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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.

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



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

Dots of color through greener grass…

Fairy houses turn glorious with decoration…

The individual asks to be heard amongst all the bloom…

The redbud tree dots pink and purple…

The legend as told by my grandmother (Barbara (Johnson) Mullins Fletcher) is that Judas Iscariot hung himself on a redbud.  Redbuds used to be a large tree with bountiful white blossoms.  Judas chose this tree to take his life after betraying Jesus.  When he did so, the tree withered down and turned pink with embarrassment and thus we have the redbud.

Everyone is curious…

The trees aren’t the only thing budding.  Deladis spends her days creating.  An artist she might make…

God bless her. 😉

I probably won’t be posting or be able to answer comments for the next week or so.  The Haywoods have some work to do.  Hope to see some old friends as well. 🙂  I’ll be back soon.

We were blessed with a sunny day and warm enough weather to get outside and enjoy it.  Enjoy it we did!

We walked down to the barn, fed the chickens, and walked back to home.  As soon as we made it to the yard, Deladis said, “We can swing!”

Then, we walked on up the holler passed our house to my favorite spot in the little valley.

After seeing the emptiness of this valley thanks to Google Earth, I plan to thoroughly explore it with the girls.

Deladis is learning about the root and seed children that spend their time sleeping snug inside Mother Earth through the Winter.  We couldn’t help but notice many of the mosses and lichens have awesome blooms of red and yellow, or simply the brightest green.

Even our animal friends got in on the warmth.

Our dog, Lars, is a bird whisperer.  Have I mentioned they will lie next to him?

Lately, Deladis has been really in to AbbeyRoad by The Beatles.  John has our CDs with him most of the time, so we listen to the record collection.  John’s dad gave us his records and Abbey Road was one of them.  Deladis has Brer Rabbit, Fat Albert, and Chipmunk Punk, but Abbey Road trumps those every time.  Deladis’ favorites are “Come Together,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” and “Her Majesty”(the one about Madge being a really fine girl – I think that is the title).  I won’t forget the day she told me she liked “Something”.  She asked me what kind of song that was and what was it about.  George Harrison moved my four year old.  She’s a thinking girl.

We sang sunshine songs as we walked.  “Here Comes the Sun” was included of course as it is on most days of  our singing.  As well as “The Sun Shines on Everyone” by Snatam Kaur, and “You Are My Sunshine”, which Ivy has learned to sing really well thanks to her new auntie.  🙂

It was a fine and refreshing time.

This is my fourth full day off of coffee!!!  My first day headache and body ache free.  I’m not nearly as emotional either.  It has amazed me what a complete hold something as “harmless” as caffeine can have on you.  I’ve been up and down all weekend.  So, today, my back decides to go out, but that hasn’t happened in awhile so it’s not completely a horrible thing.  I’m used to it.  I love chiropractors!

I felt ease in this day and coming home after a few days away felt really nice.  This afternoon we worked a little to prepare for the activities of the coming week and our homeschool.  We also wanted to make a few adjustments to the play area for the girls.

A pile of rocks for castle building or whatever they may become.

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A pile of pine cones for future winter projects and neat bird feeders.

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All from one tree in the front yard.

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We also put the finishing touches on the nature table that I will post pictures of on Wordless Wednesday.  I’m so happy with it.

However, when we came home today we found that a rather large creature that we have been trying to catch for over a month tried to chew through the pumpkin on our table.  We turned on our heater for the first time today as well, and when we pulled back the hearth, we found its nest.  Superman from Deladis’s birthday present of wooden super heroes was missing.  We found him in the nest with the back of his head chewed off.  This creature has the ability to carry baking potatoes to various spots around the cabin for its dining pleasure.  It eats and carries around our apples and our bananas.  It chewed through the lids on my containers of nuts.  I have seen this creature twice.  It is large.  The size of an older kitten, but really fat.  It doesn’t appear to have a tail, and it is apparently intelligent.  It has no interest in the fresh food we leave for it nightly in the live trap.  We added peanut butter tonight as per the advice of my step-dad, hunter extraordinaire.  We’ll see if that does the trick.  I’ll post pictures if it does.

Coming home anytime I’ve spent a night away opens my eyes to my blessings.  I’m blessed to be able to do what I am doing for my girls, live where I live, and have such an awesome adventure of sharing my home with and trying to catch wild creatures. 😉  I’m thankful… so thankful.

An arrangement of wildflowers for yellow Monday

An arrangement of wildflowers for yellow Monday

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For more Wordless Wednesday visit here.

Autumn is our season for hiking.  It is something the four of us can’t get enough of this time of year.  Today, was the first cool day of the season with no humidity.  We decided to celebrate with a hike to Bad Branch Falls.  The falls is a nature preserve in Letcher County, Kentucky and rests on the state’s second highest mountain – Pine Mountain.  The hike is short, but of moderate difficulty.  However, we were able to make it with the girls just fine.  I’ve been making this hike regularly since childhood.

I think I’ll let our pictures do most of the narrating.  Despite the fact that I was battling bad batteries and trying to take pictures quickly, the beauty speaks for itself.

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Much of the trail is tunneled in mountain laurel – my favorite flowering plant.

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Ivy stops to watch the rushing water coming off the mountain after two days of hard rain.

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The water is unbelievably clear and safe to play in, but I’ve always wondered if it is safe to drink.  It’s tempting.

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There is magic in these hills.  Without man’s intervention, nature provided the perfect seat for a rest.

