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Fortunately, I am no stranger to power tools. After designing and building most of my first house, an off-grid strawbale, I have been pretty comfortable with all but finish carpentry. But there are 2 obstacles that stand in the way of my construction prowess these days: 1) Our pathetic lack of tool organization which has been cause to invent many a new 4-letter word, and 2)…. oh…. what was the other thing? Oh right! My TWO YEAR OLD. Sigh.

Our day began fairly normal – cooked farm breakfast of turkey sausage, yellow zucchini and baby turnips sauteed in local raw butter, all thrown over fresh salad greens with the required side of sauerkraut. As usual, Isla resisted my attempts to dress her and brush her teeth, which resulted in me making good my threat of going outside without her. I could hear her crying through the bathroom window as I measured the length and width of the tomato bed, carefully avoiding the groping, fruit-covered branches that stretched into the pathway threatening to trip me. Our tomato plants have become frightening – a surprising occurrence in the high desert of New Mexico. And our pole beans have wound dense, twisting ropes with their searching vines. It’s time to get serious.

After settling the little one and wiping her tears we loaded into the 4-Runner bound for the hardware store. Isla navigated the tight aisles with expert ease, maneuvering her little cart around the corners and displays. “Here’s the Neem oil Honey.” “Neem oil.” she repeated as she settled her cargo with a look of great responsibility. “Hide-a-key…. so we won’t lock ourselves out of the car anymore, huh?” I smiled sideways. “Mama got in trouble when we went to the river and Uncle Tim had to go and meet Papa to get the other key and….” “Yes dear, come along.” “Mineral oil.” I passed her the bottle. “For mama’s orange hair?” asked Isla, referring to my recent henna disaster. “Mmmm.” “Come. Help me count out these rafter ties. We need 9.” Etc. We strapped the 2x4x8s and bamboo poles onto our cargo cage and drove slowly home. Now it was 10:45.

Snack time. Toasted homemade bread and cold plums sounds like a quick affair, but… It was 11:15 before we gained the back porch. Finding tools around here is a graying experience. Of my hair that is… explaining the henna disaster… and… never mind. I scratched my (orange) head trying to remember the last place I saw the things I would need, while Molly, our Pyrenees, plastered me against the wall with her love and bulk. I had so nicely filed the paint can for the bee boxes, and hammer, etc. on our livingroom rug – perfectly organized. But then Isla’s teacher came for a home visit and we… cleaned up. I tried the tool shed first seeing as the name fit the item. Ducking under the hornets’ 3rd successful attempt at homemaking, I began the treasure hunt. But I won’t bore you with the details. By 12 noon I had invented 3 new curse words and left Randy (my husband) 2 phone messages. But I also had 2 saw horses situated beside the garden fence laden with 16 2x4x8s and a dishwashing tub teetering to the brim with lagscrews, 8 penny nails, hammer, Dewalt cordless screw gun and circular saw, rafter ties, speed square, sharpened pencil…

“Mama. I need to go pee pee.” Breathe. I slowly put down the speed square and pencil, whipped down Isla’s pants and undies, lifted her with her back against my thighs and my hands under her knees, and waited for her to water a dessicated tumbleweed. “Not here, THERE!” “Here?” “No, THERE!” After countless minute adjustments of position, she finally relieved her bladder. I began marking cut lines to bevel the top edges of the upright supports for the tomato trellis. Six uprights were marked and I had my finger on the safety button of the saw…

“Mama. I need to poop.” “You DID poo or you need to poop?” Once inside I discovered it was a bit of a combination. We cleaned up the butt, changed the undies, emptied and cleaned the little potty, washed hands, re attached the sun bonnets, and I recommenced with sawing corners. But it was 12:30 and time for lunch or nap, whichever came first. Isla swore she was tired so we brushed off our work clothes, lay down to read Pipi Longstocking, and I tried to convince my stubborn, yawning Taurus to sleep.

2 hours later, at about 3:00, we awoke groggy and hungry and set about making lunch. I checked a few emails, and now Isla is in the bath. Papa will be home soon from work, and the day is almost done. I made a total of 12 corner cuts on 6 boards. At this rate I should certainly get the trellis finished by January.

This constant struggle of trying to “get something done” is a hair-pulling but important reminder to me. It’s not about what gets done (I remind myself), it’s about HOW it gets done – or not. It’s about giving Isla the license and my confidence to scrape her way around the hardware store feeling helpful and independent. It’s about taking time to let her count slowly to 9 as she places each individual rafter tie carefully in her cart. It’s about showing her the marks on the board and how a speed square works. Or letting her pick ripe strawberries on one side of the fence while I cut wood on the other. And demonstrating by example that building projects are not gender specific.

I strive constantly to live a simple, grounded life and teach my child the same values. We have no TV and Isla does not watch videos. Her “video game” is sitting quietly on the back porch watching our resident rufous dive bomb a gentle black chin, or walking our dog in the early morning. She revels in feeding our pond fish, and eating her way down our long row of sweet peas. Her toys are mostly made from natural materials and they number few. Her play room is simple. She spends long periods “cooking” elaborate dishes for me in her little wooden kitchen with her pots, pans, and wooden fruit and veggies. I’m not saying I don’t battle with extreme frustration at times, for I most certainly do. When I feel a need to accomplish a project, I am overcome with a sort of fervor which transmogrifies into anger when I must contend with obstacles in my path… 2 yr old obstacles. The world we live in is hardly supportive. Parents chauffeur their kids from activity to activity at a frenzied rate, picking up greasy fast food along the way. The media leaves us wallowing in keep-up-with-the-Jones’ anxiety attacks. Raising a child in a quiet, simple way is like waging a full scaled war.

Recently I’ve been making an effort to express my anger in a more productive, appropriate way. I am a passionate, fiery Scot-Irish woman and am disposed to “Mommy rage”. The worst part is Isla has been parroting my own displays of anger – a shameful mirror shoved in my face. So we talked, and discussed (she is quite good at discussing things at her young age), and agreed to do the following: Stomp each foot hard on the floor with legs about shoulder width and take a deep breath. Then imagine pushing roots out of the bottoms of our feet, deep down into the soil, past the worms and the rocks, embraced by Mother Earth’s body. Then we ask Mother Earth to take our anger and frustration and slurp it out through our roots, and push in peace and joy in it’s place. I was proud I remembered to try it today at the umpteenth interruption, and by god, it worked! Mother Earth granted me my request.

So today I am grateful for my daily obstacle course on my path of accomplishing. I am grateful for my 2 year old mirror into the dark crevices of my soul. I am grateful for a garden that needs a trellis. I am grateful I know how to build. I am grateful for the many reminders of what is TRULY important. Today….. I choose to be grateful for my REAL life.

Our tomatoes need some serious assistance

As do our pole beans....

Try to "get something done"

Our lucious strawberry patch has done well this summer.

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This past week was an emotional roller coaster: “Do we? Don’t we?” “Can I? Can’t I?” Like a dog in front of 2 hydrants, I deliberated my 2 choices – and both great choices to be sure! Do we send our daughter to the Waldorf school (which will mean I go back to work to afford the tuition) or do I commit to a new Waldorf-inspired homeschooling coop with a handful of other interested moms. My husband finally gave me the slam I needed: “Sweetie, I KNOW you. You will take on the homeschooling cooperative like it was your newest cross to bear. You will lose sleep thinking up craft projects and over-organize every class. The other moms will feel the pressure your out-of-proportion enthusiasm will surely exude, and you will feel like it is your sole responsibility and the other mom’s have deserted you. And of course, THEY are the ones who will be trying to do it at a reasonable level. YOU will treat it like it was a med school university! You will over-do it and get sick. Believe me.”

It it sometimes a curse and sometimes a blessing when some one knows you so well. Sigh, well, the simple fact is – he is right. This aspect of my personality is also a curse and a blessing. I have big dreams and high hopes and when I make up my mind to DO something, I am pretty obsessive/compulsive about it! The up side is… things get DONE! My partner may kick and scream as I crack the whip over his sweating back, but after the toil is done, and we sit on our cool, shady back porch, sipping iced mint tea and watching the hummers fight for the feeder, he feels content and satisfied at his accomplishment – as do I. The environmentally unethical sod, our expanded veggie garden, the raised beds, the drip irrigation, the extended range area for our flock of 12 hens and 7 chicks, the additional saplings to our 18 tree orchard…. hard work. But my god, it’s DONE! And we are reaping the benefits now: more eggs, more veggies, less labor to irrigate, soft sod for our sweet pea to run barefoot in.

But the down side is how my project fever effects my heath. After 22 years of living with Chronic Lyme Disease, one might think I would have learned. But NOOOOOOO! After all, that is how I contracted the Lyme to begin with! Sure it took that one little unseen, unnoticed tick bite to inject the spirochete into my blood stream, but it also took my over-training as a bike racer to leave me with a overtaxed immune system, susceptible and vulnerable, quick to lose the battle against this tricky invader. Since that fateful moment in 1989, I have had the initial infection who’s symptoms showed up too late for antibiotic therapy, and laid me out in bed, an invalid for 6 months, and 5 subsequent lesser relapses. It wasn’t until 2000 that I finally found an alternative clinic who properly diagnosed me with my first partner for life. And my second partner for life is right – I always over do it.

So, with a sense of great relief, we chose to become a family of our local Waldorf community. We are extremely blessed to have this little school with it’s biodaynamic farm and gentle, holistic approach to teaching children. We are excited to meet other Waldorf families and learn from this rich resource. Isla, our wee 2 year and 3 month bairn, will begin school in a couple of weeks. Although she has never left my arms for the surrogacy of day-care, she already knows the school well and is VERY excited. I came home from the information meeting last evening feeling finally at peace. Papa said Isla stood on the dogfood bin (her step stool to the the south side of our world) in front of the window and announced I was driving up the road to the house. “I love Mama so much and I’m ready to go to Taos Waldorf School!” she exclaimed!

And so we step into the next phase of our lives.

A few pictures of the 2 yr manifestation from 2 acres of sage brush to the beginnings of an urban homestead farm:

Hard at work tilling up the existing "Razor Grass"

The rolls wait for no one... especially when it's in the 90's.

Isla and One-eyed Murphy enjoy the new sod with a long draught at the watering hole.

A few of the girls...

Our borrowed broody hen, Dani, set on 16 of our eggs and hatched out 5 little chicks.

Raised bed construction in progress.

3 little tree hole fairies (Isla, Vera and Avery) help prepare for the planting of another apple tree.

The raised beds in action.

When I walk through our garden gate I can't help but think of Little Shop of Horrors.

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