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None of my three daughters have been interested in baby food.  After my first was born, I decided not to fool with it at all.  So, with Ivy and Gwen and by default with Deladis, I have practiced baby-led weaning.

Baby Led Weaning, quite simply, means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning. The term was originally coined by Gill Rapley, a former health visitor and midwife. – Baby-Led Weaning: The Mush Stops Here

The term “weaning” is used in the British sense on this website and does not mean ending nursing (breastfeeding).  It simply means introducing solid foods.

Deladis’ first swallowed food was cucumber.  Ivy’s was avocado, and Gwen’s was peas.  For Gwen, it is more about exploring the texture and the taste of the food.  She rarely swallows it.  I have noticed her increasing the amount going in to the stomach little by little.

I also do child-led weaning.  “Weaning” in this use means end of nursing.  Child-led means that the child dictates when the breastfeeding relationship will end unless the mother becomes uncomfortable and ready to wean prior to that time.  Deladis stopped nursing at 2 years and 6 months.  Ivy did at 2 years and 2 months.  It worked out beautifully for our family.  My girls have rarely needed antibiotics and are generally very healthy and strong.  I love nursing my babies and fortunately I’ve had an relatively easy go of it.  With Deladis I had some difficulties in the beginning, but once they were worked out, I had no more problems.  The key is when problems do arise to seek help if your remedies do not solve the problem.

Child-led weaning is actually in tune with the American Academy of Pediatrics breastfeeding recommendations.

Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk,” published in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online Feb. 27), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.

Anyhow… all this to say that this is what baby-led weaning looks like in our home. 🙂  Happy Sunday!

Yep, I "gommed" up a strawberry.

Yep, I “gommed” up a strawberry.

And now I get a bath in front of some nice moist heat and a picture window looking out on the sunny Sunday!

And now I get a bath in front of some nice moist heat and a picture window looking out on the sunny Sunday!

 

Today I gathered the three of you around

to apologize

Not a new path, but a re-commitment

To your youth

the path we now walk together

until your womanhood

forging your own

A re-commitment to your soft skin

your innocence

the sweet knowing that peers out from behind your eyes

An acknowledgment of the importance of

now

that Spirit entrusted me with your well-being

The original intent

going back to the ground from which I was formed

you were formed

To learn there

in the warmth of a sun cut by the limbs of trees

A re-commitment to out foremothers

their well trodden path

not a new path

 

Today, Confluence Herbals and Spiritual Coaching is born, and I feel the relief and exhaustion that comes after the labor that is listening to Spirit.

Trail to Bad Branch Falls

Trail to Bad Branch Falls

Winter in the mountains is not for the faint of heart.  As much as I tend to dread the heat of the summer, it is most always an allowing sort of weather.  Winter brings further isolation for a mother of small children.  While a romp in the snow is fun, it only lasts about 10 -20 minutes for my girls before they holler – COLD.

This winter though has been more than mild.  I feel like more days than not we’ve been able to get outside.  This is our fifth day in a row without leaving the Confluence and I was so grateful to get to take a walk and see some sun.  The last snow is melted off and only leaves some heavy icicles hanging from the cliff sides.

I did really well with isolation when we first moved back to the mountains.  But, now, I remember how easy it was as a teenager for me to get sad about not being able to be with friends.  I’m a loner at heart, but even for someone like me, there can be too much alone.  I remain the only woman on the place.  John and I are the only family.  The other full time resident on the holler is a bachelor, and for our landlord this is a warm weather home where his family comes to visit.  So, when I see someone, it is usually a man.  A very helpful, kind, and fun to talk to man, so I’m not complaining.  No way.  But, sometimes girl talk would be nice.  I find myself missing the little community of mothers that the city gave me.  Folks to trade babysitting duties with for date nights.  I haven’t had one of those in a long, long time.  Hanging out with my sister and best friend on weekends.  I think that is what I miss most about the city.  That and access to decent food (organics and such) on a regular basis.  I don’t know how to describe it really because I do know people here, and in our homeschool groups.  I see the homeschool families monthly.  Yet, time and opportunity for those deeper connections is short.  We are all spread out so.

I dream of an intentional community where I can still live privately, yet, work as a part of a functioning group that is there for one another.  I’m feeling kind of down this winter.  No, winter in the mountains is not for the faint of heart.

