Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NOT "getting rid of my stuff"

Sorry people but I just read a "Balanced Life" post and must call bullsh&t on this post.  The title is How Getting Rid of My Stuff Saved My Motherhood.  And I have no problem with purging (as many of you know) but in this post she specifically says "MY STUFF" in the title and yet the first thing she tackles is the play room.  NOT her stuff.  Her children's stuff.

I am not saying she was wrong or right in getting rid of her children's things without their permission or even any input at all.  (Of course I would never do that to my children and I would never want anyone to do that to me either).  But it is her right, as a parent, to parent the way she feels is best for her children.  So it is her decision and I would not think of taking that away from her.

But the title is very misleading.  She did say that this purging moved on to other areas of her home.  But the initial purge started with her children's things/toys NOT her things.

My personal opinion is and has always been, that when my child receives a gift, it is their property, not mine. And my boys did have trouble getting rid of things when they were younger.  But I never took anything away without their permission.  We did find creative storage ideas, and I did help them come up with plans for their things, some worked and some didn't.  But the decision was theirs.  I would NOT like it if I came home one day and Jackson, or the boys, had decided without my knowing, that half my things had to go, or even 1/4. I would be livid at another person deciding for me what is important to me, in my life.  So I treat the other members of this family equally.

I think I have mentioned this before, that Jackson is a bit of a hoarder.  But I would never consider tossing any of his things.  I made this mistake many years ago, before we even had children.  I was doing laundry one day and I just tossed a sweatshirt of his, it was torn around the neck and the sleeves were horrible shredded, it didn't fit and had stains all over.  I didn't think twice about it, he has so many clothes, this one really needed the trash.  Well he saw it in the trash and it turned out to be one of his favorites.  I hadn't tossed it because I thought he was hanging onto too many things.  I just tossed it because, in my eyes, it was trash.  I have never done anything like that since.  I would never want to make decisions for anyone in our household. So I really consider my actions. And I would hope we all would consider what it would feel like to have a basic decision, about what is important in our lives, taken away, before acting.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More Christmas Presents

OK so I finished up a pair of socks for Jackson for Christmas and made a pair for myself for Christmas, while on vacation.  Jackson's socks are made from the Zauberball yarn, with which I am now in LOVE!  I just think the blending of colors is so unique.  I can't wait to go back to O Suzannah's yarn on Union and pick up some more.  I saw in a picture she posted on facebook that the shop has more in stock.  YAY for me!  You should all like her facebook page, she posts some amazing projects to the page.

The yarn I used for the pair for myself is an "artist hand dyed" yarn, extrafine, superwash marino.  And it is scrumptious.  The color in the picture looks blue, but really that is a deep, rich purple color.  Loved the way these turned out and that colorway of yarn is also available at O Suzannah's.  And yes, I am going to save these and give them to myself for Christmas, can't think of a better present.

Also, NO, Jackson will not see these socks.  I can knit anything right under his nose and he doesn't notice. So only if someone sees this post and tells him, will he know, he doesn't read my blog.

Happy knitting everyone, remember be thinking about those Christmas knitting projects now so you won't feel rushed come December!

Monday, August 29, 2016

This Mom's Perspective: Breastfeeding and Child-Led Weaning

It is August and that means National Breastfeeding Month.  My boys are now 19 and 22, and I have shared a bit of our breastfeeding journey in a magazine or two many, many years ago.  But not the whole story, as back then, we were still breastfeeding.  I have been hesitant about sharing, as I know breastfeeding is one of those hot parenting topics about which many disagree. And I know there will be negative comments, even though this is our experience.  So here it goes anyway.  Time to share.

When I was growing up, my mom did not breastfeed us.  It was a generation of bottle feeding and breastfeeding would have been way outside the norm in her circles and also way outside her comfort zone. So I never had really ANY experiences with breastfeeding mothers, positive or negative.  It just was what it was, I supported breastfeeding mothers as a nurse and that seemed just part of my job like anything else.

When I started working pediatrics, I became more educated about breastfeeding.  I then joined the US Army.  I was assigned to the 5th MASH, but when we were not in the field I worked in the Maternal-Child Health Section of WAMC at Fort Bragg, assigned to the Nursery.  I enjoyed that, and went on to become a lactation consultant.  So I knew breastfeeding would be the route I would take as a mother, and that is exactly what I did, nothing unusual there.

