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, June 29, 2008

Funny Way to Find Myself

So I'm testing a link to one of my posts here and, taking my usual circuitous route, I searched on "" I discovered that I am linked to, via the word "shalt," on some word search thing (along with other references to Christian literature) thanks to my "Thou shalt not think on Mondays!" post. A few hours later, I can't find this bizarre reference again to properly credit the site, no matter how I phrase my search. Isn't that strange? It's as if this beast existed only this afternoon... the fact that it ever did exist, and found me to connect with that particular word, is even more bizarre. I don't get it.

The curse of attempting to blog on a near-daily basis is that you're gonna produce some serious drivel. (Yes, I know. This post is well qualified for that label.) I remember hearing that whatsisname who wrote R is for Rocket (at least I think it was him, and what the hell was his name??) said you have to write a thousand words a day, every day, because (and I seriously paraphrase) that's what it takes to get the bullshit out and get to the good stuff. You'll throw away 90% of all that work, most likely. Ohh, so painful! But, true, and my attachment to my silly little words doesn't really get me anywhere, nor does it save the world, so there you go. Drivel for yer Sunday evening entertainment. And, I think I'll shift my expectations to less than daily so as not to run everyone off before I even get going.

OK, Ray Bradbury wrote R is for Rocket, but that didn't sound like the right name, so I searched encore and Jack London is credited with saying he wrote a thousand words every day... however, that stands alone, so I can't be sure if that's where the idea came from about getting the drivel out. Hm. Now I'm on a mission to find this out...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Birthday Girl!

Birthday party pictures! Above, my aunt Camille holds Iris, with my mom and brother in the background. Below, we were entertained by trying to capture a photo of Iris with the "birthday princess" hat on, which she loved to take off as soon as it touched her head :)

Below, Iris approves of her all-organic strawberry cream cheese icing (strawberries from the family farm). "Mmmmm!" she says.

Those eyes!

Camille pointed this out: look at her feet. She was curling them up in sheer enjoyment!

And just so you all know how manic I truly am: I cleaned the porch (which was a truly disgusting job, involving much chicken poo and steel wool), Brad killed and dressed the chicken (in the oven as I type), Brad finished painting the kitchen cabinets, and I straightened the house before the party. I enjoyed myself and now I'm rilly enjoying the house. I just sit and stare and absorb the finally finished state of the cabinets... ahhhh.

This time last year my contractions had gotten serious and I was laboring in the newly installed tub, waiting for the midwife to arrive. What a beautiful birth, and what a beautiful baby girl. I am filled with gratitude.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mom Held Hostage by Birthday Plans

I do this to myself. This is my choice. I do this to myself. This is my choice. I do this to myself. This is my choice...

Saturday Iris will be one whole year old! (Do you hear the same whooshing sound I do??) Tomorrow is her party, and I have been cracking the whip on myself and Brad all week. I started last Sunday and it still won't be enough time to finish all I want to finish, but it has been a good week so far nonetheless. I love to use hosting as an excuse to fix things up. When I'm really on my game I do a great job and then get to enjoy it after the guests go home (and, I do enjoy throwing a good party, too). So far this week we have:

cleaned out the junk room completely
cleaned the office
caught up on six months' worth of filing
cleaned the bathroom
washed, dried, and put away four loads of laundry
cleaned the bedroom
painted the remainder of the upper cabinets in the kitchen
started painting the lower cabinets
bought a new mower
mowed the grass
cleaned up the entire yard (trash, empty buckets, compost, gardening implements...)
kept up with ordinary house and garden maintenance
cleaned up after the puppy (grr)
took recycling and donations, went to the bank and grocery store

and Galen even had a playdate! Now we just have to kill one chicken, clean off the front porch, finish painting the lower cabinets in the kitchen, make the cupcakes and the icing, clean the kitchen, mop, and straighten, and we'll be ready enough for tomorrow. HA!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


OK, so they're not really ready, but they needed thinning anyways, and Galen was so excited to discover that there were really carrots under there :) The planter he's standing on is filled with "rainbow" carrots and the one on the right contains "purple haze," both from Johnny's. We've learned from our periodic thinnings that the purple color on the purple haze carrots develops last (they have an orange core, really beautiful), while the rainbow carrots are solidly orange, yellow, or white. Cool!

