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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.

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This morning after three days of not leaving the cabin, we welcomed a guest for breakfast.  He came to get tattooed by John and to experience our mountain music all the way from Sweden.  We have the pleasure of hosting him on the holler for a few days!  Despite the fact that I haven’t been able to clean myself or the house in these days, I got over my initial embarrassment and hosted him at our table.  It was pretty awesome to get a firsthand account of a country we rarely hear of here in the US, or at least Kentucky.  I had so many questions and we conversed quite a bit about what would be the typical curiosities – daily life, education, religion, politics, etc…  Our conversation confirmed a lot of what I suspected and taught me a lot as well.  He was so respectful and personable.  I utterly enjoyed having him here with us.  I can say, if there is anything I want to do and have yet done in this life, it is to host more people at my table and to see more of our world.  I want to have more conversations like the one I had this morning.  I want to see what is past the Mississippi.  What is beyond Huntsville, Alabama.  What lies above Ohio.  I want to see Mexico.  Hang out in Canada, and ultimately cross the pond.

There is so much more to understand about the realities of a human existence.  Of what works and does not work.  I think if we are to make opportunities and a brighter reality for our children, we have so much to learn.  The American way isn’t the end all to be all for sure. I mean we can’t even agree on what the American way is anymore.  Congress is having too many my way or the highway arguments.  Honestly, our politics are gross to me right now.  Taking what works from respectably functioning countries and combining those things would be a great way to approach setting up a society.

Did you know that Sweden is kind of like Alaska right now?  1 hour of daylight!  Imagine that!

The only thing I won’t be taking with me when I pass on are my children.  They will have their own time to leave the planet.  So, they are my work – my lasting contribution.  I have to keep reminding myself of this because if I don’t I easily get caught up in trying to accomplish things.  I just add more and more to my plate when I should continue to remove things from it.  What Creator has meant for me to do will always find me.  It is so easy to waste time on meaningless things!

Today, I had a firsthand account of one man’s experience in Sweden.  An hour’s long conversation gave me a little insight.  It is such a rare opportunity.  This blog is the firsthand account of one mountain mother’s life in rural Kentucky.  Thanks for spending your time with me.  Those who write as well, thank you for sharing.  Hopefully, we can continue to learn from each other and form a consciousness of gratitude, interdependence, and blessing.

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’m so excited to share with you an article that was published in The Daily Yonder last week!  I wrote it!  Closing Maternity Wards: Costly and Risky… click on the picture below to read the article.

My darling nephew - brand new

The article was also picked up on www.kentucky.com!  There has been some discussion on both sites.  I’m so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to write this article for this publication. 🙂  I hope you will take a look if you get the time.

I finally got hold of the camera, took some pictures, and then let Deladis take some on her own.  I’m going to share our last few weeks with you mostly in pictures.

Easter, Redbuds, and Dogwoods – The Tale not Found in the Bible

Today is Good Friday for Christian believers and others who are inspired by the life of Jesus the Christ.

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said.  “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

Jesus answered. “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.  Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:10-11

Jesus accepted what was for what it was.  He lived the Now and He realized the essence of His being protected by Father God.  My maternal grandmother taught me that the redbud and dogwood trees represent some significant things in this story.  They grow wild in these hills.  Many plant them in their yard.

The redbud was once a large tree with large white blossoms.  Judas Iscariot, after betraying Jesus, hung himself on one of these large trees.  It shriveled up and the blossoms turned pink with their shame.

The dogwood represents the events of The Holy Week.  You can read more about how by clicking these statements.Spring has gotten into my being more this year than ever in my life.  I have never been fond of rainy up and down weather, but this year the beauty of creation has been recognized as a gift in the core of who I am.  The most beautiful part of the redbud and dogwood story is that they bloom around the same time, the redbud a bit ahead of the dogwood.

Deladis Won a Blue Ribbon at the Homeschool Science Fair for her Tree Project!

She worked so so hard!  I can’t believe this is a kindergartener’s work!

