Thursday, 31 January 2008

More to come.....

.....We've been really busy the last two days: play dates, packages, field trips, card board we have lots of pictures coming. I'm just really tired so I will post it all in the morning!

The Other Blogs I Love

The problem I have with awards is who gets left out....I can only award 10? So last night I lay awake thinking about how I feel when I get left out (rotten) and what I could do about the whole thing.

So part of my reasoning was that hopefully, the chain of awards would spread in a predictable way and certain of my awesome local friends would get the award that way. But then I also have a rule that I have to have been reading a blog for a while to give it an award; this is in case I pop in one day and the usual recipe or craft is replaced with a hateful rant about gays or Catholics or the like (real life example). I'll not be one to direct someone to that with a link, no no. Also, the times it happened to me I was so surprised.

That said, there were others that I just plain forgot about when making up the list. I'd like to take you on a tour now. They are mostly my favorite artist and farmer blogs, some local, some really far away:

Laura at CenterDownHome: If I had a home like hers, I'd never leave either. She's living my dream. She's and artist and an unschooler and had amazing music on her blog. Sometimes, I open it up to listen as background. :) She inspires me with her beautiful writing. She found me first I think, through the blog ring, but I am so glad she did!

Abby at SugarCreek: Yay for Abby and her CSA! She's an awesome musician too. She's just had a baby boy to add to her brood and I am so glad all went well for her this pregnancy. I've met her twice, both on really of days where I was not feeling very social or talkative and that is something I regret. We share many of the same thoughts on food and the like. We've emailed a bunch, but really it's not the same!

Pile of Omelays: Again, living my dream. Awesome music. Really helpful hints about homesteading.

Wheelchairmama: How could I have forgotten her? A. I have jam for you! She's an awesome mom and friend. Right now, one of the few people who calls me and I feel comfortable talking on the phone with. (That's another post all together, my phone aversion.)

Amy at the FOIL HAT: If you've never used her soap.....oh my. I tried to spread the love at the holidays. But aside from her awesome soap- she is freakin' hilarious. No really. She could have a sitcom and I might actually watch TV.

You know what? I really liked sharing these. I think it will become a regular thing here. Any recommendations?

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Monday on a Tuesday

After I posted yesterday, we headed to an OB appointment. Everything is well and good. The report came back on the fibroid, it is small, has grown but not significantly. The docs don't think it will interfere in the VBAC. I am so thrilled at the medical support I am getting for my choice to VBAC! I got the ok for the Yoga I want to do and asked questions about the Bradley exercises that I am confused about.

Oh, and about that- We have decided to take the Bradley classes and there is absolutely no problem with that. They think it is great and recommended the local teacher. With the rumors circulating locally, it was a relief to hear that.

Baby's heart rate is 150/min. My weight gain is perfect, as is my BP.

So then we headed downtown to the historical museum. That was fun. It had been a while since Lil'Bug and I went someplace new without an entourage of other homeschoolers. While that has value, so does walking slowly through exhibits with one on one attention from each other. There is a new exhibit that is 100+ year old nature and animal dioramas. I'd seen them in the basement archival storage when I worked at the museum, spent lunch times walking around down there with the curator, but it was all new to Lil'Bug and she was really engaged. They have preserved owlets and fox cubs and all sorts of birds that we would likely never see up close. We walked through the trash and recycling exhibit and talked about waste too. All in all, just 45 minutes, but it was lovely.

Then we went home and made Chicken "Noonel" soup. Shortly after we popped in a movie and settled in. My headache was only getting worse and ice packs were no help. Lil'Bug got up and headed to the kitchen. That usually means trouble, but when I finally got up to go after her I found her with all her paint stuff set up and ready to go. "Mama, I was waiting for you to pour the paints!" Indeed she was, very patiently. I got down my paints and canvas and we painted for about an hour. We talked and sipped tea and painted self portraits on our canvases. It didn't make my headache go away, but I was really feeling connected to the small one.

So, then we did NOT clean up and instead grabbed a bucket of strawberries and headed back to the TV room to watch Arthur and snuggle. Soon, Dearest Husband came home- he had a headache too. We made dinner together and played as a family. Soon, I thought it was bedtime and Lil'Bug and I settled in. I fell asleep, tornado tot headed back downstairs to play with Daddy for another few hours.

I woke up at midnight and my headache was gone. All was quiet and sleepy and a thunderstorm was rumbling. The pressure had been released, I went back to sleep.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Stormy Skies

The temperature right now is 49 degrees (F) and the snow is slushy and melting. I have a headache, possibly from the barometric pressure, possibly from stress. I had terrible dreams last night and woke up way too early and anxious. It is the anniversary of the Challenger explosion and my father's (who I haven't seen in almost 4 years) 58th birthday.

This weekend I had an opportunity to practice my revolution: Release. An email popped up in my inbox, a reply to an email I sent to a friend in June of 2006. I had just finished my thesis, changed jobs to stay at home with Lil'Bug and the diploma for my Masters had arrived in the mail. With that relief, I jotted out a quick email to the close friends that I had become distant from that Spring. Only one ever responded and I was heartbroken, left wondering why. Time marched on, I slowly made friends and found things to occupy my time but I was still sad and sometimes angry about the loss.

Guess what? Yahoo had put my email in spam/junk folders and the recipients had never received them. Huh.

So I have all this built up heartbreak I've been holding on to all because of technology? (Ok, my aversion to using the telephone is another blog altogether....) Back to the email on Sunday.....she found my email while changing accounts and sent me an invitation to be friends again, even a play date this week. I cried. Geeze, I'm crying now*. It wasn't a purposeful ending of friendship, it was a glitch. So I released all the hurt I'd been feeling. Bye bye. (Sob, sniffle, whoo hoo!...) *Fine, pregnancy induced crying. Perhaps I am making big deal out of small gesture? Whatever. Whoo Hoo!

I have felt so disconnected and angry and sad for so long about so many things in my life. How many of them should I let go of? What if it hadn't been a mistake? What if I'd just tried harder (ie picked up the phone and dialed) instead of the self pity crap? Release. I need to let go of the questioning I torture myself with and just freaking relax. Enjoy what is to come. Embrace it fully without hesitation or sullen regrets.

Several times in my life I had passionate dreams that were derailed by outside forces or my own learning and discovery. Today reminds me of that. I gave up too easily. I fight hard until I don't and then I just regret. Sometimes I succeed, I do have a Masters and a child to prove that. :) That's just it. Why not explore those interests I gave up on so early? Photography, astronomy, ornithology, poetry, training to be a paramedic......I can still do all of these things and on my own time for my own pleasure. I can rekindle lost friendships. I can foster and nurture new ones without hesitation.

I can heal.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Photo Challenge 4- Release

The word for this week: Release

That's my revolution word for the year as well. My focus for meditation and relaxation. I am challenging my self to find the visual for this word, both noun and verb.

