Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"If I Hide Myself ... "

"And for every useless reason I know, there's a reason not to care. If I hide myself wherever I go, am I ever really there?" (chorus lyrics from "For You" by The Barenaked Ladies)

What is wholeness for me? "If I hide myself wherever I go, am I ever really there?" I want to be real. Who am I? What do I want to say about myself? (as opposed to what I can say about myself.)

Don't you just hate it when you're crying and journaling and deep in your process and you turn the page to finish writing this important and vital point and you find a velociraptor sticker lodged in the crease of your journal from your son's collection -- and your point scurries out the window and evaporates skyward?

I had one. But now it's gone and I feel a strange mixture of lightness and sorrow.

Lightness because it was pretty silly to see the dinosaur peering out at me from the pages of my own journal -- like I'd caught him taking a shower.

And sorrow because it seems to always be this way. Just before I reach connection to Spirit or Muse and learn something vital to my personal growth -- I falter. Either from dinosaur stickers, or my son greeting me home before I even get out of the car because I was trying to steal a few minutes in the driveway to compose myself and journal after a counseling session, or just because I feel too drained to journal and watch a movie instead.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Because he impulsively bought a yellow house with me when we’d only been dating for two months.

Because he loves to prowl around bookstores and drink coffee and watch movies – but that he also digs live music and culture and dancing.

That he likes so much variety in his music and movies; it’s part of what makes him so interesting.

And because he slowly explains Congress stuff to me and pauses West Wing to tell me what’s going on without getting irritated.

Because he cares about the rain forest and treating animals humanely and watches documentaries with me about food and the environment when he’d rather watch a mafia crime movie or boxing.

Because he’ll go to the Bijou with me even though the seats are murderous on him.

That his long slender fingers give me a thrill when I see them.

And because he traces my body under my clothes and that he loves when I wear stretchy pants.

Because he’s beautiful with dark, salty hair and full lips.

Because he buys me sex toys at Castle and brings them home as surprises.

That he asks the wait staff to bring me water with no ice and decaf coffee, and that he knows my drink is a fuzzy navel – and he knows how it’s prepared. (“You’re making that without vodka right?”)

And because he thinks I’m sexy -- though I’m often in denial of it.

Because he believes in me and wants me to live my dreams as artist and writer – or to at least try them on seriously.

Because he doesn’t laugh at me when I’m in earnest, but does when I jump up and down on the couch.

That he seems to have come back to the land of the living and ditched his online game for now.
And because he’s open to trying new things like No Shame and pedicures.

Because he is willing to be One of the Jackai, and that we have other private jokes like Emil the
Tentmaker and “Edwin, the towels are staring at me.”

Because he doesn’t say anything when I sneak butter on the popcorn at the movie theater.

That he kisses me long and soft and lets me sit on his lap.

And because my soul creaks and despairs when I imagine a life without him; and when he feels pain, I can’t breathe.

Because he holds me when I have bad dreams.

Because when I lose my temper and yell at the kids, he doesn’t judge me, but instead asks if he can help.

That he still kisses me on the back of the neck (and the front … and the side) because I love it so much.

And because when I’m feeling open enough and worthy of it, I can feel his pride in me – that’s always there if only I would let it in. (His love feels like that, too.)

Because sometimes I want nothing more than to lie in bed and watch a movie or a LOST episode on Netflix, and there’s such relief and glee when I find out he wants it, too.

Because we laugh together and he isn’t embarrassed by me – mostly.

That he still wants to be with me even after I make horrible errors.

And because I don’t know so many things – but that he wants to learn them all with me. (“It’s all about the journey, Baby!”)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Two Knitting Projects

I meant to take pictures of the two latest scarves I've knitted. But I gave them away first. Drat. So I scrounged around and found a couple teeny snippets of them. It was difficult to find pictures of a) the whole scarf and b) ones without people's faces showing. (I didn't get their consent before posting.)

I'm working on at least two more -- 'tis the season for scarves. I'm working on a maroon striped with a maroon tweed scarf for T.C. and a green wool one for A.Z. I've also got some luscious mocha brown and cream wool for another striped idea and some leftover black/gray/blue wool (like in the picture above with the shark pen) to stripe up with some solid black.

Yes, I'm into stripes right now.

Best go now, kids need a bedtime story.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh me, oh my -- only a tiny wallowing, and then BACK ON TRACK!

Sorry to have been so vacant on here. I've been to Maui.

And came back to gray skies and lots of laundry. :) It's all good though.

I'm feverishly knitting up last minute xmas and solstice gifts and ignoring my book proposal for the moment. First things first. (Though as I'm knitting scarves, I'm still thinking of the proposal. So, that counts for something, right?)

I'm babysitting right now so my friend and her husband can go xmas shopping (which I still need to complete myself, but at least I know what I'm getting and where to go to get it) and then a birthday party to attend for my kids' friend and then shuttling them off to another friends' house for a sleep-over, so that I can go to a party! (No Shame Eugene's End of Our First Year Together Cast Party!)

I really want to wear this dress to the party tonight, but I bought it in Maui -- where it was considerably warmer. Would it be completely stupid to wear it anyway? I'm thinking of bringing extra clothes in case I get too shivery. And wear long-johns underneath it. ;)

You think I'm kidding.

