Ten Months

Here we are; we’ve arrived at the ten month mark!

These monthly posts always sneak up on me and I always think “Not much as really changed since the last one”, but then I sit down to type and I am awed byt the changes that can happen in a month of a little one:

-new carseat.  We have sadly parted with the baby seat that brought home each of my girls (yes, it was expired by the time Sibby got to it, but we survived!)  I will miss the tinkle of the swinging bird hanging from it, a pavlovian reminder of the first few months of their lives.  I will not miss the weight of the thing and the burdensome amount of square space it took up in our lives.  It took me until Bea’s birth to purchase a snap ‘n go stroller for it and I will miss the ease of getting the baby in and out public spaces without it.

But she really is more of an arm baby now, and soon to be walker.  It was time.  She does enjoy sitting up more, I think, in her convertible car seat.  And one more baby item has floated peacefully away from us, like a piece of driftwood in a stream.

-eating.  This month eating has been varied and not predictable.  She has developed some strong opinions about food, but I’ve yet to be able to iron them out.  She still can’t handle much texture beyond a thick puree or a water soluble puff (she is back to liking these, PTL).  We are at an enjoyable stage where she can suck right from the pouch, forgoing the spoon, also PTL.  Nursing is still frequent during the day (and sadly, night), but has become painful again with the addition of teeth.

-speaking of teeth, she has 6 now that have popped through or almost popped through.  The top and bottom four are out, with eye teeth coming through on the bottom and probably soon the top.  I blame these for our wild nights of (sometimes) waking every two hours wanting to nurse, but really, who knows what is to blame?  The child is barely allowed a moment to self-soothe during the day because every time she awakes from a nap, I need to whisk her off somewhere.  At night, she is still sleeping in her/our closet and I’d rather feed her and be done in ten minutes rather than listen to her cry off and on for an hour or more.

It’s funny that it was called the four month sleep regression, but now it was lasted for six months!  She’s been a bad sleeper far longer than an angel one.

Far from a streak, but the last two nights she has slept two four hour stretches before crying out, so I am hoping the bit of sleep training I added in has curbed the worse-than-newborn every two hour phase.

-flexible movement.  She can go from belly to bottom or bottom to all fours very easily.  She is crawling 50% of the time now, with the other half of the time, preferring her belly (perhaps our new hardwood floors have a little to do with this).  She’s also getting practice with her fine motor skills, picking up puffs (or little bits off the floor), and bringing them to her open mouth.  I hope the crawling does not soon melt away her fluffy thighs and squishy arms.

She’s been doing this a while, but I still find it cute: finding and then rearranging her paci in her mouth.  It just seems so grown-up.

-No longer easily taking naps in our arms, we decided to put her in the church nursery the past two Sundays.  She has taken well to it.  This isn’t her first nursery experience, as she’s been going to child watch at the gym since about 4 months old, but still feels significant.  So far, she’s been my easiest with separation anxiety symptoms, but of course we’re not completely out of the woods yet.

Mercifully, with Sibby I don’t usually get sad about the vestiges of babyhood slipping away. Oddly, I think this is a true sign that she i our last; I find myself often more excited about the future than reminiscent of the past.  But, every once in a while, most especially when I think about how fast this year with her has gone, it cuts me quick.  This year was an unusual one and I do believe it stole some baby moments from me (and some from MG, who was separated from her baby sister for about 4 weeks).  That I do begrudge it.

But I will not told it against you, forever, just a small thing that sometimes comes to mind as I’m drifting to sleep each night.

(and then when I am awoken two hours later, I am wistful no more).

-smk

Sacrifice

If I had the ability to order my perfect day, it would involve line items like waking up at 7:30am (completely well-rested), a 20 minute siesta around the 2 o’clock slump, a scalding bath before bed, and dedicated time to write and sew.

Truthfully, as I contentedly raise little humans, I am glad to get just one of those things worked into any day.  But the past few weeks, as our kitchen project has us living out of suitcases like gypsies, I haven’t seen any of those things, much less had to time to dream of them.

Somehow, this week has still been restful.  A forced period where you can’t do much home maintenance, even if you wanted to (it’s hard to cook when you don’t have a sink, without a dishwasher, it feels futile to eat on anything but paper plates, and there’s no use in tending to carpet that is going to be ripped up in a week).  So many things have been chopped from my plate this week, and as long as I can ignore the chaos it is creating for a little bit, I can find my respite.

