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It takes us awhile to recover from Christmas.  In two days, we have Christmas festivities with four families.  This week we are traveling to South Carolina (where I am writing this) and later to Cincinnati to see more family.  The two days we’ve gotten to spend at home have been spent in rest and trying to find places for the new toys.  We gave a box of toys the week before Christmas to my nephew to help us with that task.

I have never been an organizer of things.  I organize myself and I have places for things that I care about in my home, but when it comes to having things look neat and tidy – I fail miserably.  Our house is clean where it counts.  The toilet, bathtub, dishes washed, and clothes washed, but neat and tidy it is most definitely not.  I have tried before.  I was fairly successful, but with so little room it has been hard to really make a difference.  Not being gifted with the talent of housekeeping has made it hard to maintain. 

John recently told me to let go of the standard I am trying to achieve.  In ten years of marriage, we’ve not had a neat home, even before kids.  It’s true.  Clean, but not neat.  With our various collections and our love for the written word, music, and art, comes a lot of things to be kept in our small cabin.  I am not doing a good job of managing it all.

Then, I am trying to find an organization that will work with me and my pursuit of becoming a certified childbirth educator.  There are none here to train under or observe.  Most organizations have at least that requirement.  Travel isn’t possible for me without making huge,expensive arrangements.  I also have to keep in mind the reputation of the certifying organization and the experience of others.  It is proving difficult, but I’m pushing onward.  I hope that by the time I finish my prenatal yoga training in April, that I can start offering my services to the women in our area. 

There is a lot of organizing to do.  We have been taking time off of our homeschooling.  I have been in deep spiritual study, and I am missing my yoga quite a bit.  I love seeing family and spending time in places away from home, but not being able to do my daily yoga is hard.  It is at those times when you can really tell what such a practice does for you.

I hope to be able to post more starting next week.  In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions on home organization or childbirth educator certification for such a rural mama, I’d love to read them.  Please comment.  I’m wishing you all a great New Year and some restful fun!

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photo by Brett Marshall (http://brettmarshall.blogspot.com)

I wish you all a blessed few days in all the holidays you are celebrating!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. 🙂

“Holed in” – This is a term used in these parts for a time when you have to stay put somewhere, usually at home, for a longer period of time than normal.  I’m assuming the term came from either underground coal mining or fox holes in the World Wars.  I can’t think of an older beginning, but “holed in” was exactly what we were this weekend.

From Friday evening to Sunday evening we were without power due to the big snow storm that hit our region.  For us, that also means without water as we have a well that runs on an electric pump.  Our one gas heater kept us warm enough, but the water situation got old.  Washing dishes with snow isn’t fun after a few meals of doing it.  So, when I realized it had been Wednesday since I had showered last and I learned my dad had all the amenities, we trekked out across the snow.  The four of us walked out of the holler as the truck wasn’t budging.  I borrowed our friend’s/neighbor’s wading boots and walked Ivy and myself across the water.  John and Deladis set out with our suitcase up the hill using the oddly placed bridge.

We made it to my dad’s (in the van which we park across the creek), got cleaned up, and John took me out to eat and finish some Christmas shopping for the niece and nephews while my dad and his wife watched the girls.  It was a much needed rest.  On the ride to the eating place, John and I both felt how tired we were.  You know how it is… you don’t feel how tired you are until you try to get out and go somewhere.  But, being out after five consecutive days of not leaving the holler, and going out with John made it super nice.  That is one thing John and I need more of – couple time.  I’m slowly working out what our needs are, and John and I have been talking quite a bit about how things should be for our lives to be balanced and whole.  I’m confident and hopeful.

The last time we were out was Wednesday night for Deladis’ first dance recital.  John’s mother has been helping us afford lessons for Deladis in tap, ballet, and jazz.  At first I thought it would be a good way for her to socialize with other little girls, but she turned out to be the only student in her age group this semester.  She has taken to dancing like it is a natural progression for her.  She has no problem being the only student, and looks forward to dance class days.  I have watched her develop her physical body in ways that she was a little behind other children her age since starting dance.  I’ve watched her grow stronger and enjoy physicality, which isn’t her preference of being.  Dance has helped balance her.

