Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Me and My Blueberries

I realized, the other day, that my food cravings actually pattern seasonal fare. I'm thrilled about that, because as we move away from the industrialized food grid, we are going to be changing the way we see the availability of food. We will be trading in the availability of all foods at all times, for the more rewarding system of looking forward to certain times of the year when we can enjoy the tastiest and most nutrient dense version of foods we love, in large quantities.

Warning: Soapbox Sidebar... {What a novel concept...quantity and quality working in a synergistic, symbiotic way to create a feast of health and pleasure! If a big corporation was trying to achieve that level of productivity, they would hire a consultant for millions of dollars to teach them how to make that happen. Why? Because that kind of thing doesn't just happen as a result of human nature or chaos all of a sudden righting itself. Hmmm...sounds like someone really intelligent may have had a hand in designing it.}

So, as it turns out, I'm a little ahead of the game on that point...and, I think that if we all tuned into ourselves and our bodies that maybe we would all realize that we crave winter foods in winter, summer foods in summer, etc?...I don't know...just a hunch.

Anyway, so here we are in summer, and I am happy as a clam. It's due, in no small part, to the fact that blueberries are in season RIGHT NOW! Last Friday was the first blueberry picking trip of the season...aren't they beautiful?

Blueberry picking has been a part of my summer for my entire life. I'm not sure why we didn't really pick anything else...but, blueberries are like the symbolic family fruit where I come from. Blueberry syrup, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes...these are all wonderful. But, when the mercury starts to rise, and blueberry picking weekend approaches, there is one thing on my mind. Like a teenage girl waiting for her Sweet 16, or dew drops awaiting the dawn...I yearn for {frozen blueberries & milk}.

t's the easiest thing you can possibly imagine. After you wash your blueberries, lay them out to dry. (If you freeze them while they are still wet, they get all icy and mealy in the freezer.) After that pop them in freezer bags, and the next day you'll have the most refreshing treat imaginable. Pour some in a bowl, pour milk over them, add a touch of vanilla extract, and you have a bowl of summer yummy goodness that is better than ice cream, in my opinion. The milk freezes around the berries, making a frosty, slushy, healthy, gorgeous, just sweet enough bowl of bliss, and I am COMPLETELY smitten. When you throw in the fact that they are brimming with powerful nutrients, such as antioxidants, Vitamin C, Resveratrol, fiber, and manganese...well, it's clearly the front-runner in the race for my heart...not to mention my collagen matrix, capillary integrity, and overall free radical fighting ability:)

GO! RUN! Get some quickly!!!'ll want to experience this as soon as possible:)

Happy Summer my dear friends:)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our Adoption Story

I have been trying to find a place to fit the subject of adoption into the Project. For my husband and I, it's a very personal issue that has profoundly affected our life for years. I have decided that I will be incorporating a Spotlight on Adoption post to every last Tuesday of each month. Tuesdays are the days that I plan on writing about parenting & child rearing issues...whether it be something that we are dealing with and need help on, or if it be a tip that I have used in our home that has worked and which I feel would be useful to pass on. I hope to have running themes on each day of the week and then inspirational bits on Saturdays...all of which will funnel toward the common theme of practical ways to keep our families whole.

Today is the first of those posts...this is our adoption story:

In October of 2006, Brandon and I had been married for 3 1/2 years. There is nothing that either of us wanted more than to have children. Though we truly did want to have at least one biological child, we both felt a strong burden for children that needed a home, and we were determined that we would adopt at some point in our lives...if only just one child. However, in the fall of 2006, we owned a little landscaping business, we lived in a one bedroom apartment, and we were in NO financial shape to be seriously attempting it.

