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One Mile

I wake up rather blearily at 6:30am.  It comes after another late night of creating but those are my favorite ones to burn the candle for.

I lay in bed a little while, savoring the warmth while it lasts….read a few words in Leviticus and try to make sense of them in my foggy state, check my email on my phone….and ….I hear the unmistakeable padding of footsteps approaching my bed.

My first little wide-eyed thing joins me in bed to tell me about her dreams and that she’s hungry, really hungry, for breakfast.  And we barely make it through plans of pancakes before we hear Bea shouting to us.  She sounds angry that she’s the last one up today.

I glance at the clock, trying not to be too disappointed that my best laid plans of beating them out of bed didn’t work today.

Still smelling of sleep and popped dreams, we make our way downstairs and to the breakfast table.  MG wants dry toast (still recovering from a stomach bug), Bea wants peanut butter toast and a clementine.  I make her an egg but she won’t touch it.

Breakfast doesn’t last long, but emptying and refilling the dishwasher, starting a load of diapers in the wash, wiping down the counter and table, prepping chicken for dinner in the crockpot, and sweeping the floor always seems to exact no small fortune of time from our day.

I mentally go through my plans and feel a small wave of anxiety.  It’s Wednesday, house cleaning day.  Which means we don’t have any agenda to leave the house and it also means I have two main objectives to accomplish with the girls underfoot: cleaning and exercise.

Cleaning for me always begins in the heart of the home, the kitchen.  All is right in my world, it seems, if my kitchen is clean.  I gather my supplies and begin to scrub; I beg the girls to find something to engage in.

MG is easy.  She has planted herself at the bar and wants to play with “soft sand” (kinetic sand) .  I take a break from the sink to gather some kitchen utensils for her to make the play time more fun.  Meanwhile, Bea has dragged over a chair and is begging to join in.

MG doles out a small portion of sand  for her along with a few unwanted utensils to play with.  I make the most of these 8 minutes to wipe down the stove.

“Mommy, Bea’s eating the sand!”  I wash my hands, wipe out Bea’s mouth, wash out Bea’s mouth, wash my hands.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Bea continues to return to the scene of her crime, undeterred by the grittiness in her mouth and the disapproving warnings of her mother and sister.

This last time requires yet another hand washing and I feel the pain shoot through my fingertips as I subject them to the steaming water, lye soap, and a rough cotton towel.  They crack and bleed, tiny red rivulets in protest to their harsh environment.  Soft, feminine, pretty hands have been sacrificed to winter and making and child-raising.

I put my foot down and send Bea away from the counter.

“Mommy, is it time to watch a show yet?”

“Nope, not until I do my exercise. You’ll need to find something to play with until then.”

But I don’t know what to do.  

I suggest 3-5 things.  All are met, predictably with negative responses.

“Okay, well I just have to clean the bathroom, vacuum & mop the floors, and clean upstairs and THEN it will be time to watch your show.  I’m sure you can find something to do until then”

I resume my work, but it seems mere seconds before I hear, “Mommy, Bea’s coloring on herself.”

Which is followed by, “Mommy, Bea’s got the scissors.”

&

“Mommy, Bea is eating play-doh”.

How silly I am. Where do I get off thinking that a 22 month old would need anything less than constant supervision?  With little time to reconsider, I shimmy her up to the table, open a yellow can of doh and buy myself just a few more seconds.  I realize it will mean another pass of the vacuum, another wipe of the table, and perhaps even a few pieces “disappearing”, but in that moment,  it’s an exchange I’m willing to take.

Finally the main floor is clean and I move on to the second floor, brigade in tow.  MG has joined me in the fun and is “dusting” directly underneath my feet.  While we focus our efforts on the master bedroom, Bea opens MG’s sock drawer and pulls apart every single pair and then throws them around the room.

As MG and I are piecing this misfortune back together, Bea uses to her arms to counterbalance her bodyweight and slides herself triumphantly onto the bathroom counter.   Pleased with herself, she climbs into the bathroom sink and turns the water on, all over herself.  From this perch, she opens a clear plastic tube of tiny hair elastics using her teeth and exuberantly pours them out, raining them victoriously all over the floor.  When the shower stops, she examines the tube carefully to see that a few dozen still remain in the container, globbed together at the bottom.  She forcefully gives it another shake, emptying it this time, to her satisfaction.

Finally it is time to vacuum, which is the final step in the cleaning process, and I feel the tension hinging on this last item.  MG is about to break with the anticipation of her show.  Bea is crumbling under the pressure of having to entertain herself.  I am just dragging myself to the finish line in the hopes  that this will ever be done.

As I’m vacumming our bedroom, I glance down and see a stray Color Wonder marker peeking out from underneath our bed.  I briefly consider assuming the posture of the three other bodies who live here and passing it by unaware.  But then I realize with a sinking feeling that I am the mom now and being the mom means that no one else is going to come behind you and clean up the things that you don’t want to.