Last week, we were away from home for most of the week.  It was Science Week for Confluence Academy.  We had to take one of the family to see a doctor in Lexington and we had two field trips while there and then two more when we got back to the mountains.

Here is a captioned pictorial review of our adventures!  I must say that at The Living Arts and Science Center there was an awesome forest exhibit that was so engrossing I forgot to take pictures.  There was a worksheet to take you through each station and a probing question.  It was perfect and the girls had crazy fun.  Not to mention it was FREE!

We really had a great trip and it was much needed.

Getting cozy in a fluffy hotel bed.

Getting cozy in a fluffy hotel bed.

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Exploring the impact of paper on our forest friends with an endangered species and recycling exhibit at The Living Arts and Science Center.

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Making an endangered Noonday Snail figure for play.

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I found my friend’s habitat!

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Enjoying some kinetic energy at Monkey Joe’s!

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Big sissy jumps too fast to catch her airtime.

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I take what my big sissies call Move Your Body classes at Confluence Academy. Today I am exploring the function of my hands.

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Tired in a sea of green downy softness.

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Some bearded dragon action at The East Kentucky Science Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. We also saw a planetarium show, and experienced hurricane winds in a simulator. We bought some fancy polished rocks and astronaut ice cream for an inexpensive treat.

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My 5 Senses! Ivy having fun at the preschool work table during Science Day at Kentucky Mountain Homeschool Association’s monthly meeting.

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Discovering just how well Dawn dish soap repels grease (fat). Also, during Science Day for KMHSA.

On the second, I started a post about the fact that I have actually made some New Year resolutions for 2013.  I was excited while writing, and at the same time feeling a bit ridiculous.  Gwen started fussing and I stopped writing.  Then, yesterday was a difficult one for us.  Ivy has started crying a lot throughout the day on most days for reasons so numerous that I’d have to write a book to describe it all and then some she just makes up on the spot.  I’ve been told that it is middle child syndrome, but I’m not satisfied with that answer.

It was the first sunny day in weeks, so I made sure the girls went outside for a bit of play.  However, Deladis decides that since they play in the creek during the summer, it would be a good idea to wade the creek in January in her new snow boots and Ivy in tennis shoes.  I had a hard time with patience and the fact that I thought she would know better.  There coats were thrown off in the floor.  Their wet clothes thrown in the floor.  I sit Gwen down to pick that up and to remind them that they also know where their clothes go, and she cries.

She doesn’t like to sit on her own much.  I have about 10 minutes before I have to get her back up.  She, like Deladis, is a spirited child.  She doesn’t like to take naps, though she’s a decent night sleeper.  Generally, a lot like her biggest sister.  Like my sister reminded me that evening on the phone, “You’ve never had a laid back child.”

This was after Deladis cried during our first day back at school because she didn’t complete something perfectly.  I wrestled Gwen through her fusses while trying to read Deladis her lessons, shifting Gwen from floor, to lap, to clothes basket.  Right after, Ivy cries like a wild banshee because I ask her to tell me her ABCs.  She says, “I’m too scared.”  Same little girl that will dance in front of 100 people, won’t say her ABCs for her mother who is just curious at how well she knows them.

By the middle of the day, I was feeling like a failure of a mother.  For sure, there was something bigger that needed to be fixed.  I needed to just stop daydreaming about plans and things I needed to get done.  The pile of dishes in the sink.  My New Year resolutions, and pay minute detail to what spurs these fits.  I felt bad for believing that I could tack yet more things onto my already determined to do list when I was already not doing that well.

Yet, I found reassurance from a group of mamas on Facebook.  I realized that if I can turn it into a positive it is fine.  I’m not failing, just seeing room for improvement.  I talked to my sister, who rubbed her two laid back kids in my face, while talking about how grown up the not so laid back one is getting to be. 😉  And, I felt better.  Not like it was the end of all I wanted to accomplish, but still just the beginning.

See, it is easy from these blogs and social media posts… and from mothering forums… Pinterest… to think that this parenting/homeschooling gig is a great accomplishment.  But, what we often miss out on is how dag gone hard it can be sometimes.  For, on this, we mostly see the end results.  Our kids dressed in the play costumes, with their basketball trophy, the cool cake we made for their birthday, all the boxes of stuff I’ve managed to purge out of our cabin.  We don’t see as often the work that got us there.  And so, when the results simply aren’t there on any given day.  It can feel like a loss.  What do we have to post about that day?  Sure don’t want to sound like you are complaining.  There is no room for complaining in such a blessed life.  How dare you feel like raising your voice or crying?!