Later this week I am going to set up a sidebar with those who have participated so far! Feel free to jump in if you haven't.

Evil Sniffles, Fish Juice, and Car Safety

The evil sniffles have almost left my tiny daughter's body, we'll see what happens (resurgence?) after she gets home this afternoon from a trip, her first, to Chuck E. Cheese with her grandparents. I am not a germaphobe BUT our local Cheese leaves much to be desired AND Lil'Bug does not do well around animatronic characters (ei nightmares for weeks/months about "Dr. Faucet" and "Her Grossness" from the Grossology exhibit at the Science Center.....) so we will see how she does- rather we will hear about it when she gets home.

*UPDATE: She didn't go the Cheese! MIL took my concerns seriously and postponed the trip. :)

Fish Juice. What else would you call it? Last night while shopping
Lil'Bug grabbed a Tropicana Omega 3 juice carton and put it in our cart. My curiosity led me to pick it up and read the ingredients (how did they add O-3 to juice? for that matter how do they get it into eggs? it's a fish product.....). Um. Yeah, in case you did not visit the link or missed the little print:

Ingredients: 100% pure pasturized orange juice and MEG-3* (fish oil and fish gelatin). *Ingredient not found in regular orange juice: contains tilapia, sardine, and anchovy.

If you click on the
tilapia link, you'll see a detailed informational site that pretty much explains why I don't eat tilapia anymore. I am on a quest to get the Omega-3 in my diet more but I have to draw the line at adding such to my orange juice. Perhaps it is just a thing I do, reading labels and understanding them. Anchovies/Sardines in my salad dressing, I can live with- but what's next?

Ok, then there's the funny thing: Lil'Bug asked me to strap Purple Baby into a car seat, but we had groceries on the seat so she asked if I could strap her in with me. Sure. What I didn't realize was that I did. The doll was buckled resting right on my gravid belly and I didn't notice until we got home. It was a good laugh for all. At least my fuzzy brain defaults to caring for and the safety of small humanoid things.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Totally Awesome

Wow. I feel all warm and cozy. Evie at The Road Less Traveled gave me this award! Now to pass it on......harder since many, many of my favorite bloggers have already received this award and I'm not supposed to duplicate. I've been mulling over how to do this for days now. Do I just post my blogroll? No, too lazy. Agh. I know I will leave someone wonderful out, but I'll do my best!

Mama B. at My Little Soap Box: in real life and in blogdom she inspires me to think and to homeschool in ways I had not thought of on my own. In my unschooly world, she is a well trained mind.

Needleroozer at Turtleworks: An artist. She inspired me to get creative again, and despite my puttering, keeps me at it. Until I get the box off the counter and in the mail to her (I will, maybe when it's not so cold!) I hope this award shows my appreciation!

Evie's Incredible Shrinking Whimsigal: Oh, the food. Yum. You all should try her mushroom soup. Also, I could never fry an egg before. I know. Weird.

Laura at LifeDreamed: Another local friend and unschooler of a little. Honestly, her friendship came at a time when I really needed it. Our kids adore each other, despite the age gap. Also, yay!, she's due in August! We'll have summer babies together (I'm in June).

Anna Kiss at
sugar boot and weasel: She's a poet too. I'm getting back into my groove and writing poetry- one a day in February. I totally bombed at NaNoWriMo. I didn't even get started. This I can do! Oh, and she's in Ohio. My hope is that I'll get to meet her when we move there.

Montucky Rox at South of the Bridgers: She posts rarely, but when she does it is usually something I need to reflect on at that very point in my journey. She's actual family, a precious and rare commodity. She has helped me through some pretty tough times and transitions AND she unschooled her young ones before life had other plans for her. I never knew that before this summer and it certainly made our connection feel deeper.

Kip at 24 piece set: Rox's middle one in NE, my second cousin. I recently found his blog and reconnected through that. The Internet is so cool! So is Kip's art, BTW.

Sarah at The View From Here: She is very conservative and religious. Sometimes I need to connect with that too. She also is a wealth of knowledge (and products) on natural parenting and that's awesome too. She's had a tough year, full of loss and hurting. A constant reminder to me to be more gentle with people, as we don't know what they are going through. Despite everything, she has still inspired many and continues to do so.

Christine at Welcome to My Brain: The pastor's wife. She cracks me up. She's sexy and nurturing and a whole lot of other stuff too. She has an awesome weekly Magic Milk o'the Week picture series- a major thing in breastfeeding advocacy. She's also got a crazy beautiful family and is about to add more to her brood. All that and she homeschools too!

KMDuff at Stuff About The Duffs: She's just like the rest of us, working towards gentleness, unschooling, raising kids, AND she writes about it too. She's in a warm locale- I often visit her blogs and think about flip flops in February. I've never worn flip flops in my life (web toe power and all). Mostly I love getting ideas from her. Her kids are much like Lil'Bug in interests.

I know. I left off the list some really great blogs- but the rules say only ten!

Better Butter

Eating and what we eat is a hot topic in our house. I won't go as far to say that we are foodies but Dearest Husband and I have in common the hatred of plastic food. I don't mean that the food is actually plastic, but that it is messed with. Low-fat, fat free, sugar free, cornified, modified, processed....fake. Also, don't kid yourself, processed food has an acceptable level of rodent feces and insect waste. Sorry to put that out there, but who really knows what's in Twinkies? The FDA- they set the levels. (shudder) Not to mention the chemicals used in preserving food for shelf life.

What got me thinking about this today was a conversation I had with one of my favorite aunts: she has struggled with her weight and blood sugar for as long as I can remember. She's going to try Weight Watchers but doesn't have time for the meetings. My understanding is that it's all about portion control. This is good, but misses something in order to sell their product. That missing element is food quality. It is still processed convenience food that disconnects the eater from the food ingested. There is no personal accountability for the ingredients (AND doesn't support local economies). I think that the connection is a vital ingredient to a healthier lifestyle.

Anyway, we like whole foods. We found that by using whole milk, butter, farm fresh eggs, and the like that we eat smaller portions and are more satisfied by the meal.

There are a couple things to note about this. Smaller portions means less food, means less purchased. We also buy our meat directly from farms so our overall yearly meat bill is about $1,200. That's right. $100 a month AND we are eating Black Angus steaks, roasts, and burgers AND holiday hams, Iowa chops, and pork roasts, etc. Oh and the bacon! Divine. We grow a lot of tomatoes and peppers so that helps too. We spend more than average on milk and dairy because I insist on hormone free products. (When we have our own cow, I expect the initial cost to be the same since we'll have care and feeding costs of an animal. Maybe not? Maybe just to begin with?) Our monthly grocery bill is averaging $400 (including the meat, but also non-food items like shampoo, cleaning products, paper, etc). That's pretty good (I think) for as well as we eat.

