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Archive for December, 2007

Calm before the storm

Well, not a storm really, but my mind and body have taken a pause from blogging, because I’m gearing up for an emotionally heavy post, and it seems that I stop all activity before I put so much of myself outward. So, have patience with me please, I haven’t forgotten. I’m just allowing my thoughts to congeal.

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I love the blog stats thing! But I think I check it way too often. There’s about three people still reading after my holiday break. 🙂 Anyway, for the few of you who are left, I thought I’d talk about the holiday let down a bit. I haven’t really experienced this this year- it’s been more relief than anything, and I’m already looking forward to New Years- but I have in the past, and it’s such a dragging feeling. In fact, The Boy asked me about it yesterday. I don’t have any real solid answers, but something my mom did was give me a gift the day after Christmas- usually it was something she forgot to put under the tree, but you could do it on purpose. 🙂 The other thing is to shift your thinking a little bit about what Christmas is- for me, the best part is the anticipation- that’s why we have things like advent- and you can do little preparation things- fun activities, the point of the holidays is to have FUN- and continue with the activities after Christmas- I think the let down happens when there’s just a halt to all holiday activity once the big day is over- the day after, get out of the house and have a fun outing- we went to the library (if you could see our library, you’d understand! It’s 6 stories tall!) and then to lunch. Or you could go ice skating, or cross country skiing, or sledding, or anything that you enjoy. But keep it low key. Relax, after all the rush. When you get home, spend a quiet evening in- we watched a movie- but you could read around the fire, or bake something yummy, or play games, whatever your family likes to do. Then when everyone is in bed, and all the chores are done, go take a bath- this is one I’ve recently rediscovered- it’s perfect for dry winter skin- a shot glass full of olive oil, and about 10 drops of lavender essential oil- the lavender will relax you, and the oil will make your skin so soft. Soak as long as you wish. Let your mind drift with your body. Then get out, towel off, get your warmest softest jammies on, and go to bed. Sleep in heavenly peace.

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Christmas Tour

First of all, I resized these, so no fears about clicking on pics anymore. And second of all, I apologize for the dimness of the pics- I know the flash went off- the only thing I can think of is that the batteries are going to die soon.

Now my Christmas stuff!

Welcome to my little apt. That wreath is fresh, from Harvest Moon Flower Farm. She’s a local farmer, and a sweet woman to work with. She actually GAVE the wreath to us, since we didn’t have the cash, saying no one has ever stolen one from her yet.

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Hang up your coat, and check out our Christmas cards!

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Right beside them is our bookshelf, and I put our tiny tree up there, to keep out of reach of little hands.

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I put our greenery on top of the other bookshelf, and added some beeswax candles in ivory and red. I’m sorry the color didn’t show up as well as it should have.

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The stockings are hung by the fireplace with care on the bookshelf. (Hee!)

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Ah, the piece de resistance, the tree! Our FIRST full size live tree! I’m so excited!

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Check out our special ornaments:

This cute lil squirrel, we just got him this year, but check out that personality!

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And this cardinal. I love cardinals, and they go so well with the greenery:

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And this one is to celebrate Fairy Girl’s first Christmas with us:

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This one was for MY first Christmas on this planet! (It says 1982)

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And finally, the tiny handprint ornament. Baby’s second Christmas!

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On the table, is a set of salt and pepper shakers from my Gramma. She left them specially for me, and I treasure them.

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Only 3 days left! Hope you’re done and able to relax and enjoy the season! Bye!

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So, in searching for nonannoying kids music for Fairy Girl, I’ve discovered I REALLY like folk music. I like it for aesthetic reasons, but I also like it because it’s fluid, changing to suit your purposes- if you add a verse or change some words here or there- well, that’s the folk process. That’s how we get verses like, “She’ll be wearing pink pajamas when she comes….” Or the ones that change with technology, like the last verse of “The Cat Came Back”:

“The atom bomb fell just the other day,

The H-Bomb fell in the very same way;

Russia went, England went, and then the U.S.A.

The human race was finished without a chance to pray.”

But the cat came back, the very next day!

That song always cracks me up, as a cat lover.

Anyway, that’s the folk process, and there’s something so earthy about it that I love. I also love that they often sing about daily life, human emotions and nonsense. And they’re so easily singable! A Capella, or with just a guitar, hands clapping, or a full band- whatever.

