Sunday, 29 June 2014

Pictures of our trip, a preview of the posts to come.

We travelled to Wisconsin to a Permaculture Convergence. Pictured below is our campsite and view, learning to use a laser level for planning swales and keyline field trenches, and the excavator starting to move earth.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Dreaming in Black and White: Re-release


My happy place. 15 feet from a too cold to care alligator, this picture was taken and sent to my Instagram account with GPS data so that if that gator ate me, it might help find my bones.

I know. Dramatic. The point is though, at this moment, I wasn't just on a forbidden walk alone in the wilderness, I was sharp witted, funny, and practical. I felt awake. I was dreaming too.

This place, this particular path I took that overcast day, hold a special memory for me now. I shall haunt it in my dreams.

Back in Iowa:
I came to this place, the one I occupy now, by my own choices. Let's not forget that. I chose regret. I chose inaction. Then I stopped being silly and got my stuff together and went, out of the ashes of my own mess. You know what though, this mess of mine is beautiful.

It is snowing when I wrote this post, with a thunderstorm on the southern horizon too. The wind on the prairie was angry this night and I hope we don't have any ewes lambing in this. Everyone is taking shelter.  We have market tomorrow and have to move some product because feed is running low and we have a season ahead of us that needs funding. Ah, farm life. Tomorrow will be a flurry of activity and we'll plow through, especially if there is actually 3 inches of snow out there.

But tonight....tonight I dream of Ossabaw. Tonight I dream in black and white, where things are simple, yet dangerous. Easy, yet incredibly complicated. Good night, fellow dreamers.

I put this blog post and picture back in drafts once I had sent it out for publication. This photograph is being featured in the 2014 Spring edition of the Portland Review Literary Journal. You can buy the book on Amazon here.  Thank you!

Wild Women of the Woods, or how I got over my fear of boats but not horses......


I know most of the time I sound like a totally competent farm lady, right?

Nope. I grew up in the city. I had an aunt with a farm that we visited. For a while my dad had a vegetable garden, but when I was 10 we moved to Illinois and then Iowa and it wasn't until I was an adult living across town that he took up gardening again.

No chickens. Every dog we ever had ended up "moving to the country" and cats don't count.

Truly, my born and raised in the suburbs husband is more country than I am in practise.

Love of the prairie, the open sparkly night sky,  deep desire to raise my children in a safe environment with complex experiences- that is what brought me here. It isn't enough though to just read about experiences and then teach them to the kids, especially things like kayaking that one just cannot learn from a youtube video- not safely, at least in my case.

When the local county conservation office to the north of us advertised a women's only camp out and day long workshop, I was eager to go. I signed up for things that pushed my anxieties and fears, boldly faced them.

Stupid fear of boats first. Fear of boats you say? Then how on earth did I make it to Ossabaw island last February? White knuckled, lots of spiritual negotiation, and mediation. Flying? No problem, bus ride from hell? Take that over even shallow water any day. I HATES IT.

My kids are all water babies like Chad. They love it. We have a gorgeous pond on the farm, more like a lake. I needed to learn to at the very least navigate water like that. Kayak seemed like a good first step? I have taken our flat bottom with oars out before with Lily, but that requires my focus to be on keeping her safe instead of facing what makes me so afraid of water.

Some people are afraid of spiders, have nightmares about zombies, or the like. I have nightmares about drowning. Slowly. In filthy, mucky, swampy water. Tangled in rusted chains or algae. Taking a boat out in the deeps is like tempting fate to make that reality.

Still, I got in this boat and rowed my little heart out. I actually enjoyed myself. I actually liked it enough to seriously contemplate buying a kayak to use at home. For real. I stood at the farm pond tonight and the water was clear and glassy and I actually felt pulled to get in it. I didn't, but I really wanted to. That was an odd feeling.

I also took a lovely nature walk and geocahed. It was fun, like where's Waldo or those hidden picture puzzles. I think Lily might like it, but I loves the opportunities for macro nature pictures.




I ended up leaving a few hours early. Not sleeping combined with heat and anxiety over leaving Isaac at home with his breathing problems last week (Chad totally had this btw, he's DAD of the year....) that landed poor little Zap in the ER one night....all of that combined to make he feel really sick, too sick to play with bow and arrow equipment. I headed home mid afternoon.

