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With three doctors’ visits this week, dealing with insurances and the lack thereof, filling prescriptions that I’m unsure of, and getting completely ticked off at western medicine’s approach to ill health, my mind is left soggy – like a saturated sponge.  I have sat down three times today to write a post and realized I don’t have much to say at all and what I do have to say probably won’t be all that coherent.  Not being negative, just stating the truth.

On A Silent Sea is doing awesome work over on her blog.  She has gotten me thinking with her new pledge of reading deprivation.  A clearing of the mind from outside influences on our creative capacities.  Overload is one reason we moved back to the mountains and in an isolated place.  Off grid was where we wanted to be, so that if we didn’t want to be reached we wouldn’t have to be.  Yet, I’ve found myself getting so excited over so many different things, and wanting to tackle them all at the same time.

This morning John told me I’m dabbling in too many projects and it is causing me to lose focus.  He’s right.  The problem is I have a hard time choosing just one when they are all so inviting and fun.  It leaves me feeling like I’d be losing something.  Maybe, I’m losing something by not focusing on just a few things.  Or, maybe I’m overanalyzing, reading too much, and I need a time away from learning new things.  There should be time for listening to what your heart and mind already knows.  I rarely do that.  Very rarely.

Where we live we are surrounded by mountains on all sides in close proximity to our cabin.  The vegetation is mature and on its downward movement from growing forth from the earth to becoming the earth.  We see no one else’s house.  We are familiar with a family of deer that grazes close by every evening.  Our first tomatoes are on the vines.  Birds of all sorts play in the sunflowers growing in our garden outside our picture window everyday showing off their gorgeous array of styles and colors.  Being off grid invites you to just be, but in my self somewhere lies a part that wants to control things to insure my safety.  I’m constantly reading for entertainment, information, trying to gain more knowledge about whatever is the hit subject at the moment.  I’m afraid to be quiet.  To do nothing but everything.  I have to stop and take the time to just be with my breath.  To listen inside and stop feeding myself with new things that will overload me.  I need to take an inventory.  It’s time.

Deladis turning four this week means that I have less than a year to make one of the most important decisions I will ever have to make as a mother.  What will be the future of her education?  It is a very difficult choice for me and I have spent a great deal of time considering my options already, but now, I have to get serious.  Will Deladis attend public school?  Will we choose to teach her at home?  If so, what curriculum?  What about unschool?  Needless to say, I’m praying and weighing all the pros and cons.  The majority of my daughter’s next fourteen or so years will be spent laying the educational foundations for the rest of her adult life.  I want her to have a joyful experience and come away capable of achieving any dreams she may have for any path she wants to take in life.

The first consideration is public school.  It is the obvious choice for most people.  It is something we are all already paying for as taxpayers and will pay for despite whether or not we choose a public institution for our children’s education or not.  Our children are taught by trained professionals a curriculum that is designed by our respective states to prepare them to be competitive in the job market and to be productive citizens.  Not only that, but our children attending public school develops social skills with their peers and can be involved in friendships and activities outside of the scope that family life can offer.  One plus to public school in the mountains is that everyone knows everyone.  It won’t be hard to be fully informed.  It sounds lovely.

However, being a student in public school was greatly a miserable experience for me.  Sure, I had some awesome teachers, wonderful experiences, and lots of fun times, but I thoroughly believed then and still do that so many of those years were wasted time.  I went through school not having to study to pass tests, not being challenged, and I graduated somehow barely being able to balance a checkbook let alone do any kind of problems dealing in fractions or decimals.  Forget advanced arithmetic or mathematics.  I passed most of my math classes with As and Bs despite this.  I was endlessly with my nose in books and watching educational television trying to fill in the gaps on my own in the subjects I had an interest in – English Literature and Writing, World History, Geography and Culture, and Life Sciences.

High school was the worst, and my senior year frustrated me immensely.  For the biggest part of the year, we sat on the football field rain or shine because of endless bomb threats being called.  I took a current events class that was basically sitting and reading the newspaper while the teacher, the baseball coach, talked sports with the jocks in the class.  My advanced placement English class was assembling the yearbook.  We never took the AP test for college credit as we were supposed to.  One of my best friends quit school and started attending the community college in town.  I begged my dad to let me do the same.  He didn’t.  I often wonder what I could have done had that time not been wasted and filled with disappointment.