The only time of day i find myself ravenously hungry is about half an hour after all the girls fall asleep.  It doesn’t matter if I ate dinner half an hour ago, or at all, I will crawl the walls trying to find something to satiate my hunger and slake the thirst that assails me then too.

During the day, I never really feel a pang of hunger, though sometimes recognize an odd feeling of dizziness or nausea and know that it’s probably time to eat, but come about 8-8:30pm, you will find me in the kitchen, decompressing over a bowl of cereal (the perfect bedtime snack because it speaks to both the hunger AND the thirst.)

It is Lenten season.  A time of reflection and preparation we did not observe in our homes growing up, but something I was introduced to in college. (and I think it has since broadened much more outside of the Catholic tradition).  It’s a hard one to explain to the girls. “Instead of getting something everyday, (like Advent), you have to give something up!”

N and I typically “give up” the same thing, to keep company with one another and hold each other accountable.  It always brings up interesting discussions about discipline (we both approach it very differently), temptation (once again, very different), and creates a warm feeling of what we have to look forward to when our period of fasting is over.

I try not to talk about it too much, publicly, because in many ways, doesn’t this defeat the purpose of a Biblical fast?  But for the sake of penning the experience, I can tell you that this year, as well as most other years (I tend to skip the years that I am pregnant, as I feel pretty self-righteous about what I am already sacrificing), we are fasting from sugar.

Lodged right after the saccharine holidays of Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, we are ready for Lent to slow down our ramped up consumption of the unnecessary filler that has become all to common place in our home, due to the above.  Because sugar is so addictive, it is really hard for us.  Embarrassingly so. And my body reacts as if it is going through withdrawal, with headaches, and night sweats, and scheming.

But if you can hold out long enough, you will turn the corner eventually, and the offender will lose its dominance in your life.  That’s the goal, anyway.  Going without sugar changes your palette and even your tolerance for it.  I am now enjoying foods that once would have tasted bland, but now are satisfying in other ways because they are fatty (like an avocado), or naturally sweet (bananas, carrots, almonds). And to the contrary, sweet foods that I could have easily passed over in the past (a store bought cookie), suddenly make me weak in the knees.

I have a fondness for church message boards, the kind you see with the illuminated backgrounds and black, blocky letters (always capitalized).  I always read them. Down here in the Bible belt, they are all the more common too.  The punny ones make the smile, the eyeroll inducing ones send me snitching back to N.  The Bible verses make me think, and the obviously flawed doctrinal ones make me cringe.

I appreciate a church that can keep up with a weekly rotation of it.  They will not grow weary in their diligence, and my driving entertainment value is thankful for their efforts.

There is one I have passed often this week.  It doesn’t have a verse or sinners in the hands of an angry God mini-sermon, just a punchy “Sacrifice, Sacrifice, Sacrifice”.

That’s it?  I thought as glanced over, hastily eyeing it on my way to school pickup.  Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.  I AM, I thought as I first read it as a command.  I am sacrificing so much.  YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I AM SACRIFICING RIGHT NOW.

I drove away, disappointed, thinking perhaps a word of encouragement would have helped me feel better about ALL THE SACRIFICES I AM MAKING RIGHT NOW.

But the next time I felt a little slighted by the girls, it suddenly welled up in my brain.  Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.  Like a drummer pounding out a beat. The next time I lost (several hours of) sleep, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, a quiet rhythm in the lonely dark.  The cookies, the novel I can’t quite finish, the me time.  It’s all on the line and often gets slashed, usually in order to give importance to something else.

So is the call to the mother, and may we be more sanctified because of it.  Easter is coming!

-smk

Nine Months

Nine months with our little Sib and this is what the last month has looked like:

-eating puffs: one of my favorite milestones because it gives me a chance to eat my dinner, too, and keeps her entertained at the table for much longer.  Victory!

-rocking on all fours and army crawling: I know this was mentioned last month but she can army crawl ANYWHERE now, and very quickly, as well as getting up on all fours as if she’s going to crawl.  She has also been able to get up onto the first step and a few other wiley places (my favorite one being my lap as I type this).  The last few days, she’s been teasing us by getting up into a crawling position and rocking back and forth, before plopping back onto her belly and looking at us lackadaisically as we urge her on. Last night she took her first  awkward, wobbly, but “crawling steps”, though!