So, I stumbled across this book of folk songs in the library, called Rise Up Singing. Reviews at Amazon say it’s the quintessential hippie songbook. I have to have it.

I checked it out, and it has EVERYTHING. All arranged by category. I can’t even begin to give you an idea of the depth and breadth of this book. Here is a sampling from the table of contents:

America

Ecology

Faith

Freedom

Funny Songs

Gospel

Blues

Home and Family (my favorite so far)

Hope

Lullabies

Mountain Voices

Outdoors

Rounds

Sacred Rounds and Chants

Spirituals

Women

Work

And so much more, really, get your hands on this book!

I looked up some of the songs whose lyrics touched me- because despite there being chords and keys noted with the lyrics, I can’t translate that into a song- so, I hoped to find the recordings online. I found that, and much more.

But before I share with you what I’ve found, I need to type this out. It’s the one song I could find no traces of, and I’m dearly hoping that by putting the lyrics out there, with the proper credits, someone will be able to lead me to the recording of it.  It’s called “My Little Girl”, and it is NOT the same one as on the Flicka soundtrack. NOT the same.  It makes me cry, and I NEED to know this song.

My little girl, teach me to laugh again

Run in the wind and tumble in the grass again

When you’re so alive and running by my side

Then you teach me to laugh, little girl.

My little girl, teach me to cry again

To feel my pain and to stop and wonder why again

when you bow your head from something I have said

Then you teach me to cry, little girl.

My little girl, teach me to love again

Put your arms around me and teach me how to hug again

when you know I”m sad and you touch me with your hand

Then you teach me to love, little girl

My little girl, teach me to live again

Let me be near you and teach me  how to give again

Life is fresh and new in everything you do

When you teach me to live, little girl.

By Mary Dart 1975 In Songs About People

That’s all I have, and I NEED the music to it. Help if you can.

Other great gems I’ve found. (I hope you aren’t laughing too hard- I have a feeling these people were very well known in a time before I was born, but *I* have just discovered them, and I love it!)

The first woman I found (They’re all women, for some odd reason) is Carol Johnson, and she’s got a website! With samples! Woohoo! The song that prompted me to look for her is called “Family” from her album “Might As Well Make It Love”, which you can sample here.  I expect I will be spending some money there later, when I have some.

The next one I found and bookmarked was Jean Ritchie. She still performs, apparently, which is happy for me, because I might like to see her  perform sometime. (When I discovered Simon and Garfunkel, I was sad, because I was born ONE YEAR after their last performance in Central Park. But joy of joys! I was able to see them in their reunion tour!)

You can listen to samples of her music here.  Make sure to listen to some of her Christmas Album.

I wasn’t able to listen to the song I wanted to from her site (God Bless the Moon), but she has such a sweet soprano voice that even when she’s singing about surface mining, it’s pretty.

And here’s a You Tube link I got from her site:

Bonnie Lockhart has a sweet lilting voice and sings for children especially (Like Carol Johnson)  Make sure to listen to her samples, especially “Who Were the Witches”, but don’t miss “When I Feel Mad”, either. I keep thinking “Who Were the Witches” is going to be haunting and slow, but it’s buoyant and cheerful, and it makes me giggle! And “When I Feel Mad” is just as helpful for grown up children as it is the younger ones. “But I don’t have to hurt anybody/to let my anger out!/ Cause I use words/Words make me strong/ and I can tell everybody/ just what is wrong/”

And I saved the best for last. Oh, yes I did.  Betsy Rose. Oh, woman. Go, and listen. “Welcome to the Circle” is now on my wish list.

Listen to “I Sing for the Mothers” , “Battle Hymn of Women” “How Could Anyone Ever Tell You”, “Open Up and Let Her Through”, “Women’s Hands”, and for a tongue in cheek song, “Unreasonable Women”.

Then go and check out her other albums- HOW is it that as immersed in the lactivist culture I’ve been, I’ve never heard “Mama’s Milk”??? Makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

And I think in addition to “Shine” by Rachel Coleman (of Signing Time fame), everyone who works with children should listen to “Spirited Child”.

In my quest for decent children’s music, I’ve found other gems.

Lester Family Music.  They have songs in 4 parts, so you can memorize your voice part, and everyone else memorizes theirs, and voila! Harmony! You don’t  have to know music, you just have to be able to carry a tune. And they also have music CDs celebrating the nursing relationship. I think the more songs about breastfeeding a woman knows, the better.