I was having a terrible time with my inability to conceive a child at that particular point. To be honest, I was exhausted with hope. I was sick of trying to keep my chin up, I was sick of that little feeling in my stomach EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I opened my eyes to see if there was a plus on the little test maybe THIS was the time...maybe THIS TIME we would get what we longed for. It all culminated one night, as I lay awake in bed & considered the fact that I may NEVER have a child. NEVER...that word rang in my mind as I wept and sputtered down the stairs of our loft at 2am, to go cry in the kitchen. I had a really hard time understanding why God would allow this...I mean crackheads have babies ALL THE TIME...seriously...WHAT THE???!!! It was at this point that I had to really search my soul...and I mean DIG DEEP. I just had a moment where I thought..."OK. If I never get to be pregnant, if I never get to give birth, if I never get to make a baby with my I ever going to be happy again?" I literally had to answer that question for myself. Immediately I knew...I could lay down my desires to be pregnant, but there's no way my life made sense without motherhood in it. So, in an instant...I just stopped. I put the proverbial baggage down...I turned around, and I walked away from it. I gave pregnancy to God...I told Him, "it's Yours. You take it. But, PLEASE let me be a mother somehow." That was December 20, 2006.

{Back in October of 2006, I had gotten a call from a friend. She told me that her boyfriend (who we'll just call Bob) had just received a call from a girl, that she had given birth to his child, and that she didn't feel that she could care for him. She told him that he could pick up the baby if he wanted to, and so...he did. My friend asked me if I could help him babysit, because this had just been sprung on him, and he had a full time job, and they knew that I wasn't working, at that point. I was happy to, and I began babysitting off and on for the next couple of months. The very first day, my husband and I had made an offhanded comment that we were looking to adopt sometime, and that if he didn't feel like he could do it alone, we would be happy to take the baby boy. We left it at that, and never put another thought into it...until December 21, the day after my meeting with God.}

December 21 is my grandmother's birthday, and my mom, sister, and I went out to lunch & shop for that and some more Christmas stuff. My mom had picked me up a little earlier, and I was telling her about the realization I had come to with God, the night before. We met my sister at a little deli shop, and I got a phone call from Brandon. He said that Bob had called very upset, and wanted to know if he could bring the baby over for the afternoon. He had just received negative paternity results, and needed to go talk to his family to decide what his next move was. *My heart nearly stopped.* I got a rush of adrenaline and a knot knitted itself in my stomach that would stay there for the next year and a half. I knew immediately what was happening, but there was no way that I was going to believe that THE. NEXT. DAY. after surrendering my will to God, that He would just hand me a child. Dude...that just doesn't happen...right? That stuff only happens in movies.......right?

I suppose that God had something to show me about His truly unbelievable antsy-ness to bless us.

I rushed home to help take care of the baby...Jackson was his name, and I waited by the phone. That night came and went, and we slept with a 10 week old baby in our bed, and the next day came and went...same story. On Christmas Eve, I finally got ahold of Bob. He told me that he did want to come get the baby...but, just for that night and Christmas Day so that he and his family could say goodbye...that, if we seriously wanted to have him...we could. He was devastated, but knew this was the best way.

There's no way to describe what kind of feelings began in me that day...but, it's probably not what you'd expect. I felt terror, disbelief, panic, gut-wrenching doubt, completely out of control, and then that love...oh the love I had for that baby boy. Overwhelming love. It was a love that I couldn't even access at that point, no matter how I tried, because I was terrified that it was all going to unravel. I wouldn't let anyone call me his mom until we had papers signed by the birth mother (who I will tell you about, later...she deserves her own post), and even then, I was protective of myself.

For the next year and a half, we went through all the adoption red tape, I got a raucous case of insomnia, and pretty heavy dose of anxiety disorder...and a child. A child whose name we now spell Jaxen, and who is my son...through and blood, my calling, my gift...a treasure on loan from a gracious Heavenly Father who couldn't. wait. a. single. day. to wow me beyond all my imaginings, because I gave my desires to Him. On February 29, 2008, we stood before a judge, and we became Jaxen's naturalized parents. I love that phrase...naturalized parents....because, he's ours...naturally. He was always supposed to be ours.