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Menagerie Increases

The momma cat nursing some of her babies...
Two of the kittens, Ash (on the left) and Stripey...
And Pedro!

Evidently Tuesday of this week was national bring-home-a-new-pet day at our house. I, being the reasonable mother, simply brought home a new tank-cleaning fish for the aquarium, as the sides were getting rather funky. This, you see, reduces my workload. But Brad, dear Brad, brought home a puppy. We are now up to seven cats (!!!), two dogs, four fish, and three (soon to be two) chickens. Indeed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Think on Mondays

Clover in the oregano, above. I set a goal for myself to blog every day, which I've been at least 80% successful with since setting it, not too bad. I also set a goal of writing one "green" blog each week, which hasn't happened yet, so I'm sitting down to do that now, but all I can think about is a scrap I had with a family member yesterday. As Byron Katie would point out, who is being more cruel to me, the person who hurt my feelings yesterday, or me, replaying the insults over and over in my head? Urgh.

Writer's block is a funny thing. I talk about greener living on a near-constant basis, but then I sit down to write a short blog and my monkey mind dashes hither, thither and yon, resisting the formation of so much as one sentence. I could write about laundry-- since getting off the electric dryer I've had revelations galore-- but it doesn't seem to want to happen. I could write about my ideas of revamping society to no longer be centered around commuting and the automobile, but the thoughts just won't gel. I give up!

All hail Mercury retrograde Mondays! Thou shalt not think today!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

To Build A Dragon

So far today (by 2 pm) Galen has had three chocolate-covered ice cream cones and Chef Boyardee dinosaur-shaped Spaghettios. That is all. Guess I won't be winning any best nutrition awards today.

There is a theory widely promoted among the "crunchy" crowd that watching television inhibits creativity in children, and that given the opportunity, kids will consume the "TV drug" all day without ceasing. I have seen friends of my son behave in this way. At our house, the only restrictions on television stem from the natural limit of having to share it with everyone else in the house (we only have one). To honor my own environmental ethics, I do encourage turning it off when no one is actually watching it to conserve energy (and I always explain this as I do it, and ask first, showing my son the same respect I would show anyone else). The friends who turn into screen zombies have been only those with limits on their TV consumption at home. To take this "zombie effect" as evidence to support the need for limits without considering that it might be the limits causing the zombie effect is to commit an experimental error. There be bias in that there data!

The TV has been on all day here. We have watched or listened to "Back at the Barnyard" (which I hate-- what idiot put an udder on a bull?), "SpongeBob," "Max and Ruby," "Fairly OddParents," and "Pink Panther" (one of my favorites, gotta love the Boomerang channel!). During all this, Galen has mopped the kitchen floor (yes, really, and yes, by his own insistence-- "I want it to SPARKLE!" he said, and yes, it's extremely clean), gone to the mailbox with me (about ten minutes round trip, down and back up a very steep hill), and rediscovered his abacus, on which he designed a dragon, figuring how to arrange the beads to make feet, legs, wings, body, neck, head. My little engineer. Now, he's playing with Hot Wheels and an old motorcycle that turns into a helicopter (it was my brother's when we were little). He is directly in front of the TV, and is not looking at it at all. He has told me all about a movie he imagined about a dragon egg being found by a Viking, who helps it to hatch, then it grows into a grown-up dragon... there are two leaders, a good guy and a bad guy, both Vikings, both with dragons. The good Viking had an ax, which he lost, but the dragon and Viking together find a dead Viking (eek!) and get the dead Viking's ax, and go on with their adventures, finding chess pieces and crystals, and at the end there is a big battle and the good guys win, "'cause the good guys always win," he tells me in that tone that says "Duh, Mom!"

Now if you'll excuse me, Popeye is on...

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Three Hour Tour...

So I'm obsessed with my To-Do list. Big deal.

The listmaker I'm using has a length feature where the amount of time a task will take can be estimated. So naturally I spent who knows how many minutes today entering lengths on my tasks. I noticed an "estimated time total" at the bottom of the page-- 51.5 hours so far. This gave me the idea to add up my times for daily tasks. If I manage to limit daily blogging and email to 15 minutes each (riiiiiight), I have three hours of dailies on my list. Nowhere in that total do I account for diaper changes, nursing, meals, baths, or brushing of teeth. Nowhere do I estimate minutes for soothing boo-boos, cleaning unscheduled spills (how dare a spill occur outside the schedule!), or wasting away in front of the internet. (Damn.) And none of that three hours creates space for any of the weekly, monthly, or one-time-only tasks. That's just the mundane chores I listed that have to happen every single day. Yeeps.