In duty only, I pick up the marker and put it in my pocket with a mental note to return it to its rightful home.  “If not me, then whom?” I think.   And that question takes me down a really short and winding trail that reminds me of how exponentially weighty my role in this family is.

At last I wind up the vacuum cord and alert MG that I am finally done cleaning. At the sound of my voice, Bea comes bounding towards us, suspiciously covered in Tinkerbell stickers.

It’s 11am and I glance down at my Fitbit…and I realize…you have now walked a mile in my shoes.

-smk

 

 

Updates

Bea is quickly catching up in size to MG.  They are now sharing some of the same clothes.  Today MG took Bea upstairs, changed her diaper, and dressed her in one of her Aurora nightgowns.  It was a little loose and saggy on her, but precious none the less.

Every meal is a battle with MG. “how much more do I have to eat?  I don’t really like that.  I just want noodles with no sauce.”  Bea multitasks with her spoon and fingers; stuffing gobs of runny food into her mouth with abandon.  And then firmly but politely asks, “more? more? more?”.

The girls are still sharing a room at night.  MG claims she can’t fall asleep without “telling stories” first.  The only person who is privy to these tales is Bea….but she usually falls asleep before the ending.  Every once in a while we will walk by and catch a snatch of monologue.  Stella is a brand new baby.   Isn’t she sweet? Princess Aurora gets sick a lot and has to sleep with a bucket.  Prince Phillip is coming to rescue us but we have to be quiet so Maleficent doesn’t hear us.  There are songs, there are villains, a lot of princesses and babies, but they always end well.

They say that children make sense of their world by processing them through story.  And I guess in many ways, that still makes me a child at heart.

-smk

Vignettes

Today was a work-out center day.  Which means that instead of waking up at 6:30am to run before the girls were awake,  I didn’t get up until 7am. And we all go to the work-out center together where I will run, shower, and get dressed by myself, or something humanizing like that.

It was also Tuesday which means that the pool is open and I try to take the girls there after my workout is done once a week as a sort of bribery/good job you survived the childwatch program today.

Tuesdays are slower days and usually it’s just us and a collection of our gray-haired friends there.   How they cluck over MG & Bea.  “They are just so sweet.”  “I look forward to seeing them here.” “They look like they could be twins!” <–this one always baffles me, but I smile with pride anyway and use one  of my saved up responses like, “well people say that about their daddy and me.”

We go to the locker room first to hang up coats and drop our bags.  One of our special friends is in there.  She has her cellphone on her this time and shows us pictures of her granddaughters who are the same ages as these sisters.  She talks to the girls like one of the good grandmas..getting down on their level and asking them pertinent questions, about Disney princesses and the like.  She’s one of our favorites.

The girls walk confidently into the kidzone.  No hiding behind my legs and barely even a goodbye.  They know the place (and its toys well). The older of the two teacher exclaims, “hi girls!”  and puts matching clips in their hair while I’m away.  I like her too.

I run on the indoor track.  I developed a fear of treadmills when I started experiencing lightheadedness during runs.  The fear of fainting is gone, but I haven’t been on a treadmill since.

I run long enough to block out the noisy basketball players and sink deep into my thoughts.  I pray over a few key things on my radar and let excitement wash over me as I think about some future endeavors.

Just as I’m starting to sweat and become out of breath, my time is up.  I go to the fitness center to lift some weights. Today is arm day.

I try out a machine I’ve never used before and realize that I still have the extremely self-centered middle school phobia that everyone in the room is watching me.  I fumble through it and figuratively pat myself on the back for doing it anyway.  A quick glance around the room tells me there might have only been maybe one person watching me.  I think they were trying to figure out the machine too.

It’s been an hour since I dropped the girls off and it’s time for me to shower.  The locker room is filled with old ladies in swimsuits and in various states of undress.  There is something about being old, and nearly nude and vulnerable that brings out the sisterhood of friendship.  One woman who I swear is 80 was offered an extra towel by one of the staff (and they are s-t-i-n-g-y about extra towels).  I witness another pair help each other out when one’s shirt becomes stuck behind her neck.  It reminds me of my little ones.

As I’m wrestling with my combination lock (which always brings a bout of anxiety, thank you middle school gym class), I see in my peripheral vision, a lady round the corner, stop, and walk back by me.  She opens her mouth and I assume she is going to ask me a question about a class or directions to the gym.  She says instead, “I’m just wondering where you get water shoes.”  She’s looking at me, but then she’s looking past me and I too turn to look, now involved, by proxy, in this conversation. Another gray lady, decked out in polka-dotted swimwear, is reaching into her locker and answers, “Oh anywhere.  Kmart, Meijers, Walmart”.  I know she is a state native because she pluralizes Meijer.

After the inquisitor exits, she confides in me that her water shoes are really old and she doesn’t remember where she bought them.  I realize that when she says really old,  she means they could be really old.  Like older than me old.