I'm that into wearing the dress.

Other stuff is happening in my life right now that is distracting me from the computer and this blog. And my writing. But I'm convinced that writing is therapeutic for me, so I will re-double my efforts to keep writing and slog through my personal stuff. It's critical for me to focus on it and I want to do it, but it's difficult, exhausting and a little sad. Maybe "slog" wasn't the right word. That would denote something unpleasant, and while my emotions wouldn't be classified as euphoric, I do have hope and love on my side.

So, come back dear readers. I'm still here. My visitor stats have dropped from about fifty to ... nine. Sigh. My own doing, of course, but it really would help my mood if you all came back and visited and cheered me on. :)

Until next time ...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Mon Seul Desir -- A Somewhat Embarrassing Attempt at Poetry

(A painting from the MET in New York City.)

A Mon Seul Desir

A day of shadows.
Of softly moving waves of
Ethereal sadness mixed with
Curious bursts of love and glee
For my children.

Fatigue. Moving lethargy.
Loving thoughts for my children.
And from them to me.

Art. Magic whispers of the soul,
Reaching, teasing, taunting,
Only there in flashes representing
Could be
If only I release and step into the void,
The wonderful, magnificent, exciting
Unknown. Passion through Art,
A touching of myself, A promise.
A secret. Come closer to hear. Swallow.

Dipping pen to ink,
Methodical, hypnotical.
The pen flows with ideas on artistic wings.

Let us dance.
Just close your eyes.

A beautiful smile and a hug,
Filled with love, compassion
And childish innocence and awe.

Look what I can do!

The mysteries,
The curiosities,
The wonderment.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November was a bust

I know we are supposed to be thankful for loads of stuff in November, but it seems the only thing I can be thankful for right now are my excuses for not finishing NaNoWriMo this year. (Of which I have contrived many.)

Sarcasm is great for when you are feeling not so hot about yourself. :)

Blog posting will return with a vengence in the super near future. (As in next week!)

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. I hope you all have enough vitamin D for the winter months.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

At Last!

Maybe having chicken poop in the backyard, and the puppy getting into our chicken run and terrorizing the chickens, and the chickens flying over the enclosure to get to the backyard, and the puppy eating the chicken poop has all been in vain.

We had our first ever eggs in the coop this morning. (After five and half months of raising them.)

And we ate them.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Do a little dance, make a little love. Get down tonight!"

My nanowrimo word count is coming along, I've gone to yoga this morning, I've been able to ward off a cold that wants to invade, and I'm almost done with my book proposal!

Life is good.

ALSO, life is superb. Because Paul has won a contest at work and he and I are being sent to Hawaii for a week! Pretty much all expenses paid. Airfare, hotel and $1600 in hand.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Noveling Affidavit

I, Valerie Christine Willman, hereby pledge my intent to write a 50,000-word novel in one month's time.

By invoking an absurd, month-long deadline on such an enormous undertaking, I understand that notions of craft, brilliance, and competency are to be chucked right out the window, where they will remain, ignored, until they are retrieved for the editing process. I understand that I am a talented person, capable of heroic acts of creativity, and I will give myself enough time over the course of the next month to allow my innate gifts to come to the surface, unmolested by self-doubt, self-criticism, and other acts of self-bullying.

During the month ahead, I realize I will produce clunky dialogue, cliched characters, and deeply flawed plots. I agree that all of these things will be left in my rough draft, to be corrected or excised at a later point. I understand my right to withhold my manuscript from all readers until I deem it complete. I also acknowledge my right as author to substantially inflate both the quality of the rough draft and the rigors of the writing process should such inflation prove useful in garnering me respect, attention, or freedom from household chores.

I acknowledge that the month-long, 50,000-word deadline I set for myself is absolute and unchangeable, and that any failure to meet the deadline, or any effort on my part to move the deadline once the adventure has begun, will result in well-deserved mockery from friends and family. I also acknowledge that, upon successful completion of the stated noveling objective, I am entitled to a period of gleeful celebration and revelry, the duration and intensity of which may preclude me from participating fully in workplace activities for days, if not weeks, afterward.

(taken from "No Plot, No Problem" by Chris Baty.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Here I Go Again ... (It's not just a Whitesnake song)

It's November 1st. Nanowrimo has begun. I stayed up until midnight watching old Firefly episodes with my husband and girlfriend so that I could stay awake to start writing as soon as I could on my nano book.

It's funny, I don't even have names for my characters yet. And, truth be told, I only wrote about four paragraphs before succumbing to sleep. But I started! That was the important part.

I've been staying up really late (much later than my body likes) for the last couple of weeks; I've been socializing more and more with my theatre group. It's a lot of fun but maybe a little out of balance. I'm taking herbs and vitamin c to bring myself into balance, so I don't get sick. I had a sore throat last night (gone now thanks to my naturopath's herbal tincture!) but a slight headache this morning. I'm working on another 2000 mg of vit c and more tincture right now.

