Multi-Generational

Suddenly, I feel like I’ve woken up from a long nap and I’m looking around going, “am I really here?  Did this really go according to the plans we made years ago? Am I really back in the south again, reunited with my family?”

Yes.

It took about three months, but all of our IN affairs are settled, Sibby is no longer a newborn, and we are finding ourselves marching to a rhythm down here in our new land.

One of the common questions to be asked down here is, “what brought you to Nashville?”  No one, well hardly anyone I’ve met, was born here.  It is rare to encounter a native, though it does happen every once in a while.  For most of us, we came here with a story, ours being not very different than most others.

When I get to the part about my family living here, most of my friends with children look away wistfully and say, “I would love to live by my family.”  There is something about having children that, for most of us, changes our hearts back home after a decade or so of necessary independence.

Free babysitting is one thing, but a very surfacey side effect at that.  There are shared birthday celebrations, relationship building between generations, and a greater, more sensitive pulse to the daily life of those closest to you.

One of my favorite things have been our weekly “family dinners”.  Mom will pick up the girls from school and take them back to her house to play.  The rest of us join in sometime around dinner and enjoy a(n always delicious) meal together.  I look forward to these meals every week and one thing I’ve noticed is that if I go into the meal stressed or anxious about something, I always walk away feeling better.  We don’t even have to address my concern (although sometimes we do have deeper conversations about it), but there is something about time spent in company of those that know and love you best that does the heart good.

Another benefit I’ve quietly observed is the cohesiveness of multiple generations coming together.  This has been a stressful year for all of us, no doubt.  There have been new jobs, retirement, new life, new moves, new school, new friends and relationships, new neighborhoods, the selling of houses, the settling of estates, sickness, stressful parenting, large financial decisions, and then just the normal stresses of up and down daily life.  Sometimes, I think we just take note of each other as we look around the room, and say, “we’re still standing! We’ve almost reached the end of this weighty season, and it is good, very good.”

My parents, now the true matriarch and patriarch of the family, have the benefit of a life spent following God.  When my mom talks about God taking care of them, and my dad shares meaningful Bible verses, the look they get in their eyes and the passion in their voices, it feels so real. They have been able to walk with us through stressful situations and remind us of God’s faithfulness because they have an amazing track record of it.

Our little ones, down to the littlest, are so needy and dependent on us.  They have SO MANY needs they rely on us to meet but I dare say they never spend a moment in worry, wondering if we are going to provide.  They are an example of the hope that comes from a life of trusting God to care for us and believing that He will.  Little Sib, the most vulnerable among us, is no respecter of persons.  She would reach for and smile at the most unlovely person, no matter how filthy, poor, sinful, sick.  It doesn’t matter to her.  A picture of God’s love.

And then that leaves us, the twenty-thirty somethings somewhere in the middle.  I’d like to think we contribute to this generational dynamic as well.  And I think we bring a lot of (most of the?) burdens to the table.  We are making so many decisions about careers, parenting, finances, relationships, all the meaty things that will indelibly shape our future.  Some of these decisions don’t afford us much thinking time and have to be made on the fly, other ones leave us alone with them for an agonizingly long time until we are finally able to pick a side.  But I think somewhere in here, there is a picture of God’s tender mercy and grace.  I think God has given us an extra helping of mercy in this season of life where we make a lot of mistakes, sometimes we rush into things, or speak out of line, but we get by with love and forgiveness, and we let things go and move on to the next weighty matter, all the while trusting in God to provide, with the careful knowledge that He has yet to disappoint us.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

This is why we came here, I think.  To discover the character traits of God in the unique lens of a whole family and to write some stories for a watching world.

-smk

Six

Six.  This is a hard one for me.  N and I stayed up too late last night, both getting a little weepy at the thought of our little girl turning over another birthday leaf. It’s gone so fast.

“Let’s have another”, he said with misty eyes and swelling heart.  “Yeah, I definitely want another one.”, I agreed.

No sooner had the words exited my mouth when he exclaimed, “This is a terrible reason to have another baby.”  “Yeah!” I agreed heartily.  And we laughed.  It was the good kind of laughter; a mixture of comic relief and relief that you don’t have to follow through on your intense feelings because you realize how irrational they are.

It does and doesn’t help that we are parenting her mini twin, 5.5 years behind her.  It is good for both nostalgia and gut checks alike.