No wonder I never finish anything!

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Monday, June 09, 2008

The Infinite To-Do List

I have made the perhaps grave error of discovering online to-do lists. It dawned on me a couple of weeks ago (yeah, ok, I'm slow as molasses about some things) that such a beastie must exist, so off I went into Googleland ISO said thing. Lo, there are many, and what a treat for my OCD self! I could spend hours entering data and not making one iota of progress toward completing any of the actual entries. Heh. Now I get an email daily, flaunting my unfinished tasks in my face. It's really much tidier than all my scraps of paper and I never lose my laptop, so I'm getting reminded of what I'm trying to accomplish at least...

The single biggest discovery I've made, though, is that it is in fact a physical impossibility to do all the things on my list for any given day. I suppose this is good to know. I don't even have any of the myriad tasks that comprise constant child care, meals, or personal hygiene listed. So I find myself waxing philosophical (as I am wont to do), this time about this annoying aspect of human behavior that causes us to expect impossible things of ourselves. Have we been so brainwashed by societal mandates that we now believe we must be able to daily achieve the Herculean? Did people torment themselves this way a hundred years ago, or fifty? Where did I acquire this sense of urgency that is now my constant companion? Must. Do. All. Things. Must. Be. All. Things. To. All. People. Ack!

I thought I had stepped quietly out of the rat race, moving into a rhythmic, expansive space, filled with the spiritual and mundane routines of maintaining a basic existence. Instead, I seem to have brought the race with me, if my lists are any indication. How can I shift this? How can I take my foot off the gas when I'm racing in an invisible car?

I welcome ideas and discussion on this topic. Stay tuned for more musings...

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Morning Thoughts

Sitting on the swing outside this morning, I thought of those well-intentioned comments people make about my parenting when they see me with what's considered a "well-behaved baby." People see me with Iris, who is just off-the-charts darling, and they say "You're such a great mom!" The thing is, my babies always make me look good. Both have been sweet, adorable, and cuddly. I wear them most of the time when we're out, so they are generally content. Even when they get mad, well, it's a baby, ya know? Babies are just too damn cute no matter what they do.

What the heck is a "good baby," anyway? How does one go about being bad at being a baby?

Now don't get me wrong-- attachment parenting is important, and crucially so. But there is huge risk inherent in taking too much credit-- or responsibility-- for the behaviors of our kids at any age. So much of who our kids are is completely outside our control. As they grow older and more and more into themselves as individuals, they will make choices that will differ from the ones we would make for them. (Don't think so? Think attachment parenting will protect you from this heartache? Guess again!) They will behave differently than we expected. We may be tempted to take credit for their accomplishments and responsibility for their mistakes, neither of which are ours to claim. And that, fellow parents, is deadly dangerous. Taking credit for what our kids achieve steals power that rightfully belongs to them, weakening them over time and reducing their ability to continue to achieve for intrinsic reward. And taking responsibility for their mistakes disempowers them even further, not only teaching them they can't solve their own problems, but worse, implying that someone else is always to blame when things go wrong and they can't craft their lives for themselves. Now there's a prescription for time on the therapist's couch...
And with that, I think it's time for a second pot of coffee :) Happy Sunday!

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Lady Makes Her Maiden Voyage!

Ta-dah! This is actually almost a month old, but what can I say, that's life with (small) kids. This day was flawless for laundry-- breezy, dry, and warm. Diapers went up first and were 80-90% dry by the time the washer finished with the second load. (I can fit up to three loads on the lines.) Now that we're back to typical Southern humidity those absorbent darlings are taking much longer, and the load left out and caught in a surprise night rain was hopeless, but I still marvel at my stubbornness in embracing this change before. As each load dries by the effortlessness of evaporation, as I bring in each load, I think, "WOW, I can't believe I was paying money to do this all this time! That was so stupid!" The clothes are crunchy, as expected, but instead of that bothering me it has turned out to be a source of pride. Crunchy clothes are not a sign of self-deprivation in the name of the environment, as I had feared, but rather an indicator of money not wasted, literally, on hot air. At risk of being uber-cheesy, I must say that's pretty cool :)

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