And there’s also the company, Naturally You Can Sing , a series of Waldorf friendly songbooks. I have Lavender’s Blue and “This is the way we Wash A Day”, and I especially like the second one. It’s full of songs for cleanup, cooking, hygiene, and some folk songs too.

And I’ve also found more folk music for kids here, along with a CD called “Letting Down”, to listen to while you nurse. Awesome!

For Christian homeschoolers, there’s also Praise Hymn Inc.– my mom had one of these CD’s for me when I was a baby, and I listened to it over and over again. Actually, these are all folk songs too, you don’t have to be Christian to appreciate them. I haven’t checked out any of the books, just the CDs.

And for any homeschooler interested in Appalachian music, I found this.  I’m not a huge follower of curriculum, but I think it’s ripe with ideas to adapt to your own.

Ok, this took  me a LOT longer to do than I expected, so I have to end this here.

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Just a quickie post today, because I’ve been doing other things during Fairy Girl’s nap, and I don’t have much time left.

I was inspired several months ago by Rockin Granola to make a household notebook. So, I did. It’s nothing pretty, or fancy, and it’s not super organized into all different sections. It’s just a binder (and a spiral notebook too, I should get it together) with lists and routines down in it, for me to refer to.

One of my goals for this new apt is to keep it from getting super dirty, and then having to really scrub to get it clean. I’ve learned that if you do little bits here and there, even before it looks dirty, it stays cleaner overall. Please don’t assume that I’m OCD about the cleaning or anything, I”m sure The Boy could tell you differently. (And what is up with people saying you can’t be a good, present parent to your kids, and keep a clean house? I resent that! I won’t say more today, because I don’t have time, but there’s another post!)

But I’ve found a way to keep our place clean, and it takes very little effort on my part. I thought I’d share it today, and maybe it will strike a chord with you, and you can adapt it to fit your lifestyle and your home.

I wrote down all the stuff that needs to get done every day in order for me to feel comfortable in my own home (because that’s why I bother to clean at all- I need to feel comfortable in my own home, and I don’t feel comfortable if I”m always knocking papers and empty bottles off of surfaces, and stepping on crumbs in my bare feet. Blech!).

And I ordered it room by room. And then I figured out what needs to get done weekly and monthly so that I never have to work very hard at cleaning anything- this is part of my mental shift from cleaning to get dirty things clean; to cleaning to prevent things from becoming dirty in the first place. I don’t mean that there are never spills or dirty things in my house, but that mental shift prevents it from getting really bad before I do something about it.

So here’s what I ended up with:

Kitchen:

Daily: dishes, wipe counters/chairs, sweep

Weekly: clear and clean counters, mop, clean sink/drain, change tablecloth

Monthly: clean stove, fridge, windows

Bathroom:

Daily: spray shower with vinegar, wipe down faucet

Weekly: clean toilet/tub/sink

Monthly: floors and mirror

Living Room:

Daily: clutter pickup

Weekly: vacuum (or as needed)

Monthly: dust (yeah, right!), windows

Bedrooms:

Daily: make bed, put away clothes

Weekly: vacuum (or as needed), change sheets

Monthly: windows

M T W Th F S S

K Ba L X Be

That lil collection of letters up there symbolizes which rooms get done on which days. The X is because I don’t do anything on Thursdays, I’m usually out. So, I’m never doing a HUGE amount of labor on any given day. I also take weekends off, except for things that get done daily like dishes and laundry.

Also, my apt is never perfectly spotless either, because as anyone who cleans knows, it starts getting dirty again the second you’re done cleaning it. But I don’t get frustrated about this- I view housekeeping as a cyclical process, and I just see the dishes and the laundry as being in different places of their natural cycle- you don’t get upset when you see a caterpillar because it’s not a butterfly, do you? I don’t get upset about dirty dishes.

