I Don’t Do It All ~ Nicole

While I was “away” on “maternity leave,” I invited some amazing women to come and share their hearts with y’all. The series was such a success, I decided to make it an on-going thing here! Every Thursday, mamas of every stage + season will be dropping in to inspire you with their strengths and their shortcomings–because in this age of Mommy Wars, what we really need is a reminder that none of us can Do. It. All.

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Nicole! Her blog, Frontier Dreams, is one of my happy places, and I often find myself scrolling her posts (and her beautiful photos) whenever I need to feel grounded + good. A fellow upstate New York native and Pacific Northwest transplant, I knew the moment I found her that we’d be kindred spirits. But I’ll let her tell you a bit more about herself.

me

Hey there! My name is Nicole and I have been married to my husband for 12 years now (Where did the time go?!). We have four blessings from the Lord ranging from ages ten years to 3 months old. We are currently outnumbered in our house by five cats, four dogs, one snail and one fish, but I secretly hope to even the score one day.

My husband and I have been gypsies for most of our adult lives and are ready to finally settle down and start a homestead. If things work out we’ll be doing that next summer.  We currently live in a small town in southern Idaho AKA the desert after spending almost five years living our dream in Oregon AKA the Promised Land and quaint rainforest. Moving here has taught me to be content, whatever the situation and to embrace what life dishes out.

I am currently homeschooling two out of my four children. Homeschooling wasn’t my first choice, I will be the first to admit it. We had an amazing Waldorf school and community back in Oregon that we truly treasured but there are no Waldorf schools where we are currently living so homeschooling seemed our only option. It is a huge struggle for me, for sure, but I hope that before our time in Idaho is up I will have embraced it and maybe even grown to love it.

I grew up on the east coast in Syracuse, NY and every winter my family and I would vacation in Florida. I think the vacations were more for my Mom – she is not a fan of snow! I have been fascinated with sharks since I was a little girl, always searching for them in the Florida ocean waters. Actually, my fascination with them began when I saw the movie Jaws around the age of five. My Mom said I sat there watching the credits at the end to see who played Jaws. BUT that is a longer story perhaps for another time 😉 My love of sharks turned into a deep respect and desire to protect them many years back when I studied oceanography in college. Not surprisingly my oldest son (five) loves sharks and wishes to work with them when he is older. He already is a huge advocate for sharks so I can definitely see this happening.

Your Waldorf community really does sound like an incredible blessing. I love Waldorf education and have tried to incorporate elements of it into our own homeschooling. It’s not quite the same, of course, as having a real Waldorf school. For one thing, I am thoroughly convinced that Waldorf was not designed with a one-room schoolhouse model in mind–not to mention, noisy littles underfoot!

Now, dare I ask: In addition to homeschooling and raising four children (which is quite a lot!), what do you DO?

Oh goodness! I love doing just about anything that involves creativity and art. The act of creating, in one form or another, preserves my sanity amongst the chaos of life. This explains why I always have more than one project going at a time as well as why my housework tends to fall behind. I enjoy seeing what others are working on and keeping calm with, too. That’s one of the reasons I started up my weekly link up {crafting on}.

I put creating above most things in our home – especially if the creating involves my children. We have so much fun seeing what we can come up with. Last summer my oldest daughter and I experimented with natural dyes made from our garden flowers and household things like black beans. I loved the end results we had and I hope we do more this summer. Both of my daughters and I love to knit. I go through phases of painting, sewing, needle felting, embroidery and cross stitching.

Photography is one of my favorite forms of art (even though I have a lot of room for improvement) and a way for me to count my blessings each day. Seeing life through the lens of my camera really helps to put things in perspective for me and to see that God is everywhere, even in the hardest of times.

Homemade is important to me, too. When I can, I enjoy making our own herbal remedies, body care products and anything else I can figure out. My children get a kick out of seeing things like the calendula in our garden transformed into boo-boo salve, body lotion, diaper rash salts, etc. We also like to make almost all of our meals from scratch (Mama needs a break every now and then). Inspired by our hand cranked grain mill, we planted some wheat this spring so we can go through the whole process from seed to bread. We look forward to one day having our own homestead where we can live off our land but for right now we are happy to get what we can from our small garden and support the local organic farmers around us.

knitting

I absolutely love your commitment to authenticity and creation. I think it’s one of the things that continually draws me to your blogBut lest those among us who do not homeschool or grow our own herbal remedies begin to despair, please tell us what you DON’T do. (There is something you *don’t* do, right?)

Oh boy, I don’t think there is enough space in one post to cover this! Seriously though, I think we can all get a bit overwhelmed when we try to do too much or compare ourselves to others. I know I do and as much as I don’t like to admit it – I compare myself to others way too often. The grass is always greener, right? Blogs have a way of showcasing the good that the authors want to see and/or remember (myself included) and sometimes as readers we can think that person’s life must be better than our own.

The reality of it (for me) is that if I do post photographs of pretty projects we have been working on, you can guarantee the rest of my house looks like a tornado hit it and we probably skipped a meal or two. Or it might be that I had a long, hard day full of children bickering and animals destroying our home and was ready to throw in the towel when I saw the raindrops decorating our front window and grabbed my camera to capture it. Trust me, there was a lot more not getting done than what little thing I actually did get done.

I admit I put having fun creating with my children before just about everything else on my to-do list. Plus throw in a fussy baby and well, I am sure you can guess that nothing seems to get done around here lately. Housework is almost always put to the backburner in our home, but I am okay with that. I would rather spend the time with my children. My husband is learning to be okay with it too 😉

I have come to the conclusion that carpet is my worst enemy. I can NOT keep carpets clean for the life of me and of course the house we are currently living in has carpeting in all the bedrooms. And pet fur doesn’t help. When my baby has tummy time and rolls off his blanket onto the carpet he’ll face plant and come back up with his wet drooly face covered in fur. *sigh* I honestly don’t know what I am going to do when my baby gets to the crawling phase.

Ugh! Carpet. Don’t even get me started. I swear, the #1 feature of our house that sold me was it’s TOTAL AND UTTER LACK OF CARPET! Whoever invented wall-to-wall never had to mop up a stinky, sopping mess of spilled milk. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Before we sign off, Nicole, is there any advice you have to share with your fellow mamas in the trenches?

Yes! I challenge all of you to grab your camera, be it a point and shoot, phone or DSLR, and take at least one photograph a day. Take a photo of your children’s painting, your cat in sun, dew drops on your plants – whatever it is that you seem drawn to. See life through the eye of your lens.

At the end of the day, or maybe week, download all of those images and pour through them. See what emotions you evoke. You won’t regret it!

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Thanks so much again for joining us today, Nicole! And if any of you, dear readers, have found a kindred spirit in Nicole as I have, be sure to drop in at Frontier Dreams to say hi and have your cup filled brimful.

We have been blessed by some wonderful voices so far in this series…but there’s still one missing. Yours!
Are YOU a mom who Can’t Do It All? (And really, who can?) We’d love for you to share your story here at Baking Humble Pie! Just contact me with your previously unpublished submission of 500-1000 words, answering the following questions:
  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you DO?
  3. What DON’T you do?
  4. What tips + tricks can you share from the trenches?
I can’t wait to hear from you!!

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