I make my way down to pick the girls up from their designated room.  MG is sitting at a table, playing with a princess castle (surprisingly not in front of the tv).  Bea is in a box of blocks. The older teacher says, “why do you have to pick up the good kids?”  I smile and say, “were they good?”  “Oh they are always good.  This one (pointing to MG) is the quiet one and this one (pointing to Bea) is the busy one.”  Yes, that is my observation at home as well.

MG has a forlorn look on her face as I approach.  “They turned Sofia on.  I tried not to watch but I just kept looking.” (we had asked her not to watch this show at home because it has some things that have negatively influenced her).  I am proud of her effort and can’t help but smile at her honesty.  She can’t let it go, “I just kept looking.  I tried really hard but I was interested in what Sofia was doing.”

“How was your hang-out?” she asks.

We head back to the locker room (third time if you’re counting), this time to put on swimsuits.  An elderly friend approaches the girls as we are about to walk out and says hello.  Bea walks to her with arms outstretched in a hug invitation.  The friend can’t resist.  Not many people can.  “I bet she would go to anyone”. she says approvingly.  MG has to be coached to say “hi” to people.  When she does, the word sounds like “hi” but the tone sounds like “goodbye”.  It doesn’t matter, Bea has smoothed things over.

The girls hold my hands as we walk by the pool.  There is a water aerobics class in session and Bea waves unabashedly as we walk by.  There are audible coos and awe over the girls.  We are the only ones under 50.

We stay and play until our stomachs and beds beckon us home.

I counted on three separate occasions, “you are such a good mom” spoken to me today.  How could you not love this place?  Good for your body and heart.

-smk

Practice and Theory

One of my FB friends posed a riddle the other day that for some reason has stuck with me and I can’t stop applying it to meaningless scenarios in my own life.

What are things do you enjoy better in theory than practice?

What are things do you enjoy better in practice than theory?

She gave her own examples and I have since made endless lists of my own.

Theory:

-Smoothies (I wish I could enjoy them for their health benefits, but the fact of the matter is, I miss chewing)

-converting from a Dell to a Mac  (I’m sure I will love it someday, but it has been like learning a foreign language…and I was so fluid with my Dell)

-naps (most days, I’d love to take an afternoon snooze, but reality is, I will wake up grumpy and then it messes with my nighttime sleep.  so unfair)

Practice:

-FitBit (I, admiittedly, thought they were silly and a fad.  Instead, I have found that I really enjoy the mileage tracker when I run and have gotten into the spirit of it)

-Pedicures (I’m not one that seeks out or enjoys being “pampered”, but I realized that my toes needed some attention when I started wearing sandals in CA and thought, “why not?”.  I forgot how nice it is to look down at your feet and feel pretty)

-Paleo (our little fam has pretty much become grain/dairy free due to allergies {still eating sugar though, as a consolation prize} I never thought I would be a person who would enjoy this kind of food, nor learn how to cook well with it, but I have found myself pleasantly surprised –and even more so with the results–)

N/A:

Traveling Solo with the girls. (I always dread, and It always slightly exceeds my expectations).

The girls and I just returned from a little holiday with my parents in CA.  The weather put its best foot forward and we were welcomed with 60/s-70’s and sunny.  This was my first trip by myself with just the two.  The trip out was a 12 hour door-to-door excursion.  Bea got a quick nap before we left the house and then both girls adrenalined-themselves awake until nearly 11pm that night–our second flight.  We had an hour and a half layover in Vegas where the airport is filled with shiny slot machines in a hub of every terminal.  There are leather chairs and blinking screens–the perfect attraction for little ones.  Of course though too, there are game masters stationed at each hub because it is illegal for children under 21 to go anywhere near.  Thanks, Vegas.

The second flight took off at 10:30pm our time and Bea was able to fall asleep while we were still taxied.  MG said, “oh no, I’m not tired” about 5 minutes before losing control of her body and slumping down in her seat.  I layed her out on my lap and settled in for the remainder of the flight.  The peace lasted about 15 minutes and then Bea began stirring uncomfortably.  I pulled her out of her seat to keep her from crying and tried to rock her by holding her above MG’s head in my lap.  This was the trenches of the trip.  Bea never went back to sleep, including in the car ride to Granny’s house.  Both girls willed themselves awake long enough for snacks and a thorough inspection of the toys before finally laying their heads on the pillow around 3 am our time.

The way back was a bit easier as Bea slept for an hour and a half of the second flight (turning her carseat around backwards was a game changer)  and our layover in Vegas was shorter.  So much shorter that I walked-ran the stroller across the airport (I logged 2 miles on my fitbit) and barely made it on the plane to find a seat of three open for us (Southwest).

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Many, many kind people offered help with the girls and carrying things for me.  The Southwest employees were so helpful (one of the kind stewards watched a sleeping Bea for me while I took MG potty on the plane). Plus the girls and I received lots of accolades and remarks from the well-wishers of the world.  So I guess when I think about it, I will file this one under Practice.

