Saturday, March 29, 2014

Growing Up

Andrew is working late tonight, and I am sitting hungry at the computer. Rosemary has nursed and went to sleep on my lap while I was researching online about baby slings. I am sure to someone without children this sounds like a pretty boring Saturday night. Honestly before writing that last sentence I had forgotten it was Saturday night. I am just happy that my toddler was asleep by nine and that I got to have time to look at baby slings. My only real complaint is that I wish Andrew was here so he could bring me a bowl of cereal. I am not really that lazy. It is just that if I stand up I am sure Rosemary will wake up, which could end this whole relaxing thing.

Today as I went through the normal daily tasks I thought about some of the things Blanche is doing that I should probably write down. I realized today that I sort of have this sad feeling. It is not when looking at pictures of Blanche as a baby, but pictures of her from the last several months. Before Rosemary came Blanche was my little baby. And then I was so pregnant, and then I had a newborn. And all of the sudden I look at pictures of her from two to two and half and I feel like I missed it. Or I have a sad feeling when I see pictures I took of her in the bath, and I can tell by my feet in the picture that I was in there with her. Last night I was trying to process a lot of this new life with Andrew. The life of Blanche not being the only child. As I told Andrew my worries, he said that the only real solution to so many of those things was Blanche being an only child, which was never what we wanted for her or our family. Sometimes I am sad that Blanche's life is so different from what it use to be, but I know that change is good. It seems designed by God at times that the toddler years are so influenced by a desire for independence. We spaced our girls naturally with breastfeeding, so it's reassuring when Blanche in fact does want to do a lot of things herself. And honestly she has to now. Our bath time routine use to be that I was in there too. We would play, and I would wash her hair and her animals would watch as she was a big girl and let me rinse the soap out. She would always want me to act out stories and make her little animals say things. Now her bath time is more of just creative play. A few times a week I will get my hands around her little body and wash it with a bar of soap. Blanche now turns off and on the water by herself. She can do a lot of self cleaning and turns on the faucet to put her head under. I tend to walk in and out of the bathroom. I probably shouldn't, but our house is only 800 square feet, and I can always hear her. I am now almost always holding Rosemary or changing her diapers. Last night when I talked to Andrew about it I was so sad at how Blanche's life had changed. I felt like I had let her down in a way. But then tonight during bath I realized something. Blanche is just growing up, and that is what is making me sad. Tonight I sat in the bathroom and nursed Rosemary beside the tub. Now it was Blanche acting out the stories with her animals. She rarely looked up at me while playing and never wanted my input on her creative games and stories. She is becoming her own little person.

This picture was taken around Christmas time. I love it. Blanche had woken up early that morning and had already fallen asleep by the time we got to our playgroup. It had been a cold and rainy morning. It was sort of perfect because she feel asleep while I went through the drive thru for a coffee. I rarely do that sort of thing. We were also early to the playdate. I rarely do that either. So we sat in the parking lot of an inside play place, and I slowly drank my warm latte with the rain coming down. Little Rosemary was in my belly; I was eight months pregnant.

Just in the last two weeks Blanche has jumped to a new level with her vocabulary. We walked into Osh Kosh yesterday with her Gigi to buy some new pajamas. The lady working at the store greeted us. Baby Blanche would have been shy, but this new Blanche, she greeted her with a huge smile and almost a little wave. When I asked Blanche if she could tell the lady what we were there for she responded, "For my pajamas. I need some clothes for when I sleep." At first Andrew's mom was going to help "translate" but we both sort of realized at the same time that the lady understood Blanche. They were having a conversation. Blanche then walked up to the mannequin and said, "Oh.. I like that shirt and those shoes..."

After we had picked out her pajamas Blanche found some "sharky shoes." These were actually very sparkly silver flats. She was so excited. I told her that we needed to look for 7's. They must have been on clearance because they were in a big bin. I told Blanche that this is why it would be good to learn her numbers. Because even if she wasn't into math she would need to know them for shoe shopping. Blanche then continued to search saying,"Sevens where are you..." I then had Rosemary in the sling and looked down to deal with her. When I looked up Blanche had shoved a size 5 on her foot. She was limping around with her bright blue socks on and one very small silver shoe. "I found the 7! I found the 7!" She kept saying. We never found a 7, but man did she make me laugh.

