• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
stewards:
  • Burra Maluca
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Bill Erickson
garden masters:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Bryant RedHawk
  • Mike Jay
gardeners:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Dan Boone
  • Daron Williams

How to time growing a family and starting a homestead?  RSS feed

 
master steward
Posts: 4902
Location: Pacific Northwest
1357
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I figure it's been a year and time for an update! Now that my daughter is running and walking (she's 16 months), life has gotten a lot easier. For the last few weeks, I've been able to actually get stuff done and play with my kids:Behold, there is no longer grass in my garden beds, and my kitchen counters are clean! It's amazing!

But, I must say, the last year was excruciatingly hard, on many levels. Not only were there the kids to care for, but my husband also developed Crohn's while I was pregnant--likely due to not eating well due to taking care of me and our son, and all the stresses of being a parent. We managed his Crohn's via diet for a few months, but then he had a colonoscopy right before his paternity leave ended, and that caused a big flare up. Then his vasectomy caused ANOTHER, far worse, flare up that left him bedridden, unable to walk, and eventually hospitalized. He had debilitating arthritus caused by his Crohn's, as well as sores on his that felt like broken bones. So, I was caring for my husband, my son, and my daughter....and then my daughter had an infected cyst, so she ended up hospitalized, and I was there with her, and hour from everyone else, and my son was with my parents because my husband had no one to watch him. It was crazy. And, of course, all the antibiotics and the cyst caused my daughter to stop sleeping through the night, which meant less sleep for me.

We all survived, but no one really got the care they needed. My son really had a hard time with all the changes and the stress of us all getting debilitated, and him not getting much one-on-one time because I was busy keeping everyone else's health going. My son had a really hard time coping with me not being able to help him due to my hard pregnancy, and then because I had my daughter to also take care of. This, in effect, made for two years of meltdowns/being-on-the-verge of meltdowns. It was really hard. And, in a lot of ways, I feel like I lost two years of his life because I had so little time to spend with him. I think I will always mourn those two lost years with him.

But, we did make it through, and I have to extend a heap of gratitude to my parents.  They helped a ton, fixing things that broke around the house, mowing the pasture, helping me with homesteading projects, cutting up and chopping and stacking our firewood,  watching my son when we were at the hospital, taking my husband to the hospital multiple times, etc. Things would have been so much worse without them.

Things are pretty good now. It took 10 months, but we got my husband's Crohn's back under control, and he can walk and run again, and he's not spending every spare moment on the toilet (avoid Crohn's at all costs--it's horrible!). And, because his job was one that he could work at a desk while debilitated, and he had sick days, he kept his job and health insurance. And, man, did we need both to pay for all the medical bills! My daughter still doesn't sleep through the night, but she sleeps with me so I us usually can stay half-asleep through her wakings. And, because my husband's health has improved and we all have more time, my son's behavior has improved a TON. And, I can take time to help him and teach him and play with him, which I LOVE. And, he plays with his sister, which is wonderful.

I don't know if, looking back, we'd do things differently. Maybe if we'd delayed a year, my son would have been able to manage the stress better? Maybe my husband wouldn't have developed Crohn's? Maybe the garden/food forest would have been more stable and required less work? I don't know, but I do know I love my two children dearly, and I love that they are close enough in age that they play together. I am so thankful for my daughter and would endure it all again to have her...but I'm also not about to have any more! I am very thankful to be on the other side of all that chaos and insane difficulty, and look forward to spending more time with everyone in my family!
 
pollinator
Posts: 916
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
36
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the update, Nicole, and glad you made it through all those challenges!!

I think it speaks to the value in having a large, large network of people pitching in. 

We're in a rapidly changing, challenging time in history, and having extra adults on hand to take really, really, really good care of the parents so they don't have to think about money or other things beside their children and self care and food supply would be such a help.  Obviously, it's a big societal change, but it's not so far out of reach.  And if population decreases quickly for a while here then that means there's that much more energy available among adults to help parents out.