Paul's left for work and the roomie's leaving with his daughter for church. My girlfriend and her sons stayed the night last night and the kids are all playing games, listening to music. Her husband made a surprise visit this morning after his cab driving shift and has been sleeping on the couch. And after the coffee is done brewing, we adults will sequester ourselves in the bedroom and watch Michael Moore's Sicko.

More writing to come later this afternoon and then a house meeting tonight at 6:30.
November is starting with a bang! Aubrey's ballet rehearsals and class, A's gymnastics class, Robert's swimming lessons, the kids' water safety class and chess class -- and now Aubrey has started a Manga club at our house, too. On top of that is my writing critique group, No Shame workshops and a performance, and puppy obedience classes. Thank Goddess date nights are squished in there somewhere!

So, November and Nanowrimo, here I go again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Raw Milk is a living food ... nutritious and easy to digest.

Why I drive for an hour and a half to purchase raw milk from a local farmer:
(The homogenization stuff particularly creeps me out. And the additives part.)

(I've taken the following information from the brochure "RAW MILK: Nature's Nutrient-Rich Food," published by Sandra Redemski and Joyce R. Young, N.D.)


Pasteurization heat destroys valuable enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile mile proteins, virtually destroys vitamins B6 and B12, and kills beneficial bacteria.

Pasteurization is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems and ear infections in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

Pasteurization sterilizes milk, creating the perfect medium for pathogens to grow if post-pasteurization contamination occurs. Extensive records show that raw milk from healthy cows has a high safety record and that pasteurized milk does not, having caused thousands of cases of bacterial diseases. Those records show that certified raw milk products have never been proven to cause a fatality, but pastuerized milk has caused many.

Pasteurized milk turns putrid. Raw milk sours naturally and safely. Proponents of pasteurization have used lies, blatant propaganda and fear tactics to achieve consumer acceptance. Pasteurization can promote carelessness and discourage efforts to produce clean milk. pasteurization laws favor large, industrialized dairy operations.


Homogenization is a process that forces milk through hair-like tubes under pressure, generating intense turbulent eddies which tear apart milk fat glubules, greatly reducing their size. The original membrane of the fat globule is damaged or lost and the exposed surfaces absorb milk proteins, especially caseins. The increased allergenicity of homogenized milk may be caused by these milk proteins in the fat globule membrane.Homogenization greatly increases the fat surface area which increases fat oxidation and creates off-flavors. Processors began to homogenize milk so consumers would not know how little fat was in the milk.


Milk standardization is the dividing and putting back together of milk to meet regulatory standards. Milk components (cream and skim milk) are separated and put back together for the typle of product sold (1%, 2%, and 3% whole) to meet the legal minimum requirements, with additives for taste, consistency, etc. The finished processed milk product is totally different from the original milk.


Additives are common in commercial milk. Synthetic vitamin D additives cause calcification of soft tissues and the softening of the hard tissues. Powdered skim milk, a source of dangerous oxidized cholesterol and neurotoxic proteins, is added to 1% and 2% milk. Some producers now add vegetable oils to milk products. These oils have been linked to arteriosclerosis, heart disease and multiple sclerosis. Low-fat yogurts and sour creams contain mucopolysaccharide gums to give them body.

Many mass-produced cheeses contain bioengineered enzymes and additives. Imitation cheese products made from vegetable oils are passed off as milk products. Milk and milk products have a US Agricultural Department "Standard of Identity" which allows processors to put anything in the products as long as they heat them, without listing all the ingredients on the label.

(Special Issue: Health hazards of Milk, 2002, J. of Nutritional and Environmental medicine, 12 (3):141-266; Jensen, Robert G., Handbook of Milk Composition, 1995.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Writing Goals -- it's a start.

New goals this week:

1. write section abstracts
2. finalize Halloween plans/buy housewarming present for a friend/and pattern for myself (that #2 was pretty sneaky, wasn't he?)
3. construct writing altar
4. finish reading proposal book
5. start Nanowrimo at midnight on November 1st!

Artistic/Creative things I accomplished this week:

1. wrote a blog post today
2. posted pictures on my grief blog
3. finalized my script today (edited it twice this week)
4. rehearsed script at No Shame workshop on Thursday
5. finished a knitting project
6. did reading on proposals and plots
7. read favorite blogs today
8. wrote notes and outline for new Nano project

Why is it that I'm the One Most Often in My Way?

The dogs are lying on my bed keeping me warm with their snuggles and snores. Aubrey is showering and Robert is gaming. Paul's at work and housemates are gone to church and to the Mushroom Festival at Mt. Pisgah. And I am dozing in my bed with Paul's old wool sweater and a scarf (that I knit myself) keeping me company. Sundays are pajama days in our home.

I was trying to upload some pictures for you but blogger is having difficulty with it. Sigh. It's annoying when technology fails. But even more annoying that I seem to rely on it so much. I crave to belong to a time when technology didn't play so great a role in our lives. A time when we (as individuals) made our own things and relied more on ourselves.

A friend of mine is saving money to go to some cold north country (Norway? Scandinavia?) and participate in a soul-searching program where, among other things, you build your own ax-like weapon and use it on a trek. He'll get to experience some things that his ancestors did and live harsher yet more simply -- albeit for a short time. I envy him this passionate trip.