-smk

 

The New Year

I felt the inner itch to write today.  So I am scratching it. Bear with me as my writing fluxes this year….I have no idea where this is going, but that’s the fun of it, no?

January seems to be the perfect month to live out some fresh changes.  We’re already knee deep in mind over (snow) matter and the bitter wind and the snow covered ground as far as the eye can see tends to bring out the ascetic in us all.  I’ve had a few weeks with my 2015 resolutions under my belt and I’m feeling great.  Centered and whole.  Discipline and rhythm are definitely the harmony to my melody.

I’m sure a huge part of this feeling also stems from not being pregnant nor having a wee one to center my life around.  Bea is at the perfect age for me to have enough independence from her in order to implement these things. (New mamas, you’ll be here soon.  Enjoy being tossed about by the waves of little cries while it lasts).

This year has proven to be a time to figure out how my brain works.  Though my time used to be divided between a full-time job and a house to care for, now it seems to be even further parted into more numerous facets.  This makes it especially more important for me to understand it if I best want to exploit it.  Being introverted especially makes this quest more enjoyable (and dare I say necessary)

I really enjoyed reading this post about the importance of being bored.  Naturally, as an introvert, I want to spend hours inside my own head, processing the world and dreaming up creativity.  In order to write, I have to have ABSOLUTE silence with zero distractions.  Even the tiniest of distractions can send me miles adrift from where I was.  I once read someone describe being an introvert as similar to a scuba diver.  They are undersea, exploring their world when all of a sudden they are yanked to the surface by an unsuspecting question. They have to sputter a bit and gasp for air in recovery before being able to respond.  If I don’t have solid time to think, mining for creativity is like striking a rock looking for a water vein.

Other precursors to writing are sources of fodder.  When the well runs dry, I have to spend some time reading good literature, exercising (good head time), and simply turning off all distractions while I work.  Here is another author’s take on writer’s block that resonated with me.

Bea has been coming into her own lately and it has been a joy to officially meet her.  She is independent and determined in a way we rarely saw from MG.  She also has proven that she understands so much more than we give her credit for.  Her latest thing that never fails to make us laugh always happens when we are in the kitchen prepping for a meal.  Bea disappears for a minute and we hear the dragging sound of a small, child-sized chair being pulled across the floor.  She enters with a bright smile on her face, proud of her ingenuity.   She pulls that little chair right up in the middle of the action, eager to sneak her own little bites off of our plates that are being filled.

Part of my thinking time this year will be devoted to how to parent these two unique girls in my care.  Being the same, yet two different, mamas to them is no doubt difficult but strangely redeeming. Related very loosely, I really enjoyed reading this article by Emily P. Freeman about God  and parenting.

Until next time (think Spring thoughts),

-smk

Resolute

I’ve noticed the trend lately is to pick a “word” for the year to concentrate on rather than a resolution.  I prefer to pick my word in hindsight, after the year’s true colors have been revealed.  2014’s word is “strange”.

What a strange, strange year.  A terrible winter, bats, California, a sickness that completely changed our lifestyle, two strange pregnancy “scares”, one with a positive test because I took the wrong kind of test, both with a mixture of relief and regret that they didn’t come to fruition, opening up a business to sell my handmade creations.  And we bought a schoolhouse.  To live in.

It doesn’t get much more strange than that.

We are still trying to find our family rhythm here and I do find myself curious about what I will remember and the feelings I will have about our time in this house.  We are making memories for sure….(Christmas Eve was one for the record books…..story to come)

I always enter a new year with a bit of trepidation.  I guess you could say I don’t like forced change.  2014 holds a lot of mystery for us.  I literally cannot envision where our family will be next year, who we will be sharing life with, and what the girls will be like (Bea especially).  But I suppose mystery can be exciting at times and preferable to the tedium we felt last year.

Reading what I wrote last year at this time is so interesting.  All of the mysteries of a new year have been cleared up just a little over 300 days later.  2014 challenged us and surprised us and now it’s wrapped up in a neat little story for us to look back on whenever we want to.  It’s a strange story, I must warn you, but it ends well.

I honestly don’t have a clue what 2015 will look like for me or my family.  I’ve set my resolutions but they aren’t anything too stretching.  They mostly involve boring goals like  reading and dental care.  There’s nothing I’m anxiously preoccupied with like moving into a new house or bringing a new baby into our family so right now it just kind of feels like a filler year. One that will advance the story line but with no new plot developments.  But of course I always leave room for a little excitement and mystery.