The truth is… my list of resolutions is boring.  I have quite a few, and I’m not cutting it down.  The interesting stuff is the doing.  The grunt work.  For that is where our accomplishment is – the fact that we get up in the morning ready to do it all again.  We’ve not abandoned our post.  We’ll be there for those beautiful little souls when we wake up in the morning. Deladis always gets up before me now days.  We haven’t and aren’t giving up.

As my friend reminded me of tonight.  “I just think of it like this.  Such a strong willed child will one day grow up to make one heck of a strong woman.”  Amen, sister… Amen.

So, this year this blog is about the doing.  Forget what I plan to do.  I’ll share with you and record for my girls what we actually do and how we get it done.  That’s the point – right?

Below is the start of my resolutions post….

I’m not one to make resolutions in the New Year.  I never really have, or if I did I wasn’t serious enough about it to remember it right now.  2012 was a special year for me.  I had my third daughter at home in one of the most beautiful experiences possible – an HBA2C.  I accomplished something so very amazing for me and my beautiful daughter, our health and well-being, and am forever changed.

tired

I called it my Jesus year.  I was 33 for most of it.  I discovered just how powerful a spiritual practice can be.  I had the chance to pull back, reassess, and now I have come out with a plan.

My last post was all about my inspiration to be re-motivated for most of these resolutions.  Many of them aren’t new, but things that have served me in the past, and will again.

1. Recommit to eating a Traditional Foods diet.  (Being pressed for time and tired during the last months of pregnancy I haven’t been cooking from scratch as much as I’d like.)

2. Simplify our living space.  Look what I am purging so far.  I’m just getting started. 🙂

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3. Organize what is left of the cabin and create a sanctuary for living.  I’m making a designated school and office space in the living room!  Our space is small and if you’ve followed me when I wrote here before, you know this is something that I am constantly working on.  Yet, in this case, I have a new strategy, and am approaching it from a different mind set.  It’s going to be fun!  I’ve gotten some tremendous inspiration from some DIY homebuilding friends who have built a beautiful home at minimum cost and almost all on their own.  I am still inspired by this home I toured in New Echota a few years ago.

My favorite kitchen of the day in the Worcester House at New Echota

My favorite kitchen of the day in the Worcester House at New Echota

4.

“I champion the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the simple and the persecuted. I maintain that whosoever benefits or hurts a man benefits or hurts the whole species. I sought my liberty and the liberty of all, my happiness and the happiness of all. I wanted a roof for every family, bread for every mouth, education for every heart, light for every intellect. I am convinced that human history has not yet begun, that we find ourselves in the last period of the prehistoric. I see with the eyes of my soul how the sky is diffused with the rays of the new millennium.” – Bartolomeo Vanzetti (Anarchist suspected in murder and robbery along with another – Nicola Sacco. Both were convicted in one of the most controversial trials in the United States and executed in 1927.)

It is that simple.  When I left blogging here more than a year ago to pursue more work outside of my home, I was working under misconceived notions.  I was thinking that I could earn money and contribute to our family income.  I was thinking that it would help John have to work less hours outside of the home.  I was thinking that extra money would bring us things we needed and deserve.  I’d be lying to if I didn’t say that I had started feeling stifled at home because of various aspects of my personality.

What I know now is that it was a wasted effort.  I was leaving behind pursuits that would do so much to benefit my community and my family, in order to spend more time social networking, mailing letters, building websites, and writing newsletters for Birth True.  All of that time I spent, countless hours, with little to no return.  The clients I find are still typically word of mouth.  My amount of actual paying work did not increase.  The clients that were meant to find me still would have without those advertising efforts.  It is sad that we have to learn some things in ways that make us sacrifice so much.

Time… time that I’ll never get back with my girls.  Sure, I still homeschooled.  I still took them to activities.  There just wasn’t time for much else.  We weren’t outdoors as much.  I was frustrated more.  They played and I didn’t pay attention as often to where their minds were at.  Now, I have a 7 and 4 1/2 year old who need me just a little less.  It is precious – time.

