Thursday, May 27, 2010

Giveaway over at Homestead Revival!

I've got another great giveaway for you all! A new site that I came across, today, thanks to Home of Peaceful Acres is Homestead Revival. She is giving away these BPA & reusable canning lids! Go to her site, and enter to win! This is good stuff, people...I've already entered mine:)

Love to all...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Precipice

This post is going to be raw...a stream of conscious look into the cloudy state of my brain.

I know that's not a new thing, but this isn't thought out. At this point, if I were to wait until everything is organized in my brain, it would be weeks until the next post. I'm about to think that part of the original problem is my infernal need to get everything straightened out in my head before I act. Because "straightened out" is a myth. That's the thing that led us to the place where we were back in Arlington...the waiting. So, we came out here, and we've seen beautiful things, beautiful places...but, we've also been couped up in a car for nearly 6 weeks, and we've been eating WORSE than we ever did at home. I knew that we were biting off more than we could chew trying to live out of a car, and trying to eat nutritious food. But...I was so desperate to get out, that I was willing to let myself think we could do it.

There are very few people who "get" how we feel about things. For Brandon and I, the thought of living in a place that doesn't offer anything else besides strip malls & concrete, beige homes & the Fascist regime they call HOA's, makes us sad. I don't know if it's "living in the flesh" to want to be in a place that inspires or "fits" us...but, we're weird people, you know? We're a little too anchored to be wandering around aimlessly...but, we're a little too offbeat to be couped up in the land of soul paralyzing conformity. I don't want to be a stamped out person, in a stamped out house, that is in the constant pursuit of more stuff to make me feel more fulfilled, because my Homeowner's Association won't allow me to hang my laundry on the line, or grow some dadgum food in my backyard, because the aim in life is to maintain property values, so that you can get more, to continue to GET MORE.'s turning into a rant, but I'm going to allow myself the room...

We are in Portland, Oregon. Granted, it's been raining since the minute we got here, but this place is amazing. I haven't seen a single beige house (or box with some roof grades on the front to simulate architectural interest), and there are yards, right next to downtown, where people have chickens AND vegetables growing in their FRONT yards! You know what? It's not at all off-putting. It's beautiful, and it creates a sense of community & of life HAPPENING, and of putting BACK IN to the place they live, to cultivation, to participation in something other than running on the wheel, and to making a place a home. I love it. However, it's hard to be in a place where you don't know anyone, and I'm tired of living out of the car. I want a kitchen, and I REALLY want to start healing my body.

The thing is...I know that it's all inside...I know it's about how I attack MY own day. My problem is, people are so often a product of the culture they are immersed in. I think that the culture that exists in my hometown is a smokescreen to the very issues that are creating all the problems in the world, and between people. And frankly, I'm sick of the general population rolling their eyes at me. I've found so many kindred spirits out here, people who immediately know what I mean when I give them a brief synopsis of what we intended for this trip. I want to CONNECT! I want to root in with people. I'll do this stuff, even if God intends for us to stay in Arlington...but, it would be so much easier if there were other people who felt passionately about working toward a common goal. I still looking for easy?

Seriously...someone get me off this thing.

I feel confused...maybe hormone induced?
I do know that I need a night out with my husband, and a night out with the girls...and I need to hug my mom, dad, & sister. I need to go to worship. I need to cook in a kitchen.

I. want. to. go. home...wherever that is...I want to find it, and go there.
This bird needs a nest.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Giveaway over at Organic Sister!!

One of the issues I want to address on this blog is supporting independent artists, makers of goods, and small businesses. I haven't yet breached the subject, because we've had so much else going on, and it's been a zero to sixty situation from the very beginning. But trust me, when things get settled down, I am going to be making this a regular part of The Whole Family Project. I believe that if we are ever going to be able to take back our freedom from Big Food, Big Pharma, and Big Business in general, then it needs to encompass more than just food...I want to support the person who is trying to make ends meet by creating things that come from their heart. Well, there's a good opportunity to do that, today!