While I don't feel compelled to go to Norway, (though I'm game for any travel experience) I would love to visit my ancestral homes. Most notably Scotland. (I've some German and English in me, too.) Wouldn't it be awesome if I wandered about the highlands and got the chills of belonging that sometimes evade me here? What if I'm destined to live somewhere else -- in some other land? Is this why languages always arrest me with their uniqueness -- their sounds of other places and cultures and values and beliefs? Yes. And why guys that speak other languages, or speak with an accent, have always made me hot.

I heard somewhere that you are attracted to people that display the attributes that you are lacking but want so much in your own life. I think this must be true. I'm attracted to passionate people that live their lives in big gulps and with glee and joy.

But what about the people that don't have those attributes, necessarily, but that support the building of it in your life? The aficionados. I'm attracted to them, as well. Those people that figure out ways to make your dreams come true.

I am determined to help myself along. I have many well-wishers and supportive friends and family that all want my dreams of artistry and living the writerly life to come true. Please Goddess, let me help them help me.

Why is it that I'm the one most often in my way?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Inner Work

So I was catching up on my blog reading and stumbled across this. So, taking the challenge I did a short stint of inner work and answered some of her questions.

Here are the results:

I feel called to be a writer and an awesome, fun, and nurturing mama.

I am passionate about children having respect and more decision-making/creative-thinking opportunities.

Before I had kids, I was passionate about having children and connecting to my husband and writing and inner-work.

Two strengths I have are inner-drive and calmness in crisis (I think.)

I could use those strengths to take risks in my creative life and to slough off the rejections with calmness.

Teaching my family the beauty of homemaking and homesteading and the values I hold dear will increase the chance that they will take these values (some of them anyway) and hold them as their own -- and maybe the world will become a more tolerant place with love and acceptance in the forefront as a result. Also to become stewards of the Mother Earth.

I model to my children: love of reading, ability to take time for them and myself, my own brand of spirituality, that caring for and honoring nature is important to me.

Values that are important to me:

exploration (trying new things)

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I'm having a blah day ... and it's only 10:15 in the morning. Sigh.

I've already re-started a sour load of laundry that I didn't take out of the washer yesterday, closed up the chicken coop that I left open yesterday to air out (oops), fed the chickens/puppy/dog, read a chapter and a half from The Lighting Thief to Robert, cleaned up puppy urine from the carpet, brushed my teeth, cleaned up puppy poo from the carpet, almost cried over the amount of clothes to fold and put away and the status of the kitchen dishes, and talked to Paul about a conversation he had with our 11 year old daughter about viewing some UBER-disturbing images on the internet. Time for parental locks.

I want coffee.
And I want to go back to bed.

But what I will do instead (well, I'll still make coffee) is switch the twice washed laundry, take a shower, have Aubrey do some laundry and shower and find her ballet clothes and shoes, and take her to an audition for the Nutcracker Remixed that her dance school is going to be performing. We will come home and I'll work on the kitchen and decide what to make for the Spiralscouts Circlewide Potluck that's happening tonight at my house.

Paul also wants to watch Coraline with the kids tonight.

Every night is packed with stuff to do this week (and next, too) ... fun stuff that I myself planned and want to do ... but seeing it all laid out on the calendar is daunting.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow morning. My friend Candace Hunter is coming over to help me work on some writing goals I have and to work out a writing schedule for me. (For regular writing and Nanowrimo writing.) I think it's the only thing getting me through this day, so far.

Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing ...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall at my tiny homestead:

Camera Cord Found!

Hooray! Now I can finally share some things that are going on around here.

Aww. Sleeping dogs are the best dogs. Especially that rascally puppy. He's so much nicer when he sleeps.

This was a fabulous 3d tic tac toe game that Joey designed one day.

This was taken back in June at Aniela's graduation ceremony.

Here's a Banagrams game that Aubrey, Robert and Anna did. Only mythical beasts were allowed on the table.

Aubrey, Robert (Joey), Paul and his mom, Anna all waiting for Aniela's grad ceremony to start.

This is at Aubrey's eleventh birthday party.

Friday, October 2, 2009

No Pictures, No Posting

So, I found and started using my husband's camera because it appears that mine is no longer. :(
I can't find the cord that attaches either the card reader OR the camera.
I'll need a wheelbarrow and shovel to go through my office before I can start downloading pictures and writing entries again.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Depression and Anxiety are my Special Needs Children

(This is a reposting from February 2008. I'd like critiquing in the comments, please.)

Movies I watch can inspire me to write or paint or sculpt.

But some only create the longing for it, and not the release – like the nightmares where you can’t scream but know that if you try with all that is in you, you could make enough noise to cast your voice out among the billions who also trudge this land.

There’s an ache – when I feel unable to create my art -- a loneliness that wiggles inside my brain so that it hurts, and my throat so that I cannot communicate.

My fingers are frozen at the page, clamped desperately around the pen. My breath stops as I wait for the timid kernel of inspiration to share itself through me – but alas, it is not Inspiration or Idea or even Plot Device that appears … it is: Clamminess, Brick Wall, Pettiness, Fatigue, and Not Good Enough.