Here are some things this year has brought us:

-a new smile (due to her frenulum being snipped) (and I like this one even better!  I think it makes her look even prettier to see her lip pull up all the way now)

-she prefers cutting up paper into a million tiny pieces and markers to playing with toys right now, it seems

-she loves to play school with Bea, and be an extra set of hands for Sib

-great listener award at school.  It’s true!  She tries so hard to follow the rules at school, it’s precious to observe.

-No loose teeth yet.

-still loves Stella

-very little illness this year and has tolerated dairy in limited amounts very well (low lactose being key)

-she is a very loyal and loving friend.  It seems the key for her is to find someone with just a bit of a stronger personality than her and she is all in, hook, line, and sinker.

Six year olds can tell funny jokes, read simple stories, write out their feelings, hypothesize about the future, and are really well versed in delayed gratification (especially if they have younger siblings).  They are still very affectionate to adults and they have a very strong sense of justice/injustice.  I love my six year old!

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But I miss her little blonde head and the way she would say words incorrectly and we would not correct her because we found it cute (like “oat-me-meal” and “brock-a-mole” {guacamole}).  My heart physically hurts a bit when I think about the phases we have ended now that I used to enjoy so much (first babies, then Elmo, Thomas the train,princesses). Thankfully Stella is still a part of her bed but it is a rare day when she puts on a princess dress up.  She used to spend her every waking moment in one!  (I consider it a small victory for childhood that she chose a princess cake this year, given all options.  Shopkins almost won, but princesses narrowly edged ahead at the last moment.  Victory)

I remember after we moved away from our first house, I used to look back a bit wistfully and with longing about the life we had there together.  I used to leave that house just about every morning with her, whether it be to a play date, story time, or the playground.  My whole day pretty much revolved around her.

Now I feel similarly about the schoolhouse. She really grew up in that house and I feel a squeeze of sadness wondering if I spent enough time with her and enjoyed her personality enough in those stages, seeing as how little of it I get with her now.  Will she even remember life in that house?

She has lived in four houses now.  Five, if you count the 8 weeks spent at my parents’ during the beginning of school.  The change hasn’t worn on her too much, so it seems.  She’s used to it now. I’ve been pleased with her ability to make friends and even more so with her kindness and nurturing heart towards them.  Today I visited her school to eat lunch with her and she was able to pick one friend to join us.  It was a tough decision because she has about 4 good friends and none is a favorite.  Right now they are all equals, in a sweet, innocent way of kindergartners.  She ended up choosing one that has a food allergy.  I think MG was pleased with herself because she had brought treats for the class and a special treat for this girl, V.

She loves to save the day, remind and help her friends to follow directions, and laugh.  She does NOT like to be the center of attention.  When she told me about the class tradition of the student with the birthday standing on a chair and the entire class singing to him or her, she ended it with, “I think I might cry.”  “Why?”, I said, “Because you’ll be so happy?”  “No”, she said, “because I’ll be so nervous.”

She did not cry.

But her daddy did watching it..

My dad reminded me at the beginning of school, though these moments of growth are hard on us parents, thank God that she is healthy enough to attend school and that she is physically here and growing, just as it should be.  Yes, thank you God.  These moments of sadness are quick and sharp, but they are there, especially around birthdays.  But good things are always hard to say goodbye to, and year 5-6 was a good one; no, a great one.  She stayed so healthy, grew tremendously in her academics, made new friends and adjusted to a totally new life, and became a big sister again.  One for the books!

And definitely one of my favorite ones so far,

-smk

 

 

Six Months

Six months, half a year, means…

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-your first cold.  This has greatly affected your sleep (what’s new?), much to everyone’s angst.  Easily forgiven though, as a congested nose seems a very rational and logical reason not to sleep, as opposed to last month’s mystery grab bag.

-sitting up…sort of.  If I prop you up, you can sit unassisted for just a few seconds!  You can also sit in my lap with little help and your stomach muscles are getting noticeably stronger.  Time to fatten them back up with avocado and oatmeal, I guess!

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-playing with toys.  The best ones are the ones you can grab with your fingers and swing around.  Your favorite one seems to be a large Octopus that has also been a favorite for your sisters, too.  All of this finger work means that you can grab your pacifier (attached to its clip) and place it correctly in your mouth!  Win for both of us!

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-you are taking better naps…at least ones longer than 45 minutes.  I think we are somewhat starting to get on a good schedule.  Its certainly not the one nap in the morning, one nap in the afternoon schedule I’m used to of six month babies, but it is working, for now, for us.  So goes the third child they tell me!