Jackson and I have two beautiful boys, both born in Germany.  Dallen was born in 1994 in Frankfurt and he breastfed from the beginning, no problems there.  Phillip was born in 1997, and even though he spent his first night in the NICU in Augsburg, I continued to breastfeed him and his older brother. I was fortunate in that I knew about breastfeeding, and knew the facts about tandem nursing and knew that I could do it.

So I tandem nursed.  We traveled a bit in Europe while we were there (we returned to the states in December 1997), I never had any negative interactions while breastfeeding in Europe, only positive ones.  It was nice, it was normal, it was just a part of daily living.  We traveled as a family to the states a few times while we lived in Germany, and everyone on those flights was wonderful.  Flight attendants and passengers.  I was not a modest nursing mom, although I wasn't "in your face" about it either.  I was discreet but not in a "I need to hide this" sort of way.  Nursing anywhere other than where I was at the time, just never crossed my mind.  And when I had two to nurse, well....there is no way to be discreet about that.  Everything was out on display.  But no one seemed to mind at all.  And I even had other passengers on flights, stop to say what a great job I was doing.  Although I am sure they were just happy that my two were sleeping.

Here in the states, we settled in North Carolina, and it really didn't take long for me to find my people.  We spent a couple of years buying and renovating our house (although all this time later and it is still not completely renovated), but in time I found my tribe.  And I will say I have never had any negative comments or interactions here in the states either.  Maybe because my tribe is very much accepting and supportive me.

So my breastfeeding experience was very positive, and uplifting.  We decided that child-led weaning was the way to go.  I was not working outside the home, and it was what felt right.  We co slept with our children and they nursed at night more than during the day, as they aged. Toward the end of our breastfeeding days they only nursed at bedtime. It was a very connected experience that, I feel, enhanced those relationships. My oldest son nursed until the day before he turned five.  Not sure if the excitement of his birthday disrupted his pattern or he was just done, but that was the last time he nursed.  My youngest nursed longer.  He stopped nursing Valentines day before he turned eight.  So Feb 14 he stopped and Mar 22 he turned 8, almost one month prior was his last time nursing.  Funny how we remember certain dates.

So yes, I breastfed my boys, I nursed while pregnant, tandem nursed, practiced extended breastfeeding as well as child led weaning.  All the little details are a bit foggy as time has washed over them.

And that really is our experience, condensed into one blog post.  I know there are other mothers out there that will read this and find a little comfort knowing there are other extended breastfeeding moms out there. Know you are not alone.  And there are some who have probably been told you can't nurse while you are pregnant or other such myths, know that you can, I did.  Know that whatever your breastfeeding journey is, it is all OK, it is your journey. Never compare yourself to me or anyone. No one will have your journey, it is unique to you and your child/ren.

The above picture is my oldest son Dallen.  I love this picture because of the memory associated with it.  His favorite movie, at that time, was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  LOVED IT.  And we both knew all the songs. He totally enjoyed getting in the hammock and pretending it was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and we would sing the songs and pretend we were flying in the car.  

And here I am nursing Phil in the NICU. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

NOT Back to School - An Option Worth Considering

With everyone posting back to school posts. And all the companies on television with their back to school ads, I just wanted to take a minute to remind everyone that public school is NOT mandatory. Yeah, let that soak in for a minute, empowering isn't it.  And in place of public school you are not REQUIRED to send your child/ren to private school either.  There is another option, HOMESCHOOLING!

A wonderful option worth considering.  Not saying it is the right choice for everyone but you should know your options.  It is legal everywhere in the USA.  Each state has its own regulations, some requirements are greater in some states, but it is legal, doable and I know families homeschooling all across this country.

Speaking only for North Carolina, as that is where I homeschooled my children (they are both beyond compulsory attendance age now), there are over 67,000 families homeschool across this great state. YES that is the number of FAMILIES!  It is estimated that there are over 118,000 students.  How awesome is that.  There are homeschooling support groups in all counties, there are more opportunities than you can imagine, including proms, athletics, events, and many many activities. Homeschooling is not difficult.  For more information on homeschooling in North Carolina Specifically you can go to the Division of Non Public Education web site.  They list the regulations/requirements as well as some suggestions/recommendations.

For other states, just google your state and homeschooling and I am sure a whole range of links will show up.  Or search for a local homeschool group.  Networking with other homeschooling families is a great way to see what homeschooling looks like, and I can tell you, it looks different for every family homeschooling.

