Tuesday, April 05, 2011

When has it been "long enough"?

I'm in a weird spot right now. I have been separated from my daughter's father since early December. While he still makes me incredibly angry, I am starting to finally actually look around and see that there are other people out there who might... you know... be worth my time.

I'm torn... I really want to be back in the world, meeting people and going on dates, but I'm not sure how much I'm ready for.

Most of the anger at my ex is over his continued lying and the fact that he consistently chooses his own comfort and desires over even seeing his daughter. Yeah, it's been almost 3 weeks since he's last seen her, and he's disappeared for two other weeks before this. One of those weeks he told me that he was on a trip to 'contemplate his mistakes'... just more lies.

Still, I worry that his ability to effect me emotionally means that I'm not ready to consider anyone else in my life.

It's also hard because River is so constantly attached to me. It's not like I can leave her with her grandparents and expect her to even be able to nap, she needs to breastfeed to sleep. While I would expect anyone I dated to be ok with River, I couldn't ask someone to always have her around.. the relationship needs to be about the two adults first, I'm not looking for a father for her or something.

In happier news: River has an uncle. A friend of mine who is surprisingly amazing with her decided that he's her uncle. I'm cool with that :-)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Book Review: Twelve by Twelve (cont.)

Recently I posted about the book Twelve by Twelve*; a one-room cabin off the grid & beyond the American dream, by William Powers. When I had first posted, I was about 90 pages into the 260 page book, but I was loving it so much and the book was so relevant to my dreams of having a tiny self-sufficient home.

One of the concepts that stood out to me most was the idea that we vote with our money. Specifically, it's the concept that the decision to spend money in certain ways has much larger impacts than just the exchange of money for goods. A good example of this is spending money on something hand made from conscientiously farmed Alpaca wool and paying a fair price versus buying something that was sewn in a sweat shop where the laborers do not get a fair wage and the product is made with possibly toxic ingredients.

I've read about this concept in a couple other places, but this book talked about how the author really worked to change his spending habits and his own battle with the increase in price for goods that are less damaging to the environment and the places they originate from. It was very nice to hear more than just the theory, but to see actual examples of how it was put into action. On the other hand, I think he was very lucky to have free-range farmers living just across the street.

Anyways, to wrap everything up, since this is supposed to be a book review instead of a book report, I really liked the book. The author's voice was engaging and fun to read, and while there may not have been an identifiable conflict-resolution story line, the book did keep me interested and thinking.

*Though I link to the book on Amazon.com, I highly encourage purchasing the book from an independent retailer or borrowing it from your local library.

also, I'm thinking about starting a parallel blog for reviews, that way I can share it with family and friends and still keep this blog a little more anonymous.  Any thoughts?

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm so tired.

I keep meaning to post a wrap-up review of the 12x12 book, but I can't seem to make myself think about anything productive right now.

This whole divorce thing is really getting the best of me. I hesitate to show any weakness or really talk about it because of the whole mess surrounding it. I'm terrified that something I say can be used against me; that even telling the truth in a public way will get me in trouble.

I'm mentally and emotionally exhausted all the time, keeping this all inside of myself and acting like this well-adjusted, perfect mother. I push it all down in part to not break down in front of my daughter, but also in an effort to not make my friends uncomfortable.

I've settled into living at my parents' house, even unpacking some boxes, because I've come to terms with not having any other options. I've been passed over for jobs, I can't seem to save enough money to get myself anywhere, I'm living on the bare minimum. Even my etsy efforts have totally floundered; I haven't made a single sale.

I can't believe how much my ex still has the ability to get to me. He drops off the face of the planet, refusing to speak to me or see River just so that he won't have to deal with any uncomfortable topic I might bring up. It suits me fine to not have him around, but I know that's unfair for our daughter. I keep finding out about more lies that he's told me, and I can't believe how much it still hurts.

He talks a lot about being 'co-parents for River's sake', but it seems to boil down to me being honest and telling him about everything we're doing and him continuing to lie to me. When we're together and he's visiting River, he reverts right back into the overly-familiar relationship mode, and it's so hard to push out of that and keep everything at arm's length even though I KNOW he's still lying to me. I'm so tired.