It's funny...I can hardly remember all the pain and fear of that time period. After we got the adoption decree, signed by the judge, I just got to the business of letting all that was stuck behind that dam of fear rush out and engulf my little boy. My. Little. Boy. My son.

{jackson: december 28, 2006}

{jaxen: april 22, 2010}

Monday, June 28, 2010

The New Look!

I almost forgot to post about my new look! The concept for the new Whole Family Project logo just came to me one day while we were on the road. I think we were somewhere in the desert...and I was wishing I had a good look for my blog. Well, I came home with a VERY childish drawing of the concept in my head, and the brilliant Julie Sears (a.k.a my little sister) sat down for about 10 minutes and VOILA!...awesomeness!

It's sick, really...when the genes for creativity and computer savvy were being handed out in our little pool, I was apparently at the concession stand while my sister was stocking up. Don't get me wrong...I have some gifts, too, but mine are just not as obvious as hers:) She's a naturally talented crafter, entrepreneur, and digital designer, and she rocks! I'm hoping her company (JNS Designs, for now) will be the first sponsor on Whole Family Project.

After that, I sat down for about 4 hours to try my hand at making a button out of my new rockin' logo, and I got about half I said...concession stand. However, my husband is pretty techie,, he sweetly sat down and took over and in about 5 minutes...BUTTON! He probably could have saved me the 4 hours, but I'm bound and determined to figure this mumbo jumbo out for myself, because I'm stubborn like that, and the only reason I quit in the first place was because I was on my dad's computer, and I didn't want to pound his keyboard due to the fact that I was in that space where throwing a tantrum seemed fully justified and totally grown-up. Those episodes are truly some of my proudest moments. Anyway - all those unnecessary details aside...I now have a BUTTON!!! Please copy and paste the code if you have a website or blog and would like to support this one...I will do the dance of joy:)

Me Mondays: Shoveling Out

{paper, rock, scissors sculpture in santa fe, nm}

Well, here we are again...a week since my last post, not a whole lot going on during the day, but so much going on internally that I can't seem to dig my way out. This seems to be a perpetual situation for me, right? Well, this time, it's not just me, it's Brandon, that's new. Kinda feels like we're playing a child's game to make decisions about our life, sometimes:)

What's Happening

We are back in DFW, with no home, no job prospects, wanting to hit the fast track toward our homesteading lifestyle, but terrified of getting trapped into the lifestyle that's "expected" in order to get there. Enter: a succession of marital spats that have no definable beginning or end, sour moods, and communication break down. The thing is, we both want the same thing...a home, where we grow most of our own food, sustain most of our own physical needs without "the grid", simplicity, happiness, and peace. I mean, it states right there in the Constitution of the United States that we have the right to the pursuit of such, and dagnabbit...I plan on stakin' my claim! I may not have reached Mental Instability, yet...but, I can see it from here.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who deals with constant confusion about life, but if I am, and there is a group of you planning on staging an intervention, I just ask that you let me know ahead of time, so that I can put it on my schedule. I don't mind chaos as long as I know how to plan for it. (Thanks, ma.)

But, seriously though. I have been putting lots of thought into the idea of that, I don't seem to have any....and that's ridiculous. So, I have a topic that I would like some feedback on.

Do you think that NOT having joy can be a habit?

A little clarification...about 4 years ago, things in my life became very challenging, a little depressing, and emotionally draining. I lost several friends...not because they died, but for several other reasons; I became a parent in an instant one day, and the subsequent adoption experiences brought on a level of anxiety that I had not previously known existed. Add to all that, I was physically exhausted due to not taking care of myself, being overweight, and being terrified, and I didn't have the stamina to maintain any sense of joy (except when I was holding my new baby:). All of that seems about right, given my set of circumstances...but, the adoption was finalized, new friendships made, sleep returned, money was provided...yet, the joylessness remains. So, I it possible to have an appropriate response to a life experience, and then become so accustomed to viewing the world through that lens, that when those experiences have subsided, the response lingers? Can we literally get in the habit of being blah?
Food for thought...

