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#12 - Art Shows, House Building & Toddlers

Juggling two kids into the current schedule was certainly challenging my time management abilities!... even with my Sleep Is For Sissies motto. It was tricky to 'fit it all in'. We were at an all time new level of activity :)

Now, the concept of adding on a school schedule was creeping ever closer. How would that even be possible?

We lived 'out in the woods' FAR from town. The logistics were complicated. We considered home schooling. After all, I have a degree in education - but where would I ever find the additional time for that?

We needed to really consider our options with this new balance of kids and self-employed artist parents.

Through it all, we continued to work on the house. And finally, our 'barn-turned-house', complete with slate roof, was just about finished! Ahhhhhhhhhh..... THAT was an accomplishment!

The 'silo' had the kids nursery in the top with wilderness views for miles. Not another house could be seen. We could hike and ski right from our property. I loved it!

The kitchen was finished with local butternut, birds eye and curly maple handmade cupboards. A friend carved leaves into the maple trim around the window. (Thanks Jim!) I found a large slate counter top (from an old prison cell wall!!) for the kitchen island. The master bathroom was complete with great antique french double doors that were my 'birthday gift' - lots of skylights, a glass enclosed shower and beautiful views from the tub. We had a pond for the kids that we stocked with trout and could ice skate on in the winter, 2 brooks, and a swing set in the yard...

For the kids bathroom, I found an awesome ceramic studio in NY that made amazing handmade tile complete with frogs and lily pads...

P.S. - Don't tell them this tub photo is in here. They are teenagers now and would kill me ;)

We designed every corner of that house...

And we were considering moving!

The idea was getting traction.

The West had inspired me since I was 4 when I first visited Yellowstone. Those vast and gorgeous landscapes and abundant wildlife could inspire our Art in a whole new way.

Loosing close family members early, I know all too well that life is short. I loved the West and if we didn't move before Nola went to school, we probably wouldn't. So we kept at it. We were now real estate hunting every time we left town... just to see if there was a good fit.

Go to a show – add a couple days on to check out nearby towns for potential. Buy books on "The Best Art Towns in America". The world wide web was now a thing - search town stats for info and compare. I even made charts on education levels. Really.

We were honing in. We were getting serious.

Through our travels, we started narrowing it down to a few areas in a few western states. Then we found real estate agents and had local newspapers sent to us in the Adirondacks to learn more about those areas. Looking for properties was now my 'side job'.

Life was definitely FULL... We had a lot of work lined up and fit in Shows too. Traveling cross country in a camper with our wares and loads of 'kid paraphernalia' to keep them entertained... arriving at our destination to set up, exhibit for a few days and then tear it all back down and pack it back up... while entertaining 2 young kids... THEN setting off to real estate hunt immediately after... Phew.

After a particularly busy show time – from the Adirondack Museum Show in Blue Mountain Lake NY, to the National Museum of Wildlife Art Show in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and onto the Western Design Conference in Cody, Wyoming - ALL within a month - I was getting tired.

When the round of Shows was behind us, we came up to Paradise Valley in Montana to real estate hunt. We were narrowing it down to this general area of south central Montana. The property values were MUCH higher than in the Adirondacks so our options were slim. What we could afford was looking dismal.

Not as bad as that school bus in the Adirondack woods, but not what we had in mind to be willing to leave our beautiful property in NY behind.

I remember the moment still, we had been considering one more "cute and cozy" house (at least that's what the real estate ad said) on a VERY bad small lot and the kids were both fussing.

That’s when I had ENOUGH. I was D O N E real estate hunting. D O N E. New York was for me. I said I would live in that gorgeous creative barn house we built with our hand scribed log studio for the rest of my life. I would not look at one. more. property. EVER!!! And that was said with conviction ;)


Shirl Ireland
Shirl Ireland
Dec 08, 2019

I loved the silo too - even found a round crib for Nola for the nursery in the silo :)


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