I think I may do this again next year. When Lily is old enough, I hope to bring her along too. Actually, this is the camp we are thinking of sending her too this summer with her church group. She can pick horses or fishing and she chose......fishing. Of course. It is LILY after all.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Hotel Charitone



When we first moved to Chariton, Lily fell in LOVE with the old, abandoned hotel on the corner of the square. We'd walk by it on our manners/shopping day and she would daydream aloud about buying it, restoring it, and adopting a bunch of orphans to keep it clean.....wait. No. Then we talked about child labour laws and chores at home have been a struggle ever since.

When she saw the dumpsters outside a few years ago, she was excited and broken hearted at the same time. Now where will the orphans live!? And again we talked about child labour laws and how she can't just adopt a bunch of kids to do her bidding and chores even if she puts a swimming pool in the basement for them.

But MOM, she told me, they'll fix it up WRONG.

This May the Hotel was brought back to life as apartments and a first floor restaurant, Hy-Vee put in a Market Grille. This is Hy-Vee's home town after all. I expected the food to be good, the interior to be the bare minimum, and I don't know what else. My years in historic preservation have jaded me. I too thought they would do it all wrong.

I am happy to report that I was the wrong one.

First, the wait staff is fantastic and attentive. I basically camp out at a table every week and order coffee and write. They are so nice about this. My coffee is kept hot, fresh, and served with real cream and not plastic cups of not really dairy yuck. Real. Cream. In a little glass pitcher.


The whole place as a very urban feel, open kitchen, lots of light, not too loud music, and all the staff is uniformed. There are hostesses. There is a bar tender who actually knows how to make fancy drinks. More than once the chef has come to my table to check on my food (the rare times I order anything.....). The managers know me by name and ask about what I am working on. The best of small town with a sophisticated feel.


And, be still my preservationists heart. The floors are original. The whole floor plan design, while updated and changed (it was a hotel before), also respects the few remaining features. The huge windows, the flooring, and the entrances are all restored or replicated to match what was originally intended. I love it. Many developer would have seen the stained tile by the wall and declared it all unfit, ripped it out, and put in new. This restoration pays tribute to the original artisans and to historic design principal. I'm impressed, at least with the grille. (I have not seen the apartments or the mechanicals, but to be fair, I'd be way more critical of those anyway).

Perhaps good coffee puts me in a generous mood, but I really love this place. Especially now that they added dessert to the menu......


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Goals for this year?

This is my personal goal list from 2011, though it includes some farm stuff too.

1)Expand the apiary
2)Learn to play fiddle
3)Grow tomatoes
4)Bring strawberries to market
5)Harvest wild fruit and can it (I did get some this year but the major bounty of the farm has yet been untouched. We have gooseberries, black raspberries, morels, wild plum, rose hips, nettle, juniper, mulberries, elderberries, blackberries, crab apple, boysenberries, and who knows what else.)
6) plant 15 more trees, find cherries that I like
7) create a wall poster with the tree varieties we have planted for reference
8) mail the envelope back to NY (I've been saying this for 12 years now and really, it is too late, but the principle of the thing is bugging me.)
9) write the last chapter
10)sell the DM house
11) say thank you more often with both words and actions
12) take the kids (and grandpa) to ride the train in Boone
13) bake pie more often
14) read more books.



I did all of these except # 7. Well, and number 2 is still being worked on. :/ 

Why goals like this, lists like this, are important? The reflection back is hopeful. I got these things accomplished, though not all in 2011. In fact, many of them were checked off the list in 2013 and 2014.  Progress is still progress, in inches or in miles. I had to travel cross country on a bus and suffer severe sleep deprivation have dinner with the ghost of a drag queen in Savannah, Georgia, and track pigs on a wilderness island to get number 8 done.

Sometimes it takes a bunch of Jennifers to get me on the bus to begin with. Ha!

Completing these goals led me to new ones, new adventures, new connections, deeper connections with friends and family, all good things. It helps when you look back, to know what you were looking at, like an aerial landscape, you can see the watershed, the rivers, a clearer view of the options ahead. There are always variables, storms that happen, rerouting, delays, but adventure is still to be had. You can hide in a corner and wish for death or you can make a ridiculous video and make friends.

I have been thinking about what my new goals are. How my New Years goals are going, am I remembering not to Sabotage myself? No, but I have folks holding me accountable for that and it is often.