Blanche is growing up right in front of me, and I can hardly believe it. I always knew she would grow up. I guess though that for the first two years of her life I could always see a little bit of baby still in her. Now I am holding a new baby and there is this big girl in front of me that shoe shops and washes out her own hair.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When Coloring Books Became Journals

I remember this feeling from other times in my life. It is the urgency within me to write. I remember the first time I wrote for something other than imaginary play or school. My siblings and I were pretty creative growing up. We would start our own newspapers, "The Anderson Press" and deliver handmade copies to each room in the house. I had a Lisa Frank satchel bag that I loved.  It was pink and purple and opened just like Charlie's from Willy Wonka when he delivered papers. We always used the Lisa Frank bag when delivering papers. We also put on plays with our cousins. I was always Jo from Little Women. Even if we were not playing Little Women, I was still Jo in my mind. I was always Jo. I would be in charge of writing the plays, and as the oldest I would boss around the younger ones to try not to mess anything up. But one time, probably around 5th grade, I remember writing for a different reason. I think it was in a coloring book that I had gotten from some sort of health program. I can't remember if it was asking questions to fill in or not, but I just remember all of the sudden all these words coming out from my little hand. I was writing so quickly with a red crayon. I remember the exact experience I wrote about. My parents were in the midst of a divorce and my dad's brother had gotten angry at my mom when she dropped my dad's belongs off at my Meme's house. All of us kids were in the van watching. I guess thats when my coloring books became journals.

From that point on I always had some little journal that I hid under my mattress. The turning point of my writing though, the one that took my journals from little short pieces of my day and prayers to raw memoir, was when my friend was murdered my freshman year of high school. My mom came home one day with a burlap covered, leather bound journal with handmade paper. There were probably 200 pages inside. My mom wrote a touching letter on the front page, telling me she hoped I didn't mind she used the first page. Then I took the journal and went to my room, and for the next several hours I wrote out the haunting story I had just lived through. My Sunday School teacher helped me punch holes in those pages and tie them shut with ribbon. No one wanted to have to read through those things every day, not even me. I continued to write often in that journal, and in a grieving fashion I started taping pictures of all my friends inside. I told my friends that because I was almost sixteen, I was going to give this journal to my daughter when she was sixteen. My best friends wrote letters to my one day daughter. Claiming that this future sixteen year old would have the world's coolest mom. I hope Blanche knows they are right.

My journals continued through all of high school and college. They fill a plastic tub. In our old bedroom in Arkansas, there is a picture here, Andrew had me display my journals on a bookshelf. He hoped I could sort through them and that they would help me find my writing voice. A few times Andrew told me not to read through them when he wasn't home. It may have been his way of protecting me.

I was in a creative writing class my senior year of high school. Looking back now my best work was always when I was being real. I often tried to shove religion into my stories and poetry, but then there were moments when I would write "just for fun" and that is when my writing would come alive. I would write about the things I didn't want anyone to really know about. I would have my teacher read them during lunch. Maybe at the time I was not sure how to write about something I was in midst of going through. I wrote about my parents divorce, not being able to trust adults, and how alone I really felt.

I would often sit down at the computer or on my bed after school and the stories would come pouring out. I am finding myself coming to that point again. I have noticed my posts are become more frequent. Sometimes I think through the day about what I want to write and eagerly await nap time.

So much of my days are filled with the smiles of these two girls above. I often write as to not forget these fleeting times with such small children. I like to focus on the happy and try to take beautiful pictures of them. There are days though, when I do not want to forget the past. Not to live in the past, but because the past has made me who I am today. Each person in this life has a past and a family. They have memories and thoughts on life. We are not just people living and making choices for no reason.

Life as a mother of two very small children gives me the chance to love to the point of exhaustion every day. I have little hands all over me. Spit up and pee. I got the girls to sleep in this morning, but it wasn't without nursing both of them. I was up at five am nursing both a newborn and a toddler, wondering if I am doing things wrong. The tired creeps up on me and irritation comes out of my mouth at my toddler. I don't know if she is getting teeth or jealous of her sister, but we are sliding backwards in the weaning. Once we all roll out of bed together at nine thirty, we have missed our playdate and one girl is covered in urine and the other in spit up. I get to work changing diapers and pajamas. Only to put them both in clean pajamas. I figure we won't leave the house today. I make coffee and try to focus on the good and expected things. Like Blanche being content to watch her show and eat her granola while I drink coffee and nurse the baby. The fears of how I am alone while Andrew works today and how I really have made few friends in this big city start to fade, and we all start to smile a bit. I think about how lucky I am and that today is just today. I only have today to worry about and today to get through. I enjoy Blanche "helping" with the dishes and taking a picture of her. I make lunch and nurse again. I wear Rosemary while I eat, and then we all nurse again. And then it is nap time, and I write down my stories. Now both are awake. Rosemary is done nursing again and on my lap. I am sweaty, and my shirt has milk on it. Blanche is up with messy hair. Roaring down the hallway and shouting, "Anybody there?" I continue to type as they both become restless and Blanche dances around me in "big shoes" which are Andrew's old work shoes. Speaking of work he should be off now. Hopefully picking up a few things and heading home to us.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Live Here