But, it is ok.  I’ve learned lessons the hard way before and I have found that it is most often those lessons that produce the greatest results in us.  What I know now is that there is a term for what John and I set out to do when we moved back home.  Our mindset then was fresh, adventurous, and yet there were other couples all over the place doing the same thing for good reason.  It is radical homemaking.

I read two articles recently that grabbed my attention.  I was feeling called back to tradition, and into something new altogether at the same time.  Coming across those articles in the same period of time was no accident.  It was Creator sending a clear message to me.

The first article was by Charles Eisenstein called “Don’t Should on Us” in the magazine Pathways to Family Wellness.  I immediately related it to my birth advocacy and wrote about it on Birth True Blog.  Eisenstein write that our “selfish” interests, or what I took to mean our instinct to self preserve and thrive, directs us in three ways – choices that are simple, close to nature, and close to community.

The second article was by Shannon Hayes in Taproot Magazine and was called  “To Retreat or Engage”.  She explained how civic engagement happened within our duties in the home.  That by living the life we were making a huge impact.  Her article kicked the switch in my soul.  I knew exactly what Creator was calling me to do, and for once so many pieces of the last year fit perfectly in this vision.  So, I bought her book Radical Homemakers and am still reading it, devouring every word.

Hayes writes in Radical Homemakers that radical homemakers tend to be on a 3-step path:

  1. Renouncing
  2. Reclaiming
  3. Rebuilding

I am now re-entering the renouncing stage and I will move quickly I imagine into reclaiming and then back to rebuilding.

Entering the rebuilding phase did not preclude a return to the other phases.  The myriad stages of life are forever presenting new challenges that require everyone to occasionally retreat from the public sphere to regain skills and life balance and to critically evaluate the societal givens that they may have to consider at that time. – Shannon Hayes, Radical Homemakers

So, what am I renouncing this time.  Broader American consumerist culture had held a veil over my eyes.  I am renouncing my participation in it with renewed fervor.  I am not a contestant in the rat race and I am returning to the choice not to be.  Does that mean that I don’t value my work with women and babies?  Absolutely not!  I value it more than ever.  I’m just trusting that as I am needed I will be called upon.  I’ve also decided to take barter as a method of payment for my time and services.  Money doesn’t have to change hands for my work to be valued, and not only that, but it also makes my services accessible to most if not all those who are interested.  I’m stepping more fully into my place in my community, while also offering my services across the globe through the internet.

This whole thing culminated with my watching the film Sacco & Vanzetti the other night on Netflix.  Hearing the quote from Vanzetti that I began this post with, filled my heart.  We are missing so much in our society.  Happiness is not found in consumerism, materialism, or corporate manipulation of the people.  We are puppets as long as we participate.  We are leaving the prehistoric behind out of necessity.  A new paradigm for living is emerging.

I am being called back into my home, into tradition, to learn new skills, to be with my family, to be fully present for my community both locally and globally.  I’m so excited to continue to share this journey here.  These new plans I have.  I revamped the Birth True site today to reflect some of this new stuff.  Now, I’m going to put my efforts where it will have the most impact.

And… just for the brightest of reading experiences.  Guess who sits up on her own at 5 months?!  Gweneth Lenore.  Gotta love a clothes basket for safe supervised sitting fun!

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At Confluence Academy this week, we are taking a break from the routine studies to delve into some holiday fun.  The way we celebrate the Christmas season in the US has always been counter intuitive to me.  I miss the days of the winter spiral that we had in Louisville when we attended Parent/Child classes at the Waldorf School.  St. Nicholas and St. Lucia came by for a visit to our little homey classroom.  It was so cozy and introspective.

The rush and fuss of the holiday season often leaves me in tears.  Too much stress involved.  I don’t like feeling pulled and tugged.  Expectations are high.  We want to see all of our family, but it is hard to go to at least 3 different places in the course of 2 days.  That doesn’t include our own home.  There are always too many presents and I end up feeling more frustrated and guilty than blessed because we just can’t reciprocate and our space here is limited for bringing in more things for the girls.  It is my problem and not appropriate at all.  We are abundantly blessed.  It is the consumerism and the pressure that makes me feel like my head is a spinning top and my guts made of mush.  I don’t connect with this type of celebration at all.  I honestly do not think Jesus, Mother Nature, or St. Nicholas are bothered in the least by my rejection of it, because when they espoused this season they had a totally different thing in mind. I lackadaisically drift in and out of our families’ homes trying to keep an even keel.

