Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our Holiday Trip (Part 1)

For Thanksgiving this year we were able to travel up to where I am from. Last year was our "on" year for my family during Christmas, but with Blanche being born and then with me having surgery we weren't able to travel at all during the holidays. Not getting to see my family or Andrews on Thanksgiving and Christmas really made me appreciate the years we do get to.

The older I get the more I realize that every family is sort of crazy. Some are more than others. But I don't think we have to go into all of that. I told my brother after our Thanksgiving this year, "That was probably the best Thanksgiving we have had since we were little." He responded, "Thats because no one yelled at each other."

Come on, don't act like your family doesn't. Now that I am married and have my own family, I see why it can be a love/hate relationship. You know so much about each other. Most of the time there is so much to love. And a few things to hate. Andrew and I talk about how so much of the core of who we are as humans is relational. Honestly, I feel that if we realize the role relationships have in our lives, and see how often they can be so broken, it should lead us to Christ. This is where the Gospel makes the most sense to me. Jesus was a human. Who wanted a relationship. Who wanted to heal our relationships. That sounds beautiful and nothing like what a lot religious people fight about these days.

There is no way to deny that young children can make one stop and see the joy around them. Maybe it was such a good Thanksgiving because there were children once again. I love the happiness (and occasional crying) that surrounds them. Looking at the horse outside wouldn't have been anything big without Blanche's smile and my nephew Kyetin's urge to immediately become a cowboy. Kids do things like making your cousin Lucas do the robot with them. Children can somehow drain almost all energy from their parents, but pour it back into everyone else around them.

Andrew made beautiful rolls that we brought with us, and my Uncle Mike and Aunt Pam had done so much to open their home and create such a warm and lovely place to eat and visit. My Aunt Larissa also always brings a few yummy things and always has a craft or game of some sort. It was pretty comical for awhile because my Aunt Larissa insisted on still doing a craft when all of us kids were teenagers. We all joke that my brother finally got kicked out of doing crafts when he made a gingerbread crack house (yeah, you have to know my brother). But now, it all makes sense again, there are kids and it seems right to have a game or craft (not that I didn't secretly like still doing the craft). My Aunt Larissa had a game this year where we all write down what we are thankful for, but we didn't write who wrote it. Then she read them out loud and we all tried to guess. She later wrote the names besides them for memory sake, but the best one was probably my cousin Paige announcing she was having another baby. I also liked that my husband wrote, "Nine Pies". There really is a lot to be thankful for  : )

Because we do a Thanksgiving with my mom's side and then my dad's, I figured I'd break up all the many pictures with two parts. This last week has seemed like a blur in some ways, but I think the thing I love most about taking pictures is that you capture so many moments, save the beautiful ones, and then those are the ones that you reflect back on and they become the most clear memories. Thats probably why people mostly talk about the good times when reflecting back upon the early years of having children. I have taken a fair share of crying pictures of Blanche, but this Thanksgiving I seemed to capture the moments that really showed the love my family has for each other. The top pictures by the way, were taken the day before Thanksgiving when my grandma was going to order pizza for us. Andrew, my brother, and I were watching Kyetin while my mom and sister worked. I told him it would be fun and that we'd have a pizza party. He asked if we could wear party hats. So of course, Austin made him the party hat of all party hats. With braided toilet paper ribbons hanging down.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Garden

I've been meaning to continue the Nycum house tour. I started the Love Shack tour, with my first post of Blanche's room. Maybe when I am giving a tour, I should start in some sort of order, but our house really isn't big at all, so I'm just going to show my readers what I want to, when I want to. It will be more fun this way, trust me.

I thought since winter is upon us and most things are dying, we should revisit our wonderful garden that Andrew created this past year. Looking back through all of our garden photos, it was pretty amazing to see our daughter growing as the garden did. The pictures we took literally began when Blanche was barely able to sit up while leaning on something, and by the time our fall squash were ready, I was chasing Blanche out of them while she would crawl constantly to the garden and dig her hands in the containers. When Andrew turned over his containers this fall, Blanche was climbing and crawling into them, and when he had started the garden she could barely move!

