The Boy Who Went Ahead

This poem has been knocking about in my mind and I finally got it all down on paper. Writing poetry has always been a way for me to work through my feelings. This is for Richard, who passed away November 5th.

 

A swirling ball of energy,

an infectious smile and a mischevious twinkle in his eye.

Lining up pillows, climbing up counters-

sneaking sips of Monsters.

Always going, the boy who went ahead.

 

Quick hugs and he’s off again.

Always somewhere to go-

hiding in the old camper, or clutching a tablet behind the bed,

a little head pops up giving him away.

 

Uncle tosses, flying with joy.

Then off again laughing-

the boy who went ahead.

 

Ahead he went…

Left us here to weep and grieve,

and try to understand.

 

But his mouth is open at last,

and his voice heard in the heavens.

His ancestors rejoice in him,

they hug him tight and honor him.

 

Did I recognize the greatness of this little spirit?

I tremble in amazement to think of it.

 

A perfect boy was with us for a while.

But he went ahead-his future sure.

We will see him again,

the boy who went ahead,

for families are forever.

How to prepare for Christmas, a minimalist guide.

We finally made it back around to my favorite time of year. It seems like there are endless Falls, and Christmas’s.. but in reality I’ve only had forty-two of them so far. Since I’ve embraced minimalism, and my family has not.. I have found these 5 ways to minimize “stuff” from the holidays.

  1. Eatable gifts for friends and family are the best. Instead of buying things, I make goodies. All people like to eat especially during the holidays. Maybe it’s just me.. but it brings back lovely childhood memories to have Thanksgiving and Christmas plates of cheeses, cookies, summer sausage, fudge, and other treats laying around, filling up the counter tops. It’s a great way to teach kids about giving. They love to help make it, then they see the joy of the recipient.
  2. Christmas prep for kids. I Even before I realized what minimalism was about I would have my kids go through their toys and donate what they no longer play with, knowing there would soon be a whole new bunch of toys Christmas monring. I go through their clothes as well… but this is something I do almost every month. Growing kids.. the ebb and flow of clothes never ends.
  3. Reduce the amount of gifts given. A decade ago we had much less children, and spent much more on each. A few Christmas’s back we started downsizing gifts and stocking stuff. This year we’ve decided on two gifts per child. However this doesn’t stop them from buying and giving to each other. In fact even in a minimalist mindset, I encourage them to be generous and giving in whatever way they feel.
  4. Make stocking stuffers make sense. The last time I was at Target at Christmas time I saw all these little “stocking stuffer” gifts for a buck each. These are seriously a waste of money. They are mostly junk. Maybe it’s because of my childhood, but I like to get them things they need, but fun at the same time. A new cool battery operated toothbrush, some slippers, or fuzzy socks, yummy smelling lotion, some candy, nuts and a huge orange in the toe. My husband thinks I’m a little screwy, but It’s better then giving them useless junk and too much candy, I think.
  5. Go through Christmas decorations. I love Christmas. It’s the only holiday I decorate. The last two years I’ve inherited my mother’s decorations. She had triple my own. It was a difficult thing, but I was able to go though and keep the decorations I love the most, or knew she loved the most. I still have way too much.. but it’s a process. Last year I finally threw out old broken ornaments I just have kept for over ten years. I keep the very old ornaments and the ones my children have made, but if I don’t love it, it’s in the donation bag.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas will be very special. Only the important, loved and valued “things” of the holiday will be here in my home. If you are on a journey of minimalism, I hope this list helps you enjoy your own wonderful holiday season.

Beginning Meditation. Letting go of Meditation Stereotypes.

Meditation….

It’s always seemed so difficult for me. I’ve always thought of it as something reserved for new age hippies, monks, and Vulcans with special candles. I guess I’ve given into the stereotypes thinking I have to have a quiet peaceful zen place to meditate, and I live in a chaotic circus of boys on the autism spectrum. Not to mention it also hurts to sit cross-legged too long. I could go on…

However, I was thinking last night… I do meditate.. in my own way. At least I’m on a path toward better meditating. I sit and watch my chickens and the birds and I’m mesmerized. I lose touch with time and what’s going on around me. I do this with clouds and sunrises. I lay on our trampoline and watch the sky. I get lost in it all. My breathing slows down, I am perfectly relaxed.

Does there have to be rules to meditation? Do I have to sit cross-legged and chant om? Do I have to empty my mind? Does it have to be perfectly quiet?

I think more people would meditate if they knew they could do it in whatever way it worked for them. I believe that when I’m transfixed by nature and focused on the beauty and majesty, that I am in the now. Isn’t that a kind of meditation? Whatever you call it, it’s a step for me. Ultimately culminating in an ability to keep myself stress-free and truly be in tune with my body and energy. To truly be open to inspiration and personal revelation from God.

Imagine if the whole world prayed and meditated for peace.. or even just positive thoughts, what would happen? I think it’s time for more people to, like me, let go of stereotypical ideas of how to meditate. Whatever works for you is a perfect start. Just breath.

