Fabric Christmas tree

Why can’t “Christmas in July” be about more than sidewalk sales?? So I’m going to get a little Christmas-y here, and post up something I have had waiting in the drafts for a few months. Hopefully it will encourage me to get back to this project!

I love having a real Christmas tree in the house because of the smell. I also value other things about it, like plant medicine. However, we haven’t been able to afford one every year, and it is rather a luxury item.

For several years, I have wanted a reusable Christmas tree. It, however, has to meet several criteria and until recently I had never seen a reusable Christmas tree that met all my requirements:

  • Natural
  • Affordable to make
  • Able to hang ornaments and lights
  • Minimal space usage when not in use
  • Ability to be “3D”

Then I spotted this tutorial one day the winter of 2020, not looking for a reusable Christmas tree at all. It’s for a woven paper tree.

This is from The Kitchen Table Classroom! Look at the tutorial here.

This began a really exciting experiment that still isn’t quite finished!

My plans entail taking green cotton fabric and making 3 of those. I have used the “rag quilt” technique on my first mock up. It will hopefully give a slightly fuller look, like a pine tree. On the edges of each tree (upper, sides, and lower), I am sewing in thin pockets, for connected wire coat hangers to go in, hopefully adding some stability for each part to stand on its own, since I will be making this one part at a time and may not have it all 3 parts by the Christmas of 2021. The bottom of each tree will have a zipper, so that the sides and bottom parts of coat hanger can go in and out, able to roll everything up together for storage.

I had a lot of fun crafting this, then adding to my current Bullet Journal.

Throughout the tree, I want to embed eyelets, so that ornaments and lights can be hung/attached to the tree. The eyelets can also keep woven strips better in place, too.

Seeing if three trees connected at the side, together, could form a nice looking tree. Paper mock up.

And, best yet, because of the fabric nature of this, it should be machine washable. Want to keep the littlest of kids out of Christmas presents and don’t have tons of hiding spaces? The potential to make one, with this, is pretty neat!

The paper mock up gave me quite a lot of promise!

Here’s just a little progress from the project, so far:

A big, old sheet I’d used for another crafting project. Tree form was cut out and created slits throughout. Was just checking to make sure folded strips would be long enough all the way down.

I’ll try to keep the page updated with bigger bits of progress!

Tuttle Twins Board Books on sale!

Have you been interested in some of the Tuttle Twins books, but haven’t taken the leap yet?

If you have toddlers and want to encourage ideals of liberty and economic freedom, the toddler baby board books are right now 40% off! I was able to order all three (individually, not the pack), just now, so want to share this.

Use the code FORTY and please use my affiliate link and share this blog post!

My Affiliate Link!

Tech Alternatives

Realizing long ago that the Big Tech companies loom large and manipulatively in many (most) people’s lives, I began slowly moving myself over to sites that seem to value privacy more (feel free to comment if you know of better sites!).

I thought I would share with you some of the services that I moved over to. The only platform I haven’t found a decent alternative to for not only privacy but freedom of expression, is my blogging platform (I have found a possibility, but unsure of it yet).

One thing to keep in mind is that most of these offer starting for free and limited free storage, and if you want more, you pay for it. In other words, when you own it, you have more control. 😉

What are some of the sites that you use currently? I’d love to read your responses!!

A Mother’s Feast, Year A

Bedside Mother’s Feast, ready for long nursing sessions or quiet morning/evening times.

I’ve written about Mother’s Feast before, but it’s been awhile! And that’s because of back to back pregnancies, birth, and miscarriages. I’ve been a tired, brain-slogging momma!

Here are a few lovely articles about a Mother’s Feast (also known as “mother culture”):
Homeschool 101: Charlotte Mason Motherhood
Mother Culture (If I could personally give this an alternative title, it would be, “On Being a Person.”)
On Mother Culture
Moments With Mother Culture

When I first started this particular plan of resources, I was about 2 weeks away from getting pregnant with my newest little one. I did well until my first week of pregnancy, when I started sleeping later in the morning, very heavily, and taking naps. Ha. In the second and third trimesters, I found my mind completely unable to focus on longer passages of reading (in book or online), unable to process even simple trains of thought I was reading, and generally felt extremely crummy mentally.

So, it took me all of my pregnancy to get through 6 weeks of the first term on this list. I’m finishing up the last of term 1 of a Mother’s Feast, Year A, starting next week and ending right around the New Year. Term 2 will begin after the New Year, just as we begin the children’s schooling again as well. With a newborn! We will see how this goes. A positive already is that after birth, I was immediately able to think more clearly and read books again. Hooray!