It is no secret that the Nycum family loves to be outside. When we told Blanche our plans for the day she responded, "Yay hiking!" Andrew had the day off yesterday and I had text his mom about us coming up to Georgetown and doing a little day hike around the river close to their home. Andrew's mom had the idea to go to Mount Bonnell, which online says it is more of a tourist spot over hiking. But for our family it was perfect. It was easy for all of us to walk along the beautiful Colorado River, while Andrew and Blanche went in and out of the trees along the little deer paths. Blanche loved exploring. She has always had something in her that makes her long to break from the trail. Sometimes I do think life would be so much easier if we just lived in some sort of tent and she could just go explore all day long. Except for winter and food I guess. That part would be a little bit harder.

Yesterday was just one of those days where we all kept saying, "What a fun day!" Andrew and I, well all of us, love when Andrew's mom and Keith can come along for the day. Andrew's mom wears Rosemary. Showpa chases Blanche.  Andrew and I get to take pictures and look at the view. It always feels so good to have the spring sun on my face. The rolling hills with huge Spanish villas sprinkled all over them, with the dry and rocky landscape, made me feel like I could be back in Spain. I love those parts of Austin. One of my friends lives farther north in the midst of the rolling hills, and while I drive what feels like straight up to her house, I swear I am heading to my little apartment I lived in while living in Malaga. If only I could see the Mediterranean, but there is the Colorado River.

I can hardly believe it is almost April. In July we will have lived in Austin for a year. That fact makes this the fastest year of my life. Although life in Siloam, when Blanche was just a baby, seems so far away. The wanderer in me is yet to become weary, looking for a new adventure, because this adventure still seems so new. Any free time that Andrew and I have we are looking online or driving around looking at houses and different parts of the city and surrounding area. We went into the more "country" area in the northwest a few days ago. I told Andrew we knew we were in the country when I couldn't tell if people were having a garage sale or if everything in their front yard was just their "stuff." We were driving through trailers that had been added on to, making their own little Texas mansions of tires and rusted fences. We saw a house for sale that was hard to make out if it had been a trailer in it's past life. There was lots of land, and it was "bohemian" for sure. I could see a laundry line and chickens. Or the idea of them. A garden could be planted. The neighbors next door had six kids and they all stopped to look at us as we drove by. I am not sure if this is the life I want. Do I want vegan ice-cream down the street instead? I am conflicted with what my dreams are verses reality. I grew up in the country. It feels familiar. But then again I was always trying to leave the familiar to discover new things.

I like having this time to explore and find what we love. Obvisouly living along the Colorado River in the middle of Austin would be amazing. Unfortunately everyone else has the same eyes that I do, and you have to pay a few million to live there. We will find our home. Or our little house we will make a home. It is out there. Maybe sitting empty or with another family in it. Waiting. We will find it after we have paid the allotted amounts of months rent, country drives, and online searches that fate has for us. One day before I know it I will be packing boxes and telling our girls we are moving to a new home. But until that day, our family can continue to go on beautiful hikes. And Blanche can exclaim with two year old passion when we tell her it is time to leave, "I LIVE HERE!"

Friday, March 21, 2014

Healthy Eating

One of my friends on Facebook wrote in her status the other day that everyone is not just dieting to diet these days. They have a scientific reason why their way is right. She goes on to say that she thinks people should just say they are doing it to do it, because they want to, and not try and make a scientific argument about it. It made me laugh, and I would have to agree. There have always been popular diets that come along with cookbooks and ways to "live." I think one of the biggest changes I have noticed now though is the argument of which way to eat healthy is really right. People who are gluten free rave about how ridiculous they once were to be eating so many grains. I have seen people cooking out of grain free cookbooks and exclaiming "We don't miss the bad stuff at all." Or the Paleo people using those arguments and then saying that vegetarians and vegans need more protein over sugars like our ancestors. Okay, I am sure I don't have all the arguments right... but it is something like that.