-a tuft of hair that refuses to lay down.  (one day she woke up and it was just there).  Bea’s curls started like this, and at this month too (although she had quite a bit more at this point), so I’m hoping that is what we have to look forward to (and not just wild hair)

-first tooth, well make that teeth!  Three have popped through, with one on the way.  The top and bottom two, at that.  It hasn’t been until these last two or three days where they have been giving her fits.  She’s run a slight fever, been really cranky, congested, and true to form, not sleeping well at all.`

-yeah, sleep has been pretty non-existent (well, at night only.  Good naps still, THANKFULLY).  Third child, last child.  We’ll get through it.

-saying Dada a lot but I don’t think it means anything right now, just a way to add to the ever ongoing conversation around her

-growing out of more baby gear: the bumpo, exersaucer, and johnny jump up have all been packed away or sold.  She now uses the grocery cart seat rather than staying in her infant carrier the whole time.  She likes to sit and look at books or toys for a little bit but before you know it, she is on her belly scooting around and looking for trouble.

She loves her big sisters.  MG is still my right-hand man and can get her out of the car seat, feed her, rock her, she steps in to do just about anything to help without my asking.  Just this month, Bea has started to show more interest in her and isn’t as deterred by her cries (both a positive AND a negative).  Still so grateful for these three girls I get to call mine and feel more certain than ever that this is the end of growing our family and the beginning of truly enjoying it as is.

 

-smk

 

Updates

One of my favorite podcasts, that I highly recommend to any mom of littles, is Glorious in the Mundane by Christy Nockels.  Each one is a little balm to my soul in the midst of my often packed-too-much-in-to-another one days.  If a day goes smoothly enough, and I’m able to carve a little creative time into my afternoon, I often enjoy doing my projects while she proclaims truth over me in her soothing, Tennessee drawl.  Trust me on this, and mine a little gold from her archived episodes if you haven’t listened already.

I think I say this in some form, nearly every post as of late, but I’ve felt really overwhelmed with all the day-to-day lately (details explained below).  The lesson that has been impressed on me very loudly lately, for maybe the first time in all of my mothering, is it’s good to wake up and feel like you can’t make it without Jesus’s help.

I can’t remember a time where I’ve ever had to rely on Him so much, not mentally but physically. And faithfully, of course, He always shows up.   Life has a way of helping me, oh so often, not to become prideful.  I just wanted to make sure and say this in case my girls are reading this someday in the same stage of life I am now.  It’s okay (and sometimes maybe even for the betterment of your children) if you feel like you don’t have it all together. Christy’s latest podcast is about this and I have a feeling this sentiment is going to be woven into a theme for me throughout this year.  That and Time.  No mom guilt here, I just want to make sure I’m giving my girls the best of my time so I am putting in place some safeguards to make sure that happens.  Time will be my friend, not my enemy in 2017.

If the days goes smoothly enough and Sibby takes a morning nap at the right time when we don’t have errands to run or dinner to prep, or what not, Bea and I sit down to do “school”.  We like Kumon books, as well as other Amazon recommended workbooks that guide us through following directions and fine motor skills.  I thought I didn’t enjoy “homeschooling” but I was wrong.  This time it has been fun (I think I am utilizing more resources this time and better able to block out time for it, as when MG was in three-school, Bea was a year older than Sibby is now…ie not napping in the mornings and into everything).

Bea enjoys the time and attention I’m able to give her during these moments, precious little does it feel for all of us.  She has not mastered her letters or sounds but it thrills my heart that she is learning to follow directions, a skill that seemed lagging in her as of yet.  She is a willing and eager student so long as I don’t push her too much.  (Hindsight with MG also showed me that the concepts will come, waiting until she’s ready is mutually beneficial.)

Today I reached back into an old pocket of my brain and taught her, line-by-line, how to draw a simple cat.  I didn’t tell her what we were drawing first, as I didn’t want her to have any pre-conceived notions, but instead modeled what I wanted her to draw, a line at a time.  Before the final mark, she had accurately guessed what we were working on.  It was then she took ownership of her drawing, adding in the eyes, dot nose, and stick-line mouth as she saw fit.  Dotted noses and small heads are very characteristic of three year old drawings and I counted it a win that I had saved her from the latter, while her chosen dotted nose actually worked pretty well this time.

Sadly, but really not too sadly, Sibby seems to have outgrown her johnny jump-up and exersaucer.  I counted on those two things for the better part of three months to keep her contained and happy during dinner, sewing time, or meal prep.  Now she just fusses and cries in them, angry at her freedom being taken away.  It feels good to be able to peaceably part with them, though.  Another reminder of moving forward into the exciting future and leaving behind the relics of babyhood for the next family to enjoy.