Last month I tried real from the farm organic hormone free butter. Sounds fancy and was a luxury purchase. I admit that I didn't expect it to taste much different, after all butter is butter- right? I wrong. It is luscious, just enough salty, and melted dreamily. I ate it on toast but now I must set out to make those hot crusty rolls this week. It is prioritized!

Back to what I was saying. Food matters. It is the fuel we run on, mind and body. We don't spend more just because we are picky because the other costs balance it out.

We eat well, we spend less, and our doctors say we are pretty darn healthy (which also means we visit them less and save medical expenses). Can't beat that.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

No Pictures, "Mama I don't feel good...."

LilBug has rubbed her nose and most of her face raw wiping away dripping snot. If I pin her down I can wipe Foil Hat Shea Butter on her cheeks to soothe the redness and help repel the snot from crusting, but she hates having gooey snot like stuff wiped on to her face. Her words, not mine. I happen to think the Shea Butter is divine and Amy should be crowned the queen of Shea Butter for making me Chai scented Butter for my pregnant belly.

With not much work to do and a kid who just wanted to alternantly hibernate or play farm in her room without me, I tried to play with my camera. This only made her cry. "No pictures, please mama," heartbreaking it was. So we mopped snow mud tracks off the floor and drank lots of tea and then I actually got to sit down and read a book (until I got up for more tea and came back- the book was gone. Tot says she knows nothing. Hmph.).

So Lil'Bug is still feverish off and on, her face is raw, and all she wants to eat are cookies. That's the update!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

My Goodness, IS It Only Tuesday?

You'd think that with Dearest Husband home yesterday that today would feel like a Monday- but it didn't. It feels like a Thursday that is at an end. Weekend in sight. I have all my classes graded, caught up on email, laundry, and dishes, tended a sick babe all day AND cooked a new recipe (scalloped potatoes from a CI book).

Now, my back aches and my feet are tingly so I am putting my feet up and messing around on the computer. Tot is in the bath, soon to be in bed, and I am likely up for the night as she wakes every 20 minutes asking for a drink or a hug because she doesn't feel good. Just. Like. Last. Night. I'm ready for it. Water is stationed, hugs are at full capacity. Germs, get ready for a fight.

Oh, and it snowed another 2 inches. Someone (not me) will have to shovel our 35'+75'+135'+10' of sidewalk soon or the City will fine us. This snow makes for a lot of work when you live on a corner lot! The upside is that snow is insulating so we are warmer inside.
Last week we went on a field trip to the Neal Smith Prairie Refuge. I love this museum and I love the vast prairie restoration that surrounds it. Lil'Bug became really upset in the seed lab and refused to stay in that room, opted to stand outside the door and watch her friends while they built seed throwers. She was very patient about waiting, but her aversion to the lab room was very odd. But then she had a blast! I could barely keep up. (Also, I played with the action settings on my camera...)

We also went to a rockin' awesome birthday party for one of Lil'Bug's favorite friends. K. is 5! Such a little gentleman too. Lil'Bug adores him. So much that she talked her Nana into getting her dressed up in party clothes and dress shoes so K. would think she's adorable. THAT was adorable! (Yes, he did in fact compliment her on her outfit! She grinned so big that she looked like a muppet!)
Update on the baby: I feel great. Hungry all the time, but still watching food for protein and nutrients- no junk, no caffeine. She kicks me all the time and I know where her head and feet are. I look more like 7 months instead of 20 weeks- or so EVERY stranger informs me. Or they tell me I am having twins- which I'm not (verified by the THREE ultrasounds we have had already. One. She's a girl). Also, the ultrasounds found a fibroid. It is tiny, but reason enough to continue monitoring. Fibroids caused complication with Lil'Bug's birth and led to the C-Section. Anyway, here's my first attempt at a mirror assisted belly photo at the museum. Unfortunately the mirror was less than ideal!

Reflections a bit

I had an itch to review my first three blog posts ever. Wow was that a trip. Funny thing is at the end of the third one I was craving the decaf hazelnut tea gifted to me by my dear friend Mama B.- and so it is this morning as well. I've been hiding a bit of hazelnut chocolate to devour with it. This morning will have to do. Lil'Bug is feverish and cranky and nested in on the couch watching PBS. Next up is a DVD of Bambi and maybe Muppet's Treasure Island.

We had an incredibly busy weekend. I'm still processing all that we did: field trip, birthday party, trip to Grandma's, actual in person work for the local college that employs me.....I'll write more later.

Monday, 21 January 2008


Sunday, 20 January 2008

Raspberry Jam

Sunshine. These raspberries are made from pure sunshine and they taste like it too. This is warmth. In the late summer (our Spring crop was killed by an end of May frost) Lil'Bug and I would head out in the morning and eat breakfast right off the canes. Mmmmmm. Through the harvest season, I gathered about 1 cup every 4-5 days. I froze them as I went, hoping to accumulate enough to make jam eventually. I got about 7 cups total.

When we make it into jam it is like bubbling, boiling lava. I leave it with the seeds. Since we didn't get as much this last summer, we are canning most of it in smaller jars.

It is dangerous for Lil'Bug to help with the boiling and canning, but she helps with the prep work and labeling and keeps me company while watching the hot process. She gathered the tools, mashed the berries, and nibbled.

It is a 1/1 ratio of berry to sugar, boiled until the right consistency. Then hot poured into prepared glass jars. This year we actually have a pressure canner (didn't use it), but last year we just stored in the fridge and they kept as long as they lasted (about 6 months). One thing I learned last year was that the pot to boil the berries should be much larger than you think you need because the berries double in volume once they start boiling and then the sugar gets added. I also learned to stir constantly or the bottom will scorch. Luckily there is nothing more heavenly and warming than standing over a pot of boiling raspberry jam. Mmmmmm.

We are finally getting this done today because I need jam for the cupcakes! Um, yes, for FIL's birthday that was two weeks ago? We'll get it done. Better late than never.

I do wish there had been enough to put some away for the State Fair. My jam is truly awesome. I know I'd win! :) So much for modestly, I'm still a buzz from all the spoon licking goodness.
*edited to add: It is my Dearest Husband who first suggested this..... though I can't take much credit for the product- it really is the berries that do the work.

When we finished up, we had 12 little jars and 2 big ones (2 cup jars). I toasted a whole wheat ciabatta roll and slathered it with local dairy fresh cream butter THEN I scraped all the jam I could from the pot, the scoop, and the spoons and piled it on. Crazy delicious.

Yup. I took a bite BEFORE I got the camera. It was too good not to. When I put Lil'Bug in jammies I found she had jam behind her ears. I have no idea how it got there.