It’s Electric – Boogie-Woogie-Woogie

The Chickens – Photos by Deladis Rose – Titles by Mommy

Where's the Beef

The Peach

The Ladies

Cockfight

Family Man

We're Havin' a Party

I'd Eat One if I Could Fit it in My Mouth

And Finally – The Mole Killer – Not for the Squeamish – Photo by Deladis Rose



This is a pen and ink drawing John did of me picking through the carrot harvest in October.  It was close to my birthday I think.  I’m ready to take this stance any day now for planting season.  It was spitting some snow today though, after a glorious weekend.  Deladis can’t seem to get over our “family time”, and honestly her mother can’t either.

It seems like our “family time” is too here and there.  This weekend I think we were all ready just to be there for each other, and it felt perfect.  Saturday we went to the Mexican restaurant to eat, then to play with some ferrets at the pet store.  After that, we went to the Isom Vendor’s Mall where I found a book that I had checked out from the library, hadn’t finished, and was hoping to buy at some point, for two dollars.  It was one of those things where the Creator is putting things and people in my path to show me that this new path I have come across is ok and worth exploring.  I now own a copy of the book.  Then, we went to an ice cream shop in Vicco where Deladis got chocolate chip cookie dough, and Ivy birthday cake ice cream.  Deladis said, “This ice cream sure tastes fresh.”  Next, we went to a music store for John some strings.

Sunday, we went to church, came home, had supper, then walked up on the cemetary hill for a sweet snack.  Lars and Lucky followed us as always.  We sat, talked, and enjoyed the moss and the view.  Deladis said, “I just love our family time.”

While it seems so simple, it isn’t.  It feels new.  It feels good.  John and I both got a little more regular paying/scheduled jobs after Christmas this year, and this has allowed days like this weekend.  This change has put us both to thinking, as change can often do, about what is possible, and what our priorities are.

Family and faith should receive most of my time.  One day I’ll be eye to eye with two grown women, and I don’t want to wonder where those days in between went.  I can scramble and fight, and try to do my thing, but if the thing isn’t the right fit at the right time, no amount of scrambling or fighting will get me anywhere.  The time I gave to that goal, will be for naught because I was too set in my ways to think of an alternative route.  Or a more favorable goal.

I’m excited about the days ahead.  The possibilities and even getting out of this tight coat I’ve been wearing for far too long.  Spring has sprung.  The bushes outside have buds.  There are more activities to be found.  And we are renewing ourselves – as a family.

One new thing I’m doing is offering online Lamaze Childbirth Preparation classes and Early Pregnancy classes for any woman anywhere with any schedule. 🙂  Thinking outside the box.  For more information http://birthtrue.wordpress.com/online-classes-e-courses

The weather has given us a break, and the girls and I took a hike this past Saturday.  It was lovely.  We got home and both the girls fell asleep by 6:30 and didn’t wake up again until the next morning!

Start with a nice blue sky.

Add a warm hilltop breeze

Two lovely little girls

 

A release of penned up energy waiting all winter long

And a few soft smiles

One portly little cat who follows along behind like a dog

Neglected hunting cabin

 

That had to have once been loved

A few open old deep mines

 

An old logging road

Big old maple leaves

A couple of rolled over rocks

Blow one last kiss to the sun

Explore Kentucky… Explore the World…  Those words were the mantra of my time spent in early new motherhood when we lived in Louisville.  We have never bought cable or satelitte since we’ve been married, but we were excited when we got almost 7 channels on our TV with a regular antennae.  I love KET, all the versions.  I grew up watching KET (Kentucky Educational Television) and the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) programming they aired.  Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow, The Write Channel, were staples of my education, and I have to say it is a huge part of what gave me the courage to call myself a writer.  A huge part of who I am as a person.

Deladis was about 2 years old when she was watching evening programming with me as I rocked her to sleep.  Explore Kentucky… Explore the World… flowed out of the television and Deladis repeated the words with the same cadence and tone as it was spoken by the narrator.  My eyes welled with tears.  It was one of the first times I realized that she heard words like I do.  Hearing those words spoken in that way for that KET advertisement made me proud to be a Kentuckian.  I loved hearing them, and in them Deladis heard the same value.  KET and PBS produce such a quality programming, which is so hard to find now days.

Now, that we live back in the hills, we don’t get any channels.  We watch television and movies through Netflix.  I watch KET/PBS anytime I get the chance – renting their shows through Netflix and watching for free online through their websites.  Public broadcasting is still such a part of our lives through radio as well.  NPR and PRI programming through WEKU and are my chosen sources for news, education, and entertainment in the car and at home.  Not only that, but WMMT (Mountain Community Radio) is our community’s (Appalachia’s) leading source for programming that is at the heart of our culture and community.  I host a show on there once a month called Mountain Talk. 

