Saturday, February 25, 2017

Rosemary Turns Three

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

I was lying in Blanche's bed last night as Rosemary peeked her head around and asked me that question. I laughed and smiled. She often surprises me with her smart little phrases, either heard by Blanche or put together more easily because of her. Blanche has always been my milestone of motherhood. She represents how long I have been nursing, co-sleeping, waking in the nights with someone. Rosemary is the middle child, she grows fast and slow. I can't believe she was only 19 months when I brought Foster home, and now she is only three? I keep thinking I will start homeschool with Blanche and then only a few months later Rosemary will follow. But in fact, there are three more years left for Rosemary to start school. Andrew and I will look at her, however mature we've made her in our minds, and now often see this little girl, with longer hair and stretching limbs, and think, "where did the baby go?"

If there was a phrase I could use to describe the third year of life, it would be "growing pains." Three year olds are not babies, not even close. They are almost out of toddlerhood, and soon to be a preschooler. Rosemary can do almost everything Blanche can do at five, but just not as good. I'm sure that's frustrating. Rosemary rides her bike at the park, but not quite as fast as Blanche. She can get dressed on her own, but is sometimes too tired to attempt it. I am trying to be aware of this, and to praise Rosemary for her drawings and attempts at writing letters, because two years ago when Blanche did these things we would go on and on about her brilliance. It's hard being the middle child, but I want Rosemary to be celebrated for her growth just the same.

The longer I am a mother and can study my children each day, I see how different they are from each other and that they are truly people with their own personality. Rosemary is a bit more quiet and introverted than Blanche (most are).  She loves to dress up and change clothes. Lately her go to food is banana bread. She'd prefer for there to always be a fresh loaf around the kitchen. She is very verbal and always has been. I cannot believe how well she can explain herself at times.

Often times I love to tell her about when she was a baby and I wore her in the sling. That soft, linen baby blue sling. She was happiest as a baby just snug on my hip or back, wrapped up like a little gift. Three years ago this January I gave birth to my most laid back baby, an observer from the start. I'm excited to watch her grow and learn, to see who she chooses to grow into. Just today at the table she drew a circle and two lines in a very close attempt at the letter "R" for Rosemary.  She has started making sure to kiss me on the lips and seems to want my attention more. Three is an awaking of a little soul, from baby to child. It reminds me that life could never be all highs, that the sweetness of life and growth takes work and sometimes tears. I love you Rosemary Joyce Nycum. I am so happy you are three.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dreaming a Step at a Time

I've often told myself in the midst of motherhood that life just happens one step at a time. My whole life I have been all in or not at all. My mom tells me growing up I would want to do something perfect or simply give up and state I wasn't doing it. I have come to realize I can't really give up on motherhood. Or being an adult. I can't just go back to being in college. Here I am, a mother, thirty years old, three kids, my husband goes to work every day to provide for our family. I am a grown up.

As a child I must have had similar visions of perfectionism or ideal dreams. Becoming a mother though was when it hit me the hardest that life might not be a dream. As a dreamer, its been a hard place to know where to stand, between dreams and reality. My last post I wrote about dreaming and making time for it. And now, a month later I would still say not only that it is important to make time for it, but that it is important to dream out loud, to be vulnerable in our dreaming.

Over the last month or two Andrew and I started talking about the idea of a tiny home. A small house, on wheels. We did research, looked at hundreds of tiny homes and their inner layouts online. I watched a youtube video about compost toilets. It felt like things were getting pretty serious. Andrew and I even drove out to a tiny home community, toured 7 or 8 tiny homes, and looked into financing one. A long story short, we just don't have the capital for a tiny home right now. Loans are different for homes on wheels, and though it would save us money in the long run, now is not going to be the time that we purchase one.

That doesn't mean Andrew and I hadn't already taped the width of a tiny home out in our living room, and tried to squeeze our couch in the corner of that blue tape. We downsized our wardrobes to less than 10 hanging things each, and two baskets each, which could go by a bed in a loft. This sounds way ahead of ourselves. The fact that we did all this before even knowing if we could afford it. We gave away half of our dishes. It sounds a little irresponsible, right? But I'm coming to see that this is why I married Andrew. This is why I love us. Because we are willing to dream. And to be vulnerable in our dreams. Ultimately, I was never scared of giving away too much. Because now that we aren't moving into a tiny home, we still have reduced our "stuff" way more than even multiple levels of working through minimalism. When we actually stopped and asked through mental exercises, "what is important? what do I need? what do I want?" Things became more clear.

Another aspect of tiny home living is that you really do a great deal of living outside. So, I started thinking and dreaming through this. Which resulted in hanging my laundry on the line again, and remembering the great resource of even a small backyard. Maybe its not the dream itself but the dreaming that produces a refined person. Maybe my dreaming could result in practical changes in my life. For much of motherhood I have told myself that dreaming was a waste of time. But then again Andrew and I moved to Austin on a dream. I've had my babies on dreams. The young dream, but so often as we age the dreams tend to become less and less. Or maybe they start to look different. More like counting down the days until retirement.

Step by step. Living in the real world, step by step. It is funny though, because as I have tried to grow myself into an adult, and I chant those words, "step by step" in my mind while I do the dishes, I also hear those same words when dreaming about something new. As my journey in minimalism has continued to not only owning less, but wasting less, I started to become interested in composting. I checked out a couple of books for city composting, and Andrew built containers out of free reclaimed wood he got at work. Andrew and I are both proud of those huge compost bins. One of them is completely full and when I rake the top it starts steaming. All of our green and brown matter is turning into dirt. Instead of methane I might add. Food scraps sealed in a trash bag sitting in the dump  (not actually decomposing) make toxic gases, but with a bit of reading, building and dreaming... I can just turn our waste back into dirt.

I look through the pictures above and I see that dreams can simply be a positive attitude. Maybe this all sounds too ridiculous, but I am starting to see that dreaming, thankfulness, and a positive spirit can be life changing. When we first looked at our duplex the place was less than dreamy. There was a real ferret in a cage in the living room. The place had dark curtains and there was hardly any sun peeking through the windows. I remember after tripping through the over crowded two bedroom place, Andrew and I sat talking in the park in the neighborhood. "I feel like that place is a little dirty and crowded, but we could make it our own," I told him. And we did. I made sure the carpet was being ripped out, and we hung sheer curtains to let the light in. It hasn't been perfect, but it's our home. A beautiful place that Blanche claims she never wants to leave. Andrew has cleaned out and planted a butterfly garden out front. We have flowers that will be blooming and milkweed and greggs mist. Our backyard floods when it rains, but it lets our kids play in the mud. Dreaming is about seeing the beauty around me. Seeing things for what it could be. Wondering what life could be.

*Disclaimer, I do realize it looks like we just live in a mud pit. I think Blanche would be happiest this way... but we had to remove some tarps when building the compost. We have plans after the spring rain to lay down fresh wood chips in our backyard, since it does flood when it rains.