I have created two documents for my own use that I would like to share with anyone interested in following along or taking part, in what I am calling Year A of Mother’s Feast. Any other mother’s feast rhythms I make from this point onward, I will be listing in alphabetical order.

~ Seasonal Weekly Rhythm
~ Mother’s Feast, Year A – weekly term layout

Below, I am going to list the resources I am utilizing this year. In years past, I have searched out a few books and purchased specific to the season of life I was in. This year, I’m utilizing books I already own… So I can read the books I’ve already have. One book I have already read before, Stepping Heavenward, but I need it again and haven’t read in some time.

If you want to use my referral link for ThriftBooks, you can save 15% off your first order, I make 50 points on your first order, and you get free shipping on every order of $10-12! And their used books are usually extremely AFFORDABLE!

Term 1

  • Sunday ~ Home ~ Life Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson
  • Monday ~ Education ~ Home Education by Charlotte Mason
  • Tuesday ~ Health ~ Perfect Sight Without Glasses by W.H. Bates
  • Wednesday ~ Governance ~ Come Out, My People! by Wes Howard-Brook
  • Thursday ~ Literature ~ Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
  • Friday ~ Sexuality ~ Father-Daughter Incest by Judith Lewis-Herman
  • Saturday ~ Faith ~ Seated with Christ by Heather Holleman

Term 2

  • Sunday ~ Home ~ Under the Apple Tree by Helen Wessel
  • Monday ~ Education ~ Home Education by Charlotte Mason
  • Tuesday ~ Health ~ Body into Balance by Maria Noel Groves
  • Wednesday ~ Governance ~ Come Out, My People! By Wes Howard-Brook
  • Thursday ~ Literature ~ Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
  • Friday ~ Sexuality ~ Wild Feminine by Tami Lynn Kent
  • Saturday ~ Faith ~ 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice by Mark Virkler

Term 3

  • Sunday ~ Home ~ Under the Apple Tree by Helen Wessel
  • Monday ~ Education ~ Home Education by Charlotte Mason
  • Tuesday ~ Health ~ The Joy Of Uncircumcising by Jim Bigelow
  • Wednesday ~ Governance ~ Come Out, My People! by Wes Howard-Brook
  • Thursday ~ Literature ~ Dawn Again by Doniga Markegard
  • Friday ~ Sexuality ~ Wild Feminine by Tami Lynn Kent
  • Saturday ~ Faith ~ The Veil by Blake K. Healy

Vocational Studies ~ 1 hour a day

  • Sunday ~ various CFT (craniosacral fascial therapy) sources that I am still putting together
  • Monday ~ Roll Model Method by Jill Miller
  • Tuesday ~ aromatherapy training (various sources)
  • Wednesday ~ 52 Weeks Biomechanics (not available to the public, but through Nutritious Movement Institute)
  • Thursday ~ Trail Guide to the Body by Andrew R. Biel
  • Friday ~ Anatomy Coloring Book by Wynn Kapit

Videos

Framed learning rhythm and my 2021+ Bullet Journal (it includes the weekly term layout).

Postpartum Freezer Meals

Before I begin, anything that says (Second Breakfast) can be found by clicking the link “Second Breakfast” at the top of my blog, and going through the list of recipes we tried, love, and use pretty frequently.

Ahem.

During my last post-partum time, I had set aside 40 meals while I was pregnant, so that I did not need to cook dinners during the entire recovery and resting phase with baby. Just that alone was a balm to our time together as a family! Daryl and Melody still cooked breakfasts and lunches, but the dinners were a huge blessing for all of us. I LOVE having my family relax with me and the new baby. Prepping these now is really a selfishness on my part. {laugh}

I’d gifted our deep freezer to someone about a year ago, not thinking about needing it during a future postpartum. It wasn’t until about a month ago, in the midst of Corona deep freezer panic-hoarding by the masses, that someone gifted us a working deep freezer. I thought we were going to have to spend a couple hundred dollars! What a cool (ha) blessing! It was a fun project for Daryl to hone his handyman skills, too.

I was a little worried being so close to having the baby that we wouldn’t have enough meals put up, not only with time but with finances, but resolved to set aside as many as possible. I’d set aside 8 meals before getting the deep freezer, but couldn’t do more for lack of freezer space. Using meats gifted to us from a local ministry house and vegetables and fruits from Harvesters’ drops, I was able to set aside 25 meals for seven people in 2 weekends! Several people in the community made meals as well, and by a month after the freezer was plugged in, I have 44 freezer dinners set aside! I might do a second post to link most of the dinner recipes, if I don’t have them in Second Breakfast already.