She is up on all fours, rocking, before falling to her belly to drag herself the rest of the way to her final destination.  It always amazes me, around this milestone in particular, how babies have an innate sense to just “do the next thing” without any apparent lessons or help from us.  They seem to be born with some kind of wind-up clock that ticks and rings to remind them to start practicing the next feat at just the right time.  And then I can’t help but wonder, is this a gift we’ve been given our entire lives?  Certainly now, any skill we master seems to be chosen by our own volition and carefully mastered under precise lessons, but…it does beg the question, when do we really stop growing?

We are undergoing a small kitchen renovation (apparently we did NOT lose the itch, even after our last house).  We’ve removed a quarter wall to open it up and increase the use of our island (peninsula?).  N and his dad built open shelves for us to make up for the cabinets we lost in the process.  We’ll add new countertops, paint the remaining cabinets, and add some new appliances.  Before the process is over, we’ll also add new flooring on the main level and stairs, as well as say goodbye to the old carpet (apparently my kids can’t handle ivory carpet in the main living spaces as it has already been marked a number of times from nail polish, permanent marker, Sibby’s spit up, and food stains).  Construction is chaos but it’s a change I welcome, knowing and hoping the end result is worth it.  I’ll post some before, durings, and afters when it’s done (one more month?)!

Until then,

a very tired, but happy

-smk

Newborn fog

Slowly but surely, I feel I am emerging from the fog.  In the early days, a newborn is a welcome interruption to life’s most mundane tasks.  The laundry, meal prep, and house cleaning, though added to by the new addition, don’t call to me as much as my babe. And I am able to put them off to tend to her with little reprocussions.

Somewhere about halfway between there and now, i begin to long for order, rhythm, and, well, clean things.  And I attempt to reintegrate those chores back into normal life.  It takes a while to adjust as I tend to jump in rather blindly to all the parts plus a newest member who is still very needy.  So it takes me until about now to feel like life is working for me again.  And what a good feeling it is.

Consequently, I’ve had more time for hobbies and reading, two luxuries that greatly improve a life that doesn’t see very many things beyond the inside of a house on most days.

I have picked up a needle hoop embroidery project and I’m tending to it slowly, over the little tv I allow myself in the evenings, as long as my mind is not too tired and my eyes able to stay awake.

I have discovered the joys of audio books, a natural progression from podcasts.  It started when my subscribed podcasts weren’t updating quickly enough and I needed something filler in the interim. I then remembered the “free” subscription to Audible through Amazon prime and began exploring the free selections they had.  A TN friend clued me into Hoopla, a service of our public library, which has videos, e books, and audio books but never any wait time. These two things have kept my mind busy when my body is tired but things still yearn to be completed.


I worked on and recently finished the first ever top I’ve made for myself.  Ive had a brown knit gauze sitting in my stash for about 2 years now and couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it in the two purges my sewing room has been through.  Finally it called to me and I instantly envisioned what I wanted to make from it: something flowy and loose, similar to the boutique-y handmade tops that are so popular these days.  It was a simple stitch up, taking me about two naptimes to complete (which included a lot of thinking time since I wasn’t following a specific pattern).  Ultimately, though it has its flaws, I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I left the bottom un-hemmed, but serged, liking the way it hangs in a hi-low style.  The shoulders are low like many of the dolman styles I see in stores today. I added two different collars to the neck, but ultimately cut them off, serged, and turned under once for a simple , but light sitting collar.  Finally, I added a snap in the middle placket to keep it modest, but I love snap/button plackets for nursing.
I recently bought a brown, suede fabric remnant at one of my favorite local fabric stores during a sale and hope to turn it into something similar before winter’s out.  Just waiting for the right inspiration to strike, because as I’ve learned many times, if it’s not there, it’s not worth pushing through to find it.

At that same fabric store, I picked up a few lycra knits.  They are so stretchy and have the softest hand.  I already had some projects in mind for them, so I picked up a baby blue (things for my nephew first, then for the girls with what’s leftover) and a dusty pink.  I’ve already cut into the blue and turned out three items from it: a raglan dress for Sib, and a knotted gown and ringer tee for coming-soon-nephew.  (raglan dress and ringer tee patterns here).  My scan n cut was used to cut the iron-on vinyl decals.  I love a multi-layered project. So satisfying!