The metallic sour taste of lethargy and self- judgment sit with me when the longing to create art is strongest. I’ve sat with and asked these soul-sucking companions why they visit. I sometimes get a response and sometimes not.

I wonder how to get rid of them – like they are the slugs on my sugar snap peas that eat holes before I get a taste.

But perhaps I should simply share space with these evil shadows of myself and honor their place in my house. What if I extended love to them, accepted them and knew there was an ancient lesson they came to teach me, if only I would listen -- like the hundreds of thousands of families with special needs children?

Depression and Anxiety are my special needs children. I court them, suckle them and find their triggers to tantrums. I sit with Depression and rock him to sleep with haunting music lilting from the iTunes across the room; I coax Anxiety out to play -- break out the glue and treeless paper and collage until she is more grounded.

I discover their strengths and weaknesses and take time out for myself when they become too much for me to bear alone. I nurture myself with popcorn and movies under the feather blanket, hot tea with a friend, or an afternoon alone at a coffee shop with my laptop and latte. And I think. I take time to Feel.

When I do this -- when I give myself permission to emote -- only then am I open enough to welcome ideas and plans and as-of-yet formless characters into the sacred circle I have created for them. Only then am I able and willing to give birth to their stories.

But that’s not right either. I am always willing. That yearning and longing to write and to create are always there. But maybe the readiness is not.

Maybe I must coddle my children, Depression and Anxiety before I can create. But … I don’t believe that one must be depressed or suffer anxiety attacks in order to create art. Art lives in us, we breathe it as air and it binds to the molecules within us. We bleed our art. We are art.

Perhaps I don’t need to be depressed to create art, but that if I am struggling with it at some particular time, I must sit with it first before I attempt to express an emotion I do not yet understand. Only if I take time to nurture myself, to Think, to Feel, to ask Depression why he had another nightmare, to ask Anxiety why she cried today when the house was a mess – maybe then I can unfreeze my fingers and find my voice and let it roar with all the passion and longing and creativity I have.
And then, I can create. I can write, paint and sculpt. I can communicate and breathe and love myself again. All the parts of me. Even the shadowy parts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lost Camera

I have mis-placed my camera, as well as a few odd assortments that I think are probably all together in a cloth grocery bag in some random place ... like the vet's office.

My camera's been missing for a couple of weeks now and I keep telling myself that that is why I have not posted any blog posts. I like to add pictures to them, and without camera ... well, I can't post, right?

So, it is time to break out Paul's awesome but way too complicated huge camera and use that. No more excuses for not posting!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

School Set-Up

So the next few days are planned to the hilt.

I'm going to the library this afternoon to make returns and pick up some new books I can use with Aubrey's main lessons.

Tomorrow we are going to Home Depot to pick up some masonite and chalkboard paint to make ourselves a few chalkboards and paintboards. (And then we'll make them!)

Monday I'll clean out and organize the learning closet (for all our supplies and such) and clear off ALL the workable surfaces. (Read table-tops: the bar, the craft table in the office, the dining room table and the coffee table.)

(I also need to write something for the critique group. Whups. How am I going to fit that in?)

Tuesday we start. The first two weeks will be light duty until we get all of our supplies and things start flowing.

Here's our first term weekly schedule:

Sunday~ write a letter, quiet time, pay bills, reading and handwork.
Monday~ Main Lesson, Gymnastics class, chores, Nana comes over.
Tuesday~ Main Lesson, Swim lessons for Robert and Ballet for Aubrey.
Wednesday~ Computer Art class for Robert, Spanish, Handwork, Water Safety class, chores.
Thursday~ Main Lesson, Daddy Day, Chess class.
Friday~ Main Lesson follow-up, Painting, Handwork, finish up chores for the week and visit friends!
Saturday~ SpiralScouts or Library Trip.

Field trips will fit into there as they come.

Our DAILY RHYTHM will hopefully (snicker) look like this:

  • take care of animals (feed, let chickens out of coop, etc.)
  • make breakfast
  • eat breakfast at 8am with Daddy before he heads to work
  • clean up
  • get dressed and brush teeth
  • take a walk (bring dogs ... and maybe a Bengal cat if we get one -- they like to take walks on a leash, too!)
  • Circle Time:
    • each light a candle
    • read a poem I've found for the day or week
    • recorder practice and mini-lesson (10 minutes)
    • math exercise (one or two)
  • Main Lesson (bring snack out to them when they're set up and working)
  • clean up
  • fix lunch and eat together (maybe read a chapter book to them during lunch if there's time)
  • afternoon movement class (gymnastics, swimming, water safety or ballet)
  • free time and snack
  • chores
  • check on animal needs (food, water, play, training)
  • make dinner
  • eat dinner together
  • bedtime ritual: (starting around 7:00 p.m.)
    • bathing
    • brushing teeth
    • reading together
    • reading silently individually
    • lights out
      • Robert 8:30 p.m.
      • Aubrey 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Things

I'm so overwhelmed.

But I'm excited at the same time!

My problem is: I love new things. I love to try new things. There's that new love/new sex/new relationship kind of feeling when I try new things. Like, the building a garden, getting chickens, learning to knit, making strawberry jam for the first time and picking and freezing sour cherries and blueberries -- what an urban homesteading rush!