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-you are very aware of your surroundings now and will not let me rock you to sleep for naps anymore.  If there are people around you, you will not eat or sleep, either.  You will will yourself awake long past your bedtime to interact with the party.  Extrovert? or the rites of childhood?

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-you are probably ready for solids, if not for your mother dragging her feet.  You are now my latest to start (the other two began around 5.5 months).  Laziness on my part has delayed us, but I feel I have no more excuses after Thanksgiving.  Plus, sweet potatoes are on sale and very seasonably appropriate right now, yes?

-you are getting around with ease.  Rolling has become your M.O. and you can get to just about anything you set your mind to.  You are rolling over, both directions, with ease now.  You’ve lost the stiffness and frightened look about you when it was new.  And you’ve graduated from doing it constantly, as if you were afraid you were going to forget.  Now it come much more gracefully, but with purpose.

When I watch this video of you, I am instantly filled with your scent.  It’s the milky smell that always seems to linger on your cheeks, combined with the Dreft scent of your clothes, and the shampooed fragrence of your downy hair.  As I watch you roll on the floor, I want to kiss my favorite spot on your neck, in between folds, and pinch your doughy thighs.  I want to wiggle my fingers just above your face and feel your firm little fingers, with their sharp, little fingernails, wrap around them in satisfaction.  I want to push on your feet and trail your toenails back and forth across the back of my hand.  And then I want to blow on your belly and make you laugh until you’re out of it.  You are my baby, but you are not keeping the way you are supposed to.

Tis the season of Thanksgiving, and you are at the top of my list,

-smk

Three, then four

It’s not my typical lane to discuss my family planning with…well the entire Internet.  But as was my original preference anyway, it is only friends and family who read this and they are probably sick of my personal rhetoric on this subject by now.  Plus, when I turned the pages of this blog into the physical pages of a book, I realized how much I enjoyed reading my current feelings on topics weighing on me throughout the years.  So onward we tread…

I love my babies.  I love them especially when they are babies, when the love is unconditional and easy because they aren’t defiant and constantly need answers from you.

I loved MG instantly because she was the first.  We went through the change of the newness of pregnancy and motherhood together.  The love was a powerful elixir because it was so novel.

I loved Bea because we waited so long for her, and then she was perfect.  The sister friendship we hoped for, healthy and beautiful.  An easy, angel baby.

The love for Sibs came slow and steady, It was like a gradual flight of stairs, one step love, one step fear.  I think a had a premonition something scary was going to happen to her; I just didnt know if it was going to come when I was still pregnant, during her birth, or after she was born.  Thankfully those tremor causing fears have subsided and we have a very sweet and healthy relationship in the wake.

But what next?  More than ever, I find myself ready for the next phase. And while I love this sweet sugar baby, I am also excited for her to get older and be able to finally link arms with the sisterhood. It has been difficult to walk the line between three, separate phases: school-aged, pre-schooler, and infant.  Doing both school-aged and infant has been the most wearing from simply the schedule.  A lot of people have told me their third child never consistently napped because they were always been dragged around to older siblings’ recitals, practices, and car line drop-offs.  And now I totally get it.

Most days I feel like I am trying to decide who’s schedule can afford the most trimming from, and to be honest, most days it’s Bea’s.  (I know, I know, insert middle child joke here).  It seems like she has the least to lose these days so she is often the one who loses out.

I was spending some time reflecting this week and I found myself getting sad because I have not taken Bea to a play date, a park, or a story time in weeks.  One main reason is because all of those things seem to fall during Sibs’s morning nap (which is becoming her most consistent nap) and the other reason being that it just feels weird to do something like that without MG (and I think both she{Bea} and I feel that way).  (striving to rectify that immediately)

So where does that leave our little five person family?  Where do all the tallies fall in the pro-fourth, con-fourth scribbled up, scrap paper?  I think my heart is still where it was when I found out I was pregnant with Sibs; she is my last and I’m going to enjoy every moment of her babyhood while cheering her on to the sister room.

But there is still a tiny part of me that is holding open a tiny door, maybe even a tinier window that God will say, “hey, there is still one more I want you to love”, and I will eagerly say, “okay!”