I am not judging your decision of when or whether to have two children, but I do think the larger system of thinking that assumes that parents have to do it alone, with at most grandparents helping, is limited.  What about all the rest of the community pitching in and "adopting" the parents, cooking healthy food for them, taking them to the doctor?  (It's a touchy thing to let our kids interact with unknown adults in our society, but we can get help for our kids indirectly by having help for the parents). 

The result of a low-stress, balanced childhood is balanced, happy, healthy children who have a huge surplus to contribute to the world, rather than being needy or broken (at the extreme we have epidemics of health crises and addiction).  If as a community we look at ways to be more deliberate about our design we can get so much more wellbeing and have so much less unnecessary struggle. 

It's so valuable for you to be sharing your experiences here, Nicole, as it illustrates what's happened.  Do you agree with my obnoxiously big-picture-change ideas here? any thoughts? do you have neighbors or friends who might be inspired to contribute more to the team going forward? 

Thanks and good luck with the next phases of your lives and children's lives and homestead!
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 4902
Location: Pacific Northwest
1357
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Having a degree in elementary ed, and having worked many years in early childhood, as well as now being a mom, I agree with a lot of what you've said. It's really important for people to (1) not feel pressured into having kids they don't really want, and (2) to be a reasonably ready for kids as they can be.

I was often told that "there's never a good time to have kids," and in many ways this is true: you can never really be perfectly prepared or have enough money saved up , etc. And, if my story is any indication, even with having saved for 5 years, putting my husband through college, and having our property bought before having kids, we still ran into chaotic circumstances that no amount of planning could have prevented. But, if we hadn't waited those five years, we would have been raising our kids in the middle of a high-crime area of the city, and I probably would have had to work part time, and my husband's health probably would have been even worse...and we would have had no homestead, and my husband wouldn't have been able to keep working because we wouldn't have been able to do his previous profession (manufacturing and lacquering doors) with his Crohn's flare up. So, it's important to--if one can--be as prepared as possible before having kids, because often horrible circumstances occur that you couldn't prepare for, but at least they're not on top of circumstances that you could prepare for.

As for not having kids if you don't want them, I think this is really important. Having kids is hard. Some people are lucky and get "easy," non-colicky babies, and their babies don't really interrupt their preferred lifestyle and those babies are easy to love. But, you have no idea if your kid is going to be "easy." They might be like my first, and come out screaming and scream and cry so much that all you do is walk and sing and keep them from all out screaming. I'll never forget, on one of my son's best days in his little infant life, when he was about 3 months old I finally took him out and went to visit a friend who had a baby the same age. Her son just played merrily. Mine, I spent every second entertaining and keeping him from melting down. She said her son was only ever like that when sick and she didn't know how I could handle it--and this was my son at his BEST. It was an exhausting year in which I was sleep-deprived and stuck in a fog of postpartum depression. If I hadn't wanted and loved him so much, it would have been so much harder.

And, it's true, often having kids does create nice parenting hormones that kick in when you need them, and sometimes people do learn to love the kids they didn't really want, or at least do a really good job of acting like they do. But...I worked in a preschool. I saw a lot of parents that didn't want their kids, and it was evident. It broke my heart, and it was hard for those kids when their Mommies and Daddies would delay picking them up just to do something fun for themselves and would talk about how they didn't really like kids..in front of their kids. Kid's pick up on stuff like that. And, like you said, there are a LOT of ways we can make a difference in a younger generation without having kids. Having kids isn't necessary, and there's a lot of good we can do for future generations even if we don't contribute our genetic material to them. Conversely, I think it's wonderful if people who love kids and can give them a safe, loving home have a bunch of kids, whether biological or not. If I could have future generations raised anywhere, I'd choose them to be raised in loving, safe homes.

Having spent so much time in early child education, it is really important for a child--especially 3 and under--to know that they are loved, and to have stability. As much love and stability as possible. Developmentally speaking, a young child is literally building their concept of the world and people. They're determining if it is a safe and loving place. If they don't determine that, it can really mess with their development, self-worth, and a bunch of other things.