I’ve had a week to put my resolutions into practice and I already feel so good. Balanced. Healthy, whole.  If I can make this feeling last all year now that would be a resolution. I’ve said it before and I’ll restate it again: my life feels so much more cohesive set to the beat of a daily rhythm.  I’ve been very tuned in to my rhythm lately, trying to figure out what charges me and what depletes me.  My days are happiest when I:

-wake up and read my Bible first thing.  No email until I’m out of bed

-exercise (and shower if possible) before the girls are up

-have a plan for each day that includes daily activities, MG schoolwork, free time, busy work, and meal plan

-read at least 15 minutes every night before bed.  No media checking after 10pm

The resolution I’ll continue from last year is to continue journaling snippets (on the fly writings, funny things they say/do)  for the girls in Evernote (free app).

I’ve also found that when you add something to your day (Sweet Mama Makes–which opens back up today), you have to make room for it in other areas.  If I’m being honest, Facebook is one of the biggest time wasters I have available to me.  I really attempted to limit it this past year by deleting the app off of my phone and only checking in now and again.  Each time I do, I hope to be greeted with  happy news like birth or pregnancy announcements, cute pictures, or funny stories from my friends. But more often than not, the negative outweighs the positive.  I am a feeler, deep and wide, through and through.  Just reading a headline about a mom (whom I don’t even know) being diagnosed with cancer affects me and sets my mind and heart spinning.  And before I know it, I’ve emotionally invested in someone I don’t even know and my heart has taken on stress that doesn’t even belong to me or my family.  This, for me at least, just isn’t healthy enough to justify.

Instagram provides a way for me to stay up to date without having to wade through the scary and depressing articles, headlines, and trailers.  So in 2015, there will be even less FB with a little bit of IG (because I still want to make room for those exciting baby announcements :))

I mentioned last week that I’ve turned a corner in my writing and I very much enjoyed this piece by Emily P. Freeman (my new blogging muse).  She put into words exactly what I’m feeling towards my writing.  To summarize, I still feel called to blog despite the fast-paced shift away from it .  And I’m happy that there is a little corner of the Internet reserved for me to do so.  Some of my friends have confided in me that they no longer have time to read my blog or keep up with my family through this outlet.  I hope you (my friend) realize that I totally get that and don’t want you to ever feel like you have to “apologize” to me for that.  The best thing about a blog is that if your circumstances and desires ever change, all of my posts will be here waiting for you to catch up on.

Most years I drag my feet into the new year, hesitant to leave behind the memories made in the past.  This year feels different.  I am excited to welcome 2015.  Even with all of its unknowns, surely it can’t be more strange than 2014.

And with the turning of the clock comes a promise that the upcoming year will be different.  That the year will hold new chances and hopeful promises.  That all of your shortcomings of 2014 will be redeemed in 2015.  That there will be good surprises and better fortune.  That it will feel different.

That is what I want for 2015…for it to feel….Peaceful, and sweet, and me.  I want to feel like I am becoming more into my best self, maker, author,  and all.

Auld Lang syne my dears,

-smk

My Favorite Things (2014 edition)

{you can read my 2013 edition here}

I have lots of thoughts about the end of 2014, but I will save those for a sappier post :).  In the mean time I will share some of my favorite things from this year.  Enjoy:

Music: Last year it was JM, this year it’s his female counterpart TS.  I didn’t think I would be a fan of her official move away from country, but 1989 has grown on and into me.  Her songs are my antithesis to the Disney princess music that is always threatening to take up permanent space in my brain. Notable nominations: Meredith Andrews, Black Violin, Shane and Shane, Mississippi John Hurt

Book: I made a concerted effort to read more books this year and this summer I knocked quite a few off of my list.  My absolute favorite?  Unbroken.  It captivated me from the beginning to end and I could not stop thinking about it for days.  You might have seen the movie, or even the previews for the movie, but I promise the books is still worth reading.  I saw the movie a few days ago and it (understandably) barely touches the depth of the book.  In fact, the book is probably one of my top ten favorites I’ve ever read.  Notable Nominations: Gone Girl (with a caveat: normally I wouldn’t read something so dark and graphic but I had no idea what I was getting into.  Despite the fact I felt I needed to go to confession after, I found this book brilliantly written.  I haven’t and probably won’t see the movie) Call the Midwives, Bread and Wine

Experience: The top experience of 2014 goes to Bat Therapy in California.  I still can’t believe that we spent 8.5 weeks there on a whim but I’m also equally proud of myself for doing something so counter-intuitive (including eight days of just me and the girls while my parents were in Prague).  I’m sure there were hard moments during our stay but all that has faded into a shiny, rosy memory of the girls and I bonding in sunny Cal. Notable Nominations: Rosemary Beach

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Food: Ugh….food this year has been…interesting.  MG has been completely off dairy for almost half of the year and I’ve had to re-learn our favorite dishes accordingly.  My still go to favorite is the yellow curry I made on the fly.  Notable Nominations: The “grown-ups only” meal we are having tonight…cheese fondue, goat cheese & kale salad, roasted asparagus, mushroom topped steaks, and dark chocolate fondue for dessert