It was only a week or so ago, when no radio was playing, or TV going, Deladis broke out in her play as perfect as a radio announcer and said – “P…R…I… Public Radio International.”  I felt the tears well again.  Her gorgeous child’s voice, hearing words so beautifully.  It’s an awesome thing for me as her mother to hear.

So, right now my heart hurts over the funding cuts proposed by our Congress to all public broadcasting – radio and television.  It would mean the end of so many of the shows I value so much.  Not only have they proposed this but also complete cuts of funding for preventing teen and unplanned young adult pregnancy programs, and cutbacks for initiatives geared toward maternal and child health.  I have no clue what is going on here.  I understand we need to budget, but there are so many programs wasting government money, not to mention the government itself, that I can’t see justification in cuts such as these.  I don’t like to get political here, but in this case I have to write on it.  Funding cuts for the arts, public broadcasting, family health, education, etc… really???

Read KET’s urgent plea here.  Make your voice heard.  Mr. Fred Rogers isn’t around to do it for us this time as he did in 1969.  Can someone… can we fill his shoes?

I call it just a day.  A real day.  I spent time away from the computer.  I opened and learned the new pressure canner I bought.  We have so many tomatoes, and I know I need to learn to put things up.  It’s part of it.  Though I have heard the stories of pressure canners blowing people up, I know they must be relatively safe, and it is time I got acquainted.  Tomatoes are supposedly easy to put up.

I hate reading manuals.  I like my reading to have a narrative quality even if non-fiction.  I’d much prefer learning my being taught by a breathing being, but time has not allowed me that, and none of my family that lives closer to us cans.  I withstood the reading, working through the text step by step, trying to be hands on instead of reading and then doing.  I readied 7 quart jars.  I knew I’d fill those and have left overs.  Yet, when I smashed in the tomatoes as instructed by the manual, I found that I could only fill 4 of those.

As soon as the jars were prepared, the girls and I got the best surprise.  At my back door, stood my daddy.  He had come just in time to be present for my blowing up the house.  But, it all went off without a hitch.  The best part is my daddy was smiling and seemed at ease.  He has a job that carries with it a huge responsibility, and sometimes I wish he could leave it behind.  I always remember my happy daddy fondly.  Nobody else can be happy like him.  When he is happy he can hold the world on his back and go with simple movements, unhindered, laughing.  Oh, the laughing.

Dad helped me fix the air conditioner away from the stove.  Our little wall unit blows the flame on my gas stove, so I had turned it off.  It was like a sauna in the cabin.  He couldn’t stay long and we were alone again.  The jars finished processing.  I did my yoga practice.  Ivy napped.  When I got the jars out of the canner, I got this…

Floaters.  I should have poured off the juice I got after packing and put in more tomatoes.  The jars are sealed though, and John’s Mamaw – canner extraordinaire – says they are going to be just fine to eat.  They will be used for soups and sauces this winter.  I’m so pleased that the blight didn’t wipe them out this year like our last year’s crop.  We are making progress even if baby steps.  We’ll eventually walk with few stumbles, then glide.

I am so excited to announce that a radio documentary that I have been working on these last few months is going to air on this coming week’s edition of Mountain News and World Report on the local public radio station WMMT.  The topic is cesarean awareness and how it affects the women of the Kentucky mountains and nationwide.  We interviewed a local obstetrician, a certified nurse midwife, and a certified professional midwife on the topic, as well as a local mother whose daughter’s life was saved by cesarean surgery.

The airdate is August 1st (Sunday) at 10:30am EST and again on August 3rd (Tuesday) at 6pm EST.  You can listen locally at WMMT 88.7 and also online at www.wmmt.org where you will find a link for listening live.  The piece will also be available for download after the airdates if you click on the link for the Community Correspondence Core.

This issue is close to my heart and the piece is airing right after the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology issued revised guidelines that are more supportive of vaginal birth after cesarean.  It also airs on the week that we will celebrate Deladis’s 5th birthday and my 5th year of motherhood. 🙂  I hope you will get to celebrate with us by listening to the piece.

Be blessed,

Kelli

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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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