Pregnancy Salad

Spinach greens (more or less about a cup full chopped)
Dried cranberries and or cherries
Parmesan cheese (shredded not grated) 1/4 cup
Whole wheat seasoned croutons 1/8 cup
Bite sized fresh apple chunks 1/4 cup
Meat of choice (Bacon, chicken, ham, leftover pork chop...all work pretty good) 1/4 cup
Caesar dressing (the kind made with anchovy oil, oh, and thank you to BIL (Uncle J.) for pointing out the ingredient!)

Serves 2 as meal (or hungry me and little tot). I came up with this as a way to meet the pregnancy diet requirements of spinach greens and fish (anchovies are ok, but kinda yucky- unless it is in salad dressing!) AND then to meet my craving for cranberries and apples. With this meal I knock out a bunch of the requirements all at once. Oh, and it is pretty yummy too. I can play with the ingredients for variety and what is on hand as long as I keep the dressing and the spinach. Also, I accidentally got Arugula greens instead of spinach last week and learned that THEY ARE NOT THE SAME!!!! Yuck.

Lil'Bug loves it. She asked to try it with out the "fish goo" dressing and now asks to have it for lunch too. That is wonderful since I hated making separate meals and I really like sharing with her yummy healthy food. Good example and all that. I figured she would pick out the bits she likes and leave the spinach, but she eats it all! Whoo hoo!

Photo Challenge 3- Delight!

Delight is the word for the week. It has been dancing in my head since last week. Learning driven by delight, the look of delight on Lil'Bug's face when something is her "favorite!"


My entry. Pretty simple and not what I was looking for all week, but it has layers. Lil'Bug is playing with magnetic bug parts to build a mega bug. She knew all the different parts, both the bug they come from and the part of the bug body. There were other kids and they would all trade parts based on need and design. She was very intent.

On the sidelines, there was me. I was feeling anything but connected that day until a friend called and invited us to go to the Science Center. I connected with her in a long emotional talk that left me feeling very relieved about many things. I really enjoy her company. It also helps sometimes to talk things out that are stirring inside. Usually when asked about a certain topic, I make vague statements and change the subject, but that particular day I just said what happened. Just plain and simple and straight, I finally felt like I could. (Now here I am being vague, ironic). It was a huge relief to do so and it was like standing up for myself. Instead of pulling away from the community, I felt plugged in and respected for my choice. Part of the give and take. Connected.

Friday, 18 January 2008


I was blog hopping last night and visited CenterDownHome. She has this amazing post about happiness; she uses the analogy of panning for gold.

First, this triggered many memories for me of growing up in Colorado. My extended family would go camping in Yampa Valley and we would spend hours panning for gold bits. Sometimes we would find some, sometimes we would find other things. We once went to Ruby Mountain and mined for garnets and I still have the tin full of stones that I found. It can be tedious work to find treasure in the dust and mud, but the gems are still there.

That's just it, what she was saying. You can focus on the sun beating down or how thick the silt is OR you can slowly and surely find the little treasures and keep them forever. Having the gift of storytelling helps, the gift of words and the love of language used to express this everyday.

I blogged to find community, to document a "portfolio" of our learning, to share with relatives our daily adventures BUT I plan on downloading the blogs in journal form and having them printed out. If anything were to happen to us, our children would have a record of my thoughts, and a photo journal of how our family lived- how much we love them and each other.

Which brings me to my thoughts on the post that got this started: We are incredibly happy. How can this be when, even now, past hurts and abusers can haunt me, when my extended family is broken or far away, and when I hesitate in friendship. Because I don't focus on those, I accept my part, my choices and live my life. We do what we think is best for our family, actively. We parent, actively. I teach, actively. I don't passively let the silt and mud flow by, I grab a pan and sift. I rejoice at the glittering bits and the solid rock. We dance in the sludge like muddy hippos. At some point you let the mud fall back into the river and take another scoop.

Even the tragedies and traumas in my life served purpose. Often these things got me on a different track, opened something in me that had shut tight, or simply wiped the slate clean. Early in our marriage a car accident ended the only time we ever said the word divorce. We'd been married 3 years, the house was falling apart as were our finances- we were arguing in the car when a guy, tired from work, ran a red light. T-boned us and then we hit a concrete barrier. What ensued left us emotionally raw and we looked to each other for support- what we had needed to do all along with everything. And so we have. It by far was not the most traumatic thing I've ever been through, but it was an important one.

Everyone has an interesting life, it is finding the words to make it a story that transforms the ordinary. Those words are often simple, not extravagant. They are the everyday details that draw you in, explain the world and how we live. They are sensory. You have to open yourself up to the world and your own humanness to experience the whole picture. When my students get stuck, I often tell them to sit down and write 5 paragraphs about the same moment. Each one set from the experience of their different senses: sounds, smells/tastes, touch, then sight- then the emotional feelings or atmosphere. Really experience the moment or memory fully.

What if you were to do that everyday? Eventually you would have a record of your life like none other. I've read diaries that only document the daily weather, some that are merely a collection of the weather forecast from the daily newspaper. Even that speaks volumes to the person's life. What we are doing with blogs is often just that, a documentation of the ordinary turned into something special.

Thank you Laura way out east for your wise words. :)

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Good Thing Too

It was a good thing we did a little day. Around 4pm, Lil'Bug asked me to read to her about Owls and then she fell asleep. Slept until about 8pm, woke up with a fever. Then she was up at full speed until midnight. Today, all better. AND she's back to her normal self, no fits, odd bouts of crying, or unreasonable stuff. Though, she's picked up a few choice words (frickin', OMG, and darn it all- oh, yes, mama is an expert potty mouth as you can tell) from her week as a terror tot- thanks to Mama and Daddy's frustration no doubt.

The snow has started in earnest, just as the weather people said it would. I tend to not trust them. Three days ago they said, "No significant snowfall, less than one inch." Last night, "3-5 inches over Wednesday night...." AND now, "5-8 inches!" Hmph. We will see.

I have company coming at two so I must finish packing up the Christmas acouterments and vacuum like a mad woman! I'm off!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Little Day

We are having a "little day" (opposite of big day) here. This means staying at home, no friends over, tidying up a bit, cuddling a lot, cheesy lunch, and lots and lots of books.

I am slowly plodding through my online course set up. The book editions changed AND my student reviews pointed out some areas that I knew needed tweaking- couple that with a new version of the software and all I get is the gut feeling that taking it slow will benefit all in the long run.

Agh. Typing this allowed me to burn the cheesy goodness that WAS lunch. More later.

Monday, 14 January 2008

I did it. I gave in.

I bought the Gap jeans.

Why? Because I went 4 sizes up and NOTHING was comfortable. These jeans should last the rest of the pregnancy (full belly panel, but folds down) and after if I get sliced up in the belly. Everything I owned seemed to cut off circulation except the one summer dress (that's it in the picture) and goodness knows I can't wear that in the winter in Iowa unless I crank our heat up to 80 and then we'd spend so much on heat bills that I could buy like 200 pairs of Gap jeans for the same money spent. Also, I would never leave the house. Cute dress, but, yeah, no.

