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Today has been a breaking point for me in my mothering.  I am not a good mother right now.  I don’t have control over our days.  I’m left feeling empty and lost.  I raise my voice at Deladis too much, and I find myself angry.  There, I’ve laid it out honest.  Both girls are at a stage where they seem to need me every waking moment of the day.  Deladis has made whining and crying a habit (part of that is my fault too for giving in to make it stop).  She doesn’t have the skills to think things through, yet wants to do things on her own.  Ivy – well she’s the dare devil that I’ve written about before and still such a baby.  When we are home they don’t seem satisfied, or maybe they seem to need me too much.

Me – I’m at a stage where I feel like I need distance.  I need time to be me.  I want to exercise (I’m interested in more solitary forms of exercise lately like kickboxing and yoga.).  I so desperately need time to write.  I want to be productive as a person alongside of my mothering.  I feel like now is the time for me to use my skills in writing for the benefit of my family and for my personal need for creating things.  I figure I need three hours of mostly uninterrupted time to accomplish those two things.  I can deal with minor interruptions during writing times.

Then, there are my other responsibilities.  We just got word that our food budget has dropped to $269 monthly for four people.  This is going to mean even more time in the kitchen for me, as even more things (like Deladis’s rice milk) will be cheaper made from scratch.  This means more dishwashing, which I do by hand.  It also means that the success of our garden is more important than ever.  So, getting it fully planted and maintained will fall mostly to me.  There is the normal housework – sweeping, laundry, dusting, and cleaning the bathroom.  Also, gathering our week’s worth of cooking/drinking water.

Organizing our cabin is a must.  Deladis’s room is nearly impassable, and she can’t clean up alone yet.  I’ve taken three boxes of toys to Goodwill and it is still too full.  I need to get clothes together to go to consignment.  We need to put our Christmas decorations in storage at my mother-in-law’s.

These are all my responsibilities.  John is too busy to help much with any of these things.  He would if he could, but an artist’s work never ends it seems.  Especially when he is a one man show running his own business.  Notice I haven’t even mentioned the responsibilities of taking care of the girls.  Diapering, bathing, nurturing, feeding, and discipline (of which I am horrible with).

Deladis is acting out more and more.  I have been planning to homeschool her until I received word that the state is reforming the standardized testing, doing away with writing portfolios.  Now, I’m seriously considering sending her to school.  Maybe she needs some time apart from me.  Time to be with children – her peers.  Maybe I need that time too.  Am I horrible for thinking it?  So, I looked into preschool, but we don’t qualify for public preschool here, and other than that the only other choice is a childcare center which I don’t want and we can’t afford.  The only other real preschool opportunity we would have is one where I would have to drive her 30 minutes there and another 30 minutes back.  It would be outside of our community.  It looks like I will be with her primarily until she goes to kindergarten, if and when she does.  That is fine.  I want to be her teacher.  I want to be her guide.  That has always been the plan.  I have to find a way to make it work for the both of us.

I’ve decided our only solution is to develop a rhythm.  I’m horrible with being spontaneous.  I awake each morning with a list of things I want to accomplish and I just go about it as quickly as I can.  No rhythm at all.  No predictability for my girls.  When we lived in Louisville, we attended a Waldorf Parent/Child Program where developing a domestic rhythm was emphasized.  The Waldorf inspiration is something of the city that I miss, and the community of mothers it created.  Our neck of the woods would benefit so much from that kind of influence.  I would still benefit from it.

The goal of the rest of the week is to plan a rhythm that is open-ended.  I want to keep all of our needs in mind.  I want our goals to be met.  Mine, my husband’s, and my girls’.  I don’t even know if it can be done, but I have to try.  It is my hope to redeem myself and my relationship with my girls.  I want to feel that my days are meaningful and not one running into the next with building frustrations.  I want to enjoy mothering.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about my developing rhythm and whether it is working for me or not.  I’m also going to be posting about working with our food budget and what that will entail as I know we are not the only ones dealing with the economic downturn.  I’m going to add a recipes page that you will find linked at the top of the main blog page where I will add recipes and other food ideas.  If all works well, I hope to post more about the progression of my writing as a career.  Today, I will be attending Evening with Poets and tomorrow workshopping with the state’s poet laureate Gurney Norman!