The darkness and soft lights… the cold air… the gray blue sky… it makes me want to retreat.  I want to read books, drink warm drinks, eat hearty food, and make traditions with my daughters.  I want to breathe into the Truth of who we are – beings in the image of God, never lacking.

So, this week we are going to explore in our schooling things that are typically lost to us as we scramble to buy gifts, get to every expected location, and zip through it all barely conscious of why we are doing this in the first place.  We are going to look at the great stories, art, and timelessness of the season.

Tuesday, we explored The Nutcracker with this FREE unit.  We listened to an adaptation of the story on Story Nory, watched the ballet on YouTube, drew a nutcracker (see Deladis’s below), and read about Tchaikovsky.  We talked about composers and choreographers.  It was a good time.  Deladis has been humming the music since.

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We discovered the story of the real Santa Claus – St. Nicholas – on a lovely website – St. Nicholas Center.  We read several of the stories.  Our favorite was – And Now We Call Him Santa Claus by Kay Tutt.  We did an drawing of St. Nick as well (again… Deladis’s is below).  Then, we went on a nature walk to gather decorations for the house – moss, evergreen twigs, rocks, seed puffs, and wood.  Tonight, we’ll eat popcorn and sip hot chocolate.

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We haven’t gotten around to putting up a tree this year with all the running around like chickens with no heads.  Sunday night, we decided not to put up one at all.  There isn’t the space right now, and I think we are going to go in a totally different direction with our decorating.  We are getting real, simple, light.  I think the fake tree will be going away beginning this season.

I think it is just right.

Our nativity set off with natural decor... moss, rocks, and wood chips.

Our nativity set off with natural decor… moss, rocks, and wood chips.

Our vine wreath decorated with evergreen twigs, red paper, scrub grass puffs, and old artificial flowers.

Our vine wreath decorated with evergreen twigs, red paper, scrub grass puffs, and old artificial flowers. 

We loved our time together.  I can’t believe it was 60 degrees out on Wednesday and today – Winter Solstice – it is snowing.

Checking out Eastern Hemlock twigs.

Checking out Eastern Hemlock twigs.

Thursday, we learned how to care for hermit crabs, since the girls will be getting one from us for Christmas.  They danced a Christmas performance at the area nursing home in the evening.  Today, we are learning about Winter Solstice.  Then… a much needed break from school.

Later, we’ll put up our stockings.  I’m going to read and do some more writing.  We are going inward.  Winter Solstice is drawing us inward with its snow and sleepy skies.

Maybe if I make a few reasonable adjustments, I’ll be able to enjoy my first new pair of tennis shoes in six years that I know my mother has under her tree.  I know I can manage. 🙂

“This is messy work. We cannot simply attend a meeting, carry a sign at a march, have our name listed in the minutes, make one or two follow-up phone calls, then give ourselves a pat on the back. Our efforts require experimentation, failure, learning curves, self-criticism, and the constant examination of new ideas. We cannot compartmentalize a little “civic corner” of our lives; rather, we have to examine every day how each of our actions can build a better, more nurturing society for everyone. And for the time being, until this new, life-serving economy is more fully developed, it may continue to go unnoticed, and it may receive a certain lack of respect. But true civic engagement is not about taking credit for a job well done. It is about making the world better for the next generation in an enduring way that honors our deepest beliefs and greatest hopes.” – Shannon Hayes (author of Radical Homemakers)