As far as peer interaction goes, it left a lot to be desired.  Yes, I had lots of great friends.  I’m so glad I was able to meet them and be with them throughout my days.  However, I was often made fun of in school by kids who thought they were better than me for whatever reason and I had to develop a thick skin and found myself taking up for myself and other friends more than I should have had to.  I believe those skills have helped me as an adult, but they also linger as a nagging self consciousness that would benefit me more if it would disappear.  I know I shouldn’t aim to shield my children from adversity, but they will get plenty of that just living life without the abundance of it so many of us meet in public schools.

Having taught in the public schools for four years helped me develop a perspective from the other end – the teacher.  My school system where I taught was very supportive, friendly, and caring in atmosphere, but we all faced our hands being tied.  I found myself trying to teach with limited resources, over crowded classrooms, and a looming state standardized test at the end of every year which dictated what I taught like a tyrant and measured nothing (in my opinion) about what the children were capable of.  I saw more state funding going to schools in wealthier areas while the rural systems received minuscule dollars and were expected to achieve the same results.  Then, the issue of discipline was tremendous.  I loved my students and thought highly of all of them.  Yet, there are always those times, especially in middle grades, where children will decide to act out in frustration or plain old misbehavior, and there was not much at all that I could do about it.  What I did do was futile?  Respect was a word that I struggled to teach.

It is hard for me to even write this, and if you can’t tell already, my heart is leaning me toward homeschool.  Living in a rural area where moms don’t network as much as in the cities worries me to some extent.  We spend days at a time not leaving the holler.  I want Deladis to have time amongst peers.  I do value the capability of being able to socialize with all age groups though, and I think homeschool will facilitate that.  I can enroll her in dance lessons, take her to events, and we do attend church where she has friends.

We are a Christian home, and I know many Christians are motivated to homeschool in hopes of shielding their children from a “vulgar” world.  That isn’t what is motivating me.  In fact, it would be one reason to send Deladis to public school.  I want her to be amongst all types of people with varying beliefs.  I want her to know different cultures and lifestyles.  I believe the right choice here lies within each family, but I believe a strong home foundation is the important thing.  I think keeping children from knowing the world is laying the framework for worse rebellion, disrespect for differences, and possibly social dysfunction.  I have to say that I think there are great values in beliefs different from our own as well.  She needs to be able to come to her religious and spiritual beliefs on her own for them to be authentic.  So, if I homeschool, I will make every effort to have Deladis be a part of multicultural acitivities.

The curriculum is another choice to make.  I so worry that I won’t be able to do justice to mathematics as I can’t do it myself.  But, they say the best way to learn something is to teach it.  I can’t be afraid.  When we spent time in Louisville, my choice was made.  She would attend the local Waldorf school where we took Parent/Child classes, or if we couldn’t afford it, she would be homeschooled in Waldorf curriculum.  I’m leaning toward that educational philosophy still.

Unschool is intriguing to me, and is something to consider with my lack of organization and absence of ability to stick to schedules that aren’t mandatory.  With unschool, you help the child as they develop a natural interest in a subject.  I fear, there, that she will miss out on too many things that she don’t naturally gravitate toward, but might need in life.

The other important thing to consider is, can I be Deladis’s teacher?  That is where I am struggling the most with this decision.  I’ve been trying to find more personal time.  Sending the girls to public school would allow me time to do my writing.  I would be refreshed and ready when they returned home to me.  It could help me mother them better even.  Then, I consider that that thinking is only me being selfish and skirting my responsibilities to my children.  If I ignore all the cons to public school and send her anyway to buy myself some time, I’m not being a good parent at all.  Yet, I can absolutely admire others making that choice and totally understand where they are coming from.  I know my thinking is flawed there somewhere.

