Tuesday, December 28, 2021

I'm officially calling it Sickmas

The days that we have been sick on our vacation greatly outnumber the days we have not been sick. To recap, Reuben got sick about 10 days before Christmas. Becky 5-ish days before...then Brian. I figured it was a flu, from our symptoms and just a general overall gut feeling. Well, I got sick yesterday on the 27th and Reuben is sick again (Relapse? something new?) and has a fever of 102. Poor Reuben, who has to be sick twice! Also, Brian is still really sick and basically a couch potato, and I am very tired of doing all the things. But God has given me strength to take care of my family and also times of rest. I am already feeling better, which is great. God is so good.

I am learning to rest in the peace of God and am trying to enjoy a stay-cation that has locked us in our homes, which is not what I planned for Brian's last vacation of the year! Also I must be thankful that Brian fixed my car halfway. He had a day where he was feeling better (Sunday morning) (but now he feels worse) and he was able to replace the battery, but the clasp is still broken. Thus, I have to open the hood and apply a metal clamp to the battery before I can start it, but I can start it. Halfway is better then no-way, right? Although opening my hood each and every time I want to drive my car is incredibly annoying. But we have food. I did a grocery run after church, before I developed The Sick. 

This vacation is looking nothing like what I envisioned! 

It is a good thing I serve an amazing God, who sent his son to die on the cross for me, who has taught me to give thanks when times are hard and to rejoice in the small things. We have good things to eat, soup and bone broth and amazing friends who have provided advice and homeopathic remedies as these colds progress. 

Our Becky is pretty much all better. She's back to her smiling helpful amazing self, and its such a breath of fresh air to see her run around and play with all her Christmas presents and cry over how much she hates soup. She's been a much needed burst of joy in the midst of all the sickness. 

Today, I finally got Reuben to eat something, and he threw up. Everywhere. Right after that Brian said he was too sick to help and put himself to bed. Becky had just woken up from a nap and was crying. I dug deep and took the trash out with the yuk in it, helped Reuben get a glass of bone broth to settle his stomach and put him to bed early after a shower (he later ate a rice cake with PB on it!! win!!) and helped the little girl find a snack because she was just hungry after a long nap. Then I questioned the resentment inside my heart at my husband. Instead of tackling the hard things with joy and giving thanks to God for me not being completely laid up with this flu...I was angry at doing all the things (once again) by myself. So I went and listened to a short sermon by Paul Washer and felt the peace of God descend as Paul reminded me to look to the cross. 

I can serve my husband during his illness and I can be content with the cross of Christ while I pray for Reuben and Brian's (and myself) health. God is good, and its not about me. Christ laid down his life for me and for my family so I can clean up after a sick child and take care of everyone without a grouchy attitude. I was not put on this earth to chase after my own comfort or assert my own rights, but to serve the cause of Christ and magnify his glory, in whatever way he wishes. 

Love you all. Pray for us! I am hopeful these awful colds will subside soon and we can get back to the business of homeschooling and living life together. Soon "Sickmas 2021" will be a vague and long forgotten memory, but the Cross is forever.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

A deadpan rendition of our Christmas

I started Christmas Day bright and early, by waking up at 2am. Why? I don't know. I was having a herxheimer reaction so I went down and threw some logs on the fire and took some of my grape seed extract and had a drink of water and checked on my sleeping babies. One was sleeping the wrong way in her bed but I didn't want to move her, so I just covered her up and internally smiled. Then I proceeded to lay in bed for the next four hours trying to go back to sleep and instead was privileged to relive all my awkward and embarrassing moments from the past 35 years. Middle age is great, let me tell you. Yay.

The kids eventually woke up around 6:30am and I heard Becky crying about there being! no! stockings! where! is! my! stocking! I put a pillow on my face.

Eventually I got up and informed her I had put the stockings in the spare room and locked the door, because she is three and I wanted everyone to be awake and present for the great present plundering of 2021. I opened the door and showed them the stockings. Reuben went to the couch and thought his sisters stocking was his. I directed him to the correct stocking.

Daddy said he would shower and pull himself into enough pieces to come downstairs, so I had leftover spaghetti for breakfast with lentil noodles (taking a day break from the gaps diet because Christmas) and the kids had sugary cereal I don't buy but Daddy was nostalgic while shopping, and desired to eat his childhood for Christmas breakfast. Yes, I wanted to bake...but may I remind the reader I woke up at 2 am and I felt like someone had ironed my brain. There was no baking.

But we did have breakfast and I avoided 3405 questions about when they could open their stockings. Eventually daddy came downstairs and we had stocking time! It was lovely. Next to their stockings was a sword and shield for each of them. They loved everything. My husband opened his stocking, and I hope liked everything too! I received ni-no-kuni-2 in my stocking. That was the only thing in it. Last year I didn't get a stocking so I will call this a level up. My husband did not celebrate with stockings so, it is a foreign concept to him, but as someone whose love language is gifts and acts of service (yes even in that order) it meant a lot to me that he tried. Hah! I'm not complaining, I have a great husband who works so hard for us and loves me and our family to pieces. So he's not an intuitive gift-buyer. Things could be worse.  I will have to settle because I don't have time to build up resentment in our marriage, the years are going fast enough anyway.

The kids were delighted with their stocking stuffers. After they opened everything we put it all away in their room and they ran outside to play knights and bash themselves with the swords I had just given them... and eat all their candy. I was smart this year and only included enough candy for today! The candy is all gone and I feel 100% satisfied with this idea. Also, Reuben received his first pocket knife for Christmas and loves it to pieces but Brian thinks he isn't quite old enough and while the kids were doing melee battles in the yard, we exchanged words over it. In the end he forgave me and I think it's fine. The pocket knife I bought him is called "my first pocket knife" for goodness sakes! Marriage. Next year I will do better at communicating...I am bad at communicating. 

I tried to take a nap, but was woken up by Reuben, playing daddy's new video game "Spyro The Dragon" and yelling about it. Maybe I should not have bought that one. Hah! To picture the rest of my day, just imagine Reuben asking every thirty minutes to play that game again. Actually, that will probably be the story of my week. I'll let you know.

After being thus awakened I got up and showered! We had lunch and opened our under-the-tree presents while reading Christmas stories and also our advent. I got a paint set that I am quite excited about and a book Brian loves and desires me to read. It's called Way of Kings and it's gigantic. I think it will take me all year to read it. 

And then we all relaxed until dinner time. Becky tried out her circle paint craft with the spinning table, Reuben played Minecraft, I played my new video game Ni-no-Kuni-2 (thanks again Brian) (also why does this game start out just like the first one with the death of the main characters closest female mother figure??! over it...) and Brian took a nap. 

That was basically our Christmas! I have our dinner dishes to clean up and the next week of staycation to look forward too, if Brian gets better! We need to go grocery shopping and I want to spend some time planning out our next semester of lessons and reading over the plans... A lot to do in a weeks time! Exciting things ahead. We also need to buy blank paper. We are very short on blank paper and if I don't remember to purchase some I will have a very sad little girl who might draw on the walls.

Now I need to get my sugared, overstimulated-with-screen-time-and-treats children to go to sleep. Please send prayers. And chocolate. 

Thank you Jesus, for being born. We need you and I hope you had a good Birthday. I'm sorry I let so many temporary discomforts ruin my mood. May I have more of your joy and let go of control. 

Here is to vacation, planning, and 2022.

Friday, December 24, 2021

It's looking to be an odd Christmas

I spoke too soon, didn't I? Brian is sick! He says he woke up around midnight with a fever and the poor chap has been miserable all day. The kids and I made Christmas cookies while I dosed him (and myself) with zinc and vitamin C and other natural necessities. I do have a sore throat today, and a runny nose! I want to stay on top of things (I can't believe I'm not horribly sick too but probably tomorrow??) I am fighting it but hope to escape without the rest of the malady. It would be a true Christmas miracle. 