Another detail I want to mention that is NC specific, is the compulsory attendance age.  Here in North Carolina it is 7-16.  So if your child is not yet seven they do not have to be enrolled in school anywhere at all.  They are not required to be attending any sort of school until the age of seven.  So when considering pre school and pre-pre school, think about that.  Are you ready for school, is your child ready for school, any sort of school?

I encourage everyone to think about all the options.  I feel we should all put as much time, thought, research and discussion into how/when/where we would like to educate our child/ren as we do in buying a car or house.  I think we all deserve at least that.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summer Sweater

This is a great summer sweater pattern.  Took me a couple of weeks to finish and it is just perfect for this time of year.  I wore just a simple black tank under the sweater and it was nice and cool.  You can find the pattern at the Knitty web site.  Just scroll down a bit and you will see the sweater in red as well as the pattern for the Myliu Lino pullover.  I used a lovely yarn made of sugar cane, perfect for this project, as it has a soft, slinky feel and drapes well.  Of course my favorite yarn shop, O Suzannah's Yarn on Union carries this yarn in Morganton, in a few different colors.  So if you are in Morganton stop by and grab some yarn, this pattern took me 4 skeins of the sugar cane yarn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mom's Purse and Dad's Wallet

I started reading the Stephen King novel Bag of Bones, this week.  Great beach reading and I haven't read Stephen King in years.  In the first chapter the narrator talks about looking through the contents of his wife's purse after her death.  So the last few days I have been thinking about my mother's purse. You know, I can't remember what was in it or looking through it after her death although I know I did.  Her last purse was a tan color although not a yellowish tan, it was more of a gray tan.  I also remember it weighed, what seemed like, a ton.  And there was no going into my mother's purse without direct permission from her.  You know I don't ever remember her ever giving me permission to go in her purse, she always said "bring me my purse" and she would dig through and find whatever it is I needed.  I remember the bottom being filled with change, probably why it was so heavy.  I can vividly see her getting out a handful of change when she needed it, just by reaching in her purse.

I guess the days after her death were so filled with grief and then there are the logistics of dealing with all the legal "stuff" in the two weeks I had here in the states before heading back to Germany. Trying my best to make sure my Dad was set, and had what he needed.  So I don't remember specifically going through her purse.

I do remember going through my Dad's wallet after his death.  It was a black leather wallet, that was well worn beyond real usefulness.  Although he was one that hated to change a well "fitted" wallet in for a new one.  I remember there was no money in the wallet at all, at the time (strange for my dad), but there were photos of all of us. He had an older one of mom in there.  It was black and white, I think it looked like it was a pre marriage shot of her.  Everything in his wallet was well worn, I guess from years of sitting.  He always carried his wallet in his back pocket, as most men seem to do.  I still have his driver's license. And run into it from time to time.

So the last few days I have been thinking about my Dad and his wallet, and wondering why men carry their wallet in their back pocket.  I know Jackson complains when he is driving that it is uncomfortable.  So if you know the reason or the origin, please leave a comment and let me know. And take a minute to tell your Mom and Dad how much you love him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Just an eerie sunrise this morning, with a storm off shore.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bringin' Up Memories

OK so this purging is really bringing up lots of memories, great memories.  The boys enjoy it when this happens.  I have been finishing up purging, organizing and cleaning the storage room.  I think I mentioned a while ago that my husband keeps everything.  Well....we have computers from our time in Germany, that would be 1993-1997 time frame.  With the cleaning, came deleting all personal information from these old computers and recycling them.

Phillip loves taking apart these old computers, he is so knowledgeable, more so than I.  So he was helping me out with this task.  While he was into one computer he found two discs crammed into the disc drive.

Do you all remember these?  My boys loved the Little Critter books, I think we had every one ever printed. We also had a few of the books on disc.  This was Dallen's first introduction to the computer.  He was two at the time, Pre-Phillip.  I remember sitting there with him at the computer and helping him move the mouse around the screen, clicking on different items that would animate and say a little phrase.  Interactive, but not difficult.  He LOVED IT!  And of course he hasn't stopped loving computer games, so much so that he is creating his own.  

"Just Me and My Dad" was his all time favorite, and I can still hear "B I G Tuna" in my sleep.  