My husband always does things to the extreme. Well, maybe that statement is a bit extreme, but he loves knowing things. When he gets into something, he really goes all out. That's why is he a bit of renaissance man. And why I feel he is better at everything. I guess what I do appreciate about us though, is that instead of being two creative people that constantly compete against each other, we just let each other have their things. Like Andrew lets me do most of the photography (although some of these beautiful pictures were taken by him), and I guess I'm the writer and "creator". Andrew is the cook (which I feel guilty for sometimes, but am learning to let go of), the coffee roaster, the crocheter (makes beautiful things, but I've come back to trying more). and now the organic gardener as well.

Andrew read an entire book about container gardening before he began. He also built all of his own self water containers out of buckets that he found around town. Yeah, he's pretty awesome. As you can see in the pictures, the garden really took off. More than we ever thought it would. And in the middle of 100 degree weather we had a jungle garden on our porch. It did get way too dry at times; we didn't get a single ear of corn. But we did harvest about 600 cherry tomatoes. And lots of regular tomatoes and eggplant. We had peppers, peas, green beans, herbs of all kinds, squash and sunflowers. All of it with out having a real backyard. I loved seeing Blanche take it all in. It was also so nice to feed her some of her first foods from our own garden. I am proud of my husband. It was his first garden, and he took so much of his time to accomplish not only something beautiful but it was literally food on the table.

I'm not sure how long we will be in this town home. We have been here for about a year and half. It isn't the place of our dreams, or where we want to raise a family or grow old. But it is a great place to call home. I'm glad that I have grown to like this place. And that I can also be content where I am. I am doing this house tour to not only give hope and encouragement to those renting in small places, but mostly to have the memories of first our home that we brought Blanche to from the hospital. To be able to show her where we lived and what we called home.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What we do instead of watching football

I told Andrew today that I was glad I married someone that didn't watch football on Sunday afternoon. Not that watching football is bad, or that I won't like you if you do. I say a person should do whatever it is that is relaxing to them in their spare time. For me, its making deodorant. My dad called while I was doing so, and I told him that I was doing what most in America do on their Sunday afternoons. He said I was probably in the 3% range.

I'd actually say that making things is the passion of mine, rather than deodorant. But none the less, Andrew said I could try making him some after his ran out. Andrew has switched to my homemade shampoo (still working out his recipe) and is now trying out some deodorant. I'd say what a sport he is, but the truth is most men just don't want to smell bad. So as long as I can accomplish that.

I had never ever thought of making my own deodorant. That is until my inspirational friend had a guest post on her own blog about making your own. First, I bought some from Jesyka after reading her post. Then, I realized I had everything I needed at home when I ran out and made it myself. I used it for several months, but I think maybe the cornstarch was hurting my skin. So, I moved on to this recipe. It is so simple. Four ingredients. All I really needed was something to help me not smell, and most importantly to be gentle on my skin. When it came to Andrew however, I knew he wouldn't want a paste like kind. So we moved more complicated to making stick deodorant for him.

I found the recipe here. It is a little more complex, but I did simplify the recipe. I admitted the baking soda (since it was a small amount and could be replaced with arrowroot), and didn't mess with probiotics either. Honestly I just used what I already had. Plus it helps when you have an awesome neighbor that has extra beeswax on hand.

The experience of making this was sort of funny. We didn't have a double boiler. I had started out doing what the blog post had said and had put my semi solid ingredients in the mason jar. I was ready to put it into boiling water (like picture above). But then Andrew and I recalled the experience that had happened earlier this morning. Which was a glass pan exploding in our oven. Long story. He should really be blogging about his own hobbies and experiences. You know, how he too strives for greatness and perfection in most random things under the sun. For me, its deodorant. For him, its setting an alarm on his day off so he can make beautiful baguettes. But, sometimes in our endeavors we don't have everything we need and us Nycums improvise.  Like using a glass pan for a roasting pan (doesn't work) ... Anyways, we moved the mason jar into out canning pot with metal rack. Just to be safe. So in a way, we almost canned our own deodorant. We are such pioneers.

After that, I really just followed the blog recipe and let it cool and added it to the containers. I didn't know it was going to make so much. Actually I didn't even realize this until I had poured it into Andrew's old container and still had half left. (And for those of you who haven't done things with melting beeswax...its a sport of its own. Because when its finally cool enough to pour, then it stars rapidly drying and sticking to EVERYTHING. A small form of hell.) Anyways, I frantically poured the leftover in a glass bowl. My idea is to plop it out and cut it to make "deodorant bars".