Anyway, now about this blog. We have reached the place where I need to be contributing financially to our family. I would love to be the idiot blog savant that was able to make her glorified e-journal a raving success in 6 months time...however, that is clearly not the situation. I love doing this blog, and I think it will be even more fulfilling when it becomes more "professional". I'm committed to making it a useful tool, a gathering place, and inspiring source of information and relate-able anecdotes. I also hope that at some point this can be my "job". I have removed the monetization tool that I was using since the beginning for 2 reasons...a)it didn't make me any money, and most importantly, b) it promoted certain things that I don't support, wouldn't recommend, and in some cases have ethical pause about.

That being said, I am going to start pursuing "sponsors"...or companies that I am excited about, who I have formed a relationship with, and who will pay to advertise on my site, in exchange for me promoting their product to my readers. The ideal sponsor would be someone whose business practices and products were in line with the lifestyle I want to cultivate, in and through this blog...small, sustainable, ethical, and simple...i.e. whole & joyful:) If you have a product or business or know someone who does, and you think we would be a good fit, please contact me at, and we'll discuss details.

Until which point I become independently wealthy from blogging, I will also be pursuing other freelance writing opportunities. So...if you know of any of know where to find me:)

Monday, June 21, 2010

We're Baaaack! (& a Giveaway:)

First of all...hello from Arlington, Texas...otherwise known as home, for the last 20 years, and for the foreseeable future. We are fairly certain that the Lord is pulling us to land elsewhere, but we're still in that stage where we are awaiting confirmations...where it's difficult to discern whether we are believing on the merits of our own desires, or following His lead. Time will tell, but we will definitely wait on Him to send us to our destination.

For now, I have a wonderful giveaway to tell you about! Frugal Granola is running a giveaway, by Katie from Kitchen Stewardship, for 2 copies of her Healthy Snacks to Go eBook!! This is a really fun resource for moms who feed their families real food, but run into the "what about snacks?" question. There are so many recipes for finger foods, and nourishing'll absolutely love it!!!

So, head on over to Frugal Granola and follow the instructions on her post to enter for this wonderful resource!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I've BEEN There!

A thrilling thing started the other day. Even though we aren't even back home, yet...we have begun the look back. As difficult as most of this trip was, as unprepared as we were, and as few of our goals were actually met...this trip was a huge blessing.

It began on Sunday, watching Forrest Gump on TBS. We love that movie, and it had been YEARS since either of us had seen it. So we were watching with an awesome dose of remembering that my butt was so numb after watching that movie in the theater in my sophomore year of high school. (incidentally, I remember sitting right next to my dearest sister-friend, Heather...nearly 20 years ago...I love that my life includes friends from that far back!) Anyway - the part where Forrest takes off running across the U.S. for 3 years was on. We watched and giggled...and then he stopped. My breath caught as he turned around and declared that he was tired and wanted to go home, now...I was ON THAT ROAD LAST TUESDAY!!! I couldn't believe it. (I googled it, just to make sure.) When we were driving from Colorado, here to Phoenix, we had to cross through Utah. I was looking out the window toward Monument Valley, on Hwy. 163. This road is so long and so straight that the cars ahead look like specks...and was thinking how rare it is that one gets to see that far ahead. I knew exactly what I was thinking at the precise spot that Forrest stopped running...I've BEEN THERE!

{unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the camera out before we were almost all the way down the road.}

Then this morning, I was checking email, and saw that my Google homepage had a link where you could change the background picture. I was looking through them, and there was a black and white panoramic of Yosemite Valley, by a professional photog. Well...BOOYAH!...I have the exact same picture in my photo files! I stood exactly where he stood, and took the same picture...I wonder if there were tears streaming down his face, too? I wonder if his breath left him when he came out of that tunnel, and if he shamelessly thanked God for the experience, in front of hundreds of people? I wonder if he felt like he could have stood there forever, without leaving? I wonder if it gives him the chills to say...I've BEEN THERE!

