My Learning Disabled Child has Awoken

Simone stopped learning last year. And when I say stopped learning, I mean complete resistance to even trying to identify letters or numbers above 10. She is nine years old and until last week she couldn't sound out words, count above 12, or even identify different shapes properly. You might think that she is way behind in her learning, and I would agree with you if it were purely about her age and what grade she should be in, but its not. Remember, it was only about 4 1/2 years ago that she started speaking. Simone's progress happens at a different rate than other children. We don't go by standard "normal" progress of where a child should be. We can't, because that would be an injustice to our child. It would be a crime as well as abuse. 

When she was a toddler she had an aversion to bright light and the sun coming into the windows. She would become agitated and would often scream when I took her out in the daylight and into stores. We had to keep dark wool blankets over the windows that didn't allow any light in and kept only a few lights on in the house. At night she was calm. 

We had a visual therapist that would come to our house and trained us on how to possibly make neural connections for Simmi using light and sparkly things. It involved putting sparkles in the paint we used on the walls, and keeping shiny things around the room and house. We did this, and in about six months she was able to see without cocking her head to the side or trying to look out the sides of her eyes all the time. There was nothing wrong with Simone's vision, the problem was in her brain. As those neural connections formed and then took hold, we saw progress made and we were finally able to allow light into the house as well as travel outside during the day. 

My reason for sharing about her vision and neural connections has to do with how her brain seems to operate with regard to learning. It takes time for new pathways to form, but once they do, they seem to lock in and stay put. Over time these new pathways open the door for her to learn new things. It is however, all predicated on how strong that pathway is. I say this as a fact because its a fact for us. Its what I've observed in Simmi. Is it scientific? Not really because my kid isn't a guinea pig and she's not involved in some sort of experiment. But I do still take to heart what the doctors and therapists have explained to us about how she learns. Without their great insights I would not be writing about her visual progress or her speech progress. 

Simone is profoundly learning disabled due to neurological deficits. Simmi had a rough start to life, and up until a few months ago lived in what I now call a nightmare. 

It is as if she lived in a dreamscape. Things looked real, and she could touch and hold it, but it didn't make sense to her reasoning mind. Its the only way I can explain what I've witnessed. 

And while I'm on the subject of reasoning, there was very little that Simone could comprehend. She had no control over her emotional state. Everything was either fun and happy, or angry and miserable. Swinging between these two states happened often. Most people knew only the happy and fun child. That's what you see when I post photos or videos of her. That's who she was when we were out and about and when she would meet strangers. 

I do have videos and photos of her meltdowns. I would never post them. They are far too disturbing and heart wrenching, and it would become online fodder to twisted emotional tourists who thrive on the suffering and pain of others. Have you ever met an emotional tourist? They seem like they are a caring soul and love to have tears well up during feel good moments, and love to demonize anything that looks remotely uncaring. Because of them and to keep the dignity of my child in tact, you will need to just take my word for it. I am writing a book about our experiences, but I think I edit myself far too harshly and always want to start over, so my efforts have taken on a snail's pace. 

Where was I? Oh yes, the subject is a dreamscape. That place that seems so real to your mind, and then you wake up and realize it made no sense at all. Have you ever had a dream where you are at the store buying some milk and then while you're at the counter your friend from the third grade asks you where the teacher put her fur coat because it was 100 degrees outside and she thought she would freeze to death if she didn't find her fur coat? Did you ever have a dream like that? Where nothing made any sense, and one thing had nothing to do with the other? This was a daily reality for Simone. 

Its the best way I can try to help others make the connection to how she used to be. 

That all changed in July. 

A few things happened the beginning of July that rocked our world...

While we were getting ready to move to another house in Vermont, Dom was doing dishes in the kitchen and I pulled up a chair next to him so we could chat. It wasn't normal for me to pull up so close while he did dishes (he gets water EVERYWHERE haha), but for whatever reason I pulled my chair up. We had an incredibly small kitchen with only one phone outlet that worked in the house. This is where my phone and wireless modem was located. 

As I sat there talking with Dom, the right side of my face started to burn up like when I get hives, and then it turned purple. I started feeling really dizzy and sick. I got up from my seat and asked Dom if my face was red because it felt like it was on fire. He said it was purple. I was aware of the dangers of wireless technology and EMFs, but I never thought I was one of those unlucky people! How could I be? I worked from home on my computer! I've been working on my computer with WiFi for at least 8 years now. 

I stepped away from the modem and within an hour the hives went away. These are the same kind of hives I've had been suffering with for the past 6 years! Hives so bad I thought it was the food I was eating. I thought it was something I was drinking. I never once thought it could be wireless technology. 

The thought that I could be sensitive to EMFs sat like a bomb in my brain. I began to test it. I doubted that it was true. Dom doubted but not as much as me. We took an inventory of everything we had that was wireless and had a signal pulsing through it. The reason I knew about wireless technology is because I researched it back in 2011-2012 and even wrote about it on this blog back then. You can do a search on my blog and put in microwave technology as the search word to find it! 

Anyway, we took inventory:

  1. Wireless modem (WiFi)
  2. Cordless house phone
  3. Two iPhones always on and searching for a signal
  4. Two Roku streaming devices
  5. iMac with WiFi turned on
  6. My bluetooth enabled mouse and keyboard
  7. Bluetooth wireless speakers
  8. Smart Meter

We turned it all off. All but the smart meter of course. No hives, no heart palpitations, no fleeting bouts anxiety (kind of like when you think you are forgetting something but you can't remember what). And then something happened that we never expected in a million years...Simmi was calm. She was responsive. She was alert. She was peaceful. She was sweet and helpful. She was interested in helping us. She was singing songs and making jokes. She was a different child. 

The transformation seemed instantaneous, but it actually happened without us realizing it over a few hours. We were busy getting the last of our stuff into boxes and ready to move to the other house in Vermont when all this took place. Did we believe it was the EMFs yet? Nope! But the observation was made and noted.

All that week before we moved, we turned the wifi on and off. When I turned my computer on, I would get hives. This was a common thing that happened to me. So common that I never paid attention to it anymore. When I was in the store I would get these same hives. When I was out driving in my car, I would get the hives. But after not having any wireless on at all, when I turned on my computer, my face and neck looked like they had been freshly whipped by someone. 

I was catching on. I saw a trend. It was during this time, that I also noticed that while I was getting hives again and heart palpitations, my blood pressure also started going up. Those mysterious times when my blood pressure would spike, all the sudden made sense. Guess what else happened? Simmi would get out of control. Yes, that sweet child who was helpful, calm, cracking jokes, and very peaceful, became unhinged, unglued, unreasonable, and having some of the worse meltdowns we have ever experienced. 

This was happening to us. This was happening to her! 

Then she said (and its not the first time she has said this to us, but the most memorable) "My heart is beeping too fast, it hurts." Dom looked at me and freaked out. He said, "Shut it down! Shut it all down!" 

We shut everything off again. All the wireless technology was off and she calmed down and my blood pressure normalized and the hives went away. No more irregular heartbeats were detected by my blood pressure monitor. 

Were we convinced? Nope. It was an experience, just one of many. We're dense people. 

So we move into the next house in Vermont, and there is no cell service available. We had to go a few days without any computer or cable. This time however, we chose to hardwire the computer and turn off the WiFi capabilities, put our cellphones on airplane mode, and got a wired landline. No more cordless phone. We also turned off the power in our rooms at night, used candles in the evening, and replaced all the compact fluorescent bulbs with incandescent. Last but not least, we had the smart meter switched to an analogue meter.

It worked. And then it didn't. And then it did. And then it didn't. 

We were so confused. 

In the other house it was absolute peace. In this house we couldn't understand why we still had some problems with hives, heart palpitations, and behavior problems. Then I realized that all the neighbors on our street had smart meters. When I turned on my cellphone to see what kind of wifi was available, it showed at least 4-5 connections available! There was also a cell tower within a few miles of our house, and everyone has cellphones on our block. 

We were still bathing in wireless technology. 

We did everything we could to lower our personal exposure, and it helped for sure! We saw all these glimpses of possibility with Simone. I looked forward to actually sleeping at night. Insomnia was another problem I had, and it was gone when we turned off all the wireless technology. I sleep very soundly now at night without a tv or any other device. Sleeping with the tv on is something I did for nearly 28 years. I know this because I remember the year I first slept with a tv on. It was only a few months after my first child was born. That's how long my tv habit was. I could never sleep at night without the help of a tv. I broke that habit July 1, 2016 and never looked back. 

So there I am, marveling at what a different kid Simone is, and then the meltdowns start again. We never attempted to start school up again for her because I wanted her to just enjoy her new found sense of peace, in between the periods of horrific meltdowns. If I took her to the store, she would start this high pitched screaming if something didn't go her way, if I said no, or if I said it was time to go. 

She would gravitate towards areas where smart meters were and hangout there to talk with the neighbors. It was like she was addicted to EMFs on some level. The other thing that would happen when we would go into town is that on the way I would get really exhausted and she would pass out in the backseat. What was it that we were feeling? I'll answer that for was the EMFs from cell towers that were everywhere! It was at that point Dom realized that he too was affected by EMFs. He would get in his truck after work and on his way home feel so tired like he needed caffeine. When he saw Simmi pass out in the back seat in the same areas he and I also felt tired, he understood it wasn't about being exhausted, it was about EMFs zapping our energy. 

During this time we were having problems with our neighbors as well. This was all like a big nightmare. 

When Dom and I went to visit a friend who lives in the National Radio Quiet Zone, that is when we found real peace. When great jobs were offered to us in the quiet zone, we looked at it as a most assured sign that this was where we needed to be for Simmi's emotional and neurological wellbeing, and for mine. It all happened in one fell swoop, and all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. 

We live in an area of Virginia that is only about 30 minutes from Green Bank, WV in the Quiet Zone. You can do a little research to read up on what the quiet zone is if you'd like. For the sake of how long this post is getting, I'm not going to talk about that right now. 

Anyway, we live where the nearest cell tower is about 10 minutes away. There are no smart meters, and only a few people in my little tiny town have wifi. Cellphones don't work here. It is here that Simmi started to learn. No more meltdowns at all. Just peace. Does she act up from time to time? Yup, like any other normal child who may want something she can't have, with one exception, Simmi can now understand why she can't have something, or why she can't do something. There are very few arguments or protests, if any at all. 

We have been in the quiet zone for nearly a month now (with one week under our belt in our tiny little cottage), and Simmi has recently asked to do school work. She has been doing school work everyday from 10:00am-5:00pm with a one hour break for lunch, which is forced on her or she wouldn't take a break. Two days ago, I made the mistake of allowing her to do school work from 9:00am-6:30pm with an hour break and she had a meltdown. She was on serious overload and I fear she may have a set back because of it. I now have to limit her schooling to 10:00am-3:30pm with an hour for lunch because she becomes over stimulated. 

She is catching up. I switch her between three educational online programs, as well as reinforcing what she's learned afterwards. She's getting it! She has awoken and is hungry for knowledge. She is making new neural connections and new pathways are being formed at this time. In the next few months they will be fortified and strong! They are still new and delicate right now. If she gets burnt out because she doesn't want to stop learning, I fear she will reconnect those old pathways she had prior to being exposed to EMFs. 

In the absence of non-native EMF, my child is functional. It begs the questions, "Did she always have neurological deficits or were these deficits created when we exposed her to the baby monitor from the day she was born? She has been exposed to WiFi since birth. She has had trouble sleeping, skin conditions, allergies, learning difficulties, emotional instability, speech apraxia, global apraxia, and many other conditions. Where they due to her being born this way, or because of our wireless technology?" 