I still can’t bring myself to give away the baby clothes.  But I am ready to reclaim my body back after seven years of devotion to three little ones I love more than life. My heart squeezes in a tangible, sad longing when I see a friend holding a freshly capped and swaddled baby in the hospital.  But I also know that sadness and longing may always exist, even if we do have another one someday.  I feel a little sad for Bea that she will be the true “middle child” and that she and Sibs will have a three year age gap.  But is that a justifiable reason for adding one more?  Seeing how much each girl has to sacrifice right now to accommodate a baby, a preschooler, and an elementary student, makes me want to move onward to the future and not hit this reset button again in 2-3 years.   But will I always feel like someone is missing from our family?

So that’s a little piece of my heart right now, friends.  I don’t really know how people come to make these decisions, though I’ve quizzed them mercilessly.  It seems a lot of my friends just seem to know when they are “done”.  I keep waiting for that definitive sign and yet it keeps eluding me.  But there is something pressing on me to know, to decide, to stop wondering, because it does affect my parenting and my relationships right now.

Just one of the little things keeping me up at night

(the other being Sibs)

-smk

Updates

MG: MG seems to have found her schooling niche.  Pre-K was fraught with a bit of anxiety, annoyances, and skepticism (by her), but kindergarten has been an exciting change for the better.  Her teacher told us this week that she is just now beginning to see some of her personality come out.  I’m not surprised that it took our quiet, not-quite-wallflower nearly three months to come out of her shell, but I’m so glad that she feels comfortable enough to be herself.

Each week I get so excited about what she’s learning and her academic growth.  She is teetering on the cusp of reading and it is so exciting to be this close.  I could cry when I think about all the good that that one milestone will bring to her life.

She is still ever-enthused with little Sib and seeks to mother her whenever possible. I love having her helpful and capable hands around in the afternoons and weekends.  Her personality adds a sweet dynamic to our family.  Her younger years saw a lot of ups and downs in her emotional aura but as she’s gotten older, and especially this year, she is still sensitive but not to her detriment.  

Bea:  I know I’ve said this before, but Bea and I have really become buds this year.  Our hands were some what forced into this, but it’s only been for the best.  Previously to this summer and the separation of our family, I admittedly only saw her in the shadow of her older sister.  Now I’ve been able to see her as more of an individual and her personality has been a sweet blessing during these turbulent times.  

With her older sister away at school most of the day, she has stepped in to be a great helper with Sibby and is pretty good at keeping her entertained when she’s crying and I can’t immediately tend to her.  But ultimately I think her bleeding heart will lean towards animals.  She is much more sympathetic to their cause.  

I’ve also been impressed with how well she has been able to entertain herself lately, as I find myself all too often feeding and rocking Sibby, among other household responsibilities.  It’s been good for her to learn how to play by herself, a quality most middle children probably don’t get much time to develop as they are often being interrupted by their bookends.  She has three favorite pastimes that she mostly rotates between: 1) puzzles 2) this cupcake game (she likes to play with the cupcakes not the actual game yet)  and 3) a cat play set that has 5 cat figurines and paraphernalia to go along with.  

It often seems that when one child is being “difficult”, the other child or children will inherently become easier.  This is especially true of us right now that Bea has become my saving grace with Sibby’s present difficulties.

Sibs:  Whoa months four and five have been rough, with little sleep and a lot of strong tears (on her end).  I can’t help but wonder if she’ll be my “little girl who has a little curl”.  When she’s easy, she an angel, but when she’s difficult, she’ll keep you up all night.  We’ll get in our groove soon, I can feel it.  But in the meantime, I’m just trying to hang on and catch sleep whenever I can.  My sanity breaks have been making clothes for her in the afternoon while Bea is having her rest time.  It’s good for me to have a creative outlet that only takes “a naptime or two to complete” and stretches my brain a bit.  

Me:  The lack of sleep has set me back quite a bit. I’m normally a very routined, scheduled person, and this baby has thrown all that out the past two months.  It’s hard not to feel like everything else is reeling because of it.  But I know as soon as we get back into a good rhythm, I will feel so much better about life again.  I guess that’s a benefit you get being a third-time mom.  A bit of perspective that I definitely did not have on baby one.  

In the meantime, out the window with my sleep has gone: the ability to write (I’ve thought of a lot of good blog posts just at very inconvenient times and then when I sit down to write them, the words won’t form), reading (there are so many books I want to get to right now but at this stage in life, reading has become my ultimate luxury, afforded only when everything is balanced just so), some responsibility (thankfully N has been a huge help with planning and cooking meals, and cleaning). I’m also feeling a bit socially inept.  I have good intentions of getting plugged in down here, but right now getting my baby to sleep feels like the ultimate priority.  I’m trying to tow the line between: this is my last baby so I want to fully enjoy this stage and be a hermit, and time’s a wasting to develop real friendships.  Losing sleep always makes me notice how I become a bad conversationalist, how incoherent I am, and consequently how I become socially stunted without even trying.  So I guess this timing is for the best.