I'm so tired of holding it together for River's sake. I'm so tired of being civil because I'm scared of what he could do to me if he really took legal action. I'm so tired of putting on a happy face for my family who are visibly and vocally uncomfortable about any emotional reaction I have. I'm so tired of getting myself up and dressed and out of the house every day because sitting at home means that I dwell. I'm so tired of going to therapy and having to talk through how 'wronged' I feel. I'm so tired of crying. I'm so tired of this aching feeling that hasn't left me for the past 4 months.

I have plenty of great things in my life, but everything seems to be overshadowed by this exhaustion.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Geek and Gamer Girl

This song has been something of an anthem of mine lately. I'm a proud geeky gamer girl, and tonight I'm going to play D&D with my new group. They play twice a month, and one of the other member is a fellow La Leche League mom, so they're really awesome about me having River. It's nice, since the divorce has left me with River constantly and no extra funds for babysitters or anything.

The group also does a podcast before beginning to play, and it can be seen here: Lords of Tyr. Gaming should be starting some time between 6 and 7

I've resurrected an old character of mine that I never really got to see to fruition for this group. The simplest description I've come up with for her is that she's the closes an elf can get to a tree. She has bark armor, greenish dreadlocked hair, and uses a longbow.

Green Thumb?

I'll admit it. I can't grow anything. I touch a plant, and it dies. Also, I have a cat that eats anything green and living. Thanks to the divorce, I don't have my cat right now, so that's one thing down... So I figured, why not? Most of my dreams include at least a little garden where I'm growing my own food, so it's probably a good idea to try my hand at planting now before I stake any future on it.

My mini greenhouse
I already have seeds sprouting for some chamomile, and some lavender is planted but hasn't sprouted yet. My mother was nice enough to lend me a mini greenhouse to put by the back window. While it's a bit late for sprouting seeds for outdoor planting, I'm planning on starting a nice pot garden of herbs and tea plants. I have some more seeds that I'm waiting for another nice-weather day to plant.

Lavender on left, Chamomile on right, and an avocado pit in the middle
I even planted a random avocado pit from an avocado I tried to feed River. She didn't like it, and I'm not a fan of avocados, but I had it on hand when I was planting, and decided it'd be fun to throw it in a yogurt container and see if it grew.

Clover and a couple other plants
I also got some already grown plants from the hardware store. I just need to repot them into some nice eco-plastic containers I got and they'll be going around my bedroom to freshen the air and help bring some living energy into the room.

At some point, if I even get around to cleaning my room and making it look nice enough, I'll even be submitting a "living in one room" post to Offbeat Home

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: Twelve by Twelve

   Normally I would wait until I finished a book to write a book review, but I find myself so engrossed in this book that I feel the need to share my journey through it. Twelve by Twelve: A one-room cabin off the grid & beyond the American dream*, by William Powers.

   Recently, I posted about my dreams (I am a Dreamer). Now, please understand that I am a compulsive researcher. If I'm stressed about something, I research it. If I feel like something I want is out of reach, I research it. If I'm bored, I research. Unfortunately, this only works when I don't NEED to research (give me a paper to write, and I'll put off any sort of research until the very last minute).

Exterior of 12 x 12 house
   Increasingly my dreams include living in a tiny, self-sustainable home of some kind, whether it's a mobile home or a small permaculture alpaca farm. I've read a few books specifically about green building and living in small homes as a way to minimize our ecological footprint. They just don't seem to fulfill whatever need it is that is driving me to research the subject.

Interior layout of 12 x 12 house
   Then I found this book, about a man who met a woman who lived in a tiny, 12' x 12' cabin and was helping to restore some of the land around her through the use of permaculture.
Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies.
Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect and minimise work. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. -Wikipedia
Map of permaculture around the 12 x 12 house
   The book tells of the man's internal journey while living in the 12 x 12 house over a period of time. The reflections about American society and how the 'American Dream' has destroyed not only our own ecosystem, but the ecosystem of the entire planet is incredibly well written and researched. The author gives a great view into his thought processes as he changed his ideals and realized that the change needed to accomplish his life goals needed to begin at home.