How I Make Pomegranate Chia Seed Kombucha Second Fermentation

One of the ways I like to simplify my life is to make things at home. I make probiotic foods like kombucha, kefir, pickles, yogurt and my husband makes kimchi. I believe these foods really improve my families digestion and overall health.

A second fermentation can make your kombucha incredibly versatile. You can add so many flavors. One of the best parts about a second fermentation is the FIZZ! The fizz turns this ordinary fermented tea into a fizzy flavored party in your mouth! I also add chia seeds for their added health benefit.

Keep in mind, this is how I do it, through my own trial and error. It’s not the only way.. .. it’s just how I do it. 🙂

First I harvest about three pomegranates from my tree or buy them. I pull all the seeds out and put them in a bowl. You can add all kinds of fruit. I also regularly make blueberry flavor.20161022_125500

I use a Nutri bullet to get to the juice. Then I strain out the pulp with a strainer and a rubber spatula. My chickens love the pulp!

 

I pour the strained juice into a very sterile mason jar. I’ve also purposefully bought and saved store bought kombucha glass bottles. They are perfect for making fizzy kombucha. 20161022_130141

I add the chia seeds at this point and it’s usually a tablespoon or more.

Now I add the kombucha that has fermented a week or more. I use a bowl that has a pour spout and strainer to keep our stray globs of scoby.

 

After I’ve poured in the kombucha I close it up tight. I will let it sit out for a day if I want it really fizzy, or put it right in the fridge.

It’s so yummy and a huge savings if you are a regular kombucha drinker. And your tummy will thank you! 🙂

You Are Not Nameless

A poem I wrote a few days ago after finding some old photos of my ancestors I’d never seen before.

 

You are not nameless,

I see you.

Your dreams are imprinted with mine.

Your hope lives, your secrets, your divinity,

even your flaws.

You are not nameless.

A chain, hands clasped on and on,

generations.

It lives on. The journey continues,

with my children, and theirs.

Will they see me?

Will they look for me?

Will they want me?

Your hands now hold mine, in a chain of hands…

Yes… they see you,

You are not nameless.

 

Gratitude for my Stomach Flu

After about three days of stomach flu, I emerge like an old hermit coming into the chaos of some domestic apocalyptic nightmare. Walking across a floor scattered with dry ramen and loops of cereal to open the windows and remember there is light outside. Dirty laundry scattered anywhere and the scent of rotting dishes hover about the kitchen.

OK.. that’s kind of dramatic… but I feel kind of like that. In a sort of focused fog and now awake as I heal. Mom’s shouldn’t have to get sick. Didn’t we suffer enough birthing children? In my case six of them? Well, I know it makes me stronger. And in my case, even though my husband is out of town, I do have a very helpful 19-year-old son who was my savior. I couldn’t have gotten four kids off to four different schools without him.

I’ve been thinking about fire. Fire can renew a forest and allow it to start fresh. Give the soil nutrients it needs, keep the flora diverse. It can destroy, but it can also allow for a restoration. Much like my virus. It tried it’s best to destroy me, but I won.

This virus allowed my body to clean itself out. I am weak, but getting stronger. I decided to be grateful for the stomach flu because I now have the unique opportunity to  start healthier eating habits in my cleaned out system. I can eat more appropriate portions since my stomach is smaller and fresher healthier foods. I emerged with a flatter stomach and now have the opportunity to heal my diastasis recti, hopefully, more quickly. I believe it’s better to be grateful than to complain that I was sick. It takes constant work, but I’m practicing living in gratitude daily.

I came out of the fire and am new.

 

7 Things You Should Make From Scratch.

Simple living, to me, means making things from scratch like my grandmother did. Natural living, to me, means living off of what we grow and as fresh and healthy as we can. Here are some things that are sooo good homemade. Things that are easier than you think!

  • Refried Beans – So easy and so much better than the canned stuff. I literally can not eat canned beans anymore. They are really good cooked with bacon and pepper.
  • Kombucha- It’s incredibly expensive to buy kombucha at the store and equally as incredibly cheap to make. Plus you can add chia seeds and any flavor you want.
  • Kefir- Also incredibly expensive, and super easy to make at home.
  • Hummus- Super easy! And the varieties are endless. Just make sure you make a trip to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to pick up tahini.
  • Pizza dough- Just throw all the ingredients in the bread maker and there you go. Easier and tastier than frozen.
  • Jam- Fresh and healthy jam is just an hour away  with a bread maker. I just made Pomegranate jam, so delectable.
  • Yogurt- In a crock pot. You can make it as thin or thick as you like, super yummy!

When my husband and I got married we were on a  very tight budget. I had to learn to save money in all aspects of the home. Everything from clotheslines to thrift stores and especially in the kitchen. This is a list of things I regularly make but there’s much more. Whenever I have extra produce I know we can’t finish before it spoils, I make something like a juice or jam, or can it…. or my chickens will eat it. 🙂 Making things like this, for me, feels right. I love simple living, natural living and grateful that my financial circumstances helped me to find this lovely part of me. Recipes to come soon!

Top Three Autism Tactile Experiences Remembered 

Here are my favorite autism tactile experiences remembered. (that I can look back and laugh about now) Enjoy… if you’re brave!