Not sure why two were crammed in the disc drive, but Phillip found them, and now it is time to say good bye.  They are old, they are unusable and the memory is in my brain not in the discs.  Great find though. Now onto other things.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Public Speaking.....(Who me?)

OK yes, I crawled outside my box and actually spoke in public, I survived the ordeal. For me this is a huge milestone and I am here to tell the story.  Most of you know that I do NOT like speaking in front of an audience, and I am really not good at it.  I know that.  What most of you don't know is that I used to do it frequently.

What many of you don't know about me is that as a lactation consultant many, many years ago, I educated the entire maternal-child health department at Womack Army Medical Center on the new breasfeeding policies and procedures, that I wrote, for the section.  Which encompassed several weekend long inservices, as it was mandatory that every employee take the course.  What you don't know is that I was the hospital's Neonatal Advanced Life Support Educator, which means I taught and tested employees in the hospital and outlying clinics in NALS.  I taught infant CPR to parents, I taught breasfeeding classes to parents.  When we moved to Germany I became a Lamaze instructor and taught Lamaze and Breasfeeding classes there, as well as helped moms with breasfeeding problems/concerns.

Not that I ever enjoyed public speaking but I did a lot of it.  So I am not sure where this inability to speak in public comes from.  Since moving here to North Carolina I have loved my roles as homeschooling mom, and wife.  I have enjoyed organizing many types of events and activities.  Being behind the scenes and doing the leg work is fun for me, and rewarding, although generally thankless.

But I really want to try to overcome this hurdle.  So yesterday I attended the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, public hearing in Asheville North Carolina. I wrote about this hearing, and my plan to attend right here on my blog.  A few days ago a thought crossed my mind that I might be able to speak.  OK so it was just a fleeting thought as public speaking terrifies me.  But I put the idea out into the universe and one of the wonderful women at Moms Rising, helped me gather my thoughts into a few paragraphs that sounded nice.  But the terrifying thing is the getting up there and speaking.  I didn't sign up beforehand to speak, I knew for me it would have to be an in the moment kind of thing or I would drive myself crazy.

So I printed off my little speaking blurb and headed up the mountain.  Getting into the hearing area there was a long table and two sign up sheets.  You could sign up as a guest or as someone who wanted to speak.  So I stepped back from the table and let other people pass by as I pondered what, for me, was a HUGE decision, do I commit to speak or back out.  As I was standing there, a lovely lady on the other side of the table, who was explaining the procedure to people, whispered to me "you can do it".  She doesn't know how much that meant to me, in that moment, she has no idea how big a deal this was for me. And so with that I added my name to the impressive list of speakers and took a seat.

To start, the room was like 150 degrees.  They said the A/C in the courthouse turns off automatically at 5 (the hearing started at 6) and the back wall of this room is all WINDOWS facing west or course. So the setting sun was just heating it up like a solar oven.  I was a little intimidated, as they went around the room and every elected official stood up and introduced themselves, so about 1/4 of the 100-150 people are elected officials.  From listening to the other speakers I would guess that another 1/4 were attorneys and most of the rest worked in the court/legal system in some capacity.  I think there were only a few parents or people not employed within the system, there. So everyone was in suits or heels, except maybe 4 people (including me).  They were speaking to the commission about all sorts of topics. Many of the speakers were judges and lawyers.

But I sat there and told myself that I was strong, that I could do this and that I had just as much right to be there and speak as anyone else.  And I did.  I was nervous.  Those of you that know me, know that talking about my boys brings tears to my eyes and I did talk about them and how terrifying it would have been for me, if at 16 or 17 they had done something wrong, they would have been charged, and treated as adults and would have been held with other adults.  How terrifying for me and how scary for them.  I mean they are barely adults now, let alone at 16.  We all know what it is like to be 16 and know everything.

So anyway I spoke, I choked up a little but held it together, and I forged on through and I did it.  I am hoping to build on this experience trusting that it will become easier in time.  Jumping outside that box of mine is difficult.  It would be so much easier to just stay in my comfort zone.  But there are things I want to do, and I really want to get through some of the difficulties of being an introvert.

(of course as any good introvert, as soon as the hearing concluded, I bolted out of the room away from all the step at a time...)

I hope that you are finding ways to look outside your box a little, whatever that box may be.  The view is empowering.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Herbal Conference...Are You Going?