Exterior of 12 x 12 house
    Keep in mind that I'm only 90 pages into the 260 page book. If I remember, I'll update again when I've finished it, but I make no promises.

* though I link to the book on Amazon.com, I encourage all readers to order the book from an independent retailer or check it out from their library. Amazon simply provides a good website where you can read reviews and find used books.

note: all images are used without express permission from the media section of http://williampowersbooks.com.

also note: I love my library!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Really pretty mural
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; I love the library. We end up there at least two times a week, usually more like three or four. We have a routine set for mornings that start with storytime at 10 am.

Board books = awesome!
 I regularly visit two different library districts, and have schedules for programming at a few others just in case something interesting comes up. We've seen singers, played scrabble, listened to stories, and crafted at libraries.

Giant red comfy couch = win!
 River loves all the toys and watching other kids play. Most of her developmental leaps and bounds have happened after watching other children do something.

River loves the toys!
After story time and a little bit of play time in the kids' area, River is usually pretty exhausted. I'll walk around with her for a little while, usually picking out new books for me (one fiction and one nonfiction), and then we'll settle in on some comfy seats in nonfiction. We have a regular little spot in front of huge floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on a nature area. River will either snuggle in right away for nursing and napping, or she'll lay on my lap, gazing out the window at the birds and little lake. Since it's in nonfiction, it's usually pretty quiet, and I get a good amount of reading done.
River is hamming it up after a boobie-filled library nap time.
I have to say, since I've been living at home again, it's been nice to have a place to go out and laze about at. Distance to a library will definitely be a deciding factor in any future living arrangement decisions, this 20 minute drive I have now is too far! I need to be able to walk there.

Other library posts:
Anyways, I just started a diaper service, so I need to go buy a trash can or something that can fit the bag they give me with the diapers :-) Adventure to Ikea!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I am a Dreamer

That's right, I'm a dreamer. A big-time, lots of life goals, most of them unattainable, dreamer. I research and plan and even build mock-ups in my Sims 2 Double Delux video game.

I have an entire tea cafe built and operating in my head. I know where I would source the tea from, how I would decorate the walls, and even have some ideas about location (though more research would definitely be necessary in that department). It would be a bit of Teavana, plus some Dollop Coffee. All tea would be brewed loose leave in cast iron pots, but the environment would be part asian influence and part local coffee shop vibe.

In my dreams (literally, while I'm sleeping) I'm living on an alpaca farm with River. We're living in a tiny little farm house with a huge barn and lots of bright sunny land. She's about 3, running around in huge rubber rain boots and hugging the fluffy alpacas. When I was in labor with River, my imaginary farm was my happy place.

This is an Alpaca. They are made of Awesome.

In case you were wondering if people actually built houses on flatbed trailers, here's a picture of one! Seriously made of Awesome!

I'm seriously planning a solar-powered trailer home to live in full-time. I'm not sure if it'll be a house built onto a trailer bed or a gutted and refurnished trailer (like one of those giant silver Twinkies). Everything would be in miniature, very compact, and every space would be used. I'd get rid of most of our posessions and live on the bare minimum. Our home would be wherever we parked, and if we got bored, we'd move.

Here's an example of a yurt. It's made of awesome too.

Other than these, I've also daydreamed about living in a hand-built yurt in the woods, living in a hobbit hole, moving to other countries or at least across this one, owning different businesses, or living off the grid completely.

Awesome Linkies:
Right now, having all these dreams is both a good and bad thing. It's good that I have somewhere to go in my head when things are getting too stressful, it's good that I have interests and goals in life and that they're varied and constantly evolving. But it's disheartening that everything seems to hinge on money. There are so many things I'd jump at the ability to do, but can't because of the lack of funds. Even building my own home on wheels would take a way more money that I have or have access to.