Was all of this our fault, and we didn't know it? 

I can say with confidence that as we keep her away from wireless technology she is getting better. It may have unwittingly been our fault, my fault. My love and need for wireless everything. Every gadget that seems so useful, also seems to have caused the greatest harm. 

She is learning. She is making connections. This wasn't a coincidence or a miracle. This was a difficult decision we made over the course of three months to stop using wireless technology, limit our exposure and get her to safety. Safety meant out of harms way. 

Parents wouldn't allow their children to play on a very busy street where cars are constantly racing by. They wouldn't allow their children to be placed in a vulnerable position where they could be harmed. This is where we are at in our lives. We as parents refuse to expose our child any longer to the harmful affects of electromagnetic frequencies and magnetic radiation. 

What would you do to help your child learn? Would you give up your devices? Cancel your cellphone contract? Hardwire your computer and turn off the wifi? Get rid of tablets, DECT Cordless phones, baby monitors, bluetooth devices, smart tvs, smart meters, electric cars and smart cars enabled with bluetooth and 4G? 

It is being discovered that EMFs and wireless technology have a profound affect on children with autism and ADHD, as well as children with epilepsy. 

In future posts, I will be talking more about this topic and the impact it has made in not only me and Simone's life, but countless other families who suffered not knowing that wireless technology was primarily to blame for their child's learning and behavior problems. 

In the meantime, we are celebrating Simmi. We are getting to know a little girl who was hidden to us. We are hearing more complex stories from her imagination, watching her form words and learn to read. She has learned shapes, colors, to count to 50, and to do simple math. All in one week! She understands up and down, right and left (still gets a little confused on that one) near and far, tallest to shortest. She is doing math on a number line. She can read three letter words and simple books. 

She can read simple books. She can read and do math. She can attend and concentrate uninterrupted for hours upon hours. She used to only be able to handle school work for 15 minutes one time per week, and couldn't stand sitting at the table with me to learn anything. Now she begs me all day to keep going. 

It is more than I could have ever asked for. It is a dream come true. My girl is awake!

In one week she has managed to get through almost all her kindergarten work. In five more lessons she will officially be in the First Grade. This is a milestone for her. A great accomplishment.

I'm so proud of all she has accomplished, and I look forward to seeing how she does in this next month.  

Vermont is No Longer the Place We Call Home

Forgive me dear reader, for I have sinned. It has been three months since my last post. We have been quite busy. This post will be a recap of sorts because the details of our sorted and drama filled saga is enough to fill a book. Yes, a book, and if all the details were set in place you might even be tempted to believe our story was a bit of fiction. 

So where do I begin? 

My last post was about my beautiful daughter Hannah on her birthday. We were in the process of moving to a new location because the gorgeous house we were renting was on the market and we couldn't afford to purchase it. Mr. Scrumpy came into our lives like an adorable wrecking ball and we were excited to move to a place with some land for farming. I had big plans for that little house. 

And then we moved in the beginning of July. 

After signing a year lease, my son Noah needed to come home from New Mexico to live with us. He was taking a break from school and he needed to figure out what his priorities were and to set new goals for himself. The house we were renting was a two bedroom. Needless to say we weren't able to back out of our lease for a larger home with three bedrooms.

So there we were in this little house with our crazy dogs and a very sweet little neighborhood. We met the neighbors and everything seemed like it would be a good experience. 


We had two great neighbors and two absolutely shitty neighbors. There really isn't any other way to describe them. Shitty neighbor number one had this wiener dog that would NOT stop barking. He barked in his house, on the property, and then would come over to our property by our dogs. He stressed out Silly, terrorized Simmi while on her bike or walking down the street, and was never on a leash. His owner allowed and encouraged him to go where ever he wanted. She felt he had a right to be on our property, bothering my dogs, and emotionally upsetting my daughter. 

Shitty neighbor number two was a social worker who didn't like the way Simmi walked Mr. Scrumpy and would come outside to threaten to call the police and animal control on Simmi. If she wasn't threatening her, she was threatening to call the police on Dom and I if we didn't watch our kid when Simmi was walking Mr. Scrumpy. The real problem was that her dogs stayed on the south side of the house and Simmi liked to play on the hill that faces her house. She would run up and down the little hill with Mr. Scrumpy and this shitty neighbor's dogs would bark incessantly at her. It got to the point where she needed to put up curtains so the dogs would stop barking. Needless to say, this inconvenienced her and led to her making nasty comments to Simmi if she was outside. 

Without getting into all the details of the next few months, I will just say that things got ugly very quickly as both shitty human beings decided to threaten, bully, and one of them even come onto our property without our consent to do as she pleased on many occasions. 

I am a protective mother. The behavior of shitty neighbor #1 did not mix well with my inability to allow people to walk all over me or my family. Its one thing to personally challenge me, it is quite another to step onto my property, berate me in front of my child, scream obscenities, and scare my child. My dogs, well, they can get over it. But my offspring? Hell no, its unacceptable.

After a month of ongoing drama, it came to a head with shitty neighbor #1 coming into my yard with her dog. It wasn't my finest moment, I'll admit it, things got ugly. She refused to leave my property with her dog, my daughter was clearly upset, and I needed to do something extreme to make this woman understand that she cannot come onto our property with her dog and touch my animals. As she continued to defy my orders for her to leave my property, I took out a hose, and sprayed her with it. I didn't just spray her, I drenched her 100% in back and then in the front. She put her hands behind her back as I sprayed her so I sprayed her face. She didn't flinch...she was like a damn zombie. 

It was a surreal Jerry Springer moment. One of our very lovely neighbors intervened, and if she didn't, I would have had to call the police, because this woman would NOT leave my property, even after spraying her with the water.  

As I said, it wasn't my finest moment. I sprayed her with the hose, repeatedly. I did that. But you know what? Something magical happened in that moment that forever turned that horrible moment into a treasured memory...Simmi was no longer afraid. 

You see, Simmi was terrified of that wiener dog, and even more scared of shitty neighbor #1. When I took out that hose and started spraying shitty neighbor #1, it wasn't only the act of spraying her that broke Simmi's fear of this woman, it was the fact that I told Simmi to get me the hose, and then for her to turn on the water that empowered her to understand that this lady can't hurt her. 

That to me was a victory. My daughter overcame a very real fear that day. It was like spraying the boogie man...boogie woman is more like it. 

I video taped this event, as well as all of my altercations with this woman. I posted it on Facebook after it happened, and I got mixed reviews. Some thought I was well within my rights as a parent to protect my child and animals from an offender who wouldn't take no for an answer. And then there were others who felt I went way too far and that I was wrong in spraying this woman. 

I'm a big girl so I can handle both sets of opinions, but the opinion that I refuse to accept is from those who didn't have the courage to talk directly to me, but instead chose to talk about my actions with others out of cowardice, gossip and a belief that I was dead wrong in how I handled things. No problem though, because those kinds actions show me that they thought way too much of their own moral high ground, could not empathize or even view things from my point of view, and did not feel close enough to me to say it to my face. If you can't tell me to my face, your opinion doesn't matter, and it never will. 

After my watery altercation, I sent an email to our landlord to let him know that we would start looking for another place to live. 

Then something tragic happened. My son was driving home one night and hit a horse when she walked into the road after getting loose from her paddock. The horse rolled up onto the hood of the car and windshield and then fell to the ground. Noah stayed with the horse until she died. After she died, he went banging on doors to find the owners. 

The death of a horse is devastating. It was very hard for Noah to get passed, but he did it. Noah walked away from the accident without a scratch. The police and firemen shook their heads not understanding how he walked away from the car without a scratch. 

While all this was going on, we were in search of a new home. We didn't know where we would go. There were no affordable rentals at that moment, and Dom and I had to figure out whether Vermont was really financially sustainable for us. Rent is very high there, as is the cost of living in general. We were in panic mode, and because both of us have fond memories of Maine, that was the first place we looked. Its our process. There were no prospective places for us in Maine, so we kept looking. 

Then, in a chance encounter, we had some personal business to attend to in Virginia and while we were there we ended up getting new jobs. Go figure! We were open to this new direction in our lives, and we finished packing up our things but, we had nowhere to live. That pesky thing called a home seemed to be eluding us. 

So, even though we had nowhere to live, we got a PO Box in the town we wanted to be in, and packed up the rental truck. The day we were set to move we still didn't have a permanent address to call home. Talk about flying by the seat of our pants! A little house became available for us to stay at until we could find something more suitable, and it meant that we would need to move AGAIN just a few weeks after arriving. 

We arrived in Virginia on September 13th, and finally we have a little cottage to call home. We haven't moved in yet, and at the time of writing this post, we are still in boxes in the temporary house. October 1st is our move in date. It comes at the perfect time too. We need to get new licenses and to get the cars registered, and we didn't want to have to do that twice. 

Dom started work last week. My work is a little slow going right now, and its a good thing because I probably wouldn't get much done with all the moving packing and unpacking we need to do again. 

So that's a recap of three months of drama. My next post will be from our cute little tiny cottage that sits at the top of a hill in one of the most gorgeous valleys I've ever seen. Its truly breathtaking here. 

I have a friend (more like a sister) who lives in our new town. I'm so excited that we will be neighbors! 

We truly love it here. The area we are in reminds me of Vermont with its rolling hills. The people are very VERY friendly which caught us off guard. Everyone in this tiny community already knows who we are and many of them have already come by to say hello and give us homegrown tomatoes and homemade jelly. They bring their dogs by, and I must say, there is one dog here that completely redeemed its breed. Her name is Noodle, and she is a little wiener dog just like the one that used to terrorize Simmi. Only this time, Noodle plays ball with Simmi at the playground, and they stop by our house to say hello. 

A redeemed breed I tell ya! 

Life is good here. I never thought we would be over Maine. It was the place we thought we would go back to at some point. It haunts me. There is something magical about Maine that will always have my heart, but we are not meant to be there. That much is true. 

We will miss our dear friends in Vermont. We loved living there until our shitty neighbor experience. It left a bad taste in our mouths for sure. But if those bad experiences never happened, we wouldn't have had new doors open to us. 

Thank god for shitty neighbors, friends that are more like family, and for a God who always watches over us and provides for us, even at the very last moment.  

Here are a few snapshots of our life over the last three months:






A Treasure Worth Sharing

I wanted to share a treasure I've had the great honor of knowing since the day she was conceived. This treasure I named Hannah, which means grace. I am a rape survivor who became pregnant as a result of being sexually assaulted in my own home. In shock for nearly the first four months of my pregnancy, I felt emotionally paralyzed and alone. I was attending regular group meetings with the rape crisis center and getting help for all these feelings that I didn't know what to do with.

Only one person in my circle of family and friends knew that I had been raped and became pregnant, and that was my ex-husband who I told right after it happened, and then when I found out that I was pregnant three weeks later, he was the first to know. 

I am sharing this dark time in my life because without it, one can not quite grasp the depth of why she is such a treasure to me. 

I went to group sessions at the rape crisis center, and then when they all saw that I started to show, they were no longer comfortable with me being in the group. They had no idea I was pregnant as a result of my assault, and it was far too emotionally difficult for the women in the group to cope with my belly growing. A few of the women in the group had also become pregnant and chose abortion and it was very disturbing to them that I wouldn't follow suit and get an abortion. 

Now more than ever I felt even more alone, bewildered, and really pissed off. The group was the one place where I could relate, and now it was gone. I finally shared with my family what happened to me, and when I was six months pregnant, I made the decision to keep her. I didn't know if I could do it in those early months. All these feelings I had, never seemed to translate to hating the child growing in my belly, and then, a flutter. I could feel Hannah moving inside me.