OK it is that time of year again, time to pre register for the Southeast Women Herbal Conference.  I didn't attend last year, I didn't have enough money to do that AS WELL AS visiting family back home in Maine. So last year I chose Maine.  Turns out it was a wise choice as the conference had so much rain, and with several of the sessions being held in huge tents, probably made for a less than stellar event.  Although I bet those women made the best of it and had a great time anyway.

I have been going back and forth about attending this year.  I love Dr Jody Noe, she is an awesome speaker, and I also enjoy listening to Sarah Thomas, both are exceptional speakers and so knowledgeable, I really feel like I learn a lot from them both.  Dr Noe always has one or two sessions that really go in depth, and are more advanced.  I like that, I feel like I have the basics down pat, and enjoy going in depth into a topic.  But the early bird price is $280 and the deadline is August 19.

I heard a week or so ago that Rising Appalachia, will be there.  Love their music, so that swayed my decision and I registered on Sunday.  I will be attending.  I will be the one in the back of the room, hoping that the sessions are NOT interactive.  Or maybe I will just jump outside my box and actually talk to a stranger.  I can do that right?!

Here is a piece by Rising Appalachia, maybe it will sway you as well:

So if you are interested you can find out the schedule, sessions, teachers and all the details of registration and lodging at the Southeast Wise Women web site.  I hope I see you there!

Here is a little video about the conference, background music is by Rising Appalachia. I remember that now, like muscle memory, remembering what it felt like to stretch and learn and be joyful on my own, in my own space, and I remember hearing Rising Appalachia for the very first time there.:

Watching that video, reminds me so much of what I love about that conference, it just makes me want to go back, I remember that feeling now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Raise the Age

Not sure many of you know, but North Carolina is one of only two states that charges ALL 16 and 17 year olds as adults in the criminal justice system, automatically.  There is no option, currently, to treat 16 and 17 year olds as juveniles.  This means that even for a minor offense there is no treatment plan (currently available in the juvenile system), and the youth will have a permanent record, thus possibly preventing them from attending college or obtaining a job.  This needs to stop.  North Carolina really needs to come up to the rest of the country and provide for the option of treating 16 and 17 year olds, charged with minor offenses, as juveniles.

I am attending an public hearing by the NC Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, in Asheville NC.  If any of my friends that live up that way want to join me, it will be held on Thursday August 18, 6:00PM, at the Buncombe County Judicial Complex, Jury Assembly Suite, 2nd floor, room 272, Court Plaza, Asheville.

This is a big step for me and I would love the company.  I don't plan on speaking but am there to support those who are speaking in support of raising the age.  If you support raising the age, please attend, speak if you would like.  You can find a little more information at the Color of Change web site.

Here are a few facts:
MYTH (AND MISTAKE): Raise the Age means being soft on crime.
REALITY: Raise the Age is tougher on offenders —the juvenile system is punishment and treatment-oriented. The juvenile system holds youth and parents accountable unlike the adult system. Raise the Age only applies to young people who commit low level offenses. Serious, violent offenders will remain in the adult system. Also, the transfer law won’t change—judges still retain the discretion to transfer any youth age 13 or older accused of any felony to adult court. The fact is, 16- and 17-year-olds sentenced to the adult system end up with higher re-arrest rates than all youthful offenders ages 13 to 21. The juvenile system is tough, and it works.

MYTH (AND MISTAKE): Many youth are serious, repeat offenders.
REALITY: The fact is, most offenses committed by youth are minor and most youth are first time offenders. Of 16 and 17-year-olds: 79% are accused of misdemeanors. 18% are accused of low-level felonies (class F-I). Only 3 percent are accused of serious felonies (class A-E). 67% are first-time offenders; another 21% have committed one minor offense—most often a misdemeanor.

You can find more myths vs realities on the Raise the Age Advocacy Guide.

See you all there!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Social Media and E Mail

I enjoy social media, e mail, blogging, reading blogs and things like that.  It keeps me connected to my family in other parts of the country, and helps me to easily reach out to friends for information, discuss getting together.  I stay informed about what is going on in our state, events going on around the country, what is going on locally.  I just feel connected from the comfort of my living room and I like it.

Jackson, however, is not on social media, and has no desire.  He also does not answer e mail, well I shouldn't say that...he rarely answers e mail.  There have been times he will ask me what to do when he has over a thousand e mails in his in box.  I let him know you can either go through them all, or if you aren't bothered by it, you can just click to "select all" and delete them.  He generally chooses to delete them.  And he never wonders what was there, doesn't bother him at all.

