October 31, 2012

Halloween: A day of entertainment, family fun and memories

(sorry no pictures today! will post some soon)

It would make sense if today I wrote a bit about Halloween at my house.  Well, I can say that Halloween has never been a holiday of preference for me.  I don’t care to dress up, and I especially don’t care for all the hoopla that seems to go along with the holiday.  I quit trick-or-treating when I was 12 or 13—I think I was an evil queen or something that year.  I didn’t understand the point of going house to house begging for candy while dressed in costume.  It was just something you did.  I guess I felt it was another way to make sure I could relate to my friends. 

The allure to dressing up and begging for candy seemed to dissipate as I got older, so the pressure wore off.  But when I got to college it all started up again.  Now, instead of dressing up for candy, the majority of my age group dressed up to get drunk.  One more reason for me not to care for the holiday. 

I recently learned my mom wanted to avoid all the Halloween stuff from the get-go.  She, too, didn’t see the point in dressing up and begging for candy, especially from strangers.  But somehow the pressure got to her (I’m sure she’d have a better explanation as to why she decided to involve us girls in the dress-up game) and we started the tradition of donning costumes once a year.  I must say, those pictures are darn cute!  One year my middle sister and I were dressed as two little apples.  Another, she and I dressed as a bunny and kitty-cat, and my youngest sister had the cutest dinosaur costume EVER!   So why am I so anti-Halloween?  After all, the kids dressing up is adorable. 

Next fall there will be pressure to dress our new little munchkin as something.  Will we cave?  Oh, I’m sure we will.  It will be so cute!!  But that feels like such a shallow reason to participate. 

There is one thing I do like about Halloween: carving pumpkins.  I have such fond memories of my dad cutting the tops off our pumpkins and helping us scoop out the pumpkin slime.  After drawing a funny, scary or cute face on the pumpkins, mom and dad would help us carve them out (we used real knives, not those kid-friendly carving kits).  The absolute best part was when we were all finished.  Mom would position the candles inside our pumpkins, and we’d turn out the lights.  Oh, I just loved how cool it was to see the glowing, toothy smiles!

So, I guess Halloween might not be the stupidest (a.k.a. pointless) holiday out there.  It is another day for family to spend quality time together, making memories through timeless tradition.  We might not have the ability to spend quality time with friends and family this year, but next fall we will have our family of carved pumpkins lit up on the front porch.  Our little one dressed as some adorable animal, vegetable or mineral. J  We might have a few people over to enjoy some hot soup and apple cider while we play board games.  Halloween could be a wonderful day to come together with those we love—it’s as simple as that I suppose. 


October 26, 2012

A new generation

I consider family one of the most important aspects of life.  My family gave me roots.  They’ve grounded me in this ever-changing, overwhelming world.  Those who know me well would nod vigorously in agreement that I definitely pride myself in the fact that half of my heritage comes from a very large Catholic farming family.  The other side—my dad’s side—is boisterous (perhaps from the Jewish heritage?), yet personal.  It’s quite a bit smaller than my mom’s family, but still full of strong tradition and family values.  Regardless of these different families, both have contributed in some way to the person that I am.  And I love that!  David, too, has a rich appreciation for family.  He comes from a large military family on one side; the other a southern farming family.  When we married in 2010, starting our own family wasn’t even a question. Yes, of course we would have kids.

I’d always figured, assumed, taken for granted that one day I would start a family of my own, to create another generation molded on the basis of rich traditions from generations past.  Now, when I was a naïve, young 20 something I assumed that I would start making babies as soon as I got married.  Crank ‘em out like a machine and then raise ‘em.  Oh, I just chuckled at myself as I wrote that…my values have evolved so much since then! 

When David and I were preparing for marriage, we decided to follow the practice of Natural Family Planning, which organically encourages us to discern the “right time” to bring new life into this world (more details on the beautiful practice later).   Every month we evaluated whether our current plans were still applicable. A couple of times, we discerned through prayer and deep conversation to push back the start of our family.  Many factors went into this, but primarily we focused on our spiritual and emotional maturity.  Were we really in a place to provide a healthy, stable and supportive environment for this new life? 

About six months ago, the time finally came where both of us said YES—we are ready to take on the scary challenge of bringing a new life into this world, and loving him or her as best we can.  This would be the ultimate acknowledgement of our love for each other and our love for God.  Don’t get me wrong; we were still terrified by the idea of taking on such a life-long commitment.  After all, I hear there’s no CTRL+Z (for you Mac people, that’s undo on a ;-), and the docs don’t accept the receipt for returns. 

I don’t know how else to say it, other than it doesn’t really matter if there’s no CTRL+Z or returns accepted because David and I are now expecting a little addition to our family this spring, and can’t imagine turning back!  

Our sweet little family photo - see the little guy? 