Tomorrow I will cut into the pink fabric.  I’ve got an open tab to see if I can find the #milliedress in English for free!

Also from that haul came an orange and white seersucker with navy blue embroidered bows.  That was turned into a bow tie for my neckwear loving N.  I dream of making a summer outfit for Sib out of the remainder.  Finally I picked up a pale yellow cotton, soft as silk.  Maybe a bubble romper or fluttery dress or two will come out of it, come spring.

As exercise is to the body, creating is to the mind.  A necessary diversion and a way to release the toxins from the social strata that keep creeping in.  Every afternoon that I get a few minutes to myself in my sewing room is a good day!

-smk

Eight Months pt 2

(part one is really unrelated but what came out first as I started typing this post. Read here if you wish)

Eight months with our sweet Sib and this is what I know to be true:

-she has now lived longer in TN than IN

-she is a great napper but terrible night sleeper, for now

-she no longer lets us rock her to sleep, even at night.  She prefers to find her own path to the sandman.  This is 1) a bit sad to give up this rite, and 2) difficult because when she finds herself inexplicably awake between the hours of 3am-5am, not wanting to be by herself in her crib, not wanting to be in our arms to rock, and only able to eat once during this time.  So…I’m just supposed to…play with her??

-she is doing really well with the solids.  Never mind that I am trying to keep my ivory carpet free of the pumpkin orange and putrid green spit up. She’s also been able to eat little bits of cheese this month and suck fruit through a mesh strainer.  Her appetite for real food has seen a huge uptick and her interest in nursing has simultaneously decreased.

-she is full on army crawling and pretty determined to get to anything she eyes.  She has also gotten up on all fours so I think she will be “regular-crawling” this month.  It’s definitely the more efficient way for her, but also the more undesirable path for myself as it means…baby proofing, emptied cabinets, and the like.

-she is still a happy, sweet baby and we all delight in making her giggle

-she LOVES baths and will barrel roll continuously in the water while splashing and trying to drink it.  Due to her messy eating habits, she requires one nearly every evening, if not more frequently.

She has little tufts of white-blond hair, coming in rather thick this month.  She is solid in form, but not heavy.  Her legs are corpulent, as well as her puffy feet, which have very little use other than to be another object to mouth.  Her arms carry the most loose skin, as little balls of dough stack one on top of each other.  You can squeeze for a while before finding anything firm of muscle or bone. I will be sad to see these thin down as she becomes more adept at crawling.

She is Heaven wrapped up in a fleshy little babe and I’m so thankful for the thirty-five weeks she’s been ours

-smk

Eight Months

I thought I would be really sad to type out those two words: eight months.  The meaning of them being that we are well into the first year of life and rapidly leaving behind the blissful newborn days I adore so much.  But as I double check my heart after laying them out there, there are no negative feelings that remain.

Maybe that’s because these past three months have felt more newborn than I care to admit (a la sleep probs), or maybe because I feel a quickening excitement for the stage that is coming (the one that doesn’t involve so much round-the-clock high maintenance), or maybe it’s due to what I would like to hope is the most true: we are finally catching our breath after the whirlwind of 2016 and I am starting to really enjoy life again.

With this being my third round of infancy, I am in a very contented position.  I am familiar with the fleeting spell of this season, so I am able to enjoy the nuances of each month and the milestones each one brings.  I am also keen to note that because it moves by so rapidly, these dog days (or should I say nights) won’t matter much in a month or two, just an anecdote in a few years. “Sibby was, by far, my worst sleeper”.  This third trial has brought me the most peace in that regard.

As if it needed any more encouragement, Sibby’s sleep habits have quickly closed any door that cautiously remained cracked for future siblings.  She’s our baby, and it seems she wants it to remain that way.  I love our family like this.  I love having three girls.  I love this stage they are in now and I am trying to catch it all with my eyes and press it closely to my heart to not miss a sacred moment.  But every once in a while, I get knocked down by a wave of grief as I think about this season of life closing.  A birth announcement, a wet baby pressed to a mother’s chest, a silky-haired ragdoll sleeping in his bassinet.

Those moments seize up my heart for a little bit and cause me to second guess myself, “are you sure.  Are you really sure?”

It’s funny because I have no desire to be pregnant again, no desire to labor again, no desire to go through the newborn stages again (thanks to a certain 8 month old), no desire to lose the baby weight again.  It’s just for those few blessed moments in the hospital and a few fears (that the girls will lack without a third sibling, that our family will always feel someone’s missing, that we will regret our decision) that occasionally bring me back to a place of doubt.