Over the next two months I would make the decision to keep her. She was not the result of a crime, no, she was that precious gem of great value that is only found in the deepest parts of the dark earth, like a rare opal. A treasure is rarely found easily, and you have to dig deep to find one so precious that all you can do is cry at its beauty and perfection. 

That's Hannah. An opal, filled with light, deep complex colors, fire, and ice. The outside might seem rough and hard, but I assure you that this treasure of mine is anything but. 

She's known about how she came into this world since she was 13. 

Hannah was 10 pounds and almost 24 inches long when she was born. Her birth was about as violent as a birth could be. Because of her size, her shoulder got stuck behind my pelvis and required the doctor to put his arm up inside me and twist her to get her out. 

It worked. She was stuck for so long and when she arrived, her head was so distorted, her face so swollen, that she looked to me like Jabba the Hut. I joke to this day about it because the image was seared into my brain forever. 

Her skin was the softest skin I've ever felt in my life. The huge fat rolls that enveloped this newborn's body were like billows of soft butter. I couldn't keep my hands off her delicate dark skin. Yes, she was born with a tan. 

As she grew, she walked early, was an escape artist, but didn't talk. She didn't talk until she was nearly three years old, but when she finally opened her mouth, she spoke with complete sentences. 

My little treasure. Silent, stealth, and totally heart melting. At a very young age she had this way about her that would make grown men cry when they just looked at her. They couldn't help themselves. They would be so moved by her presence that they couldn't help but well up with tears. 

Hannah is a hardcore introvert, who observed the world at a distance. She was always more comfortable with one or two close friends, and being out in nature. She also loved to get into my craft supplies and create wild outfits for her and her dog. 

She has a fierce independent streak (all my girls do), finishing up high school a year early while venturing out on her own. She left my nest at 16 years old and I would get a call from her every now and again after she finished high school that she was on the west coast, or down south in Virginia, or off on some other adventure. 

She moved to New Mexico seven years ago and began reaching out for a closer relationship with Dom and I. 

The one thing I've never done with any of my children was to force them to communicate with me. Some of them can go three months or more before giving me a call. I can't be one of those pushy people asserting my will over them and then calling it love and concern. What I can offer, however, is a listening ear, and my guidance IF they ask for it. No one wants advice if they aren't ready to receive it. 

I've always let my children know its okay to fail, to try new things, and to change their minds. 

In my relationship with Hannah, it started with, "Mom, you're not going to like this but..." and then comes her own self judgement looking for affirmation that she's bad, or wrong. I could not offer judgement, but I could offer a listening ear, an open heart, empathy, and advice if she needed it and I had it to give. 

When your child, regardless of their age, comes to you with a secret joy, a secret pain, a terrible loss, a happy moment, be fully present, forgetting about your own hangups or how your kid is "doing life." Focus instead on the fact that they are actually sharing something that is of great value to them. Isn't that what its all about?   

When we first become parents, we have this laundry list of things we want our kids to be in life, and when they start to stray from that course we designed so carefully, panic sets in. 

How does a parent prepare themselves for their child becoming a burlesque dancer? I'll give you a hint...

You support him or her. That's how you prepare. You listen to their heart song, watch the excitement in their eyes. They love their craft and how each dance tells a story. 

And when they ask for you to go to their performances? Would you go? (I hope your answer will be a loud resounding yes). 

Did I go? You're damn right I went. I took pictures too. What? You wouldn't go to your daughter's dance performances if they were a little sexually charged?

Does she take off all her clothes? No. But even if she did, I would still go and support her. Dancing makes her happy, fulfilled, and helps her stay in her body and be fully present with her feelings and emotions. This is just one form of dance, but one that evokes her power and often centers her. 

How many times have we told our children, "You can be anything you want in life if you work hard enough at it." A true statement, right? How many of you have said this to your children? Now, what if that child worked extra hard at developing a dance troupe, costumes, set design, spent hours and hours practicing while holding a full time job, and would call you to talk about how excited she was to perform in the coming few weeks, and wanted you to be there. Would you go? Even if it was burlesque?

Some parents would find this disturbing, but I don't. I told her she could be anything she wanted, and now I'm supporting her choices. In the process, I get to be a part this magnificent creature's life as she grows, expands, changes, writhes in personal agony, and finds deeper treasures within herself. 

She works full time, put herself through school to become a yoga instructor, plays many instruments, and has a soulful and haunting singing voice.

She dwells in that alternate world where people love tattoos, body piercing, suspending from hooks through their flesh, and body modification. I have met her circle of friends and the only thing I can say about this crowd she calls her friends, is that you truly cannot judge a book by its cover. Just like her, her friends are some of the most generous and loving people I've met. 

This treasure of mine has allowed me into places of her heart that few parents get to go or experience. 

Is this a phase of her life? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm cool with it either way. 

Today is her 26th birthday, and I want to celebrate all of her. Her accomplishments, her passions, her life, and her enormous beautiful heart. 

I see this warrior with the spirit of fire and I am overwhelmed with joy at every part of her. Her love is deep, at times dark, and yet so filled with grace. She is grace. 

She has this funny streak and an infectious laugh. 

She is a stunning beauty. I love when she has her horns on! 

And when she takes out her whip. 

Modeling can often bring out her fierce side. 

And her softer side.

She slays. 

Yes, she is being suspended from hooks. I have been to her suspensions also. She is an artist, always exploring new avenues of creativity, pain, and pleasure. 

She recently purchased her first motorcycle. Oye! Of all the things that might seem to be difficult for a parent to adjust to, this is by FAR the most difficult for me to grasp. You see, everything I've shared thus far with you all is within HER control. She decides how far to take her art, but with a motorcycle, its not just her on the road. 

She loves all animals. She loves watching little baby animals eat and sleep. Who doesn't right? 

The love of Hannah's life weighs about 2 pounds soaking wet. Camille is not really a dog. She has been called a hairy lizard, and even a tiny fawn, but never a dog. They have been together for 7 years now. 

She loves her family, and someday would love to have children of her own. 

She was the quiet one, full of fun yet devious ideas for other kids to do while she sat with the sweetest of smiles watching as others broke the rules or did something they shouldn't have. Did she partake? Not usually, she just enjoyed quietly from a distance. 

Happy Birthday Hannah! I love you so much. Thank you for being that deep treasure filled with beautiful color, timeless perfection, and of value beyond compare. You are precious to me. Thank you for filling my life with your love and amazing spirit. 

Meet Mr. Scrumpy

Is that the sweetest little face, or what?! Meet Mr. Scrumpy, the newest member of our family. A few months ago I was looking for puppy that would be a good companion for Silly. There were dogs we could have chosen, but in the end we chose to search for a puppy. 

There was one other contender for the coveted spot of becoming Silly's companion, and that was a 6 month old great dane. However, I couldn't make the long trip to northern Vermont to meet this mammoth canine because Silly is a bit neurotic when going for car rides. She never quite calms down and car rides cause her a great deal of stress. If we need to, we will take her in the car, but the incessant whining and high pitch squeals drives us all right up the wall. 

So the search continued, until one day a woman posted that she had puppies coming the end of April and that they would be a Corgi mix. I said to myself with a half cocked pirate smile, "Corgi mix, eh! Mixed with what?" So I contact the woman and she said the puppies would be a corgi chihuahua mix. I started cracking up because in my mind's eye, anchored into the deepest parts of my brain were images of the most preciously awkward ugly dog in the world. 

I talked with Dom about it and he cracked a half cocked pirate smile too, and I knew we were destined to have a homely dog. When we met Silly, I thought she was an ugly dog, but I think Mr. Scrumpy will have her beat! 

Then the puppies were born, and I had to choose between 7 puppies. How do you choose? They were all so ugly and alien like. 

We knew we wanted a boy, and we knew that Simmi wanted a white dog, so that's how we made our choice. The boy in the middle would be Mr. Scrumpy. 

Look at that silly looking alien face! We melted at the sight of him. We sent our deposit and then got photos of him as he grew. 

At 5 weeks old, his mother ran out of milk with so many puppies to feed. He was started on solids, and by the next week, they contacted me to ask if we wanted to come get him early. We weren't supposed to get him until the end of June. 

We said yes, and I traveled to New York state to get him on Father's Day. 

This tiny creature has captured our hearts. He's smart already, well on his way to being house trained, and enjoys being held and cuddled. 

We haven't formally introduced him to Silly yet. He barely weighs a pound and she towers over him with 30 pounds of full excitement. Mr. Scrumpy doesn't yet know to be a dog, and to Silly, he is some sort of weird animal that doesn't speak her language. He isn't even interested in knowing her, so of course she was way too excited. 

At no time are they ever allowed to be together without one of them in a crate. That will change as she mellows out to his presence, and she has, but I'm taking baby steps. I want the experience to be a good one, and for her to fully accept him. 

When Silly first saw Mr. Scrumpy she kept barking and making quick jerking movements towards the front of her crate. She does the same thing to squirrels and bugs, and I wanted her to be in a calm and submissive state before introducing them without the crate. 

We're getting there! I was able to bring Scrumpy out on the deck where Silly was leashed, and sat between them as she calmly approached me for assurance and love. Reinforcing her good behavior has gone a very long way in getting Scrumpy acclimated to our family dynamic. 

I don't foresee allowing them to be introduced without a crate for at least another week. If its wise for other animals to be separated before introducing them to a flock or herd, then its good enough for dogs too. If Scrumpy was a year old, that would be a different story, because he would already know the rules of being a dog.

Anyway, I want the bonding to go smoothly. At night they sleep right next to one another. Silly can smell Scrumpy, listen to his whimpering and crying at night, and is getting used to him walking around outside her crate or outside on the deck. 

Both dogs are on grain free dog food. If they were on regular food, we wouldn't be able to have dogs at all. We figured out that Simmi isn't allergic to dogs if they are on a grain free dog food. Any dog that is on regular food, however, causes her to sneeze and we need to give her Benadryl. 

The first two days Scrumpy was with us, Simmi needed Benadryl, but as of this morning, she hasn't needed it at all. The same happened with Silly when she came to live with us. 

Scrumpy is one hungry little puppy, and he was able to find his bag of food and started whimpering for more. Does his little belly in the above photo look like he could possibly fit anymore food in there? Haha

Just for a point of reference, Dom's boots are bigger than Mr. Scrumpy! 

We look forward to seeing him grow into the cutest/ugliest dog in the world and have many adventures with Silly. 




Getting Ready to Move...Again

We've had a few bumps in the road concerning moving to our new farm. Because of my extreme mold allergy, we weren't able to rent the house. Most people wouldn't have a problem with water damaged buildings, but my body doesn't clear biotoxins and instead molds build up in my fat cells. 

My husband is the perfect example of someone who clears biotoxins very well from his body. He can go into a mold infested building and get the sniffles but be fine in a week. We lived through all the same extreme mold exposures but he never got sick, and I nearly died...many times. 

Over the years, I could never understand why my body would hold on to so much weight or where the inflammation was coming from. As a defense mechanism, my body uses fat cells to hold onto biotoxins and stores it. If I lose the weight via exercising, I get sick as the biotoxins are released from my cells, enter my bloodstream and causes a vicious cycle to occur. I never get rid of the biotoxins, and my body simply takes the toxins and redeposits it into my fat again. I'm highly proficient at recycling biotoxins. Oye! 

I followed a ketogenic diet for more than 8 months (strict I might add) and lost no weight. Initially I lost 20 pounds of water weight, but after that, my body ruggedly held onto the fat. 

In this next week, I'll be starting the next part of the Shoemaker Protocol after being diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). My body has handled the first wave of medications, and I'll be starting the next phase, taking Cholestyramine (CSM) to bind the biotoxins (I have both mold and lyme) and remove them from my body. 

