Everyday Living

So, we got this playground...

When we moved last year, one of the blessings of our new home was a fenced in back yard. Our previous home was fantastic (I still miss my 600sq ft of veggie garden, and the start of the orchard we had planted...), but the yard was a bit of a nightmare - it wasn't fenced in, and it was a corner lot - which meant that on two sides it was epically dangerous for the kids. So, when we moved, and realized "we can just let the kids play out back all day long!", we (meaning Chris, primarily) got a bug in our bonnet to get the kids a playset. Of course, not just ANY playset - Chris figured we could build an awesome playset for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one. We even managed to get two slides and four playground grade swings for free from a garage sale! Come spring, Chris caught the bug again (probably being cooped up inside with two energetic kids helped push that along), and started scouring the local craigsist for options.

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

Lo and Behold, we managed to find a HUGE playset that a local church with a daycare was selling, as they were upgrading. The set was massive - three 12 foot tall towers, two slides, a crawl tube, a bridge, and a picnic table. The price the daycare was asking was spectacular, and so we all piled into the car and drove the hour to check it out - and Ben fell in love. Which pretty much made it a done deal.

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

SO, Chris called up some friends, rented a 24' foot truck (we were optimistically hoping we could pull the thing apart in sections and keep it mostly together; SO could have happened, if everybody involved was either The Hulk or on the Olympic Weight Lifting Team - and we had more of us), and headed down on what turned out to be a rainy Saturday. Several hours later, and soaking wet, we piled back in to bring it back up to the house.

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

Long story short - with much back breaking labor, the help of Janene and our amazing cousin (Andrew Rash, we're talking about you, dude), Chris managed to get this thing up and put together. Ben was GIDDY, which made the sore muscles worth it (mostly).

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

So far, we've had one birthday party here and on it. Other than that, it has "simply" been used for hundreds of hours of fun - wild and crazy, and quiet too! We put the kiddie pool at the bottom of the big slide while it was hot - which WE thought would be awesome. We're not actually sure the kids ever went down the slide into it, but they sure had fun putting other things down the slide and into it...

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

Awesome Playset and Summer Fun, from The Weed Patch family

All in all, very much a worthwhile investment, and Chris is already thinking of new things to add to the thing as time goes on...

Easter 2013

We were able to spend Easter this last year with Janene's family down in Union, Washington. Since it was Ben's Spring Break the following week, we used it as a kickoff for him, as he was able to spend several days down with Esther.

On Saturday evening Esther, Janene, Ben, and Savannah dyed Easter Eggs, which (being the second year in a row) seems to be growing into a tradition. This was really the first time Savannah had seen this process, and she was quite fascinated - at least for a while. Then the sunny deck drew her away, and she had a ball running all over the place.

Sunday was absolutely gorgeous! After church, and while we were waiting for everyone to arrive for a fantastic Easter meal, Ben went on an Easter Egg hunt - twice. I think he just liked running around the yard in the sun, honestly. Savannah got to dress up in her "Easter Best" and she was proud as a peacock all day long - especially when she got her new sunglasses.

All in all it was a wonderful day with some fantastic food, family, and summer weather at the end of April!

Our Theme for 2013: Live A Life Intentional!

This last year has been truly brutal, as many of you already know. Honestly, we can't even believe it's now 2013 - the weirdness of year made it both seem like it would never end, as well as feeling like it flew by so fast that there wasn't even time to breath. In fact, in looking back over 2012, it kind of feels like a bad dream...

Which means that 2013 is going to be GREAT, because we just woke up, and now we can change some things!

Princess Savannah
She loves that silly crown! Growing up TOO quickly!

First, though, a little internal thought process.

2012 started with high hopes - which were promptly thrown into a holding pattern with the death of Janene's 41 year old brother in law. From there, it pretty much feels like all we did all year was put out fires and react to things happening to or around us. We never managed to get "ahead of the game" as it were - we never figured out a way to be proactive and head the next crisis off at the pass. Consequently, we were FAR more exhausted and burned out than we have ever been. Our passion for both life in general and the store was very much at a low, and it became a "one foot in front of the other" approach. Our balance was lost, and the ramifications of that are still being discovered.