And homeschooling. That was new last year, so this year I'm adding a kid -- my daughter -- and curriculum to my son's unschooling routine. That's a new and different aspect to homeschooling for me.

And now it's a new puppy. I've wanted a second dog for a couple of years. For Kiya's sake -- I wanted her to have a friend to snuggle with when we weren't home. We didn't want a puppy; we were looking for an older dog, one already potty trained. And then we stopped looking for almost a year. But then Humphrey came along when he did and he just happened. Like life usually does.

The other new thing I'm juggling right now -- as I've mentioned before -- is my book proposal I'm writing. Or rather NOT writing. Right now I'm soaking in the bathtub.

I'm finding it difficult to get to the next stage of this proposal because this is the reading part and I don't want to read right now, I want to write! So I'm stagnating. Hmpf.

Best go and do some reading. I AM in the tub after all. What better place to read? Except for maybe in front of a fireplace, under a lap quilt, with pjs on. Mmm. I love winter for that very reason.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who I Am

Part of me wants to upload pictures of my house (each room) so you can see what the inside of my brain looks like right now.

But then I get too embarrassed.

But then I think: There are so totally other moms out there with revolting homes that never seem to get organized no matter how they try and might even feel better and less like a louse if they saw my wreck.

But then I think: No way, Jose. I'd alienate you all forever and maybe even the county would come and plaster my doorway with those condemned buildings signs and tapes.

So I won't upload pictures. Just use your imagination.

I've hit the puces again. My house is a new shade of the leader essay I wrote a while back.

On a home-schooling vein: I'm anxiously awaiting our Waldorf curriculum. Aubrey wants a curriculum to follow instead of being unschooled as Robert is. I am also buying a used copy of the 3rd grade curriculum for him -- in case I can sneak it in for him, or if he sees his sister doing something and wants to follow suit. Also, it just gives me an outline to work with. If he wants to do it, cool. If not, no biggie. I'm only out $17.

I registered them for classes on Tuesday. They got all the classes they sent me out to get.
I'm not sure how I'll fit the Waldorf rhythms into this but I'm gonna try!

Both Aubrey and Robert are taking a chess class (which counts as a math core class) and water safety once a week. In addition to that, they are each taking an additional p.e. class: Aubrey will be doing ballet and Robert, another swimming class, so he'll be swimming twice a week. Also, Aubrey is taking an American Girls history class and Robert is taking a computer art class.

So. We'll see what happens. I'll try and get more math in for Robert (since he likes it anyway) with the Waldorf math book I bought. (It's a combined grades 1-5 math book.)

I told Paul today that it felt like I had four full-time jobs. I love them all and don't want to quit any of them, but that that's why the house looks like this. ;)

Job 1 is, of course, homemaker. I could totally have the house immaculate and healthy meals around all the time if that's all I ever worked on.

Job 2 is a homeschooling parent. I'm driving the kids all over for classes four times a week, in addition to curriculum. But I so want to do this forever. It is the right thing for my kids.

Job 3 is a writer. I'm writing and researching my proposal for my non-fiction book Grief Shadows: Young, Pregnant and Widowed. Four agents have requested that I send them either pages or a proposal, so I TOTALLY want to get on that and not let this AWESOME opportunity pass me buy. This is my dream job and a project I've had on my mind almost since Rob died. I want our story told and I want it to inspire other widows.

Job 4 is a homesteader (gardening, keeping animals, canning and knitting and otherwise trying to live sustainably and self-sufficiently), which probably should go up with job 1 so that I can also add

JOB 5: feeding myself (with hot baths and romantic comedies and reading and art and dates with my husband and socializing with friends and one-on-one times with my kids) so that I can be a healthy, contributing member of my family -- one who is pleasant to be around.


How can I do all those jobs every day?

Because I can't quit any of them. They are all vastly important to me and make up who I am. And who I've always wanted to be. I can't change that, nor do I want to.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chicken Coops and Clotheslines

I can't recall if I've shown you the new coop. The 2x4 is bracing the door because the door latch is too small and doesn't hold it closed. And it still needs a roof, obviously. Oregon rain comes a plenty in the nearby month(s) and we want to be ready for it.

The chickies still don't like using the ladder. We think maybe the slats are too far apart and if we nail on some more, they'd be more apt to use it. The rooster refuses to use it at all. I've been opening the door for him so he can flutter out. And I have to put him in at night.

Here are the dolls in their coop.

And this, FINALLY, is the clothesline we put up in the yard. I think the next step to our suburban homesteading will be rain barrels.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fluffball the Manic Rooster is leaving in thirteen more days.
Poor dude.
He's so misunderstood.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Oh Bother

I walk in the front door, eager to see my children but don't see my mother-in-law's car out front. She's been watching them this weekend because I've been in Portland pitching my book to a handful of agents (who want the proposal!).

"Hello!" I call out. My housemate, Steve, comes around the corner from the kitchen. "Where are the kids?"

"I don't know," he says. "I think I heard them talking about pizza."

I can't decide if I'm disappointed they aren't home. A nice quiet house to reflect on the success at the conference and the No Shame skit I'm thinking up in my head? Or little ones running at me and hugging me and telling me how much they missed me. Hmm.