This Christmas is looking a lot different than what I envisioned. I wanted to go to our Christmas Eve Service but we couldn't because Brian is sick and my car is still broken (his is a stick shift so I can't drive it). I wanted to spend the evening with him curled up eating chocolate, but he has been in and out of sleep all day and barely eating the soup I made him. I'm eating chocolate and blogging, and have some delicious tea next to me! I wanted to see my family tomorrow but we had to reschedule them coming over because no one wants to catch the death flu we have. It will be just us. I didn't have time to make anything special for breakfast, but might attempt some baking in the morning. Also, I thawed some bacon. Bacon and egg sandwiches? Usually I make cinnamon rolls, but I didn't prep anything...maybe I can before I go to bed. That's a good idea... soak some flour in yogurt and make cinnamon rolls in the morning!

The kids and I read a lot of Christmas books and we made a stack of more to read tomorrow. They also watched Blippi on my computer while I lay in an almost-sick coma on the couch and took an afternoon nap while contemplating my existence.  Ah, parenthood. We had leftover sourdough pizza for lunch and for dinner I reheated the soup I made for daddy's lunch. Reuben ate his but Becky wouldn't touch it, so I sent her to bed thinking I could go get her in five or ten minutes and cajole her to eat so she could read more books. She was asleep. It must be her early Christmas present for me. 

Before all of this, around five we opened our Christmas Eve Presents (do you do this in your family?) and we had hot chocolate and a fire. Well, we have a fire every day, but it was special today. We all played with our gifts before dinner. Reuben picked out a gift from under tree by himself, and opened a lego Minecraft set that Becky bought him from Target (We let the kids pick out a gift for each other, and then they receive one from me and one from daddy for under the tree gifts, and a stocking) and I helped Becky pick hers out so she would be sure to open one we could do together. I bought my own Christmas Eve present to unwrap (same as Becky) of a jewelry making kit. We will be crafting jewelry for our handicraft next semester. Reuben also has one to unwrap tomorrow so we can all make jewelry together and go through the book each week. I'm not even sure if this is the best book, we are all beginners. But I am sure we will have FUN together!! 

I'm looking forward to starting our second semester of Year One soon. I know I am not perfect and it will never go as planned but I am preparing and praying that it will be a good semester. 

Also I have never wanted ANYTHING MORE. Please, someone buy this for me for my birthday. (hint, husband??)

This Christmas is different, but I can still worship God and we can still be together. I am rich, I am blessed, and I have so much to be thankful for. Here is to 2022, just around the corner, and here is to Christmas, that comes tomorrow. God bless you all!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

merry flumas

Last Friday, Reuben caught a cold. Before I knew what was happening he had a fever over 100 and was absolutely miserable. I have only seen him this sick once before, when he was around two. Four days later he started getting better, but Becky showed signs of catching--and suddenly she was extreamly sick. Her temp got up to almost 103 (it was 102.8 at one point) and she also was miserable! I have not slept in over a week because sick kids wake up. A lot. 

Christmas has totally caught me by surprise. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and nothing is done! Becky is finally feeling better (today was her first no-fever day) but she is still quite sick with a runny nose and a cough.

Oh, and did I mention my car is broken down? It broke Monday (the 20th). I've been home all week with sick kids, and also I have not been able to do any Christmas shopping for our food even in the evening! Brian drives a stick shift and has been working quite late...I don't know how to drive a stick shift. I need to learn. I am afraid I will break his car...

I do have all our gifts so no worries on that point (I bought those back in October when it looked like Brian would lose his job over the vaccine; I wanted to have a Christmas. Luckily his workplace is no longer mandating the vaccine, though they strongly encourage their employees have three doses...and while they still mandate masks for every employee, they are not making those with religious exceptions do weekly testing, so we feel like his job is secure...though no one is promised tomorrow!) (Whew, that was a long parentheses...) Well, our car needs a new battery. And Brian can't fix it until he has his vacation which doesn't start until...Christmas Day. He has a week off and I am looking forward to a family staycation for sure!!

I am very grateful he receives any time off at all, I know there are many who work on Christmas...but its just been an period of adjustment for us. His first day off will be the day of Christmas, and all the shops will be closed. 

I mean, we have food, and I suppose I could order grocery delivery (but I am shocked at how expensive it is) anyway, I have rummaged around and am making soup, apple crisp and a chicken for Christmas lunch. It will be good, and I suppose being stuck at home means it will not be laden with sugar. Perhaps I should thank my car for stranding me at home for the holidays...

I am learning to make do in the difficult times, when my car is broken and my husband is working extra, when my kids are sick and I was also sick the week previously with a kidney infection that I am still slightly fighting. I am learning to rest in the peace of God during times of change. This is Brians second week back into the office 2-3 times a week and it has also been a whole adjustment. Remember when he was sent home for covid over two years ago? It was extremely hard!! Until we figured it out, got into a rhythm and now, have really learned to love him being home. I miss him popping in to grab water, or hug the kids on his way to a bathroom break, and him spending his hour with us at lunch. And the short commute. Man, I really miss the short commute. I am hopeful he can become a full time work at home employee, but that is not an option right now. 

I'm learning to savor the good moments. Like Becky sleeping a lot when she was sick and me reading homeschool books (I'm working on Know and Tell right now!) And Reuben and I making a Nativity Scene. And us reading our advent in the evenings, and reading lots of books during both kids recovery phases. And how much time I have had to clean my home (since we are not homeschooling for three weeks). And trying to work on my own health by doing a detox bath or castor oil pack every other day... There has been a lot of good wonderful things to savor even during the hard times. Reuben playing Minecraft for the first time... such fun and wonderful memories even if the kids are sick. 

I'm so happy we adults, though sleep deprived, are not sick. Even if we missed every single event that I had scheduled out-of-the-home for our week before Christmas, we still were able to worship and glorify God.

I'm a bit nervous about starting homeschooling again in a week (With term two of year one of Ambleside!!). It will be rough to wake up early again and get into our routine. This is me grinning like a madwoman, because it's the truth, I have been enjoying sleeping in!! (And with the multiple wake-ups with sick kids it is extra needed) and the afternoon naps. Next semester we are not doing a co-op but will still be attending violin and adding in some fun gymnastics. I'm excited (and wary) at the amount of things to do!!

And, I want to film some more paper sloyd tutorials for my YouTube channel over Brian's week off. I really hope I don't catch the death flu. 

How are you all? Merry Christmas! May the flu also pass you by.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

in constant flux

I keep writing blog posts in my head as I'm falling asleep. The next morning I don't remember them, but I do know I had some good points. Alas, they shall be known only unto God.

We are one week away from finishing the first term of Ambleside online. I love it. I more than love it. It is everything I need and everything Reuben needs. It speaks to me and is teaching and growing not only him but myself. I couldn't imagine doing school any other way. I am so glad I like it, even if it is a lot of work and tedious at times. But it is oh so wonderful. What a rich and truth-filled curriculum that nourishes the soul.

Thanksgiving was good. I rested a lot, spent money on linen clothes, indulged myself in child-free time and read too many books. 

Am I glad to see the tail end of 2021? Meh. 2020 was horrible. I wrote about it. It was one of the worst years of my life. But God is still good. 2021 was better just because it wasn't 2020. During 2021 I had zero pregnancies and zero miscarriages! It's been a deeply healing process. I am wrestling with the fact that I do, yes, want more babies. I will always morn that I didn't get the family I dreamed of in my head with eight children and an off-grid homestead, but I can't complain. God blessed me with a Reuben and a Becky and I am honored that I get to experience their childhood and be their mother. I would love to have another baby (or three), but I am 34 with the body of an unhealthy 64 year old. I don't know if I would survive the process. 

Even though I eat extremely healthy and try to take care of myself, not only can I not have more babies, I can barely cope with a regular life. Life with Lyme disease and gut issues and whatever the else is wrong with me is not fun. I wonder if I will ever heal; and I wonder oftener if I will ever stop feeling guilty over all the things I cannot do.

I can't do too many things in one day. I have lyme anxiety that is quite crippling at times (yes, yes, saint johns wort...) Some days just existing is painful and I am too tired to read books.