One of my favorite things about blogging and being a part of the blogosphere, is that some of the people who's blogs I read on a daily basis do giveaways! The rockin' lady that runs Organic Sister is having a giveaway that I want to share with you all, here. These custom tams are beautiful...and I REALLY want one!!!

In order to enter for this giveaway, go to this link...

Read the blog, follow the directions...and you might be able to win one of these beautiful tams! While you're at it, you may as well become a regular reader of Organic Sister. She's beautiful, honest, brave...and, I always get so much out of reading her blog!

Thanks, have fun, and good luck!:)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Coasting happened.

I cracked up.

It turns out that half way through this trip, we can put one question to rest, already. Ready?

*Aleisha needs to live in or near a town.*

I love mountains...

I love trees...

...and I REALLY love the beach...

...a beach, by the way, that I jogged on, & had some praise and worship time with the Designer and Manufacturer of that magnificent beach & the ocean that crashed over those sands. But yesterday, when we were driving to a some mountains and trees...let's just say they had, at that moment, lost their charm. The car started to crumple in on me, I got nauseous, and I burst into tears...demanding to be out of the woods and the car, immediately!
I'm talking full-on Veruca Salt.

I've been seeing amazing things...but, I have been showering with my sandals on, and brushing my teeth in gas stations, and my ability to be fine with not having a place to hang my hat is diminishing at a rapid pace. Not to mention, the stuffing of everything we own into the back of the XTerra, the not having a readily available washing machine, and the fact that I really need one of my own cups of coffee, sent me to the point of disintegration. I'm just tired. I'm a settler...I like to nest. This whole thing has been an enormous stretch for me. Although I'm ashamed that I yelled at my sweet husband, who incidentally settled us into a motel for the week, near Portland...I'm not mad at myself for cracking. I knew it would happen...and truth be told...I'm not sure you'd find a large percentage of women who would be willing to do this in the first place.

I want to grow food, and I want to have access to nature...but, I love culture & art & architecture...I need to know that I can go to the symphony or wander around a Barnes & Noble if I need to, and I REALLY love skylines...I love cities. It's becoming clear that this farming endeavor is going to need to be more of an urban project;)

So, in the light of yesterday, I was bound to have a day of illumination. If there is one thing I know...transformation is never easy, and just because you're near the ocean, doesn't mean you all of a sudden lose all your vapid character flaws...just ask the residents of Los Angeles:) What I do know is this...Wherever you go, there you ARE. The issues that created the life I didn't want back home are the same ones that live inside me, out here on the road. The key is...the issues are IN me...not around me. All that changes, if I don't work to change myself, is I pitch fits in more beautiful surroundings. wise, God-given sister-friend, Heather reminded me today...that yes, wherever I go, there I am. But, wherever I go, there my Lord IS, also.

I don't know how people live without Him...because, there's no such thing as just coasting...

...even on the coast.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Swiss Family Utterback

Ok. So, we did the coolest thing on Monday night!

We stayed in a treehouse!

When we were in California with some family, my cousin drew my attention to this Treesort in Cave Junction, OR. I expressed how fun it would be to surprise Brandon with a night in a treehouse, and so she decided to bless us by paying for a night's stay there! What an awesome gift...and it was even more fun than we expected! Here are some more shots of this amazing place...

This is only a few...there are zip lines & horseback riding...the fun is endless. We are hoping to someday get our whole family there for a reunion. It would be the most fun I could imagine! Thanks to Christine for the gift of this amazing time...can't wait to go back!

If you are ever's Out'n'About Treehouse Treesort in Cave Junction, OR. There wonderful people running it, and there are wonderful people staying there! It comes highly recommended by yours truly;)

Sunday, May 16, 2010


One of the reasons we're out on this journey is to God, to purpose, to authenticity, to others, to nature, to real life. In the past few years, we've had many changes & many challenges. I've found myself longing for an older generation to lean on. I've always had great parents & a solid family...but, we're ALWAYS together. Most times, that creates a vacuum where real understanding is supposed to be...can't see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

I didn't have a traditional grandparent setup, either. Growing up, I had grandparents who lived far away, or were still parents themselves. (my mom is one of nine children, and her youngest sister is 2 years older than me) They either weren't a constant in my life, or they hadn't had the chance to be removed from the season of parenthood, so that they could take on the lighter & more fun role of grandparent. I loved them very much...but, it was never a situation where I got to sit at their side, have them tell me stories, & experience that quiet wisdom that comes from getting past the angst of youth, parenthood, & middle age. It never really dawned on me that I was missing that aspect of my life, until I got older, and then became a parent, myself.