Dom has become my personal trainer, and after I start my next round of medication, we'll start a very aggressive fitness routine to get the fat off as quickly as possible. 

So, we're packing up our things and getting ready to move July 1st. We found a house that is mold free, and we will also be able to have a large garden and some small animals like chickens, ducks, and turkeys. It isn't our ultimate dream property, but it is a house that won't be put on the market anytime soon. 

Dom and I have always thrown around the idea of building our own off grid homestead, and this house will provide us with the opportunity we need to do just that. We really like the town, and the school where Simmi will be going is only minutes from the hospital. Depending on our experiences in our new town, we may try to find land and set roots there. 

I didn't want to start over building farm infrastructure from scratch, but because my body will never be able to clear molds properly and I will require medication whenever I'm exposed, it has become clear that the only way to avoid this is for us to build our own house where there is no waterlines in the house and where no mold can grow. That is the only way for me to stay safe. Before knowing I had CIRS, I just thought I needed to just be in a mold free environment. It goes beyond that because of my genetics. 

We're designing a sweet little chicken coop for some silkies we'll be getting sometime in July or August. I found the sweetest looking silkies ever, and since I want to hatch out all our chickens the natural way, it would be in our best interest to have a small flock of silkies to spoil rotten. 

We will also be raising meat birds, chickens and ducks for eggs, so our silkies will be busy raising lots of chicks in a cute little coop. All other birds will go into chicken tractors to take advantage of a few acres of common land the birds will be able to enjoy. Raising poultry on pasture is very important to us. 

Our new house also has a small greenhouse attached to the south side of the house, and a very large carport on the north side of the house. The carport however, will not be used for cars, but instead for an extended area for outside living. I'm not sure why anyone would want to park their car in a space that is perfect for spending time outside in the gorgeous Vermont weather! 

The house we're in now is still on the market, but hopefully it will sell soon! We loved living here and I know whoever purchases it will love it as much as we did. 

Last month I started a lot of plants with old seeds we brought with us from New Mexico. I didn't know if my seed vault was still good (I have an INSANE amount of seeds) and it turns out every single seed was viable. These seeds have been through hell and back. They were in extreme cold, extreme heat, and moist conditions and still were very viable! 

I started a few varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkin, and watermelon. This week I'll be starting zucchini, brussels sprouts, and a few others that will be ready to plant when we move. 

Our Silly girl is doing well, and June 24th we will be welcoming a playmate for her. He is a Corgi-Chihuahua puppy and will be 8 weeks old the end of the month. His name is Mr. Scrumpy. We are all very excited. Silly plays with Simmi throughout the day, but in September Simmi will start school. Although I will be home to care for her, I want her to have a playmate. I think every dog should have their own canine companion. 

As usual we have a lot going on! There are a few projects I'm working on, and I've been pretty busy trying to keep everything together. We're also focusing on my health and looking forward to renewed life as the biotoxins leave my body. Keep me in your thoughts! 


A New Farm is in Our Future

It has been a very long and difficult year for us as a family. At this time last year, we were busy trying to sell our house, getting ready for our move to Maine, trying to get our son ready for his first year in college, and we were excited that our dreams were about to become a reality. 

As many of you know, that dream quickly became a nightmare. I have grieved the better part of this past year over the loss of my animals, my gardens, and even my calling as a farmer. Even though some pretty terrible things occurred in pursuit of our dreams, the outpouring of love from family and friends has been unbelievable. 

We are so thankful. Dom has the most amazing job in the world building gorgeous GeoBarns for clients, we have a very thoughtful and considerate landlord who has made our stay in Woodstock, Vermont, beautiful and memorable, wonderful and supportive friends who have helped us transition to Vermont, and family who made it possible for us to hope and dream again. 

Our lives are filled with blessings and we are now overflowing. My health is recovering as well from the mold exposure and subsequent autoimmune flareup. The Gluten Challenge I had to participate in last year prior to being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, damaged my body in ways I fear I will never come back from as it is still affecting me. One way inflammation shows in my body is through weight gain, and weight that is extremely difficult for me to get rid of now. I've gained more than 50 pounds, of which 35 pounds or more happened in the first month of the gluten challenge last year. The weight is uncomfortable and my body has a hard time carrying it. 

I'm currently on the Wahls Protocol Plus™ after wanting to pull my hair out over the lack of improvement happening with my health on the Autoimmune Protocol. The Wahls Protocol™ however is working for me. Thank god! I am finally making progress, and while it is her most aggressive diet plan, it was already what I was attempting to do prior to reading her book. I was already eating mostly raw foods, while omitting foods that aggravate my autoimmune issues. 

So I'm on the mend! And it feels good. And now that I'm feeling stronger and more vibrant, I'm also happy to report that we will be making a final move to New Hampshire. I can't disclose the location, date of our move, or details about the farm yet, however, I will say that we are super excited that a farm is once more in our future! Dom and I decided that we didn't want to start from scratch and build a farm from the ground up. I guess if we were in our twenties, that would be something we would venture into, but I'm almost 50 years old, and as the primary farmer with Dom helping when he can, I am in no way ready to reinvent the wheel. The clear choice was to do a longterm farm lease. 

Farm infrastructure is expensive, and I would prefer working within the parameter of established orchards and perennials, and then add to that my exciting work as a soil farmer. That is where my calling lies. It is within the life of the soil. Without all the players in an ever changing and diverse soil life, nothing could grow properly. I credit everything that I've learned about soil health to Elaine Ingham. Many people pay close attention to the types of seeds they plant, the kinds of fertilizers they use, and if they are organic- the types of organic products they could use to deter pests or even weeds. Not me. I'm interested in knowing that all the correct organisms are present in the soil, because if they are all present and thriving, so will anything that grows in the soil. When there is an imbalance from over use of fertilizers (organic or inorganic), tillage, etc. there is always a decline in soil health and an uptick in weed pressure, and pests. Build the soil back up, and you have less weed pressure, deeper root systems, healthier annuals and perennials as well as vibrant healthy animals, and ultimately a community of soil life that will sustain us year after year, if they are treated right, nourished, and tended to. 

In the coming months as I'm able to disclose the location and more about our new farmhouse, my excitement will be growing! I won't be very active in this space until after we move since our landlord is selling the house we're in and I need to make sure things look great when we have a showing. Trying to balance that and packing things away that aren't essential is difficult to balance, but we'll do our best. 

I'm also busy building two other websites, homeschooling Simmi, I have some contractual work I do from home, and building a flexible garden plan for the new farm. I say flexible, because until I'm there each day experiencing the microclimates in different areas of the farm, I won't know for sure where everything will go in terms of gardens and animals. 

Its all very exciting though! Time will fly by, and all the sudden the moving men will be here to take us home. 

It will feel amazing to finally be settled and NOT need to move again. We knew this house we're in now was not a permanent solution for us. If the house was in a price range we could afford, we would have purchased it from our landlord. Its only on a few acres of steep slopes, but that wasn't an issue for us. Hopefully the right buyers will come along to purchase this house, because it is well worth the investment! 



New Beginnings for 2016

Our life has been filled to overflowing with lots of new beginnings, which is always a beautiful start to a new year. After having my kids home for Christmas and getting back into the swing of everyday life, our Suburban, Sweaty Betty, starting giving us problems. She was such a workhorse. She had her quirks though. When we first got her two years ago, her sole use was as a farm vehicle. We hauled straw and hay in her, delivered CSA orders, and used her to haul manure from our neighbor's farm to ours so that we could make good compost. 

When my son Noah first rode in Sweaty Betty he said, "She blurs the line between luxury and comfort." Haha

Its true! Sweaty Betty was a BEAST! She was reliable, dependable, and comfortable to ride in for long hours at a time. When we first purchased her, she had this dirt film all over her inside and out. We tried to clean it off, but it was permanently stuck on. We got used to dealing with the grime since she was after all a farm truck. 

Betty hauled us across country from New Mexico to Maine. She was meticulously looked over and repaired before we made the trip, and by the time we got to Maine, she started having a oil leak from somewhere. There was a crack in the engine and we knew she was on borrowed time. 

When we left Maine to come to Vermont, she started to have more issues. Then the cold hit. Sweaty Betty got her name because her air conditioner didn't work. Well, her heater didn't work properly either. In New Mexico, this wasn't too much of a problem because we'd only have a few weeks of bitter cold, and then everything would warm up during the day. Not in Vermont. 

Because of her unwillingness to provide heat to me and Simone, Dom decided that he would take Betty to work with him everyday. We couldn't take the chance of Betty dying at anytime, especially with a special needs child. If Simone would have had some sort of allergic reaction, and Betty wouldn't start because of her issues with the cold, it would put Simone in danger. 

So for awhile I drove Dom's work truck when needed. 

Then it happened; Dom was driving home from work one night and Betty's windshield became completely iced over. With no defrost to help keep the ice from forming, he pulled over an hour away from home, and called me to come rescue him from Betty's frozen cocoon. 

We had plans for Simone to start school at Montessori, and we had to postpone until the fall 2016 because of vehicle concerns and not being able to get her into a new allergist appointment so we could get a medical plan from her doctor to keep at the school. 

Dom and I knew we were going to need a new car, but felt stuck and had a difficult time making decisions on the kind of car to get. We both have our likes and wants (completely opposite from each other) and ever since leaving Maine, we have had a very difficult time making decisions. Its like a part of us was destroyed and unable to make rational and educated choices. The trauma is still there and we aren't completely recovered from what happened in August 2015. 

After a lot of searching, we did find a car that would work for us. I'm happy to report we did finally choose a car. I was driving all over Vermont and New Hampshire test driving cars. I was exhausted and Simone was fed up.

The morning before we picked up our new car, I got a message on Facebook from a lady saying she had a dog and asked me if I wanted her. I saw a photo, and then we went out to meet her. Simmi fell in love with her and we scooped her up and took her home. After giving her a bath, and set up her crate, she settled into life with our family very quickly. Her name was Jessie, and Simmi changed it to Sandy, and then changed it again to Silly. Silly is now her official name, which is very fitting since she is the silliest dog we've ever had. 

Silly loves to play, is extremely gentle and loving, and has the most beautiful brown eyes ever. She loves to follow us around, and can't wait to be petted and loved. We have only had her for about four days now, and the only issue she had was being alone at night in her crate. The first night she cried almost all night, and I found that after I covered her crate with a sheet, she settled right down and fell to sleep. The second night she cried periodically but then would go back to sleep. The third night she only cried a few times, and last night only once. 

She's super smart and has been a great companion to Simmi. We put Silly on an allergen free dog food and dog treats due to Simmi's food allergies, and in the next few days she should be completely transitioned. The other day, Silly licked Simone's face and left a HUGE welt on her cheek. She still has the old food in her system which should dissipate soon, and then Simone shouldn't get welts anymore.

The night we picked up our new car, I decided to do a little food shopping and we met a great family of homeschoolers. We stood there talking in the produce isle for quite awhile as the girls all played, and then we met up on Saturday morning to go ice skating. Unfortunately I didn't get a photos of them since my phone was almost dead. It was the first time Simmi has ever had a playdate with friends. Talk about a great new beginning! 

So far, 2016 has started beautifully. Last year at this time I was physically destroyed by the Gluten Challenge that compromised my health in order to get a proper diagnosis of Celiac Disease. I am STILL not recovered one year later, even though I have adhered to a very strict gluten free diet. 

I have had to take drastic measures and go to a raw diet. I started in the beginning of January and recently took a break for a week. I will be going back to raw until I recover my health again. I am suffering greatly physically, and being raw is the only thing that has helped me in the past to quiet down my immune system and recover my health. I'm at that point again. I will be following the Autoimmune Protocol just raw. 