But I am still grateful, and I am learning to think of what I can do; not what I can't. I can play the violin, I can take my son to violin lessons, we still are doing our Friday co-op and I read to him a lot. We have fun doing crafts together and I am always able to invite people over, even when things are bad and I can't go places. And I do have good weeks--we had one just last week. Every time my body suddenly becomes normal it is almost a shock to have it break again, because I guess I just think maybe I'm healed. One can't stop hoping. Every time we go through this cycle (the good weeks) and I get hit by a very bad day or a bad week or two, I grieve all over again (and cancel plans. I always make too many plans on good weeks).

Anyway, I mostly just wish I knew what was wrong with me. I guess we can't have everything we want. 

Recently I have not felt much like blogging. It comes and goes too--but I am glad I kept an online journal. Every so often I go back and read old posts and have either one of two reactions "wow, I don't remember her (the girl that wrote that in in 2018 or 2019) or wow, I wonder if I am still that smart/funny/whatever. I feel like Lyme disease has fried my brain sometimes. At least I can spell better. Dyslexia is fun. 

God is good and I'm still here. I've almost made it though another year (well, hopefully, I mean its not Christmas yet, I guess I could still keel over)

I need to take more epson salt baths. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Lanterns in the Forest Leg Warmers

I so rarely get time to knit lately. Between parenting, homeschooling, our "light" homesteading... I do miss the many hours I used to spend knitting and designing! It was nice to make these leg warmers based on a pair of socks a friend was wearing. I plan to make more; they will be great to give to friends this fall.

The pdf pattern is available here for free on Ravelry. These would make perfect gifts, it took about one and a half hours to knit each leg warmer making it a great December project for all your friends. I plan on making more in different colors...and wearing these with my "new to me" barefoot shoes from revivo barefoot. (I decided my Christmas gift for myself were new shoes. Sqeee!!! I already ordered them...)

Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Wandering (FIN)

In the caves, Ignose laughs at Roan toddling. She's wrapped in furs, against the cold, even our fire doesn't drive it all away. Roans waddles over, wraps his arms around me and plants wet kisses on my face. 

“Solamae,” He lisps. “Sing song.” I smile at him and gather him up in my arms, lifting him off the ground to swing him around and around. This plating season, he would be two red moons old. But I would not get to kiss him on his blessing day.

Soon he would be leaving us. I wasn't ready.

Ignose added more wood to the fire, quietly watching me.

“You've grown, Moon-daughter,” She said. Her eyes seemed to weigh and measure me, and I try to stand taller.

“Thank you, moon-sister,” I reply, setting Roan down. He runs to his mother. “Up, up, mama,” he babbles, lifting his little arms high with anticipation.

“Tsk,” She clucked at him, but picked him up anyway. “It is time for you to go to sleep, little sun.”

“No!” he whined, but he doesn't complain as she changes his clothes and bundles him into his furs. The cave flickers with our fire, making the walls dance with shadows. This far back in the chambers I could not even hear the thrum of the village as they made their nightly ablations around their own low flames. 

Everyone was getting ready for sleep. Tomorrow was the Met, and the women were excited. The Coupling happened once every two hands over the winter, and next spring the women would all be fat with child. Perhaps Ignose, too. I studied her as she smoothed Roan's hair, crooning a tune. Twice she had gone to the Met, and twice returned with something akin to satisfaction on her face. What was it like? Being with a man?

I couldn't imagine.

As my eyes roamed the darkness, I tried to imagine what a man looked like. Were they tall? Hard? Or soft, like the moon-daughters. My gaze returned to Ignose. Her hands were trembling, and tears slid down her face.

“Moon-sister,” I whispered, drawing near as she arranged Roan's blankets once again, “I am sorry.”

“I am sorry too.” She sobbed, leaning her head upon my shoulder as I sat next to her. “This is wrong. How do they do this every year?”

Roan's eyes were closed, and I could hear his even breathing. He slept. Ignose buried herself deeper into my frame, and I wrapped my arms around her.

“The sisters, they do not speak of their sons after they go,” She said, as I smoothed her hair. “At least, not from what I hear.”

“Not even at Tide?” I asked. Ignose raised her head, looked me in the eyes.

“Not even at Tide,” She answered. “Come, let us sit by the fire for awhile. I must speak to you.”

She rose, wiped her face, and pulled me gently by a hand. We both walked back a few short steps to our fire. If I stood underneath the flame, I could just look up and see the holes in the cave ceiling where the smoke drifted lazily up and the red moon shone down upon us, marking Roan's second ageday and my twelfth, while bathing everything in rose. We all aged with the moon; even if our blessing day was different.

Ignose pulled me down beside her, our feet stretched towards the flames. She glided me back till I lay reclined on her chest, something we used to do when I was much younger.

“You are growing up so much now, Solamae,” She said, smoothing my hair. I felt a smile tease the corners of my mouth.

Her voice stilled as her hands busied in my hair, both of us listening to the crackling of the fire and the hollow sounding of the cave.

“Did you ever think what you would be if you had not been born a Blight?”

Her tender caresses calmed me, and I felt myself melting against her.

“A weaver.” I said. 

Her hands froze. Maybe she hadn't expected me to respond. Suddenly I felt uneasy, or had the night grown colder? Was that a breeze in the air? My skin prickled. 

“Ah,” Ignose said. She must have felt me shiver, because she reached back and pulled one of our leathers off the nearest woven mat. With a smooth motion, she draped it over me, and resumed combing my hair with her fingers, massaging my scalp.

“I would have been a spear-sister,” Ignose said, and I knew it was true as soon as she said it.

Silence descended. I thought of Ignose, fierce Ignose, roaming the fields with her spear and sleeping in on the communal mats with the other spear sisters. It fit.

“I was never angry until you came along,” Ignose said, interrupting my dreams of her hunting Elk and running on the hunt. “I was like you. Compliant. It wasn't until you were born that I started questioning everything. It's one thing to know I'm blighted and to accept my own wrongness—but it is another to see a little child hurt and abused.”

I curled my arms around my legs, pulling my knees into my chest. Why was she talking about this? 

“I've never been abused,” I said. “That's what the men do.”

Ignose snorts.

“You are abused every day,” She said, “But you do not see it.”

“When?” I ask.

“When you are beaten. When you are deprived food. At Tide, especially at Tide. I should not have let you go again.”

“But, Ignose,” I twist in my seat to look at her. She's crying. I reach up to touch her face, wet, but she jerks away from me. “I deserved that. I am blighted. I must carry the shame.”

Ignose's back is to me and her shoulders are shaking, shaking. Is she laughing? Sobbing? I put my hands on her shoulders, trying to comfort her, but she nudges me away.

“You are not blighted,” Ignose says. “You were born in the sea.”

I hear the sounds of waves crashing in my ears like we are back in our summer home, the sounds of seagulls and sand. The ocean is foamy with froth and undulates, combing the shore like the sun bakes the land. I see Ignose, heaving in the water, her belly full with child, moaning into the waves as she pushes and pants.

“I am blighted,” I say. My stomach flips. I would believe it tied in knots like the ends of my woven grass mat, if I could not feel it settle beneath my hands.

Ignose hides her face. She speaks through her fingers.

“When I found the baby on the shore, I went into the village. She was so helpless. So little. She quieted under my shirt. Everyone was sleeping. I didn't know what I was doing until I had already done it.”

“I went into the tent of the weavers, and saw the mats with sleeping figures to the left and the right. Three woman had already birthed that week. Their baskets were full of their babies, black and fuzzy in the light of moons. I reached down and took one. I put the baby I found on the shore in its place and I left.”

Ignose's voice ends in a croak. My heart is a rabbit being chased by spear-sisters.

“I thought,” Ignose says, looking at me, “I thought. This baby won't be like me. This baby deserves something better. I was going to just put that other baby, the one that wasn't blighted, that one that wasn't cursed, back out on the rocks and go home. I was going to leave you to die. To suffer for all the wrongs that had been done. But I couldn't. I couldn't. I failed. All it took was one look at your eyes to know what I had done was wrong. I was horrified with myself.”