I bring in my things from the van and sort-of put them away, think about the music I listened to on the way home and the memories it evoked, check on the wee chickens and admire the work Steve has done on the chicken coop so far.

I call Paul and wildly hint about sex tonight and wonder now, since the children are still not home, what I should do with my free block of time.

Work on proposal?
Straighten bedroom?
Get something to eat?
Start watching a dvd -- knowing they'll be home ten minutes after I start it?
Clean off the kitchen table?

This might be why I can't seem to take advantage of small blocks of time during the day. I never can decide which of the pressing items to choose from and so do nothing out of panic and indecision.

Oh Bother.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I'm Holding My Breath

I'm having a blast at the conference this weekend.

I've had four requests from agents and publishers to have me send my proposal/manuscript in!

Off to another day full of workshops.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Off to the Conference!

I'm packing up for the conference. Paul is at the pool with the kids and I just need to gather my paperwork, checkbook, laptop, etc for the drive up there. The clothes and stuff are already packed.

The kids slept over at a friend's house last night so that Paul and I could go out on a date before I left town. We saw Funny People and got home after 1a.m. It was a great movie. I'd really like to watch it again.

I'm trying to maintain my cool for the whole pitching my book at the conference thing. Part of me (ok most) feels totally unprepared for this. Paul has wisely framed it like this: I'm just going to the conference to learn how to pitch. That's it. I'm not pitching my book to an agent in hopes of selling it; I'm learning how to pitch to agents. These will all be practice runs.

But I can hope, right?

The deal is, it's just not really completed. I still need to add another hundred pages to make it a standard book length, and I'm still reorganizing the essays -- moving them from chronological to thematic format.

But enough of that, I'm going to have fun at this conference! I love conferences.

Now, let me go pack already! ;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Faeries, Elves, Chickens and Manuscripts

Well. I feel sheepish. (Baa.)

I signed up to do this Nablopomo for the month of August where you post something every day on your blog. Um. It's already August 4th (my mom's birthday, by the way) and it's the first day I've even remembered to post anything. Ai-yi-yi.

So a recap of stuff that happened since August 1st: I recuperated from 9 hours at Faerieworlds on the 31st of July.

I took the kids to the library and to Blockbuster and spent a huge amount of time typing up my manuscript and tweaking the format. Willamette Writers Conference is this weekend so I'm freaking about preparing for that.

August 2nd found us back at Faerieworlds

and by the time I got back home I was crumbly, hot and headachey. More work on manuscript in the evening.

August 3rd was yesterday and I took the kids to swimming lessons, went and picked up our raw milk from the farm, hit the library again and researched agents and publishing houses for the rest of the day.

My mom-in-law, Anna, came over, I played Banangrams with her and Robert and printed out a selection of the manuscript to take to our critique group.

Group was great. It's a strange mixture of inspiration, discouragement, and hope. My book is still very rough draft and the whole structure needs to be changed. It is written in chronological format right now, and it really needs to be organized thematically instead. I need to write another hundred pages or so, and there are other subjects that need to be addressed.

This all can't happen by Thursday, of course. So, mostly I'm working on the hook and my pitch. I also want to finish researching and spinning my pitch to specific agents and their houses.

Today, I visited with Anna in the morning, talked to her about the book's theme, took the kids swimming (lessons), sent Pebbles (one of our roosters) packing,

(Bless his fuzzy little heart; he started crowing yesterday and we can't have roosters in the city. Fluffball, the white chicken you can see a tiny corner of in the photo, is also a rooster. But we're pretty attached to him, so he's going to a friends' house on the 22nd.)

checked the mail, made lunch and started reading a book I'm dying to read but stopped myself after three pages because I simply can't justify reading right now.

Before I go to the conference I need to:

charge batteries
gather business cards, a briefcasey thing to hold the first fifty pages of my rough draft (3 or 4 copies -- I'm thinking insanely here, but it's fun) and my agent research
I need to go grocery shopping so Anna has food the kids will actually eat without giving her too much grief
journals and laptop
get my allergy shot, chiro appt and massage done
and continue to take kids to swimming lessons, have a SpiralScouts business meeting and a Firehawks Hearth meeting at the swimming pool on Wednesday night.

Making some yogurt before I go would be nice, too.


I think I'll go write now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Days and the Lovin's Easy

Homemade ice cream made with raw sugar, raw milk and raw cream. Oh. My. God. Yum.

Kids are playing with the chickens and they free range every day now.

Canning bounty so far: strawberry jam. Half made with raw sugar, half with honey.
Freezing bounty so far: sour cherries and blueberries.

Aubrey at swimming lessons at the outdoor pool -- a special treat here.

Ditto on the Robert Joe-Man. Outdoor swimming is the best!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I'd Take Waffle Brains Over Spaghetti Anytime

I'm watching the chickens poke around in the yard and coo and chirp and pretend to fly. They gallop and flap their wings, lifting their feet every so often. It looks exactly like a three year old leaping around the house with a Superman cape on.

My husband is leaving for work. I hear his car door close and the ignition turn and him drive away. Some days I'm glad he goes so I can get some work done around the house. During most of his days off I mill around restlessly, knowing I should be doing something but fretful that I'll miss quality time with him if I, say, run errands.