And, it certainly is hard to give a child that if disaster strikes your family and there's no support group. I'm thankful for my parents for coming and helping. Beyond them, I don't really have a support group. I know my neighbors, and done some trades, and asked for help when--on top of everything else--we suddenly found our selves with 11 feral cats, 7 of them newborns. But, it's hard to ask for help from neighbors when you know they;re busy and you're at a stage where you can't really help them out much, so you're only "taking" in the relationship, not giving. But, I think it would be wonderful if we could all support new families more. I've tried really hard to support those I know that have had kids, because I know how hard it can be. It's also really hard to ask for help as a parent--you don't want to act like you don't have it together, and you don't want to be a burden. And, in my case, you might be so tired and depressed that you literally can't think of who or how to ask for help.

I think it's also important that we step up and help the new families, even if they didn't make the wisest choices in having kids when they did. My cousin, recently gave birth. She's young, her fiance doesn't have much of a job, they live with his parents and they're not really responsible with their money. But, I packed up every single bit of baby stuff I had, and knit up a bunch of baby stuff, and mailed it to them. It's not that kid's fault that her parents had her when they did. And, it's also not my place to judge when and how someone has kids. People all come from different circumstances and different perspectives and I am totally NOT going to say my way is better than theirs. People can be great parents and parent in vastly different ways. I also don't want to live in a soiciety where money is a prerequisite for having kids, for lots of reasons that are probably best discussed in the cider press. The best thing, I think, we can do is to support parents. We don't have to agree with them, but we can help them. And, like you said, sometimes the best way to help isn't with childcare, it's with the other burdens the parents face: cleaning their house, cooking them dinner, pulling their weeds, chopping their wood, and freeing them up to parent.
 
Posts: 335
23
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When is the best time to plant a tree?  the answer is 20 years ago. 

When is the second best time to plant a tree?  The answer is now.

Same with raising a family. 

Now for the fine adjustments to that answer.

First off, my credentials.  My youngest is 16.  I have raised 6 girls and 3 boys, starting about 36 years ago, plus a few strays we took in over the years.  I don't have a degree in the subject, but I do have a little practical experience as well as a 17 year apprenticeship under a couple of pretty competent parents.

From what I have seen, some people should have a dozen kids, and some should have none.  There is no preset 'ideal" # of kids you should have because we are all different.  Don't have kids you can't care for. 

As a general rule, if you're so tangled up in your own head that you can't think of anyone else, get healthy and straight before you have kids.  They will not 'fix' you, they will not 'fix' your relationship with your spouse.  Don't use pregnancy to try to trap a guy (I don't know how many times I saw that, especially when I was in the military).

Raising kids is time consuming, especially when they are little.  Be prepared for sleep deprivation.  Raising kids is emotionally draining, especially when they are teenagers going through 'tough times'.  Raising kids is expensive.  They get sick more, get hurt more, and always seem to be either breaking, wearing out or outgrowing something.  They will wreck your car.  Raising kids is also the most satisfying, rewarding thing I have ever done and the only thing I think worth that amount of effort. 

The statement 'It takes a village to raise a child' has some accuracy.  The more people helping the better.  I think it should have at least three people involved.  Note that is one more than the traditional family (shameless plug for extended family involvement, we didn't have much since we lived too far away much of the time).  That makes single parenting really hard and accounts for the terrible statistics when it comes to kids raised by single parents.  (I'm not slamming single parents, just pointing out that this is a really tough job, and the fewer people involved, the harder it gets). 

Everything is easier with more money.  Everything is also easier with more time.  I've always had to sell my time for money.  More money is usually not the answer.  Kids need love and a stable, welcoming home with consistant rules (or, guidelines, if you watched Pirates of the Caribbean) far more than money.  I always took a kid or two when I had something to do.  Taking a truckload to the dump was an eagerly anticipated event, even for the teenagers.  Listen to them.  Talk to them.  Tell stories and jokes.

If you wait until they are teenagers to establish your authority, you're about 15 years behind the game.  Don't pull rank too often.  Your authority should be based on the fact that they know you love them and want the best for them and that they respect your wisdom. 