“I tried to put you back. But the Ogna saw me and she saw what I had. She thought it was the baby from the rocks. And she was kind.”

I breathe in. Everything is the same but everything has changed. 

Who am I? 

Who is Ignose?

“Can you-- can you ever forgive me?” Ignose croaks out, pulling herself away from me. “Can things ever be the same?” She whispers.

“Who is my mother,” I ask. It sounds like my voice comes from another person, from outside myself. I don't recognize it.

“A weaver named Paoe,” Ignose says. Paoe. My mother is Paoe. A weaver.

“And the woman who gave birth on the sand?” I ask.

“Cinna.” Igonse mutters.

Cinna thinks she is my mother. But she is not. She is not my mother.

I feel a freedom as high as the clouds for a moment before it all comes crashing back, like a wave returned to the shore but bloated with bracken and brine.

“I forgive you.” I say to Ignose. Of course I forgive her. I love my Ignose. She is everything to me, she is the twin of my moon. She has always been there for me. She is my moon sister and I am hers. I will always forgive her.

Ignose nods, I feel her shift behind me. She crawls forward, she falls at my knees, bending her head to the stone. “I am sorry, moon-sister. Ocean born. Solamae, daughter of the sea.”

I smile. This is the first time she has ever called me sister. A full sister. I don't know how to feel about that. I feel...wrong.

“I will carry your shame.” I say.

Something tugs me towards the darkness, to the cave. I need to wander for a bit. I need to be alone.

I shrug off my furs and take a step away.

“I'll be back,” I say over my shoulder. “I love you.”

I think Ignose understands.

When I turn around, I see her hunched near the fire, staring into the smoke, her chin on her knees. The flames flicker like tiny sea-foam waves. She looks so small, like a bug afloat, a leaf on the wind. Part of me yearns to turn back and hug her. Instead I follow my own thoughts into the darkness of the caverns.

The Caverns stretch out before me. I could go to my people. They would not welcome me. Yet I feel a strange yearning to be among them, to see them again in the light of the news I have received. My feet turn towards where they have laid their fires and spread their mats and furs.

The light of their flames reaches my eyes before the noise. I hear a low hum of voices. I make sure to stand far back, ever silent and watchful. This feels wrong. I feel wrong.

Who am I?

The villagers sit together, close, wrapped in furs, heads leaning on shoulders. I see a crop of baskets at the feet of many and imagine the curly haired wonders that sleep within. Babes, only a few months old. Treasured, ocean born children. 

The moon maidens seem merry, if subdued. Many a soft hug is being exchanged between tidbits of roasted root veggies and dried game. Others are stretching sleepily, and arranging their warm leathers more deftly around them. I see many whittling, bone-knifes working at hunks of wood.

I feel a deep pain in my chest. An unfathomable ocean of dark waters stretches between me and them, yet I could be there in just a few steps.

My heart is beating so loud I am sure someone will hear it. Just as I am about to go, a woman stands. It is Ogna May. She is gesturing around the fires, speaking. I cannot hear what she is saying, but everyone is listening. Some are nodding, rocking their baskets with absentminded toes, hunching together for warmth. They listen with rapt attention.

How did I get closer? I don't remember moving, but here I am, crouched at the edge of the shadows, listening.

“And she climbed the vines. Up and up it went, higher and higher, until the leaves were spun of moonbeams. The tree and its garland twined towards the heavens. Kogialili's arms ached. Her sides ached. When she looked down, moon-daughters, she could see the sea spread like a vast droplet hung suspended between the firmaments, drooping as a woman's breasts heave in labor.

I had never heard this story.

“At last she reached the pinnacle. The alabaster moon. Where she would make her petition to the Creator. She prostrated herself before the temple that rests upon the white moon, where lives the ambassador, he-who-would-go-between.”

“And here, here, moon-daughters—here she poured forth her lament.”

“'Oh great one, he-who-sees-the-creator, take pity on us. My sisters toil endlessly under the sun. We are forced to eat the second-bread and wear the Kaerma. We are beholden to those-you-have-created. Take pity on us and end our afflictions, for we are without hope.'”

“And he-who-would-go-between prayed to the Creator on our behalf and poured out many offerings and wrote many songs. For two red moons he prayed.”

“And the Creator saw all the evil men had done, under the sun and the moon. He had counted up all the hurt and wrong men inflicted upon us and our daughters, and the sum was more than the stars in the sky and more than the hairs on our heads. And thus he smote the man, that when they reached 10 hands and saw their 10th red moon rise over the waters, they would be mute and without speech.”

“Thus did he free women into tribes.”

“For our own transgressions though less than man, numbering as the ants in the hills or the fish in the streams—he banished the moon-daughers to the valley we now call home,” Here Ogna May pauses, looking up. I think her eyes meet mine, but not a drop of recognition crosses her face.

“And Kogialili descended the vine. On her way down she spoke an oath, and promise we hold to still. She promised to birth within the ocean, to offer her womb-blood and her daughters womb-blood to the Creator in thanks and memory of his judgment. To not be born in the waters, sisters, is to be blighted and to bring dishonor upon us all.” She had seen me. She must have.

“And thus we have always been. The Creator placed around us this ring of mountains—oh and how the earth did shake, daughters, for 2 hands it shook and quaked like a woman's afterbirth. But as the tulmalt subsisted, a valley was born. This very valley that we now live in, where none can enter except through these caves.

“So are our woman safe from our oppressors forevermore.”

“Oh, moon-sisters, this is how our world came to be from my mother's mother's mother's time. And may it always continue.”

“Let it be as you say,” Droned the villagers as one, almost making me jump. “Let us carry this memory, Ogna May, and let us never forget.”

One by one the woman began to go to their mats, still smiling and swaying a bit, speaking to one another in hushed towns. I sit on my rock and watch.

After many had laid down, the Ogna stirred. She turned and looked right at me again. I look back, and nod to her. I watch as she turns and walks into the darkness, and after a few heartbeats, I follow, edging around the camp so as not to disturb the sleepers.

“Solamae,” She said when I arrived, “ Moon daughter. Why are you watching us?”

I sink to my knees, trying not to shiver. This far from the saunas a chill wind blows and reminds me of the snows that blanket the outside.

“I am lonely, Ogna May,” I answer simply. She sits and lifts my face from the ground until I perch on my haunches next to her.

“Yours is a hard lot, Solamae. I wish the blighted ones did not have to carry so much shame.”

I don't speak.

“Remember your place in the great ocean. We are all part of the wave and we all have our crests to carry to the shore. Yours is to serve as a reminder of our Creator's judgment, and the oath our sisters took to thank him for his freedom.”

I nod. “I am blighted,” I say. Though, not with as much certainly as I said yesterday.

Ogna May reachs out and hugs me, crushing me to her ample chest.

“You are, yet you are still beautiful, Solamae. Don't forget that. In time your turn will come. Remember in here you are cursed, but out there—when the men come over the hills to lay with their chosen, you will be just another woman.”

I shiver, and she mistakes my thoughts.

“Don't fear it. As soon as your red moon begins to flow, you can join us on the hills, and then it will be your turn to heave in the waves on a moonlit night.”

No, I tell myself. Never.

“Go back to your mat,” Ogna May commands. I watched her bulk amble away in the near dark, heading back toward the tribal fires. My heart burns with something I can not name, and I realize belatedly that I no longer feel the cold.

It was only when I am halfway to my woven mat and my own fire that I understand I am angry. I don't like how it makes me feel, like a smoldering ember tossed about in a clay oven, or like a sharok quietly prowling the sea.

The cold quells my anger quickly. I move down the tunnels, deeper, deeper, until at last a bit of warmth sneaks back into my sea-yearning bones. Here, at the caves, the sea is so far from us. Ice will have covered our huts and the fire-pits in our summer home will be barren. Yet spring will come.

The cave saunas are a place of warmth and gathering for all the women. Here there is trade, and bathing, and games, but not for me. Now the area is vacant, empty except for the faint hiss of vapor and the smell of sulpher, pungent and thick. It is warm here, the air moist, and the light from the lichen and moss glows an eerie green in the dampness.