It may seem trivial to some that I know from personal experience, that I-40 truly did rob this nation of the Route 66 charm, or that Death Valley couldn't be more appropriately named; that the Giant Forest at Sequoia National Park is utterly terrifying to get to...but, so worth it when you do; or, that the Grand Canyon still looks like a painting, even when you're standing at the edge, or that San Francisco is equal parts beautiful and frustrating; that if I had to take a ferry boat every time I needed to go somewhere, that I would be totally long as my son wasn't with me; that style is truly concentrated in & around cities; that you're not likely to hear a cuss word in Salt Lake City, or that people in Portland get excited when it thunders in a rainstorm; what it feels like to pray alone on a huge beach...but, I don't care.

There's a recurring theme of thinking and not doing in my life...but, THIS TIME...I did things. In the moment, most of it sucked...but, I did it...and I have experiences that I didn't have before. That makes it worth it.

I'm going to go find a home, and I'm going to get a routine back...but, I will do everything in my power to make sure that I don't go another 7 years without DOING again. I'm going to DO. I'm going to an ACTION.

What about you?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Journey in a Psalm

The Lord is my Shepherd...I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters...He restores my soul.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...

I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.

Thy rod and thy staff - they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,

and, I will dwell in the house of the Lord...


Happy Weekending, everyone:)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Updates & Ruminations

It feels good to be this space, I mean. We aren't home yet. We are, in fact, back in Phoenix, AZ. Sadly, my husband's father died on Tuesday morning, and so we came back here to be with his mom, and to say goodbye.

It is bittersweet, really...he was suffering, on that side of the coin, we are relieved that he no longer is. Thankfully, we were still in Colorado, and hadn't made it home,, it wasn't as long for us to make it here, to be with my mother-in-law. Please pray for peace and comfort for her, as she adjusts to life on her own, without her husband.

As for the business of this blog. I am feeling the need to really streamline the purpose of this venture, to make it more useable, helpful, and inspiring for those who are walking similar paths to that of our little band of three. I will be putting this together with much prayer and thought, and I would really like to get your input on the things that would be helpful to those who are seeking to make their family more this world that glorifies the splintered and broken family. Please leave me a comment about anything and everything that you would like to read about regarding the task of creating wholeness in your family, and yourself. I'm no should see my life, right now...but, I am willing to do research, provide anecdotal reference to situations as I have experienced them, and to open my experiences (with all the ups and downs) so that those who read can relate.

As to the second piece of business...I am probably going to be searching out a new route to monetize my blog...i.e. make money on it. I haven't figured this thing out well, yet, but I do know that I LOVE doing it. I want to be a successful blogger. To me, that entails being helpful and useful to my readers, growing my readership on a regular basis, growing a recognizable brand, drawing interest, and being able to make money & contribute financially...doing this thing I love. So, with that in mind, would you mind sending up some prayers for me as I consider all my options? And seriously....leave me some comments on a regular basis...anything! I will be trying on several new "uniforms" for The Whole Family, bear with me as I sift through new looks and formats, to find what fits best. I can't wait to hear from all of you...and to get started on this new face of family wholeness.

For are a few pictures of the last leg of our travels. I will be posting more trip thoughts, soon. I just have to get to the part where I know what those are:)

The famous Multnomah Falls...near Portland, OR.

Pike's Place market in Seattle, WA...

The most beautiful produce stand I've ever seen...Pike's Place market.

View from the ranch house porch...Brandon's grandparent's...Newcastle, CO.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Giveaway over at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly!