Kids make mistakes, that's part of learning, but I tried real hard to make sure that their mistakes didn't have long term results that were too tough.  I am a big fan of mistakes made early, before the prices get too high.






 
Posts: 12
Location: Southwest Wisconsin: Zone 5b: Clay bottomland soil near a river
2
forest garden homeschooling kids
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole, I really appreciated your last post. I've said for the last 10 or so years that the only thing you tell a woman who says she is pregnant is, "Congratulations!"  I have 6 kids, and have had debilitating nausea the first 5 months of being pregnant with 5 of them, and postnatal and postpartum depression with 4. Pregnancy and dealing with small children (or other issues) is hard enough without judgementalism!
  I also wanted to say I totally understand your feeling of losing 2 years of your sons life. That's one of the main reasons I think 6 kids is enough for us. It's so difficult not being able to care for your other children or spend time with them the way you would have if you hadn't been sick.
   I'm glad things are finally looking up/smoothing out for you!
 
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: SF Bay Area
25
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mick Fisch - I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said. I have raised four children and taken in countless strays over the years. Most of parenting is showing up, being there day in and out with them. I never expected any help with them, and I didn't get much when they were little, more once my mother retired. I had my young, best decision I ever made.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 335
23
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Stacy, I agree with you, better when your young, if you can.  Also, 'showing up' is the key. 

Several years ago there was a fad focus on 'quality time' in parenting.  The term eventually went out of fashion because the reality is that you don't get to pick when the 'quality time' happens.  I heard someone tell how they took their family on this very long, very expensive vacation going to major attractions, driving all over the country, etc.  Afterwards they asked the kids what the most special time was.  The answer was when they took time to catch fireflys on the side of the road towards the end of the trip.  The quality time just happens, you have to put in the time so that you are there when the time is right. 

As you get older you are less able to cope with the physical demands of raising young kids, young bodies handle it better than old bodies.

When I was  a teenager my dad got all over my brother for something.  I felt my dad had over-reacted and went to give him the benefit of my 16 years of wisdom.  I stated my case, how he needed to be more of a friend, and you know, a bit cooler.  He listened quietly and when I was done, he looked me in the eye and said,  " I learned a long time ago that it's more important to be a father than a friend."  Kids don't need their parents to be their "friends".  They need their parents to be the parents.  The ones who will always have your back, who love you enough to lay down the law and tell you that both you and all your friends are wrong, and then endure the crap storm that results from flying in the face of teenaged headstrong common wisdom because that is what you need to hear right then.

My dad has a look that goes right to my soul, he doesn't say anything, but I can see that he's disappointed in me.  He's only given me that look a few times.  He gave it to me that day.  I would always much rather take a beating than have him give me that look. 

My mom told me a couple of years ago that my dad was talking to her about some concern he has about me.  She said "You don't have to worry about him.  He's a grown man, he's got a good job, a good wife, kids, grandkids even."  My dad responded, "He's still my son." 

My parents were a little old fashioned in some ways.  They believed and acted on the 'spare the rod, spoil the child' concept.  They allowed all kinds of freedom, but within pretty strict limits.  Nowadays they would probably have social services on them.  I can and always could trust my parents, not because they are perfect, or the smartest, or always right, but because right or wrong, I have always known they will always be looking out for my best interests to the best of their ability.  Not everyone has parents like that, but everyone can aspire to BE parents like that.

When you raise kids, you are not just raising kids, you are setting a family line on a trajectory that may continue for generations and will have a major effect on hundreds if not thousands of peoples lives over the years, for good or ill.  If that isn't something worth doing, I don't know what is.  The concept can be pretty intimidating.  I don't usually look at it that way, I get swallowed up in the minutia of the day, but each parent is involved in a truly Great Work.

Finally, "Horse gotta run, bird gotta fly, fish gotta swim".  Each is happiest fulfilling what it was designed for.  If you go with an evolutionary viewpoint, raising kids is what we are designed and evolved for, and in the end, our heaven or hell is found in our close relationships.  If you go with a religious viewpoint, you come to pretty much the same conclusion, although then God is one of your close relationships.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 916
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
36
kids trees urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for sharing your personal experiences, Nicole!  that's worth a great deal. 