All of her grandparents, her great grandmother, her aunt and cousin, and John and I came to watch her dance.  We along with all the other parents and guests filled the room.  She practices behind a curtain with just her teacher watching, so I was a little nervous for her dancing in front of so many people.  I didn’t mention that to her though, and talked only about how fun it was going to be, and how much I was looking forward to finally seeing her dance.

She was ready to dance from the moment we walked into the room.

Getting her shoes on.

The oldest student is also in class by herself.  She is in high school and she danced first.  When it was Deladis’ time, she took the floor without hesitation.  My eyes teared over when hers met mine.  I could tell she was so pleased to share her talent with me.  We connected in that moment in that special way that hadn’t happened for a long time.  It felt perfect.

Looking to Mommy

Her music was “Away in the Manger”, and she was equipped with all the props.

At the end of the song, she gently placed her doll in the manger and pranced off the floor.  I couldn’t have been more proud.  I think her teacher was too.

After the next class performed, Deladis had another song – “We Need a Little Christmas” – where she showed us some of her tricks on the mat.

Eggroll

I will be trying my very best to keep her love of learning intact and her self confidence.  I see so many of my introverted ways in her, but she had the confidence to shine, and no one should ever put that light out.

We are taking a break from our homeschooling for the rest of the month.  We are all tired from the trying time we’ve had over the last little while.  I think a break will be what we need.  It is always good to reassess and take the time to just be what we are.  If I don’t get back here before the new year…. Happy Holidays to Everyone.  I wish you many happy days.

Be Blessed!

I’ve been threatening to announce something for a week or two now.  It’s time.  I’ve been struggling to come to terms with what I feel like are big failures in my life as a mama and homemaker.  I can’t keep my house straight or organized.  I’m tired and feel disconnected more than I would like to.  The fact is that I think I am getting burned out.  Without many breaks to be had, and with basically no social life aside from taking my girls to see their grandparents, I’m suffering to find balance.  I’m looking for an outlet.  I have to have one in order to do my job at home to the best of my ability.

A few week’s ago, I thought God had given me a very blunt answer to my prayers about what my life is supposed to be.  I thought the answer was that I was being selfish and I needed to realize that I chose life as a mother and wife and that being home, homeschooling, and homemaking – devoting my life solely to my children and husband was where I belonged and where my purpose lies.  I was not to add another activity, but focus on fixing my shortcomings at home, and find all the happiness I need in being given that blessing.

The answer that I had thought I had gotten was through something that I thought was happening to me.  Thought.  It boogers us up sometimes.  What I thought was happening was not, and I was disappointed.  Disappointed not because I had hoped or planned for this event to happen, but because I thought I was getting a straight answer and my worry and searching was over.  I had resolved myself to simply being what I am now and had vowed to make it work.  Now, I was back to square one.

Then, after a few days of mulling it over I realized what had actually happened was an open door.  It was a door that when stepped through allowed for me to make my life new.  It allowed me to acknowledge that my feelings of aloneness and churning were legitimate, and because they are I don’t have to try to rid myself of them by pretending there is something wrong with me.  Instead, I can do something about them.  That is what I have decided to do.

I need to use the talents and passions that God gave me.  I can write.  I am passionate about safe childbirth and breastfeeding.  I am in love with yoga.  Books make me happy.  I also need to make an effort to connect with others and get some time outside of the home.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my life in this holler.  I would live nowhere else, yet there needs to be balance in my life – a chance to breathe and contribute what I can.

I have decided to take a course and become a certified childbirth educator.  I would teach all aspects of birthing, but focus on helping women achieve a normal vaginal birth when possible.  I hope to help promote breastfeeding and natural childbirth.  I am also getting certified for teaching prenatal yoga in the spring.

Along with this, I plan to do more with blogging in the form of a couple of niche blogs that I’ll announce here when I get it all worked out.  I may try my hand at some nonfiction articles and submitting those.  I will also be stepping up finding a publisher for my short story collection and finishing my novel.  I may consider self-publishing.  I received a note from an editor on one of my story rejections this week encouraging me to send more.  Usually rejections are just the form letter, so when you get some real ink from a pen on there, it is promising.