I am going to say that I have started this vegan, whole grain, "plant based diet" because I want to.  I have been an on and off again vegetarian in the last couple of years. The "off" really has always been because I am also in the baby making and nursing years and I just get so hungry! I had thought that if I could not stick to vegetarian while pregnant or nursing I probably could never be vegan. Andrew and I love to eat locally and seasonally, and with him working at Whole Foods we have always tried to eat the best quality meats when we did choose to eat them. Most of the time we would end up eating vegetarian, because when it comes to eating not just healthy but quality food, it is too expensive to eat meat every day.

I knew Whole Foods had a "Health Starts Here" program going this new year, and then I watched the documentary "Forks over Knives." After reading and watching and texting my hip vegan Aunt Larissa, I decided I had enough reason to try. Of course these resources will all tell you that this is the best way to eat and live. So, I am going to see if it is true. I am big on listening to my body. That is why I am doing this for six full weeks, like they did in the documentary, and just see how I feel overall. I am not going to a dr. to have tests done, but I do know I have about 25 pounds of pregnancy weight to loose. I also am dead tired every morning and addicted to sugar and caffeine. I think the dead tired part is about my children, not the cheeseburgers, but we will see. I am not giving up coffee, for now at least. But I am doing a strictly vegan diet for six weeks. No dairy, no meat, no eggs, no butter. The The Health Starts Here diet says meat as a condiment is okay, but I'd like to stick to fully Vegan. They also advise no processed sugars or oils, and to eat all whole grains. I officially started this on Monday, and have given in a little with the sugar (Andrew had a vegan birthday cake) and we have used a little bit of oil on our roasted veggies. I figure since I am nursing a newborn and a toddler, a little here and there is not a big deal.

I know my personality, and I know I have to often go to the extreme on things. If I was just trying to eat "healthy" I know I would continue to build my own nachos when we eat lunch at Whole Foods, rather than choosing from their two full raw and organic salad bars. I often need a push and I will say in the past five days, I have eatten a bigger variety and amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.   I am also so thankful for Andrew doing the meal planning, shopping, and cooking for this diet change. I hope to do more once I am not holding a baby so much of the time.

I thought I would include two recipes from a couple of things I have really enjoyed this week. Both recipes are from the Forks Over Knives book. We tried "Rip's Big Bowl" for breakfast the last two days, and Andrew made these "Chocolate Banana Treats" last night with Blanche. The breakfast bowl seems like a lot, and really it is, but it will keep you full all morning. The treats are also so yummy and perfect with afternoon coffee. I always need a little something with my coffee.

Rip's Big Bowl:

Serves 1

1/4 cup old-fashioned oats (uncooked)
1/4 cup Grape-Nuts or Ezekiel brand equivalent
1/4 cup bite-size shredded wheat
1/4 cup Uncle Sam Cereal (we used the original)
1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal
2 Tablespoons raisins
1/2 handful of walnuts
1 banana, sliced
1 kiwi, sliced
1 grapefruit
3/4 cup plant-based milk

Toss all ingredients except the grapefruit and plant-based milk in a bowl. After cutting the grapefruit in half, use a small, sharp knife to remove the segments. Add the segments to the top of the bowl and squeeze in the juice. Top the bowl with plant-based milk.

Variation: Add any fresh or frozen fruit, such as peaches, cherries, mangoes, blue-berries, or red grapes.

*We also couldn't find unsweetened bite-sized shredded wheat at whole foods, so Andrew bought another Uncle Sam cereal, the Rye and Hemp one. It was great with the bowl.

Frozen Chocolate Banana Treats:

Makes about 50

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup plant-based milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ripe bananas
2 cups oats

1. Puree the maple syrup, milk, cocoa, vanilla, and bananas in a food processor until well combined. Transfer to a bowl. Add the oats and mix well.
2. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Put Grape-Nuts in a small bowl. Using the big end of a melon baller, or a small spoon, scoop up a little chocolate ball and drop it into the bowl of Grape-Nuts. Turn the ball over with a spoon or your fingers, then sprinkle Grape-Nuts onto the sides and gently place it onto the wax paper. I like to flatten the ball a little with the back of a spoon. Repeat the process with the rest of the chocolate mixture.
3. Freeze the entire pan of chocolate treats. After the treats are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container and store it in the freezer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Dreams

Spring is what dreams are made of. There is something about spring that makes us want to come out of hibernation and grow things. Clean things. Be things. Well, at least that is what spring often does for me. I told Andrew last Sunday that I just wanted to "Spring Clean" the whole house, but normally I have a baby in my arms. He responded with, "What do you mean? Did you not just deep clean the whole house?" I once again tried to explain that cleaning the floors is not considered deep cleaning the whole house. I think men and woman just have different ideas on what deep cleaning really means. But I will say, when it comes to cleaning and organizing the kitchen, Andrew really is the master at that. We have had some pretty small kitchens in the life of our marriage... and he has always found a way to make everything fit.

