Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Long Winter Days

The last two weeks have been long and have seemed to drag winter on more than I desire. I remember just a month ago we had a couple really warm days and it was beginning to feel like spring. I love Spring. The earth is still cold, but our bodies and faces can feel the sun warming it. I am ready to be warm. I am ready to pack a lunch and spend all morning outside, only coming in if Blanche needs to rest. I am ready to not have to think of things for us to do inside. I am ready to not feel like I should go work out because of lack of activity. Spring reminds me that no matter how cold and dead things can seem, that life is still around me, and budding with beauty.

Maybe it is because lately I haven't felt very inspired. I want spring to come and inspire me. I ran into one of my old art professors on Valentines Day in a thrift store. We smiled and exchanged hellos. I was wearing Blanche on my back in hopes to keep her out of everything. I felt like the art professor and I both had the same look in our eyes. Hoping to find something new among all of the old. He had his hands full of things and was on his way out. He asked me if I had been doing any art. He made me feel like an actual artist. And it made me remember how much I loved making art. I told him I had been doing some photography. And in my head I said, "But isn't everyone doing some photography?" I love and hate instagram. Then I told him Blanche kept me pretty busy, but I missed the art community, and that sometimes I get pretty bored in the mom club. I mean, I am one of those boring moms. That talks about naps and if Blanche is eating anything more than goldfish. But sometimes I'm tired of being around people that are just as tired as I am. I want to be refreshed and inspired. I long to create and to have conversations that deal with topics I truly care about. I mean, I do truly care about parenting. Thats why I am an advocate for Attachment Parenting. But most of the time no one asks me about that. They ask me if Blanche is weaned. And no, she isn't.

I talked to my mom on FaceTime with Blanche today. She said I seemed sad. I'm not really sad. I just feel like I am the essence of winter. There seems to be so much hope in the ideas and thoughts of the future and coming months, but as of now I am cold, and tired, and rather dull.

I do think that most of the time I can't blame everyone else around me for how I am living. I can't say that I am dull because I am around dull people. Maybe I am the one making those around me dull. So, I have to take the first step. And it if is inspiration I am looking for, at least I am living in the age of the internet.

I found the most beautiful artist last night. Her name is Nirrimi. Maybe you have heard of her. She's won several national and international awards. I highly recommend reading her "about me" section of her blog, here. She's only 20. She has a one year old girl. Her words and pictures are stunning and inspire me.  I read this post of hers, last night. Its called, "Why I want Children Young." Reading it made me want to live each moment to the fullest with Blanche. To always have my camera and to write about my past and my life now.

The pictures above are from the last couple of weeks. The last four are from today. In our lonesome wintery days Blanche has come to love making videos of herself and watching them on the computer. This morning she was trying to hit play on the movies with her toes. Such a monkey. She has had a bad cough so we haven't been playing in all the rain and snow. We've just been playing in the much warmer version known as hot baths. We take at least one a day. Sometimes two. One day three. I make sure to pour avocado oil in if we have more than one. It doesn't matter whats going on, if we draw a hot bath and both get in. The world stops. Sometimes just for fifteen minutes, but it gets us through. The last picture is from the blog I linked. This is Nirrimi and Alba. There are so many gorgeous photos, and many of them remind me of my relationship with Blanche. I found this one just now, and it feels so familiar.

Monday, February 25, 2013

(Another) Post about Deodorant

I'm sure not too many people take pictures and write about deodorant. If they do, I'm sure they don't post about it more than once. In the past, I posted about making stick deodorant here. I made some for Andrew, but left out the probiotics which may have been why it didn't work at all. I tried it as well and it didn't seem to work well. I wanted to go ahead and post the recipe that I do use and have found successful. To some, it may seem a little crazy to make your own deodorant, but this recipe is very similar to the stick variety but uses baking soda and leaves out the wax and butter that melts and then solidifies. This makes the process literally take 10 minutes.

I found the recipe here. I prefer this one because it uses arrowroot powder rather than cornstarch. I'd highly recommend this recipe if you ever have tenderness or sensitivity with the deodorant you are currently using.

Here is my recipe. I do what the online site suggests, but add vitamin E oil. I'm sure you can find all of these ingredients in either the organic section of your grocery store, or your local health food store. I've even copied the five steps, so its all right here! It does take a little getting use to. Its more like a lotion that you put on rather than rubbing a stick. But its so much better for your body, and I highly recommend this method.

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (solid state)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (aluminum-free)
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • Essential oils (I use a 5-10 drops lavender or tea tree) 
  • A few drops Vitamin E oil

1. Mix the baking soda and arrowroot powder in a glass bowl.

2. Add the coconut oil (do not warm or melt it) and use a fork or pastry blender to thoroughly blend it into the dry ingredients.

3. Add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oils and blend completely. (this step is optional, but lovely - my personal favorite combo is clove with a little sweet orange and cinnamon!) This is also when I add Vitamin E.