I have also decided to post my new blogs at night as one of my final activities of the day.  You can look for the new ones then… or the next morning. 🙂  Click by on May 2nd to find out who won the pink wool soaker by AngelLuvz.

cheeseI began yesterday as any other day.  I blogged, did Taebo, set out 4 rows of onions, and two rows of carrots.  But, when John returned home from Pick and Bow, we began our own simple celebration of the birth of a child I never thought I’d have.  First, her daddy gave her her present – a tiny sock monkey (Handmade by Leniavell Trivette) he bought while at Merlefest.  It is gorgeous and Ivy loved it, kissing it.  Then, her daddy put her new swing her Papaw and Mamaw Hansel bought her on the swingset.  She thought it was so funny to be able to swing by herself and she laughed.  Later, she nearly fell asleep swinging with her sock monkey.

For supper, I made Beef Tarjne and it was a hit – I think.  Deladis ate it good.  I liked it.  Ivy ate some baked potato with sour cream and butter.  That is one of her favorite foods.  Then, since I could not find the recipe for the peanut butter balls :(, we decided to go to Dairy Queen to buy the girls a treat.

icecreamIvy had her very first ice cream.  She liked it much better than chocolate cake!

slushDeladis loved her cherry Artic Rush.  You can see her enjoyment all over her face.

Sitting in the dark at the DQ.

Sitting in the dark at the DQ.

Ivy enjoyed it being dark.  A warm breeze was blowing in some rain and it felt good on our skin.  Ivy liked watching the headlights and taillights on all the cars going by.  We decided to let her play a bit.

partyhardyAbout 9:30pm we headed back toward the holler.  I think we all had glad hearts.  It may not have been a birthday bash spectacular, but I think it was one that celebrated the moment appropriately.

Today is Ivy Pearl’s birthday.  Actually, 2:12am this morning was.  She is officially 1 year today.  I am officially no longer the mother of an infant.  I approach this day with celebration and trepidation.  I am so happy to have a healthy, rambunctious little girl who is full of fight and fun.  I am excited about her being a toddler.  Even more excited about not having a big birthday bash for her like we tried with Deladis for the last three years.  We are having a simple celebration with just the four of us.  I’m going to make peanut butter balls for an after dinner treat.  We had a chocolate cake that I made at mom’s for them to eat.  Ivy didn’t like cake.

At first she thought it looked like fun!

At first she thought it looked like fun!

I am apprehensive about my feelings surrounding her birth.  It was this time last year that my water broke with no labor.  Then, I went through every stage of labor, but didn’t dilate.  It was this time last year that I waited for nearly 2 days to birth triumphantly, and birthed through cesarean a second time.  I am not actively grieving anymore, but I am still full of fire about spreading the word on cesarean births.  I tried a separate blog for that, but it didn’t seem to be working.  I am planning to include a few posts in the next few weeks on the topic here.  I can say that I feel having homebirth as a viable legal option should be a mainstay in every state.  Homebirth midwives are birth heroes in my eyes, and the reason that Ivy’s birth was as good as it was.

I am also sad that I will never have the chance at VBAC again.  It’s not that I want to parent another child, nor is it that I don’t.  I simply don’t believe it is right for me, right now.  I will never know how it feels to birth fully – birth true.  I’ve come to terms with that, but it doesn’t take away the desire to know the feeling.

I look at Ivy today and am happy for her and me.  We came through a year’s journey that was full and fulfilling.  I look at Ivy today and I am glad we are back in our holler, together as a family.  My girls make home a very unlonely place.  I look at Ivy today and I see her potential.  Full of spunk, spark – life.  I wonder what she will be.  I wonder who I will be when I look into a woman’s eyes and see my baby Ivy in there.  Happy Birthday Ivy Pearl.