Discovery: This year seems ripe with discovery so it feels hard to narrow it down to one.  Our School House definitely falls under this category along with all of the little intricacies of life in a small town and with a large stamp of land to call our own. I guess I will have to go with the discovery of how much N enjoys owning a truck.  After just a few months of life here, we realized how “necessary” it is to own a truck.  And of course every good farmwife needs a man with a truck to load up her newly purchased antique furniture, to pick up a load of wood for her open kitchen shelves, and to haul away her old washer and dryer.  N searched high and low and finally found this old gal who fit in his price range and will work as a third vehicle but is quickly becoming his go-to vehicle. (he named her Eleanor after Eleanor Roosevelt “she’s not much to look at but she gets the job done”) Notable Nominations: Costco membership (thanks to the discovery of Costco vacation packages), an indoor pool near our house for the winter blues, some great babysitters, an Internet service that ISN’T satellite (discovered this month), and my (new to me) FitBit, Fixer Upper (a show on HGTV…this is our first year with cable!)

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Project: Once again it’s hard to choose just one project.  We completed many, many projects on our schoolhouse (update to come soon), I completed many projects for my own enjoyment, and then I opened Sweet Mama Makes in August.  Notable Nominations: bDSC_0005xs bDSC_0007 (2) DSC_0010 (2) IMG_3682

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And finally one last Notable Nominations for my favorite

Podcast: This was the year of the podcast as I burned through many while working on above projects.  My favorite, of course, was Serial (I’d like to say I listened before it became bandwagon :)) but I also enjoy This American Life, Dave Ramsey, Stuff You Missed in History Class, etc. etc. Notable Nomination: all of the Serial spoiler and spin off podcasts which helped stave off my Serial appetite until each Thursday came around

 Thanks as always for following along!

-smk

To be an author

I’ve  let some dust collect on this old blog and I’m back to temporarily blow it off and assert my authority….sort of.

I’ve hit an inevitable dry spell in my writing and that combined with a vulnerability about my shop work had me questioning and deleting each word that I had pecked out for you to read.

It’s been three years since I started my open journal I call sweetmamak.com.  In that three years I’ve gone through multiple makeovers and three website moves.  I opened up a vein and let it bleed out for a while, confident in nothing but my desire.  My writing style has changed over the years and I still flush with embarrassment over some of my posts and the grammar mistakes I still catch.  Each post here represents a bare minimum of an hour’s worth of work to type, edit, post, reread, and re edit.  That doesn’t include the time I spent in introverted silence, bouncing the words around in my head until they felt right to put to “paper”.

Three years later, I’ve hit a wall.  My brain is tired, my heart is sore, and I’m unsure of the correct path to take to scale it.

In the back of my soul is a tiny flame that burns to be an author. It was there with me in fifth grade when I read my first short story to my class and beamed with pride. And it burned ever deeper with each daily diary entry, magazine-clipping-decorated poem, and short story about ugly ducklings in the coming of age years. Different events and accolades have thrown kerosene to this flame but it has yet to engulf me. I feed it but I have never been consumed by it.

And until I know the purpose of this flame I bide my time with grown up diary entries and blog posts attempting to keep the muscles from atrophy and the spark alive.

So I’m going to try the only thing that feels right….to do something different, change things up, find my passion.  I need to try something I’ve never tried before.

Three years ago, I set out with the goal to write two times a week and I accomplished that nearly without fail for three years. This bought me some time to figure out where I was going with this blog plus it forced me stretch my muscles and mind.  Now that goal feels awkward and uncomfortable.  For three years I wrote from my head as I poured my thoughts into this thing.  But I realized that my favorite writings are the ones that flowed out of my heart.

I think there is something to be said for discipline and perseverance but sometimes discipline and preservance can make one lifeless and depleted.

So in 2015 I’m going to try spontenaity and inspiration and writing strictly from my heart.  No rules, no timeline.  Just a desire to feel and write and persevere.  I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for but I do so hope to find it this year.

-smk

A 2014 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas from the Midwestern cornfields!

View More: http://kimmyhowardphotography.pass.us/miley(Photo cred: Kimmy Howard Photography)

We hope this holiday season finds you happy and healthy.

We’ve had some big changes in our lives this year, including our view.

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The cornfields haven’t worn on us yet and we still find our new small town life kind of charming.  We’ve joined a church, converted all of our shopping/dining/doctors to local places and we even have changed the pronunciation of our town to match how the locals say it (emphasis on the second syllable).

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Even though it hasn’t been quite a year yet, we’ve seen four seasons in our house (summer was our favorite) so it feels like we’ve been here long enough to call it home.  Our project list is still rather long but we feel pretty proud of all the work we’ve put into it so far (including, dormers, painted 75%, water filtration, fireplace, new carpet, stair runner, & outdoor playset).  And before this year’s out we are looking forward to new windows and N putting up built-in bookshelves.