House:  We’ve done one successful house project: adding a fence!  All others have been placed on hold until more time is afforded.  As far as little things such as hanging pictures, we only have two more left to put up!  And we finally hung the curtains last weekend and I think my enjoyment of the house went up at least 10%.  It just made the house feel so much homier.  

It is so crazy to me to think about it this way, but three years ago yesterday, we were still living in our very first house.  Yes, that means we have moved three times in three years (to the bat house, to the schoolhouse, to Nashville).  

In many ways, I feel like I am still in triage from all the complications of those.  Trying to fit all of the decorations for one house into a new one, a new one, a new one.  I’m kind of tired of trying to re-think whole rooms.  Tired of picturing how to paint a whole house.  Tired of re-working a big girl room over and over and over.  I am anxious to get and FEEL settled but I am also tired.  Physically and creatively.  I think that’s why sewing has been such a retreat for me lately.  Quick and compact.  

So are the effects of transition, but better that than boredom, I guess!

-smk

Five Months

Guess who is five months old??

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But first, a confession.  Last night at 10:31pm, moments before I was about to lay down in bed, I glanced at my calendar to see what was on the docket for tomorrow.  Something struck me about the date, October 23, and I sat for a minute trying to think what was significant about it.  It took me longer than I care to admit to realize the date was important because it is Sibs’s 5 month mark.  And then I felt terrible because I had not thought once about it all day!  I know this isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but the monthly milestones have always been so important to me and I used to spend days thinking about them for the other two girls.  So the fact that I forgot, until mere moments before bed, made me feel so embarrassed!  Poor Sib.  Third child probs strike again.

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This month we’ve seen a lot of rolling, back and forth for our girl, although she will still only do it when she feels like it.  And for some reason, she most often gets the urge in the middle of a sleep cycle.  This has accounted for many interrupted nights for both of us (fortunately she goes back to sleep pretty quickly and I never offer her food during these middle of the night encounters, she’s usually happy with her pacifier).  And then her naps have also been affected.  She will usually take one long nap still a day, as well as cat-napping the rest of the day; but I’m never sure when this nap will take place, so we are still trying to settle into a rhythm.  All that to say, I’m here to tell you: The four month sleep regression is real.

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All this rolling has really toned up her core and she can do so much more now because of it!  She can grab her toes and completely hold her head up, she can sit–almost–for a few seconds at a time, and we’ve even introduced the Jumperoo and johnny jump-up (my older two girls’ favorite) because of this.

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The doctor said she’s working on some teeth and I’ve definitely noticed an uptick in the drool.  She’s also chewing on things she can bring to her mouth like her leather paci clip and her fingers.  My other two girls used to suck on their thumb a bit right around the four month mark but Sibby prefers the first two fingers on her right hand.  I think it’s cute because for some reason it reminds me of the little baby in Baby Dear.

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This month we moved her fully over into her crib and I think she’s enjoying all of the space to..well roll, and I am finding myself going in her room often to pry her limbs out of the slats.

Several people have commented how this month, especially, she has lost a lot of her infant look and I have to agree.  She is also getting pretty vocal (screechy/screamy is our least favorite!), and is recognizing family members’ voices.  Her strawberry locks have completely vanished this month (I honestly think it was the cradle cap??), and she looks bald but really she has quite a bit of snowy white hair growing in.  She is following in the hair department of MG and also looks as well!

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I’m trying to enjoy every moment with this sweet one, middle of the night meet-ups and all.  Five months is when it starts to sound farther away from the baby mark and closer to the one year mark.  I feel so thankful for this precious, healthy girl that God has let me nurture and pray everyday that I can do a good job of it.  I’m trying to relish the baby days while also looking forward to all the fun to come.  Last babies are a particular challenge with this tension but I’m determined to carry it well…forgotten milestones, notwithstanding.

-smk

One Month In

We are just about a month into our new home and I think I’ve finally got enough material worthy of an update :).

I know everyone says this at the beginning of a new life stage, but I honestly can’t believe it’s been a month.  2016 holds a very distinct demarcation with my life IN Indiana and my life AFTER Indiana.  But at the same time, there has been so much new, that this month has gone by without too much notice of its passing.