While I do like my connection to family and friends, sometimes I really like how he goes through life.  He is exactly here in this moment, right now.  He focuses on what is right in front of him now.  What needs to be done around the house, where he wants to go and what he wants to do now.  He doesn't think about the "Raise the Age" discussion or voter suppression, as his only contact with that is what he reads in the online news.  He isn't seeing daily posts from people affected.  I envy that at times.

Now the flip side is that he never knows what is going on with family or friends.  He relies on me to keep him informed of anything important.  Maybe he just feels that if people don't call him on the phone, whatever is going on can't be that important.  I think in the end we balance each other out with social media.  I might pull him away from this moment by talking about things going on around us, and he pulls me back in by looking at exactly what is going on in our own back yard.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Burke County Board of Elections and ME!

I had read all the hype and drama that accompanied other Board of Elections meetings around the state of North Carolina, but really had no idea what went on at a Board of Elections meeting, so I decided to find out for myself.  I do live in a small county with comparably low population, so I wasn't expecting any drama, but still wanted to see for myself first hand.  OK so I get nervous about nothing (if you read my earlier post). The directors and staff at the Burke County Board of Elections are so nice, everyone at the meeting was incredibly welcoming.  I was there merely to observe the meeting and my only agenda was to see what they do.

My introverted-ness and my worry about meeting new people, and being in a new environment was completely alleviated the minute I walked into the room.  I don't know why I become so nervous about things like this, but with time and pushing myself more and more, I am hoping it becomes easier.

The directors did discuss and create a plan for extending the voting days, per the court ruling.  Burke county early voting for the November 2016 election will start on October 20th.  And will run weekdays from 8AM-5PM, plus Saturday Nov 5 from 8AM-1PM.  Nothing that I wasn't expecting. It was explained that weekend voting is so low in Burke County that it would be cost prohibitive to add another weekend day. I did stay for the entire meeting and the extended days/hours was only a small part of the meeting. I was amazed at the time and effort all of the people at the Burke County Board of Elections give to voting.

I don't know how it works in other counties but throughout the almost 3 hour meeting it became so evident that these people take their jobs seriously, very seriously.  They think about things that had never, ever, crossed my mind.  Like what if a convicted sex offender lives in an area where his/her polling place is a school.  Or what if an absentee ballot is mailed in and the ballot is mangled by the post office.  Well, these people have the answers, so if you have any questions at all, call the Board of Elections office.  I know in Burke County they can tell you the answer or know where to look, who to talk to, to find the answer.

It is so apparent that these people go to great lengths to ensure that your right to vote is protected, that your ballot is secure, that every ballot is counted, that your security and privacy are safeguarded at the polling station.  They discussed avenues for getting the word out about the extended early voting and that no ID is required.  They discussed ballot security throughout the entire process.  They discussed overseas and military ballots. They discussed continuing education, different voter laws and voting machines.  I would never have thought that there was this much to discuss concerning voting, but there is.  Everyone should attend one meeting at some point in their life.  But more than that, I think the best form of appreciation for what these people do throughout the year to secure your right to vote is to GET OUT AND VOTE!

I mean that, please take a few minutes and get to the polls, starting October 20th.  It really only takes a few minutes and there are polling places throughout the county.  So mark your calendar now, go ahead, do it now, find a day that works for you and write GO VOTE on there.  Then go to the Burke County Board of Elections web site and see what polling place works for you.  If you scroll down just a bit and look to the left you will see a FAQ section and that is one of the tabs listed, "When and Where is Early Voting".  Then I would encourage you to go to the Burke County Board of Elections facebook page and leave them a little note letting them know they are appreciated.

OK so if you don't live in Burke County, I can't speak for your Board of Elections, but you could.  Go to a meeting, they are open to the public.  Search your county Board of Elections for the web site or go to the NC State Board of Elections web site for info.

It was an eye opening experience and I plan to attend more meetings in the future, when I can schedule it. I will be engaging in more of these outside the box experiences and will let you all know how they go!

Friday, August 12, 2016

I Love You

Do you remember my posts about purging throughout my house.  Well I am working on one of the hardest areas here, the storage room.  My husband Jackson saves everything.  So this room is packed with things we "might someday need".  Even if those things are broken, like VCRs.  But in all of this stuff I found my canteen from my Army days.