On this journey, I have been craving that special relationship. In fact, in the past few years, I've experienced my first pain that I haven't had a special "grandparent-y" relationship. So, I decided to go and visit my grandfathers...both maternal and paternal. Both have passed and are buried in the same section of a cemetery in Amarillo, TX...the place of my birth & that of both sides of my family.

My dad's dad...who gave me my love for coffee.

My mom's dad...who was quirky, but who had a feather in his fedora...and I miss it.

I'm not sure what spurred me on...I wasn't particularly close to either of them...but, I really felt the urge to go, and it was a really emotional experience. Standing there, I realized that I hadn't ever really had a moment alone with either of them. For the first time in my life, it was just me and them...and I realized that I loved them and I missed them...and, so I told them so, with no interruptions. It felt good to have their undivided attention:)

I'm still reveling in this family stuff...trying, for the first time, to sort some stuff out. You know I can't write about it, until I have it compartmentalized in my head, so for now, just know I'm working on it. One thing I know for sure...connecting to your roots is a huge part of weaving history...and a sad casualty of the growing disrespect for the idea of family. I don't think you have to be blood...but, I do think commonality & understanding are pivotal to people being grounded in this feeling like their part of a bigger picture...and that they have a place.

Maybe take a moment today, and call your grandparents...or anyone who may fill that place for you. Ask them to tell you a story...ask their opinion on something that you're struggling with. You never know if you'll hear something that might make you realize an aspect of you came from a generation before, or that there was something crazy in your family's past. It's how we bridge the gap from one generation to the next. Chances are...they've weeded out all the unnecessary nonsense...and are confident that you're going to make it out just fine.

After all...they've walked this ground before you, and made it through somehow, & they know there's truly nothing new under the sun.

Thank God.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Food Aspect

Ok...let's just get it out there...the elephant in the

One of the central issues for this trip has been food. It was as a result of the blog starting, the subsequent research I was doing about Real Food, and the community of bloggers I found during that research. More than any of was spurred forward by watching Food, Inc.

Our intent was always to come out here, see some of the country, & learn about producing real food.

Problem #1 - we set ourselves up, in these first 3 weeks, for a whirlwind tour. We left Texas 2 weeks & 2 days ago, and we have spent time at these places: The Turquoise Trail, Phoenix, The Grand Canyon, Lake Mead, Las Vegas, Kern River Valley, Sequoia National Park, Kingsburg, Yosemite, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and now Oregon. You see, my cousin is getting married this weekend near Salem, OR...and I really want to be there. Soooo...while we have seen so many amazing things, it has been non-stop tourism. As you can imagine, the food thing has kinda gotten lost in the shuffle...caught in the deadline.

Problem #2 - it's pretty difficult to plan around things that you don't know are there. We have found a few little farmer's markets...but, real food farms in the places we have been, so far, are few and far between. Oh, there are tons of orange groves, vineyards, and such...but, what we're looking for isn't a "mono-crop" situation. We are looking for bio-diverse, bio-intensive, sustainable food farms...the kind that, if the structure of society were to break down today...and it is absolutely that unstable...then the people who live on these farms would shrug, shed a tear, and keep on doing what they are doing, because they are only concerned for other people...but, they have and produce everything they need right there. The very definition of sustainable, is the ability to sustain oneself when the other shoe inevitably drops...therefore, The Sustainable Real Food Farm.