Lots of new things happening this year!  


Recovering From Traumatic Events

When I was a child, I remember spending time at the beach. The sound of waves coming up against me as I waded through the water; breathing in the soft breeze of salty air; the sun as it kept me warm in the water and the sounds of people and birds around me lulling me into an almost trance like state. I was on autopilot in the water, overtaken and swept into the hypnotic rhythm of the ocean. 

Time would cease and before long I was out in the ocean for hours. It was often difficult to get me out of the water when I was young. And then it would always happen- I would reach the breaking point of exhaustion from being out in the sun and water all day. My exhilaration would turn to dread as I would fight my way back to shore in what seemed like a battle for my very soul. 

I fought the undertow, the waves, and the ruthless sun, to get to shore where I could drop onto my sandy towel and fall asleep for a few hours. The battle to get to shore was always hard, would make my heart race and I would panic that I wasn't getting any closer to leaving the water. 

This is what trauma feels like to me. One moment I'm are basking in the beauty of a perfect life, and in the next moment I'm battling for my very existence. 

In the start of 2015 Dom and I set out to discover what we really wanted in our lives. We knew what we wanted, we knew where we wanted to be, and as the months unraveled, we came to understand how it would all unfold. 

We believed in each other. We also had faith in people we didn't even know. Reaching for our goals and dreams and heading into a farm partnership was like being out in the mystic ocean. It was a dream. And a nightmare. 

Coming out of that situation was traumatic. And as quickly as we were settled there, it felt like God scooped down his big beautiful hand into the water pulled us out of that ocean where we were fighting to get to shore, and hurled us through the air two states over, from Maine to Vermont. 

The first month in Vermont I walked around with my shoulders tightly raised. Every muscle and fiber in my body was clinched in agony and exhaustion. I wanted to just disappear into a dark hole and cry for a long time. I couldn't however, because I also had to think about how that would affect Simmi and Dom. 

The second month in Vermont brought my very old and well hated adversary, Mold. My exhaustion continued and now enter illness to set off a cascade of autoimmune responses. I lost my hair, and feared I would lose my life. 

The third month in Vermont brought some comfort and healing. No more exposure to mold meant that my body could begin to recover. But my heart and emotions are still damaged, writhing in pain still stuck at the bottom of the ocean. Every time I taste the saltiness of my tears, it reminds me that I'm still at the bottom of the ocean.

The fourth month in Vermont brought lots of tears. More tears than I would care to admit to. I'm doing the deep work now in my soul, weaving and repairing those things so ruthlessly torn apart after giving all we had and then feeling completely trampled upon. 

Many people don't come back from that kind of trauma. I didn't know if I ever would. 

My courage, hope, belief in those around me, my giving nature, my love, joy, friendship, my calling, my very heart, I placed in the hands of those who never deserved it. That was my mistake. That was my error. Believing that others are just like me, and finding out that they are the opposite. The trauma is mine to bear, mine to repair, and mine to heal. 

It has changed me in ways that I feel I may never recover. It has caused me to distance myself from those resembling anything violent, terrorizing, physically or emotionally abusive, and even those who would support such things. 

The fifth month in Vermont brought grieving. Grieving for the loss of my calling. The loss of my animals. The deep and abiding connection I have with the earth and the need to be always connected to it through planting and animals. I cry daily over this. My grief is endless. 

Recovering from traumatic events takes time. 

I don't stop it though. I need to feel it all. The anger, the frustration, the grief, the sadness...all of it. Because this part of my life is just as significant and important as those times when I'm lost in the garden filled with wonder of the smallest living creatures and how they function in my world. 

I love every part of me. Even the part that grieves everyday. It makes me vulnerable and cry out in fascinating ways. It makes me look in the direction of injustice and open my mouth. It makes me look with empathy at those suffering great loss. It helps me connect back to my humanity in ways that happiness cannot. 

As I look toward 2016, my hope is that I can finally be through this grief and can create a new plan for our lives. One filled with tears of joy instead of sadness. To be able to once again bask in the beauty of our lives without fear of loss. 

Thanksgiving in Vermont

This is our first Thanksgiving in the Green Mountain State. It has been like a pleasant dream living here. The people are incredible, the fruits, vegetables, and meat is amazing, and the overall quality of life is beyond anything that we have ever experienced. 

We've been living in our home for two months now, and each day I fall a little more in love with it. 

This space is sacred to us, and it is truly healing to the soul. 

Dom's mom and dad came up for Thanksgiving and stayed a few days. It was great to see them, and for Simmi to get to spend time with grandma and grandpa. The last time we had thanksgiving with them was seven years ago before we left for New Mexico. 

While there were a lot of *firsts* happening for us in Vermont, among the most significant was our decision to remove any and all food allergens from our home. Living an hour away from a hospital prompted us to make the transition to a completely allergen friendly environment for Simone. 

What does that mean for the rest of us? Well, that means that the foods that one would normally eat can't be brought into the home, and all meals are allergen free. We used to allow dairy, tree nuts, eggs, and even wheat breads and products into the house for those who ate them, but now we maintain a very strict no allergen policy in our house. 

Will you die if you come here and you can't eat stuffing for thanksgiving? How about those dinner rolls? Cheese and crackers? No, you won't die, AND you might find that the foods we prepare are extremely gentle on the stomach, full of flavor, nutrient dense, and delicious. 

On our menu for Thanksgiving 2015:

  • Stonewood Farm Turkey: This turkey definitely gave us a run for our money. It was flavorful, juicy, and delicious. I say "a run for our money" because last year we raised our own turkeys. Ours were spectacular. Stonewood came really close. We needed a fresh turkey that wasn't injected with any kind of solution. Have you noticed that if you go to the store to purchase a turkey (even organic sometimes) it will say that the turkey has been injected with a solution of water and broth and natural flavors. If a product doesn't declare the exact ingredients, we don't purchase it. We don't take any chances with reactions. Simone had a very bad reaction to store bought turkey injected with a solution. Never again! 
  • Straight up roasted sweet potatoes: No need to add marshmallows, or other things. Just a little coconut oil brushed on and roasted up. 
  • Roasted turnips and sausage
  • Smashed rutabaga 
  • Honey glazed carrots
  • Fresh cranberry sauce
  • Root vegetable biscuits 
  • Pumpkin pie

The food was delicious, conversations were light and pleasant, and it was the most stress free thanksgiving we've had in eight years. 

For eight years we've stuck to a protocol for doing dishes, preparing food, and even had schedules for when we ate. Because Simone's food allergies have always been so severe, we would prepare her food first, sit with her while she ate, and then when she was finished, we'd prepare our food. Sometimes we would prepare our food right after we made hers, and then we could eat, but in her early years we couldn't take a chance of even having a little cross contact with food. It was less stressful to feed her first, and then feed ourselves. 

This type of protocol led to HUGE amounts of dishes, going through 5 or 6 dish rags and drying towels per day, constant hand washing before and after touching food, and worse of all needing to police everyone in the house. That's the most stressful by far. 

Dom and I are always questioning one another about our hands, face, dishes, foods, labeled items in the fridge. Communication is of the utmost importance. It might seem weird that we would question one another about our actions, but there are times when even WE slip up and stick a spoon we just used to stir coffee and cream, with something that belongs to Simone. Have you ever done that? Just innocently used the same spoon from one product to another? A habit like that could cost Simmi her life, so we don't do it. BUT! It can happen, even with us being so experienced in how to keep Simone safe. 

When we removed ALL allergens from the house, the food policies and protocols flew right out the window! Anyone can do dishes without being taught. In the past we had a few designated dish washers in our house because if dishes weren't done properly, Simmi would breakout in eczema or have a reaction. Now? Anyone can do the dishes. I don't need to be hawkish over everyone eating something that could kill my baby.

We used to have to worry when food came into the house that she was allergic to. Especially if the person visiting wasn't familiar with our policies and protocols. We would need to hover, always watching for those stray crumbs and hands filled with butter or other allergen food to make sure they never come into contact Simone before washing their hands. Walking around with a napkin and bread would nearly cause a heart attack in me. Crumbs where my little girl walks means that little offending crumb could cause a BIG reaction. Yes, its that bad. 

We once had a family member walk into our house with an open can of peanuts. He was not only eating them before he came into our house, but used his peanut oiled fingers to open the door to our house. Shoving peanuts into his mouth, we all freaked out and asked him to leave. The floor and door knobs needed to be properly cleaned. If Simone would have opened the entrance door after he touched it, she would have gone into anaphylaxis. 

For so long we tried to accommodate everyone's needs while keeping Simone's needs front and center. When the hospital is so far away, satisfying everyone else's needs takes a backseat and allows others to experience a new way of living for just a short while visiting us. Its weird that for eight years we tried to make everyone who came to visit feel comfortable when we were screaming inside. Its not their fault that our child has so many food allergies right? Yet, we often went beyond accommodating when it would have been just as simple to just ask our visitors to partake in the foods that Simone can eat. This is her home too after all. Why not be more inclusive? I've always looked at our situation from the perspective that this is just how she needs to learn to navigate the world. I never truly looked at it from another angle...her angle. 

What would be the problem in others sharing the food she can eat? For eight years we have purchased or allowed food into our home that SHE could never eat. I've watched her sit at the table watching people eat things that could kill her, and yet not one person shared a "Simmi meal" with her. How strange right? To accommodate a visitor, but not our child? My stomach is turning as I write this, because the realization that we've done it all wrong is beginning to creep into my soul. 


How could I have been so callous? In believing that Simone's food allergies were ours alone, I've put a huge line in the sand when it comes visitors. On one side is Simmi, and on the other side is everyone else. They can come across the line to see her, but she can't cross the line to see them. You see, most people who come to see her or us aren't allergic to the foods she eats, however, she is allergic to what they may be eating. Is it a terrible thing to have a meal with us if everything is allergen free? Can we offer a more inclusive menu? 

Even though this does NOTHING for the real world outside of our home, it gives others the opportunity to share a meal with a child who can't eat everything you eat. Your superpower is that you can eat food she eats. You also have the superpowers called empathy, grace, maturity, compassion, and love to walk a day in her shoes by including yourself in her life. Her superpowers is unconditional love and acceptance of your very being. All other superpowers she will acquire when those she looks up to lead by example. Compassion is a precious commodity, and empathy at times is akin to an endangered species. Grace is a lavish gift filled with the fragrance of love, and maturity contains the wisdom of how to employ all your superpowers.  

Perspective is everything, I guess. 

After having an allergen free home for a month now, we no longer need to question one another about what food is "Simmi-safe" and what she can't eat. 

Here's the rub....

Now that we are allergen free, bad habits of old are slipping back into our lives. We would never in a million years share food off our plate with her. We would never use the same utensil for more than one food we're preparing. We would NEVER not wash our hands after eating and before giving her a kiss or a hug. Now? None of that seems necessary. 

That will make us soft. Forgetful. Being less vigilant will cause us to slip up when we're out at a gathering where there are offending foods. We still need to keep up our protocols despite the fact that the allergens aren't present. 

We've grown comfortable in our new stress free bubble of bliss we've created here. 

We shouldn't. She's going to school in January where food protocols I set in place will be super strict! 

I can honestly say that we love eating allergen free. We transitioned to the Autoimmune Paleo/Protocol diet (AIP) and we haven't looked back. My inflammation is still there, and Simone still has some eczema, but we're getting there. 

The balance comes when Simone learns that home is the place of absolute safety. She doesn't need to fear death from eating something accidentally in our home. While she is at school, that is the outside world she needs to learn to navigate. We can keep hyper vigilant with the food/medical policy and protocols we set in place and when she walks through our door at home, we can all drop our guard until the next day. 

