Daily Rhythms: Guest Post Abby

In case you’re new here, I’m doing a series called Daily Rhythms where I showcase snippets of both myself and others’ lives. You can catch up here.
This Daily Rhythms post comes from a suburban mom, living in a Victorian style mansion (it’s dreamy), in the Midwest.  Abby is another friend I met at Taylor and I have been following closely to her story since then.  She is a gifted writer and curates a blog filled with delicious recipes, artistic snippets, and daily musings.   She is a mom of four, with ages spanning from 1mo to seven years old. Yes, she is well-rounded and inspiring in all the right ways
Abby’s artistic vision extends beyond her blog and she has created many beautiful things with her hands. This fall I purchased one of her handmade cowls and have been so pleased with it;  (Check out her Etsy shop here) These cowls are so affordable and less fussy than a scarf (which I love!).
I was especially interested to hear what Abby’s days entail with 4 little ones, especially with the youngest being a newborn.  It’s rare to find someone that still faithfully blogs after having four children and for her insights I am extremely grateful :)
Follow her story along with me:
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(P.S. When I asked people to participate in this little exchange, I gave them very little boundaries or rules.  I just told them to make it their own.  It’s been fun to see how people took that charge and each added to it their own writing style)
5:30 am finish the last round of night nursing my 3 week old baby girl and fall back asleep with her on my chest.
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7:20 am-Greeted by Isabelle and Vera as they climb into my bed to say good morning. Vera plays with her current collection of “toys”, today they are a baby bottle, red potatoes and a coffee carafe. Isabelle snuggles under the covers next to me to chat while I nurse Eliza.
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8:00am-I roll out of bed and leave the girls talking with Eliza while I get ready. First, I run to the kitchen downstairs and pour myself a cup of coffee. Most nights I prep it all so when Nate gets up for work he brews it and fills up his thermos and leaves the rest for me to enjoy when I wake up. It is a great system! Then upstairs I go to the bathroom to check if my hair needs tweaking (read: spray with water bottle and re-dry) or if I can get away with it as is. I put on some makeup. (yes I do this every day and yes I do have four children one of which is a newborn…it can be done ladies😊)
 Vera always wanders in during this time and insists I put on her daily dosage of lipstick. I happily comply. Then I pick out my outfit for the day, add some jewelry, make all the kids’ beds and pick up anything in their rooms that is out. I rarely (if ever) go downstairs in the morning without everything being entirely in order upstairs. It makes me feel calm, put together and happy. I know the rooms won’t stay that way, which is fine, but to me order of home makes me feel stress free and I think it helps my children have a bit more control of themselves as well.

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8:40isham-Make oatmeal for the babes and nurse Eliza again if she is fussy to ensure she is happy for the quick car ride.
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8:55am-Load all the kids into the car.
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9:00am-Drive to school and drop Isabelle off and head back home.
9:15am- Fix breakfast for myself…today it was biscuits with butter and honey and of course more coffee. I eat it while watching my favorite youtubers and giving Eliza a good long morning nurse.
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10amish-Clean up from the morning and prep lunch and dinner in the kitchen. I try to bring Eliza in the rooms where I am working, even if she is asleep, because I just want her to feel like people are always there. Vera always pulls up a stool to help me make whatever I am making. Judah is usually playing video games at this point.
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12:00-Nate comes home for lunch (yes every day, yes I love it!) and we all eat together and catch up on our days thus far.
12:50-I make Nate a latte to go and we send Judah off to Kindergarten on his bus. I come inside and on less full days I text my friend Joanna (who lives across the street) to see if she wants to come over and hang out. Today it didn’t work.
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1:00-Read with Vera, make my afternoon latte with a little something to nibble on while I work on emails, my Zumba playlists, my Bible study and my blog. During this time I nurse Eliza again and paint Vera’s nails. ( yes I paint her nails about every other day…what can I say she is her mother’s daughter)
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3:20-Load up Vera and Eliza to go get Isabelle and Judah at school. We walk to get them from their teachers and then everyone gets to burn some steam at the playground.
**Disclaimer**
If I was not just three weeks postpartum we would all  be heading to the YMCA. Nate and I take a Body Pump class for one hour together and then I teach my Zumba class for one hour. The kids play in the childcare and Nate catches up on work. But since I cannot go back to work until next week😊 Then this schedule is a little different than normal.
4:15-Go through backpacks, help with homework, make Isabelle’s lunch and sit down to nurse.
4:30-Nate comes home and I either run errands, make dinner or chill while the kids play.
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5:30/6-Dinner.
6:30-Nightly walk (we have been doing this since we aren’t currently going to the Y…we need something to fill the void of releasing energy!)
7:30-While Nate plays with the kids I often will take a bath, get in my jammies, pick up the kids’ rooms, get all the rooms ready for bed and lay out their outfits for the following morning. It makes things flow a lot smoother.
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8:00pm-Nate puts the older three down while I browse the internet and nurse Eliza. This step takes far longer than we wish it did, but putting kiddos down just isn’t fast.
9:00pm-One of my favorite times of day. Nate and I sit down together on our green coach. We often grab a nightly snack knowing that no little person will ask to share. We watch Hulu and usually laugh a lot as we process the day during commercial breaks! I am usually nursing Eliza for much of this time because she cluster feeds before bed and then sleeps for a huge portion of the night. Love that
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10:45pm-I prep coffee for the next morning and we head up to bed. I kiss all my babies goodnight, nurse Eliza, tell Nate I love him as he drifts off to sleep and scroll through Instagram until my eyelids are too heavy to keep them open. Then off to sleep I go until sweet little Eliza Mae lets me know she needs to eat.
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I love what Abby said about picking up around the house; how it makes her feel more calm and possibly her kids as well.  I can totally relate!  (and also secretly glad to hear it’s still entirely possible with four :)).  Thank you so much, Abby, for sharing a little slice of your life.  Full of good food, family time, and fellowship; it sounds entirely lovely.
-smk