Is anyone still reading about deodorant? Anyways, I really would recommend going to the links above that I have posted. For anyone who is trying to go "natural" or "chemical free" there is something very important about also watching what you are rubbing into your skin every day. I love homemade deodorant because it has things like coconut oil and vitamin e. And no chemicals.

So that was our Sunday. We had planned to go to church before the glass exploded all over the kitchen. We went and ate mexican instead. And then made deodorant. And now little Blanche is sleeping (thank God for the time change and the new darkness. She's been in bed around 8 all week! This is her earliest yet.) Andrew is reading. The house is quiet. Andrew talks about "living with the seasons." Meaning we garden and practically live outside in the summer, and read and crochet in the winter. It really is nice.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Leaves become most beautiful as they're about to die"

Last weekend we went walking around in the fall leaves. There is something about being in nature that makes one feel more at peace. To me it seems evident after being out in the woods that man was never made to be apart from the earth. At least for too long. We need to be outside. To see the trees, feel the sun, and hear the water running around us. When we got back from our walk we all smelled like sweet leaves. It may sound funny, but it was the smell in my hair, and in Blanche's too. Even my camera smelled sweet.

I know that I do have friends that love being outside, to disconnect from the busy world. But many of my friends seem to never really do that. I know that my generation is worse than my parents about it, and I fear Blanche's will be even more so. Technology is so great. But it also can slowly kill you. I may sound dramatic, but it is true. It is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Sometimes I long for my life to be simple. But there is something inside of me that knows its not like that anymore. At least my brain thinks so. My brain thinks, "I need to scroll through a newsfeed on Facebook". What I started to realize though, was that I wasn't looking through facebook to keep up with people. I was just scrolling to scroll. To help my day go by. Then I started testing myself. I would literally stop and try to remember what I had looked at and read. And most of the time I couldn't even remember. So then I thought, maybe one day Blanche would be grown. And I wouldn't be able to remember the way she would look at her baby dolls at a year old. Or I wouldn't remember what her laugh would sound like when it broke through the silence. And then maybe I would be sad that I had given up hundreds of "small" moments to look at something less important on my phone. Something that I couldn't even recall what was so interesting.

I have this problem with wanting to feel really important. I want hundreds (maybe thousands) to know my name and think that I am wonderful. That my daughter is amazing, and that I must have a life worth living. And for some reason, I a lot of the time believe that I can achieve this by getting several likes on a picture I post. Or how many people read my blog. Its kind of funny, because as soon as this blog actually started getting views (Almost always because of me posting and linking it on Facebook) I decided to get rid of my Facebook for awhile. Meaning maybe no one would read anymore. Meaning I couldn't post my witty little comments anymore. And the funny thing is, its only been about a week, but I can tell that much more of myself was invested in facebook than I thought. Maybe some of you think, "wow, I am not like you. I don't have that problem". For the older generation, I am sure you are right. But for anyone my age, I challenge you to try it. See if you are more invested in it than you realize. Maybe I am worse because I am home alone every day with a person that can't talk to me. Well, besides "baby" and "boo". Maybe I get on to feel like I have hundreds of friends in my apartment with me. Maybe social media is so huge because there are lots of lonely people.

Anyways, I am admitting that often times I am lonely. And that instead of numbing the feeling by looking through online forums and meaningless information, I will embrace it. I guess I will find out why I am lonely. I will look and see if I am happy. I will go on walks with my family and leave my phone at home. You know, like the old days, when your phone couldn't travel everywhere with you. Yes, I'm keeping my instagram and blog and posting pictures. I want to keep my family that is far away updated. But I am trying to put down the phone. Even when I rock or nurse Blanche to sleep sometimes for 45 minutes. I found out that I haven't allowed myself to be bored or mentally silent in a long time. If I felt stuck laying in bed with Blanche in the dark... I just got out my phone. But this last week as I lay there with nothing but my baby and my mind... it has been so interesting to see what it is that my mind wanders to. Almost all of the time my mind would go to memories. Would go to thinking and reflecting about my life. I always claim to be so busy, but when we don't have cable and I'm not online all the time... suddenly I have more time to think. And as far as I know, thinking and reflecting are good things.