I hope you find ways to ask for help even when it seems like you shouldn't need it--I think the "I don't need help" stance is a part of the isolation dynamic that holds us back as a species.  There's no shame in needing it.  I also understand feeling too burnt out to even be willing to ask for help.  But for the children's sake, and for the community that has to interact with that child, I really feel it makes things better if we get as much help as we can.  Yes, as Mick said, the work touches thousands of lives.

How about some creative thinking here--what would be the best design if you could start all over from scratch and design the village around the children?
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 335
23
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've thought about this a bit. 

My fantasy is to get a big enough place where my kids could build their own homes on it.  Basically create my family village.  There would be some folks who aren't blood relatives who would definitely be invited also.

I would have the houses roughly in a circle or oval, with a community building/ veranda and a play ground/ garden in the center (maybe with a wading or swimming and/or fishingpond not too far away), where in the summer the moms could bring the little ones to play together while the moms visit and maybe work on stuff in the shade or in the garden.  I could easily see someone setting up forms to build small boats there too, or maybe a forge or a kiln and pottery wheels.  In the winter, the community center becomes an indoor playground.  Put up some climbing wall, maybe have a kitchen where people can fix food together and eat.  Maybe a big video display for selected movies.  For bigger kids, more distant woods and hills and rocky areas for climbing, playing and exploring.  Of course, the littel kids will want to head off with the bigger kids.  Make sure the older ones know and agree that they are responsible for the younger ones.  bicycles would increase their range, as they get older, dirt bikes.  Slingshots and bb guns would happen.

Coupled in with this, various adults working on interesting projects that kids can watch and maybe join in on.  Building boats, musical instruments, raising animals, making pottery, cooking, woodworking.  Maybe an archery/firing range.This is obviously kid heaven.  Big Kid heaven too, I might add. 

Groups getting together to harvest orprocess harvested materials (canning meat, tomatos, processing fruit) with each carrying home what they want at the end of the evening.

A lot of things would happen in the community area.  Maybe some yoga, maybe some dancing, people would definitely play music there.  Instruction would mostly be in the form of stories.  Evenings singing or performing skits or writing/reading poetry. 

When my kids were growing up, we used to have occasional Bard nights, where everyone would write and read their poetry, or some nights where we would light a candle and everyone had to tell a story.  Everyone enjoyed it I think, even the teenagers who thought it wasn't cool enough.

Confidence comes from succeeding at things, from knowing there are things you are good at.  There would be lots of opportunity for skill building.  Lots of opportunity for doing things.  Confidence also comes from knowing you belong.  There would be lots of chance for it in this scenario.  There are times when a kid needs to hear things from someone besides dad or mom.  Once again, lots of opportunity hear.

The problem I see is that wherever I could afford to buy, there probably aren't too many jobs.  Of course once permaculture is up and running (at least partly) and if they didn't need to worry about a mortgage, the need for money reduces a lot.  I'm hoping to start this within the next 2 years.  Also, there is always the problem that all the spouses might not want to be part of it. 

My goal is to make it sooooo damned attractive that they can't resist it.  My sneeky plan is to set things up for myself and my wife, and as they come to visit, it becomes more and more attractive as I add more.  Eventually the kids say "I wish we could live at Grandma and Grandpas", and their parent says "It would be nice, but we can't, because.......Hey, honey, can you think of a reason we wouldn't want to build on my folks property?"
 
gardener
Posts: 824
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
292
bike books forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur kids trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My son is just a couple days shy of being 13 months old. We have been on our homestead for about 17.5 months. We always dreamed of having our own homestead but knowing our son was on the way really got us motivated to buy our homestead.

So we have been first time parents and new homesteaders at the same time. I have a picture of me holding my son when he is only a week or so old sitting in a mini-excavater (it was off) that I was using to build our first large hugel bed. Later that night I was up till 4am holding my son because he did not want to sleep unless he was being held and my wife needed some sleep. I took the night shift and she took the day shift. Both of us were tired but it let us be with our son and do our homesteading work.