So I headed out to the mall with Lil'Bug. The ladies at the store were super nice. Especially when I discovered that I am 4 sizes bigger. They reassured me that the cut is different in the style I was trying on. Sure. Whatever. Baby=big butt. It is a fact. Aunt Bee went with me and we had a splendid time. No playplace incidents, no melt downs, lovely cheesecake and tea. Good times. Thank you, Aunt Bee.

Despite all that, today I feel normal and not bloated and not grubby and not inhuman. Gravid, yes. I have a big day ahead. The last of the online students will be loaded in the system which means I have to get busy finishing up the assignments for the year. I have to take my car back in because the service light is on. It is library and IHE meeting day (Yay!). I am making Chicken Milanese for dinner.....yum.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Photo Challenge, Word 2 Connection

Word for the week: Connection

What connects you to the world? To your family? To your self? Play with this word and all its possible literal and figurative meanings.

For me it is a reminder of the here and now.

This photo is not my entry, but from the archive. I was teaching Lil'Bug how to test raspberries for readiness of picking last June.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Falcon Release

We went to an event today that was the release of a rehabilitated peregrine falcon back into the wild. Amazing bird. I messed up the flight shots, new camera and all, but here is the photo of the handler showing the bird.

I found about about this yesterday and was happy to share it with our local homeschool group. Ornithology is one of my interests that carried over from my farm days. I used to be in charge of the chickens. So, I trained them to do tricks. :) Now I share my home with two parrots and would love to volunteer at one of the rescues for falcons and owls.

We are so blessed to be able to follow our passions and help our children find their own.

Warmth, our year in review.....

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Birth and Doulas and Centering

I love the idea of Doulas. I now have two that will be attending June Bug's birth. The idea of having dedicated care providers that are my employees, that's only part of it. I also long for the idea of being surrounded by friends and family for the blessed event, but that may not be possible if things go awry. During C-Section prep last time only the Doula could stay with me and I was glad to have someone I knew holding my hand. Things got crazy. I am glad to have the small comforts.

Birth is a complicated issue for me. At times I am full of anxiety and mistrust and at others I feel fully empowered to complete the cycle. Things did not go as I planned with Lil'Bug, complications made things scary. This time, feels different. I feel different about many things, more confident and more knowledgeable, but there is still the unknown waiting out there. I read in a kids adventure book recently- one character said to another, "If you feel confident, it is merely because there is something you don't know. Fear can save your life." Or something like that.

So I ordered more books, looked into classes again. I sat down and thought about it. I talked with Dearest Husband. It is too early to stress out about what we don't know will happen.

I am doing better with the de-stress meditation, I bought a lovely pendant today to work as a worry stone, it is Carnelina and Imperial Jasper in a pumpkin orange with a purple vein. My favorite colour combination. It was handmade by a dear friend, that makes it even more special.Will a small pretty make a big difference? Maybe. With Lil'Bug I had a pendant I wore through pregnancy of opal and amethyst and I will give it to her on her 18th birthday. I wanted the same small token to give June Bug. It is very pretty and feels perfect on my neck.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Fleeting Moments

We made cream cheese frosting for raspberry filled cupcakes (will make those in the morning). Yummy.

She washed her own hair today with an entire bottle of shampoo. I had to rescue her when she couldn't get a clean rinse or open her eyes. It looked like she'd been blue slimed. I'm not sure it all came out, but she sure smells good!

Lil'Bug asked me if she could use my phone to call her friends so they'd come over and play. She proceeded to trash her room and THEN she asked me to take her to the mall. How fast they grow up. When I said, "No," she waited patiently until Daddy came home and asked him.

Of course he said, "Get your shoes, let's go!" Sigh. On the way out she said, "Mama, I just needed attention. I'll clean my room when I get home." ROTFL

She did many things today. Too many to count. All said and done, we had a really good day today, but she earned the title: Tornado Tot!

Rainy Day

Lil'Bug almost slept through the night. She woke up around 4:30 am scared of the dark or a nightmare. Unfortunately, she gets that from me. From a very young age, I suffered from night terrors and nightmares. Our first year living together I would wake up with Dearest Husband came home from work (around 1am) and we would argue- I didn't remember, don't remember a single bit of it. Once he realized I was actually sleeping, he found ways to diffuse the situation.

Now my nightmares are the more regular kind, a little like showing up at exam day in pajamas, they all revolve around a second life- one I would have lived had my choices been different, a horrible, hurtful, unhappy life. This morning I woke up full of gratitude for the life I do live. Full to the brim. I am so blessed to be having children inside a happy family with a loving, supportive partner. I am blessed to have friends near and far supporting me in ways I never expected. Blessed to have the time and resources to explore my and my children's interests. I am blessed to have stepped out of the dark fog of depression that haunted me on and off this past year, cleared in no small part due to the above.

I wish I knew what Lil'Bug was dreaming about.

Today it is raining. It is dark out and wet. Today I am mopping floors. I found a new to us brand of floor cleaner at Target, supposed to be non-toxic so tot can help. Smells like almonds. I bought a matching wood polish, so the furniture will get wiped down too. I am also organizing and unjunking drawers today. I got frustrated cleaning this weekend because every time I tried to find a home for something, drawers were full. Every drawer was a junk drawer!! No more. Now I even have empty drawers. The kitchen island and cubbies are getting done today.

Breaking these tasks into doable segments is really helping. First I organized my back bedroom and turned it into a creative studio (craft room). Lil'Bug has her kitchen corner in there too. I moved all my creative things in there. Now they have a home. That took days. Second I organized the toys. Doing this impacted the entire house and Lil'Bug is so happy that she can find things again. She likes it so much that she is trying to help keep stuff together and picked up. We do a pick up of her room at bedtime or in the afternoon. Whenever she wants. Then I cleared off the dining room table. Wow. That really accumulated things from Christmas crafts, holiday mail, you name it. It was Grand Central Station for all of our creativeness. I did that yesterday. It seems pretty small, but each day, doing something small but impactful is actually working. After breakfast, I clean up the dishes and do a round of laundry. I'm not spending much time doing the deep cleaning each day and yet it is getting done.

By the time I am finished, it will be time to prepare the garden!

*edited to add* the floor cleaner sucks. It smells pretty but is ineffective. I think I'll do a traditional mop down with Murphy's oil soap and then go over it with this stuff just to use it up and for the smell. Gah. Maybe it would be better if I was just dust mopping and not dredging mud.

Monday, 7 January 2008


I hit (according to the many baby books laying around here) month 5 this week. I can hardly believe it!!!

Over the weekend I packed my hospital bag. Why not? Better to be prepared than not. I got most of the stuff for Christmas and PJ's were on clearance at the mall. So it's done.

Last night I cleaned and cleaned the house. Today, more of the same. We have tracked so much mud in that it is hard to keep up. Then my classes started. I thought, "What?! My break is over?! No fair!" and then "Agh! My class website isn't done! AND they loaded students in already? Agh!"

So I have been running full speed since about 4 pm Sunday, taking breaks to clean when my mactop battery needs a charge. No time to even look sideways at the camera. However, my photo challenge has some beautiful and inspiring participation. Check it out! (I'll post mine soon....)

Other thoughts that have caught me off guard today: it is warm outside, warm for January in Iowa. The snow is melting, there is a flood warning, and it rained. Thunderstorms and fog expected tonight. Not really all that surprising but what caught me was this- the smell. The earth and green things smell alive, like they are waking up. It reminds me of Christmas in Louisiana from my childhood. Muddy and slow, still cold, a damp cold that goes right to the core. Time for some gumbo ya ya. It will take me a few days to gather ingredients.

Back to nesting!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Flash Back

That's a pun. I'm going to write today about my long love affair with cameras and pictures.

When I was 12 or so I got my father's old Nikon. Where we lived there were no classes on how to use it and the teenage at the local 1 hour developer was absolutely no help. I would take the pictures and cross my fingers something good would come of it. Sometimes I'd get 1 good picture. I tried black and white film- same results. I longed for someone to show me how.

I dreamed of becoming a photographer for National Geographic. Then we moved to Iowa and the local high school had a college level photography program....that there was a waiting list for and I did not have a chance of getting into. No money either so no class. I took up painting instead, hoping to capture the frames of my imagination in that medium instead.

Fast forward to 2001: my first job out of college I was trained on a Nikon CoolPix digital. DIGITAL! Oh man. I could see the photos as I was taking them. No long wait to see if anything came out. Seriously a huge thing for me.....but a $1,000 camera. So when my job ended so did my access to that dream. I was crushed. (Not to mention that the job is still one I list as the sweetest job ever- driving around rural Iowa taking pictures of historic houses and writing up briefs about them.....talking to people about the value of their properties, grants and resources available to them......ah, yes.)

Lately I would click "camera used" on Flicker when the other mamas posted pictures and then I would drool over mega pixels and picture settings.........and then I would continue on with my camera envy.

So for Christmas of this year, Dearest Husband purchased me my dream camera. What a guy! It was disappointing that it stopped working, but in reality that has just made me more grateful when the replacement came. Now I am going to learn how to use it.

But wait, there's more! Nikon has a monthly challenge for a photo on a theme. I'm going to do the same. No prizes, but fun. So I will post a theme, you post your picture and then a message on my post linking to your post. Make sense? Ah, and they will all be home and family and learning related. Feel free to post a challenge suggestion too!

This week's challenge? Warmth. (I know vague, but simple!)

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Twinkle Lights

Twinkle lights. That's how it started, this migraine. My eyes swam with little blinking lights and then suddenly every sound was like a freight train and when I closed my eyes it was like watching a lava lamp. It took me down hard. I haven't had a migraine for years, tension headaches but not full on migraines.

I feel better now, mostly. Hungry. Tired. Blank.

On a happy note: my camera is back (well, the replacement they sent)! I can't wait to get it out and reprogram the settings. ;)

Friday, 4 January 2008

Iowa Caucuseseseseseses

They are over. Now I can drive downtown without fear of running over a politician or a future president or a CNN crew. It was getting pretty ridiculous.

I once rode my bike (age 14) into a neighbor's Cadillac limo- that neighbor was the Secretary of State of Illinois at the time and joked that I would never get a driver's license in the state of Illinois- which I never did (we moved to Iowa). Then he got elected governor of Illinois AND then was convicted of corruption. Hello George Ryan. My bike was totaled and I have a huge scar on my knee. Never mind his car was parked.

Anyway, I developed an irrational fear that I would run over a future president with all of CNN watching. I am glad they are gone, gone, gone. And they were, this morning on the first planes out of here.

Fine, it is very sad but that sums up my feeling this time around. When I studied American political history, recent (as in 1940-present) elections were thoroughly dissected and I lost my faith in the whole caucus/primary 2 party dominated system. Though the results last night were interesting, the news stations declared a winner and the politicians were giving victory speeches before all the precincts had reported.

Edited to add: As an additional observation: more Iowans want Rudy Giuliani (4,059), who came in 6th for the R's, for president over Barack Obama (940) who came in 1st for the D's. Maybe its just that more Republicans caucus?

Edited to add more: I'm an idiot. Apparently D's list delegates and R's actually count votes. Doh.

Nine Years Ago Today

Nine years ago today I married my best friend. Officially, with a minister and a crowd of people and all the trimmings that two twenty-year-old kids could afford. (Surprising most, our wedding cost less than $900, considerably less. Dress, cake, flowers and the like were made and borrowed by and from family. The reception hall was bartered for (would have been $400). I'm not sure where the money was spent exactly. I know we paid for staff to serve the punch and cake and clean up. My bouquet was real. I paid for the children attendant's clothing and my bridesmaid dresses.....ok, you get the idea.) It was a beautiful, stunning, made people cry wedding. In the middle of a blizzard. Most people that could come were those within walking distance of the gallery. Luckily, my out of town relatives were staying near by and the rest of our invite list were neighbors (neighborhood art gallery/theatre was our location). The minister and piano player were both neighbors too.

In retrospect, I think that the reason our wedding ceremony felt so intimate was that these people were not strangers or distant cousins or work acquaintances- they were instead the very people that we lived in community with, who would be supporting us through friendship and as mentors in our first (and many) years of marriage. The minister sensed this and used it in her sermon. (She also wrote it into our vows, and so we promised, never to hang wallpaper together. Never have.)

Marriage is hard work. We've had some good and bad times. This last house restoration tested us in ways that we could not foresee then. What got us through was luck, hard work, and each other. Those people who promised to support us back in 1999, really have- even though we moved from that community in 2000 across town.

I began this post intending to write about us as two teenagers in love, me with purple hair, an English major and Dear Husband, a punk rock skateboarding drummer- but really our marriage is more than an evolution of two people sharing lives. It is a tribute to those who support us as well.

How far we have come, how far we have to go. We are blessed to make the journey in good company. :)


Wow. 3000 visitors since I started tracking in September. That just amazes me. I have about 30 regular readers for each new post. I'm not sure if that means rss feeds. I was so nervous about blogging and it is just so mind boggling how easily I slipped into this community and felt comfortable.