So, the clock is ticking.  I’ve decided to order some Waldorf cirriculum for Deladis’s age and add some activities that would be homeschool like to our days starting mid-August.  I’ll give it a try.  If it is a disaster, I’ll register her for public school and be a fully involved parent.  Tonight, I’m attending a meeting of a possible homeschool co-op in our county, though the numbers of homeschooled children here are low.  I’m looking forward to the discussion.

by Ida Lee Hansel

regular guest blogger at http://1939blog.blogspot.com

I feel blessed in so many different ways because God gave my birth time and place in 1930’s Eastern Kentucky, heart of Appalachia, (to me at least). I would have wanted it no other way. My mother was part Cherokee from Walden’s Ridge, Dayton, TN.  My father was of Irish descent, and between those two grandmothers I was steeped in folk tales growing up. Children were fortunate in that Mothers were hard working, God fearing (most of them), excellent cooks, awesome seamstresses, and knew how to encircle their brood with unconditional love they learned from Bible reading. How many times did I get told to me, “The Bible says, ‘train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it’”  That was the basis of their rearing formula. Oh, it erred that is expected, but for the most part the training they gave, along with the hugs, kisses, and motherly pats, kept this child in tow and it has made for the retelling of many stories to my grandchildren.

Living in Appalachia, I learned as a small child what it meant to toil and labor, for we had a garden, made lye soap, made “lasses”, even homemade wine from grapes they grew. My Irish granny always said that a little wine on getting up and a little wine on lying down would keep the blood flowing. I laughed at that, and they smoked clay pipes, cob pipes, roll your own cigarettes from Bull Durham, Buffalo, and so many others that came in draw string pouches or cans. (They lived to a ripe old age too, or most of them did).

I found out by being born and reared in Appalachia the meaning of the words “unrequited love” and “neighborly”. People loved people; neighbors loved neighbors; doctors loved patients; time was of the essence for most people for they got up at the crack of dawn and went to bed before the sun set; however, if a neighbor needed help, they were there, no questions asked, no procrastination, they were there. Even upon the loss of a loved one, the neighbor women were called in to “lay out” the body and get it ready for burial because there was no means in the early years of my life for a body to be preserved for a “wake” or “sitting up” ritual, that came later in my childhood. All in all, Appalachian women were the backbone of the early American life, they did the work of men, they carried and birthed the babies, they canned food, they made lye soap, heated their water in big wash tubs, washed clothes, hung them out to dry, gathered them, ironed them with irons they heated in the hearth ashes and by hearth flames; they doctored their families, other families; they cooked meals fit for a king, and enough to pass around in the neighborhood, and even for strangers that passed by; yes, when a stranger passed, I never knew of my Appalachian women not asking, “Come in, rest yourself, and let me give you a plate of food and a good glass of cold milk”. I don’t recall it ever being turned down.

Where did all that love and kindness go with the passing of time; unconditional love was cast by the wayside it seems and now one barely has time to pat their youngster on the head or give their wife a smack as they leave out the door. My clothes were homemade, and there was nothing like a flour sack made into cloth, dyed and laundered, lace added, to make one a beautiful dress that could be worn to a ball. I never wore underwear made of sacks though, or I don’t recall anyone that I knew that did.  I got to go to Uncle Garrett’s grist mill and watch while he took our corn and ground it into meal. I loved going in the back of Uncle Noah’s wagon up the “holler” to the “mill”.  It was a good day and I always looked forward to it. I also loved when Uncle Noah would come by in his wagon loaded with veggies from his garden and he would pick me up and let me ride with him as he sold his veggies.  It was a ride worth taking.  Also, we didn’t own a vehicle, walked everywhere, but on Sundays I got to ride to Typo Ky to visit or to Jeff, Ky. To visit, by train; that is a story all in itself, but all in all not having a vehicle, in the grand scheme of things, never harmed me one bit.When I got sick, Mom or Granny also had a remedy, long before the word Homeopathic (sp); whatever ailed me, they had a cure and if they had to call for a doctor, they did, and paid him with taters, onions, veggies, etc. and he went away happy.