This hot spring is what allows the moon-sisters and I to live in these caves through winter. Without them, the caves and us would be frozen tombs. I breathe in. Bliss.

The pools are empty. Everyone must be asleep.

I shed my clothes eagerly, sliding into one of the smaller cisterns until I am up to my neck in warmth.


I close my eyes and let myself float.

Many hours later, I feel ready. All the anger has been soaked out of me, I am wrung like a cloth. I am ready to meet Ignose with open arms. I now can extend to her true forgiveness. I am ready to carry the shame, ready to shoulder the weight of my blighted past. Ready...to discover the small ache that is budding between my breasts. It is new and foreign. I dip one finger in the cleft of my ribs, and feel my heart still beating there.

I do not know what to call it this. The feeling I cannot name. It puzzles me as I dress, dripping sweat and salt and steam. Is it being awake so late? Is it being alive so long? Is it knowing the truth? It is Roan? Is it Ryia?

I take a breath of hot air, and the mote between my breasts swells within me. Everything is beautiful.

My outer firs gather like soft foam around me, I follow the paths home, almost skipping, no longer feeling the cold, my euphoria mounting. I will tell Ignose the tale I heard Ogna May share with my moon-sisters. Something new, something delicious to share between us. Over breakfast, she will ask me to tell it again. Together, we will tell it to Roan.

I'm humming, I'm warm. I was not born on the rocks, but in the sea. Ignose saved me. I am not cursed. I am not blighted. Paoe is my mother. I have a mother!

I am fr-

I crash to a halt, my gaze leaping over our campsite. 

Where is Ignose? Where is Roan?

He is gone. She is gone. Where her mat should be, an empty rock lays, the nettles and mat-weaves strewn about. Her basket is gone. Her firs are missing. Our cooking supplies are in a heap, and the tidy arrangement of our bathing things are spilled over, topsy-turvy. Her pack is gone. The fire is almost out.

I gasp, my hand to my throat.

Her snowshoes are gone.

I turn and run. This time the slap of my feet against the stones cry Ignose, Ignose, Ignose. Or is that my voice? I can no longer tell.


The End of Part One

Friday, November 5, 2021

The Wandering (Part 13)

I will not make many words of our times in the caves. 

It was a long, weary season. 

I cared for Ignose, as she was unable to care for herself or Roan. She neither ate not moved, for weeks and weeks. Only she lay, wrapped in furs, her lips parted, tonelessly mouthing Ryia. Sometimes her eyes wept, but mostly they were dry. 

She whispered for her daughter during the day, she moaned for her doing the night, and she screamed for her in the wee hours of the morning, until even I grew sick of the name. 

She did not go out to the Coupling, she did not tell me stories. Sometimes I would wonder if she still breathed, as I lay beside her in the caves. I was afraid to go to the sauna or out to hunt, afraid if I came back she would have died and Roan burnt in the fire due to neglect. 

We did not visit with the other blighted ones, Ignose scared even them when they would come by.

Though, some took pity on me and would leave dried meats or berries or broths at my fire, when I would get back from walking Roan or foraging. 

The long hours, as the red moon cast a pink shadow over all; I spent my time either caring for Ignose, caring for Roan, foraging for food, and hiding us from Ogna and our tribe, least they kill Ignose. 

A blighted maiden who lay comatose in the dark was good for nothing. Especially when they had a spare.

We both grew thin. I simply couldn't gather enough, and Roan, who was growing rapidly, needed more than I could give. And what-odd things others brought did nothing to fill the gaps in our diet. Mostly they made me hungrier, reminding me what real food was when I finally had enough to fill my belly for one meal.

I was hungry, and when I wasn't thinking about hunger, I was thinking about water and wishing to bathe myself. And when I wasn't thinking about that; I was talking to Ignose. Screaming at Ignose. Kicking her, even.

She never moved. 

I had started to wonder how I was going to get her home. Spring was coming, I knew from my notches on the wall. What was I to do? She had to get up. I stared at her across the darkness, lit by our fire, from logs I stole from the tribe at night; and suddenly she stirred. She rolled over. She got up. I was holding Roan who was fussing and she walked over, took him from me, and sat down before the fire. 

Was I dreaming? 

No, she was up. She was up and it would all be okay. 

"I'm okay now." She said, while I blinked at her. And she was, at least from the outside. She bathed herself in the sauna and helped feed us, and a few short days later we left for the shores, and another planting season with the tribe. 

But in a short time we were back, resting our feet before our fire in the caves, the furs spread around us and Roan a chubby toddling boy, no longer a mewling baby. 

And that is where I am now. In the same cave where we sat, writing on the leathers, old and wrinkled, writing our story before I die, in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will come along and read it. Ignose, maybe she will read it, and know of me and that I never blamed her. I never once blamed her.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Wandering (Part 12)

Night. We are upstream from the moon-sisters, close enough to see the lights of their fires. Ignose is bathing her swollen feet in the river while I light our own flame. I reach around Roan to pull the flint out of Ignose's pack, and strike it against my knife. Soon we have our own flame, carefully hidden behind a rocky outcropping where we will escape notice. 

A Lyx howls somewhere behind us. Ignose pulls her feet out of the water, and hobbles over to me. She has caught two fish in her basket. She looks much better, the marks from her beating have turned to bruises now, her swelling face a normal size. Instead of a puffer frog, she looks only like she fell into a patch of wineberries, the purple and black juice dotting her skin. I smile at her, but turn to look into the dark, searching after the sound. 

“We must keep our fires well stoked tonight,” She says, looking in the direction of the Lyx with me.

I nod. I had never seen a Lyx.

“Tell me a story about the Lyx,” I ask Ignose, as I gut and clean the fish, spitting them on a stick over the fire to cook. Even though it is night, the fullness of two moons, and half of a third brighten the sky to dusk. And if you squint a tiny tinge of pink pervade the horizon, signaling autumn with the rise of the red moon.

Ignose gathers Roan to her, and latches him to her bare chest. She nods, and I passed her a handful of berries and dew-folded leaves, feeling my excitement rise. Ignose tells the best stories. And she had not told me one since the day she had spoken of my birth, many months ago.

One time, I was 2 hands old, just as you are.

Dark and skinny and dirty, hair matted like an old oak

On my walks to the cave

I would sleep in a tree, perched tall

Like Yeul, who flies over the mountains

That night,

one night when the night sky

was alight with the light of the moon

I awoke 

the silence shook me

and the stars were whispering

my body thrummed and

my breath stilled in my lungs

I looked down

what had called my name

what has shaken me

from slumber?

Oh, yellow eyes of the lyx

down below in the shadows

three cubs, soft with ruby fur

feet padded like the wind

beasts of wild power

As I watched

she; tail twitching, prowling

seemed to say

go back to sleep

Ignose my daugher

it's not worth the mud

to eat you.

I sigh with satisfaction when she is done, picking my fish from the flames, my hand wrapped in my furs, to singe my mouth as I gulp it down.

Ignose crooks her lips, reaching for her own fish.

“Hot” she cries, but a few minutes later I hear a sigh escape her lips, too.

Roan has fallen asleep on her chest. We both lay down on our furs, me to stare at the stars and Ignose to..? I turn over to look, but she has curled inward on herself, her body contorted like the spiral of a sea shell.


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Wandering (Part 11)

Halfway there.

The sun is hot. The dew I have gathered from passing foliage is sweet.

“Don't drink too much,” Ignose mutters.


There is a storm in my soul equal to the weight of the burden upon my back. Each step forward is agony yet I keep moving. I'm afraid to stop, least the questions catch up. The questions hover somewhere behind our path, threatening to overwhelm me if I pause to catch my breath.

The invisible voices are asking: why, why, why in impertinent way that has the tone of one expecting to be answered. And I know why, but I don't know how. I would do it again, if I could. That isn't the issue. Just as I know I will right this wrong, somehow. The thought of it tastes sweet to me, something beyond my lips, something dark and forbidden but whole.