4. Add more coconut oil or arrowroot powder/baking soda if needed until the texture is about the same consistency as commercial deodorant.

5. Scoop the mixture into a small jar or container and store at room temperature. (Refrigeration may be required during summer months and warmer weather because the coconut oil will melt at 76 degrees.)

To apply, use your fingers to scoop out a pea-size amount of the deodorant and massage it into your armpits daily or as needed. Allow a minute or two for the deodorant to set before getting dressed.

*Remember, this is deodorant, not antiperspirant. It will not stop you from sweating, but you won't smell bad!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Natural Dusting Spray

I wanted to write a quick post about another natural cleaning product I made today. I had pretty much switched over completely to chemical free cleaners, but I hadn't found something I was crazy about for dusting. I liked the swifter duster, but it also seemed pretty wasteful to me.

So, thanks to the internet, one of the first blogs I clicked on had a great recipe. A blog called homemade mothering was where I got the recipe. I did switch mine up a bit though. Here it is:

Homemade Dusting Spray:
1 cup white vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon mineral oil (the stuff used on wooden cutting boards) 
3 cups of water 
Several drops of tangerine essential oil

I guess some may want to do natural cleaners to avoid the lemon or citrus smell, but I sort of like that fresh and clean smell. The essential oils aren't near as strong as chemical cleaners though, and I thought helped to hide the vinegar smell.

Well as you can see in the picture above, Blanche woke up while writing this post. So I'm finishing it in the car on my phone today. We are on our way to Fayetteville to buy Blanche a new amber teething necklace. Hers went down the bathtub drain, and she's getting her molars. That calls for a new one! Happy Saturday!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Love Shack: Part 4

I started our house tour by showing you Blanche's room, our room, and the garden. So now I wanted to finish by showing you the downstairs of our town home. Being the person I am, there are already things that have been moved around in Blanche's room. But either way, I wanted to the finish house tour.

When you walk back down the stairs, you see the first picture. When I actually took a picture of our living room, and then looked at it, I was like wow, are we crazy bohemians? Well, thats kind of the look I was going for, but it seems like we have a LOT of books and pictures. Plus plants. Which I love. The only downside to having tons of books everywhere is that it makes me wish I actually had time to sit in those cute vintage chairs and read one. When Andrew and I rearranged the living room this way, I loved the little reading area. I envisioned Andrew and I sitting in those chairs with our coffee on the table, and reading a rainy day away. That may happen in about ten years.

I also have added little areas of interesting things for Blanche. You may notice jars of pom poms or animal figures hiding around the house. I also brought her bookshelf down from her room and put some of her books and some interesting things to look at. Its great for her to know she too has a space in each room. I like that she has books where Andrew and I do too. So she knows to pull those out for story time. And we do get to sit in those vintage chairs! I also have tried to do more natural toys, and interesting objects for her to look at, along with a plant in her area too (out of reach of course). I really do love a lot of the ideas behind montessori inspired homes, so I used some of those philosophies to inspire special "Blanche spaces" in the home.

As you can see, we use our computer for videos but do not have a television. I really enjoy this. I always laugh when I think back to an episode of Up All Night when Maya Rudolph tells someone sarcastically how "brave" they are for not owning a television. We don't really do it to be brave. Honestly there's just not enough on tv that Andrew and I find worth paying for. So we watch occasional online shows and movies on the computer. Plus Blanche has a little dvd player for her shows too. I find that it makes our home more peaceful. I love not having a television always on and blaring.

Then you take about four steps and you have entered the dining room/extended play room/pantry/kitchen! Its funny how not having a lot of space makes you creative. Its also funny/ironic that "not having a lot of space" is way more square footage than most of the world. Either way, I feel thankful for what we do have, but like most, have dreams of a bigger back yard or adding an art/ craft room.

We decided when we rearranged our living room, that Blanche's kitchen should go downstairs and into the kitchen area. I enjoy the way our home is set up now for Blanche. It seems there is plenty to do whether we are upstairs or downstairs. Its also been nice for the times when we are still eating dinner and Blanche says "dooaanee" that she has a little area to cook us food or feed her baby while Andrew and I finish our meal. It has been amazing to see her little mind take off as she has grown and started to do more and more imaginary play.

Andrew has done a lot of moving and shuffling in our kitchen, and I told him that the next time we move, he gets to organize and design the kitchen himself. When we moved in I had a certain way I wanted things, but now that he is the one who cooks most of the time, I think he gets to decide. I took a picture of his "bread making" space as well. I am going to have him do either the next post or the one after that. Andrew is amazing at making breads. I want him to talk a little bit about this winter hobby he has started. Its wonderful; we don't eat store bought bread anymore. So good.

And last but not least, we have an espresso machine hiding in our laundry closet! This makes the weekends extra special  ; )

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Children should be brave and strong

I had never done much thinking about if Blanche would think that she was brave or strong. Until today. And then I decided that she would.