There's another fun giveaway over at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly! This one is for a camera strap made by her friend, Emily Falconbridge. Emily has an etsy shop, that has lots of delicious goodies like her handmade camera straps, and some Thai fisherman pants for the kiddos that I have been salivating over for a few months now! I can't wait to order some for my Bokie Boy:)

Enter, enter, enter everyone!!! It's a whole lot of fun...and you can actually win...I won one the other day:)

Holding Pattern

First of all...that giveaway I posted about at Homestead Revival...the one for the reusable canning lids...I WON IT!! Excited as I am about that, my post is a sober one...

I'm sorry I haven't been on this space for almost a week now. Internet coverage has been slim to none, because we've been beelining it South as fast as we could go. I wish I could tell you it's because we've been having so much fun, that I didn't have time to log on...but, I would be lying. It's not that we haven't appreciated this trip, and all that the country has to offer by way of scenery and interest. It's just that the realities of living with a 3 year old, in a car, tent, and occasional motel for this long has been...well...crappy.

I'm just going to get painfully honest, here....I'm failing my son. I've had moments of failing him before...but, they were always recovered pretty quickly, and I was back on my way. This trip, though fine for the first little while, has me shaking my head in disbelief at how far it's all gotten away from me. He's a great road trip kid...still is...but, behavior and emotions have become unbearable. My failings are almost like a bad habit, at this point...and the harmony in our parent/child dynamic is crumbling. There are several reasons...

The actuality of putting up a campsite day in and day out, and driving for hours on end, state after state, with him strapped in a carseat...then occasionally staying put, only to hole up in a motel room, because the Pacific Northwest can't stop raining on your parade...well, it adds up to a whole lot of rejection and boredom, and "stop that!", "hold on a minute!", "if you unbuckle your seatbelt, it's curtains!", "if you don't put that down, you're in trouble!", and "come here!, sit down!", "sit right there and fold your hands till I'm done, here!", "don't mess with that!", the worst one..."leave me alone for a minute!!!". Then as if telling a 3 year old boy to stay beside you, sit still, and leave you alone isn't perfect storm enough...he's created a mental cocoon to cope with the boredom, and I can't get him to respond to me, unless I go touch him, or I raise my voice. You can speculate as to which one wins out, when your hands are full of camping stuff, or you are driving down the highway. To make it all worse, he has taken to running off...and when you're on a ferry in the middle of the Puget Sound, a place you've always wanted to go...that running off can morph into the kind of terror only a parent understands. But, he was sick and tired of standing in one place...and he was going to find adventure if it meant disobeying and doing something he shouldn't, knowing it would most likely get him in trouble. So much for soaking in God's beauty, and marinating in the culture of a wonderful that in for a hyperventilating panic attack, after you finally find your wayward son, hiding under some chairs 2 decks above you, mix in some unbelievable rage, and some scary blood pressure levels...and you have my very "unsound" experience in the Sound.

Note to self...if you're going to try to see things that mean alot to you to see...or fulfill lifelong dreams..."with a 3 year old" is not one of the criteria to materialize that experience.

It's not his's mine. To put it plainly...we are miserable. He has no structure, no consistency...and the way this trip was done...there's really no way to make that happen. Had the original RV plan taken place, this wouldn't have been as much of an issue...we would have had a mini home, that we didn't have to build every day. This may have been very enjoyable had it lasted 2-3 weeks...but, week 4 started to turn this thing sour, and it's only gotten worse and worse. I'm sick about it. Everyone keeps telling me that when we remember it, we'll realize how much fun we had. That may be true...but, for right now, the spirit of this entire endeavor has been squashed. Our "Whole Family Project" isn't encouraging wholeness right's creating havoc in my little boy, and blue-in-the-face aggravation in us. Add to that a myriad of other issues that come along with living in a tent...we are past the end of our rope.

One more casualty of this trip?...camping. I don't think I'll ever want to camp again, as long as I live. Maybe it would be different with some friends, or more people...but, in our little family of 3, this will most likely be a father/son endeavor from here on out.


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