Ivy Pearl: born 11 pounds – 22 inches (The journey began at 5pm on April 26th and ended at 2:12am April 28th.)

Birthday

Birthday

Ivy Pearl: Birthday + 1 – 19 pounds and 30 inches

ivy-b-day

For my workout on Friday, I decided to walk the hill trail where we drove the Samurai to look for morels the day before.  I planned to walk the entire trail we took in about 45 minutes.  Mother was going to watch my girls.  It would be time in peaceful quiet.  Like a Simon and Garfunkel song.

I started out, up Dry Fork, made it to the end of the paved road, and started on the dirt path.  The sun gave perfect light.  I noticed a feeling of freedom coming over me.  Without Ivy Pearl on my back, I felt airy.

I passed an old cabin where many families were raised.  I’d love to have a place like it of our own.  Something to hand down to the girls, or our grandchildren.  An asset.  The land up in there is triumphant.  A masterpiece of the Creator.  I’m hoping a little piece of what is to come.

A small white dog comes out of the trees toward me with a scowl.  I slow down a bit, but let him know I’m not scared.  He runs passed.  I, then, notice a female Doberman with heavy teats.  I wonder what such a dog would be doing back in the woods when I hear her puppies’ various grunts and squeals.  I start up one of the steepest inclines I’ve ever hiked.

My legs sting with the effort, but I push myself onward.  I make it to the top without stopping.  I walk a few feet to catch my breath, then my heart told my legs to run.  It had been years since I’ve ran.  I believe I was twenty-two the last time.  With my crooked spine, I’m not supposed to run, but I had to.  I used to run cross country in high school.  I loved running through the woods, and I loved it now.  There was always something that attracted me to the primitiveness of the sport.  The loneliness.  I like accomplishing something without a team.

I saw ancient moss covered boulders placed on ledges maybe by an earthquake, shifting tectonic plates, or when Kentucky was covered by the ocean.  I saw again the flowers.  More beautiful than anything cultivated.  My breath fell to a rhythm of two breaths in and two breaths out.  I did not grow tired.

I ran the entire way back to mother’s.  When I came off the mountain and hit the pavement of Dry Fork, a heaviness filled my lungs and threatened to slow my legs.  I passed houses and trailers.  People sitting on porch swings, working in gardens, watching their children play.  The real world seeped back into my soul like a change of life sped up.  When I got back to mom’s, I did some stretching, and with a smile entered the house refreshed.

What happens when an off-grid living mother and her three year old who have no access to cable television come into the “real world” where 73 channels are at there fingertips?  It’s sad to say – a vegetative state.  It’s true folks.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoy TV viewing.  I’ve enjoyed it since childhood, and took it very seriously.  I used to run around in my underpants until Mr. Rogers came on.  I put on pants to watch him because I was convinced he could see through the TV.  Why shouldn’t he be able to?  He could do everything else. 😉    So, it’s a good thing we are without it at home.  I am much more productive, and was hoping to be while here.  But, what’s a vacation – right.

See there is “Locked Up Abroad”.  Who wouldn’t want to hear stories about folks drug dealing overseas and getting caught.  Pretty dag gone interesting.  I’ve learned not to carry a gun in Mexico.  Oh, and there’s Gangland.  That can be a good one.  I especially enjoy the ones on prison gangs.  It is amazing how those guys function.  I love The History Channel, the scholarly Bible shows being my favorite.  Have you ever watched the one on the “7 Deadly Sins”?  Ooo…Ooo and Man v. Food!  I’d love to go where he’s gone… and eat – shoot!  Plus, Adam seems like an old  friend.  Between National Geographic, Discovery, TLC, A&E, The History Channel, and PBS, I’m pretty well covered as far as entertainment goes.  I could waste a heck of a lot of time.

Then, there’s Deladis.  She is a movie buff at three.  She is a real Tim Burton fan.  We started out as a no television family, but with her bout of sickness the TV increased a bit.  At least it was controlled by us, and movies – no commercials.  Here, there is PBS Kids.  She loves “Super Why” and “Word World”.  “Sid the Science Kid” is also a favorite.  Then, there’s “Yo Gabba Gabba” which I will let her watch.  It is one of the only kids shows that has intelligent music, and I like their themes.