There's a creek that runs through Siloam and through the park across the street from our house. We play there almost any day that it is warm. Andrew has taken Blanche into the creek while in her ergo (carrier) even when she was just months old.

Along a steep part of the hill, there is now a path where children walk down to feed the ducks. From the park you can't really see if anyone one is down there, but as you get closer to the bridge you can clearly see. Blanche and I had climbed down there, and I was holding her as we watched the ducks.  A little girl came to the bridge and after seeing us, yelled back to her daddy, "I want to go down there." Her dad was on the other side of the hill and couldn't see that we were down there. He replied, "Nope, there's snakes down there."

Then when he rounded the corner he saw us down there. The little girl exclaimed, "But they are down there!" You could hear in her father's sigh he had kind of been caught. Now, maybe was being honest, because Andrew and I have seen a huge snake in the water before. But most of the time, there's mostly ducks and fish. He answered, "well, maybe there isn't now, but sometimes there are." Then they started to bicker, and I felt awkward so I told Blanche we should swing. As I was hiking back up the hill I heard the little girl say, "Leave me alone, I am brave and strong! I know I am. I can do it." Then she said she was going with her friends and started yelling, "Friends, friends!!" (I don't know if she had any friends there). Then her dad said, "Well, I'm your father and its my job to watch out for you."

Then she ran off towards the swings. Now, to this point I really believed (and still do a little) that the father had good intentions. But something in his voice also made me feel like maybe he just didn't want to mess with it. Mess with climbing down there. Mess with letting her be brave and strong. Then, later Blanche went running back to the creek, and as I picked her up he said, "Well see, now your in trouble you've given her a taste of it."

This is when I start to judge him more. Now, like I said, I think he had good intentions for the most part. But to me, why is it a bad thing that I've given Blanche the taste of adventure? I could see I was probably at least fifteen years younger than this man, maybe he was just tired. I have days where I am really tired too. And I don't want Blanche going on adventures. I want her to watch a dvd. But then there are days like today, which I begin to hope are most days, where she gets to run wild and free. Where we go down to the water instead of standing on the sidewalk. Where Blanche thinks she is brave and strong.

I hope that the little girl at the park still holds on to the fact that she is brave and strong. And I hope that her daddy carriers her down to the creek next time. Because one day he will probably have wished he had. And I'm not meaning to give this guy a hard time, because most of the time when we start to judge, maybe its seeing parts of ourselves in other people. Its easier to tell other people how they should parent. Instead of telling ourselves. For now though, I want to help Blanche learn about the world around her. I want to take the extra time to show her how she can be brave and strong. I want to let her wander. I keep thinking this week about the phrase I've read, "let the children play."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An Update

I know its been a little bit since I've done a post. I don't know if we have necessarily been busy…I mean, how one of my friends put it,  "I've been doing things like dying my hair and buying a minivan." When you put it like that it sound like I'm having a mom-life crisis.

I don't think I am.

Andrew and I have both said we feel like we are living life, but also waiting for the next step in some ways. We've been searching and praying for the next step… and whether that means staying in Siloam or moving. No big changes yet, but maybe one day.

I feel like a lot of times my days and weeks look similar, but my mind is always going. I always seem to be researching something. I know I've written about it some before, but I as of now (maybe it will change once Blanche is older) but I think I want to teach Blanche at home rather than sending her to school. Not something I ever really thought I would do.

I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to write today, but I thought I'd put up a fun video Blanche and I recorded this morning. She isn't too talkative in it, but cute none the less. Right now Blanche is watching her favorite dvd, which is a sign language series. This is the one on food. Which with every food they show she comes to me signing it and wanting to "experience" it by also eating it. We've already had a banana and she wants a cracker.

I want Andrew to do a guest post on here, with some of the pictures of his baking and what he's been up to for the last six months. Mostly helping me never loss my last five pounds of baby weight. Oh well, I think we are all learning to eat healthier in some ways, and maybe just a healthier mindset. Andrew makes so many things from scratch. It seems to make it easier to not worry so much about calories but just eat healthy and whole foods when we are hungry. And stop when we are full. And to also let ourselves have fun and get ice-cream. We have been doing this with Blanche, a more laid back version than most parents probably. Not forcing her to eat, but letting her enjoy it and stop when she says she's done. It has helped all of us see the power in learning to trust your body.

I am sort of all over the place, but just an update on the Nycums. I finished Blanche's baby book. It was a scrapbook/ photo book of letters and pictures, month by month from pregnancy to her first birthday. I hope I can make one for each of our children. I really love it, and hope Blanche will cherish it one day as well.

I hope all of you are doing well! Someone sent me a beautiful handmade soap and candle from an etsy shop, and I have no idea who did. Thank you if it was you! We are all doing well, and Andrew is looking forward to spring and a garden. I'm looking forward to making Blanche a "mud pie kitchen" when he works on the garden. The Nycum family thrives in the outdoors. Spring will be here soon!