Updates

{In case you missed it, here some of the previous house updates we’ve done.}

The weather is beautiful here today.  Seventy-five, sunny, and partly breezy.  More early than late fall.  We ran out early this morning and finished our Monday errands and then ate lunch and did schoolwork (sidewalk chalk alphabet of course) outside.

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It was heavenly.  I’m trying really hard not to let my mind believe what my body is telling me…that spring is around the corner.  But I’m not trying too hard, because I am of the opinion that a little ignorance never hurt anybody.

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N was on fall break this past week and we took advantage of his time at home to get some house work accomplished.  One of our awesome sitters (holla for living in a small town in between two Christian universities) came over on Thursday and then Grandma came over on Friday, freeing up even more of our time to work.

And on that note, we put the finishing touches on the powder room!  The first room in the house to be completely d-o-n-e (for now :))!

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(The paint color is Old Navy by Benjamin Moore.  Light fixtures are from Lowe’s.  Mirror is antique.  Shelves are made by Nate.  Illustrations on wall are from artist Mari Kloeppel)

Also, we had our fireplace installed this weekend(!!!!!!!!)  I am so incredibly excited to have a fireplace; I’ve been dreaming about one for the past 8 years.

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It’s about 85% finished so more pics to come.

We’ve moved upstairs and started work in the hallway.  We didn’t have ANY hallways in our last house so I’ve had fun dreaming up possibilities for this little space.

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After the stairs are finished being painted (no they won’t stay both grey and white–just grey–this was just N’s genius way of painting them while we were still able to use them) we will lay down a runner.bDSC_0056 bDSC_0049

We hung a “hometown” gallery wall in the hallway.  You can purchase some art like this for yourself in my shop :)

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(the pink barn and field are well-known landmarks near where we fell in love <3)

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N started tearing up the hallway carpeting and I think we will lay down a herringbone patterned wood floor…ideally made from an old, dead tree we cut down in the yard.  Wouldn’t that be amazing if it worked??

Next up: the wall of books to go in the “library”, painting the upstairs, and a fun little project I am working on for the upstairs hallway.

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Stay tuned!!

-smk

Daily Rhythms: Guest Post Erica

This summer I started a blog series called Daily Rhythms (you can catch up here).  One of these Daily Rhythms posts chronicled 24 hours with me.  A few weeks later I received an invitation to “swap” 24 hours stories and I shared with you my friend Kacey’s account.  The readers loved it.  So I decided I would ask a few ladies (that also blog) if they would be willing to contribute an entire day’s post to my blog.  How interesting is it to read how other people (especially those with different circumstances…ie number of kids, location, life circumstances, etc.) live?  So here is a day in the life of Erica, as seen on The View From Africa Erica