It almost feels sinful that there is a television in the living room and every bedroom of my mother’s house.  We can each watch what we want – be happy.  I feel foolish telling cyberspace of my affair with the television, and letting my daughter partake in such madness.  I come close to feeling like a guilty mother.  But, it’s once every so often, and I learn what is going on in the world.  O’Bama’s been president since January and I really have no idea what he’s been up to.  Looking at healthcare, hopefully.  Maybe that is what I’ll find out next. 🙂

The sun was bright, but not too hot.  Deladis ran around my step-dad (Wiley) as he worked cutting brush.  I put Ivy in the mei-tai and decided to go hunt the last of the dry land fish (morels).  I thought I’d hunt behind Wiley’s kennels for his coon dogs.  I started across the bridge and Wiley told me to wait.  We’d go hunt them where the neighbors found a big mess.

We loaded the girls into his Suzuki Samurai and headed up the holler.  Wiley took the Samurai up the steepest incline to get to the top of the mountain.  That vehicle took it like a mule.  The girls laughed.  They said “weee”.  We were all smiling.

At the top of the mountain, Wiley parked the Samurai and we all got out.  I was taken by the beauty of the spring mountain.  I had never made it that far up the holler hiking as a kid, so it was my first time seeing this view.  My old hillside hangout has been dug out and is now someone’s front yard.  This mountain was vastly larger.

Flowers of varying hues of purple, yellow, and white dotted the earth.  They stuck out around the fallen trees and dry leaves left by weather and winter, making a glorious display of life.  The subtle richness was unique to my eyes.  It humbled me as the Kentucky mountains always seem to do.

We started up the steep hillside.  Again, I put Ivy in the mei-tai.  Wiley helped Deladis.  I had no idea how to go about looking for morels.  I wanted to eat them.  I looked around decaying logs.  In moist spots.  We only found three.  Wiley called the neighbor who came up the hill on a 4-wheeler (ATV) to show us the best spot.

By the time we got to the best spot, Deladis was tired and crying.  Being physical is hard for her and not her first choice of activity.  Ivy was cooing on my back.  I think she’d have stayed there all day.  Deladis finally gave up crying for a nest in the leaves and dirt.  She sat sucking her thumb while we looked around her.  We searched a while longer finding three more.  Deciding that was enough for a taste, we headed down the hillside to the Samurai.

As we scooted through muck and dry leaves, we spotted a low flying helicopter.  It flew in the valley below where we were on the mountain.  Already, they are seeking out marijuana growers.  Deladis started crying again because she couldn’t see the bright blue of the helicopter through the trees.  It was gone before she caught a glimpse.  We made it to the Samurai and took it off the hill.

Back at Mom’s, we saw the first snake of the warm seasons.  A garter snake, as spry as a young pup.  Deladis loved watching it crawl behind my mother’s hastas.  She loves animals so much.  Soon, I will have to teach her how to identify snakes.  She needs to know a copperhead when she sees one as she plays around our cabin.  Water moccasins too.  Be still.  Don’t run.  Simply back up for a distance and walk away.  A snake is more scared of you than you are of it.

After getting the girls some lunch, I prepared to fry the dry land fish for my own lunch.  I rinsed the dirt from the six we found and let them drain on a paper towel.  I heated two tablespoons of bacon fat in a small skillet on high heat.  I wallowed the morels in one egg, and then in a mixture of organic medium grind Bob’s Red Mill cornmeal, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I fried them until golden and ate while warm.  Absolutely delicious!  They made a fabulous lunch and were so much better than any mushroom you can buy from a store in texture and flavor.

A lovely afternoon.  Watching my step-dad be a Poppa to my girls.  Seeing them all smile.  Spending a few hours in the mountains of my childhood home.  Eating traditional Appalachian food.  A blessed afternoon.