Isn't that strange...the movement we are experiencing right now, is about sustainability. That is to imply that our current situation isn't sustainable. "Green" is no longer cutting it. Why? Because those who care to educate themselves about any of this, realize that the question is only in small part about how we are "treating the earth". It's about the fact that the system we have in place is not able to hold up when crisis hits. Remember when gas shot up so high, and then food prices tripled? Everyone just accepted that it was because it takes giant transportation avenues to get the food to the people so, naturally, the prices will skyrocket. Naturally?! There is nothing natural about that. That means, if the oil was all of a sudden not available, if the gasoline all of a sudden dried up...the whole population would starve to death?! In our current state of affairs, that's not such an unlikely scenario...some would even call it inevitable. Like I said...not a stable situation.

So, where are we now? We are in Grants Pass,Or and the wedding is this weekend. We're pretty excited about being here...a)because we get to see some family this weekend (including my daddy!), and b) because this is where Real Food is most readily available. A large majority of people in this region either have a backyard garden, a homestead, a farm, or know several people who do. This is like the gathering place for people who think like we do about food. We are now going to be able to slow down and concentrate on learning food...on making the changes. We are less interested in seeing tourist-y things, and more interested in just marinating in the philosophy and knowledge of those who have been doing it for a long time.

I think much of my internal struggle during the first part of this trip, was because we weren't doing what we had set out to do...but, I realize now that there was really no way that we were going to be able to do it all until we slowed down.

So...please pray for us, as we begin the part of our journey that will be the most adjustment. I'm really excited about getting our hands dirty!

Until's just about praising the Lord for this amazing place He has given us to live...I am blown away...truely.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Late Night Self Portrait

This is me. Late at night. The best I could do with the flash in my face...oh well. I didn't realize how crooked my features are...that's not at all what I look like to myself. Of course...I suffer from the opposite of anorexia...where I think I'm ok, and then catch a mirror & lose my stomach in disbelief of what I'm seeing. Delusional, I think they call it. Wow...somber mood, anyone?

The boys are asleep, and we are somewhere north of San Francisco in wine country. I believe the town is Rohnert Park. I've been having a couple of days full of meltdowns...I'm sure triggered by a nasty bout of hormonal surges and imbalances. There's no other explanation for it when I get like this...completely nonsensical abuse of myself and those around me. I have a hard time finding anything redeemable about myself during times like these. But, my dearest friend reminded me today...that's because there is nothing redeemable about me. I am justified and identified by my Saviour. He is my portion. My identity lies in Him...and Him alone. How blessed I am that I'm not all I have. I love her for the truth and therapy she gives me...Heather, I'm talkin' to you.

I realized that I am out here, waiting for some awesome change to happen to me. I basically just brought the problems from home out here on the road with me. What's with that?

Tomorrow's a new day.

Thank the Lord for His unending chances.

Flowers for Mom

Today is Mother's Day...and, the first time I have ever been without my mom on this day. Instead, I am sitting in a hotel room somewhere near the Napa Valley. I had a terrible day, and much of me just wanted to go home, today. To top it off...I didn't feel like a very good mom, today, myself. I suppose that not being able to be there with my mom made me feel far from home...and untethered. It feels weird not to be there...but, I'll have to say, when given the opportunity to be without, it makes me reflect on how much I appreciate her all the more.

My mom is a multi-faceted being...just like every masterpiece. I'm usually pretty wordy when it comes to my description of those that I love...but, this time I'll just show the evidence of my heart's dwellings on her from this trip. Every time one of these was mom was the singular thing on my mind:

Happy Mother's Day, mom. If I had had the chance to would have been you...there's simply no contest.

I love you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Living and Learning

I'm there. I'm really IN this thing. I realized today, that it had been a while...somewhere back in Arizona, that I had stopped looking back. It may have been while we were driving to Las Vegas on Monday, when I had a meltdown, and realized that my relationship with food had taken on the personality of a toxic that you know is bad, but nothing in you wants to change it...until you get punched in the face. I realized it...and for the first time, ever...I'm being able to say goodbye.

I've learned a few things about myself...out here where I rarely sleep in the same city 2 nights in a row, and have brushed my teeth in more gas station bathrooms than I care to admit. I've learned something about the world, too. Here's what I've found so far...