Ben helping to process apples with Janene
Ben helping Janene get apples ready for homemade applesauce! Growing up TOO quickly, too!!!


2013 WILL be different, if only because we say so! It certainly started off beautifuly here - bright, crisp sunny day, lots of good sales (for a day we used to be closed, it gets bigger every year), a solid start on the enormous job of inventory, a good homecooked dinner (even if it WAS made in a crock pot at the store!), school starts tomorrow for Ben, both kids were fantastic all day long...

Our theme for 2013 is to Live a Life Intentional!

Live a Life Intentional!

What does that even mean? For us, it means getting our priorities back in order - and THAT means God, Family, and The Weed Patch (yes, in that order!).

It means making tough decisions to stay on track and to stay focused.

It means making the necessary policy and procedure changes, and hiring new employees to help balance our load, in order for us to better meet our goals.

It means finding a balance between everything, because this last year, balance was lacking - and it showed. It means thinking outside the box, and it means listening to those around us - friends, family, and customers - and hearing their thoughts and advice.

It means that every decision will be weighed before it is made, with the goal of making both our personal and our store lives stronger, better, and happier.

It means, above all, choosing to LIVE life - every day.

The Fam, with REINDEER!
At Santa Arrival, at Country Village - with the reindeer!!!


So, where do we start (for the store issues, anyway...)? Among the first steps is for us to ask some questions of our friends and customers. We know we're not perfect, and while we truly strive to do everything right the first time, sometimes mistakes are made. We're not Amazon.com, with unlimited resources and a full shipping department - we're a small, family owned store who this last year definitely experienced some interesting growing pains.


From your lips to our ears, what can we do better? Whether in-store, over the phone, or online - where are some places that we can improve, from your point of view?  And, conversely, we'd also love to know what you love about us - what are we doing right, and why do you like it?

Drop us a note (sales at theweedpatchstore.com or via our website) or drop us a comment.  We would TRULY love to hear from you!


Part Two of this little "welcome to 2013" series will address some of the things that WE think we need to work on, and what some of our plans are for this next year... Keep your eyes peeled, and don't be shy!

Happy Veteran's Day, 2012

This image should make you cry every time you see it.  You should cry tears of anger, that our world is a place that requires such sacrifice.  You should cry tears of pride, that someone cared enough about this country - and about you - to literally lay their life down so that our freedoms should be protected.  You should cry tears of thankfulness, that so many who put themselves in harms way return home.

Today* is a day to remember all the veterans of all the wars that have been fought to keep our country free.  It is a time to say thank you - both to those in the service, and to those familes that support the service.  Every day, our brave soldiers wake up around the world, not knowing what the day holds, if this is it for them or their comrads, or if they will live to fight another day - and they don't even pause to consider any other course of action.  And every day, those same soldiers have brave spouses, families, and loved ones at home - who wake up, not knowing what the day will hold, but also knowing that the ones they love and hold most dear are putting themselves in harms way to provide safety and security for an entire nation.

Today is the day that you go out of your way to shake a hand, to say thank you, to tell these men and women that you appreciate them.  I say "out of your way" because we should be grateful EVERY day - and we should be conveying that EVERY day.

So, from The Weed Patch - thank you, to all our veterans, and to all those who went down range - your service and sacrifices are appreciated so much more than you will ever know.  

The 2012 Craven Farm Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Back on October 2nd we made our annual trip to Craven Farm (Snohomish, WA) with my parents. We have done this every year sometime in October - last year we managed to get down there a couple of times.

We love Craven Farm - Ben in particular is just in awe every time we go. They have some great, creative decor and attractions, and we always love walking out and exploring the pumpkin patch. We're hoping to go again sometime this year, but seeing as how we're halfway through the month and it's supposed to rain for the next couple of weeks, we'll see if it comes together or not.