That focus is what keeps pushing me forward as the pain from Cinna's beating chips at me like a relentless series of waves. As each one swells, it presses upon my mind until it is all I can do to step on.

It's not as painful as labor. But it's close.

It's her, her that stops me from giving in. Her: the shadow dodging my steps. The voice that lists after me, meandering on about the wind with her dark eyes the flit over the trees. She's always talking about the forest, like berries and fruit and bushes are mysterious creations from another world, all planted to delight her.

I look back. Yes, her eyes are on the sky.

“You are going to trip if you keep staring up,” I say, turning myself back around. No pause. Step, step, and step. No time for the questions.

“Oh, but I was looking for berries and collecting sap,” She says. I scowl. But I can't be mad at her. It's not her fault. It's mine, it's mine, it's mine.

And that's why.


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Wandering (Part 10)

I spend the morning banking our fire, securing our leafgrass lean-to, and burying our possessions inside our hut for when we return. In the hole I dug goes our cooking pot, carefully wrapped in leaves, our two cups, and the bowl I use for fetching water. I mark the spot with an upright stick.

Next I roll our sleeping mats up and place them at the far end of the lean-to, where they will rest until next year. I remove the broken bits of leaves and seeds that have accumulated in our hut over time, sweeping them out of the lean-to and back into their home in the forest. Our space is fresh, open, and I admire the hard packed earth, free of debris.

To my upper leg, I secure my gutting knife, and to my back I bundle a full water skein, my sliver of washing stone, and three woven grass-skirts I have made to trade at this years gathering. I stack dried meats, berries and fermented cheeses together with the hard traveling bread in my warmest robe. This I tie into a second bundle, place it into a basket, and heft onto my back. The basket will come in handy for gathering herbs, fruit, and the sweet dew-soaked leaves later on our walk, but for now I'll carry it.

Ignose is standing outside. Her face is red and purple and one of her eyes is swollen shut. She's chopped off the parts of her hair from where Cinna mangled her braids, and there are welts and bruises on her arms and torso. Roan is comfortably resting in a sling against her breasts, bare in the sun so he can nurse while we walk—and her bundles are on her back.

“I am ready.” I tell her, and I follow her bent form through the paths to our village.

We walk through the quiet, still village. The long huts have been dismantled, the fire pits hang smokeless in the heat, and even the fields are covered with broken branches and brush to keep them weed free. We walk.

At first I scout the broken reeds and bent grasses for signs of my moon-sisters passing. Their feet have left indentations and impressions in the earth, and these we follow. If we are careful the moon-sisters will not see us until we arrive at the caves. This is the game Ignose and I play, to lesson the beatings.

I side-eye Ignose. Sweat beads her face, but her eyes gleam like two small embers. I purpose in my heart: the first trade I will make is for some salve for her hurts.

Ignose does not speak, and my voice feels drowned in a sea-swell. I study the forest as we walk. The path weaves sun-bright, and the trees are speckled with sheen of dew. All around me the bugs fill the silence, their song as regular as the washing of the tide we have left to our backs.

At half-light, we stop. Ignose heaves down her burdens, unwinding Roan. He is fussy after being worn so long. She collapses into the grass beside the path while I lay out our meal. Roan kicks and whines, missing his mother and rolls, stretching the sleep from his limbs. The woven wrap has dug into his legs and after he ends his complaints, he tumbles gleefully around us as we munch on cheese, meat and fruit.

I study Ignose as she eats. Her eyes rest on her own knees, and I keep having to hand her bits or she just sits and stares into space. Roan picks that moment to babble, and her eyes flick to him, pooling with tears.

My heart hurts too. I rewrap the food, and move behind Ignose to kneed at her back.

“Thank you, Solamae,” She says, her hand briefly brushing mine as I work down her spine. “That feels great.”

We both turn to look at Roan, who is crawling after a raie. I take two steps and cup it in my hands for him, letting him inspect the filaments and see the wings. He babbles again, as I rise to shoulder my packs. Ignose lets out a heavy sigh.

“We can do it,” I say. “Only a few more hours and we can stop and make camp. I'll make a fire tonight, and if we make it to the stream, fresh fish!!”

Ignose pushes herself up, but she makes no move towards Roan.

“Come on,” I say, as she stares at me. Her hand rests on her face, on the swelling and the bruises.

“Tell me,” She says, “Am I disfigured?”

I blink in surprise. Disfigured? She removes her hand, and once more the puffy confines of her face are revealed. She blinks her one good eye at me, before attempting to smooth her hair.

“Cinna beat me,” She says. Her voice is flat, and her arms hang limply at her sides.

“Cinna beat me for wanting to hold my own daughter,” Ignose continues. Her eyes flick to Roan, meandering in the grass, intent on more bugs.

“We need to walk,” I say, holding out my hand to her. Ignose ignores me, her eyes still on her son. Her swollen face is blank. But behind the void she wears as a mask, I fear she is breaking, breaking, right before my eyes.

Ignose has always been my rock. The lapse I feel is as wide as the ocean. I am a beetle, I think—and somehow the thought settles me. Purpose is in those words. I am a beetle.

Ignose laughs, shattering my thoughts. She reties her bundles, this time to her front, and Roan to her back, giving him a piece of dried meat to suck on. She's still chuckling as we head out, although what she finds funny I cannot tell. I feel that asking her would expose a grievous flaw within me.

So instead, I keep thinking, clinging to what brings me peace—the rhythm of the sea, the arms of Ignose, the sweet kisses of Roan.

I am a beetle. I whisper, and let the measure of my steps drum out the words. I am a beetle. And Ignose is a...?


Monday, November 1, 2021

The Wandering (Part 9)

“What happened to you?” I gasp, as Ignose shuffles into camp. She is covered in bruises and bleeding. Her eyes are blackened and some of her hair has been pulled out. 

Ignose does not speak. She goes to Roan, and picks him up, marching to the fire. She is holding him by his leg. He swings his arms widely, chortling, but every hair on my body is standing at attention.

Her arm reaches out until he is danging over the flames. He begins to scream as smoke billows into his eyes, arching his back and shrieking in pain.

“Stop!” I yell, trying to grab him, but Ignose just hoists him higher, dancing away from me. I fling my arms around her waist and force her to the ground. Roan lays discarded on her legs, hollering his discomfort. I pick him up, ignoring Ignose who is sobbing, her breath coming in short hysterical bursts. He's okay. The smoke and the heat had only frightened him. 

I fold him into my lap and scoot away from Ignose, who is now laying prone on the ground, rocking herself and moaning.

“What happened,” I ask again. Roan hiccups, finds his thumb, and starts to doze.

“Cinna,” Ignose says. Her voice is thick.

“I only wanted to see her, I swear. I just wanted to see her a little bit. And hold her. I miss her so much, I miss her so much, I just wanted to see her. She's so perfect and little and she looks just like Roan, I swear I just wanted to hold her a little,” Ignose babbles. Her legs come up until she's cradling them like a baby, rocking her body back and forth.


We sit. Roan falls asleep, the tears on his dark skin finally dry, even it the smell of the smoke on his skirt and soft moccasins lingers.

“If I can't have her, no one should,” Ignose says. Shes sitting now, and her tears as gone. She's looking at me but she doesn't see me. She's looking inward, where I can't go.

I turn, lift a log, toss it on our fire. 

“I can't live without her,” Ignose says, making me jump. I hadn't expected her to speak, not when she was like this. 

I move Roan to his basket and bring Ignose a honey-square. Tomorrow we walk, and there is still much to be done. Tomorrow we head to the caves. Tomorrow she will forget, she must forget. Because I can't live without Ignose; and if she can't live I am as good as dead. 

Guilt gnaws at my stomach. If I had not...if she had been born on this mat...

But no. They would have killed her. One blighted maiden is acceptable. Two, a strange and frightening thing. Three, and the balance would be upset; bad luck would prevail. The village would not have accepted such an abnormality. 

I had done the right thing.

But why did my chest ache so? My vision blurred. I brushed away the drops and they shone in the firelight like stars in the night sky.