But today I don't want him to leave. I try to shed the feelings of abandonment and decide how my day will pan out.

My intention was to process the eight pounds of strawberries I picked yesterday, after picking them. But I'd promised my son a visit to friends. I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent there admiring the house and the cool games and books on the shelves ... and the pantry! Oh my. I want my food storage to look like theirs. What a bounty.

So I decide to make the strawberry jam this morning. I leave the house early to get the extra honey and sugar I need and then stop at BiMart to get the lids and rings we were too tired and hot to get yesterday. Oh, and the tool one uses to reach into boiling vats of water to retrieve glass jars from the canning bath. I need one of those, too.

BiMart was closed for another hour. I have to leave to get home so my husband can go to work.

I finally manage to get the children dressed and they brush their teeth. But now I don't want to go. I don't want to make jam today. I'm feeling that familiar monster, Overwhelm, prance around my shadows this morning.

I have to take the children to TWO birthday parties today. Hideous thought.

I enjoy gathering with friends as much as the next person, but when Overwhelm strikes, I notice all the things that need to be done immediately.

I'm picking up more raw milk tomorrow but still have over half a gallon in my fridge from last week. This is probably because I haven't baked any bread in weeks and my housemates have stopped drinking milk ... and Paul's afraid to now. I need to do something with this extra milk.

I can borrow my friend's butter churn and make butter. I can make yogurt; I can even make a farmer's cheese.

I need to make that strawberry jam.

I need to work on my book pitch again.

I need to continue compiling my book. I've got essays and prayers and pictures and journal entries but I want to round it out a bit more -- and I'm frantic to know in what order to put the essays. Should it be chronological? Thematic?

My kitchen is a mess; I can't find the candy thermometer for making the jam.

I need to call 811 Call Before You Dig's number to find out where we can dig post holes for the clothesline and I'm worried about the Chilean Guava bush I planted last week. (Two weeks ago?) It's crispy and rustly ever since being sunk in the ground. Should I fertilize it? Water more? Move it to a shadier spot? My wisteria is looking shabby, too.

Overwhelm can lead quickly into Despair if I'm not looking, and I can start to believe that I'll never make it as a gardener, I'll never be able to live off my own land (small as it is) and Monsato will still get my business because I can't seem to find any products on the supermarket's shelves that don't have soy something in them.

I still have soap making supplies on my kitchen counter from WAY before and I desperately want to go to the chiropractor and for my kids to stop fighting. Also, the chickens still need a home. The dog crate won't cut it for long.

After a handful of gluten-fee pretzels with soy lecithin in them -- shit -- and a cup of organic, shade-grown, fair trade, decaf coffee with raw cream and agave nectar in a chipped Willamette Writers mug, I start to calm down.

Gregory Kompes once said at a Willamette Writers Conference, "Do just one thing a day." He was talking about writing careers and websites and marketing, but I think it applies to harried, un-schooling, wannabe urban homesteader moms, like myself, too.

It's sound advice. Just do one thing. Just one thing.

Funny. At the conference he handed out little wooden cubes and told us to write on each side something that contributed to our writing career: updating your webpage, adding an article to a directory, submitting something, writing, sending a thank you card to an editor. The idea being you'd flip the cube everyday and to do your "Just one thing" for the day, and know that that was enough. It had to be, or we'd all go nuts trying to fit it all in.

I took two cubes, confident that I had more than six things to do.

Today I re-wrote the cubes directions for more homier things: write a letter, go on a field trip for fun, sew a project, hand-make a gift for someone I love, freeze or can something, write an essay or blog entry, research a plant or garden tip and do it, knit, make a dairy product (cheese, ice cream, butter or yogurt), bake bread, weed, make dog food.

In a panic I realize I have far more than twelve things and I need more cubes. What about trying
new gluten-free recipes on the kids? What about the family cookbook I want to compile? What about submitting query letters?

Should I erase the field trip and substitute the cookbook?

Oh my god. I forgot I need to touch up the paint on the bean bag toss board for Faerieworlds this Friday! And the kids' swimming lessons start this week!

Despair retreats as I start to laugh at the sheer enormity of chaos my brain imbues. (It could be hysteria though.) Oftentimes I feel I'm living a Seinfeld episode where either so much happens at once that it's funny, or a bunch of beautiful "nothings" happens all day long.

It astonishes me that I can think of all these things at once without breaking into a nice calm meltdown. A friend once told me that women's brains were spaghetti and men's were waffles. Men could compartmentalize and blessedly think of one thing at a time. Lucky bastards. Waffle brains and they can pee outside without wetting their jeans? Come on. This is hardly fair.

Yes, I have spaghetti brains. Everything I think of reminds me of something else, which reminds me of something else.

Which reminds me -- I need to put the chickens back in their pen before we leave for the birthday parties, lest a neighborhood cat comes calling, or one of the chicks manages to crawl under a neighbor's fence and they turn us in to the City for having five chickens instead of two.

I think I'm Kramer today. Or maybe the Jason Alexandar guy. What was his name? George.

I wish Paul were home. (sigh)