But then the moment passes and I realize it is just part of the dance of grief.  There is no way to remove it at once, like an offensive mole with a scalpel, it comes out in bits and pieces.  A little here, a little there.  Consuming you just for a second before releasing you back to reality.

I’ve been a student of grief this past year and I am still trying to understand it because I seek to do it well.  I didn’t realize, at first, that these moments were a part of a grief process, but once I was able to name it as that, it gave me a lot more power over them.  Now, instead of letting overwhelming feelings cause me to doubt myself, I lean into them a little, press back on the bruise, and put myself a little farther down the line towards healing each time.

It’s okay to feel sad.  It’s good to feel sad.  Experience is better than ignorance.

These past seven years, the ones that began with this indelible moment, have been wonderful, and I only look back on them with the ruddiest of rose colored glasses.  My body swelled with life, and I swelled with pride.  I loved the attention it brought me. I loved having several close girlfriends cross that threshold with me.  Not lacking in confidence, I knew I was going to be the best mom ever.  And I spent days reveling in a daydream of what motherhood was going to look like.

Well that was a wishful thinking at its best, but, I would say, save for about 5% of agony, I’ve enjoyed these baby-rocking, toddler-raising, preschool-answering, elementary-hugging years.  I move ahead with a little trepidation that the next seven years won’t somehow be as good, or as sweet, or that I won’t relish them as much because they will somehow be mundane.

But that would mean I’ve lived my seven best years already, and I refuse to let that be,

-smk

Updates

The past few afternoons have been spent vetting preschools for Bea (for next year, though enrollment begins soon).  I was lamenting to N how I miss living in a small town and only having a few options to choose from.  He lovingly reminded me that I felt the opposite way when I lived in that small town.  Grass, greener.

Sibby’s suddenly reverted into a newborn and has me up and down every two hours consistently, for the past three nights.  Well it’s worse than a newborn really because she should be old enough to be through this by now and none of my newborns were EVER this bad with sleep.  (Bea was doing four-six hour stretches the night we brought her home and MG was not too far behind that).

I can’t nap though, not with school pickup in the middle of my day and a few precious moments of quiet time immediately proceeding. My body has gotten into the habit of it, and I’ve prayed that God would take my broken 6 hours of sleep and turn them into 8.  So I’m functioning through it, and find my linguistic skills are the most affected.  By the time 4pm rolls around, I can barely carry on a conversation without mumbling, losing my train of thought, or having a moment of panic where I can’t come up with the correct word.

In the evenings, I should go to bed at 8:30 after I put Sibby down.  I should.  But I don’t.  I stay up, sometimes as late as 11, just to show the clock who’s boss.  It’s the only time in my day where I control my hours, so it’s worth it to me, most nights. It makes me feel human.  And besides, I may as well stay up for one more feeding to get it behind me before my first nap of the night.

It’s winter here but it doesn’t much feel like it.  The temps have been hovering around 60-65, sometimes higher.  The trees in our backyard were vivid green, then scaled backwards through the rainbow, and now they are a morbid brown.  We have tipped back over to the waxing sunset, the one that appears a little later each day.  We are winter in looks but spring on the brain.

That is, until about 4pm, then we are winter in the brain too.

-smk

2017

After the last post, I think it goes without saying, I’m very excited for a fresh start to 2017.   I love getting on social media and seeing that I’m not the only person who feels this way.  It seems there are many of us in a state of reflection and aspiration this January and I’ve loved seeing what others are doing, whether it be food fasts, picking a word to focus on throughout the year, or the good, old-fashioned resolution.  Solidarity.

I, too, carry a torch of hope this January as I look ahead to the big picture of a whole year. Three-hundred and sixty-five days of a blank slate.  In 2017, I want to obtain SETTLEMENT, to feel PEACEFUL, and RESTFUL.  I don’t have any specific resolutions this year, but I have a lot of prayers and this verse that keeps coming up

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, ESTABLISH, strengthen, and SETTLE you.” 1 Peter 5:10

I’m praying this is the year we find our next church home, our core group of friends, and N finishes his doctorate.  I’m hopeful we can put our finishing touches in this house and make it feel completely like ours and a comfortable resting place for a long time.