Today’s post should have been about the beautiful Spring blooms all over the mountains around our house.  There are so many and they are unique.  I’ve really wanted to share them with others.  But, my camera is out of batteries, 2 out of 3 vehicles we have are not running, and John left for Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina in our only running vehicle yesterday.  No going out for batteries for me.  Instead, we are staying with my mother, and I am posting a blog of laments.

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary says “lament” as a transitive verb means to regret strongly.  I regret strongly – very strongly – that all of my broccoli and tomato seedlings have perished.  They got too big for my little Jiffy greenhouse and peat pots and when I moved them to plastic egg cartons and free air, they wilted and died.  Apparently, vegetable seedlings are more dainty than flowers.  I’ve planted and grew flowers every year of my mature life with great success.  This is my first time vegetable gardening on my own.  With such a rainy Spring, the ground is too wet to direct seed.  The dirt clumps.  I am beginning to think that our first attempt at a large garden to feed our family might be more of a learning experience than an experience that ends in an abundance of food.

I also believe that my cloth diapering days have come to an end in great sadness.  Yes, I’m saying this the day after Earth Day.  I regret it strongly.  After moving off grid, I have been battling ammonia stinks in my diapers.  I have boiled, boiled, and boiled them.  I have stripped, stripped, and stripped them.  I have tried countless detergents.  I have used baking soda and vinegar together and separately.  I have done multiple rinses.  Multiple hot rinses.  Switched from a pail to a wet bag and back to a pail.  The culprit is our hot water heater combined with untreated well water.  Our hot water heater is old and doesn’t get very hot without shutting itself off.  It does fine for most things like dishwashing and bathing, so we can’t justify purchasing another one just yet.  Our water is tainted with sulfur and/or iron and comes from an untreated well.  I have come to the conclusion that it will be impossible for me to rid us of the stinkies.  I have decided to boil my diapers once more and send my stash of them to a friend due soon.  I suppose I’ll be ordering 7th Generation Diapers from www.diapers.com.  I’ll be doing this despite the fact that UPS doesn’t acknowledge that our address exists, and I’ll have to have them sent to my mother’s house.  It has come to the choice of using bacteria laden diapers on my Ivy, or disposables.  It breaks my heart.  I truly enjoy using cloth.

Ivy’s first birthday is in 5 days.  I will no longer and never again be the mother of an infant.  In a way, I too, regret that strongly.  I so loved being pregnant and anticipating birth.  I so wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and a homebirth.  I relished holding a newborn.  Nursing an infant is heavenly.  Watching a baby grow from inside your womb to the outside is like watching a miracle.  Now, my baby runs.  My first born sings her ABCs and plays outside all by herself.  Soon, they will have their own pursuits independent of needing me.

Next week will be joyful.  John will be home again.  We will celebrate Ivy’s birthday.  I will get to see my writing in print as I am being published in the upcoming issue of Kudzu Magazine.  I won the 2009 Gurney Norman Prize for Short Fiction to my ultimate delight.  Gurney Norman is a writing hero of mine, and I think his short story “Fat Monroe” is one of the best ever written.  I will get to attend Evening With Poets, and get to workshop with Gurney Norman the next day.  After a week of lamenting, I am looking forward to what is ahead.

I am resisting the thought that I might be the proud mother of the next Evil Knievel.  Ivy has been walking only a month and she is already all over the place.  She climbs on the hearth that stands about a foot and a quarter off the ground and balances, walking back and forth.

acrobat She has somersaulted from this height as well, tucking and rolling like a gymnast.  She has also somersaulted from our back porch, which sits about as high as the hearth.  She loves walking the edge of the porch – right against the edge.  It’s not that I am not trying to protect her.  I am – very hard.  Protecting her consumes the biggest part of my day.  It is just futile running.  She sees no danger and listens to no one who tries to keep her safe.