And a word on clutter- I place a much higher priority on cleanliness than I do on order, because it’s a hygiene issue. I’m not saying that dirty dishes in your sink are going to make you sick, but they may attract bugs and vermin, and eventually they WILL make you sick if you leave them for long enough. I seriously doubt that there is anyone who reads this blog though, that leaves them long enough to do that. But back to clutter. I DO like order, I always have- if I’m not careful, I CAN let it get a lil compulsive- looking back, I can see this pattern in my childhood too. So, I make an effort to NOT pick up the clutter as often as I’d like. A dear friend helped me to see that I may be interrupting Fairy Girl’s creativity by constantly picking up after her. So now, we pick up once a day, in the evening. And I try to let it go the rest of the time. And yes, as I type, there is a wooden ride on piggy next to my seat, her dolly is face down on the floor on the other side of me, a pile of books is out by the bookshelf, and I don’t even want to know what her room looks like. But that’s much lower on my priority list than the dishes and the laundry (laundry is drying next to me on two drying rack- bonus: moister air!, and the dishes are dirty in the dishwasher- we do one load at night, and then have an empty sink and clean dishes to put away in the morning- I don’t do FlyLady, but that clean sink really IS nice!).

I also don’t use industrial cleaners. But I will post about that next time.

Later tonight, if all goes well, I intend to do a picture post of our Xmas decorations, and hopefully submit (belatedly) to BooMama’s blog for her Christmas Home Tour.

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Christmas Crafts

I seem to be hitting a bit of blogger’s block. Or rather, I think it’s that I have so MUCH to say that I don’t know where to begin. It could also be that I haven’t had much time to sit and reflect about what I want to say. So please excuse the lack of much substance til after the holidays. Or heck, maybe til March- after Xmas, there’s Fairy Girl’s birthday, then The Boy’s birthday, and then I’m going to attempt to get my Etsy shop up and running. No, I’m sure I will have something to say before March!

 

But today, Christmas stuff.

 

I love Christmas- it’s my favorite holiday.  It’s somewhat of a confusing holiday for me, though. I grew up in a primarily Christian home, and Christmas was Jesus’ birthday, and a second component was the Santa Claus/ gifts part. I focused heavily on the gifts part as a kid, as most kids do, I think. But it wasn’t just getting gifts. It was the whole magic of the day. At night, the stockings are empty, and the tree is bare. In the morning, your stocking is bulging with unknown wonders, and the tree is full of presents! Magic! Add snow to the mix, especially if it falls on Christmas Eve, and even MORE magic! I try to hold onto that feeling each Christmas, and my goal to to create that now for Fairy Girl. That is why we do Santa in this house- he’s all just part of the magic- and I personally haven’t had the heart to stop believing in him yet. When I was in high school, my dad told me that we never did the “naughty/nice” bit, because his love for us, his kids, was unconditional. Santa brought gifts no matter what, because we were who we were. And I will continue in that tradition. While we will do Santa, there will be no naughty or nice manipulation.

 

About the time dad was explaining his philosophy on Santa to me, I was beginning to hang out with Pagan herbal types online, and discovering the roots of the Christian holidays. Christmas is a thinly veiled Yule celebration. Which is great, if you have no qualms about Paganism, but I had to, as a Christian, decide how to embrace that and keep my magical holiday, or decide to stop celebrating Christmas at all. Add to that, that about the time I was 8, my family started attending a Messianic synagogue. Messianic Jews are Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. I’m not Jewish, so the Messianic movement means something slightly different to me- I mean, we still believe Jesus is the Messiah, but when a Gentile believes that, they usually call themselves Christian. The Messianic part comes in when the Gentile believes that the Old Testament laws- the Torah still apply to them, and so they keep the Jewish Holy days, and some other traditions- or not- I’ve met some who believe that all tradition should be done away with, and only the Biblical commands adhered to. I fall somewhere in the middle, but that’s a post for a different day. Anyway, when you add a Jewish component to the winter Holy Days, then it becomes “To celebrate or not to celebrate Christmas at all?” And “To celebrate or not to celebrate Channukah?” And “Can we do both?” And “How do we do both without spending all our money on gifts, and making our children materialistic, and losing sight of the whole reason we’re celebrating anyway?”

 

 

Sigh. I guess I did have something to say today.

 

I can’t say I’ve found all the answers yet. So far, we do still celebrate Christmas, and will continue to. I decided last year that it wasn’t so much a religious holiday as a cultural one for me. But truly, it IS spiritual for me. But I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface on that one, and I can’t write about it yet.  We don’t celebrate Channukah. Yet. But we make latkes and kugel at our Christmas dinner.

 

A new tradition I decided to do for this year, is on Christmas Eve, read “A Visit From St. Nick”. And on Christmas morning, read the story of the nativity from Luke.  We’ll see how that goes.