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N loves to work in the little “workshop corner” of the garage when he has the time (in between doctoral work and actual work…).  He has made a few things for our house including a chicken coop (which we hope to fill in the spring…) and has also helped make quite a few plaques for my business venture.

My little Etsy shop kept me quite busy these last few weeks (especially as the holidays were approaching) but I have truly enjoyed the creative outlet.  Right now though, I’ve closed up for a few weeks as a break (both physically and mentally) was truly needed.

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It’s no secret that this year has been a challenge for us as well. MG’s endured a long sickness this summer that turned into a severe intolerance for dairy (and a few other trigger foods, but dairy being the main culprit).  Seeing her so sick (and not having any answers for a while) brought me to tears and really scared me.  I’m thankful to have a diagnosis now (gastroparesis) but I still get sad for her that she isn’t able to enjoy her old favorites (cheese and ice cream) and that she isn’t able to have a “normal” relationship with food.

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Often when I found myself discouraged, I would look out our bedroom window and think “how could anybody be sad when this is their view?”  Even in the trials we have so much to be thankful for.

God’s blessings have been very evident to our family this year and I hope to yours as well,

-smk

 

Daily Rhythms: Mandy

One thing I loved about college is for just that short little four year period of my life, I was surrounded by people in the exact same bracket as myself. Age, denomination, schooling. There are times when variety is really nice (and greatly appreciated) but too much difference at times makes it harder to connect.

So at college I met all of these new friends, who were doing the exact same thing as me, who were just as busy as me, and who came from a background similar to mine (*I know some people disagree with me stating that Taylor is too similar and doesn’t have enough diversity and I can definitely see their point.  I’m more or less hyperbolizing to make mine :))

And then we  said our goodbyes at graduation and we were swept up into a cyclone that flung each of us out a different times while scattering us all into different places.  And though our lives are just beginning to resemble one another now (most of my college friends are now married and most of them are now moms), it is kind of nice there is a sense of common history but diverse presence about us.  That’s why I’ve done this daily rhythm series.  To highlight both of those things.

Mandy is another friend from Taylor.  She has always had a celebrity aura around her that attracts people to her.  She was a trendsetter back then and still is today and my go-to source for anything fashion related.  She is a mommy to three: Cohen, Kempton, and new baby Aniston and she married her college sweetheart (who I think was MY husband’s fashion muse as they were on the lacrosse team together :))

When Mandy told me she was going to share what a typical day looks like when she works (as a make up artist), I was all for it.  What mom doesn’t daydream of getting a few hours to herself every week to  leave a needy house in high heels and lipstick to go talk to her peers about the most feminine of pursuits (and she even gets paid for it!)?

But yet, she is still solidly mommy: worrying that the kids make it home from school, getting back in time to make dinner, ending the night with bath time and prayers.  Her daily life is so different yet so similar to my own.  That’s why I love reading these.

Enjoy:

Daily Rhythms {of a part time working mom}
When Kate asked me to be a part of her daily rhythms series it took me about 2 seconds to run through a typical day in my head and I thought I don’t know if I have a “rhythm” yet. I mean a lot of days I don’t even have dinner ready till 7 p.m. YIKES!! My days consist of nursing, playing with metal cars, and coffee, lots of coffee. So just repeat those three over and over till 5:00 p.m.,with a trip to the gym every now and then and you have my day in a nut shell. Hmm I should probably think about coming up with a schedule ASAP. You other ladies have inspired me.

However there is one area of my life that a daily rhythm is imperative or our family will just crash and burn. This is when I replace my mommy hat with high heels and bright lipstick to join the corporate world for the day. I have actually found that my day flows very smoothly through the chaos of working part time. I am more organized and more specific about the activities to take place in my day, thus I get more done even while working two jobs (mommy and makeup artist). So I decided to write out for you a typical working day in the Odle home.

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Alarm goes off at 7:15. However I’ve already been up nursing Aniston at about 6:00 a.m. and we are co-sleeping at this point. Daddy gets up, wakes Cohen up and I faintly hear them talking about where our elf Milton might be. Once he has been successfully spotted they hop in the shower. I put my quiet sleeping baby back in her bassinet and head downstairs to make the coffee and pack Cohen’s lunch. This is also when I get a little bit of quiet time on a good day when Kemp sleeps in.

7:55 Whoosh daddy and Cohen are out the door for work and school. By now I’m normally changing soggy diapers, getting a milk cup and gathering up all the “animals” (monkey Patch, baby Charlie, froggy, monkey George) and blankies for a little bit of snuggle quiet time before I have to get ready.

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By 8:30 I start the getting ready process. I say process because I am more than likely going to get interrupted about 540,893 times but that’s ok cause in less than 1.5 hours I will be kid free and in the land of adults. “Mommy can I have breakfast”, “bread chewocwoate”, “mommy can you get dis down”, “mommy wook at me”, “mommy did you seeeeee dat?” Aniston doesn’t normally wake up till about 9:30 when I am just finishing my makeup. Perfect timing. I get her changed and then nurse her. By this time grandma Becky is rolling in. She normally makes a comment like “you look so cute today”, cause NO I don’t wear makeup everyday. We quickly go over the day, I grab my pump, my wallet out of the diaper bag, give kisses to my babies, and I’m out the door.