Here are some photos from this past week:

Homeschooling will Come to an End in the New Year

Since we moved to Vermont in August, we have struggled with the idea of sending Simone to school vs homeschooling. The reasons for homeschool have more to do with keeping her free of anaphylaxis and less to do with education. Can we homeschool her? Yes. Do we want to homeschool her? No. 

I know that sounds mean, but it isn't. 

Simone is a gregarious child, curious and filled with wonder. She epitomizes true childlike innocence, thirsts for real connections with others, and is an all inclusive kind of girl. 

I have been reluctant to talk about her pure and beautiful nature because this is the internet, and there are things I would rather not have the whole world knowing. Unfortunately, in our world, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who has come into contact with Simmi will understand that this child is different. 

She marches to a heart song that echoes out a melody so few have ever heard. The joy she brings to all she lays her eyes on goes beyond just a curious greeting-she longs to know you. It is a need as deep as breathing. 

Can you see how my discussion of her deeper side could be troubling in the online world? We have often worried about her personal safety because she sees everyone she meets as friends and family. 

Black, white, asian, old, young, deformed and missing a limb or two, homeless, smelly, troubled, angry, sad, crying, happy, elderly, and even infants are not out of her line of inquiry which leads to her asking these questions:

"Hi, I'm Simmi, what's your name? Would you like to come to our house for dinner? How about a sleep over? Can you come over for Christmas?" 

No one can escape her innocent questions. 

While shopping for food, she must say hello to every single person she sees. If its a child, she will approach them, and if they have a sour nature wanting to be mean, it will only take about five minutes for my kid to turn sour into sweet. 

Its amazing to watch. Its beautiful to be a witness to her light in an ever darkening world. 

Adults often struggle to speak with her. They will look to me as if to say, "You do know she is talking to me right now, and she wants to physically hug me even though she has never met me before, don't you?" They seem disarmed, filled with fear and looking for me to remove my child. Some of them even ignore her, refusing to make eye contact. 

Stranger danger, god, its everywhere. They seem to apply it to my kid. She's the stranger. How weird is that? Adults having a difficult time with an eight year old seeking to know more about a complete stranger. I guess that is strange in our often anonymous world. 

Why am I saying all this and what does this have to do with homeschooling coming to an end? Well, there are a great number of reasons we want her to go attend school. First and foremost however is that the children in school need her, and she needs them. 

Simone has what feels like a unicorn soul. A rainbow of feeling and emotion that borders on the magical. She has a way of reaching even the most hardened 7 year old. 

It sounds strange to say that doesn't it? That a 7 year old could be hardened? But many of them are. I've seen it first hand while we are out at the stores. Parents on their phones or other devices, their child angry and scouring, or sad and sobbing. 

I'll give you one example of hundreds of stories I could share about how the world responds to Simone:

We were in Hannaford (grocery store if you don't live in New England) and walking through each isle as I shopped for food. It was Friday, October 30, and a little girl was shopping with her dad. She was around Simmi's age, very overweight, and busting out of her large blue disney princess costume. Why do I say it this way? Because that is what I saw. A child, very uncomfortable, and extremely aware of her surroundings. She held on to the shopping cart as her father spoke on the phone the whole time they were in the store. From the moment he brought her in, until after he left, he at no time put the phone down. 

The little girl walked beside him, and with her eyes squinted half shut and with an almost smug look, refused to acknowledge Simmi as she said, "Hi, my name is Simmi, what's your name?" The little girl wouldn't answer her. She wouldn't look her directly in the eyes. She had this weird grin on her face. I wanted to judge this little girl. I mean, who does that right? When someone is being nice and saying hello, do you really turn up your nose and walk away? 

When we were finished shopping and at the checkout counter, we just happened to be right behind the man and his disney princess daughter. 

Would you like to know how Simone reacted to the snooty rebuff? 

To her, there was no rebuff. Remember, I'm the witness. I'm the observer. I remained silent as I watched the icy world melt from around this girl. 

Simmi approached the girl who stood just a little taller and about three sizes bigger than her. She said in a soft and loving voice, with eyes warm and inviting, "Hi, my name is Simmi, what's your name." 

The little girl looked to her father who was STILL on the phone and completely oblivious to the fact that his child was talking with people. Then the little girl looked to me. I smiled at her, and the girl opened up and told Simone her name. Simmi talked about how beautiful her princess dress was, and how pretty she was. 

Then it hit me. This child is probably relentlessly bullied at school because of her size. She was a large little girl, and unfortunately fat doesn't work. It didn't work when I was a little girl, and it certainly doesn't work now. Obese children are often targeted. 

Being fat was never a part of the conversation between these two little girls. It was about how pretty she was, and how special the dress was, sparkly and new. It took everything inside me to NOT cry at what I was observing. 

This little girl was broken inside. She wasn't a snooty little snob. She wasn't trying to be mean. Her guard was up because she was afraid some little girl her age was going to say something horrible to her. Have you ever put your guard up as an adult?

Simone brings down the walls of hatred. She melts even the coldest of hearts. 

This is a profound gift that has come into the world. She is a gift. A miracle. 

She is almost always prepared. At home she will color hearts, pieces of paper, create stitch work on felted hearts, and shove them in a bag or pocket. When we go out, she pulls out these creations to give to anyone who will accept them. 

She doesn't know who she will meet, but when she does, she has a gift for them and an invite to join us for dinner, lunch, the holidays or her birthday. 

I've had people show up at the farm because she told a stranger with children where they could find us. And you know what, they came and we invited them in. 

Can that be dangerous? Perhaps. But lots of things can be dangerous. 

Loving from the heart is a miracle as well as dangerous, but I'm not going to stop her. 

In her fearless pursuit of loving others, she will approach homeless people. She rolls down the window to ask them how they're doing. 

She has no fear of rejection and has no idea what that even is. When someone is ignoring her, she doesn't feel rejected, she just looks for another way to reach them. 

She is a pearl. 

Our choice to school her isn't to "socialize" her. Believe me, she's about as social as they come. 

We can't keep her from sharing her beautiful soul with others. At the same time we also have that other problem, her life threatening food allergies. 

In weighing all the options such as where the nearest hospital is, how long it would take for paramedics to get there, and the best place to get her the educational help she needs because of her neurological disorder, we keep coming back to Montessori School. 

Even though it will take an hour to drive her to school each morning, putting me in the car for four hours a day, and the fact that we will be extremely financially tight, we feel good about our decision. 

We want other children to experience the feeling of being completely accepted. We want her to grow her friendships, achieve academic success, and learn how to work with her disabilities. 

Her strengths far outweigh her weaknesses. We want to support her in that. 

So we've been saving money for her tuition, and for a while we'll be struggling with driving Sweaty Betty, our gas guzzling snow beast. We need to get some sort of used hybrid car that handles well in the snow since I'll be traveling 160 miles per day in the car. 

Somehow it will work out. My rainbow unicorn will start school in January and I couldn't be more thrilled (and terrified). 

Our House has Sold

It finally happened! This past week we closed on our house in New Mexico. It has been a long road of negotiations, concessions, ups, downs, and even disappointments. But at least it sold. 

Our house was a labor of love and the place that we called home for five years of our lives. It became the anchor after years of shuffling between houses due to mold and illness, and the cycle of being jobless that would follow my illnesses because Dom needed to stay home and care for me. 

This was the home Simone spoke her first real words in and engaged in her first real conversations when she was five years old. It was the place she could play outside and feel free to explore, dig, catch butterflies, and discover new bugs. She planted flowers, harvested vegetables with me, and even helped care for animals. 

Our home was a dream realized, homesteading made real. It was the place where we would spend hours planning gardens, finding creative ways to collect resources, and then dreaming even bigger. 

This house was a mold free environment that helped facilitate my healing, making it possible for me to return to the east coast. 

Our home was an arena of debates, arguments, discussions, misunderstandings, anger, turmoil, stress, and at times confounding sadness. It was the place where my relationship with my father ended. Living fatherless when your father is still alive is not easy. But God has always been good to me, lavishing on me His Love, so in this I take comfort. 

This house was also a place of absolute bliss, warmth, love, family get togethers, holidays, forgiveness, joy, empathy, and unrelenting optimism. 

Our home was the birthplace of Luna Hill. The chronicles of our lives that I've kept for the last five years. Does it contain everything? No way. We live very private lives, but I guess the parts that I don't feel are private, seem intimate to many, and I've developed fond friendships and close relationships with a number of readers through the years as a result of this blog. 

We had a collection of over 60 ducks, 30 chickens, 2 pigs, 1 dog, 2 rabbits, and 15 turkeys.

We planted an ambitious variety of fruit trees and gardens to create an oasis in the desert that has endured even with us moving away and no longer tending to the trees. The passive infrastructure in place now will continue to harvest water on its own for many years to come with very little for the new owners to do. 

Will the new owners appreciate what we did? I don't know. They may rip it all out if that is their choice, but if they observe for a long while, they will see the wisdom of never needing to water the trees on their new property. If they do happen to start watering them, the trees may actually die. It took a few years of disciplined watering to get the trees to grow roots down deep instead of the roots growing horizontally. My hope is that the new owners see why this is important in the desert. 

Our land became a place potlucks, fresh organic produce, and some of the most beautiful fruits and vegetables we've ever grown. 

It was an amazing home. It still is! 

Blood, sweat, tears, laughter, countless hours rehabbing the house, all the money invested in making the house actually was worth it. 

We've closed yet another chapter in our lives, and we are currently writing a new chapter. 


Autumn in Vermont

I'm doubtful I've ever enjoyed autumn more than at this time in my life. I have always been a huge fan of autumn because it ushers in the long cold days of winter. The change of leaves is thrilling, the smell of the crisp fall air, invigorating. 

We've been in awe of this particular autumn because for almost 7 years we lived in the high desert where the trees go from green to brown. Okay, there's a brief window where the leaves *may* turn yellow for a day, but then POOF! its all gone. 

The high desert has a beauty all its own, and can only truly be appreciated when you experience it. There are places in New Mexico where the foliage is spectacular, we just didn't live near an area like that. 

Being here in Vermont, however, is breathtaking no matter where you look. 

I can't tell you how many photos I've taken of the changing leaves. I'll go out on my deck and snap a photo, and then put it on my computer and be utterly disappointed because it didn't fully capture the beauty of the light, the shadows, the colors, or feeling. 

Why can't photos capture the way my heart feels when I witness such beauty? 

I keep clicking away, but to no avail. But don't take my word for it, you will just need to come up here to Vermont and take it all in. You won't be disappointed. 

This is Simone's first real autumn. She has never experienced before now the crisp autumn air and blustery quick winds that shake the golden leaves from their branches, causing them to gracefully fall to the ground. Her reaction to every leaf that flies through the air is, "Oh, hahahaha, look another one is falling." It never gets old to her. Each leaf seems to do a dance for her, and the delight of the sound of her giggling as the leaves fall sinks into my soul and warms the very core of my being. 

If a thousand leaves fall all at once, the riot of laughter that bellows from deep inside Simmi becomes contagious and all one can do is laugh with her. 

When we drive through town and leaves are falling and a few hit the windshield, it catches Simmi by surprise as though the leaf purposely flew into the windshield just to get a good look at her. She takes it very personally. Falling leaves bring her joy. Every single one of them. 

Each day Simone goes outside to try and find me the perfect leaf. She usually comes back with two baskets full of leaves, all of which are perfect in their own right. She could no sooner pick her favorite leaf, than she could her favorite shade of pink. 