Those were the days, and I am afraid those days will never pass my way again and that is what hurts, my children and grandchildren did not get to live the good life, but they surely have heard about it.  We played in the streams and creek beds, free of pollution of any kind and so clear the minnows could be seen playing beneath the water; we roamed the hillsides looking for wildflowers of all different kinds, and made playhouses using moss as a lush green carpet, stones for furniture, and made belts, tiaras from using leaves and stems, interlacing them until it got long as we needed; we were introduced and acquainted with “critters” and taught at a young age to avoid those that were not to be toyed with; we learned to recognize plant life that could be brought out of the mountains and cooked of fried for supper; we learned the difference between good and toxic mushrooms; we were “home schooled” before that word was part of our language as it is today. Not so much in book learning because mothers had to quit school in early grades to help at home, but “common sense” home schooling which has kept me going all these years. Common sense has drifted by the wayside and that is sad.I could go on and on about the awesome life of a young girl given the chance to be born and reared in an Appalachian home with a Godly Mother, and grandmothers who told us stories brought to Appalachia by ancestors long gone before I was born.  Stories were told around the fires, around the quilting frame, in the swing on a wide open porch, or at the knees of the storyteller, very gifted people, who had time to share their thoughts and memories on to me, so that I one day could do the same. I think I did that.  My life as a child growing up in Appalachia resembles much the same as Laura Ingalls growing up on the prairie, just a different geographical area, and we both learned and passed it on.  Mothers, please take time to listen to your young child, they have so much to pass on, even in their language that years from now you will recall.  As the cliché goes, “Take time to stop and smell…” Well, I have it my own way for you, “Take time to stop, rest a spell, smell nature’s essences that abound, listen closely when a child speaks, take advantage of God’s treasures all around you in Appalachia, walk and talk with your child, and then at night, relate to them a story that you know that has been handed down to you; tuck your child in with a hug and kiss, and lay your head down for a much deserved rest.”  You are blessed beyond measure, Appalachian Mothers!

Wish I could go back
And change these years
I’m going through changes
I’m going through changes

-Ozzy Osbourne “Changes”

Yes, folks.  I have been known to like some Ozzy once in a while.  I’m a rebel at heart. 😉  This is a love song, and I’m not writing about losing the best woman I ever had in this post.  I’m writing about going through changes.  Anytime we lose something we have to make changes to get our lives back in an order we can work with.  I lost a sense of balance between my mothering and my personal goals.  I was frustrated, and not succeeding at either.  The changes I made last week weren’t perfect, but they got me started.

This week has started off much looser than last week.  I have our menu planned through Thursday rather than the whole week.  I don’t have a new rhythm/schedule made out because I have decided that a rhythm is not a schedule of set times to do certain things.  I know, this sounds like I’m going back to a slack concept where I’ll get nothing done due to getting side tracked or procrastination.  No, I have certain attainable goals set for each day.  I took our former Waldorf Parent/Child teacher’s comment to heart.

Remember, rhythm is a breathing….times of play interspersed with times of work, inside/outside, rest/active…you get the picture. Whatever helps you breathe.

-Miss Angie

I am going to flow with the rhythm my girls set.  That is the only way I will accomplish anything for them or myself with any level of sanity or a sense of peace.  I don’t want to be fighting our needs from day to day, as they are ever changing, to stick to some schedule of how I think things should go.

For example, today is Monday.  On my old “schedule” I had this down for living room/laundry as my goal for housekeeping.  Instead of setting a certain time to do that, I did it as soon as I could after breakfast, when the girls were happily playing on their own.  It will probably fall around the time  as I had it in the old “schedule”, but it didn’t today.  We ended up with company in the form of musician Brett Ratliff who stayed to eat some yummy wild turkey my brother killed for us on Saturday.  I hate straightening up around company.  I think it is a bit rude, so I saved the bulk of my work until he left.  It worked out fine.

As far as keeping up with a time of day, I have distinct markers.  Mealtimes and preparing our meals will be a major factor in when and the order in which we complete the tasks of the day. Our mealtimes are pretty regular, though we vary whether our biggest meal is lunch or supper.  I am keeping a set bedtime for the girls.  Right now. we are experimenting as I believe both of my girls might not be getting enough sleep.  Tonight, they were in bed by 8pm.  The routine I had for bedtime will remain the same and baths will be every other day.  I will continue to get up earlier than everyone else on most days to insure I get writing and/or exercise time.  That is one thing that worked out really well.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, and I plan to be out in the garden.  We are going to look at chickens and maybe acquire a few.  Then, I’m off to the first meeting of a new writer’s group.  Action packed, but I think I can do all of that, get some writing done, exercise and do some more housekeeping all within a rhythm based on the needs of the day.  Changes aren’t all bad.  Really, I think most change is good.  I don’t want to look back to the formative years of my girls lives and see them as wasted in life’s chaos.  I want them to be memorable, nuturing times.  I’ll keep you posted as to whether this change is accomplishing the peace in our lives that I hope it will.