I’m dedicated to strengthening my body through time spent in exercise everyday and strengthening my mind by reading more books that I like this year (2016 was kind of a bust for good books for me.  I either didn’t finish or didn’t like most of the ones I read. Plus having a newborn killed my pace for a while).

Right now sewing is my go-to hobby in my afternoon free time but I am behind on Sibby’s baby book and feel the pressure to catch up, and ultimately finish around her first birthday.  I also feel the call to write more and whenever I read a good book, it fills my heart with an even greater longing to do so. I’m hoping that more & higher quality input = more & higher quality output.

I’m paying attention to the way I start to feel a bit sad everyday around 3:30pm.  I’m not sure the significance of this despondent hour; if it’s due to the winter hours and that’s when the light begins to change from full sun to creeping towards sunset, or if it’s when the day starts to feel like it’s over because MG is home from school and my short window of leisure is running out.

I feel stretched thin in my time, to be sure. Managing the needs of the three little ones is a lot, on top of caring for the house, keeping up with hobbies, and the aforementioned exercise. I think it’s good to pay attention to little nigglings of dark feelings and try to root out if they are coming from a good place or a negative one.  So my ear is cocked, proverbially speaking.

Being stretched thin makes me aware that I cannot give each girl my best, and carries with it some guilt.  I can’t decide if this is coming from a place of mom-guilt, remorse, or a true need to manage my time better, so I am paying attention here as well. Trying to manage and schedule us well so that I can feel a satisfaction as I lay my head on the pillow with how I spent each day.  Perhaps that is chasing after a unicorn, so to speak, but I don’t want to look back and think I could have done better, or even given up one small thing that would make a huge difference.

Finally, Is is weird that I am so dedicated to this blog?  That I’m still pecking away at it in the face of a collective blogging demise and despite not turning over a dime for it? I think the answer is yes.  I have steered away from and turned down all offers of sponsored posts because I think they take away from my original mission of the blog, which is to tell my family’s story from my perspective.  I’ve never cared much about growing my audience or scaling it, so to speak, but wrote with a hopeful longing that my humble thoughts will find their way into the hands of the right people. And, the public nature of it keeps me accountable (I’ve found through many false starts that I am not a long-term journaler.  The public nature of this blog is what keeps it running.  The comments and likes feed the bear.)

2017, here I come.  Older and wiser, worn and sleepier.  A fulcrum tipping towards peace and rest, I do so hope.

-smk

Farewell, 2016

2016.  What a year.  WHAT A YEAR

I have this awkward feeling that I’ve had the same conversations over and over this year and between this blog, Instagram (both pages), and my brief fling with Snapchat, I feel as though I have thoroughly dissected 2016, ad naseum.  But just in case I haven’t, and for the sake of my future self, who will surely look back on this post with the hopes of a wrap-up, here is 2016 in a nutshell:

Pregnant with Sibby, N began interviews all throughout IN and TN; sometime in May, N received a job offer in TN.  We were thrilled until communication began drying up and we received word that some changes had been made in administration and all new hires would be un-hired and reinterviewed at a later point.  I gave birth to Sibby, my parents moved to Nashville; Sibby got really sick (still don’t know the cause or what to officially call it) ;thankfully she made a full recovery; while we were in the hospital, N received a a job offer in Nashville (from a different school than where previously hired and after many, many more interviews); we came home, put our house on the market and two days later left for vacation in Rosemary beach; on our way home from vacation, we dropped off N in Nashville to begin his job; the girls and I went back home to show and sell our house (important to note Sibs was 6 weeks old at this point); MG started kindergarten in August and went to live with my parents and N while Bea, Sibby, and I stayed back in IN to sell our house and buy a new one. We found our TN house that month after several misfires with the crazy-hot market, including being outbid by way over asking price at least once (a house would hit the market, N would go look at it that day while Facetiming me. If we liked it, we would be prepared to make an offer that night).  In July we celebrated 10 years of marriage!  It was supposed to be a big trip somewhere, but after the year we had, we threw together a little celebration in Nashville somewhere (we were just happy to be in the same city at that point!). We moved in on Labor Day weekend and my sister told us she was expecting!!  (we would later find out it was a BOY!).  Things finally began to calm down a bit but we still hadn’t sold our house until November when we got two offers within 48 hours, had some extensions and back and forths, but we finally signed the closing paperwork early this month.  We thought we were done, in the clear, and then we received the terrible news that my very good friend Amy had passed away.