  • I may never be OK with driving up the side of a mountain...but, that's where the good stuff is...and I can do it.
  • I spend most of my time uncomfortable... too hot, too cold, too scared, too hungry...but, I've been sleeping better on this trip than I have since I was a kid.
  • I don't have to worry about what's happening on the news when I don't watch it.
  • Anxiety is a product of the unknown.
  • When you DO GET nothing.
  • Having your breath taken away isn't always comfortable...but, I have SEEN it...with my OWN eyes.
  • Believing that this world was made by chance, is like believing that the Sistine Chapel was an accidental paint spill.
  • I have a lot to learn...but, I know my God is sovereign...and I know I'm in the middle of His will for me.
It's taken me longer than I had hoped...but, I can honestly say, I've chipped away and away at it, and....

...I'm finally out of my shell.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Travel Chronicles

First of all...I'm not at all happy with the length of time between my posts. I looked at my last one...less than a week ago, and it feels like a year. So much is happening every single day! It's Wednesday, and it feels like months since we left Brandon's parents in Phoenix...which was Sunday morning. The good news is, we are packing so much experience and "doing" into our days, that we just fall into bed at night, get up early, and go! I really am committed to blogging, though, and one of my main goals for this week, is to be more regular about it. There is just simply no way to fit everything that is going on externally AND internally in a couple of posts a, we are trying to remedy that, by finding a way to work in a regular blogging hour into our days. Besides...I follow blogs, and I don't like to wait a long time for to my regular audience...I beg your pardon:)

What we've been up to: we left Phoenix on Sunday morning, and decided to take the Sedona route back to I40...and, I am soooo glad we did! Sedona was the first place I fell in love with, on this trip. It's so unbelievably beautiful...artsy & natural...just breathtaking.

From there, we headed up through Flagstaff, and cut through to the Grand Canyon. There were several places on the way, that Brandon and I thought we could probably set up house, because it was just so peaceful & wonderful. Nevertheless...the Canyon called, and we wanted to answer. Now would be a good time for me to let everyone in on a little secret...I am terrified of heights. I mean TERRIFIED. I can literally make myself cry just thinking about it. I've been known to get woozy looking over a second story, I was a touch nervous about the Grand Canyon, and the added worry of my 3 year old, very rambunctious little boy. Luckily, the wind was bitterly cold, and he wanted nothing more than to get back in the car! However...before we did...we got some pictures:)

We were only there for a couple of hours, but we got as much in as we could given the frosty wind & a cranky preschooler. So, we left to go find a place to stay for the night,and ended up in Williams...a little town on Route quirky, so adorable. We stayed in a little cabin, where we had our first horrible night's sleep since leaving Texas. But, warm is what we were, we got that...AND the cuteness:

The next morning, we headed out to Vegas, way of The Hoover Dam. Oh yeah...another breathtaking, and otherwise terrifying, buffet of electric body shock & mind-over-matter denials to faint...mixed with a little nausea & a doubled over bout of tears, because my husband looked too far over the edge with my child on his shoulders...and you have my experience at one of the world's greatest engineering marvels and one of our nation's proudest landmarks. I'm glad I went. I really am. It was...awesome.

Less than a hour later, we were in Las Vegas. The experience wasn't necessarily profound...but, it WAS entertaining, and I found out that if my husband is hungry enough, he will pay more money than normal for a 24 hr/7 buffet pass! Yep...for the day that we were in Vegas...we ate like kings!! I have to was a challenge...but, we ate at 7 buffets in one 24 hour period...with an overnight camp at Lake Mead in the middle of it! Mind you, we didn't eat buffet amounts, save for the very first one @ Caesar's Palace, but, we were bound and determined to hit ALL of 'em...and we did:) I ate too much shellfish...but, in my defense, how is one supposed to not eat a mound of crab legs, when they are there for the taking?

I will be doing a post about the top ten things I learned in time;) As for now...we're in Death Valley...on our way to Sequoia National Park. Hopefully, I'll be able to post this at some point. Come on internet!


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