     This is why I have come back to blogging.  I’ve been away from here for more than a year now.  In that time, I have tried to grow my birthing business locally.  I have supported my husband in opening his own tattoo shop.  I have grown and given birth to another daughter (HBA2C) and gotten her through her first 4 months.  I have been schooling my oldest -Deladis – through 2nd grade.  I have been taking classes with Stephanie Dawn to become a Sacred Birth counselor.  Aside from homeschooling and giving birth, I have done a lot of things that were focused on growing us from outside of our home.  Growing us into a better financial stability.  I dared to dream of us living this life of radical separation from what is considered “mainstream” all the while having the income to support us repairing and expanding the cabin, getting a newer vehicle, affording health insurance for John and myself, and travelling with our girls.  I also still see myself as being able to contribute to the bettering of my community, region, state, and country through various efforts.
     It isn’t that I shouldn’t continue to dream of us having the income to do those things, or me the ability to be out in my community to make a difference.  Some of those things have to be done as my girls will continue to grow up and John and I will continue to grow older.  The problem comes with my patience.  I thought that if I worked super duper hard, those things would come.  The fact is, that working hard isn’t always the key to financial gain or even satisfaction.  I’ve found myself disappointed, disconnected (despite Facebook time – LOL), and wondering what all the effort is about.
     While I have made some pocket change, I haven’t contributed enough to our income to really matter all that much.  I enjoy my work so very much, and I feel like it is important work.  I know I am going to keep working when opportunities do arise, but what I know now is that those opportunities have to be ones that aren’t a strain to my efforts with my girls and something that consistently takes away time I should spend with my husband.  We chose to take a cut in income when we had Deladis.  Then, after Ivy was born, we chose to move home.  Both of those decisions were made because we felt that my being home was more important than having a lower middle class income and we felt we could more fully express ourselves and parent our children living back where we both began – southeastern, Kentucky.
   So, what I realize now is that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, and that statement will never stop being cliche.  I won’t quit dreaming of those things that took my focus more to business and social networking, it is just that the path should be revised.  I should be patient.

Witch: And you, my dear, what an unexpected pleasure. It’s so kind of you to visit me in my loneliness.
Dorothy: What are you gonna do with my dog? Give him back to me.
Witch: All in good time, my little pretty. All in good time.
Dorothy: Oh please give me back my dog.
Witch: Certainly, certainly, when you give me those slippers.
Dorothy: But the Good Witch of the North told me not to.
Witch: Very well. (To her winged-monkey captain) Throw that basket in the river and drown him.
Dorothy: No, no. Here, you can have your old slippers but give me back Toto.
Witch: That’s a good little girl. I knew you’d see reason.

– The Wizard of Oz (1939)

I’ve seen reason.  But, as we all know, the witch loses in the end and so will frustration.  My work here at home with these girls is radical world change in the making.  Creating a lifestyle that presses boundaries, breaks walls, and reinvents the common experience, that is being the change.  Every day I am being the change.  Some days are better than others.  But, each day we should strive for balance.  Creator didn’t lead me down this path for naught.  What I have recognized is that each and every step is important, and it isn’t always going to be as I envision, nor will it always be in my time frame.  It isn’t going to look the same for me as it will others.  Each day is new and has its own work.  I have life and I have it abundantly.  I’m never left without, and to struggle to gain something I haven’t lost in the first place is pointless.

     So, I’m trading in the pointless for the things that matter.  I’m going back to our original vision, while bringing my work full circle into that vision.  There are women and families out there that can use my services.  They will find me and it will work out in amazing ways.  I can do what I so much enjoy – educating and supporting.  I don’t need to scroll down Facebook to socialize.  I can blog, and get to know people as I had done before here.  I can share our experience in full and read about the amazing things others are doing without getting disgusted at the pettiness.  (I’m not putting down Facebook.  Just looking to re-examine the overuse and wrong use of it.)  I can do what I enjoy so much – writing.  I’m going to play with my new baby who somehow is almost 5 months old already.  I’m going to listen to Deladis read and read to all three of them.  We are going to hike.  I’m going to cook good food.  I can do what I enjoy so much – being a wife and mother.  There will be yoga, and reading, decluttering, and music.  I can do what I know I will enjoy so much – make my home and body a sacred space.  I can.

Just wanted to stop in and say I’m back and will be blogging here regularly again.  My hiatus was important and very productive.  Please meet our newest daughter – Gweneth Lenore.  She was born here in the cabin in July.  These photos were taken by Trista Hickerson.  I don’t know how many of the folks who used to read here will see this, but I’m excited to be starting anew.  I have so much to write about and I’m looking forward to sharing and talking here with folks again.  If you are interested in reading my latest work you can find it here. http://www.dailyyonder.com/designing-post-coal-economy/2012/11/26/5508 🙂

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Deladis graduated from kindergarten with our homeschool association on May 26th.  It was a beautiful ceremony.  She said about 15 Bible verses to a crowd of about 80 people without missing a beat.  I got to give her her diploma, and her daddy played “Little Birdie” for her on the banjo.  We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier time.  What follows is the speech I gave during the ceremony.