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The reward!  There was more water than I have ever seen coming off that mountain.  The sky rained every last bit of humidity left from summer over the last two days.

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There are hidden spots all over these mountains like this.  The kind that make you stop and be in the moment.  Place yourself within the bigger picture.  Meditate.

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Join me on Wednesday for Wordless Wednesday and my best shot of the falls . 🙂

The still, humid, hot days of this week are the “dog days” of summer, or if not exactly that, very reminiscent of them.  The air has been muggy, and to be out in it makes your skin damp.  When walking around the cabin and up the holler we’ve had to be extra careful.  Snakes are usually blind during these last days of summer, and will strike at anything that moves.  Fortunately, I haven’t seen any more copperheads – just a few harmless garter snakes.

The girls and I are still pushing for autumn, and preparing to celebrate everything it brings.  Tomorrow, John and I will be taking them to the fall festival I loved as a kid.  Today, we worked at preserving the first falling leaves to be a part of our first nature table (or basket, I haven’t decided yet.)

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We gathered the most beautiful leaves we could find on our morning nature walk.  Then, I spread the girls’ outdoor picnic table with newspaper, gave them a cup of olive oil and my pastry brushes, and let them grease down the leaves.  Deladis noticed right away how the oil brings out the colors and the intricate veins that run through the leaves.  She said, “They can be our friends now.”

The next step was laying them on a fresh piece of newspaper to cover them.

This is the second set of leaves we oiled.

This is the second set of leaves we oiled.

Finally, we laid the news wrapped leaves on a table and placed some heavy books on top.  In three days or so, they should be ready.  They will be flat, obviously, and not as easy to tear and crumble.  They’ll make a beautiful addition to our table/basket.  (Not familiar with nature tables?  Check out some examples at Hip Mountain Mama and at Homemade Serenity.  While you are at Hip Mountain Mama, check out her natural art supplies give-away!  I couldn’t think of a better one myself – thus why I have only had two or so give-aways. ;))

To add to the fun of our leafy thoughts, we read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.

With illustrations made from actual fall leaves and die-cut pages on every spread that reveal gorgeous landscape vistas, here is a playful, whimsical, and evocative book that celebrates the natural world and the rich imaginative life of children.

http://www.harcourtbooks.com/LeafMan/

Deladis has fallen in love with this book.  She will laugh and has to point out every animal, tree, or man made with the leaves.  Ivy has even started sitting through the reading of some books, and this is one of them.  I’m amazed more everyday at the foundations for her own comprehension of reading that Deladis absorbs from my reading and telling her stories.  She has even started telling me stories.

One of the highlights of the day was an indoor, personalized, winter, weather prediction that road in on the engine of our wooden toy train.

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This is a wooly worm and they are notorious predictors of winter weather.  This one is the first the girls’ have noticed.  Seen most often in early fall, you can read their colors to give yourself an idea of what to expect in the coming winter season.  It looks like we’ll start with a long period of heavy, cold weather, probably some large snowfalls (the larger black patch at the head).  Mid-winter will be mild (brown mid-section), and we’ll end with another shorter patch of rough weather (the last black patch).  This makes me hope for our approach to the bridge even more, so we won’t have to be breaking ice with the front bumper of the truck this winter in order to leave the creek.

There was real joy in this last day of summer for myself and the girls.  I started going through our clothes, changing the breezy summer attire for the more cozy fall duds.  I actually got rid of half of my wardrobe of clothes – the chest of drawers is next.  Everything that is too big for me had to go.  I’m letting go of the fear that I will need those clothes again.  I’m residing in the fact that I will not.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been doing a fall theme for our Circle Time and our daily activities for homeschool.  Instead of changing after a week, I decided to draw this one out.  With all the festivals coming up and holidays, I thought it would be wonderful to have our own family festival as a culmination of the awareness our verse, songs, walks, cooking, and art are bringing to the natural change of season. (An non-original idea inspired by Heaven on Earth.) John is going to be horribly busy for the next few months, so I’m not sure when we will be able to have it.  I’ll have to plan well.

Today, we finished our leaf spiral.  Deladis worked on learning to use scissors while I traced and cut out paper leaves from the ones we gathered on our daily walks.  Deladis then glued them to the spiral we cut from construction paper.  We hung it in the kitchen.  I’m loving having these little projects decorating our cabin.

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Our four bean plants are full of beans, so I took the girls outside and we picked our third mess of this late season.  Deladis and I picked, and Ivy was in charge of putting them in the basket.

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Ivybeans

These beans have the best flavor, but they are the toughest beans to string.  The last basket full took over an hour to string, and I still missed some.  I didn’t worry about the mud from the drizzle that came down all day.  The three of us wore the earth like a badge of dedication to work as fun.  I was pretty amazed that the cabbage seeds I planted are up and doing well despite our neglect of them.  I’m going to have to go in and start taking better care of them now.  Get the hoe out.

There is an aromatic plant around the cabin that is just starting to flower.  The scent is very much like mint, but with a tartness.  I know this plant has to have a good use.  The more I take notice of what grows wild here, the more I wish I could have someone come and show me what to do with it.  This one is in our garden amongst the beans.

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It’s beautiful.  If you know what it is, please share it with me.

The earlier darkness has helped the girls find sleep easier tonight.  I will wake up tomorrow with a smile on my face.  Tomorrow we’ll go to the library and find books on autumn, squirrels, apples, and pumpkins.  We’ll go to the produce stand and get a few bags of apples and maybe try drying some.  I might even let the girls have one last Hawaiian Ice before the shack closes for the season.

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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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