I remember that time, Jackson and I were living in Fayetteville and I was assigned to the 5th MASH.  I had a major field exercise at Fort Polk, which involved units from all over the country and we were there for over a month.  I remember picking up my canteen while at Fort Polk and seeing what Jackson had written on the bottom.  It was so thoughtful and touching.  I still have it, found it a couple of days ago.  And now it sits on my altar with all my other treasures.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Moving Outside That Box

Yes, my comfort zone.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I really want to stretch my introvert boundaries. I want to be more comfortable in new places, new situations, around new people.  So I have plans to work toward that goal and jump outside my box.

Today I will be going to the Burke County Board of Elections meeting.  It isn't a "huge" deal for most people but for me it is enormous.  These are people I don't know and a meeting I have never been to. Discussing issues that could be tense. I am going alone, so no one there to lean on....but myself.  So this is kind of a small test for me.  Just reaching outside my comfort zone a little.

I could just continue with my normal morning routine and head on over to curves and work out.  But no, I am making myself do this for ME.  I do want to be comfortable talking to people I have never met, and be able to make small talk and just feel OK.  So I am reaching here, and I will continue to do so. I am seeking out opportunities to step outside the box and maybe one day there will be no box for me.  Maybe one day I will feel just as comfortable in new situations as I do with my old habits.  So keep me in mind as you go about your day.

Maybe step outside your box a little.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Restful Sleep

The last two nights I have had the best, most restful sleep in a long time.  Waking up every few hours seems to be my normal, but these last couple of nights I have fallen back to sleep easily, and quickly.  And I have just felt a sense of comfort and safety reaching over and feeling Jackson beside me.  He is there every night, but these last couple of nights I have just stilled for a second in a feeling of gratitude for his presence, knowing that he is there and that I am walking through this life with my best friend right there beside me.

Without my parents to lean on, Jackson's love and companionship have helped sooth my soul, and I just feel thankful. Grateful for Jackson, for a good night's sleep, and for this life.

OK I do need to explain the photo a bit.  Yes this is our bed.  And yes the pillows are at the foot of the bed. Everyone who sees the bed asks about this.  We were sleeping at the head, like "normal" people.  But at one point, we were considering changing the bed around.  I suggested we try it out first before moving that monstrous bed around, it is just so heavy so we need to take it apart to move it.  So we flipped the bedding and started sleeping at the foot.  I discovered that it was so much more comfortable for me to have a place to "put my hair".  Those of you with LONG hair will totally understand.  When the pillows are at the head, there is a headboard, as usual.  And my long hair has no place to go except around my neck, which drives me crazy and is hot and itchy. I tried braids, it was just too uncomfortable.  Sleeping at the foot of the bed I just let my hair hang down over the edge.  Problem solved, and very comfortably I might add.  So we have kept the bed like this ever since.

Hope you all have a restful night's sleep!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Introvert at a Women's Conference

I think I mentioned in my last post about moving on from homeschooling.  I have decided to join Moms Rising, an organization that looks at issues surrounding families, which does hit home for me, coming from a mom/homeschooling arena.

I attended the Bennett V conference for women leaders and activists this past Saturday, hosted by NC Women Matter.  An all day event held in Greensboro.  I was, as I expected, a little nervous as I knew NO ONE at the conference.  I had chatted with Beth Messersmith, from NC Moms Rising, on the phone for maybe 5 minutes and I did join the NC Moms Rising facebook group, prior to the conference but that is about it.  And if you know me, you know I don't open up easily to strangers, it is just not comfortable.  So this was a challenging day, and I thought I would share just a bit about it with you.

I arrived at the conference site and there are no signs for parking or registration or anything, so I drove around a little bit looking for open parking, soooo did not want to get towed in Greensboro, 1 hour 45 minute drive from home.  Found one and walked around the building to find the entrance.  OK so everything was so far so good.  Entered a room full of round tables that seat like 8 people each.  I mentioned I knew no one right.  I saw a table near the door (easy escape if I need it), with 3 women sitting at it.  OK "are these seats free"?  "well, we aren't sure, people are still coming in to sit down....(blah, blah, blah I tuned out at this point)".  OK so not really a warm welcome.  I moved around a bit and saw another table with a couple of open seats and this time didn't even ask, I just sat down.  And no one said anything so I guess it was OK. Which is good as this is the only other table near the exit.