Being a suddenly single mom, with no job, no reliable income, and currently basically 'squatting' at my parents' house is pretty depressing when I stop to think about it. But I'll continue to dream :-)

River + Lamby = LOVE!

In an effort to be able to get a job or even just leave River with someone else for a period of time, I've been trying to get her to bond with an object or a 'lovey'.

At first I tried carrying, nursing, and napping with a certain crocheted blanket that I made her while I was pregnant and desperate for crafts I could do on top of a giant belly. While she loved being snuggled in a blanky, it held no particular importance for her. I then switched to a fleece blanket, thinking that maybe the crocheted texture was throwing her off and that the crocheted blanket was really too large for her to be lugging around with her when she started going places. She didn't bond to the fleece blanket either.

I think I assumed that she was going to be a blanky-baby mostly because I was one and because I still love snuggling up with a good blanket. What I don't know, is why I stuck to trying blankets for so long! Seriously, nine months and my brain never said "let's try something else!" I can be so dense sometimes.

Well, last night, during her 9-11 pm wakeful time, I pulled out one of her particularly adorable stuffed animals, a lamb that isn't much smaller than she is. INSTANT BONDING! Her eyes got all big, she grabbed it by its adorable little ears, and proceeded to kiss it.

At one point, while nursing River, as she was on her way to dream land, she even grabbed lamby and put him/her/it on my other boob >.< as awkward as it felt to be nursing a stuffed lamb, it was so sweet that she wanted to share nursing boob-time with her new friend.

Today I've been doing everything I can to keep 'lamby' (my name for it until she's old enough to name it herself) within view.

River and Lamby in front of the window

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bullet points = FUN!

Here's some news / random observations... IN BULLET POINT! because I'm awesome.
  • We signed up for a diaper service. WEE! I don't think I need anywhere near the amount of diapers they give you for the first month, but we can adjust after he doesn't use them all.
  • River is strangely sick. Unable to eat any solid or solid-ish foods. She gags and throws up (not spits up, I know the difference). Other than throwing up, she's totally fine. She's been on a boob and watery oatmeal diet for three days. We're taking her to the doctor today because, if it's serious, I don't want to wait all weekend of find out.
  • Libraries RAWK! seriously. I think I go to the library 3 times a week, at least! Any day I don't have something else to do is an invitation to check the programming schedules of all the local libraries and pick something, or just go and let River play with the toys and watch the other kids. 
  • I'm in a crafting rut. Nothing has sold from Etsy, so I stopped churning out cross stitches, and it's too hard to work in my mother's basement, where the sewing machines are, with River... 
  • I applied for three jobs... haven't heard anything from any of them. :-/ sad panda.
  • The Weather Is Awesome. (or at least it was yesterday, I haven't been outside yet today, but I think I'm going to be disappointed)
  • Going to see the ex today. I'm so emotionally drained from all the visits, but at this point he gets supervised visits with River, so I suck it up.
Well, I'm off to the library for story time! Adios!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Since the divorce, I've been trying to find ways to stay at home and make some money to supplement the child/spousal support I've been getting. It's been hard dealing with the fact that I may have to compromise on some of the parenting plans I had for River in order to stay afloat. One of the things I've been trying has been an Etsy.com page full of dorky cross stitches :-)

Take a look, comment, buy if you'd like. It'd be really helping out a mom! If you'd like something else or something you see there on another base, let me know and I'd be happy to wip it out ^.^


I find myself sitting on the post screen pretty often since I started blogging again. Sometimes I'll write a few sentences, sit for a few minutes, and then close everything. I'm not sure why I do this... Maybe I'm not sure what to say, or not sure that what I have to say is interesting enough to be a meaningful contribution to the blogosphere. But that's where I'm at right now, and why there haven't been any updates.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Going Back To Work

Thanks to the uber-fun divorce (the meat of which is fodder for another post at another time), it has become apparent that I need to get a job.

After the initial move-out, my ex agreed to provide River and myself with a pretty decent bit of child-support/spousal-support.. which is enough to cover food and gas (and not much else). While this is great, if I felt I could expect any sort of lasting commitment from my ex, even regarding money, and I was planning on living with my parents until River was 18, but that's not the case.