Number one. I had just had my last son, boy #6. I was nursing him in my room and noticed things were really quiet. Always a sign of trouble, right moms? When I came out I found boy #5, who was 3 1/2 years old at the time, (my lowest functioning on the spectrum) completely naked.  Now those who have autistic children know nudity is just part of the deal. Nudity was especially the norm when he was younger.. so this wasn’t any surprise. What was a surprise was that he had taken an entire bottle, HUGE bulk size bottle of baby lotion and covered his entire body with it, as well as the floor, wall, bookshelf and door. He was thoroughly in his own world swirling his hands in circles on the slippery tile. That room smelled like fresh baby for weeks!

My second favorite memory is of boy #5 again.  I was busy, studying for school and things were too quiet. I called to him and when he didn’t come to my room I went looking for him. My house is small, it didn’t take long. So there he was… standing with the refrigerator door open. On his head were probably six or seven cracked eggs, just hanging there off his head in globs and bits of shell mixed in. Around him were eggs that didn’t make it to his head. It was not at all what I expected to find when I went looking for him. His hair was so shiny after that!

Ok I’m saving the best for last.  Number three.  It’s not for the squeamish or faint of heart. There’s still time to turn back! Ok, here we go. This one I know many autism parents can relate to. So, four-year-old boy #5 was playing in my room while Dad was napping. I thought he was playing with trains. 😮 He was not, oh boy he was not. I went to check on him at the same time my husband woke up to the awful smell of poop everywhere! My husband is squeamish so I  had him leave the room quickly while I assessed the damage or “work of art” my son had created. I don’t know how to describe the shock I was in. Except that I was stuck not knowing what to do first as the feces was just all over my son and the corner of the room. But my mommy instincts swung in and I carefully swooped up my poop covered child and ran to the bath. That was a loooong bath. I think moms have a super power to be able to deal with all the poop and spit and vomit of mommy life. Ok. Back to the poop covered room. So he had smeared it on two walls, ground it into the carpet and created little poop sculptures on the floor (very creative). I was cleaning for hours and hours until it was gone. Then hours more for good measure. I didn’t know that skinny little boy could make a lo much poop!

Those are my top three! Life with autism is never boring! 😊

Finding Miracles in Everyday Moments

Miracles are everywhere. They are constantly unfolding in everyday moments. If you have eyes to see them you will recognize these small wonders. I don’t see them when I’m feeling negative, or when anger has got hold of me. Only when I am positive, content and my heart filled with gratitude.

Almost every morning I wake up my home by opening windows, turning out any lights. I always check the sky to catch the sunrise. They can be so beautiful that I have to take pictures. (and I do, just check my Instagram!) I let my chickens out of their coops and watch them hurry about or sometimes just lazily wander out. I stretch and pray and thank God to be alive.. a great miracle.

This morning I was standing at my screen door admiring a hummingbird drinking the nectar of my orange honeysuckles. I thought of a video I’d seen on youtube years ago, about a hummingbird that would come in and visit an older gentleman at his kitchen window every day. They were like friends. I really wanted that hummingbird to be my friend. Immediately after thinking this, the hummingbird flew over to me and hovered in front of me for a while, then flew away. It made me feel so happy and I recognized that as my miracle.

If we keep our hearts eyes open, we will see everyday moment miracles, these marvelous happenings reminding us that we are meant to feel simple beautiful joy.

They Are Us

I think about my ancestors a lot. I feel connected to them and feel they are near me. I feel them wanting me to find all of us. So I search for the lost and remember their names. I wrote this poem last night about them.

 

Like me, like you

they are us.

Here and there,

enveloping us in their presence.

 

Loving us, gently guiding…

softly encouraging.

Always

 

Cheering, waiting

aching for us.

Longing, longing,

longing.

 

They are us.

 

Intertwined DNA,

Glimpse of temperament and

personality..

Come forth in us.

 

So close…

They weep our names,

-their names.

 

They are us.

 

Spirit, spirit

so close…

My blood, your blood.

 

Forever linked,

for always.

Us.

Our ancestors.

The Simplicity of Fall

I love Fall. It’s always been my favorite time of year. The crackling leaves, the golden trees, the brisk bite in the air has always been like a miracle to me after a Las Vegas summer. And sweater weather is something I always look forward to.

I went hiking with three of my boys last Saturday to Mount Charleston, Nevada. The leaves were turning mustardy, brassy colors and looked stunning against the green pines. The air was clean and fresh and felt renewing. If it weren’t for the crowds, I think it would have been ideal.

We stopped for a rest and sat on some large rocks, they looked like old tired sentinels. I told my sons to be quiet and listen to my favorite sound on the mountain. The sound of the breeze blowing high through the trees. It brings me back to laying in a tent, on that same mountain, growing up, hearing that water like sound.

I love how the trees and grasses just follow the order in which they were created. Dropping their leaves, or going dormant. It’s so perfectly simple. The cycle so lovely and flawless.

I love the idea of dropping things I don’t need. Letting go of old ‘things’, like leaves that would otherwise sit in a closet or a garage and rot, letting bad habits or addictions go dormant. I like to follow Fall’s example.

I love the simplicity of Fall.