My son is not an easy baby - sleeping has always been a struggle and he has really demanded good one on one time. But it has been so amazing watching him grow and explore his world. He is so curious about everything and he just loves being outside - trees and flowers are his favorite things.

As he has grown he is getting much more independent and that has made things a lot easier. I'm building him a play area outside that I hope will really be a fun area for him. My son really motivates me to keep making progress on our homestead. I will get to see my son grow alongside my homestead.

But it is really hard to balance it all. My wife and I both work but we are lucky to have two sets of awesome grand parents living near by that help us with childcare while we are working. We are also trying to build a financial future where we can work from home but doing this while working, and homesteading, and raising our son, and trying to have time for each other is hard.

We are hoping to have another kido fairly soon so our son and the new kido would be close enough in age to really be friends and playmates. But this will add more challenges too but we are excited for the future we have envisioned.

We are living the life we dreamed of for most of our marriage but it is also very challenging and we still have a lot to learn. We have been eliminating more and more things from our lives that don't help us live the life we want but that take time like watching tv shows. This helps but finding enough time for it all is still hard. But I love my life and my wife and I consider ourselves to be very lucky. Just got to keep going and taking small steps towards our goals - just like my son taking small steps as he learns to walk
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 4902
Location: Pacific Northwest
1357
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This reminds me of some of the small ways that my family has tried to stay together over the generations. A little over 100 years ago, my great-great grandparents set apart 5 acres of land to be a family park. That generation has long since past, and the generation after them are almost all gone too, but every year we all gather together for a family reunion. There's potlucks, a family auction (people bring things they no longer want, or that they have made) and the funds go toward maintenance of the park. There's even a little church service in the park. There's something amazingly special and about sitting in meadow, surrounded by trees and family, singing out of 50+year old hymnals while one of your relatives gives a short sermon. Invariably, there's hawks that soar overhead and butterflies flitting about. Every year, at least 100 family member come. Some live nearby and walk down for the reunion, some (like myself) stay at a cousin's house for the weekend, and other's camp in the park. I watch my son and his cousins play on the merry-go-round that I spun on as a child. As long as I live and I am able, I will make it to the reunion. My ancestors did something right when they set aside the park--they're family still gathers together there.

Another thing that my great-grandfather did when he divided up his land, was plant Christmas trees on it all and then bequeathed it to his kids. This meant that every Thanksgiving we'd all have to gather together to harvest those Christmas trees for market, and of course, there'd be a big Thanksgiving potluck in the little country church, where we'd take over the basement for our supper. My dad remarks that Christmas tree harvesting was also a way for the father's to evaluate their daughter's potential spouses--so they had to work extra hard hauling those trees up the steep hill in the snow! The Christmas tree harvesting went on for a good 40 years, I think, until my grandmother got too old to manage the trees. But, for a good 20 years after that we continued to gather in the church basement for our big Thanksgiving dinner. Once my grandmother passed, four years ago, however, everyone stopped gathering for Thanksgiving, as there was no one to organize it, and it was harder and harder for everyone to juggle all their families to come. I'm still sad that we no longer celebrate Thanksgiving with my Mom's side.

My parents also started a tradition about 11 years ago. They bought a cider press for their apple trees. So, of course, we all have to gather together to press the cider every fall, and we take gallons home to enjoy. First it was my parent, grandparents and my brother and me. Then it was my husband (who was my boyfriend, then). My grandparents got too old to help, but by that point, my brother's wife had entered into the picture. Soon I was carrying my son on my back while I worked, and now my son runs and picks apples out of barrels for us to chop and add to the press. It's wonderful having this tradition, and something we all look forward to each year.

Now, that's all a little off topic, as it's more about traditions. But, I think, in many ways those traditions can act as a binding for a family, and helps hold a community together, even after the founder of those traditions have passed. And, looking at the traditions in my family, and seeing which ones really stood the test of time, it seems to me that there really needs to be a passing off of responsibilities to nest generations. If there isn't--like with our Thanksgiving--no one will organize the next event, and it just won't happen. For our family park/reunion, we actually vote in secretaries and "presidents" and are urging my generation to take over more of the rolls, as my parent's generation is now in their 60's and 70's. I think because we vote for these "officials," it ensures that somebody takes ownership of the necessary rolls in keeping the reunion and park going, and it also helps in urging the younger generation to step up and learn what needs to be done before the older generation is unable to teach and train us.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 916
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
36
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had an idea, let's start a family! 