When I was a teenager, it became apparent that living with my parents was NOT a good environment for me. I chafed at their restrictions and intrusiveness, and things have not changed. My parents and I get along fine when I'm not living with them, but for some reason we just all need to have our say about everything, and that just doesn't work well for a living situation.

The original plan was to supplement the child/spousal support by selling things on Etsy.com... but after a few posts on there and a couple months of waiting nothing sold. I've tried advertising my etsy on other sites and even sending all my products to a convention with a friend to be sold there. Well... One thing sold... For $7. Not exactly income, and after buying business cards and supplies, it doesn't even start to cover expenses. So, I guess I'm done crafting.


It's on to the world of a working, single mother.

The biggest hurdle I see is what to do with River while I'm working. I looked into child-care options in my area that fit with my parenting philosophies, and they cost more per month than I would pay for rent! Way more than I can afford. My parents, while helpful when it's convenient for them, are not willing to give up their activities (my mother sews in guilds and such) on days that I would need them to watch River. The ex is less than helpful (his work schedule is erratic, he have a living situation that can accommodate a baby, and I just plain don't trust him with our daughter).

It's hard enough to find a job right now, without having scheduling issues that need to be worked around.

So far I've applied at a tea store that I've worked for before and I'm hoping would want to hire me enough to deal with my crazy schedule, and at the library for a really limited hour shelving position. I'm also forwarding my resume to a friend who might be able to get me a paid internship at U of C and would share childcare duties with me (which would be AWESOME!).


While writing this whole post I managed to ignore the extreme anxiety I feel about leaving River to get a job. It keeps me up at night. Just last night I managed to leave River with my mother for an HOUR to get dinner with a friend. The whole time I couldn't stop worrying about her. My biggest fear is that she's going to be crying and hysterical and I'm not going to be able to do anything.

I hold very strongly to the philosophies of attachment parenting. I think that children tell you what they need and that it is unethical to cause them undue stress by denying it. We had decided that River would always have a parent home with her, but thanks to the actions of my ex, that isn't possible anymore. It's hard when the situation changes and your philosophies don't.

I know that if I could find a legitimate work-from-home option, I would take it. If I could bring River to a job with me, I would jump at the opportunity. I'm so worried and scared and stressed about this. I just don't have a choice.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Product Review: Ikea play fruits and veggies

Even before River was born, I had very strong intentions to surround her with hand-made fabric and wooden toys instead of the typical mass-produced plastic toys. I have not been able to stick to this as much as I would have liked, having received a lot of plastic toys and being unable to afford hand-made products.

One of the toys I intended to buy for River was a good set of play fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, sets on Etsy run about $30, and are pretty limited. During one of my random visits to Ikea though, I found THESE:

Each set is $7.99 and come with a good selection. Plus, the lettuce leaves velcro on and off, and the banana can be peeled! The sets are standing up really well to River's chewing and don't have any loose fibers that she can eat.

My little hobbit loves the mushrooms!
In the same product line, Ikea also has a breakfast set and a dessert set, both of which I was not incredibly impressed by and didn't buy. Specifically, we didn't purchase the breakfast set because I plan on raising River vegetarian, so play meats aren't really encouraged, and I didn't really feel the need to encourage a love of sweets...

Then again, if you can afford buying handmade, this products looks great: Handmade Eco Friendly Felt Play Food by MsMagpieGirl on Etsy.com

Thursday, March 03, 2011

River's health concerns

Recently, I took a hiatus from blogging that lasted longer than anticipated. It began due to some scares we had with River's health. Specifically, she fell off the weight charts. Not like she was low on it, not like she was just a little underweight, she had NO CURVE. She was growing in length, she seemed ok mentally and was developing well, but she was SKINNY.

River in October, 2010

Now, I'm no large person. Actually, I have a pretty standard explanation that I have to give doctors along the lines of, "no, I'm not anorexic or bulimic, I'd love to gain weight, but I just can't seem to." That said, I didn't really panic when she was seeming skinnier than most.