On Monday Andrew had the day off, and it was the day before his birthday. I am always really bad at presents and honestly I would be a little scared to go shopping with both girls alone. If I did online shopping I know Andrew would see the transaction on his phone before he even got his present. And really, in the end, we are people who normally give gifts when it feels right, maybe not just because this is the "day" you are suppose to get a gift. Just like Andrew buying me my camera. So I had the idea to just let him go alone to pick out all of our herbs and little patio garden plants. To someone without small children, this seems like not that big of a deal. Anyone who has small children, knows it is a really big deal. I knew that Andrew would have much more fun alone than with free running Blanche and baby-wearing me along for the ride. Blanche was so excited after her nap when daddy returned. Andrew had such a big smile on his face, carrying strawberry and tomato plants, multiple types of basil,  flowers, and other herbs. Sometimes in life a person can become so busy or distracted with the current life situation. A lot of the time Andrew and I can barely have a full conversation between a newborn and a toddler. But this moment, this moment when Andrew was walking up the stairs with plants and big bags of dirt, I saw so clearly why I had fallen in love with him. And that just as winter was ending and spring was coming, so would the chaos of life.

I was excited for Andrew to plant and had goals of cleaning off our back patio as well. The first couple of pictures show that Blanche is an "expressive" child. I guess most children are expressive, Blanche however is tactilely expressive. I told Andrew many days walking out to our back patio is like walking into Blanche's canvas. There are pots of dirt with chalk in them, spoons and dolls on the floor. She has put chalk on every surface to see what it will do. In my dream life, I would always let Blanche walk into her little outdoor studio and make as big of a mess as she desires. However,  I am often nursing a newborn and cannot take the time to keep dusting and cleaning off Blanche every time she goes in and out. So, I decided that the pots of dirt should probably go for awhile. I had Andrew plant everything in the front, and he hung a beautiful succulent pot for me in the back.

Andrew and I either talk about or look at houses online almost every day. We keep discussing what it is that we truly want. Many who read this blog probably know my dreams of a bohemian farm. I would say Andrew dreams of that too. The thing is, we now sort of need that bohemian farm relatively close to the Austin Metro Whole Foods, because of Andrews current position. He will probably move around these several stores until promoted again. So, we are trying to figure out how these dreams and practicality can come together. I do know we will have a yard. And that Andrew will build Blanche and Rosemary another mud kitchen. (that post was only a year ago this month... and I can't believe how much Blanche has changed!)

I think the important thing that spring is reminding me, is to be myself wherever we are living. That it is okay to hang laundry line on every open patio space and hang my cloth diapers and wipes. We may not have a yard or a large garden, but Blanche is going to pick organic strawberries off of her very own patio. The key to happiness is learning to be happy where you are. Where I am. There are many reasons to feel overwhelmed. I do not think there are many people who thrive in the midst of crying children in a dirty house. But spring reminds me that I can clean. I can sweep the patios and feel better. Blanche and I can draw daddy a "Happy Birthday!" sign on our patio that he can see as he walks up the stairs after work. I can tell Blanche she is special and that I love her imagination. I can look and remember to talk to Rosemary through the day, even though she cannot talk back yet. I can love Andrew for all the reasons I always have, and we can dream together. I have always thought that without dreams life would not be too exciting anyways.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Blanche Olive at Two and a Half

Blanche will be two and half years old next month. Sometimes I think about how people always talk about children growing so fast, and I look at Blanche and wonder how she is so big. I wonder how she turned into a little girl all of the sudden. But then again, life before Blanche seems so long ago. She couldn't still be a baby anyways, could she? Blanche can be so smart. Her memory seems remarkable for her age sometimes. She has understanding about a lot of things. But then, I will look at her in the midst of older children playing at the park and see that she is still so little. I think to myself, "She is really my oldest?" Then I understand why sometimes I feel so tired and stressed out. I really do have two little babies some days.