I want to help bring in some income and I want to use my skills.  I want to have something to do that will relieve me a little from time to time.  I don’t know how I am going to work it around our homeschool schedule, or how I will manage childcare if I need it.  I’m taking the plunge without that being set in stone.  I have to.  For my sake and for my girls.  I simply feel like I was designed that way.

We are social beings – even the most introverted of us.  I read an article in the November/December issue of Mothering Magazine by Heather Hall about her family building a house where they lived along with her parents and her husband’s mother.  I have been looking into the history in women’s lives, and I also saw this article on the Mothering website.  The nuclear family living in separate houses from their elder parents and other family members is a relatively new thing.  Historically, women had a village around them, and we’ve all heard the statement – it takes a village to raise a child.  In other words, they had ready fellowship, an occasional break from their childcare duties, and an outlet.  Mothering where I am now is a very isolated thing.  I don’t think I have to feel guilty by feeling that I need something else to go along with my efforts here.  If I don’t have a village, I have to create a situation where we are all balanced and ready to be all we can be for each other.

As I work out what this will mean for my family, I will write about it.  We are still homesteading, and I am still homeschooling, and will primarily be a stay-at-home mom.  I will just be seeking to do some things on the side.

There is quite a bit going on around here right now.  Deladis had her first dance recital last night, and she did amazing!  She danced all by herself.  I’m so proud of her.  I had to take Ivy back to the doctor this morning for more medicine and blood draws.  I spent most of the rest of the day trying to recoup on the couch.  I have so much on my mind and with Ivy not able to sleep well at night, it is leaving me a little foggy.  I want to be on the top of my game when I write here, so I’ll make sense at least.  I have had to neglect the blog a bit, but I have many posts planned.  I should be posting more often real soon.

It has come time for some change in my life and it has become more obvious to me than ever.  I have some big plans and some big hope.  I can’t wait until I am able to write all about it here.  Thank you folks for the well wishes, and hanging in with me.  I’ll write a real post soon. 😉

There are those times in all of our lives when it seems like things fall apart one after the other.  The Haywoods are experiencing that right now.  I wanted to come on today and post something cheery or at the very least poignant.  Not possible.  I write it as it is – moment by moment and right now it just isn’t flowers and fluffy clouds.

We are all fighting colds.  John actually stayed home from teaching music today.  That is something he wouldn’t do without a good reason, not even if I think he has a good reason.  He is sick.  We are all exhausted.  Then, yesterday, our refrigerator decides to give out.  It took us awhile to notice and by that time we lost a lot of what I had stored in our freezer.  😦  I had stuff that I had stocked up on from our trip to Lexington and Whole Foods some months back.

What saddened me the most are the blackberries that I had picked all summer and hoped to turn into blackberry dumplings had completely thawed and were dripping all over the freezer.  The gas company took all my blackberries out with the new road.  I was waiting for a special day to celebrate those wild blackberries.  I quickly hopped online and posted to my favorite traditional foods forum and soon got a response to make a berry compote.  I had flour soaking for pancakes this morning, so that is what I did.  Berry compote is good on pancakes.

I had never made it before or had it that I can recall, so I referenced an online recipe and made it my own.

Berry Compote

  • Approx. 36 ounces of berries
  • 2 tbsps. of butter
  • 5 tbsps. of honey

Put everything in a warm skillet and cook down until you have about half the liquid you had in the pan after the initial heating.  Refrigerate and enjoy over ice cream, pancakes, or yogurt.

We ate it this morning and it was delicious.  I’m sure it did us good with all those antioxidants.

Instead of spending this day to rest, John went out to find a decent used refrigerator.  We scored one for $200, and he got it inside after having to take the back door off of the hinges.  I feel sorry for him.  It’s a two door.  I’ve never had one of those before.  This isn’t a good time for us to spend extra money either, but it happens I guess.

I’m praying.  I’m having some discipline issues too with Deladis.  Four is proving to be the hardest age yet for me and my mothering.  Discipline is something I have never been good at with young children.  Having impatience as your big dragon doesn’t help much either.  I’m sifting through that with tears.