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Erica and I met quite a few years ago at our alma mater, Taylor University.  I met her through some mutual friends and have enjoyed watching her family grow over the past few years.  She is married to Dr. Matt and has two little boys:  Bo who is 3, Max who is 13 months.  (notice that her boys are almost the exact same ages/spreads of my girls)

At the time of her 24 hour writing, Max, who was adopted from Ethiopia, had been home only 5 weeks.  FIVE WEEKS and her life already seems so….normal :)  I followed their journey of first announcing their plans to adopt and then what felt like forever months later they were headed to Africa to first meet him (and pass court) and then a few weeks later a second time (to bring him HOME)

Erica works from home for her husband Matt’s dental anesthesia practice. They live in the south in a beautifully restored older home (holla!).  You have to check out her blog and read about them acquiring it!

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Daily Rhythms – Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today I struggle awake to the sounds of my husband getting ready for his day.  I’m thankful that he’s up first and I can stay snuggled in darkness for ten more minutes.  As he gets ready to walk out the door, we discuss a decision that is looming. 5:55 AM isn’t an ideal time for these conversations but Matt is a morning person so he humors me, and in this stage of life we have to grab the moments when we can.  He’s out the door, I shower and then I unload the dishwasher as my coffee brews.

 

I take my spot on the couch in the pool of lamplight and pick up the book I’m reading for Bible study. I haven’t always made it a point to wake up early but with two kiddos I need the time more than ever!  As the sky brightens I hear the kids stirring – the baby first, then Bo.  They have started to play a bit in the morning but I never know how long I have. I get breakfast ready for us – a bowl of oatmeal, today with raisins and pumpkin and cinnamon. I dish the kids’ bowls and put them in the fridge to cool.

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When it sounds like Max might need rescuing from his big brother, I enter. Today Bo is actually IN his brother’s crib . . . oh, well, moving on.  I’m grateful that breakfast today is mostly drama-free.  Max eagerly finishes a bowl of oatmeal and then feeds himself for a while and I pause to acknowledge his accomplishments – trying new textures and using a spoon! I make Bo’s lunch, pack it in his Star Wars lunchbox, and get the kids dressed.  Max has done a great job playing on the floor today and letting me get ready. So many times I focus only on the hurdles and I want to practice gratitude and celebrate our achievements!

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We’re out the door around 8:30 to walk Bo to school.  My neighbor-friend is leaving her house at the same time and she does half of the walk with us.  I’m thrilled to have her company. Bo is wearing his rainboots and we stop at every puddle and all the spookiest houses to admire their Halloween decorations.

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At school I kiss my big guy goodbye, and head back home, faster and quieter without my little sidekick, but a bit lonelier.  I love this walk and never tire of the beautiful homes on these streets. Soon we are home and Max is snuggled up with a bottle before his morning nap. I read him a story and place him on his tummy and walk out. He chatters but doesn’t cry – another moment to celebrate! I sit down in our home office to crank out an hour of phone calls and paperwork before I have to wake Max up . . . I hate to do it but he won’t nap well in the afternoon if I don’t. He pops up cheerfully and I encourage him to following me around the house with the walker while I get ready to head out the door.

 

As soon as he sees the car seat, Max starts to cry . . . and keeps at it.  We postpone errands for Barnes and Noble so he can get some time at the train table and a good lunch in.  We go from there to Target to grab diapers and baby food and then to the post office before landing back at home. Max goes down for his nap again and I take my lunch in to the office to deal with the calls I missed while we were out.  When Matt’s case goes long, I ask my sister-in-law to pick up Bo from school for me and I get a double bonus when she takes him to her house for an hour.  I use the time to start dinner and enjoy the quiet as I listen to music and chop veggies for chicken soup. Matt comes home and heads out to the backyard to work on the treehouse he spontaneously started two days before.  At 3:00 my sister-in-law brings Bo home and her three boys. They tumble out of the car and head for the tree fort as the baby wakes up.  I chat with  Courtney and Matt for the next hour as we watch our stairstep boys – ages 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 – climb and slide and swing down the zipline. Soon they are perfect muddy messes from head to toe.

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Bo’s school has reserved the local pumpkin patch for the evening so we head out and bring Bo’s closest-in-age cousin along.  They enjoy the mini maze and Max parks at the corn troughs for some sensory play.  I’m thankful Matt can be there with us, and even though my messy children mean it isn’t a picture perfect pumpkin patch experience, the kids have fun and we enjoy the fall afternoon together.