1) Finish my self designed/paced poetry course. I have about 7 unites left, stalled at writing a ghazal, not yet to Haiku.
2) Travel to Prague, hug my friend Adrienne, who needs a hug. Take a ton of pictures of buildings a sheep.
3) Finish the short story about Alice.
4) Finish the short story about the cat lady.
5) Write more poems. Revise twice as many.
6) Send all of them out and stop fretting about them being done enough.
7) Take Isaac to ride the trains in Boone, now that he is old enough to love trains and pay attention to it.
8) Submit more work to Literary Mama. Start writing essays.
9) Work on cookbook.
10) Take a photography class of some sort. I never have, y'all. Not one.
11) Send out all the thank you letters. Even ones that are long over due. My gratitude has not expired.
12) Be more patient.
13) Visit my aunt.
14) Get a self portrait done. One that is good for bio blurb. One that is sexy and cool.
15) Paint things. All the things. Except not the perfectly finished, pristine antique wooden things, that is a crime against history and humanity. Painting cheap crappy things is ok though. ;)
16) Host a dinner party and use the good dishes.
17) Recover the dining room chairs. 
18) Master baking cookies and making caramels.
19) Clean out my closet.
20) Feel pretty more often.

What are your goals? How do you stay on track?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Peach Crisp with Coconut (GF)


Filling: Peaches- three pints. Strain juice off and save for bonus recipe.

No extra sugar. No extra lemon juice. The peaches are canned in both and are plenty sweet on their own. Even if you are slicing and using fresh peaches, as long as they are in season Missouri peaches, you should be good to go with just good peaches.

Topping:
6 Tb of flour. I used all purpose GF flour.
1/2 cup of raw sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of tumeric (optional)
5 Tb of butter
1/4 cup shredded coconut (or ground up nuts, but I was out)

Mix all the dry ingredients in, then cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or food processor.

Once it is the texture of cornmeal, add in 1/4 cup shredded coconut.

Dump and spread peaches into an 8x8 pan. Dump and spread topping over them.

Oven at 350 degrees F for about an hour. Check on it and take it out when the top is browned.

Serve with whip cream, ice cream, or sour cream. Really, any of those will work. I've even used plain Greek yogurt.

Ta Da.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tour of a post pig pasture

Chad was asked to show what a pasture looks like when the pigs are done with it - this is a video of a pasture the day our pigs left it, and a discussion of how we rotate our animals and why.

You can follow us at https://www.facebook.com/stampsfamilyfarm

If you are interested in pigs specifically, I run a facebook group about that -
https://www.facebook.com/groups/pasturedpigs/

If you are interested in more general homesteading and permaculture topics, I have a group for that as well - https://www.facebook.com/groups/midwesthomestead/

Couple notes.

The pigs will not be on this spot again for a year. I'll probably have cows or sheep over this area once between now and then.

I call the milkweed 'butteryfly bush'. I misspoke, but hopefully the reason is evident. I've had butterflies and pollinators on my mind lately.

I mention Peter Allen - you can follow his farm at http://www.mastodonvalleyfarm.com/

I'm doing 2 week rotations this year. I'll reassess next spring - a week might be better, but it's at least partially dictated by my own time.

At this time I had not reseeded the pasture - that was completed about a day after they left. Ideally it would have been done a few days before they left so they could stomp the seed into the ground. I'll be doing that with the next paddock so I can show the difference later.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Invisible, Thoughts on 22q and Being Public With Our Son's Diagnosis


Someone recently asked me if Isaac actually has a disability, and the answer is yes and no and yes and maybe and I don't really know.

This question would have frustrated me even a year ago. Now, I have complicated feelings about this and I am not exactly sure how to explain or respond.

Isaac is doing so well that people from afar cannot immediately spot his struggles. This increases his chances of "passing" or assimilating into a world that others medical differences, both physical and neurological. He's three years old though, so things may change or be more obvious as time moves on.

Early on I had wondered about his diagnosis. He does not fit the typical 22q symptom profile. His case, thank the Lord, is really physically mild, non life threatening. He doesn't have a heart defect, has never needed surgery. This fact alone makes the doctors take a second look at his charts. He doesn't get sick often. We have avoided many interventions that often people choose out of fear when there are multiple options, and so have avoided complications from those more medical interventions. Mostly we are darn lucky at that outcome. We tow the line with it though, ever vigilant.