Someone really cool once said… “There is always a calm before the storm.”  It’s storming now, so that tells me a calm is coming soon.  I’m looking for even the smallest patch of blue sky.

I still have to wait to tell my exciting news until the right time.  I can promise you however, (as someone has asked) that I am not pregnant.  Though that would be very exciting news indeed, it would send both mine and John’s parents into coronaries.  🙂  So, I shouldn’t be announcing that.  However, I don’t think we would mind all that much. 😉

Instead, I want to share with you some of our Christmas activities that we’ve been doing as part of our homeschooling.  I want this holiday to be a special one for my girls.  I have to be honest and say that coming from a family that experienced divorce, it was a difficult time for me as a child.  I wanted to be two places at once, and it was too much for a kid to feel.  As I mentioned before, John and I both still have a hard time being everywhere and doing everything we would like to be and do this season.  So, I want our own little family tradition to be sweet and simple.  Close knit.  Real.  Acknowledging all aspects of the season.

This year we are observing Advent for the very first time.  It is not commonly celebrated here, so I didn’t know all that much about how to do it up right.  When I went looking for books about Advent, I was asked if it was a foreign holiday.  I have managed to find enough information to adapt the holiday to our family and what we have on hand with the help of Festivals, Family, and Food by Diana Carey and Judy Large, and a great blog I am finding more and more helpful each time I visit it – The Parenting Passageway.

I made an Advent wreath from our grapevine wreath that we decorate seasonally, and some things we had around indoors and out.  It sits on our kitchen table.  The candles are lit at mealtimes.

Each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas we add more decoration to the wreath as we announce another part of the earth that is awaiting the birth of the Christ.

The first light of Advent is the light of stone-

Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants-

Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breeze dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts-

All await the birth, from the greatest to the least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind-

The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.

-I’ve seen this verse posted several places online without a source given.

I wanted to make an Advent calender, but I haven’t found the time.  Instead, we are using Christmas stickers on our everyday calender to mark off the days until the holiday, which we’ve marked with a manger scene.

I’m really enjoying this focus on the birth of Jesus that Advent brings.  So many times, we can get lost in the buying of gifts and attending parties that we can lose the sense of introspection that this season allows no matter our religious beliefs.  It is a time where we seek the warmth of what is inside of us, and I fear in so many ways we as an American people are having a trying time finding enough warmth to sustain ourselves – not because it isn’t there, but because we lose ourselves in what we think things should be like, rather than what they are.  I’m guilty of this myself, so maybe I am just projecting here.  I want my girls to have traditions they can remember fondly no matter the economic climate or what is going on in pop culture.  To add to the spirit of Advent, our Circle Time story has been the birth of Jesus.

We’ve also made ornaments and snowflakes from the Festivals, Family, and Food book.  The big tissue ball in the picture of the calender is one.

This is the smaller version for the tree.

Deladis loved making the snowflakes this week.  She was giddy.  Our theme for the last two weeks has been snow.  I love the focus on nature in Waldorf and acknowledging the important roles the seasons play in our lives – the role that Mother Earth plays.  Both of the girls have loved it, and I have watched them grow so much.  Ivy is now even trying to recite the poems and sing the songs in words.  Deladis told me for the first time she had a favorite part to the poem “Velvet Shoes” by Elinor Wylie – “We shall walk through the still town”.  They have especially enjoyed “Winter Morning” by Ogden Nash, but I can tell that Deladis’ favorite of all is

Dust of Snow

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

– Robert Frost

It is Mommy’s favorite too. 🙂

Christmas outfits from Mamaw Haywood

Hey Everyone!  Hop on over to Waiting for the Click where I am the featured “click” story of the day.  Leslee has an interesting and inspiring blog, and I am so happy to get to do a guest post for her.  I hope you will spend some time there and get acquainted with her words.

Take care and have a lovely day!

This week has been very difficult for me emotionally and physically, though I’m seeing the light.  I took Ivy to the doctor today and she has a sinus infection.  She has had congestion since before Thanksgiving, so I took the prescription for antibiotics though most doctors in this area don’t do a finger prick to confirm bacteria.  It hurts my heart to give her the antibiotic, but I think it is in order.  I took her for a chiropractic adjustment as well.  She is going to be better soon.  She’s playing with Deladis right now.

