burnt out. He just missed out on the first year of his son’s life and almost all of our daughters “terrific 3’s.” He missed the ups and downs of our fast growing children. Next time you see a firefighter, know that they don’t just risk their lives for the lives of strangers. They also sacrifice being present with their families.   Everyday, our daughter says “I really miss Daddy, will he be home tonight?” And just about everyday I say “Me too. Not tonight, but hopefully soon honey.” We don’t ever know when he will be home until he walks through the door.  We are so blessed that he has walked though the door after every shift.

firewife5

Photo by Capt. James Allen

I don’t remember fire season being the whole year. Was there always so many large fires where the firefighters are held on shift? Did they always spend that many days away from their station? Does it just seem different because we have children now? How do they even stay healthy when they have to eat a sugar loaded sack lunch, restaurant food and base camp food for a month straight? He never once complained by the way. I just know that in previous years he was able to cook healthy meals and establish a regular fitness routine when he was actually at his fire station. I’m almost positive he blacked out July, August, October, and worked 19 days straight in December coming home just before Christmas. (Thank you for all your prayers to have him home.)

Communication is the foundation of every relationship. A great portion of our communication is a few daily text messages and occasional FaceTime chats. Some days we get to FaceTime “daddy” before bed, other days the only 10 minutes he has available to call happens to be in the middle of a double child meltdown while I’m trying to cook dinner and I answer “I’m sorry, but this is a really bad time, we can’t chat now. We love you.” There have been week stretches when my husband is on a strike team working 36 hr shifts with 12 hours off at a hotel. That means we are lucky if we even get an “I’m ok” or “I love you and call u sometime tomorrow” text message. Often the phone call is after the kids are in bed and they don’t get to hear his voice.

When we finally get to chat it is usually 9pm. I’m emotionally exhausted from being a mom of 2 and he’s physically AND mentally exhausted from fighting fires and running calls. Our conversation is short and mostly about the kids, finances, his work, the home (dog missing, chicken dying, well pump breaking, broken sprinklers, you know-all that fun stuff that comes with owning a home and big yard!)

firewife4

We made a link with a note each of the 42 days he was gone.

When he comes home after anywhere from a 4-42 day stretch, our routine is thrown off and the kids struggle with this. They miss him and my daughter is so excited for him to be home, but she then refuses to let him read to her, cook for her, or basically anything for at least a day if not 2. I struggle because I do everything myself when he is away and he is very helpful at home and I quickly get used to having help. It’s very hard for me mentally when he leaves for work, I have to remind myself that I can do it all by myself again. Even just a few days of him home really throws the kids and I off. It is so nice to have someone else go out with a flashlight in the pitch black to shut the gates, count the chickens, or see what the dogs are barking at. To have him kill the spider or wasp in the house, to check the basement, porch and every closet in the house because you heard a weird noise right when you crawled in bed and to watch the baby monitor so you can shower without getting out with soapy hair to sooth a crying baby.

This year our daughter turned 3, our son 1 and we celebrated 6 years of marriage. We made so many great memories, spent a week at a cabin in McCall, ID, a week under the stars in the Sawtooths and a few days here and there as a family. We survived a brutal first winter and I shoveled snow for the first time in my life while wearing a newborn and entertaining a toddler. I drove the kids in ice and snow, got stuck in ice and snow, adopted a kitten, went to the fair, went to the ER, the zoo, the beach (river), parades, festivals, birthday parties, BBQs all alone with two beautiful kids stuck to me like glue. We missed him and he missed us. We love him more than anything and are very proud of him.  A few friends of mine have actually met my husband and I explain to them how lucky they are!

The kids and I continue to explore new places and enjoy our lovely home. We hope 2018 allows us to be a family in person, to grow and strengthen our relationships with each other that have weakened and to enjoy the everyday ups and downs TOGETHER. (Maybe even a date with my husband? We havent been alone without a child since March 2016).

Marriage is HARD. Raising little ones is HARD. Being a fire wife is HARD, but I think the hardest of all is asking for help. People often say “let me know if you need help.” That is a well intentioned statement, but taking them up on the offer is hard and often ends up me still having to call and ask for the help that was offered. I don’t want to call and ask for help at 10 pm. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, so I don’t and I just always say “thank you, but we are doing alright.”

I intended to update my blog at least monthly and stay on topic with homemaker content. I have a dozen drafts saved on great topics, but I lack the energy and motivation to do them. I’m just exhausted. I thought you might be interested in knowing more about being a fire family and how it has really affected us this year.  Please be kind, I wrote this on my phone over the past 3 days. I could spend a few extra days editing, but I’ve got to go keep the kids and critters alive in these freezing temperatures!

Happy New Years!

Be Wild. Live Naturally. Love Genuinely.
The Homeacre

When he is home I try to take as many photos as I can of him and the kids.

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