It took some pretty, in my opinion, immature behavior on the part of my family to make me finally see that there was a real issue with her weight. Specifically, during a family trip, my entire extended family apparently 'had a discussion' about River's weight, and while they were all perfectly fine with critiquing my parenting decisions (specifically attachment parenting) none of the talked to me about her weight. Instead, after everyone got home from the trip, my grandmother called me and my mother had a discussion with me about it.

They were right, she was underweight and was starting to look sick because of it. So I took her to the doctor. The doctor wanted us to see a specialist, but during the wait for my (now) ex to get insurance, I changed her diet and she started gaining weight regularly again. We still don't have insurance (thanks to the ex), but she's gaining so steadily that our family practitioner is satisfied with just keeping a close eye on her to make sure that she doesn't plateau again.

More recently, look at those cheeks!

I'm not going to get into the whole ex thing yet, that's a post all its own.

Anyways, after the first visit, my mother decided to tell me that one of my uncles had actually threatened to call DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services) on us because of her weight. There is some disagreement about whether he was actually earnest or was just offering to drop the shoe to get me to take River to the doctor (which I guess they didn't think I would do for some reason). Either way, he seemed to think it was a valid threat to make, and my mother seemed to think the threat was needed even after the fact.

Needless to say I WAS LIVID. It was a medical issue, we took her to the doctor as soon as someone talked to me about it in a serious way and I realized that there actually was an issue, and in NO way should that warrant a call to DCFS. Not to mention the fact that my uncle's son has ALWAYS been larger than normal, so he doesn't exactly have a standard basis of comparison.

Setting all bitching aside, River is now steadily gaining weight and is approaching a normal weight, looking healthier, showing no developmental setbacks, and has some amazing chubby baby cheeks! Now I just make sure that she's eating at least three big meals per day, getting a variety of foods, and continuing to gain.

(only a couple days after the first doctor appointment, when we were still terrified, was when I found out my ex was cheating on me >.< it was quite a blow)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Book Review: Elusive Moose

River and I are avid library goers (ALA | Campaign for America's Libraries). We're there AT LEAST twice a week, sometimes as often as every-other-day! River is a big fan of preschool story time and I love playing Scrabble with the older folks.

Part of our library habit includes checking out a certain number of things once per week: 2 child-friendly CD's, (at least) 1 adult nonfiction book, 1 adult fiction book, and 3 board books.

This week I was particularly impressed by Elusive Moose, by Joan Gannij and Clare Beaton.

Front Cover

The book features pictures of mixed media (mostly felt and embroidery) art. It identifies multiple woodland animals with a hidden moose on every page. There are no pronouns or any other identification of sex/gender other than the fact that the main moose has antlers.

Random page
I think that the part of me that wants to live in a cabin or yurt in the woods is what really draws me to this book. I also love all the pictured textures and the creativity that must have gone into making the original art.

My only wish is that this book came as a felt or soft book. While it would definitely need to be simplified (no buttons or sequins), it would be fantastic to be able to feel all the pictured textures. A soft book would also be great to guard against my child's voracious apatite for eating board books when I'm not looking >.<

In conclusion, Five Stars! Two Thumbs Up! Bravo! Buy this book or borrow it from your library!

Slow Return??

My daughter, playing with fruits, veggies, and a toothbrush. She's going to be better about her health than I am!

I'm not entirely sure yet, but I think I'm going to return to the blog-o-sphere. A lot has happened in my life since my last post, most notably River had a medical scare, which has been nearly resolved, and I am now a single mother.

I can honestly say that my life has been very hectic lately, which is not the norm for me. I'm usually very chill and laid back.

I will not be linking to every post on my facebook, mostly because I don't want a lot of people that I know IRL to be reading this.. But I need to vent. I need somewhere that I can let go and talk and feel like maybe, somewhere, someone has heard me.

I also intend to keep reviewing books, movies, products, etc... So check back often! I really hope this blog doesn't just turn into some personal journal full of my bitching...