It will be a different kind of family.  Even though we're all far away, we can share support around permaculture principles we aspire to live up to, be a positive support in children's lives indirectly through supporting the parents or, if at some point enough trust is built, be there for the children themselves if they want to talk out something.

We could start an email list.  We could do a video conference call and just hang out.  Or we could do it the old-fashioned way, with hand-written letters.

Again, it's multiple elements to serve single functions.

We can use the "be nice" rule as a starting point.  Maybe make decisions as a group, but focus on just _being_ together.

Who wants to make a virtual permaculture family? thoughts?
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 916
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
36
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cool!  I hadn't seen the new posts before i posted mine.  That family tradition sounds wonderful.  We will have more and more family neighborhood in the future, I believe, and having a decision-making process and roles is also a valuable thing, as well as traditions that nurture the heart.  Thanks for sharing about your ancestors, it feels good to think of a yearly gathering where everyone comes back together!  and that they saw the need and took a step to ensure that connectedness would continue even with all the forces for separation and mobility growing. 

My extended family has done Thanksgiving but we've segmented into smaller groups.  My cousin got tired of always having to host, and with new kids there were too many to fit comfortably. But it's much more beautiful down (Cape Cod) than where we are, so we didn't host. 

I am an only child.  I have no first cousins.  I have only four second cousins, one estranged, one living in Italy.  It was a great benefit to have those gatherings and get to have a relative my age.  I don't wish they'd had more kids, but I do wish we'd had more connectedness with our neighbors, and that the grownups had been more emotionally available and talked about what they really felt.

Is there an international Permaculture Day? Earth Day is a good day to celebrate.  Something that's universal.  Just musing here...

Nicole Alderman wrote:This reminds me of some of the small ways that my family has tried to stay together over the generations. A little over 100 years ago, my great-great grandparents set apart 5 acres of land to be a family park. That generation has long since past, and the generation after them are almost all gone too, but every year we all gather together for a family reunion. There's potlucks, a family auction (people bring things they no longer want, or that they have made) and the funds go toward maintenance of the park. There's even a little church service in the park. There's something amazingly special and about sitting in meadow, surrounded by trees and family, singing out of 50+year old hymnals while one of your relatives gives a short sermon. Invariably, there's hawks that soar overhead and butterflies flitting about. Every year, at least 100 family member come. Some live nearby and walk down for the reunion, some (like myself) stay at a cousin's house for the weekend, and other's camp in the park. I watch my son and his cousins play on the merry-go-round that I spun on as a child. As long as I live and I am able, I will make it to the reunion. My ancestors did something right when they set aside the park--they're family still gathers together there.

Another thing that my great-grandfather did when he divided up his land, was plant Christmas trees on it all and then bequeathed it to his kids. This meant that every Thanksgiving we'd all have to gather together to harvest those Christmas trees for market, and of course, there'd be a big Thanksgiving potluck in the little country church, where we'd take over the basement for our supper. My dad remarks that Christmas tree harvesting was also a way for the father's to evaluate their daughter's potential spouses--so they had to work extra hard hauling those trees up the steep hill in the snow! The Christmas tree harvesting went on for a good 40 years, I think, until my grandmother got too old to manage the trees. But, for a good 20 years after that we continued to gather in the church basement for our big Thanksgiving dinner. Once my grandmother passed, four years ago, however, everyone stopped gathering for Thanksgiving, as there was no one to organize it, and it was harder and harder for everyone to juggle all their families to come. I'm still sad that we no longer celebrate Thanksgiving with my Mom's side.