To say that Vermont has been good for Simmi would be an understatement. We adore everything about it so far. We hope to make a few new friends this fall so she can share her love of nature with children her age. 

I can't wait until we get her outfitted for winter! There will be no stopping her. She's growing out of all her clothes and shoes, and soft wool and silk long underwear are in her near future so I can take her on nature walks around our property and down at Quechee State Park. 

First World Problems

Wow, its been a full two weeks since we moved into our new mountain home. It has been quite challenging for a number of reasons, and all of them are what I call "first world problems." 

Have you ever heard that expression before? Its a term used to describe the spoiled and often unappreciative American generation that has never really had to experience what its like not to have internet, a cell signal, hot water problems, and all the other things we tend to take for granted in this country. 

Well, I have been quite the complainer for two weeks straight. We had no phone signal, I had a very hard time getting online via my phone, and keeping in touch with my kids was nearly impossible. Beyond that, even though I have been a whiner about not having a signal, my big freakout has to do with being isolated in the mountains with a child who, if she accidentally ingests something that could kill her, I wouldn't have a way to get the EMT or paramedics out to help her as we go to the hospital. Time is of the essence when dealing with anaphylaxis, and while I do have two epipens for her, she does still need to go to the hospital. 

The photo to the right is at the bottom of our driveway. You can barely see our garage from there. -------------->>>

I also didn't have access to a phone book or internet more than for a few moments at a time, which meant that it was nearly impossible for me to locate a medical center in the Woodstock, VT area where we now live. So what the hell do I do in a situation where Simone's having a reaction and I can't call 911 AND I have no idea where the nearest medical center is? OYE! 

The stress that I've felt over the last two weeks was through the roof. We were once again in a situation where we needed to move all our things from the beautiful cottage, and Dom was left with the task of carrying everything up two flights of stairs. 


Again, a First World Problem, because while I'm complaining that my husband needs to haul all our belongings up the stairs, there are others around the world that may not only be displaced and homeless or a refugee, but they may also be going it alone without a spouse or partner to lighten the load.

Do you see where I'm going with this? 

After the landline was finally working, there was something wrong with the line and it had to be repaired. 

Then the modem was never delivered. I would have pulled all my hair out at this point if I actually had any to pull out! Today the modem actually arrived after it was mistakenly delivered to our neighbor's house a few days ago. 

When we first moved into the house, there was no hot water, and while it was getting chilly outside, we only needed to fire up the wood stove or fireplace to get things warm. However, after a few days, and then finally figuring out that there was something wrong with the boiler, it was necessary to get a service man out to repair it. We were boiling water to wash dishes, and we went days without being able to shower or bathe. It wasn't fun! 

I often ponder the lives of those who have no hot water, or even heat. In those moments I wonder how many children are going to bed cold, how many parents are in a situation where they can't provide the very basics for their families. 

First World Problems. 

So here I am, so very thankful and grateful for having a house that is free of the mold spores I'm allergic to, and at the same time quite cranky and bitchy about being inconvenienced for the last two weeks. 

First World Problems. 

In the grand scheme of things, these issues have no real significance because I could have handled my issues differently when I think back on my incessant whiny attitude. I could have gotten paper plates and plastic cups and utensils. We could have also taken out our portable on demand hot water shower! Duh, I mean, I was so stressed out I couldn't even think back to the time when we were living in a one room tiny A Frame structure at the farm in Maine, needing to use the portable shower to wash dishes outside in a tent! 

I also could have gone to the library in our cute little village of Woodstock to use the computer, get directions to medical services, and enjoy taking a walk around one of the most quintessential towns in all of Vermont. I couldn't even enjoy this most special village because of my stress. Hindsight, they say is 20/20. 

So here I am, still sounding off even though now all my problems are now resolved. Why? Because it will take a few more days to relax and get unraveled. 

I have been recovering beautifully, and we haven't had to rush me to the hospital. I haven't developed anaphylaxis since I was able to get away from the mold spores, and I haven't developed pneumonia. That has been one of the biggest blessings to come from this. We also couldn't have made this transition without the full generous support of our friends George and Susanne. We love you guys, thank you so very much for helping us get to where we needed to be! 

Here are a few photos I've captured during these last two weeks:

We need to add another cabinet, a curtain, and refinish the countertops, but for the most part, our kitchen is complete.

I didn't know if the size of the kitchen would be sufficient for us, but as luck would have it, the metal table and stainless shelves we had set up in our house in New Mexico worked perfectly in the space. Its almost like the pots should have always been arranged this way. It also frees up the limited cabinet space for lactofermenting and food storage. 

I added a few extra builtin shelves for baskets and books. I promise that while I may have been a major pain in the ass to my man complaining as soon as he came home about everything that seemed to be working against me, I was simultaneously painting, repairing, designing, cleaning, and unpacking our things. 

We added little niche areas for our most used items. 

We also kept busy putting snowmen together

I also picked up this cool vintage George Nathan piece from Salvation Army for a whopping $4.00. Ha! 

Dom was able to get one of his friends to come over and help get the heavier furniture and appliances into the house. The washer and dryer needed to go into our bathroom upstairs. 

This is my studio area next to the living room. I got this table for free and knew it was the perfect surface for doing different projects. 

The cozy fireplace has been such a comfort and place of solace to us. 

Autumn is here. This is the view from the bottom of our driveway.

We're on the Move Again

Yes, we're moving again. This time however, rest assured that we can settle in and call this place home for at least the next few years. 

The beautiful cottage we moved to had particular molds that I was allergic to, and if I would have stayed there, I would have developed pneumonia. Currently my lungs hurt, are starting to get juicy and my coughing has increased. 

I've lost a lot of hair and had a flare up of alopecia. Dom and Simmi shaved my head a few days ago, and now, hopefully I will recover and my system will calm down. My hair will grow back, so I'm not really too concerned about that. Our biggest concern is keeping me out of the hospital. 

Tomorrow is our move in date, but we'll be bringing over our stuff starting today. Dom searched our new house from top to bottom, inspected the basement and bathrooms, and everything is mold free. 

Our new home is only about 15 miles from where we are currently living. We will be perched up on the side of a mountain, overlooking the valley. It's quite magical. As far as gardening and farming goes, we'll see how any of it plays into this property. I haven't discussed gardening, keeping turkeys, ducks, or chickens, or even sheep with the landlord and I'm not sure they will fit into this place. It think ducks, chickens and turkeys would though. I'll have a better idea after I get my health back and have had the winter to observe the land. 

The property is situated on a very steep drop off. There are areas for forest gardening and permaculture, but I'm not sure yet what kinds of animals like to pass through. Understanding the wildlife is important since we share sacred space with them out in the mountains. 

Our new home will also be the backdrop for a few projects we will be working on over the winter. Dom will be starting a video series on how fathers can begin to add more traditional wholesome food into their family's lives. From food prep, to making lactofermented foods and beverages. We will also be creating a video series on how to prepare allergen friendly foods for loved ones. With food allergies and sensitivities becoming more common, it would be helpful for those who don't have food allergies to have the rules and tools for preparing a safe meal for a visiting family member or friend with a food allergy or sensitivity. Our aim is to take the mystery and fear away, empowering others to make a difference in the lives of those who in many cases have been marginalized by a food allergy or sensitivity. We have eight years of experience in what has worked for us, and now its time for us to share that knowledge with everyone. 

We don't have a date for when we'll start filming, but we're thinking that it will be sometime in the new year. 

In the meantime, we'll be busy getting settled in and I'll be recovering...hopefully very quickly! 

Getting My Garden Fix

Back in August I purchased a bunch of dying and very sorry looking vegetable starts to get my garden fix. I didn't know which plants would make it, and I wasn't willing to plot out whole garden areas for plants that quite frankly, might not survive. After observing for about a week and a half which plants I felt would make it, I decided to only plant the tomatoes, a few pepper plants, the parsley, rosemary, and a few eggplants. 

We have a water softener at the house, and since I didn't have an outside spigot hooked up with a bypass valve, I was sending Simmi outside to water the plants each day with treated water. That's a big no-no. Essentially the salts in the water softener will interfere with the uptake of water by the plant. The salts can trick the plant into believing that it doesn't need water, and basically the plants die over time. Since Simmi loves to water plants, she was going out watering the little starts still in their containers sometimes twice a day. 

Even though all the plants were watered exactly the same, I decided that any plant with new growth despite being irrigated with treated water would be transplanted and that I would hope for the best. 

Being that we're in plant hardiness zone 5, I also chose to use slate slabs around the my little tomato plants to create a microclimate of warmth around each plant. The end result is that the plants did start putting on lots of new growth, and are now flowering and setting fruit. Since it's getting more chilly at night we'll be adding a few more layers of stone around the tomato plants for additional warmth.

I love coming out everyday to observe the new growth and to see the new blossoms. Planting so late in the season really had more to do with my own selfish need to grow things. My heart aches for animals, but I know in time we will acquire them as well. 

I'm not sure if the fruit will ripen properly since we're coming into fall, but I'm less interested in harvesting and more interested in seeing how such delicate heat loving plants do in the cold Northeast. 

It helps me to plan for next year if I've had some sort of experience working with the weather conditions, the layout of the land, and the fact that the property sits on a HUGE slope. Its more of a very steep incline than a slope. 

Even though the land has a steep slope, this whole neighborhood is filled with homes on very steep slopes. If we were conventional farmers this would feel like a nightmare, but luckily for me I'm not conventional. I enjoy a great challenge, and as I form thoughts for what could occupy this 5 acre plot of paradise, I'm immediately whisked away to thinking about Sepp Holzer's permaculture. Terraced ponds, perennial species, and animals all working together within a closed loop system. 

Here is an example of Sepp Holzer's property. You can click the photo to be taken to his website.

Another part of the thought process is what kind of animals, how they would fit into the system, how they affect neighbors, and tailoring a plan that not only satisfies the physical beauty of a well thought out garden, but would be a gift that gives in season and out of season to all who possess the land. To me, that is the ultimate goal. 

Our home in New Mexico was well on the way to becoming an oasis for the new homeowners. We didn't do anything complicated, burdensome, or unusual to the naked eye. Everything we did was in the infrastructure well before the first fruit tree was planted. Having a passive water harvesting system in place allowed us luxury of only watering our perennials in the high desert once during the winter. That's it. Of course we made sure our trees were all well established in the first few years, using a series of weeper hoses, but once we felt they were established and well rooted, we removed the weepers. 

Anyway, being in Vermont is a whole new experience. We don't currently own the house we're living in, but that could change in the future. The land here is stunning, the view of the mountain ranges is amazing, and it feels like home to us. We've gotten the green light to plant a garden and even to raise some animals, but having a plan that would work for us and for the landowners is important. It would be a thrill to create something they would enjoy and it gives me the opportunity to keep nurturing the soil. I'm not a plant gardener, I'm a soil farmer. 

There are areas in the wooded portion of the land that I haven't even discovered yet. Forest gardening and animal husbandry fits well into a sloped wooded area. There are future plans for this property and the house, so any gardening I do will most likely be further away from the house and garage so as not to hinder any new construction that may take place as well as keeping animals as stress free as possible. 

I'll talk more about this at length as we get our first set of plans nailed down for the spring. I also like to keep things flexible in case plans change. I'm excited to go through our first winter here to observe the land, the snow accumulations, the different microclimates, and enjoy the beauty of raw nature at its best.  

We won't be setting up a CSA again, and we have no plans on scaling up our agriculture. I might think differently if we were moving to a turnkey organic farm, but I would never start from scratch at this time in my life. Maybe if I were 25 or 30, but I'll be 47 in November, and it really isn't in our best interest to try and reinvent the wheel. 