I wonder if our children choose us. I have heard some people put it that way. The ironic part is that the parents are the ones creating the life, deciding to have a baby... but then you have no real control over what child is given to you. I know Blanche was my first because she changed how I would mother all the rest of my children. When I had Blanche I had very little parenting knowledge and obviously no experience. All I really knew was that I wanted to breastfeed my babies. I had wanted a home birth as well, but that didn't happen. The next several months after Blanche was born my view on babies and parenting changed. I don't spend much time on my blog talking about the details of my parenting decisions. I think in today's world there are so many mothers arguing against one another, and it has never been my goal or intention to start up arguments or heated debates on what is the best way. Now especially after having my second, I know that the main key to motherhood is doing what works. Andrew and I have always tried to do the most loving option that we know of for whatever problem may arise. It is not easy. For example I never thought I would ever "co-sleep" or "tandem nurse." In my mind, it honestly sounded like things lazy parents would do. Or hippy weird parents. Or parents that were nothing like me. And then I became a parent. A very tired parent. All of the sudden when it came to Blanche sleeping and all of us getting rest, I started looking at my options. I found for us personally, giving up my stereotypes and trying new things might be the best thing for our family.

Andrew has always been a nonconformist of sorts. He is the type of person who wonders who invented the crib and why people use bed frames. If so much of the world does not have these things, why is it critical to our lives that we have them? He made it easy to try new things and explore parenting styles.

After a few months of Blanche's life we really developed a rhythm. I almost always knew what she needed, which for Blanche, was laying down to nurse about 85% of the time. I had made things easy really. She would nurse to sleep for naps in our bed that was on the floor, and I would get up and do my own thing. Nights were similar and sometimes a little rough, but Blanche slept so much better close to us.

When I became pregnant again, our routine changed a little, but we kept things very similar to the way they had always been. Blanche has always been sensitive and emotional. I knew that weaning at a little over a year for her would be too soon, so I continued through pregnancy. I had the support of Andrew and my family. My aunts always joked with me that they nursed during pregnancies and even later than many around them. They just kept it to themselves. Hearing these things empowered me to keep going. To try and make things as smooth and easy of a transition as possible.

I guess the reason I write all this is because since Rosemary has been born I sometimes second guess myself. I wonder if I should have just weaned Blanche. I wonder if there were things I could have done better with Blanche. This transition from one to two has not been as smooth as I had hoped.

But when I see how small Blanche really is, and that two and half is her total time on earth... I start to give myself more slack. I know two is a time of a child finding his or her own independence and voice. Going from an only child to no longer is also a hard thing.

With Blanche there are so many emotions between her and myself. It is such an interesting relationship that I have never experienced, one between mother and daughter. There are times when she drives me absolutely nuts. Last night I had Rosemary in the carrier and I was trying to make dinner. Blanche was walking around dumping out laundry baskets and my purse. She just kept making a mess. It felt like she knew she was not suppose to do those things, and that those were the exact things that would push my buttons. And then she would do them.

Then there are other times, like when she makes "banana swirl" and tells Uncle Austin that it is "bbbrr cold." She is so proud to create whether it is something made in the kitchen or painting in the bathtub. She uses her imagination all through the day, closing her eyes and marching around the house, pretending to be an elephant. She is the type of girl that I have to promise to paint her nails pink just so she will let me clip them, but then can't wait long enough for them to dry before playing in the dirt. Blanche loves her sister with such intensity. There are mixtures of envy for my lap, jealousy for Rosemary to stand up and walk over and play, a desire to just be close to her sister... giving her kisses and hugs in a smothering fashion.

As time continues I know the reasons I have loved Blanche with intensity. I can relate to her so well. She is so much like me. That is also why some days I also have such a great desire to get away from her.

As I have been writing this Blanche has been awake the whole time. I literally wrote the title to this post, and Blanche woke up from her maybe twenty five minute nap. Like most days when she wakes up early and I am desperate to write, I gave her a sucker. I guess I like to encourage short naps. I guess she does crash harder at night that way. I guess we are in the "weaning from naps" stage. Blanche has went from happy to sad to happy today. Like most toddlers. Andrew has also told her he is going to take her on a walk around the pond. She has packed a little box of random objects to take to the pond and she is "ready to go." When I look at her and see her little mind moving, packing a fake lemon and wooden stacking rings into an empty box, carrying her sock monkey around, it melts me a little. Seeing her find the things around the house that are important for her to bring.

Motherhood is messy and full of emotions. Rosemary will have to be a little bit different from Blanche and me. There isn't enough room for that much intensity.

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Afternoon at the Park

My brother is here for the week to visit. Blanche loves her Uncle Austin and loves to play with him. We went to the park this afternoon, and I brought my new camera to play with it a bit. My main reason for not practicing and taking as many pictures as I'd like is because of how full my hands are most of the time. So I really enjoyed today and being able to wear Rosemary and have Austin chase Blanche.

