Remember Julie? She was the lovely one who moved to the country – 30 minutes outside of Seattle – with her family, and enthusiastically embraced all that the outskirts has to offer. Like relishing any opportunity to mention that someone or something is “in the barn.” That still makes me smile! One year later, I wondered how life had settled into itself and changed. Julie was kind enough to respond, and Mother Nature sweetly sprinkled some snow to accessorize her holiday photos. Welcome back, Julie!
Q: One year later, how is country living suiting you and your family?
A: Our family is really enjoying country living! It’s been amazing to have the extra space (a little over two acres) for our boys to play and explore, the ability to have more animals, room for a garden, more outdoor entertaining area, and the general sense of privacy and freedom we have here.
Q: What do you miss the most about the convenience of city life? What have you learned to adore about the country?
A: Since we live just past the city limits, we still have easy access to most city amenities, though we are further from a grocery store. I think what we miss most would be the sense of community we felt in our last neighborhood. We have wonderful neighbors here; we just don’t see them as often.
We actually went back to our old neighborhood to trick-or-treat this year!
It’s similar with Christmas lights. Our old neighborhood was lit up like a Christmas tree. Think Griswold Christmas vacation! Where we live now, you don’t see as many…but we’re trying to change that!
We miss those little things that city living brings. And yet, there are so many things we have come to adore about the country. There is a lot of natural beauty here that is very life-giving and refreshing to us.
Our family seemed ready for the room to breathe. With three active boys, we’re not exactly a quiet family. It’s nice to have a place to spread out and not worry so much about disrupting the neighbors.
We’ve enjoyed having family and friends over, having campfires, picking blackberries in our yard, gathering eggs from the chicken coop, taking our dog for walks…the simple things you think of when you imagine country living.
Q: How has your daily life changed? Have you learned more about yourself in this process?
A: One reason we wanted to move to a country setting was so that there would be more reasons to be home, together. And there are! We rarely get stir crazy at home anymore.
However, we are finding that the simple country life turns out to be a lot of work! Though we love our animals, I think we underestimated the amount of time they require. In addition, between the extra land (mowing!), garden areas, barn, and chicken coop, it seems there is always something that needs to be done. That being said, we love it here, so all of the work becomes a labor of love.
We have also learned that at this busy stage of life, raising our three young sons, our little farmstead will not be perfectly manicured…and that’s okay.
So far, we have had one foot in the country when we are home, and one foot in the city with school, church, sports, etc. We haven’t had to give one up for the other, and that’s been a blessing. On the other hand, it can be overwhelming at times to juggle the number of activities we are involved in and also keep everything going on the home front.
As a friend of mine said, “You can have it all, just not all at the same time!” So, we’re learning to evaluate new commitments and the impact they will have on our day-to-day family life as we try to figure out what balance looks like for us here.
Though, truthfully, I don’t know that we’ll ever find it completely. It seems to change weekly, if not daily!
Q: Scariest moment since you moved? And how about the most decision-affirming moment that made you think “We did the right thing!”
A: The most frightening moment of our first year living here was when I looked out of our laundry room window and noticed a bobcat was staring right at me from across the driveway! Unfortunately, the bobcat got to a couple of our chickens.
My husband was out of the country on a business trip, but in a matter of hours, neighbors rallied, a fish and game warden was scouring the perimeter of our property, and our remaining chickens were on coop lockdown. Thankfully, the bobcat was most likely passing through and hasn’t been sighted since.
There have been many moments when the realization has hit us at how thankful we are to have moved here! My husband would say that it happened the moment we moved in, and I know he’s right! We were so ready for this change, and we immediately recognized the blessing this little farmstead was to our family.
I would also add that we realized this place was a good choice for our family as we watched our boys play football in the yard, help care for baby chicks, play capture the flag with their cousins, and pick the first vegetables from the garden that we planted together.
I remember one summer night, after our boys were tucked into bed, my husband called me outside to see the starry sky. We looked across the property, over to the fire pit where we had roasted marshmallows, to our little chicken coop, and to the house that now felt very much like home, and we offered a prayer of thanks.
Q: What’s next for your family? How will you be celebrating the holidays this year?
A: Christmas is our favorite holiday and we’re busy decking the halls! Last year, we had just moved in and were still getting unpacked at this time.
This year, we hung advent buckets from the chicken nesting boxes we use as display shelves in our family room. Inside the buckets will be little treats or an activity we’ll do together that day, as we count down to Christmas. We’re looking forward to having family and friends over. The candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church is always a special time, as we remember the reason we celebrate.
And, some of the best moments are the ones we don’t plan – those times when our family settles in for a Christmas movie and hot chocolate, enjoying the comfort of home and being together.
Inspired in large part from participating in your Living With Kids series last year, I’ve started a blog called Little Farmstead. The blog primarily focuses on farmhouse style decorating, DIY projects, and bits and pieces of our daily life. You’re all welcome anytime!
Thanks for the update, Julie. Honestly, except for the bobcat story, I can’t imagine you and your family anywhere else! And I know I’m not alone in loving your unique advent calendar!
Speaking of December traditions, I’d sure love to see some of yours. If you have time, will you send me a pretty picture or two and a few sentences about how your family customs add to your festivities? Come to think of it, are there any traditions you wish you could edit a bit as your family has changed? I do enjoy your stories! Send me a note!