Being a special needs family is the hardest thing that has ever blessed our family. Every single time something difficult, hurtful, heartbreaking, or scary has happened to us.....something more beautiful and precious and perfect has been born from it. That's how I feel once I got my sea legs about Isaac's diagnosis, once we were out of the abyss of "failure to thrive" and he'll be deaf/never walk/ect stormy seas.

I know that because he keeps proving doctors wrong that this is the basis for questioning his diagnosis or the seriousness of 22q syndrome. I did. I most certainly did. Genetic defect is a dangerous label and one I do not want for him. If I could go back and never run the test, just deal with symptoms, I would. There has never been a time in history where having that label has a good outcome for the person wearing it. Maybe this era will be different, but as a history professor I kind of doubt it. I fearfully doubt it. This is something that keeps me up at night.

Really. More so than last year wondering if he would ever walk. Which he did, right before his third birthday. Wondering if he was really deaf, he passed his first hearing exam at 18 months. Wondering if he would never learn to read and enjoy books like I do, wondering if he'll ever be about to tell me about his dreams with words in the middle of the night, wondering if he understands what the world is really like.

I am grateful for his diagnosis too. Because of it, we are blessed with the most amazing friends. The 22q community online helps connect people. Through Isaac's struggles I met several local people who have kids with medical differences too, including another 22q family, and I now count them as some of my closest friends. They know. They know how much they mean to me because I remember to tell them often. That is something else I learned from them.

I have someone really special, magical, life changing playing outside in my back yard. He's singing to the chickens and sliding and swinging and tormenting his sisters with mudballs (which they LOVE) and when you see him from afar he looks and acts and seems just like a normal three year old. I am totally ok that folks think that. It's his cover identity. If that allows folks to get closer and get to know him and us, maybe that many less people will be afraid of "genetic defect". Maybe that many less "defective" babies will be aborted (yup, I went there). Maybe my fears that history will repeat itself will not come to fruition in his or his children's lifetime.

Maybe.

He is lucky that he doesn't have an obvious, physical medical need that reveals his story like a badge to onlookers. It is much harder for children who do, that's for sure. Much much harder. There are so many more children who have silent diagnosis. Maybe that kid melting down at the mall isn't a victim of bad parenting, maybe they struggle with sensory issues. Maybe the kids crying at the birthday party accidentally ate gluten filled cake and his tummy is cramping. So many families hide their issues for fear that talking, sharing, makes them a target of gossip. That's the last thing anyone needs and when you are in the depths of just trying to survive another day, one less thing to worry about is one less thing. That's one of the many reasons some families become reclusive and silent.

Not everyone gets the gift of our story. Gossip is like Diet Coke. It's fun in the moment, but on a cellular level it is killing you. Getting to know us is like peach pie made from scratch when the Missouri peaches are perfectly ripe. That pie is precious.  This life is precious.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

To Chad on Father's Day

Chad wrote this last summer and I fell in love with him all over again.

To the Universe I Say Bring It

That is one of the magical things about Chad. I fall in love with him over and over again in ways I never thought possible. Every time he picks Isaac up and hugs him, every time I see him working on engines with Holly, identifying a new plant with Lily, cuddling a baby duck to warm it back to life, when he glows with pride when someone else gets excited about our farm and what we are doing here, and the list goes on and on.

I am so freaking lucky in love.

So to Chad, on Father's Day, we are all so very glad that you are part of our lives.












Saturday, 14 June 2014

I Don't Always Want To Be In Charge


I admin eight groups on facebook. I started five of those. If there is something I want that does not exist, I usually start it up myself.

Park Day was fading away? Sure I'll take that over. Playgroup for toddler? Sure. Over and over. Sometimes I just don't want to be the one in charge. I want to be the one who goes, takes part, without the added stress of being the organiser.

I am finding writing to be like this. So many people keep pushing me to self publish. No. I just want to write. I just want to make. I want to create. I don't want to start up a poetry journal just to have my own work published. I don't want to e-book a monthly zine. I don't want to market, design, and publicity. I do that already for the farm.

But sending out writing and art only to get rejection after rejection is wearing me down. Vanity press is sitting the corner like a glittering pimp, saying, "Hey baby.....I got what you need...."

No. Just no.

I want to travel. I want to write. I want to speak my work out loud. I want to drink tea in strange places and see the world through the eyes of local artists and minstrels. I want to see the world through my own eyes and then spiral the ink down on paper, click the shutter, and share with the world what I see.

I don't want to be in charge of another project. I am fighting against this current, the tidal pool that brings me back to it every single time. If you want something, make it happen. If you wait for others to find you, you'll die waiting with cold coffee. Maybe it really is the Iowa in me, saying build it and they will come. I have the nails. I have the hammer. I have the dream. I am just so very tired of building always so others can play or learn or rest.

Chad doesn't understand my hesitation either. I have been working for others in one way or another for my whole life, sneaking in time to write or create when I could but less and less and less until ten years had slipped by and I had done nothing but blog about what the people around me were/are doing. I just need the wide open sky right now. I want to see the landscape for a while and just be in it.

I'm not sure what is next.

I'm not sure what I want to be next.

That's the beauty of life though, right? Sometimes you plant the trees and sometimes you harvest the fruit. Sometimes you get your face and hands sticky and purple from berry juice and sometimes you carefully harvest and freeze for later.




Thursday, 12 June 2014

Swimming and Growing Up

 After three days of struggling with cat fighting and bickering and outright rudeness, the kids finally got to go swimming.

I struggle with consequence as a gentle, respect focused parent. The kids were rude to strangers. They were openly rude to me while I was trying to take them somewhere they wanted to go. This was yesterday.

Because of this, we went home instead of swimming and they proclaimed I was the worst mother in the whole history of the entire world.

I felt like that too. I hate swimming. They love it. It was too easy for me to just take that from them because I hate it. Still, their behaviour to strangers at the post office was not ok.

We made it home, chilled out, slept it off, and then tried again today. I believe in second chances.




Lily was with us too. She decided to not have her picture on the blog today. She is always asked and I respect that.

We played at the pool for two hours. Full sun. No sunscreen. No sunburns. Just making note of that for the record.

Then we came home, the kids did chores, ate dinner, one went to bed early and the other two are cuddling. It was proclaimed that this was the best day ever. Perhaps I am not the worst mom in the entire world, at least not today.

Humans are complicated. What is true for us in the present moment is all there is. More so for children. I have a headache that is kicking my butt this week and Lily says that I have had this headache since she turned nine. Holly thinks that it will be summer forever. Isaac only has today and watermelon and swimming and trains. We lose it slowly as we get older, stretching our histories and timelines, blocking out grudges and tragedies like flags planted in the rocks of the moon and orbiting around our core sense of who we are. Oh to be three again and just be in that watermelon sweet, joy of cold water splashing moment.

Being a mother, being their mother, I get the gift of this joy. I get to be loved by them and share in their childhood. Oh how I am so very grateful for these moments, even when they are balanced with the moments of their anger and frustrations.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

How I Have Been Writing

Words that split open the landscape that is my heart, crack the bone, and tear at flesh.

What I am doing is dangerous. The final advise that freed me though was this: not all poetry has to be memoir. When you mix it up, even the stuff that is can get lost with what isn't and that mystery is all you need. So with that, I have been playing with mythology, memoir, and outright fiction. It is so freeing. So delicious. So crack it all open and feast on words.

Love it.

So that is how I have been writing.

At home, the children are full on into summer and getting wet and muddy and feisty.

My freezer is running low so I am less creative on the food blogging. Perhaps I need to forage the woods and start making berry things.

Our plan for a stay at home summer has been both a gift and a burden. It seems that more time at home shifts more farm errands to me and we're in the car the same as we would be. I'll try harder to slow that down.

The house is getting more and more organised, that's a good thing. 


We've been walking the woods more too. I have a lot of thoughts on the world right now, a lot of gut reactions to the news. I want to blog about it but then writing these things churns my gut and I feel sick. Like I am plugging into a collective disease and dying with the rest of the world. Unplug, focus on the now, and I feel brighter and better.

So back to the woods I go, small hands in each of mine, a picnic, and the wide blue Iowa sky.




Sunday, 8 June 2014

Iowa's Wild Rose




This was in the ditch at the farm, the state flower of Iowa, wild rose. Some days, finding beauty in the ditch is just the thing to lift my spirits and remind me good and lovely things are everywhere.

They are. Even when the flash flood wash out the roads just for the hours of my little girl's party. Just when everything is dark, wet, and gloomy. Holly? She doesn't care. She ate cake, wore a sparkly crown and a new yellow dress, and smiled through the day knowing that cancelling means she'll get one extra cake day. She inspires me not to let moments of disappointment ruin the day, because good things will come our way soon enough. Goodness. She rode her new bike in the rain and ate cake until she was silly.