The time change has been messing me up and it is already midnight. I mainly wanted to put up these pictures, and I think it is too late for too many words. I will say my favorite thing about our time at the park was the end picture. Blanche has been watching a lot of Daniel Tiger lately. It is a cartoon based off of the puppets and values from Mr. Rogers. It talks a lot about life lessons and feelings directed towards two to four year olds. This last picture was when we had sang a song from the show about how it was time to go and she could pick one last thing. She had chose to do the slide. As we were walking out she climbed the stairs and sat down and said, "I feel mad. I choose one thing." My brother and I explained that she had chosen her last thing and that it was time to go. Austin asked her if Daniel Tiger listened to his mommy and she answered yes. She allowed Austin to carry her to the car with no kicking, screaming, or crying. I think I like this Daniel Tiger.

My brother has only been here for a full day but we have had good conversation already and Blanche is always saying, "Austin, want to play?"

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Man I Love

On the same day I wrote this post, the one about trying to work with the camera I had, Andrew bought me a new camera. And he hadn't even read that post yet. Andrew is not a huge card and gift giver, but when he does chose to get me something, it is always very heartfelt and normally something I would not spend the money on buying for myself.

It is not about the money that he spent, but more the reasons behind the gift that feel so loving to me. I know this is his way of saying "don't give up." As I often write, I love being a stay at home mom, but it isn't easy. I know many parents and mothers specifically that tend to loose themselves in the role of motherhood. It is so easy to do, because being a mother fills your heart so full that it can feel like there may not be room for much else. It also can make you so tired that sleep seems so much better than to pursue anything else once the day is done. I love Andrew because he sees the flame of creativity and passion for it inside of me. He knows I wish I had three hours every afternoon to do my own thing. Buying this camera for me was his way of saying to stick with the things I love and that it is possible to live my dreams. He told me the other night to do what I can. To think of the things that are possible in this short season of life with a toddler and six week old. For me, that is taking pictures of my girls and writing every chance I get. When Blanche naps in the afternoons I often nurse Rosemary on my lap and write my posts at the same time. Tonight Andrew ran an errand with Blanche and I am standing wearing Rosemary and typing and trying to dance her to sleep all at the same time. It is about fighting for what you want. Who you want to be. Andrew told me he wanted to surprise because he loved me and wanted me to pursue my dreams. Just like we did when we moved across the country to only a part time job at Whole Foods. We packed and went. Because we believe in dreams. Not that things haven't been hard. We are humbled by our own ignorant youth a lot. But that is also why it is great to live life young. You do things because of passion and not out of the knowledge you have yet to gain. Andrew now has a full-time leadership position at Whole Foods. With God opening doors and Andrew working hard he was able to start a career in something he was passionate about doing.

I know Andrew wants the same for me. Often the greatest writers and artists were discovered while they were just doing their own thing. Andy Warhol once said, "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."

So that's what I am going to do.

(Also, these pictures were just a couple from us messing around with my new camera today. Andrew took the one of the flowers. He always takes such beautiful pictures of flowers. He is the nature photographer, and I am the documentarian.)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Joining the Motherhood Club of Insanity

Becoming a mother launched me into another world. I would call it a special club, but it is not really like that. It is more "those that don't know" and "those that do." I think motherhood is such a life altering event that it almost has to be one world verses the other. I am now seeing that in this world of motherhood there are levels of greatness and bravery. Or insanity. I think it is all based on how many children you have. Those that just have one, well they are in "the club" (okay, lets just call it a club) but they are sort of new members. They know motherhood is hard, but they still don't have an idea of how hard it really can be. Because they still get to nap when the baby naps. Thats the biggest thing I can think of. Well, and when that one baby is crying, at least no else is. Those two things.  I guess they are more in the club than I first thought. But there is something so much harder about two than one. I just can't put my finger on the exact reason. Maybe it is just twice the work. That is how it feels most days. So, to think of anyone else wanting to multiple that work by three, four, five, or even more... they must be great. Or brave. Or Godly. Or insane. I am sure it is a mixture of all those things.

I have always said I wanted a big family. Since Andrew and I have been together we have said either four or six, maybe depending on if we would adopt. I had never really questioned the how many part. I had questioned my ability to be pregnant that many times after Blanche and having preeclampsia and other complications. Almost immediately after having Rosemary though I was sure I could do it two more times. I had experienced a fairly natural and healthy pregnancy and labor. I even had that "new mom high" that I never had after my long labor with Blanche. I told my labor and delivery nurse something like "I just want a million children." Something that had to have been influenced by a huge surge of feel good hormones.