Everyone was talking and looking at the agenda, getting ready to take notes etc.  And I heard them chatting. ALL OF THEM ARE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS.  Yes, the homeschooling (unschooling) mom just sat down at a table of public school teachers, too funny.  OK they do take public education VERY seriously, as they should.  I want to say that I have nothing against public school teachers, but having had interactions with different ones in the past, they have not been fond of homeschooers (yeah, that's a nice way to put it).

Moved onto break out sessions with some great topics. I attended the first one about social media, and the speaker was Jen Jones from Democracy NC.  She was awesome.  I mean it, you all need to click on the Democracy NC link and join.  If you have the opportunity to hear her speak on ANYTHING, take it, she is a very engaging speaker.  I loved that session.  OK so session number two.  I had one in mind I wanted to attend, but (and for me this is a big BUT) the first line of the description says "An interactive work session..." OK the word interactive turns me off immediately.  I HATE being forced to interact with people I don't know.  So I skipped that session.

Second on the list is another interesting session, got all settled and as comfortable as I could be with a bunch of strangers and the first thing the speaker has us do is go around the room and introduce ourselves and answer the question "do you think you are a story teller".  Darn it all, didn't he know that I hate being forced to interact, just not what an introvert wants to do.  And if I do interact it is so much more comfortable in an informal setting without feeling like I am being interrogated.....(answer this question and you will pass go).  I made it through and lived to talk about it.

OK so at the end of the day we headed back into the main session hall, for a "thank you" and wrap up. Sitting back down with the public school teachers.  The speaker asked us to fill out these forms etc, and one form had, as the very first line, to go to their web site and fill out an online form there.  So I thought to myself, or I should say I imagined I thought to myself but in fact I actually said it out loud, "why do I need to fill out the form, why not just go to the web site and do it, why both".  And one of the teachers says "because she said so".  OK so I really did laugh out loud at that one.  I am sure she didn't see the humor as she didn't know I am an unschooling mom. But I know you all will see the humor.  I filled out the form anyway, wouldn't want to anger a table full of school teachers.

I did have a brief chance to meet Beth Messersmith, toward the end of the conference, and did get my face in a photo with the group NC Moms Rising, although only Beth knew who I was. I then bolted for the door with a headache and a 1 hour 45 minute return drive ahead of me.

The conference in general was amazing, and I loved seeing that many strong, passionate, progressive women of all ages, races, religions, in one place together, sharing ideas and moving forward.  POWERFUL! And I learned that I really want to deal with my nervous issues in a more positive way.  I need to work on that in the future.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Moving Forward From Homeschooling

So many of you know about our homeschooling journey, as I have met so many of you because of our homeschooling journey.  My boys are now out of the homeschooling, compulsory attendance, age range. This will be my last year to work on the Love to Learn Homeschool Conference, and it feels so wonderful.  I will be hosting all the fun sessions, so I get to play with children of all ages, all day.  It is time to hand that torch over to those with younger children, those with more of a stake planted in the homeschool arena.

It has been a wonderful ride, but it isn't where my heart is at this point in time.  I have coordinated and helped on the Love to Learn Conference for 10 years, and I have spoken at a couple as well.  But now I am moving forward.  I have handed over all of the yahoo groups I started, or took over, to someone else.  I have left all the homeschool lists, pages and groups.

I do still want my boys to see an active and involved mom, involved in something greater than myself.  So I am testing out the water.  It is so different.  I mean I know the homeschool general statutes, backward and forwards.  I have an eye to look for key words in the legislative calendars and committees. I know how to advocate for homeschoolers and encourage homeschoolers to advocate for themselves. So changing directions has me a little bit nervous and excited at the same time.  I know who to talk to when standing up for the rights of homeschoolers.  I don't know all the politics of other organizations.

I am figuring out what interests me, and looking at it all, because I know that my interests are many, but I can be more effective if I don't spread myself thin.  In this journey I want to maintain my "me" time.  That time I dedicate to enriching my life, personal growth, exercise, meditation and the like.  I never want to give up my family time, that time is so meaningful and energizing for me. And I want to find something that hits me personally.  I feel I can move forward more easily if I can relate in some way.  Does that make sense at all.  I don't know if any of you have gone through this.  I am sure you have, made a big change in your life, how you move through this world.  Like I said it is exciting and a little overwhelming at the moment.  I am going to do more reading and follow the words of Lao Tzu:

“Do you have the patience to wait
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?”

I have that patience, I know the right action will arise.