Here's to 3000! WOW.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Final Release

"Consider the lilies" is the only biblical command I have ever obeyed. --Emily Dickinson

So, through this all I may have sounded like a neurotic mess. Perhaps. My total perspective vortex swirls with my inability to see things in their context, ie. I tend to magnify the little things out of proportion and hang onto them them longer than is good.

So what next?

What comes after release?


Embrace those I love, the life we have chosen, the path we are happily stomping and dancing on.

Take it slow.

Consider the lilies. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.... (Matthew 28).

That same section of verse also talks about how you cannot serve two masters and love them both. Indeed. Mine are clear. My family and my career. I realize that I've craved an external label to give me self worth: architectural historian, curator, professor.....and somehow forgotten the simple but powerful: mother, wife, sister, friend. A job does not define who I am, I do. Love does.

That's why I love the Harry Potter series so much: love defines the hero, is his super power that defeats all evil. In the end his simple act of fretting over his young child's worries, his fatherhood, demonstrates the subtle and powerful ways love manifests. Some people hated that ending, while I saw it as a shining tribute to the entire series. They don't say what career he ended up in, just that he is father and husband and friend. Those are the roles that matter in the end.

So for me, I need to embrace my life and not cringe away from it, not hold myself to impossible standards, and just like the all weather, dance and play and grow.

Here's to 2008 and all the wonders it holds!

Release: Part 6, The House

This one is really tied up in Identity too. For the past 9 years I've called myself the Mistress of Hatton House. The house restoration was my thesis and the reason I went to graduate school, the reason for my involvement in the local movement and government. It has been the only thing I talked about, my ice breaker, my lecture topic, my portfolio for assessment.

I am releasing all of that into the hands of strangers? Preparing my house for sale has been a heartbreaking, gut wrenching process and one I wonder if that inner ego of mine isn't sabotaging the effort. The house is mine, so shall another be. I do not belong to the house. It is a large gracious house, but a needy mistress in constant need of attention and care.

Since moving here, my non-fiction prose abilities have flourished but my poetry all but disappeared. I stopped painting, drawing, and colouring. All creative resources I had mentally and physically went into the house. My thesis was completed but the manuscript was not: it is stalled out and I know why. It's a long, hard goodbye. A novel, one chapter from completion.

Something changed when Lil'Bug came into our lives. The new form of our family became our story. What a grand adventure! I realized that the life we had been living was in no small part tied to my childhood hurt......thoughts went swirling- the happy part was on a farm. I loved living on a farm! Driving to a rural campus over landscape that touched these memories, that's when the dreaming began. Then I whispered it to husband. That whisper took hold of us and it is what we are actively working towards. It will be easier to say goodbye once we are closer to that goal, I imagine. Part of me will always be the Mistress of Hatton House......

Release: Part 5, Trust/Gentleness

I've been reading over at Happy and Free almost every morning. Stephanie has been writing these lovely posts about the parenting aspects of the unschooled and she is articulating something that has been swirling in my mind the last year or so. Everyone chooses what works for them and their families. I am on a quest to find what works for me and my family.

I want to be a gentle parent. I did not grow up with that. Sometimes I am worried that I will go too far in the direction away from that, that I will miss gentle and become negligent. I don't want that either. I have a deep respect for my child as an individual that began before she was born: I used to say, "I can't wait to meet her!" It's true. Everyday I wake up and I can't wait to get to know her better. I don't want to hurt her or her spirit so I have chosen not to use physical discipline.

I do get frustrated. Frustration is not working for me. The problem as I am coming to see it though is that my voice does not have to be elevated in volume to be "yelling". I tried something else. It worked much better, but I am worried over it too. I calmly said, "I am angry about what you are doing and this is why." I worry that in not portraying anger that I seemed like a robot.

It comes down to this metaphor: I never learned how to cook. In fact I was taught how to cook wrong on purpose so a very un-confident person could always upstage me and "save" the meal. That is not right to do to a child since cooking food is a life skill, and much intuitive. Parenting is like that for me too- everything I was taught and raised with was wrong. Not different- wrong. I know this, I know much of my intuition comes from this place. I knew this before we decided to have children and I was working on it then. I had to work on it in our marriage and as a person too. So when I welcomed my little one, I was much healed. I needed to read parenting books, try things out, and live it differently.

Lil'Bug is three years old. I've been reading about others who have children this age and are struggling with willfulness, disobedience, and other issues. I see manifestations of these things and I understand them to be a breakdown of communication. Lil'Bug doesn't disobey because usually when I've asked her to do something, I've asked and she sees it as a choice. Her stubbornness is usually a difference in how the situation is viewed. How would I deal with these situations if she was another adult? Sometimes the things parents do to children are humiliating and we would never consider doing them to a peer. We would never pick up and forcibly remove a peer from a situation, or pinch, or hit. Why? They would get physical right back. But we do this to children, why wouldn't they fight back sooner than later? Why do we as adults need to exert power over children and make them do things? Perhaps we do not trust ourselves? Perhaps it is easier to play the, "I'm bigger than you," card. Do we remove them to save ourselves embarrassment during a fit or to find a quiet place for resolution or spare them humiliation? (Removing from danger, not included.) Sometimes resolution is best found in the loud and noisy place, but easier removed.

So, I need to release myself from this bond of mistrust in myself as a parent. Breathe gentleness.

Release: Part 4, Baby Anxieties

I suffered postpardum depression with Lil'Bug, though I did not acknowledge it at the time. I was overwhelmed and unsure and nothing I did or wanted to do seemed to work: the sling I bought, breastfeeding, just holding her or sleeping. It was hard. It never got easier. I was given a sling that fit me, I learned to breastfeed her, and we slowly discovered how to live with each other. It was not the Pottery Barn fantasy I was sold.

Even though things got better, I was relieved to go back to work, to hand her over, to have a big long break to get back to myself and who I was before. And oh the guilt. It was fine for a while, but then life started happening. Everything unraveled quite rapidly. Babysitter quit, family was stressed, baby needed me, my studies were more intense. At that point Lil'Bug was 9 months old. I made a choice to be her mother more so than I was doing. I walked away from the me me me.

I won't get a 9 month break with 8 hour gaps of no kid time to figure things out this time. If I had PPD then, what will happen now? This time I will have Lil'Bug running at full speed too, it will be summer, Dearest Husband will still have to work and travel, we might move soon after........the anxiety mounts.

But why? Those can be seen as positives too. I shall release the anxieties for what they are. Then, in June, I will release the joy from my body and hold her in my arms.

Lil'Bug can share our joy and help. I know how to breastfeed, I have a sling that fits, I know how to change a diaper and bathe and dress a baby (right, did not know before Lil'Bug.....), I have a friend network of other mothers AND I have no marketed disillusions like before. There will be poop, sleepless nights, more poop, gross stuff, and......I had to work through it with Lil'Bug to learn this.

I will love and cherish everyone of those fleeting moments as they come.