Here we are on Monday.  I have successfully completed the first full day of the rhythm I’ve developed to keep us all on track and happy.  Well, kind of successfully.  Both of the girls are asleep a whole hour before bedtime.

raremoments

They conked out during our quiet time.  I had been doing the bedtime routine since Saturday with bedtime at 9pm.  I don’t know, maybe it’s coincidence that they fell asleep today.  Maybe, I’ll need to make bedtime earlier.  I’m looking forward to the peace and “me” time I will have getting up an hour and a half earlier than the girls, so I’m trying to insure they sleep until 8am.

Here is a general outline of how our days will go.  Some days mealtimes are a little different because of John’s schedule, but the activities are the same.

  • 6:30am – Me Wake Up
  • 6:30-8am – Writing or Exercise Time
  • 8am – Wake Up Girls
  • 8-9:15am – Prepare and Eat Breakfast
  • 9:15-10:15 – Writing/Computer/Exercise Time
  • 10:15-12pm – Housecleaning (I’ve assigned a room a day and straightening up for Sat..  Laundry w/ the living room on Mon..)
  • 12pm – Ivy Nap
  • 12:30pm – 2pm – Writing and/or Deladis Time
  • 2pm-2:30pm – Lunch
  • 2:30-4:30 – Family Time (can include various activities even housework, gardenwork, outdoor play, etc… Just involves the girls and I am wholly present for them.)
  • 4:30 – 5:30 – Dinner Prep
  • 5:30-6pm – Eat Dinner
  • 6pm-6:30 – Kitchen Cleanup and Breakfast Pre-Prep
  • 6:30-7:30 – Quiet Time
  • 7:30-8pm – Bath
  • 8pm-8:30 – Storytime
  • 8:30-9pm – Bedtime Girls
  • 9pm-11pm – Writing Time or John Time 🙂

I’m happy with how today went.  I didn’t feel myself getting anxious and I was much more patient with the girls.  Having a menu to work with is saving time.  I am happy to report that I have 53 pages written on my first novel after today’s writing sessions.  I will have written this blog, given the living room a thorough cleaning, washed and put away three loads of laundry, cooked 2 meals from scratch, made popsicles with Deladis, made her a snack tray to graze on throughout the day, washed dishes, answered emails, danced with Ivy, and so on and so forth.  I’m amazed at what has went on today with no raising my voice, no feeling desparate, and the girls’ free expression of their age.  I hope it’s not an illusion and it will continue to work well most days.  I know some will be harder than others, but I hope they will all be better.

I’m functioning today on four eight ounce cups of coffee instead of my usual two.  The last two days of writing, reading, and meeting my writing Superhero, Gurney Norman, has been rewarding.  It has left me exhausted.  That and the girls both being poor sleepers.  Ivy sitting up in bed at 4am saying “goggie” over and over while kicking Deladis.  Deladis is having an allergic reaction to her vigorous play with our Dalmatian, Lars and was itching all night long.  Yes, it was a lovely night.

So, far Saturday is a quiet day and I am using it to compile my thoughts on a rhythm for our days.  I’ve asked mamas from two online forums I belong too, and I have used the comments I’ve gotten here to make a list of things to keep in mind.  I have gotten two days of rhythm down on paper so far.  It is already making me feel more at ease.  Hopeful.  I have also used this uneventful morning to make a store list and plan a loose menu for the week.  I’ll be making the 45 minute trip to Hazard with the girls on my own today as John will be playing a Kentucky Derby party at an establishment in Lexington, Kentucky.  We’ll see how that goes.  It’s an interesting experience to have to drive all over God’s green earth to find the groceries you need.

The following list are things I’m thinking about while developing a rhythm for our household.