Then began a focus on some breakfasts and possibly lunches, because we were gifted an abundance of fruits. Melody has made a BUNCH of Paleo banana bread for breakfasts (her recipe to follow in a different post), as well. Last Harvesters pick up, we were given a crate of bananas. I have cut up enough organic apples (given to us from Harvesters) to make 6 breakfasts for Apple Nut Breakfast Bowls.

Ingredient list for Kitchen Sink Breakfast

Aside from bacon, we have everything we need to set up Kitchen Sink Breakfast (grease crock, put all ingredients except scrambled eggs into bottom, then add the scrambled eggs and cook on low for 4 hours or so – thank you, Paleo Slow Cooking by Chrissy Gower! Buy that cookbook!) for 6 weeks of once-a-week breakfast. Two weeks ago, Harvester gave us a BUNCH of onions and crimini mushrooms – I immediately chopped them with my chopper device and froze them for future use. The same week, we were given 2 huge flats of over 2 dozen eggs each, which I’ll use towards this. I happened to have our own purchased excess of organic bell peppers I chopped and froze, that same day the mushrooms and onions came in. I am still trying to find 1 more freezer-meal friendly recipe to make 6 of, the other breakfasts can be scrambled eggs. I am thinking this delicious-sounding Paleo Pineapple Upside Down Cake, since Harvesters just gifted us with a BUNCH of fresh pineapple (and set leftovers in the freezer for breakfast smoothies) and we were also gifted cherries today, time to make another round of healthier maraschino cherries, perfectly timed for pineapple upside down cakes, really.

Today at Harvesters, we were given 7 three-pound bags of organic potatoes. (Also… A lot of garlic and bananas!) I will turn 6 bags of them into fermented french fries (Second Breakfast) and 1 bag into fermented tater tots (follow step for soaking from the French fries, then follow the recipe at Second Breakfast for tater tots!) to go with fish sticks and cultured tartar sauce (yep, head over to Second Breakfast and look under Condiments)… The fish is waiting to be cooked tomorrow.

I already have two weekly lunches planned for 6 weeks. Milk chicken (we use coconut milk) with raw veggies and Italian dressing, and smoked pork with barbecue sauce for pulled pork sandwiches with the French fries. I want to set up 2-3 more lunch meals for the 6 weeks, as well. Not entirely sure what those could be, yet. Likely at least one soup, because I can make a massive batch at once quite easily and divide up.

Then Melody and I will make and freeze a lot of Paleo pitas (Second Breakfast, scroll down to Breads), bread, buns (Second Breakfast), and tortillas, to have random “sandwich” lunches the rest of the time. We have quite a loaf of roast beef (around 5 lb of a deli loaf) that the ministry house gave us, plus a giant tub or two of almond or peanut butter with some fermented jams should do. And Daryl will likely love to have a lunch or two of burgers with chips.

Like my normal meal plans (see intro to Second Breakfast) the breakfasts and lunches will stay consistent for about 6 weeks, Monday-Sundays, during my postpartum time, then right around winter will shift for the season anyway. 🙂

Perhaps I am a little over-eager, but I would like to make some bulk postpartum snacks, too, like beef jerky, fermented fruit leather, and a BUNCH of trail mix with soaked and dehydrated nuts (we just mix nuts, usually almonds, organic raisins, and carob chips for Stryder or allergen-friendly chocolate chips for the rest of us). Maybe soaked lactation cookies (I used to eat these with cream cheese between two of them, before I went Paleo! Sooo good). I might have Melody and the smaller children make snacks.

A Bit More Substance to Our Days

Facebook truly, is a time suck. I have used MeWe solely for over a year at a time (without using Facebook) and each time have a release of creativity, hopefulness, productivity, and a wealth of reading and researching that happens. I can use MeWe as “much” as Facebook, but it doesn’t have the same addictive algorithms, and so I don’t.
I decided to take a pregnancy break from Facebook for a few weeks.

Today, we wrapped up our first full week back to home learning rhythm, with Melody in year 9-11 in two years program through Ambleside Online and Leela in Year A of AO for Groups. I am hoping that we will finish up a full term for Melody, before the baby gets her. Leela will complete a term for sure and then, she and Melody will get a few weeks break. Melody does most everything on her own anyway, but there are some subjects I love being in on!
With a large gap in age between Melody and Leela (10 years) and then all the rest of our children very close together in age, I was delighted a few years ago to see Ambleside Online come out with a groups curriculum. As I looked at the forms, I did wonder what I would do for 10-12 grade that could basically be as streamlined for my planning abilities. I don’t have to “buffet” anything in the AO4Groups program, just alternate any resources I really want to substitute. With me being pregnant pretty much every other year, my brain needs that rest in choices! Ha.
And then, realizing quite rapidly that Melody will be aging “out” of home learning if she wants to, I started digging around AO more to see what I could do specifically for her. And there it was, the Upper Years in 5 years. Years 9-11 in two years works perfectly, followed by Year 12… it is like the completion of AO4Groups, without being that at all.