In the meantime, we have THREE blogs worth of photos for you... there's just so many great pics in there that I can't narrow it down any further from the hundreds I've been through (two DSLR cameras + cell phones = LOTS of pictures... I guess we'll be able to remember every little thing that happened on this trip!) On to the photos!

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Craven Farms 2012 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

Ben's First Day of Kindergarten! (Sept 5, 2012)

Wednesday September 5, 2012 was Ben's first day of Kindergarten, and we were all SO excited! He did SO well last year with preschool, and this year will be much more intellictually challenging for him that we're really hopeful he'll make some fantastic progress, as well as some new friends.

Because of his autistic tendencies, we've had a very difficult summer (he thrives with structure and routine - and this summer has been NOTHING of that, unfortunately). He's absolutely freaky smart, and while last year was fantastic for him socially, I think he might not have been as intellectually challenged as he needed (although the teachers last year were amazing, and went out of their way for him on a daily basis - we were so blessed!). This year sounds so much more advanced for him, it'll surely be fun and exciting!

I was hoping to have his new bed built (more in another post, later - but it's based on these plans from ana-white.com - http://ana-white.com/2012/07/plans/camp-loft-bed-stair-junior-height) but I'm a little behind; I altered the plans some, and decided to do all the heavy sanding before I put it together (seeing as how it uses 2x4s, which are usually stamped, and rarely pretty to start with...). So, it'll not be by the first day of school, but soon...

ANYWAY, we of COURSE took some pictures... so here ya go. :) And his FAVORITE thing about today? He didn't really know... :)

He started with his favorite oatmeal (it has pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and brown sugar... who WOULDN'T love that?) out on the back deck. He has eaten almost every meal at this house on that deck - he's going to be seriously bummed when it starts raining...

Eating breakfast out on the deck

Janene and I purchased a couple of little "back to school" gifts for him from Toys That Teach in Country Village. They are Melissa and Doug placemats that you can write on with special crayons - and they're awesome....

Ben and Janene writing on his new placemats from Toys That Teach

Savannah coming over to see what all the fuss is about

Ben writing letters

And of COURSE we had to have the "posing" photos...sort of.

Ben and Chris on first day of kindergarten

Ben and Janene on first day of kindergarten

While we were waiting for the bus, I did a little interview...

Here comes the bus! He had NO trouble getting on and getting going...

Here comes the bus!

Ben getting on the bus

And finally, here he is getting home from his first day! He was SO excited - he had a totally awesome day, made some new friends already, did "some work", and in general loves kindergarten thus far.

Ben getting off the bus

A Crazy, Psycho Year....

We all feel like this, this year...

At the end of December 2011, we looked at each other and breathed a sigh of relief - the year was over, and SURELY 2012 would be "better", right?

As it turns out - yeah, not so much. It has been CRAZY. Crazy busy, crazy emotional, crazy hard, crazy crazy... Owning your own business is an interesting (and often stressful) adventure - it's definitely not for the weak of heart, or for those who don't enjoy what they do. In fact, you had better LOVE what you do, because the hours are brutal, the paycheck fluctuates all over the board, and the stress is just nuts.... Fortunately, we DO love what we do. We LOVE our customers, we love our staff & friends & family, we love our product, we love Country Village (where our shop is located). We truly LOVE our business, and our life - which is why we're still around, fighting to make it all happen despite the insanity of life.

Ben and Savannah playing train together

Janene, on her birthday this year.

This year, we lost three of Janene's family - one of which was a completely unexpected and devastating shock. We have struggled through the economic mess with everyone else, dealing with all the pitfalls that having your income dependant upon retail sales entails. We have made some difficult life choices, a move of household, working for details on how to best help Ben (who finds himself somewhere on the Autism Spectrum), dealt with an almost unmanageable summer...

Ben helping pump gas, for the first time ever

Ben grew his own radishes!