 

Even though there are lots of complicated things about Christmas, there are very simple reasons we celebrate. I love the day. I love the lights, the warmth, the magic. I love the anticipation. To me, that’s the best part. I’m looking forward to reliving the magic through Fairy Girl. She’s nearly two, just old enough to start figuring out what it’s all about.  I read “Unplug the Christmas Machine” last year(our third Christmas as a family, our first one with Fairy Girl), and really was able to take stock  of what I want the day to be for our family. With that in mind, I pared down our traditions to the ones that mean the most to us.

 

LOTS of baking. I make recipes written in my grandmothers’ and mother’s hand. And I added some of my own favorites. I make the same ones every year, and it is the ONLY time of year I make them. They taste like Christmas to me!

 

My baking list:

Cherry Winks

Secret Kiss Cookies

Cut out cookies (the kind you roll out, decorate, and consume entirely too much sugar on)

Filled Cookies

Rum Balls

Potato Candy (naturally gluten free)

Cheddar-Sesame Crackers

and Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies (this year, gluten free!)

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 I also have a tradition of decorating outside for the birds (and the squirrels. Like Dawn, I love the squirrels as much as I love the birds.) This year, we did popcorn and cranberry garlands, and pinecone bird feeders. No pictures of that; it wasn’t very picture worthy, and it was dark when we did it anyway. The squirrels had decimated everything by morning. I’m glad they appreciated it.

 

This year, we also did some homemade ornaments.

 

We did cinnamon dough boys

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And sparkly pine cones

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Still no ribbon candy ornaments. I decided to do those during one of Fairy Girl’s naps, but today I’m blogging instead. So, another day (soon, though!).

 

When the Fairy Girl wakes from her nap, we’ll do a handprint ornament too. I wanted to do one every year, but I didn’t get to it last year. I can’t express how sad that still makes me. I will never again be able to capture my daughter’s handprint at one year old and hang it on the tree. So, in a brave attempt to Get Over It, I’m starting a tradition of “Baby’s Second Christmas” handprint ornaments. I’ll take a pic, because who can resist a tiny handprint?

 

And now, I’ll leave you with some wintery pictures.

 

The snow coming down. That isn’t our front door, it’s our neighbor’s. But I liked their lights and garland.

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 Our garden gate:

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 Like I said, who can resist a tiny handprint? But you can’t see how tiny it really is. I wish I’d been able to capture that.

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Leaves in snow. Just something I thought was pretty.

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AWESOME new birth blog!

I followed a link from Navelgazing Midwife’s blog to this new birth blog called “Close to the Root”. It’s amazing- she’s verbalizing a lot of things I feel about birth, and defending midwifery, which I feel needs a bit of defending with the unassisted birth movement. Please don’t misunderstand, I 100% support unassisted birth, but I feel that midwifery has a vital place in birth culture, and we still need it. For more, visit Kneeling Woman’s blog, because she says it a lot better than I can. (I need to think on what I want to say more, but right now, I just want you to visit the blog!)

I particularly like her description of why she chose the term “Kneeling Woman”:

In her words:

“The Kneeling Woman, for those who might be curious, is the original Scots terms for “midwife.”  The Gaelic is “Bein Ghluine” and pronounced “Bean Glyan” or something very close.  Because I am almost entirely of Scots descent, I decided to look up the term at a moment when I was scanning around for a better metaphor for what I do and am and there it was……Kneeling Woman.  The Midwife kneels in front of the birthing woman and family;  she kneels in silent prayer to the God of her understanding, and together, they birth a baby.  As I continued my search, I discovered that the women who attended the midwife as  assistant and student, were the “Watching Women” and what a beautiful illustration of that circle of relationship.”

I got a great visual in my head, of a woman crowning, squatting, giving birth, supported by her partner behind her, with a woman kneeling in a servant pose in front, ready to catch the baby, with three women standing in the background, watching. Just watching. I view that as my role as a doula- to watch, be a witness to this event. Of course, it’s a lot more than that, it’s a lot of hard physical work to support a woman in labor, but in the end, witnessing the event- that’s so important. At least it is for me, as a childbearing woman. I fully support unassisted birth, but I feel a need to have a circle of women around me in labor, to support me, tell me their stories- women who have gone before- to reassure me, love me, carry me through. To watch. To SEE me. See what I’m doing, see the baby. What an honored position to have, to be a Watching Woman.

Anyway, I love the term Kneeling Woman, so even though her blog name is technically “Close to the Root”, she’s Kneeling Woman to me. 🙂

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