  • Times should be kept loose.  Use the clock only as a guide for what happens next.  Some things may take longer than planned, or not as long as planned.  Bedtimes are the only thing in the rhythm that might benefit us to follow to the letter.
  • The needs of my children come first.  With their needs met they will generally be happy and I will find that the time I do get to spend with my husband or alone will be more productive and enjoyable.
  • Try to predict repeating behaviors in the girls.  For example, Ivy likes to nap about 3 hours after waking in the morning.  She likes to eat directly after nap.  Deladis likes 3 small meals and 3 large snacks in a day.  Make sure she has easy access to appropriate foods.  Late afternoons are a trying time.  Reserve that for time with the girls.
  • Prioritize my exercise routine.  It might benefit me to have a scheduled time to wake up on days I want to get extra writing time in, or on days I want to do Ultimate Taebo.  I can work on cutting a yoga routine down to smaller chunks of time and focus more on individual poses and their relationships to each other than an hour long routine.
  • Do not stress if I don’t get in all the writing time I planned for.  Some days I will get more than planned, some less.  It will balance out.  The important thing is to work at it daily.
  • Cut down on blog posts and think more about the quality of writing there.  I’m thinking I will post 4 times a week.  This will give me more time for fiction writing and working on my novels.
  • Computer time needs to be cut back.  Utilize the time wisely and do not get sidetracked from the goal.
  • Wash dishes after every two meals.  This can be done with Ivy on my back if she is out of sorts at the time.  Deladis often likes to help with dishes.  This will also put me washing dishes once a day instead of twice.
  • Choose a major chore to do every weekday in order to keep an orderly house.  Ex.  Monday – cleaning living room/laundry
  • I’ve decided a formal preschool time with Deladis is not necessary.  (She won’t like this, but I’m replacing it with more time with her, so I think she will be okay with it after we fall into the rhythm.)  Instead, I plan to include her in my activities of housework, gardenwork, cooking, etc…  I also plan to include a evening “bedtime” story, and crafts/outside time during set aside family time.  More library time.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff… Yes, trite phrase I know, but it’s true.  Don’t just plow through the day, but look at each day individually and keep everyone’s needs in mind.

You’re probably thinking at this point, what did their days look like before?  Partially organized chaos is your answer.  No more, no more.  From this list, I’m creating a loose schedule of our days.  I plan to follow the same schedule every week until I see another need arise, or the needs of my girls change allowing for more or less time doing certain activities.  I will post our schedule as soon as I finish it.  Tomorrow’s post will be about meal planning on our new budget.

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.

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. 🙂

I’ve been part of several conversations lately about the way I look, and I have decided to post at least a few times this week about those conversations.  I have lost quite a bit of weight.  My stomach is flatter than it has ever been in my life.  I wear a size that it literally shocked me to buy when I had to shop for clothes recently.  I had to convince myself to buy the size that fit me and what I was seeing wasn’t a mirage.  I have never before in my life been this size.  Yes, I’ve lost weight before, but never like this.  This has been a different experience.  So, in my recent public appearances I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how I lost it, am I eating, and do I exercise.  There has also been compliments that were followed up by an interesting statement that brought up something I’ve been dealing with for quite sometime – my mummy tummy.

I’ve had women say “oh, you look so good” and follow it up with “you don’t need to lose anymore though”.  They will ask if I am sure I eat enough.  The thing is, if thin is beautiful, why worry about the other.  I am not really trying to lose weight.  It has just happened as the result of my achieving other goals in my life.  The first one was I wanted to exercise at least five days a week.  I like feeling strong and fit no matter how much weight I’m carrying.  I enjoy exercise.  It makes me a happier person.  The second goal was to make my family’s diet as healthy as possible.  I did this first by moving us to a whole foods diet, and have since incorporated much of the ideas set forth by the Traditional Foods way of eating.  That is all I have done.  I never said I’m going to eat this much food, counted calories or fat grams, nor have I had a certain weight I wanted to achieve by a certain date.  I had healthy goals.  It wasn’t a fad diet, some new pill, or an exercise plan that made me miserable.

Since the birth of my second child I’ve been dealing with several scars.  These scars are physically noticeable when I am not clothed and are hard for me to look at.  One of these scars, I cannot even touch.  That is the scar left from my c-sections.  The reminder of the naivety with which I went into my first birth experience.  The betrayed trust of a woman taking care of another woman.  The reminder that I didn’t get my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesearean).  That despite what I did achieve with my second birth, I still needed a doctor to take my baby from my womb.  I have healed so much from the hurt this left in me, but that scar will always make me turn my head.  It isn’t natural.

The other scar is my entire lower stomach.  This scar is natural and one I should easily be able to embrace.  My mummy tummy was left to me after carrying a 22 inch, 11 pound infant for 41 weeks and 6 days.  I was not lucky enough to inherit resilient skin.  I won’t describe it here or post a picture.  My mummy tummy is between me and… uh… me.  I have witnessed on television women getting tummy tucks that I didn’t understand when comparing them with me.  I had never even considered that I would ever say that if I had the money I might consider cosmetic surgery.  Yes, I’m saying I have fancied the thought.  Me… a tomboy naturalist.