Ivy thoroughly enjoys strumming her daddy’s guitars (the guitar and bass seem to interest her most), but I think she enjoys standing on top of the instrument cases just as much.  Her latest feat is standing in Deladis’s rocking chair.  She stands and holds the back of it and rocks.  She has also figured out how to sit and rock, which, as you can see, makes her really pleased with herself.

happyYoga is another passion of hers.  She assumes the downward facing dog position several time daily.  I would approximate around 20.  She executes the position perfectly – beautifully.  I’d love to say she got it from Mama, but I have tight hamstrings and my down dog is not textbook.  If at some point, I’m lucky enough to snag a picture,  I’ll have to add it to this post.

Currently, she is packing a black eye.  Imagine a boxer’s eye just after a fight, though not split open.  She walks all over the house all day long.  After getting tired, her little legs aren’t as sure and she falls.  Falls and knocks against things.  Though, try to  make her sit down before she is good and ready, and she will scream like you’ve pinched her.

Now, it’s on to figuring out how to nurture this dual gift that can lead to great excellence as well as great danger.  Wish me luck fellow parents.

From Wild Wild World: Gorillas by Liza Jacobs copyright 2003 Blackbirch Press –

“A female gorilla is pregnant for about 9 months.  When a baby gorilla is born, it weighs about 5 pounds.  Baby gorillas stay close to their mothers and are very well cared for.  They drink their mother’s milk for 3 or 4 years.  They also eat solid food starting at about 6 months old.

A baby gorilla sleeps with its mother.  The mother also carries her baby for the first year.”

Today during our little school time, I read this passage to Deladis.  It made me smile.  In this small segment is attachment parenting, breastfeeding, child lead weaning, cosleeping, and babywearing.  All these things are things I do too.  All these things are done by amazing mama gorillas.

In the natural world, there is an order to things.  A system that when left alone goes uncorrupted.  In this world of gorillas, they have a system of parenting.  One that insures their infant the best possible chance at survival, and a healthy full life.  Since Darwinism, many people are either claiming we are more evolved monkeys or they are trying to make sure that we in no way shape or form resemble our fellow primates.

When I read this passage, I felt like congratulating myself and other mothers who are making the attempt to learn and do what is natural when it comes to parenting.  Here we have an animal that is not bogged down with gaining wealth, industrializing, and gathering material things.  They are not uber intelligent beings set on a crash course for self destruction.  Their parenting skills are uneffected by these empty goals.  They are using the instincts given them by their Creator.  That is all I am trying to do.  Parent by instinct and the obvious choices of what is right for my girls.  I was amazed by the excellence in mothering these gorillas achieved by instinct, and intuition, and can only hope that I do as good a job as they do.  They are my new mothering heros.

Every year in April the mountain city of Pikeville, that holds a ton of millionaires supposedly, hosts Hillbilly Days.  It is a celebration of all things hillbilly – especially music.  One older fella, who was attending for his 33rd year in a row, said it was next only to the Kentucky Derby Festival.  It is also an excuse to cut a rug, and that is just what the Haywoods did.

streetThe city street and Daddy on his first mission of the weekend – a hot dog for Deladis.

snakegalAfter said hot dog, Deladis had to see the extreme reptiles.  Notice the hot dog still in her hand.  I think she enjoyed the snakes as much as the hot dog.

backpackIvy would have loved to walk in the crowd, but she was just as happy to ride Mama’s back in the mei-tai.  Mama was happy to give her a ride too.

2hillbilliesHere are two of my hillbillies in front of a hillbilly car that was one of many on display there.  These people have “clans” from all over the mountain states and come to show their cars at the festival.

bigroytandcrewWe went to promote traditional music and mountain art.  This rowdy bunch of folks are our good friends and wonderful old time musicians on the main stage at Hillbilly Days.

Deladis with her elders.

Deladis with her elders.

There was no shortage of lovely ladies to teach our young gals how to dance the old time way.  Deladis got in on the action after several tries and cold feet.  She’s a bit reserved like her mama, but it’s in both our souls and we have to do it anyway.

balancing-act

Ivy takes another approach altogether.  She’s always ready for action, and has no qualms about going for it.  First, a balancing act on a guitar case, then finding her way on stage to help the bass player, J.T. Cure.

onstage

togetherAnd sometimes, when the time is right… Mama will dance too. 🙂

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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