We have spent our whole life preparing for this moment. That is what I believe and even tell myself before engaging in the next big thing. Well, this is my next big thing—our blog.
I, Kelly Kiki, am an English teacher of 23 years. Of course, I never set out to be this nor was I even prepared or qualified to be this, but that is life. Why? It is quite simple: I never learned to read or write till my mid 20s. I have kept that from most people in my life. You can imagine why.
The reason? Well, there are many I suppose, but the most obvious is my disabilities that I have learned to wrestle with and to overcome my entire life. I have never shied away from a challenge.
In my youth, I spent much of my time hiding this from others even though I was in in special education programs throughout middle school and high school.
At the end of high school, my choices were very limited; thus, I chose the United States Coast Guard. I enlisted on the delayed 2-year program and stayed seven years. Apparently, I was a slow learner. I guess it took me seven years to learn what most would in two.
Those seven years gave me more than I can ever repay of country and those that I served alongside. From my two years upon cutters to my five years flying search and rescue on the CG HH-65 helicopters, my life was filled with adventure and learning.
Due to my challenges, I had to take the ASVAB, the test to get in the military, many times to not only get in but to also qualify to work and fly on helicopters. Even then, I was three points shy. It was the kindness in others that saw more in me than I saw in myself to wave the points and let me go to avionics school. The power in surrounding yourself with folks that believe in you is priceless. Well, the rest is history.
When I left the military at 24, I still didn’t know how to read or write, so I attended our local community college at the direction of my high school wrestling coach and a man that also served in the Coast Guard, Mr. Dale Bouge, that instilled in me that I would make a great teacher and coach. Again, the power of surrounding yourself with folks that believe in you is priceless.
Truth be know . . . when I filled out my paperwork to start college at Spokane Community College, I didn't know how to spell college or education. Who says that grit and resiliency aren't real?
After two sub-100 English classes, I was off and learning. Six years later and a graduate of Whitworth University, I was officially an English teacher. Why English? I was told by a wise man once that one needs to make his or her weakness one's greatest strengths. The same wise man told me that whatever major that I strive for in college I need to pursue a minor in English, for everything that I will do involves reading, writing, and communicating.
After 23 years of learning and teaching, I find myself here with you—still learning and maybe even struggling. After all these years, my passion is storytelling. Either in front of a crowd or at my computer, I seek to share the beauty that I see in the world as well as some of the tough lessons that make us human.
That which Brings me Strength and Encouragement
Behind every good writer is a better editor and behind every good husband is a better wife. This is my wife of 30 years: Dawn. She has stood with me through all the story above. She has guided me, supported me, forgiven me, and loved me. And, yes, edits my writing. Though I teach English, I am aware of the need for a good editor.
It is on our farm that we continue to nurture and love our children, Caitlynn and Justus, and our many furry and feathered friends. It is on our little farm that we seek new adventures in nature and love.
Freelancing While Learning the Trade
It is hard to believe that I spent about six years freelance writing in four different local magazines. It all started with my sister, Lisa John, and the magazine that she created: Adult Care Resource. It was a writing adventure that I will never forget as my column was storytelling. The task was to interview individuals that were near or above 100-years-old. I even got a chance to speak with family members as well. In the end, I was honored to tell their life stories.
I've shared stories of small-town men and women that rose above their times to live a full life and to pass on their legacy. One memorable article was about a friend who survived four years of Hitler's Holocaust. What a great man. In the end, I left my sister's magazine with a final article called "Touched by an Angel."
With experience in writing and now almost 10 years in construction, I went on to write in Spokane Building Magazine where I wrote many "how to" articles and cover stories. One cover story targeted Dave Black's back yard water feature; it was more like a 100' river that recycled itself back up hill by many high powered pumps—spectacular.
The final Magazine that I put my name to was Northwest Women's Magazine. I say final, though I only listed three magazines, because the other magazine I wtote for, which I won't mention, took my sister's magazine ideas, created their own magazine, and muscled her out of the region. It hurt my heart as I was the one that brought the idea to them trusting that they would take my sister's visions and magazine to the next level.
Northwest Women's Magazine hired me to write a column on restaurant reviews. Yep, I was able to eat at all the finest dining in Spokane for free and then get paid to write my discoveries—brilliant!
Since Justus', our son, arrived in our family in 2007, my freelance writing has been limited. Well, I have spent the past 15 years pretending that I was a blogger writing regularly on my personal social media page and a few non-profit Facebook pages. It was here that I found my current voice. I shared stories while raising funds to help those in the greatest need.
The lessons that I have learned strengthened my teaching in my classroom. I learned not only the power of each story but also the influence of each word.
Our Farm House
In late summer of 2018, our family left the gated community of South Spokane for a little slice of heaven. When we arrived, we had two cats and two children. We left a small, manicured yard and a house only owned by us. There were regulations and expectations for just about everything—even our children riding bikes in the street.
With our farm house in Mead, life is going to be much different. The original structure and farm began in 1900. The original homesteaders farmed this fertile soil over 100 years ago. Now, it is our turn.
I think that I have spent 80% of my time outside since moving in. My wife confirm that. Our family has built structure after structure, trimmed tree after tree, planted fruit tree after fruit tree, built and planted garden after garden, and added animal after animal.
At this point, we are up to 30 hens, one rooster, four Sebastopol geese, one rabbit, three cats, and many guests that pass through. Of course, I am reminded often that we don't have a dog.
Last year, we spent four months staining our thirsty cedar, sided house. It was an adventure, nonetheless, as the home had not been stained for over 20+ years. It took almost four coats!
In addition, I spent a couple weeks cleaning out our root cellar and painting three coats of concrete paint sealer so that we could store our produce.
Yes, there is so much more to complete. Our dreams are bigger than our time. One thing is for sure, with each other, our farm will never be short of adventure and love.
To Our Readers
We appreciate your willingness to journey with us on our little farm. We are grateful for your willingness to share with others and invite them along. We look forward to the many chances to share our family, farm, and faith. We will openly share our successes and failures as well as our unwavering love for our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In time, we seek to visit others in our area to see their backyard farm adventures. It takes a community that supports one another to establish strong roots.
Additional Adventures with Our Family
Our family is also the proud owners of the Brambleberry Cottage and Tea Shoppe
for the past 26 years here in Spokane.
Dawn is also co-owner of her own art and interior design company: Paint Room Studios -PRS Design
I currently sit on the board of Veterans Community Response and assist Mayor Woodward and beautiful city as a member of the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Downtown Environment in Spokane.