Atop completing the first week back to our learning rhythm, I also got 4 loads of laundry washed, 3 hung to dry (diapers and bathroom wipes are in the dryer because they take a bit longer than we have today, to dry on the line), removed the rest of the wool from an old mattress we were gifted 2 years and 1 mold remediation ago and washed a load of the wool and salvaged a little bit of the ticking to make into pillows after the material is mold-washed. The ticking I have ready to go for the wool mattress is already 1/3 full, enough to make a butt cushion for all the children or two adults and a small child between them. It is SO close to being finished!

We also stopped lessons for a goat milk delivery (I may try my hand at writing about the glutamate issue and goat milk having less glutamate than cow milk, some other time. I hope!) and an in-home cranio-sacral fascial therapy session in the middle of the day.
We cleaned up the living room. I aired out several down mattresses and Daryl’s and my down comforter.

Only about half of that would get done, when Facebook is in the picture.

How It’s Done, Is Important

“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.”
-Frederic Bastiat

What a way to start a blog post, eh? I haven’t talked about Christian anarchism in awhile and this quote has prompted some thought in me to want to again.

I think it is difficult to present my views to others without a clouded view of “government.” Because we live in a world run-by and destroyed-by government, it’s hard to understand how to go about life… without that all-consuming force.

So, when I say to others that I am a Christian anarchist pacifist, that I believe that the healthiest way for community to function and thrive is through “capitalism” (a free, willing exchange of goods) and also communal living (willing offerings between individuals/families/community in which no “tab” is kept and no qualifications are needed aside from being kind to one another). And yet, I am against what we see today as capitalism (it’s actually corporatism, government interference with corporations and corporations buying off politicians for favor – so it’s not capitalism at all). I am also against socialism and communism, which as most propose it today, would require government oversight and intrusion – the use of force, theft, and violence, to enact. So am for all and against all.

Many, without understanding that underlying spring of willingness within community from me, then, as Bastiat said, “As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.” Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are so many ways we can work together to support our community members, that never require politcians, military, or police to enact or enforce. Mutual aid societies collectively help one another out, with no government involvement whatsoever. Charities, as well. And, here are some other splendid ideas that require no compulsion of your neighbor to help another neighbor out. They can help or not.

One last problem I see it that many who support government force ensuring that “social welfare” programs go on, is that the justification is usually that, “if it weren’t for those programs, no one would help.”
First of all, we know this isn’t true because mutual aid societies and charities were long-doing almost everything that we now lean into politicians to do for us and they did it better and more financially wise as well. Second of all, this requires that “might makes right.” That if we take through force the money struggling people need, that makes it okay. We all know that a lone, struggling, impoverished robber of your home would never be given that justification, so why a swath of politicians. Third of all, no one seems to be able to reckon with me when I say, “If you support taxation (theft) to pay for any service you deem necessary, do you attempt to get money back during your taxes, do you happily see when you “owe more,” or do you voluntarily give more to such a ‘noble’ cause?” I have never had anyone answer me, and I am never being snarky asking this.

Community living does not only not require government, it is vital that for the community to flourish, to be grateful to one another, and for a spirit of joy and fellowship to abound, we must not have a force compelling us to do it “or else.” Government cannot be our salvation – it is only ours and our neighbors enslavement.

When You Don’t Want to See…

Our emotional lives can impact us physically in incredible ways.

In chapter 8 of The Body Keeps the Score by Vessel Van der Kolk, he goes over a heart-breaking story of a woman, Marilyn, who comes in to him for emotional intimacy problems. She says many times, “I must have had a nice childhood,” even after drawing a terrifying picture of what she sees her childhood as. With dark-eyed men near her and her father’s penis poking in at her in a cage.

She did not want to see what she already knew had happened to her – she suppressed her abuse and blinded her little child-self from seeing it.

The story goes on and eventually, 3 months into group therapy, Marilyn expresses to the group that she has started having visual problems, bumping into things and missing balls during tennis. Bessel connects her with some doctors that eventually determine that she has an autoimmune disease that erodes her vision.