That was, quite possibly, the longest paragraph I’ve ever allowed on this blog and just reading it makes my throat constrict in anxiety just a little bit. Those are just the facts, the bones if you will.  It doesn’t include the meat of this year.

What it also doesn’t include is… the times N would go south to interview. The stress of the interviews and how we never knew (but had to be prepared for) where we would end up.

It doesn’t include the pressure of having to get the house show-ready after coming home from an unexpected week stay at the hospital and leaving for vacation two days later (thankfully my mom was there..WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE WITHOUT HER).

…The way Sibby had to be forced out in an induction & her birth was almost a mirror image of MG’s, minus the 3 hours of pushing and the pushy doctors.  This came after months of praying it wouldn’t be this way.

….The immense sadness and dread I felt at being alone for 8 weeks with the three little ones (including an unpredictable infant). (Like that time a tornado came through and came as close to our house as ever before)  Add to this, the showings at all hours of the day and weeks of trying the shuffle my rag tag team around by myself while also getting and keeping the house in show-order.

…Sending MG off to kindergarten tore me up and not being there for her for the first few weeks was AWFUL.  Then with a new job came growing pains and new stresses as you take on, not only a new school, but a new district, a new state, culture, and climate as well.

It doesn’t include that we had to say goodbye to some solid friendships, church, and neighbors, and start completely over, knowing it would take a year or more to find our footing.

It doesn’t include the back-breaking move and how this year HURT financially as we met our deductible between birth and infection (followed shortly by changing insurances—ughhh), moved on our own dime, set up our house and all the many expenses that came swooping in right away, and spent 3 months paying two mortgages.  This was stressful at the time but I don’t want to remember it as a negative because somehow, I don’t even know how, He worked this out.  Somehow it all worked out.

It doesn’t include that kindergarten has brought a pervasive undercurrent of sadness.  Oddly, it’s exactly what I expected but I also expected it to be better by now.  The household just doesn’t feel with same without MG in it at all times. I miss her.  The other girls do too.

It doesn’t include that I still don’t feel recovered from having a baby.  Amidst everything else I’ve been doing this year, I’m still trying to make my body, hair, and skin behave after what they’ve been through.  I know it’s only been 7 months so that is normal of course, but still 16 months (7+9) is still a long time to feel like you are living in an unfamiliar body.  And when I find myself looking around and taking stock of my new life, new house, new state, it would be nice to have something familiar, one thing that personally belongs to me that I could count on.

It doesn’t include the election, which is more of a national thing than a personal one, but I was blindsided by and unprepared for the emotions that the election results brought about and I think I spent a good week in an emotional fog.

It doesn’t include that we had to fire our first realtor and our second realtor was a GODSEND because we ended up having some drama with the sale, and had to make some hard decisions that he navigated us through.

It doesn’t include, what I feel is, a brush with death for our dear Sib (the sepsis infection), and then the very real death of my friend Amy that completely shocked me and terrified me and kept me in a state of fear and sadness for much of the remainder of this year.

This year was HARD.  In so many ways.  And probably the HARDEST one I’ve lived through, definitely the hardest one of our marriage.  But the things that came out of it were good.  Very good.  We have Sibby.  We have a wonderful job.  We have MG in school at, what we would consider, our DREAM school. We have a house with all the amenities we could ever want. We have my parents.  We have my sister and brother-in-law (and soon to be NEPHEW).  We have the south.  And more importantly, we have a better sense of God’s love for us, a testimony of how He redeems us, and a story of His faithfulness.

And I know I experienced an intimacy with Him that I hope will not be soon forgotten.  I can remember how He took my fear away when I was living by myself  (a true miracle because I am prone to fear so often).  I can remember PHYSICALLY feeling His presence with me at times which I can’t ever remember feeing before in my life.  He spoke so clearly to me during this entire year, right from the verse He gave me on December 31, 2015 which stopped me in my tracks,

Isaiah 43:6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’  

to the support system He gave me through friends and our neighbors when I was weak and vulnerable on my own.

I don’t like to reflect too much on this year because it instantly induces a leap of panic, but I do want to purposefully remember how loud and clear His voice was and how He just kept showing up with more and more love for us.

2016 took a lot out of me.  I feel wind whipped and like I’m still catching my breath after a(n unplanned and untrained for) marathon.  But It also gave me a lot.  Probably the most any year has ever given me.  So for that, 2016, I thank you, but I am eager to move ahead into your (hopefully) PEACEFUL and RESTFUL brother, 2017.

-smk

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