I want to begin this evening by thanking everyone who has come to support our graduates and celebrate this important day with our families.  It means a great deal to all of us.

 

At some point many of you have probably wondered why we chose to homeschool our children, and I’m sure many of homeschooling parents have wondered the same thing at times just like many public school teachers out there who sit after a trying day wondering why they chose the path of an educator.  Believe me, we do it.  I’ve been in both places.  For many homeschooling families the answer is not a simple one.  While we all probably have multiple answers to the question of why we chose homeschooling, I believe I am safe to say that all of us felt compelled to do so by the obligation we have to our children as their parents.

The Bible has so much sound wisdom and encouragement to offer parents on raising children, and if you start reading there, you’ll soon find what a huge responsibility you’ve undertaken by becoming a parent.  I know that throughout this year as I have set out to read the Bible from beginning to end, I have at times become overwhelmed by the realization of what it truly means to be a wife and mother.

 

Psalm 127:3 says – “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward.”  Verse 5 goes on to say – “How blessed is the man whose quiver if full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate.”  Psalm 128 goes on in much the same way.  And if any of you have ever prayed for God to gift you with a child, or you were gifted without thinking you were ready – you likely can recall the moment when your baby was placed in your arms and you realized perfectly how much this gift depended upon you as their mother or father for their quality of life.  It is often times those moments when we fall in love with that little being so completely that it takes our breath away.

 

All of us who have fully accepted the responsibility of parenthood want the same thing for our children.  We hope with all our hearts that their lives will be healthy, happy, and whole.  For each of us how we go about giving them the best possible opportunity for that sort of fulfillment will be as diverse as our family names.  I cannot assume what is right for your family, and I feel so blessed, as I am sure you do, to have the freedom to make important decisions for mine.

 

It is also very likely that if we have envisioned an adult life for our children that the reality of that life once they reach it, will look very different than what we daydreamed about.  How many of us are pretty sure we aren’t doing exactly what our parents hoped we’d be doing at this stage in our lives?  The very best we can hope for is that they are doing something they love, and that they feel called to do.  Oh, and that they call and come home to visit on a regular basis.  Yet, we can also look to the values our children hold, and their self-esteem to see the mark their upbringing is making on their attitudes and the way they view the world.  If we see signs of a positive self expression and healthy attitudes toward their work, their role in society, and respect for others in our older and adult children, then we should be able to rest.  The rest of their life is completely up to them and their Creator to sort out and that is as it should be.

 

There are so many things that we can’t control about how our children will experience the world.  For every good there is a bad.  For every right there is a wrong.  They come hand in hand.  While there might be times in our lives when we become hurt or disappointed by the experiences our children have or bring upon themselves, regret isn’t something we should dwell in for long.  The ultimate question is – Does our child know that we love them?  That we will always love them?  We can be comforted by the words of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

 

I was a public school teacher when John and I were gifted with our firstborn – Deladis Rose Haywood.  God told me one day during my prayer time through scripture that I would have a baby by summer.  Deladis was born on August 4th, 2005.  Before her birth, John and I decided that the time my job forced me spend away from home was too much, and that the time I would gain in resigning my position would be worth the cut to our finances.  It was important to us that I be the one primarily responsible for the care of our children and we were willing to live a lifestyle that would allow for that.  It was the first huge decision we made as parents.  It is a decision we have never regretted though it has dramatically changed the way we live our lives.

 

Many more decisions would come like – how would I give birth, what was the optimal way to feed our baby, who would provide her healthcare and what would that look like, where should we live, where would we attend church, and ultimately where would our daughter attend school.

 

For many reasons all of which I won’t go into tonight, we decided that home was the best place for Deladis and any future children to receive their education at this time in our lives.  We all have probably heard Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Like our earlier decision of being the ones primarily responsible for the care of our children with our own hands, so was our decision to be the ones immediately responsible for the education our children would receive.  In choosing homeschool, I as their only teacher am responsible for the content of their daily lessons for every subject.  It is my responsibility to make sure that they have the education that they need to be whatever it is that they choose to be in life whether either of my daughters decide to be stay-at-home mothers gifting me with ten grandbabies, a homesteader living in a small cabin with no electricity or running water, an artist who shows her work from coast to coast, an activist working for impoverished women and children, a social worker finding stable homes for children in need, or the astronaut that leads the first human expedition to Mars, because if that is what my daughter truly wants and feels led to do, then that is what I want for her.  Is that a huge responsibility?  It sure is.  But, what I can know for certain is that as her mother and father, John and I will be her source of information about her world and her place in it.  We can have the most direct impact on how comfortably she navigates whatever path that life places her on.  We can be the shoes on her feet, the food in her backpack, and the soft blanket that covers her every night of her journey.  Her Creator will be her compass.

