Spring is FINALLY Here

Myles and the Chickens | Life In Beta

I think (hope!) it’s finally be safe to say that spring has arrived in northwestern Pennsylvania! The weather has been amazing, despite a few sprinkles today, and we’ve been taking full advantage of it by spending lots of time outdoors.

We moved the chickens into their temporary-coop and it’s so fun to watch them pecking around an exploring. Myles has fallen in love with playing in the back yard and pretty much begs to go outside every evening. We’re even talking about building a fire pit this weekend because the evenings have been PERFECT bonfire weather.

I look at pictures like the one above, and all I can think is how THIS is how I pictured life would be when we moved here. It feels so good to have things falling into place at last. This is going to be a fantastic summer! ??

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Lessons Children Teach: Rolling with Changes

Myles & Gracie in the yard | Life In Beta

When you have a toddler, you spend a lot of time teaching: how to follow directions, how to pronounce words, how to count, and so on. What you don’t count on is how much your toddler will TEACH YOU.

Myles had one such lesson for me over the weekend. On Sunday, we had originally planned to go to a local music festival as a family. As the weekend went on though, I felt the housework snowballing and I really felt like I needed to stay home and catch up. Plus, the band we wanted to see most was going to play smack-dab in the middle of Myles’ nap time, and I didn’t want a cranky toddler ruining it for everyone. So I told Mike and Ben to go have fun, and Myles and I would stay home and nap (him) and get some work done (me).

Spring clean up in the yard | Life In Beta

My first mistake was COUNTING on Myles to take a nap. It’s seriously a rookie mistake and I should know better. Any time you really COUNT on your toddler to stick with their routine and nap when you want them to, they’ll do the exact opposite. (It’s pretty much science.) Myles was nodding off in the grocery cart when we were finishing some shopping, so I hurried home thinking he’d fall asleep in the car and then I could gently move him into the house.

NOPE. When we got home, he was WIDE awake and had a second wind, ready to go! I tried in vain to get him to nap, but he wasn’t having it. It was full-on play time. I felt frustration setting in — I had laundry and dishes to do and freelance projects to work on.

Sometimes, though, you have to just roll with it. Life throws you unexpected changes sometimes, and Myles gave me a good reminder: you can either get upset, frustrated, and angry, or you can make the best of the situation.

Wheelbarrow Ride | Life In Beta

Sandbox & Chicken Coop | Life In Beta

Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day. I kind of feel like Myles was tapping into the universe around us and giving me that reminder: Hey, Mom. Take some time to enjoy the outdoors today. Get some fresh air and take some time to play.

So that’s what we did. Myles played in his new sandbox, helped me rake, and got to have his first wheelbarrow ride. He rolled in the sand and poured it over his head. He fell in the mud. He got so, so dirty in that delightfully happy way that little boys do.

Myles raking | Life In Beta

Sandbox fun | Life In Beta

And you know what? I still got some things done! Near the end of last autumn, we had a couple trees trimmed in our yard, and winter came before we got to clean up the debris. So in between giving wheelbarrow rides and brushing sand off, I got to rake up some of the leaves and sticks that were all over the yard. (Hopefully now some grass will grow in the patchy spots!) It was really win-win. Even Gracie-dog got to be outside with us and enjoy the day.

We all came in sweaty, dirty and tired. It wasn’t what I had planned, but it was exactly what I had needed.

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Life Snippets

The majority of my attention recently has been devoted to several large work-projects (like, huge), some of which are still on-going. Whatever energy I have leftover at the end of the day goes to my family and my critters, then after that, there’s not much left over. So, here’s just a few snippets of what’s going on to let you know I’m still alive and kickin’…

Myles' 2nd Birthday | Life In Beta

Myles turned TWO.

This birthday snuck up on us with all the other chaos going on. Mike’s family was all out of town over his birthday weekend, so we decided to have a low-key celebration and just have dinner out with a few friends and family members. It was super nice and low-stress, but part of me felt very guilty about it.