My parents also started a tradition about 11 years ago. They bought a cider press for their apple trees. So, of course, we all have to gather together to press the cider every fall, and we take gallons home to enjoy. First it was my parent, grandparents and my brother and me. Then it was my husband (who was my boyfriend, then). My grandparents got too old to help, but by that point, my brother's wife had entered into the picture. Soon I was carrying my son on my back while I worked, and now my son runs and picks apples out of barrels for us to chop and add to the press. It's wonderful having this tradition, and something we all look forward to each year.

Now, that's all a little off topic, as it's more about traditions. But, I think, in many ways those traditions can act as a binding for a family, and helps hold a community together, even after the founder of those traditions have passed. And, looking at the traditions in my family, and seeing which ones really stood the test of time, it seems to me that there really needs to be a passing off of responsibilities to nest generations. If there isn't--like with our Thanksgiving--no one will organize the next event, and it just won't happen. For our family park/reunion, we actually vote in secretaries and "presidents" and are urging my generation to take over more of the rolls, as my parent's generation is now in their 60's and 70's. I think because we vote for these "officials," it ensures that somebody takes ownership of the necessary rolls in keeping the reunion and park going, and it also helps in urging the younger generation to step up and learn what needs to be done before the older generation is unable to teach and train us.

 
the navigator
Posts: 79
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My woman and I have reached a point that somehow seems like a fork in the road. She wants kids now but need to have a clear plan of how to get into a situation that will give us community and permaculture from the get go. I agree with her, but think most of what she brings up as examples of communites smells like rainbows coming out of someones ass.

What to do?
 
pollinator
Posts: 2134
300
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love kids and wish I could have more. Sadly that is not to be; last week my wife had a miscarriage which is kind of a bummer.

Still, how can I complain. I got (5) daughters of sorts. I say sorts, because I grew up in a foster home, have a biological sister and brother, have 6 more adopted brothers and sisters, and been a foster parent myself. The foster daughter that we had just contacted us after 7 years and told me "it was the only real family she ever had", and so at age 25 and getting married, we reconnected. Without question, being a foster parent with the numerous background checks, home inspections, physical checks, and financial checks is one I consider my greatest achievements.

But I have two more biological daughters, and 2 more step daughters, but I do not refer to them as such...I just say I have 5 daughters. My only wish is that the miscarried baby had been farther along so I knew if I had 6 daughters, or I had 5 daughters and a son. Not knowing is kind of a bummer. Yes it is different when they are "received by the knees" and held, but I still would like to acknowledge his/her conception.

I would like to keep trying (what guy doesn't), but I think my wife is done having children at age 38, this failure has really hurt her.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 4902
Location: Pacific Northwest
1357
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids cooking wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was thinking about this thread yesterday, as my son was sitting on the floor with my daughter, pointing at numbers and saying, "Say 'one.' Say '2.' Say '3'" and she would try her best to say each word, even though she didn't understand them. And, outside, he goes around and picks berries for her, and pushes her in his dump truck and wheelbarrow, and tells her what is safe, makes games up with her, shares his toys, and holds her hand and takes her for an adventure down our woodland paths "to pick salmonberries."

It's night and day from where we were last year. Every time I see them playing together, it's like a little miracle. It's been a long, hard 5 years since we got pregnant with my son. I'm so grateful to have my two little kids. There were definite downsides to having kids, not the least being that the stress probably largely contributed to my husband's Crohn's and my psoriasis. But, looking back, I am so glad we made the decision to have these two little ones, and invest so much time and love into them.

It's always hard knowing what the right choice to make is, and it's hard to really know if we've made the right one. It's not like we have a control variable that made the other decision and we can discern objectively what the best decision was. Perhaps if I hadn't had my daughter, I would look back and think about the years of calmness and all of the things we got done on the homestead, and think I made the right choice. And, perhaps it would have been the "right choice." I think, so often, there are LOTS of right choices. And, I think in having my two little ones, I made one of those right choices.

Thank you, all, for helping me through all of this. Your advice and experiences really, truly helped me. ♥
 
Have you no shame? Have you no decency? Have you no tiny ad?
Binge on 17 Seasons of Permaculture Design Monkeys!
http://permaculture-design-course.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!