So, here I am wearing a size I still can’t believe I can fit into, and I’m hoping one day I will find my belly beautiful the way it is.  It carried my child.  It did exactly what it was supposed to do.  I’ve never been someone to show my naked stomach in public.  I’m not going to miss a bikini.  A close woman to me has a husband who calls her stretchmarks the roadmaps to their babies.  How sweet!  I wish I could see my stomach that way.  I wish I could embrace the beauty that the story behind it holds.  I wish I could not always have that little fear in the back of my head that those who do see it will find it as ugly as I do.

That leaves me with the question – What is acceptable human beauty?  I know my mind has been programmed to see stomachs that are flawless as beautiful when it comes to naked body beauty.  In faces, I look for quirks, uniqueness, not the him or her next door look.  Like… my sister Ariana, Johnny Depp, my hubby, and Oprah Winfrey.  I’ve never been one to obsess about my weight or anyone else’s and didn’t equate thin with beauty in every case.  But, a change in a body part that had before always looked consistent.  It has been hard to accept.  Man, this post is hard to write… I can’t even believe I’m putting this out in cyberspace for whoever to read.  But, it’s truth.  It’s part of it.  I will wonder how many expectant mamas will read this post and hope with all they got that their bellies show no sign of their pregnancy.  I will wonder how many other mamas are commiserating with me.  I will wonder how many mamas have learned to see their changed body as beauty.  I want to find a way to live with what I have, to look at what I have achieved with my health, and see beauty.

If two people got into a fight, who would win?  One person is very spiritual.  They study their theology and philosophy, feel comfortable and sure in their beliefs.  They are at peace with their existence.  One person is very physical.  They train their body and have achieved the best physical condition they can.  They are very sure of their physical capabilities.  The two prepare to face off and the bets are being placed.  Who will win?

The answer isn’t as easy as you would think.  The obvious answer is the person who is most physically strong.  We take it for granted that strength comes from physical ability.  But, the answer would be the one who was well fed.  The winner would be the one who could outlast the other.  The one who was more sure of the end and confident in his/her winning.  The one who is filled and fulfilled, not lacking in any area he/she longs for.

We see this scenario play out in many stories, legends, and slices of life.  Take for instance David and Goliath.  David knew he had the living God on his side.  With God for him, who could stand against him.  Another example is Jack and the Giant he faces in many Jack Tales.  He always outsmarts the giant who could out do him physically.  Then, from life we see this reality so often in childbirth.  A prepared and supported woman can birth successfully without pain medication in any environment she chooses barring any medically necessary procedure.  Those unprepared will almost always fail and fall prey to medical intervention.  That is a physical and mental preparation.  Aside from birth we see it in death.  Those who die “well”.  Those living with terminal illnesses and achieving more than any well person we know.

Our approach to life should not be one sided.  We should approach life holistically to achieve the best life possible.  Motherhood/Parenting should be approached the same way.  If we are not fed as the parent in our personal lives, how can we ever hope to feed and nurture our children.  In thinking about the fight, I believe it would be a toss up.  The spiritual person could be full spiritually, but weak physically because he/she has neglected to care for the vessel they were given for earthly dwelling.  The physical person could have all the strength in the world, but without spirituality will fail because they lack mental peace.  I believe as well that spirituality and physicality would look different for each of us and is dependent upon our situations.

At this moment in my life, I’m fed well physically and am fairly strong there.  Spiritually I’m lacking.  I find stress eating at me.  It in turn makes me weak physically.  In my mothering it reveals itself as impatience.  It leaves me seeking.  Without God’s (my spiritual anchor) help, I will sink and drown.  I can’t do it alone for I am only human.  I’ve been reminded of that recently.  As an Appalachian woman, it is ingrained in us to be strong and not complain when we feel weak.  We are to push through it without a fuss even if it kills us.  The duality of this quality is one that brings us great courage and a capacity to do for ourselves, but also can be detrimental to our spirit, because it can leave us feeling alone and reluctant to ask for communal help get things accomplished.

I’m hoping as mothers and parents we can remind each other that wellness is a holistic endeavor.  Our physical strength is nothing without spiritual backing and vice versa.

-Thanks to Pastor Ruby Couch for getting me thinking on that one.  It was a much needed thought.

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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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