Saturday, 7 June 2014

In The Silent Gap

I have a lot of work out for consideration, so much in fact that I have nothing right now to submit. I have 4 poems in progress, 4 in revision, about 20 I have deemed the rantings of an unreasonable teenager and shall be left behind (retired) unless I get bored and want to transform them.

So while waiting for rejections or lovely notes of revisions suggestions, there is a silence. Many literary journals are Sept- May term considerations too, so the summer is also a down time.

I plan on filling the gap of radio silence with:
  • Reading books, all the ones on my bedside table. 
  • Taking a kayaking class. Seriously. Fear of boats will be kicked in the rear. Maybe.
  • Take a short nature photography class.
  • Travel to Wisconsin to see the driftless valley.
  • Watch all the new Orange in the New Black, Sherlock, and Luther. Because.
  • Camp outside.
  • Taking photos.
  • Paint something.
  • Write letters on paper with pen and send them USPS. 
  • Cook some new things and remember to blog about them.
  • Oh yeah, I have a blog. Get back to daily posts. 
So, what do you do when patiently waiting?

17 Years of Silence (warning, do not look at these if bugs creep you out (Breann).....)

....and then they emerge and have so much to say.

Geeze these suckers are loud! (pictures after the line break)

Monday, 2 June 2014

Flyway

This year I pledged to empty my draft drawer of doom, to not sabotage myself, to get the work I created out there. No more regrets.

Why is this year any different than the last 20? I have no idea. These last three years have been hard, but they have also been filled with hope and joy and love and friendship so amazing that I am still in shock at the depth of kindness and honesty in our lives.

I traveled to Georgia in February to a writer's retreat. I started writing poetry again because of this retreat and the insistence of my friends. The next step was to submit the work. Let me tell you, this is way easier now than it was 20 years ago! Everything is online and really easy. Easy to track too.

I was still terrified though. As disorganized as I am I am also meticulous when it comes to paperwork. I came up with a strategy to overcome my anxiety over it. I would pick my two favourite journals, the ones I always reach for at the library, and submit a couple photos first, then poetry later.

What felt like right away, they both contacted me about the artwork. I never even considered that possibility, though I do love the photos that I took.

I present to you, Flyway. (The second publication is mentioned on the Flyway page, but will be in print later this month!) Flyway is an online journal of art and literature, so follow the link and you can see all three photos if you go there.


So go there! Take a look! Share the link. Iowa has more than just sweet corn this summer, but what a perfect pair. Pour some sweet tea, grill up some Iowa food, and then delve into this Iowa grown literary treasure. It's free too.

Bonus? By this summer's end, I will have the prints available on Etsy. Just these three to start, but it is a start and I am ready. Spices and spaces, it will be awesome!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Shearing, Spring 2014 - Meet Millie and Addie


Addie and Millie are two Jacobs ewes (that's what you call a female breeding sheep) that we adopted last week. The fiber is glorious, even I can tell that. Lily was the official photographer and most of these pictures are hers (except the ones of her, I took those).

Ray is the guy who does our shearing. He's awesome and wonderful and knows a lot of farming wisdom. We look forward every year to his visits.

The bottom right picture is one of the sheep after and one about to be sheared, so we can see the difference that the shearing makes. These ladies are also way happier nekked. No worries, grows back quickly.

These two won't be kept with the rest of the flock just yet. They are going to work for us eating and fertilizing the lawn and public areas of the farm. 

Tiny Dancer


Each year we let each kid choose an activity to do for the year. When I had more income and we lived in the city, they could do as many and as often as they each wanted. Now we have three kids and gas prices doubled and my income is a fifth of what it was, so now they each get one.

Holly's chosen art is ballet. She was a shy, timid girl until the day she stepped into Miss Anna's studio. She just lit up from the inside! She has continued to blossom at this studio. Two of the principles at this studio are modesty and respect. This extends to the music and body and developementaly appropriate dance moves. These are children who are growing and teaching them a physical sport like dance can be tricky if the instructor is not educated in physiology. Holly has joint issues and her shoulder and elbows dislocate really easily. Grace Ballet was the only studio that would have a conversation with me about my concerns regarding Holly's safety.

Holly worked hard this year. She practiced. She did meditations on concentration and focus, because she was worried about paying attention enough in class. She was worried about stage fright. She was worried about falling off the stage at the end bow.

She did great. She shined! She sparkled! That's my tiny dancer!