A week of ups and downs this has been.  I think I’m going to have some exciting news to share here soon.  I hope so, in one form or another.  🙂  We have had our family portrait made (even with a sick Ivy), and our house is decorated for Christmas.  The girls can’t wait.

With all of the girls’ excitement, this holiday is historically hard for both John and I.  We strive to make it as simple as possible at home, and there is always that feeling of guilt that we can’t buy things for people like they may buy for us.  But, this holiday isn’t about buying things.  It’s about unconditional love from one to another.

I made some of the ornaments for the tree with Deladis this week.  She had fun, but it was stressful for me as Ivy wasn’t happy.  They turned out lovely though, and she is proud of them.  When I can, I will get pictures.

I’ve been thinking about gifts for the whole week in one form or another.  This week I received two blog awards, which I will share when I have more time for a post.  I received a Joel Goldsmith book from another blogger, whom I have never met in person, which was purchased for me.  It blessed my heart.  I have thought of gifts passed.

Today, I was brought back to my time in the city right before we moved home.  Childbirth has been on my mind a lot this week.  In April2008, my homebirth attempt at a vaginal birth after a cesarean section turned into a hospital transfer with a repeat surgery.  As filled with joy as I was at having a healthy new baby, the surgery broke my heart.  Being without many, in real life, mama friends close by has been growing hard for me.  Remembering what happened after that surgery makes me long for that even more.  A group of women that I had become acquainted with online through our similar parenting beliefs, came together and brought me food for two weeks straight while I healed.  It was food made from the heart – homecooked.  Cookies, soups, meatballs, chicken, yummy stuff.  It was left on my doorstep, delivered in person with a second to chat, and placed in my hands with a hug.  That food nourished my in body and soul.  It fed my family when I could not.  I was left feeling cared for.  Now, that was an amazing gift.  Christmas gifts should be like this.

Our winter interactive nature table.

Please visit tomorrow’s post at Waiting for the Click, or today’s for that matter.  It is a great blog.  However, tomorrow I am the featured “click” story. 🙂  I even sent her a nice picture of myself. hehe

Ivy has been sick since Thursday night.  Fever and coughing.  I’m reluctant to call it the flu as no one else in our house has had those symptoms, but Ivy has been real poorly.  After sleepless nights keeping a check on the fever, it was amazing to wake up Saturday morning to see the ground covered in snow and huge chunky flakes falling from  the sky.  Both of the girls stood at our picture window mesmerized for the longest time.

Because Ivy is so sick, and we didn’t receive the best gravel job on the new road from the gas company, we decided it would be best to stay at my mother’s in case we needed to take Ivy to the ER.

The willow in Mom's yard and Lydia's (my step-dad's dog) doghouse. She's in there full of pups. Due Christmas Eve.

The wettness left from the rain we’ve had this last week caused the snow to lay in blankets over everything.  It was so beautiful.  I haven’t been able to shake my melancholy since my last post, and just seeing it filled me with a white peace for awhile.  There isn’t anything much more gorgeous than seeing a crown swooping from a white branch onto a ground covered in snow.

Maple in Mom's yard, planted when I was 12 or 13.  Just a stick then.

These hills are home in every season.  Home because they are real.  Life here is real.  It is these solitary moments – the in breath – that takes me through my days lately.

I want to thank all of you who left a comment of well wishes on my last post.  I appreciate it.  If you don’t mind, please pray for or send healing thoughts to my Ivy.  She’s so puny.  I will rise up… one day, I will.

Such is the way of the world

You can never know

Just where to put all your faith

And how will it grow?

Gonna rise up

Burning black holes in dark memories

Gonna rise up

Turning mistakes into gold

Such is the passage of time

Too fast to fold

Suddenly swallowed by signs

Lo and behold

Gonna rise up

Find my direction magnetically

Gonna rise up

Throw down my ace in the hole

-Eddie Veddar, “Rise” music from the motion picture Into the Wild

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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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