When people ask me how I like it here, it is easy for me to say, “I LOVE it here.”.  I really only have two complaints: the traffic (ugh the traffic), and the housing market.  The traffic is what makes my twenty minute drive to see my parents, fifty minutes at times.  And there is one stoplight by our house that I am beginning to wonder how much of my life will be spent there waiting for it to turn green.

The housing market is another animal that I am glad we are done with for now but we had quite a bit of sticker shock moving here from good ol’ Indiana and that delayed our purchasing decision (and ultimately made us miss out on a few other houses).  But,thankfully, we love our house and we can see why God kept it and us waiting for it.  One huge answer to prayer is that it is very close to N’s job so he doesn’t have to fight traffic coming or going (which seems to be a rarity down here).  So thankful we stuck to our guns when it came to location.

What do I love about living down here? the weather (I know some of you hate the heat but I am seriously GIDDY over not having another snowy/freezing/icy winter possibly ever again!), family (having my family close by has been such a blessing and they have been my home base as I try to get my bearings), the nice people (I forgot how nice you southerners are!), the culture/food (I think I could eat out at a different restaurant every meal for a year and not repeat.), and being so close to conveniences as well as having modern conveniences like oh, the INTERNET (didn’t have that at the schoolhouse), as well as food delivery services, Prime Now, Kroger Clicklist, a huge library system, Target, etc.  There is definitely something to be said about living off the land and having a pared down, simplified lifestyle. But  for now, I am enjoying what Nashville has offered me in exchange.

I remember the few times we moved when I was young, as well as the prospect of going to a college where I didn’t know anyone, and being excited about the chance to reinvent myself.  I didn’t intentionally set out to do that this time, but I am finding myself so inspired here.  I’ve revamped my hairstyle, my makeup, skincare routine, my quiet time, our budget (the Dave Ramsey vibes are STRONG here :)), and my workout. I’m also wondering if these changes are further signaling me that it is time to move on from the era I’ve been in for the last 7 years–that of being pregnant and having babies.  More than I ever thought I would be, I think I’m getting excited about moving on to the next stage and feeling more like my old self again (the 2016 version, of course!).

Along with the personal inspiration, I’m feeling the creative vibes that Nashville is reverberating with.  There are so many musicians, artists, authors, speakers, etc that live here and the buzz in the air is almost palpable.  I catch myself often daydreaming about how I will use my time when all the little girls are in fully in school.  I don’t think I, myself, will be back in the classroom, but I never had much of a vision for that time until now.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still trying to get my bearings here and I often feel very disoriented.  But I have not used my phone navigation in about a week which is PROGRESS and my weeks and daily routine are beginning to take shape.  I still don’t know what day I do my laundry on or when I buy my groceries/order my groceries online and have them PLACED IN MY CAR, but I am figuring it out, one Nashville week at a time.

-smk

Transition

I wrote these two snippets when I was in the midst of the summer of 2016, living by myself, taking care of the girls, and selling the schoolhouse.  I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it at the time, but now that it is over, it feels safe to put these feelings out into the arcing reach of the Internet.  Enjoy…

We are one month from moving and the goodbyes are already starting to roll in; some in the form of texts, others in final visits to old stomping grounds.  Many I’m putting off and I keep reassuring people that we haven’t left yet.  But I think they know what I am trying to deny: our time here is finite.

It’s been hard to process everything when I’m flying solo during the week.  Sometimes the weight of three extra bodies needing everything from you is enough to bring you to your knees.

There are nights I spend running from bedside to bedside and not seeing nearly enough of my own.

There are nights where I lay awake, over-analyzing every little sound.  No peace to be found.

There is a constant feeling that we are only one vomit, one fever, one car malfunction away from a disaster.  The only reason we are holding together is because we are being held together.  But one small upset in this delicate balance and you realize you cannot possibly sustain this lifestyle for very long.

During this time I prayed specifically against mastitis (I’ve always gotten it around the 6 week mark, which is the first week I was left on my own.  This time I have been free of it!).  I also prayed that in the absence of the girls’ earthly father, God would step in.  He’s given me control over my fear at night for safety and has provided a few interactions for the girls with other men that reminded me of the way N interacts with them.  Not a perfect substitute, of course, but enough of a break from me to give them some familiarity. Finally, I prayed that God would give me extra patience for the girls and that I wouldn’t say anything to them in frustration or anger I would regret.  It’s amazing, but prayers do work. Although I did have to apologize to them twice for losing my patience so far, i’ve felt myself very calm and serene this entire time.  Almost like I’d been drugged, I’ve been able to let so much roll over me without getting under my skin as it may normally on a given night when I am carrying the needs of the family by myself.

I feel like I am treading water.  I set up a bunch of systems in place to keep things running without me turning the crank every time.  But there’s only so much independence and reliance I can give to a five year old, three year old, and two month old.

MG is my right hand man.  She is a joyful helper; I don’t know what I would do without her.  She jumps at any chance to fill a need, mommying both Bea and Sib as well as attending to me at times too. I feel guilty letting her carry some of my burdens and I feel overwhelmed when I don’t.

I feel so vulnerable by myself with three, dependent, little ones.  We are often at the mercy of strangers, reliant on their goodwill.  An opened door, an extra day at the gym the day after our membership ran out, the retrieval of a dropped item. Nothing felt too small and these interactions were crucial to my survival.

Each week gets a little easier as we sink into a rhythm, but I still feel pretty martyr-ish by Thursday night. (N comes home on the weekends)

It’s also weird living in a house that doesn’t belong to you anymore, especially right now.

I have several friends who have made an effort to checkup on me, the neighbors who have watched over me, and one friend in particular who has gone out of her way to invite us over for dinner many times.  This community I am completely dependent on and soon I will have to walk away from it completely to start over.


Part 2

MG is gone now and it’s just me, Bea, and Sibs.  I’m afraid Bea will curl up in a ball of boredom without her best playmate here.  That’s  only happened once or twice so far.  She is learning how to play by herself now and has gotten quite good at it.  I underestimated her. In many different ways.

Sib is starting to sleep much longer stretches at night.  I don’t know what I would do if she was colicky or awoke through the night.  Literally don’t know what I would do.  God has orchestrated the timing of this and a few other little things for me and I have noticed it.

Now I am deliberately saying my goodbyes. Our final church service, lunch dates, playdates, and even drives. Goodbyes are hard.  They’re awkward and weird and filled with a lot of promises that I’m not sure will be able to be kept.  But they are necessary too.  And they also represent many good things. God has taken me on a few scenic routes lately past some of the memorable parts of this town.  I think He is helping me close the door. I know I can’t wait to bring the girls back here one day and take them on these drives along with my memory-laced narration.

I feel like I have spoken these words before but I don’t know another time when they would trump right now.  This has been one of the most stressful and difficult seasons of our lives.  There have been so many little things that have been hard compacted on top of the big things that are difficult anyway.  N and I living apart, both with our hands tied up in so many things, trying to make a living and keep a life. So many foundational things are changing all at once. It has been hard to keep our relationship intact across the miles.  But if absence makes the heart grow fonder then consider my heart’s beating the most devoted cry in the world.

-smk

 

Four Months

First *a quick apology* for the lack of updates as of late.  We are officially Mason-Dixon residents and have been now for almost 3 weeks.  I have not written anything, not for lack of desire nor anything to say, but I am still trying to figure out my new life here and how writing fits into all of that.  Writing our family story is important to me, so I know it’s something I will continue to work out as I try to balance school life, baby life, toddler life, new state life, and new home life <<sigh, but a happy one>>.

In the midst of all of this, Sibby turned 4 months today.

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Four months still sounds “little baby”-ish to me so that makes me happy that not too much of her life has passed in what has felt like an eternal transitory time.  But it’s also old enough that is she becoming somewhat predictable yet not rigid and also not exploring yet.  Perfect timing for getting adjusted to life here before she takes off.

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God was merciful to me when He gave us this thirdborn.  She really is a dream baby; only cries when she’s tired or hungry (and it’s pretty easy to figure out which).  She is pleasant when awake and can be stretched beyond her hunger or tiredness when distracted.

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No new milestones this month save for a random roll-over (belly to back).  She attempted a few more times after but scared herself straight.  I’M FINE WITH SLOW MILESTONES RIGHT NOW. Wait, scratch that.  As of this morning, she rolled over belly to back and then back to belly twice!!

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The lack of forward movement has meant the delicious rolls on her arms and legs have stuck around for another month.  She does have a pretty steady neck now though, and those rolls can sweat like none other, if not placed on a breathable surface (like an arm, anything polyester, or her carseat).