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Another Year, Almost

It has almost been another year. I can't help but reflect, a lot. That is what I have mostly been doing; reflecting and reacting-- to my life, to current events...to middle age, to dreams and desires. 

I'm excited for 2022. I want my hair to grow out a bit. I love it short, but I miss it long. I don't regret cutting it because it helped my migraines so much, but now that I know I can just shave the back, I want to try having long hair again, just less hair.

We are on the cusp of holidays. I'm excited. This year I didn't wait until the last minute to make plans. I have made all our holiday plans this week. We also purchased all our presents greatly in advance (usually I wait until the beginning of December) but with my husband "maybe" losing his job due to the covid vaccine I wanted to make sure we had everything. (I still can't believe this is the world we live in) 

Also, there is a apparently a toy shortage but I didn't notice anything that I wanted being unavailable. 

Reuben is getting a rope tying book for Christmas. Becky is getting a necklace kit and they both will receive a wooden sword and shield, as well as a lot of stocking nicknacks. The necklace kit and the rope book will be what we do for handicrafts next term. This term we did paper sloyd and clay modeling! 

We are doing a low-key Christmas this year. I was going to ask for a month of hot yoga, but I don't think I have the energy. I just started doing Yoga with Adriane again on YouTube so we will see what I feel up too. I miss hot yoga; I quit going when we started homeschooling because I couldn't imagine doing both. It was the right decision, but that doesn't mean I am happy about it. So, I don't know what I want for Christmas. I ordered myself some yarn, that is honestly enough. My house overflows with stuff. Brian wants an office chair; he works from home right now and has been sitting in a broken uncomfortable computer chair for almost two years now. We ordered him one from Amazon, I hope he likes it! He ended up ordering a gaming chair instead of an office chair, but he does not game. It looks really comfy. 

I got my mother in law a stand for her ukulele for Christmas, and I have not purchased anything for my mother or sister or her children. That is next, if I can think of anything they need. 

For Halloween this year we had princess spider-man and a ninja. It was a great trick-or-treating around our little neighborhood. Our kids don't get candy, so they were thrilled. It was funny to watch them try it. Maybe I should give them candy more often, they really don't know much about it. This was Reuben's third time trick-or-treating. Becky's second time; really its her first because the first time she was too afraid to go up to the houses. She is three. 

And yes, I know spider-man is anti gun, and the irony of Becky holding guns wearing that outfit, but she's three. Also, she's never actually seen spider man, she only knows about him because the little boy I used to babysit LOVES him. And he gave Becky this costume because he's so nice (or because his mother made him) but regardless she loves it. 

Anyway, Reuben would only leave his ninja hat on for about 5 minutes. But it was so cute. He's the best ninja. 

Life is good. We are homeschooling on. God is good. I am trying to do my duty to Him, and to my family. 

The Wandering (Part 8)

[Transcription Note: Several hides in this section were beyond recovery] 

I always feel when it was time to head to the caves. I woke up knowing. The sun still shone bright and hot on my black shoulders, but I knew. A trek to the sea told me the same. The waves sparkled, the never-ceasing foam rising and falling, but instead of warmth and sunshine it whispered promises of cold and frost. Everything, from the way my roasted vegetables and soured cheese tasted, to the fit of my shift--felt off.

“We have weeks left,” Ignose said, scooping up the gleeful, rolling Roan and dangling him across her shoulders. I handed her the warp, and she tied him to her back.

“No,” I said, my eyes on the trees. The forest chirped with noise—birds, bugs—and the sun beamed hot upon my back, filtered as it was through the high branches, but I knew. “It will be soon.”


I couldn't tell what is was—some noise, some animal sound lost to my ears? A chita, whose call I always heard, was it missing? No—that was there. Subdued, quieter, but there. Something in me felt the call to wander, something yanked me southward. I yearned to answer, already I felt restless, discontent with the sameness. Our days were the same—wake up, forage, avoid my moon-sisters. Play with Roan, see Ogna May, who checked on all the babies—pray for good luck and hope not to be beaten. And, since I had been beaten six out of the last 10 days, I was weary of it. My back stung and Ignose also looked discomforted. 

For the loss of the goats, they had beaten us both.

Yet hope blossomed in my belly. The two week trek to the caves was something I enjoyed every year, a time of rest—everyone usually too busy to remember Ignose and I.

And oh, what a time to wander. Right before fall, right when the days were warm but not cold, and before the leaves closed up into buds. I could taste the sweet leaf nectar now, just beyond the tip of my tongue. There was nothing better. Grasslands, forests, new game and wild mushrooms of many flavors abounded on our trek. And as we traveled we met with many other woman and girls making the same progress to the caves. Trade, and celebration, and friends abounded. For each tribe had their own Blighted Maiden, and as we traveled we could all be together.

I knew the name for what I felt now. Belong. For those four hands, I belonged.

That evening when Ogna May looked over Roan, she told us. The preparations would began tomorrow, and in two hands we would leave. Ignose whined—she would, after all, have to carry Roan all the way—and she hated walking. I promised to rub her feet each night and carry her sleeping mat for her, but she still sat scowling at the fire.

The Ogna flipped Roan over, examining his manhood.

“A fine strong boy,” She said, nodding at Ignose. “You have done well. He will make the moon-daughters proud.”

Ignose said nothing, only gathered Roan up in her arms when she was done.

“And now, Solamae—how about you. Is your red moon flowing?” She asked, turning her attention to me.

I shook my head no.

“Many girls start as young as 10. But some do not began their moon-flow until their 16th celebration. When your red moon arrives, come to me, and I will tell you of the pleasure between the sun and moon, and what awaits you at the Coupling”

“I can tell her,” Ignose said. Her voice snapped like a tree whipping in strong winds, but the Ogna paid her no mind.

“This rite of passage belongs to me,” Ogna May said.

I am not interested in laying with a man. But I said nothing. All the maidens enjoyed meeting the men in the grasslands outside the caves, on the last day of the last hand in our calendar cycle. I had seen them for many winters return to the cave, their faces flushed and excited, their firs wrapped around them, but their limbs languid and relaxed, sharing nothing of the brightness on their faces. In the saunas they would speak of the pleasures, showing off their game-offerings and baubles the men left them. Yet only a few months later they would be screaming into the sea like Ignose. Like Ignose, who even now called out in the night for her daughter.

Ryia, Ryia, Ryia.

The wind seems to speak her name, rattling the leaves and whooshing forward on its journey to the sea. Our journey, however, lay south. The snow was coming.


Friday, October 15, 2021

I made it to Full GAPS and other tales of calamity

I flew through stages five and six and now I am on the full gaps diet. I went a little crazy with some almond flour and had to back off a bit and remember to eat simply. And this last week I couldn't find any bones for broth, so my stomach is in mild pain from missing the healing benefits of bone broth and meat stock. 

We buy enough bones at the farmers market each weekend for the following week; it is simply crazy that no vendors had bones!! Our freezer is tiny so this is just what works for us. Anyway I asked all of the venders to bring some next week and I will most likely end up with a large amount of bones, and an overflowing freezer. 

It was nice to have a break from the every other day broth-making that is the GAPS life, but I can't keep skipping it. My healing is going on a downward trend after only one week without broth! 

I have been praying for our country and for my husbands job. But our lives are so rich, so wonderful here at home with our piles of books and home cooked meals, that I have not had much time to feel scared or worried. (There was one day...but God reminded me of his continuing presence and now I'm okay) I feel such joy every day that this is my life! I never knew I would enjoy homeschooling this much, I never knew that reading with my children daily and watching them grow could be so amazing. God has blessed me so much and, while there are hard moments; it is going so fast I don't have time to complain. There are dishes to do and small little girls to tuck into bed. There is a little boy who is desiring to read the next chapter of Little House in the Big Woods and there is yoga to do and wool to knit. And homesteading to try and learn more of; because it always helps to be prepared and knowledgeable.