All animals and the gardens I create will be for the benefit of our family and friends. Simple right? The most important thing for us at this time is deciding what kind of animals we want, because that will help us decide what kind of land we need. There are five acres here, and animals can be relocated to a new spot, but something tells me that yaks in our neighborhood might look a little out of place. Haha

Here's the roundup of animals I dream of:

Between 5-10 Icelandic sheep. Icelandic sheep are a triple purpose breed, small and compact. They are great for dairy, meat and fiber. 

15-30 Silver Appleyard ducks: A double purpose breed providing both meat and eggs.

Sebastopol geese for beauty and weed control. No we wouldn't eat this variety. Although I do believe that every animal a person might have on a farm should be a double purpose breed with more than one function, I choose for the two purposes to be looking beautiful all day and night and weed control. That's good enough in my book to supply as much organic feed as they need. 

The Saddleback Pomeranian goose for weed control, eggs and meat. 

A trio of Narragansett turkeys for grasshopper and bug control as well as meat. If ever there was an animal my soul aches for, its the turkey. These majestic and comical creatures are always a pure delight to have on the farm. They provide hours of entertainment, affection, and they have captured my heart forever. If you've never raised turkeys before, I highly recommend it. You won't be disappointed! 

50 or more black, blue or white Langshan chickens for eggs and meat. We have gone back and forth over whether to get meat birds such as a Cornish Cross or Dark Cornish, or to go with a large heritage breed. In the end I'm favoring the Langshan as a fine table bird. The fact that they also lay beautiful eggs is also a factor, and I've heard they make great mothers. 

Three or four Nubian goats for milk, weed and bramble control. They also eat poison ivy which seems to be abundant in these parts. 

Four yaks, for meat, milk and fiber. 

A trio of Mangalitsa pigs for meat and charcuterie 

I'll stop there because I can talk for years about animals. 

Because I wouldn't be seeking to scale up any agriculture or to have a CSA, I can create the gardens I've always loved and longed for. The French Potager (kitchen garden). A potager is really a work of art in season and out of season. My french heritage comes screaming from deep in my DNA and demands that I create something beautiful. I love how my ancestors have decided to take hold of my imagination. 

There could be nothing finer than growing all the fruits and vegetables needed for a classic french rustic meal. So in honor of my french heritage, here are a few lofty potager gardens that I dream of. Some are too fancy for my taste, but they are beautiful, enchanting and fully functioning vegetable gardens:

Another Project is Finished

Last night I finished the stitch work on the second lumbar pillow. With this project now complete, I can begin working on some art to hang above dining room buffet. This weekend we'll be painting the buffet. 

Here's a few photos of each of the pillows:

I'm happy with the outcome. I found a great sectional I'm keeping my eye on. I'm hoping the price comes down on it. It's currently at a local thrift shop, but priced at $200.00. That's a bit out of our budget at the moment. Dom and I sat on the sectional and it was super comfy, but the color is pink roses, and that's just a little too fru-fru for my taste. I would definitely reupholster the sectional in a natural linen or soft canvas material. Then it would be perfect for our living room and complement my two chairs beautifully. 

I went to the thrift store yesterday and purchased these two botanical prints for the dining room. They were already framed and ready to go home with me. They didn't break our budget in the least. I got this set for $20.00. A total steal if you ask me! 

Here are some of the things left to do in the dining room:

  • Paint the buffet
  • Complete art to hang over buffet
  • Find a budget friendly 8x10 area rug that will knock my socks off (haha)
  • Add linen curtains and bamboo roman shade
  • Hunt down a large variegated ficus to balance the awkward picture window
  • Eventually purchase two smaller french crystal chandeliers to replace the one hanging now, and hang current chandelier in the mudroom. I'm classy like that. Ha 
  • Enjoy each and every moment surrounded by beauty and love 

The headboard that we got for Simmi's room turns out to be for a full sized bed. We have a guest bedroom upstairs and I'll be refinishing the headboard for that room. To my utter embarrassment, I had no idea there were three bedrooms upstairs. The way the second floor is situated there are two staircases. One that leads to Simmi's room, and the other leads to our room. In the middle is a connecting room which has complete privacy and two doors. For whatever reason, I never even thought of that space as a bedroom. I just thought it was a walk through room to get to Simmi's bedroom. Its not. Its a bedroom. So, we'll be making it into a guest bedroom for our family that comes to visit.

I'll be on the lookout for a twin headboard for Simmi. 

Settling Into Cottage Life

Tomorrow marks our one month anniversary of moving to our cozy little cottage in Vermont. Life here is beyond peaceful, filled with love, laughter, light, and great friendships. We're settling in beautifully and Simmi has made the transition with very little emotional upset. 

This past week I found a few must have pieces of furniture that were in my mind quite a steal. A trestle table with 8 ladder back chairs, and two Drexel Heritage wingback chairs upholstered in a stunning crewel. When I saw these two completely separate sets of furniture, I knew they would look stunning together.

We traveled to New Hampshire to pick them up, and they did not disappoint! I got the wingback chairs for $100.00 and the table and chairs for $150.00. Yes, it was insanely cheap, and since we are on a very tight budget, these were perfect for what we needed. 

A few years ago I purchased two brass chandeliers for $25.00 with the intention of giving them a makeover, and since I couldn't leave them behind when we moved from New Mexico, they have been sitting in my garage this whole month begging me to fix them up and use them. I painted the one chandelier, and the other one is awaiting its beauty treatment. 

Dom hung the newly painted chandelier yesterday, but he hasn't hooked it up yet. The dining room is a bit awkward in that it has a large wall space but no real place to put a hutch, and a large picture window set off to the side. The picture window is positioned in such a way that most window treatments won't work or look right. I'm currently at a loss as to what would work for the large window. We unpacked and hung a few poster prints we had just to warm up the empty wall. 

Last week I shared a photo of our dining room buffet and talked about how we are going to paint it red, but after getting the wingback chairs in the dining room, I decided that I wanted to go with a very bold and striking color that you don't see often. I feel it would complement the chairs beautifully, and its the only time I'll be using the all. I'm not a fan of orange, and I think that's why I think its the perfect color to complement our dining room set. I know, I'm weird! 

Anyway, the color we've chosen is Inferno by Behr. It's more of a red-orange, but it is orange nonetheless! 

Dom will be painting the primer on the buffet this week, and I should have the piece finished by Sunday. 

To complement the buffet, I've decided to do a charcoal and sepia drawing of a ewe, and frame it in an ornate gold leaf. 

<--------- This is the photo I'll be drawing this week

Of course I'm not sure how long it will take me to finish the drawing, but it will be my first art piece in about 13 years. When we lost everything due to mold contamination and infestation in Maryland, I had to throw out all my original artwork. Nothing could be saved. I felt it was time to get new art up on the walls in celebration of our new lives. 

The piece unframed will be 30"x40" and I haven't decided how large I want the frame to be. 

As soon as I finish the stitch work on the lumbar pillow, the ewe will be next.


Dom has been in his glory working for GeoBarns. Here is a photo he sent me of the progress they're making in Lyme, NH. Today the roof is going on! 

Projects Underway

Over the last few weeks we've been getting settled in and I've been working on a few projects. The first project was getting Simmi's dresser repaired and painted. I finished that last week. I chose to paint it using chalk paint, a stencil in silver, and a top coat of urethane. It's been curing for a little more than a week now, and soon will be ready to go up into her room. 

Here are a few before and after photos:


While the dresser has been curing, I've been busy doing a little stitch work on some pillows for our chairs. I purchased two chairs for $25.00 from the salvation army back before we left New Mexico. When I sat in them I knew I had to have them and that some how we would be able to fit them into the trailer for the road trip. They suffered a little damage during the trip and the fabric got a little scuffed, but overall it wasn't too bad. 

I was in JoAnn Fabric and spotted this fabric on sale for $5.00 and knew it was meant for my super high priced set of salvation army chairs. Haha. The only thing missing was some colorful stitch work to really make the fabric pop. 

Over the last week, a little time spent here and there, and yesterday I finished up the first lumbar pillow. 

The top panel is with stitch work, and the bottom panel is what the fabric looks like without it. 


Now the only things left to do with these chairs is to clean up the wood and find a few gorgeous Icelandic sheep pelts to drape over the white fabric and the look will be complete! 

My next project while I'm working on the second lumbar pillow, is to paint Simmi's new headboard. I'm still planning whether it will all be one color, or a few different colors and even a little upholstery added to the center of the headboard. There is a panel that unscrews at the center which would allow me to add some padding and fabric. I found beautiful fabric screaming for some stitch work at JoAnn that would be perfect for her room (and her). Anyway, Simmi already picked out the color she wants for her headboard when we were at Sherwin Williams. 

Simmi chose the top color for her headboard. 

After Simmi's headboard is finished, I'll be painting a buffet our friends purchased for us when we moved here. I was back and forth over whether to paint it or just leave it as it is, but because there is a bit of a musty smell coming from it, we decided it would be best for my health if Dom sealed it up with a mold blocking sealer, and then I could paint it. Being that I'm very allergic to mold, I can't have contact with this piece of furniture until it has been completely coated and sealed up. 

We chose to go with a red. I'm more partial to a Swedish blue color, but I think the piece was calling for something hot and heavy to go with its substantial presence. The photo doesn't do justice as to the size of this buffet. 

We chose Scarlet as the color. 

So that's a list of just some of the projects underway. There's more, but I'll save that for another time. 

Thanks for reading! 

When Plans and Dreams Take a Detour

It has been a full two months since our move to Maine, and I can say with certainty that the old adage, "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans" applies to our situation. 

Eight weeks ago we packed up our belongings in a uhaul trailer, got on the road and began the journey of a lifetime. The excitement and anticipation for our new life was truly palpable and our hearts were filled with joy as we pondered what we could bring to this great new farm venture/partnership. 

We were all in agreement that when we arrived, we would learn how the farm operated and it would be a trial run of sorts. We arrived at the farm, got settled in as best we could, and Dom and I began making assessments of the farm. We would have been foolish not to make observations and assessments because we were coming into a turnkey operation and understanding how the farm functioned was important to us. 

We shared our observations, thoughts, feelings and began a plan of action believing that this would be the place that we would commit to. From our point of view in understanding a farm partnership, we felt it was important to be transparent in our communication so there were no surprises or misunderstandings. 

Our transparency wasn't much appreciated. As we went through the weeks, tensions built, and we didn't see eye to eye with our new partners. Is that wrong? Nope, we just saw the future of the farm move in a different direction than what we desired for it. We weren't in a agreement or in alignment. It was mutually agreed upon that the  partnership would not work. 

We packed up our things, rented a uhaul and relocated to Vermont, where Dom is now working as a subcontractor for an amazing company called Geobarns. Our dear friends George (owner of Geobarns) and his wife Susanne blessed us by helping us relocate, set up housing for us, and gave Dom his dream job. 

The agrarian life is my calling, while Dom has always been drawn to building and construction. All of this ended up being the biggest surprise blessing, ever! 

When we moved to Maine I ordered the dissolution paperwork to end Luna Hill, LLC, but something inside me hesitated and we never signed the paperwork. As it stands, Luna Hill still lives on. 

The future of Luna Hill is secure, but since we now have new lives in Vermont this blog may go in a new direction. I will still have a little farm, I just may make Luna Hill a little more broad to include other projects, talk about living in the most gorgeous state imaginable, and share other things that are important to me. 

We would like to thank everyone who has helped us out on this journey from New Mexico, to Maine, to Vermont. So many hands have helped us, and we wouldn't be here without all of you. I know some feel funny about being acknowledged publicly, and others enjoy their anonymity...but we can still say thank you!

Here are a few photos of our life here in Vermont: