At Home on Hill Haven

Musings, ramblings, and pontifications on motherhood, unschooling, farming, sustainability, spirit, and life in general...

Location: northwest Georgia, United States

I'm a living-working-breathing mom, writing, mothering, teaching, and soul-searching from our home in northwest Georgia. We are whole-life unschoolers, which basically means our kids actually have a say in what happens to them (it actually means infinitely more than that, but's it's a starting point for discussion). We are also hardcore environmentalists, anti-industrialists, trying to escape from our dependence on petroleum, manufactured products and other non-sustainable practices. We homebirth, homeschool, and homestead, and try to make sense of it all, in a constant whirlwind of chaos.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Must. Remain. Sane.

Just in case anyone was wondering, it takes a ten-month-old under five minutes to completely empty 50+ CD's from a shelving unit. But they're so shiny!

The thing about babies is that they are so darned cute when they are in the midst of total destruction. Five-year-olds, not so much. Today we instigated a pay-per-offense regime in an effort to curb the few supremely irritating habits Galen has that are constantly occurring. How very NOT unschooly of us, you might say. And verily would I reply, you're darn tootin' it ain't, and it's working so far, and thank God because otherwise I was soon to have to call DFACS on myself. (Not really, but I have been well beyond perturbed for way too long.) It may be argued with great validity that I need to work on my issues behind having such a short fuse; it may be argued that medication for me would be better than violating the unschooling principles for him, breasfeeding baby notwithstanding. But, I have decided and therefore decreed, that unschooling in this house does not mean that I am a doormat to my child, however his age limits his ability to reason and remember, and so there must be a way to facilitate his process of learning how to get along with others without driving them insane. In fairness, everyone in the house has to pay everyone else, so both I and Brad have lost our share of quarters today too. It seems so far to be calling the appropriate level of focus to the issues (such as "Stop hitting me when I say stop") without adding too much drama. We'll see.

In other news, the new clothes dryer arrived yesterday. Woot! Now I have to go pick up some sack-crete so Brad can install it. (No, I'm not going to do it myself.) Of course, it's rainy. How utterly predictable.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day Resolutions

The urge to resolve hits me at different times... for many years running it struck on my birthday (which is, after all, my new year). Ever the rebel, I seized the opportunity to flaut tradition, ignoring January first almost completely and making my lists and checking them twice every July 19th. This year, with climate change heavy on the minds and hearts of many, myself included, it seemed appropriate to make some Earth Day Resolutions. Since I have made it my business (literally, it's called Georgia Green Living) to provide individual and group consulting and workshops on sustainable living topics, I have been incubating ideas for "upping the green ante" in my own life. When we make changes, I teach my clients that we have to incorporate sustainability there as well-- many changes vast and sweeping may sound, and even be, fantastic, but if we push too far we'll crash and burn, likely dropping all of our great efforts in a reaction to overextension. Thus, I limited myself to three feasible-right-now-for-me changes. I can't remember much more than three things consistently; less than that and I'd always think I had forgotten one. And note that phrase: feasible right now for me. This is crucial to successful change, and a little self-knowledge is crucial to accurately evaluating what you can and cannot do right now. I include this as a disclaimer so that if you feel inspired by this, which I hope you do, you'll do what you need to in order to be successful with your resolutions. Without further ado, here are mine (drum roll, please):

I resolve to hang my clothes to dry.
Using the dryer has been a guilty pleasure (if laundry can be considered a pleasure in the first place) for some time; I feel I've reached the tipping point with the guilt now. So for Earth Day I ordered one of those old-fashioned umbrella-style laundry dryers to put in the yard. The one I ordered from Stacks and Stacks was competitively priced and one reviewer claimed it held two loads of laundry. I even squeezed in on a 15% off deal. Although I expect some adjustments in making the transition (I know line-dried clothes tend to feel "crunchy") I am excited about it. I'll report back on the impact on our power bill-- since we use cloth diapers I expect it will be fairly substantial.

I resolve to drive more gently and slowly, and to coast as much as possible.
I used to do better on the coasting, seeing how high I could push my mileage (I already get at least 42 mpg out of my VW Jetta wagon TDI-- that's their diesel engine-- and I've gotten as much as 49 mpg). But lately I've gotten out of the habit, and I've been driving more, running later, and (blush) speeding like a madwoman. I already keep my tires properly inflated and my car tuned up, and since I drive a manual transmission I don't accelerate too rapidly, all of which add up to fuel savings. But my cruising speeds, and consequently my braking for the unexpected, have been costing me (and therefore the planet). Nothing but a change of habit is called for here, something I can stay motivated to do pretty easily what with diesel being over $4 a gallon already and, it seems, only going up. Sheesh. Can you say "revenge of the dinosaurs"?!

I resolve to build community locally.
This one is kind-of a part deux to the previous. Driving all over creation is just not in the budget anymore, and with the environmental impact of driving being what it is, it really never should have been. Ugh, more guilt! On the return trip from my current teaching gig (once a week I attempt to guide a small handful of homeschooled teenagers through something that resembles high school biology), a full ninety minutes (almost 70 miles) one way, I decided there must be people closer to home that I can connect with. Add to this my need to find some relief from the isolation that small children naturally create, and voila, I am determined to create some real community in my own community. I'm not yet clear what this will look like, but I trust the vision to come in its own time. I'll keep ya posted on that too.

There you have it, my thoughts from Earth Day. If you like this idea, I'd love to hear your resolutions too! The more we share our ideas, the more momentum gained for positive change, so keep the conversations going! And happy belated Earth Day to you!

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