A year into Marilyn’s group therapy, another member, Mary, shares her own heart-breaking tale. When she was 13, she was gang-raped by her older brother and his friends, that resulted in her becoming pregnant. Mary’s mother performed an abortion in her on their kitchen table.

After hearing Mary’s story, Marilyn said, “hearing that story, I wonder if I may have been sexually abused myself.”

Still, after a year of therapy, her sight degenerating, and despite her drawing of her childhood, she had not processed until that moment that she even MIGHT have been molested.

She didn’t want to, and in large part couldn’t allow herself to see she was sexually assaulted as a child… and her body kept that score.

This story has loomed large in my mind over the last 6 months.

Knowing something was underlying my inability to fall asleep in my own bed led me to tell God, “if anything happened to me, you can show me. I know I wasn’t ready as a child, but I am now. You are with me. Show me.”

When I started having several repressed memories of childhood sexual assault surface, I functioned normally through my days. One day, though, I had a repressed *sensation* surface and after that physical feeling, I could no longer function normally. This is when I started EMDR therapy and I also said to God aloud, “Okay, I don’t need to see or know any more. In fact, please don’t.” I have not had anymore repressed memories or sensations come up since then.

Over the last 6 months, I have noticed my vision rapidly decline, though. And it took about 3 of those months for me to clue in on Marilyn’s story and the finality I’d spoken over not wanting see this stuff anymore.

I’ve begun working with three aspects to “play” with my vision. One, I say, “I want to see. I want to see with my eyes and I am ready to see everything that happened to me traumatically as a child” multiple times a week. Two, I do a loose version of CFT (it’s not, it’s just what I do intuitively and it’s similar to sessions I’ve had before) around my eyes and over my eyelids. Three, I am working through the book Perfect Sight Without Glasses by William Bates alongside a video course from Esther, teach the relaxation needed to regain healthy eyesight.

I do have moments of much better vision with each of these methods. I am ready to see. I hope to have some good updates here as I progress to learning how to truly relax my muscles.

whispers: incest

Why is there this word that cannot

Come off of my lips

For fear that the earth will shift.

When the meaning itself

Shattered heart and made little Her

Grovel, search, clamor, heave

For the part, laid open and bare.

This word that scorches my soul,

Gives me internal screams,

That robbed the cradle right

Through to the grave

While demanding my everything.

The hellish nightmare seeking to

Consume the child-size version… Of me.

A Mother’s Feast 2020

2019 was a whirlwind of blessing, tragedy, sickness, life’s breath, miscarriage, and as always, beautiful chaos.
Our learning rhythm was not even a thing. I used to feel ashamed to talk about it when we had seasons that necessitated slowness or pause in this rhythm, but I no longer do. It’s a season, that is all. And sometimes those slow or paused seasons teach us more than the ones where I have a bunch planned in.

I tried in earnest to begin it at the beginning of January, but Oliver was then just 6 weeks old and it was WAY too much for me to manage at the time.
Not because of Melody (who at 17 is quite self-sufficient), but because this was the first time with multiple scheduled learners. Leela coming in to the fold and needing constant help with readings, math, and handicraft instruction was more than I was able to do with a voracious eater.

I tried again, making a plan for September to coincide with a contemporary school year. And then we had to flee our home and do an impoverished DIY mold remediation. It sound legitimately nuts now, but amidst sanitizing as much as possible for the first two weeks, I actually did do rhythmic learning with the girls! Then the actual remediation time came and I almost never saw the kids for 3 weeks!

January started creeping up on us and I got excited that our home renovations have slowed down and I do not have a needy little Oliver any longer, just a rambunctious little Oliver! Something felt off. And one night, I realized that I hadn’t planned for MY learning rhythm. I mapped it out quickly the night before the girls were to stay back up and it was just the boost I needed.

My prayer is that I can keep this up, even if I get pregnant again, even if I’m sick, or have a mini catastrophe again (please no, Lord!).

On the page to the right, I also have mapped out to do an hour of vocational studying a day, Monday-Friday, poetry readings in the evening, and to take time to blog (not necessarily public right away) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

On the back of the page I have designated days of the week to be a specific task or delight – Sunday is food prep day and Tuesday is mending, for example.

I am prayerful that this will help me be more intentional and keep my focus a lot better for my family and myself.

I haven’t plotted out terms 2 & 3 for a few areas yet, but I am waiting on them and am okay with that pause, since I’m moving forward on the now.

Do you have a Mother’s Feast mapped out for yourself? Any days with rhythm and order? I’d love to hear what you do!