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She still takes a paci but usually doesn’t sleep with it.  When she is hungry, she makes a coughy-gaggy sound like my other two did in between cries.  We’ve attempted to give her her FIRST bottle this month (I know, I know mommy FAIL.  Pumping has been extremely low on my priority list right now!) and she hasn’t quite taken to it (or I should say, all three, as we’ve tried three different versions).  Looks like we need more practice!  One minor thing she HAS added this month though, is her ability to bring her paci to her mouth using her grasping fingers.  Hard work for hand-eye coordination!

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The one thing that I’m still trying to figure out for Miss Sib is her nap schedule.  It seems her ideal is to take one or two cat naps in the morning and then a long 3-4 hour afternoon nap, followed by perhaps another cat nap before bed.  This is great with me except her afternoon nap falls right around the time I pickup MG from school.   So frustrating to have to wake her up and then try to settle her back in again after we are literally gone from the house for 40 min, maybe.  This has vexed me so much that I’ve been running through countless solutions and one I’ve found recently is to pay a homeschooled neighbor to come sit at the house for me.  So far it seems like the best solution.

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Still, it seems general consensus for the third babies is that they just have to nap on the fly and are at the mercy of their older siblings’ schedules.  Builds character, they say.  And I guess where the third children’s easy going nature gets its reputation.

Finally, perhaps her best quality is that my loving, angel third baby sleeps through the night.  And when I say sleeps through the night, I mean I lay her down at 8pm and she wakes up at 7am. I would say it’s a fluke, but she’s been doing it now for almost this entire month. (and don’t hate me, fellow moms of newborns, just remember what the rest of my life has looked like this month.  We all have our crosses to bear :))

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I still often lovingly refer to her as “the baby”and I think I’m convincing myself of it…although last week I did bring up baby names for the first time in a long…(and I got two nods of approval!)  Still, I can’t say I’ve ever felt more ready to stabilize and not add any more change in for a long, long, long time.

-smk

 

Headed South

I’ve always felt a longing to go south again.  I lived in Indiana for 10 years, but it never truly felt like home, perhaps because I never let it. The ways of the Hoosiers (a word my St. Louis background caused me to never embrace), always seemed strange and a bit bumbling to me.  The first three years I spent here, after all, we didn’t observe daylight savings.  Yes, while the rest of the country turned their clocks backwards or forwards obediently, twice a year, we moved about our lives, pretending the tradition never existed.

I always compared their food to my own; peanut butter pie was no match for pecan and pork tenderloins were a shoddy version of a catfish sandwich.  And I always missed my pimento cheese and hush puppies (I was once righteously offended when I went to a Catholic fish fry and instead of hush puppies they offered me rice.  RICE). But, as you must understand, I came here late to the game and with my heart already married to the land below the Mason-Dixon.  And it didn’t help that Indiana’s Achilles heel is their winter.  I hate the cold.  I hate the snow.  I dread it every year.  To go to the land where snow barely exists has me more excited than I can possibly say.

So while I taught myself to drive through their so-called roundabouts and find a setting sun behind a field of corn just as beautiful as a scenic mountain, I always wondered when we would go back.

The conversation extended to my parents.  We spoke of it in sweeping dreams and whispered circles.  Someday we’ll live together.  Someday we won’t be a plane ride away.  Someday our girls will be able to walk over to your house for dessert.  Someday…

We’ve been speaking of someday for eight years.  And then in 2016, someday became reality.  In April, Dad retired.  In May, they moved to Nashville.  In June, N accepted a job there.  In July he moved.  In August we  closed on our house. It happened so fast, it left us reeling, but in reality, it had been the plan all along.  And now we are going home.

Our new house will be completely different from our schoolhouse.  It will be neighborhood-ly and suburban.  I imagine our lives there will be the same, but of course augmented by bar-be-que and accents.

But to give fair credit where it’s due, I will miss our decade in Indiana.  We loved and lived in two wonderful cities, each unique in their own right.  We had fantastic neighbors in each of these places and wonderful churches.  We made friends there; deep friendships that span 10 years or one, both invaluable to our well-being.

Noblesville was vibrant and fun, the kick-off to our life with children and suburban in the best way possible. Upland was magical and sweet; the life we had dreamed of for so long.  It will be hard to say goodbye, and we will look back with longing from time to time.

But the next chapter has already started and it’s time to move ahead.  In fact, I think my moving crew just arrived.  Rocky Top, I’m coming home

-smk

 

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