These past few weeks however I have felt different. I told Andrew one day when he returned home from work that I needed to be able to tell myself I am done having kids to help myself make it through these hard months. Rosemary is a good baby, but like a lot of newborns, she wants to be held most of the day. Blanche is a good girl, except like most two year olds, she really isn't. Haha. I am mostly joking. I can seem to handle each one of them separately almost with ease now. When you put the two of them together though, it seems overwhelming to me. One of my friends posted an article on Facebook the other day about sensitive people. It talked about loud noises, chaotic environments, messes and disorder, these were all things that could really bother a sensitive person. They may have trouble thriving at all under theses types of circumstances.

And here I am, trying to remain calm after I have put Rosemary down and she is screaming her head off. I am trying to to get Blanche out of the bathtub.  
"Come on Blanche it is time to get out."
(Rosemary starts crying harder) 
"Blanche, you just told me you were ready to get out, and I put the baby down so I can help you. Please come here."

This is how our nightly routine often looks. The first few nights I was really flustered. Like I was racing against a time bomb. And anyone who has a two year old knows that getting Blanche out of the tub, diaper and pjs on, can take a lot longer than one would think. Many times Rosemary would be crying while Blanche cried too. Last night however, as the same scenario started once again, I caught Blanche off guard by proudly proclaiming, "Wow Blanche! You are so clean! I am so proud of you for washing off all by yourself." She immediately started laughing and happily got ready for bed. 

I know it is all about keeping my cool. Being creative. Not letting bumps in the road throw me off as far as they normally do. I think I am learning that to really be a good mom, I have to be a mixture of Godly and insane. Maybe insane is a little harsh of a word. Because I think I am pretty mentally stable. I use the word think because I would be lying if I said I haven't felt depressed at times. Maybe from hormones or winter weather. Maybe from spending a lot of time in my pajamas. But I more mean insane to the point of seeming a little crazy to the rest of the world. When I see a mother of four now, after only having two, I think she is either insane for having four or maybe those four children have made her insane. 

But life is normally either a little crazy or a little boring. I never want to be boring. I have had both of my babies, and lost one in between, because I love people. I love growing my babies and giving birth to them. I love seeing their little personalities develop. 

Andrew is the best person I know. He would be quick to tell you he is not the greatest person on earth, but he is to me. He is because he is the only one on earth that knows me so well and really even better than I know myself. And through that he loves me so sweetly. I have woke up each day this week tired and grumpy and feeling a little sick. All I want is a cup of coffee and to be left alone. Instead he has made some wonderful breakfast that he knows I need to eat to feel better. When I have cried about wishing I could be a better mother, a better person, he encourages me in the best ways I have ever known. Instead of telling me simple cliche things, he says things like "You have made Blanche the amazing person she is. Her creativity and passion, it comes straight from you." I could not do this without him. Well, not in a way that such love and beauty constantly arises.

I have also found that along with the insanity of it all, meaning my hair, my emotions, my house... there has to be another component. Last night Blanche was having trouble sleeping and Rosemary was wide awake. I knew Blanche needed to go to sleep and that Rosemary was only in the mood to be held by me. Andrew was being held at work and at the time I didn't know why. I told Blanche to lay down. And her little sensitive self told me to please not leave the room. I told her I would walk with Rosemary and sing. I started singing Blanche the song I made up for her when she was a very small baby. It is very simple. "Baby, Baby Blanche, I know you're tired, Baby Blanche. You need to sleep, you need to sleep, I know you're tired Baby Blanche." As I sang I saw a verse I had written on some pretty paper hanging in our room. It began, "Love is patient. Love is kind." I started singing that. And singing "We love because he first loved us." As I sang I remembered how much strength and healing I had by singing to God and really focusing on small parts of scripture when I was in college. I wondered to myself, "When did I stop singing?" I felt the tiredness and annoyance of the day start to fade. It has always been hard for me to sing like that at first because I don't think I have the best voice. And you can really feel silly especially if you are making up songs. But making them up is the best part. And Blanche feel asleep so peacefully and quickly. I need to keep singing. 

All of this has been a reflection of the words and thoughts always running through my mind during the day. Something in me always tries to find a place for these words. I like to put things where they belong. Writing makes me feel less crazy and more like I am explaining something to an old friend. I had some cute pictures of the girls to post, but in my tiredness I accidentally slid my camera memory card into our cd drive... they are right next to each other on our mac, and the cd drive is literally a non-retrievable slot of sorts. Still waiting for Andrew and I to have a moment to figure that one out... So instead here are pictures of both Blanche and Rosemary when they first smiled.