Release: Part 3, Identity

This is trickier. I was once a star prodigy in our local Historic Preservation movement. I was named by the local paper as a new leader to be watched in local politics. I served, youngest member ever, on a City Commission and on two statewide boards, and served as a curator at a local museum. All before age 28. Then I completed my MA in Historic Preservation/History/Writing. I was called when a sweet job opening came up at the State Agency that oversees all things historic architectural in Iowa (didn't take it though). The list goes on.

Getting pregnant and having Lil'Bug did not slow me down even a little bit- I just put on a sling and took her with me. Then my babysitter quit. I got a call from the local jr. college to teach. I quit my 40/7 job and took a teaching position that was 15/5 plus work at home. I was in negotiations with investors for a house rehab business when one of them expressed concern that I wouldn't be able to handle a toddler plus all that would be required for this business.

Then it all stopped. He was right. I couldn't handle it all. Or I could, but my family couldn't. Something would give and it would all shatter.

I resigned my posts. I cut back teaching even more and took up online classes. I finished my degree.

I miss it. I miss the limelight. I miss people, news reporters, and friends calling me for sound bytes and advice. But if given the choice again, I would not choose it. I would choose my family. I would choose the path that I am on now. The old life was constant running and social activity with no real personal connections. I need to find a way to release my sadness and maybe find a way to fill the need that the other things did. It was problem solving, creating beauty, and having a positive impact on my community.

Hmmmm.... Parenting does all those things too! ;) I think what I need is to further my quest to make it to the farm life we've been dreaming of. Maybe work on my novels. Paint. Photograph. Re-establish my identity to myself. Really nothing is missing, just a definition to myself. The ability to say, I'm a mother AND an artist, writer, ect. Why do I need those definitions anyway? Why can't I just be me, simple, no labels? That's fodder for another day. ;)

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Release: Part 2, Emotional Well Being

Release heartache, tension, and bottled up emotions. Sounds simple, so is anything but.

I still hold on to resentment about how I grew up and how I was or wasn't treated. It was awful. Painful. All that. Would make a great Lifetime movie I'm sure. But I walked away from it 10 years ago. A decade. Well, maybe not all of it. The most toxic person took a little longer to get away from mostly because of the proximity of location and relation, it was only 4 years ago. Still, years. Releasing myself from the hatred and anger does not mean I will forget or reestablish contact- but it should free me from a lot of stress and tension and fear, both of which hinder my creative potential. Forgiveness? Yeah, I'm not there yet.

More recently, this past summer, I had a falling out with a very close friend. At the end of the confrontations, I felt used and betrayed and unloved. Why? It was rather one sided and all the emotional heartache was heaped on me. Because of this I am having a harder time trusting and settling into new friendships. I am also angry at myself for missing the obvious. I need to release this and let it go. I spent 2o years of my life closed up from people, afraid of what they would think of me. Then, I only let my husband in. When I opened myself up to this friend I was very vulnerable and suffered for poor choices. Sure, I took a small step and failed, that does not mean I should sit down and give up! Recently I have been blessed with plenty of wonderful opportunities to connect with people and establish safe, supportive, nurturing small grace. I need to embrace this and not cower away from it.

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same (The Fray). In all of the above things, I looked at the big picture, the health of everyone involved, and made a choice. A choice we have to live with. I don't regret my actions, I need to release myself from the questioning. It is done, I need to move on. Just writing this brought on a tension headache. This part, this release is a bit like grieving. I've been grieving for years, it is time for a new beginning.

Release: Part 1, Stuff

Release my attachment to stuff/junk. This is the easy part, right? De-cluttering is really an economic privilege, you have to have stuff and be able to do without it. But I am a curbside junk-aholic. I have grand visions of what things could be. I also have a strange attraction to clearance sales or cheap crap- like a crow collecting pretty, shiny things. I need to develop an attachment to my bank account balance instead. This also means that when I have actual need for something, like dining room chairs, there might be money for it.

Release the extra things people give me. I am also sentimental about gifts, even if I don't need them. I need to say no. I need to take on less.

Release the desire to go shopping. I hate shopping, yet I am drawn to it as the first response to a need- any need and then I buy more than I need. I need to look around and really make sure that I don't have something that will fill that need. Getting organized will help this, since usually I can't find the things I need even if I do have them.

See this is the easy one. We will choose the quality pieces of furniture and items to take with us when we move and all else will be sold or given away. We started with 75 bins in storage and are down to less than half of that. We started with a house jammed full of furniture and last summer downed it to two bedroom sets (from 4-5?). We really have uncluttered, but I can hardly tell! This is so frustrating to me. Moving will help, but you can't wave a wand and get a lifestyle. We need to learn it now. We clear a space or a surface and within days it is full of stuff again (flylady calls these hot-spots, whatever, volcanoes of junk is more like it!). So, I must release the goblin who keeps doing this inside me and just take care of it.

New Years Revolutions

Resolutions don't work for me. They never have. I forget about them round about January 7th. So here is something different: Resolution Revolution.

Easy enough. Now for my word......Relax? Do? De-clutter? Ugh. Gah. No? It needs to be something simple. Like breathing. But breathing doesn't work as a word. What about.....slow? Or patience? No. I need something that encompasses it all.

Release? Hmmmm. Yes. I like it. I know it is what the article used, but I will turn it to my own purposes. Thank you Stephanie for this challenge! Oh and thank you for the award too!

The next 5 days I will post a piece of my challenge.

Baby Update!

We had our monthly (17 week) appointment Monday and all is well. Weight gain is acceptable, though I first weighed with a full bladder and bulk sweater so a second weigh at the end showed more what our home scale was indicating. Then it occurred to me that I don't know how much I am supposed to be gaining, just what is not acceptable. I will look that up today. BP is great, everything else checked out, AND we had an ultrasound. Why? Because I like them. I know and understand why many women are vehemently opposed to them, but I like seeing the baby squirm and wiggle and I like to know everything is ok. Everything is ok! Also, now we know which name group to pick from. ;)

It is a little early to say 100% sure, but the tech said her bet is on girl! (There's no extra stuff.) Lil'Bug gets a sister! It's what she wanted for her birthday and every wish she's made since.

Now for the name game at Chez Podkayne. Same as what we did for Lil'Bug. We'll debate and look through our favorite fiction and botanical books and shout names at each other randomly over a period of months and then one day we will turn to each other and say at the same time, "How about ____?" and then, "Yes! That's it!" in a chorus. We just have to wait for that moment.

When I get my camera back, I'll try and post a belly photo. I'm getting big already! OH AND NEAT FACT: 17-19 weeks is one of the biggest growth spurts in the little one's life! (Could explain the migraines I've been getting......) Baby is kicking and dancing a lot this week. I started playing They Might Be Giants though the ipod tucked in my waistband. She seems to like it!