Ben at LOTS of blueberries off our plants

And here's the bottom line - we are SO EXCITED for Fall! Ben has his first day of Kindergarten on September 5. The store is already partly decorated for Fall, and we have several full displays of Fall and Halloween already out for your purchasing pleasure. The baking season is almost upon us, which means treats during the weekends at the store, along with hot cider and tons of festivities. The air is starting to turn crisp (in our minds, anyway - it's still supposed to be like 75 or 80 this week... *sigh*), pumpkins and scarecrows are starting to show their faces, and life is just feeling GOOD. We're getting settled into our new home; Janene's art studio is already built out and filled with her supplies, and she's already doing some fantastic projects - many of which will make it into the store for purchase. Our friends and family are close, both physically and emotionally. We're ready to start wearing layers, drinking cozy drinks, and snuggling up under a blanket to read a good book (er...to write blogs, edit youtube videos, prep eNews content... at least we'll be cozy!).

Janene found Ben an antique desk to use as his art desk; he LOVES it!

Savannah.  With pants on her head.  Thanks, mom.

Ben spent his first night in a tent, in the backyard with Chris.  It has been a LONG time since Chris slept on the ground...

This year has cemented, more than ever (for me at least) the difference between letting life run you, and running your life. EVERYBODY has things going on in their life that is a bummer - we hear stories all the time at the store, it's just crazy. But you know what? We are what we think - and we are what we feed ourselves. If all we listen to is despair, drama, and craziness - we won't even be able to function we'll be so stuck in the muck. But if we spend time with God, with friends and family, and with our fantastic customers - if we spend time thinking and feeding ourselves hope and dreams, it becomes a whole lot easier to look forward and not back. It becomes easier to let the past go, and to anticipate curling up in front of a computer screen with a warm glass of cider (or something like that...!). I'm not "there" yet - in fact, Janene would say I have an excruciatingly long way to go - but I'm learning. Life can be at its greatest when the situation feels its most dire; and things that seem like defeat can become some of your greatest blessings!

Ben helps papa with some plumbing

Savannah has her first taste of ice cream...yum!

PLEASE come see us for Fall, Halloween, and the Christmas Season - we're here (both online and off), and we truly appreciate all of our customers (even the cranky ones!). Let us share some of the seasonal magic with you - and maybe some pumpkin bread, too. Or cookies. Brownies? Hot cider? At least a smile and a laugh....

Savannah asleep, reminding us of our need to stop and rest. :)

Dreams of Life

Foot Bridge Over The River

I'm a city raised boy who dreams of the country life, so having married into a family of farmers was a wonderful thing. Both Janene and I dream of life on a farm - homesteading, gardening, and raising the kids in the country. Every time I visit one of the family farms, I feel even more drawn to "the life."

The Fence

We recently had the chance to attend a graduation party for one of the cousins, out at their farm. Man alive, my soul simply sang at the beauty, and the life. At home, we've started a veggie garden (not quite there, but soon to have almost 600sq ft of space, plus containers, plus blueberries / raspberries), a mini-orchard (with 7 fruit trees), plans for a greenhouse and a full container garden, and full landscaping. We expect to introduce rabbits, bees, and perhaps a goat as well as chickens sometime in the next couple of years. We're working to reduce our footprint, increase our self-sustainability, and introduce practical knowledge and experience in the youth of our children.

A River Runs Through It

As I was contemplating our goals, my personal desires, and where we're at - I realized that the "dream of life" as I've labeled it in my mind is absolutely a journey and not a destination. And it's a journey that we can participate in at any point, no matter where we find ourselves - whether on 100+ acres or on less than 1/4 of an acre in the city... or even in an apartment.

On the zipline

Don't let your current circumstances stop you from making changes in your life towards the life you dream of living. Even small changes can enlighten us, teach us, and move us forward. After all, for most of us huge life change is unrealistic all at once - but we can make many small changes and over time find ourselves rewarded and happier than we ever thought possible.

The Garage Yard

At The Pump

What's one single small change you can make right now to move yourself towards your life's goals?

*I intend to release multiple posts with photos from "The Valley" where some of the family farm is. But since I have literally hundreds of photos... it'll be spread out over quite a few posts. *grin*