What else is happening? I could wax eloquent on Hunt, Gather, Parent. My husband and I are now reading it together on audiobook and I love how it has calmed our family. It makes so much sense. Go and read it, you won't be disappointed. It's a literary gem just shining with advice on family raising. Our kids, and ourselves, are much happier for partaking. I am aiming to dig deeper with this second read; it is going to take multiple re-reads to change this westernized girl. 

We are taking it one day at a time and digging into the richness that is Gods wonderful plan for our lives. 

I hope we don't end up in a concentration camp for the unvaccinated, but that's just a conspiracy theory, just like the vaccine being mandated was a year ago. God is good, and those who don't want the vaccine are not germ-ridden untouchables. We are people with the right to refuse medical service that we don't want, be it either for religious, philosophical or moral reasons. 

I don't know what to expect, but we were not promised tomorrow; but I was born for such a time as this. At least that is what I tell myself. The world is not the same place it was in 2019, but I have hope it will be again, and I can live out my time on this earth by a quiet fire, knitting and reading to my grandkids. Let it be so. I certainly didn't want my mid-thirties disrupted by communism and authoritarian measures. I am no girl on fire like Katniss Everdeen. I'm a mom who can pray though, and that can be enough. Pray, because things can change in a blink of an eye, and some of the news I read really does drive me to my knees.

I don't want to end on such a note, so, let me tell you about another amazing author I found. Her name is Charlotte Mary Yonge and so far I have read one of her books (Countess Kate) and have another one tabled to read soon. She is an amazing writer born in 1823 and wrote over 100 books. I love the simple tales of truth and goodness she pens, they are a must-read for growing boys and girls and adults alike. Enduring, well written, and full of biblical sincerity. 

I couldn't find any at our local library; she really is a forgotten author, at least where I am. 

Reuben is slated to read The Little Duke next year in year two, and I can't wait to enjoy that with him.

Homeschooling, like I said above, is going well. I am not laying the feast of Charlotte Mason perfectly by any means. Today I realized that Reuben's copywork needs more of my attention; especially in the forming of his letters. I am making the mistake of not training him to do good work; his handwriting is sloppy and ill-formed. Usually I give him his handwriting and walk away to do another task--he isn't writing letters "correctly" (as in the strokes) and I think I need to go back to just drawing the lines and forming the letters. I feel disappointed in myself. This will probably be a reoccurring problem--I am not perfect and this new method of teaching is very foreign! 

Charlotte Mason is a living curriculum, but it is unlike anything I have ever experienced before and, while it is simple, we humans tend to over-complicate things unnecessary.  I can only hope to try my best and keep learning and growing alongside my two small humans, and that God will grant me mercy for my mistakes. 

Paper Sloyd (Fan, Bon Bon, Book, and Spool Basket) Tutorials

These videos cover the fan, bon bon box, book cover (and sheets) and spool basket. Enjoy the tutorials and happy paper-sloyding!! This ends our "year one" crafts! 

You can download the paper sloyd book here for free. I also made an update video talking about what I learned (and what was hard) for paper sloyd after we finished all the year one projects in Paper Sloyd by Ednah Anne Rich.


Friday, October 8, 2021

8 Years Married Adventure (LAST 2020 vlog)

In the middle of the pandemic we had an anniversary! 8 years married. A milestone! Since cases were very low in Virginia at the time (except at the coast) we decided to take a little weekend adventure. I didn't film much, but here is the little I captured. We didn't leave our state and only traveled an hour to a large city near us. It was so much fun and so needed!

Also, I started using Final Cut Pro to edit videos from this point forward and I feel like a baby who is all thumbs, so I am sorry...I will get better. I don't know where to find anything and editing a video take 4x longer than it should. But Final Cut Pro is what I have now since I got an apple mini for Christmas, so it is what I am trying to use. 

How are you all? 

This is it. The last vlog, and it was ONE year ago. Should I make a "where are we now" video?? Hmm...I have not vloged in ONE YEAR. Wow. So much has happened.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The problem with Stage Four (and other life updates)

FIRST of all, we have a working washing machine!!! I am currently doing ALL the laundry in our house and I don't have to worry a speck about the weather, the temperature, or if someone is mowing outside. I can clean every garment in my home at any time. I feel SO blessed. Also, we bought chocolate. I ate too much.

This week I started stage four of gaps. The juice kicked me out of ketosis and I am starving all the time!!! I am going to progress quickly though stage four and get to stage five and six so I can have fruit and get a little carb help...

So far I am doing very well. I am excited to make it. Last time I quit on stage four after 8 weeks due to the crash of being kicked out of ketosis and the resulting hunger. This time I knew it was coming and I decided to just press on to stage five if it gets too hard to manage. 

waiting in the hot car for daddy

Weight loss? I have lost 10 pounds on gaps in these four weeks, going from 155 to 145. I will probably gain it all back, so I am not buying new clothes. Or trying to think too much about it; worrying about my weight is not a problem I want to add to my plate.

How else are we? Homeschooling is going really well. We are starting week five of Ambleside Online tomorrow and Reuben is just soaking it up as am I. 

I also ordered books. Too many books. I went on a book shopping spree at www.thriftbooks.com and bought books I have been wanting forever and books I am excited about Reuben reading as he progresses in his reading level (we are up to three letter words guys!! This is so exciting!!) and a few books for myself that I have been eyeing for months. Its a fall cozy fireside book haul, maybe I will make a video when all the books come in. I can't wait. Books are amazing and we read so much as a family. I can't wait until Reuben reads too. He really wants to join me on the couch and leaf through pages.

I'm about halfway though Hunt, Gather, Parent and it is legit blowing up my westernized parenting bad habits. We have implanted two of the suggestions and I am shocked at how much it has changed our household. I can't wait to read the rest of the book. We bought it on audiobook to listen together; my husband does not read unless it is for work.

The first thing we did is--we now do chores together. Almost all of them. My three year old can wash all the dishes (if I put a chair at the sink for her). I had NO idea she could do so much with such happiness. And she is glowing, she is more joy-filled and seems to understand better her role and purpose in our family. We are spending time together doing these chores and I find I like it too! I was worried it would be more work or messy; but honesty it is helping me out so much. Reuben is able to do way more than I expected as well, from making whole meals by himself (with supervision right now) to washing dinner dishes and hanging up laundry. We are not to the "they do chores themselves without asking" part but I can see how we will get there. The main thing we are trying to do is exist as a family and not as individual parts (parents and children) but as a unit that all molds together. We are team members with the same goal in mind, not lone boatmen. Thinking of our family as being on the same team is realigning my own conceptions of parenting. I don't need to send the kids away to make dinner; they can help. They eat too. I don't need to "entertain" them while I clean, they can clean too, they live here. This is good for us.

The second part of the book is about anger, and wow, let me tell you it was like being slapped upside the head with a barrel of wet fish. I am gobsmacked. 

Basically, we shouldn't get angry at kids as parents!! I am working on my anger--not just managing it, but having less of it. I now expect my kids to make messes, be emotionally unstable--they are children. Just like I am teaching Reuben math in school, I also need to teach him to be neat, tidy, and control himself. I realized after reading this chapter that a lot of the tears my kids shed, and a lot of my frustrations are from me expecting my children to be emotionally competent forty year olds. They are three and six, we are not there yet. I must be patient and teach by example. Yelling and anger are not only unacceptable, they don't help the situation in any way. Anger is the wrong reaction to something my child does. They are trying to learn how to exist in the world; not fight me. Once again, I viewed them as "not on my team" and "other". Once I started to see that we were all supposed to be working together, something clicked. I am working on being an example my kids can see daily. 

I've only scratched the surface of this book. I will read it again, I will dig deeper. And I'm only halfway though and I need to return it in ten days to the library so I need to read!!

Anyway, the concepts in the book are revolutionizing our family! My thoughts? Go out and read Hunt, Gather, Parent. You will not regret it, I promise you. It is amazing. I have been telling EVERYONE about it. It's the only parenting book you need. 

We are on week two of no television!! It is going good. We are still playing Nintendo switch in the evenings and I plan on cutting that out, eventually. Soon. We aren't playing on the television but on the actual switch device, in case you were confused. The television is in the closet. 

How are you?