I felt by not throwing a Pinterest-perfect celebration, I was somehow being a bad mother. (Welcome to the influence of social media in parenting, amirite?) Thankfully I had several loved-ones to talk me down and supportively remind me that Myles with have many, many more birthdays when I can go overboard (and he’ll be old enough to remember)!

Samples, samples... | Life In Beta

Renovation plans are a GO.

I met with our builder last week and went over our home remodel plans. (The short version: adding just over 1,000 square feet including a full second story to our home.) The quote was a little higher than planned, but he built in a lot of wiggle-room. For instance, he gave us very generous allowances for things like lighting and bathroom fixtures. If we choose more basic fixtures, we can save a lot of money that way. (And of course, we can always DIY and upgrade later!) Plus, he added a few things into the quote that I hadn’t even anticipated — like central air conditioning — and I was thrilled to see that was even feasible.

We’re working on zoning and permit details right now, and it will probably be at least 8 more weeks till any real work begins. I’m simultaneously thrilled and terrified.

My chickens are getting BIG.

People don’t believe me when I say chickens grow fast. Broiler-specific breeds grow even faster, but even my layers at about 5 weeks old are getting quite large. (If you’re curious, the photos in this post from The Chicken Chick illustrate week-to-week growth quite well.)

In the interest of educating y’all, here’s the less-than-glamorous truth: I’m ready to have them out of my dining room. Don’t get me wrong – I adore them. But somewhere between three and four weeks old, it became really clear that they’re no longer adorable little house-pets. They’re barnyard animals that belong outside. When I open the brooder, there’s immediately a bunch of flapping because they all want to try to fly out and stretch their wings, and as a result a mix of fluff, feathers, dust and wood shavings goes everywhere. I have to clean the brooder more frequently than when they were young (which makes sense) and their odor is definitely stronger. You don’t really smell them unless you stick your head right above the brooder, and it’s not a terrible smell … but I would call it distinctive. (Like I said, I’m ready for them to be out of my dining room.)

We have at least three more weeks till they can go outside, and even then it’s dependent on what our weather is doing. (We have mixed snow/rain in our forecast this week, so I’m not holding my breath.) Getting the coop built has been a challenge as well because our back yard is extremely muddy. Spring just hasn’t been cooperating with my plans this year! But the coop will get built this weekend or next and my little hens will move out when the weather warms up after that. I’m very excited to see how they like they like the outdoors!

Myles' Smiles | Life In Beta

Separating Work & LIFE.

I work in the web design/development field. I listen to lots of tech and business podcasts. (Shout-out to my FAV — Being Boss!) I’ve spent a lot of time considering the direction of this blog and my freelance business. It’s all been an evolution, and for a long time, I have struggled to decide on a “niche” for this site.

Last week, I made the decision that this site doesn’t need a niche, and that was the most stress-relieving and freeing decision I’ve made in a long, long time.

I’ve agonized for so long over how to limit what I share here, or how to make it “fit” the direction I want to take with this blog. It just became NO fun. The simple fact is … Life In Beta is me. Just like the name says, it’s my life in beta-mode: running along, making changes, fixing bugs. I’m not the type that will ever have a polished, branded, advertiser-ready LIFE.

Now when it comes to my business, that’s a different matter. I’ve decided when I re-launch AmandaWeber.com, it will include a blog that focuses on web development, design, business, branding, etc. It will be super-focused on providing helpful content for my readers. (PSST… let me just tell you how excited I am! I have a whole list of articles I can’t wait to share with you!)

If my websites were a mullet… AmandaWeber.com would be the “businessy” front view, and LifeInBeta.com would be the party in the back. (Ya know, except my “party” is more about family, homesteading, and general nerdiness.)

I have no doubt there will be spill-over between the two sites, but when it comes to THIS blog, I really just want to get back to sharing my stories without the overhead of thinking about monetization or search engine optimization or “shareability”. It’s just for fun. If you’re down with that, then I’m more than happy for you to hang around and keep reading. If not, I totally understand too. No hurt feelings.

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