 

It is not that homeschooling families are trying to shelter their child from the world, or sequester them away from society and mainstream ways of living.  It is most likely, that our choices were made because we wanted to ensure that our children in the situations that life brought upon our families have the best possible chance at a well-rounded and full life experience.  You’ll see us in the community, our children interacting in real life situations with people of all ages and backgrounds.

 

By choosing to homeschool, we aren’t judging or accusing others who do not, or our own parents if they chose to send us through public school.  Because we were educated, we have the opportunity to be educators for our children.  Every parent is free to do what they feel is best for their family at the time the decision is made.  It is a deep privilege to have that freedom and to respect the decisions of other parents.

 

By choosing to homeschool, we aren’t calling any public or private educator inadequate.  Your job is so very important and to respect our teachers is to listen, empathize with, and support their efforts.  Without you and the opportunity you give to parents, we would not have the freedom to choose where our children would be educated.  We are on a very similar mission.

 

By choosing to homeschool, we are simply making a conscience choice.  Often homeschooling families view it as a choice of conviction, of necessity, as the result of sincere thought and long consideration.  It is a choice we take in earnestness.  When we choose to keep our children home for school, we understand that it is exclusively up to us to provide the education our children will need in the ever changing and competitive world.

 

Ecclesiastes 11:5 says – “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.”  None of us know the path that God has forged out in the world for our children, but we do know that He entrusted us with their care.  As you are here tonight witnessing this graduation ceremony you are participating with us in celebrating what for some of us is our first complete year of homeschooling our children, for others of us a milestone in the middle of what has recently become a steeper winding road, and for one of us the end of a long and very successful journey that suddenly seems like it was just a bit too short.  Thank you for playing an integral part in supporting our efforts, and please accept our thanks as your presence has helped us to create a very special evening for our blessed and hard working students.  Thank you.

Deladis saying her verses.

 

I haven’t had time to write here in so long.  When I have had the time I have been way too tired to try.  I don’t know how I get so exhausted.  Walking around as if I were in a fog all day long, no amount of coffee changing that.  Things are going really well for our family.  There is nothing at all to complain about, except that I wish I had more energy to enjoy it.

This week Deladis will graduate from kindergarten.  We completed our first official homeschool year with success.  I’m ready for 1st grade too.  We received our curriculum in the mail a few weeks ago.  Deladis will have a blue cap and gown, a tassel, and the whole nine yards!  This year our group will have 5 graduates and we are expecting around 100 visitors at our graduation.  We will be decorating and cooking all week long.  I’m doing sausage balls (my own recipe), a type of cinnamon roll (from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook), and chips with salsa (storebought).  Deladis is reciting the scripture she learned this year, and I’m making a speech on why we decided to homeschool.  I get to present her with her diploma and John will be playing her favorite song “Little Birdie”.  I’m beyond excited, and if I can keep the tears in long enough to get through it, it will be amazing.

Can you believe this was her 5 years ago?

Oh, it goes so fast.  So fast.

I might post the text of my speech once graduation is over with some pictures from the ceremony.

In the meantime, enjoy our family outing to the Lewis and Clark Old-Time Tent Circus when they stopped in Clintwood, VA.  It was a blast.  I was so happy to see people still dedicated enough to devote their life to such entertainment.  It amazed me.  None of these acts were performed with any kind of netting under the performers.  Pretty courageous and awesome!  The performers were really friendly and full of smiles.  I wish we had gotten some better pictures.

The girls loved the clowns best of all!

There were a family of acrobats and clowns. A few generations working together. Awesome!

Deladis always loves the animals.

My favorite was this woman. She did quite a few acts mostly of the juggling, balancing and gaucho sort.

This guy just kept stacking the blocks. It was insane!

The same juggler as before. This time with very large blades. She also juggled fire.

Some dangling from the top of the tent. John loves taking pictures without a flash.

More rope work!

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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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