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9:45 Ahhh I’m in the car alone. I’m ALONE! Sometimes I just sit in the running car for a minute and take it all in. I then make my 10 minute commute and bust through the doors of the beautifully crisp Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s 10 a.m. and the day is just beginning in the world of retail. We all have our hopes set high that this will be an awesome day. Today in particular is a special holiday event and fashion show. My job will be to quickly do the model’s makeup and then my appointments that start around 11. So I pick out a lip color for the day. That always sets the mood. Hmmm today it will be red, bright red. Chanel Pirate to be exact. I check the counter’s stock of this color before applying because what I wear I sell and will no doubt deplete their stock by the end of the day.

It’s noon and we are into the thick of it. I’ve already run through my whole education/daily routine multiple times now and I’m starting to think about lunch. I check my phone to make sure there aren’t any texts from home and sneak away to pump. At home daddy is on his lunch break helping grandma feed the kids. It’s a pumped bottle for Ani and “noodles” for Kemp. By 1:00 p.m. both kiddos are down for a nap and daddy is back to work.

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2:00 we are approaching our busiest time at work. Multiple appointments stacking up and getting ready for the midday show. I get do all types of girly things. You never know what you might have to do for a client. Today I’m fixing hair and painting nails for a “regular” of ours. She is comforting to see. A constant in this crazy, high paced world.

It’s now 2:30. Is it raining today? Snowing? Do I need to remind someone to pick up Cohen from the bus. Nope sunny. He will be fine walking home.

2:45 and he’s off the bus. 2:50 I get a text from grandma, everyone is here and we are eating a snack.

3:30 I finally take a break. Pump. Check in with the hubs. Make sure we are on the same track for this evening. Head over to the Gap to spend my Gap cash. Wait in a crazy long line (it’s the holidays after all). Now there is no time for food. Shoot. It’s a piece of See’s chocolate for lunch, Altoids, and the granola bar I stashed back at the counter. Fix my lipstick and I’m right back into the makeup grind for the next 2 hours.

6:00 peace out primp and perfume world, hello sticky and snotty world. I’m on my way home. If it’s a crockpot dinner night I usually try and run a couple errands kid free, but tonight is burger night. It happens to be a night with no sport practices or small groups so dinner will be a little more extensive than usual. I have the meat thawed in the fridge and veggies prepped. I call my husband and tell him to fire up the grill. He starts on the burgers and I begin chopping the salad. We’re a good team. We actually prefer to cook together. Every single person (and animal) in our family is now in the kitchen while we cook. The kids just gravitate to any room that I’m in, but right now I don’t care. I have missed them today and I want to hear all about their day. We turn on Christmas music and sing along. Kemp is a funny dancer and it makes us all laugh. Daddy then proceeds to make up funny lyrics to the tune of Jingle Bells and we all play along. We wonder is everyone this weird or just us?!

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8:00 I give the little ones baths while daddy and Cohen finish homework. I then put Kemp to bed which he drags out as long as he can, “mommy my finger hurts”, “no not that book”, “I don’t wike these jammies”, “mommy I don’t wike this pilwoh”, “mommy get that stuffed animal waaay up there”. By the time I nurse Ani and put her down it’s pushing 9 p.m. Cohen and Brooks have been snuggled up in the basement watching the IU game or a Christmas movie I don’t know. I thinking flipping back and forth between both, but when I get down there they are both squished together on one end of our extra large sectional. It’s really cute actually. But it’s time for Cohen to head upstairs to bed. We both go up and do devotions and then daddy says a prayer and he’s out in the blink of an eye.

9:30 It’s finally mommy and daddy time! We look around the house. Should we pick up? Nah let’s eat some dessert and watch a Christmas movie. It seems this time of year brings out all our bad habits. Cookies, milkshakes, large diet sodas ugh, they make the cuddle time so much more fun. We turn off all the lights in the house and snuggle under the glow of our Christmas tree till entirely too late because the Hallmark channel gets us every time.

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I pump once more to store some milk for our “date night” bank then it’s time to sneak up to our bed. I like to go into all the kids’ rooms and give them kisses or say a quick prayer over them. We crawl into bed, check the alarm, make a comment about how much we love our Tempurpedic pillows, and drift off to sleep only to do it all again the next day. But hey I don’t work tomorrow. Turn that alarm off. Tomorrow will be a whole different animal and I am ready and excited for a day without a rhythm. A spontaneous, I’ll take whatever you throw at me, kind of day with my little family of five.

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Thanks, Mandy.  Sometimes we DO pursue more of a rhythm on the days that require it from us.  It’s nice to have a small mixture of both, no?

-smk

 

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