There have been so many emotions that accompany this change in our lives.  I won’t go into them all right now, but as many women who are mothers already or are also pregnant with their first child can probably attest, the roller coaster is surprising, maybe even a little shocking.  But most of all, it’s humbling.  I’m growing a person.  A person who will be with us in just a few short months.  A person pure and innocent.  This person whom David and I will strive to raise with all the roots given to us from our own families, and hopefully with enough grace from God to not screw him or her up too much. J        

The mommy-to-be,

October 19, 2012

The Way of the Nomad

Three months ago my husband’s job transferred him 3,000 miles away from our home, family and friends.  For now, the transfer is temporary—like a trial run—for this different position that could potentially offer more money, but not necessarily a better career path.  That was to be determined by, well, trying it.  We decided to look at this as an opportunity for adventure.  Neither of us had lived outside Washington State.  This was our chance.   After all, it’s just six months… 

Old beloved apartment...all packed up.

Since the move is just a trial, David’s employer is housing us in an extended stay hotel until a permanent decision is made.  That being said, packing up our old apartment and all its comforting components while setting aside the things we would need for the next sixth months was quite the challenge.  We would need clothes for the ungodly humid summer, cooler fall and bone-chilling winter.  Three seasons to pack for, plus a few items we wanted to take with us that we thought were “essential.”  After packing six—yes, six—pieces of luggage to drag across the country with us we moved the rest of our apartment into a storage unit and said good-bye until further notice. 

Hotel No. 1 - decent kitchenette present unusual cooking challenges

"Living Room" of Hotel No. 1 (we've rearranged the furniture since)

We have lived this way for three months now.  Three more to go.  Part of David’s job is to travel to different sites for a few days to several weeks.  Because of the housing agreement, each time David travels we must pack everything up and move to a different hotel.  Folks, if you’ve never been nomadic but want to give it a try—don’t follow our lead.  I totally regret six pieces of luggage.  That was dumb.  I thought we would want enough clothes for one to two weeks of wear.  Nope.  I do laundry twice a week because the washers and dryers are so small I can’t fit more than a few days’ worth of clothes in there anyway!  Outside of our clothing, I brought my flute and music to theoretically play in our hotel room…wouldn’t the walls be enough to muffle the sound so as not to annoy my neighbors?  I also brought my knitting.  And way too many beauty supplies.  I have used my curling iron once.  David and I also thought it would be fun to bring our cribbage board, Wii and DVD’s—three things we wanted to enjoy more often in our old home, but didn’t.  If we brought them to this new “home” we would definitely play them more often.  Yeah right.

So, the moral of the story here is that one does not need two weeks’ worth of clothes, or other “fun” items when living as a nomad.  I should have been honest with myself about playing my flute in a very public place (a detached house is so much more suitable).  And for Pete’s sake!  Why did we think we would play the Wii more often, or watch movies more regularly?  If we weren’t interested in doing that at the old place, why would we do it now!  Other interests have taken over.  We tour this new area.  We watch football, or other silly TV shows.  We absorb ourselves in the wonderful fictional worlds of our books.  On the Kindle that is J 

This weekend I am packing up our hotel to move us out for one night.  Yes, only one night.  All six pieces of luggage will be stuffed to the brim.  But that is our mistake to live with.  Perhaps we can afford to ship a few things back to be added to our storage?  Until then, the nomad roams on. 

Later, I’d love to go into more detail about going about “normal” life in a hotel, such as the nomadic way of managing our receipts and bills, or how to prepare budget friendly meals with a minimal pantry and fridge selection.  Til then, take care! 


October 4, 2012

Blue Jeans and Fancy Things

Finally!  I’m jumping in and starting the blog I’ve promised myself to create for months now.  The biggest hold up was figuring out what the heck I wanted to name it.  What short phrase could possibly sum up all the bits and pieces of my life?  What would actually evoke curiosity in people, enticing them to want read about yet another person, yet another blogger inundating the blogosphere with tidbits and insights about her life?

Well, after much fretting and procrastinating and still more fretting, I realized the title of the blog has been in the back of my mind all along.  It wasn’t the title holding me back from starting to share my experiences.  It was my fear of not knowing specifically what to write.  Oh, fear—how you seem to blockade me from dreams sometimes!

Blue Jeans and Fancy Things came to me last week after I met this woman at a birthday party.  She asked why wouldn’t I just start writing?  I have so much to share about my unique experience in this world.  It wasn’t until she told me—this was actually a beautiful reminder—that I have a sincerity about me, an openness that could bring people together.  What an ah-ha!  Whenever I can manage to remember this quality about myself I regain my confidence. I go back to believing in myself.  Perhaps I should remind myself more often?  I think we all have at least one personality trait, or quality that helps us remember why we are amazing, why we are special.  Sometimes we get lost in the disappointments or suffering that life can, excuse me, will present.  But when we are reminded of our special qualities—shall I dare say, our Fancy Things—we can shine again with confidence.  So THANK YOU to the woman who unknowingly reminded me of my fancy things.  Connecting with new people can truly surprise me sometimes.     

So, here I am striving to live a practical and authentic (ß I know, overused term, but it works for me!) life.  Metaphorically, if I may, I’m striving to live my life in blue jeans.  It’s not just blue jeans day in and day out, though.  We all have our LBD’s, snazzy pumps and fine dishware.  If blue jeans are my practical, every-day lifestyle, then those fancy things are much like the shining moments—meeting new people, trying a new recipe, laughing with dear friends.  I am looking forward to sharing my blue jeans and fancy things with you.  Realistically that’s just the ins and outs of my love for food, relationships, homemaking, giving back to the community, and even life’s disappointments.  It’s my human experience!