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We drop my nephew off at his house and race home as the dinnertime hour means meltdowns are on the horizon.  Bo is too dirty to eat so I give him a quick shower and set him down for chicken soup, which is not well received.  Matt heads out for the night to a concert so I keep the baby’s dinner simple and get him bathed while Bo realizes he does like chicken soup after all.  A couple books, a bottle for the baby, and a dozen kisses later, my little men are tucked into their shared room and I coast through our quiet house, picking up toys, unloading Bo’s backpack and admiring the day’s artwork.

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I take my soup to the couch to enjoy with my feet propped up and Hulu cued up on our TV.  I soak up the alone time. I’m dead tired, but content, thankful for the victories and head off for bed.

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It all sounds so deeply familiar, doesn’t it mamas?  Even though…even though it’s boys vs. girls, some biological, some adopted, her south, us north, …. we all share some of our rhythms in common.

Thanks for sharing, Erica!

-smk

Reflections on MOMcon

At the beginning of this month, I said goodbye to the fam and headed down south with 4 other ladies for 3 nights away.  Our destination was Momcon, a national conference for MOPS moms, this year attended by over 2,000 moms and notable keynote speakers like Angie Smith and Shauna Niequiest.  Since I joined my local MOPS steering this year, I was invited to go with several of the other ladies on steering.

To be 100% honest, spending so much time away didn’t really sound desirable at first.  Writing “sub plans” and all of the packing and headache that is involved with trying to make sure your kids are cared for the exact same way you do it is….stressful.

On the other hand, I knew this would be a unique opportunity to get to know and develop  deeper relationships with the other ladies that were going.  Sleeping 5 to a hotel room is definitely a quick way to that route ;).  And still being a “newbie” I need to take all of the opportunities I can get :)

So I said yes….but…as the day of departure grew closer though, I felt more and more reluctant to go as the strain of responsibility piled up.  On top of that I was quickly burning out.  This has been a stretching year for me in many ways but namely with moving twice and also opening up an Etsy store to sell my handiwork.

Going into MOMcon weekend I felt empty and spread thin.  I was ready to give up on my brand new store, this blog I have been loyal to for almost three years, and the rest of my beloved hobbies just to have some peace restored back in my life.  Prior to leaving, I prayed a lot that God would show me what direction to go in for these things and that He would grow also my relationships with the other ladies.

I had full confidence that He would show me, speak to me, or even just give me some sort of vague indication of what I should do.  I had no idea how vividly He would answer my prayers.

Not only did He give me the courage the press forward with my shop but He directly encouraged my writing through an old acquaintance I ran into there.  I walked away from the sessions feeling so “full” and encouraged. Full seems to be the best word to describe what I was feeling.  I felt so near to God through the constant cycle of ordained words and worship.  My brain was on fire with all of the challenges and ideas and my heart was ablaze with a desire to start.

On top of the group sessions we also got to choose 4-5 workshops to attend independently.  In one I was admonished by Emily P. Freeman to chase after the things that make me come alive (art, hobbies), in another I learned the meaning and Biblical importance of rest and found some practical ways to recharge.  A different workshop led by Angie Smith  helped me to battle the ever plaguing fears of my mothering heart and another gave me very practical advice on my journey to becoming a better writer.  Art, rest, fear, & writing…those are like my ever present cycle of thoughts and conversation.

Sometimes we need a weekend on the mountain top to come back and fight the battles in the valley.  MOMcon (and really more specifically the speakers, worship leader, and the important conversations going on around me) revived my ragged spirit in a way I didn’t see coming.

Some of the practical steps I took away from it: I have started waking up earlier than the girls in the morning to both read my Bible and exercise before the girls get up; I will continue on with my passions: art & writing and be open to where God takes me with them; I am praying through my days and allowing “margins” for God to move in them and not being bound so tightly to my agenda.  And I am reading Shauna Niequiest’s book Bread & Wine (with a few other books highlighted this weekend waiting for me at the library) and by spreading them out, I hope to carry on some of the lessons I learned and re-learn them down the road.

I share all of this hoping that it will encourage you to take the time away to pursue your relationship with God…whatever that looks like to you.  AND MOMcon is in Indy next year, so perhaps consider going with me??

-smk

(if any of these lessons sound intriguing, I highly encourage you to check out the MOMcon page I linked to in the beginning.  It has all of the sessions streamed on the main page and they will be up until the beginning of November.)

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