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

Seven Months

Well another monthly milestone is upon us.  I can’t believe our littlest babe is 7 months.

Ok, moment of grief (that she is closer to one than newborn) has passed and now onto the exciting points of this month.

At seven months,

-you are adjusting to solid foods.  You still only tolerate level one baby food (which I’ve determined is impossible to make on my own. How do they get it so smooth?? so, I’ve been buying the jarred stuff until you’re ready to move up).  It seems you’ve lost your gag reflex and can eat about half a jar per sitting.  You definitely prefer it to be warm or room temp to cold from the fridge

-you have added in another feeding at night, if not two.  Just like your sisters, around 6-7 months, it seems you need a feeding or two to get you through the night.  I don’t mind too much, as it takes about 10 minutes and you go right back to sleep.  What I do mind is somehow you seem to have a knack for calling me the moment I am just about to drift off.  Every single time.  Doesn’t matter if I go to bed early, later, or what.  Just as my mind is turning off and my body is relaxed, you sound the alarm.  You also seem to like the 5:00 hour which means I feed you and get myself back to sleep just a few moments before Bea wakes up.

This works okay though, because you sleep until 9 or so and then go back down around noon and wake up about the time we need to pick up big sis from school.  So problem, mostly solved.

-you are getting up on your hands and knees and starting to use your legs as if you are trying to get into the position to crawl.  I wonder if we’ll see this out of you this month or next.  I’M NOT READY.  You’re still not very steady sitting up and always prefer to be on your belly to sitting.

-you’ve slowed your growth a little bit and fit well into 9 or 12 month clothes.  I posted an IG story video of you in the bathtub and seven people commented on it to say something about your “back rolls”.  I think that’s the most comments I’ve ever gotten on a story and funny that they were all saying the same thing.  Your rolls are indeed comment worthy and you feel so good to hold.  Your thighs, especially, have an extra fold that sticks up and begs to be pinched.

-you only let me rock you to sleep at night and put yourself to sleep during the day.  You get tired about 2-3 hours after waking up

-you love your sisters and light up whenever they are in the room

-I still haven’t put you in the church nursery yet but I have a feeling you’ll be ready this month

————————————————————————————————————————-

I feel a little socially constricted by having a baby, especially with the timing of the move.  It seems each morning is different with how late she sleeps and then I have to be ready to put her down for a nap just a few hours later.  It’s about all I can handle to spend her awake time getting errands done or sometimes going to the gym.  Most mornings while she sleeps I am doing “Bea school”, a cardio workout, cleaning the house, or other morning chores, sometimes all of the above.

Add to this, this is my first baby who refuses a bottle.  I surely should have started her a lot sooner than 4 months, but of course when I was living by myself with three little ones to manage, it wasn’t a high priority.  Her dr suggested starting a sippy cup of breastmilk this month so hopefully that will buy me more time in the evenings to sneak out on some social calls.  I don’t mind hibernating for a while, nurturing my little one.  I did it with my other two and enjoy this time as it is.  But it does feel a little weird to do this in a new city, with no established friendships (and the friends I do see, I’m only able to see them about once a month as explained at length above).  I’m trying to live with the tension of being social and nurturing a little one without rushing either.

Either way, so thankful for this little being that God saw fit to add to our family at the PERFECT time.  A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.

-smk

Christmas Card 2016

Merry Christmas! 

I hope this letter finds you well.  This Christmas, as I am typing this letter, I am looking at the same Christmas tree we’ve had for many years, with the same ornaments topping it, but with a vastly different view out of my window.  In the way news spreads in our digital age, I’m sure it is old news to you by now that we moved our family to Tennessee.

Due to the move, the new job, our new family member, Sibs (who joined us on May 23), and not finding time to work in fall family pictures into this craziness, I attempted, but ultimately failed at sending Christmas cards this year (I think the first one since we’ve been married??).  I gave it a valiant effort, but in 2016, it was just not meant to be.  So here is a little story for you instead, based on a family photo and probably what I would have said if I did.

Every day I look at this picture that was printed and placed on our bathroom counter as decoration.

This is our one professional photo from 2016. But the truth of it is, this photo was taken three days after Sibby was born…AKA our first full day home from the hospital.  Our photographer (who lives an hour and a half away) was in the middle of the move but offered to take us on anyway.  Our babe didn’t help us out any and decided to come 11 days late, therefore, we drove to the photographer’s house on the last possible day for it to work for her moving timeline.  On our way there, we had to stop in Indianapolis for a job interview for N.  The night before, I’d had a moment of panic when I realized that I had not planned any outfits for the girls for this session, nor for myself, so the morning was spent trying to pull everything together, adjust to the newest one’s schedule, and not be a minute late to the interview.

On the way there, our our van had an issue that required immediate maintenance, N had to cancel his interview, and the photographer kindly let us show up an hour and a half late (with my hair and makeup disheveled, not to mention the girls’ patience wearing thin, and Sibby wide awake).

I tell you this story because it greatly characterizes our year: a lot of stressful things happened, things didn’t go according to plan, sometimes I found myself grossly underprepared, some systems failed us that we had put our trust in (but ultimately everything worked out)

N had a “ton” of interviews (both in IN and TN, we weren’t sure where we would end up); we had a babyshe got really sick after she was born; while she was in the hospital, we found out we were moving to TN; we put our house on the market 2 days before we left on vacation with a 4 week old; on the way home from that vacation, we dropped N off, permanently, in TN; the girls and I went back to IN to try to sell our house, I kept up with the showings on my own, and it finally sold 5 months later; we learned the ins and outs of the crazy TN housing market and bought our house in August; MG started school early August and went to live with my parents and N; we moved in as a family on Labor Day.  And my head is still spinning.

A verse that became particularly meaningful to me this year was 1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I spent many fretful hours casting some cares upon the Lord this year, and in His perfect timing He answered those cares out of His great love.  If there is anything that 2016 has taught us is that He is faithful in all things.

Wishing you (and MYSELF) a restful, PEACEFUL 2017 surrounded by the ones we love,

-smk

Eulogy

I didn’t intend to let so much time pass between posts, but something happened three weeks ago that stunned me into silence.  The world stopped for a bit as I found out one of my best friends had suffered a stroke.  Just days after finding this out, we learned she had passed away from complications surrounding it.  She leaves behind a husband and two boys (MG & Bea’s age), as well as many other family members and friends, as one does when they die young.

It is a very sobering sadness that has pervaded everything during this holiday season.  The parallels in our lives are such that it is hard to imagine her not being able to do the same things with her family that I am currently doing with mine.  This one hit close to the bone. I don’t understand why God will take a young mom from this earth in such a quick and tragic way.  I don’t understand it at all.  But I can rest in the understanding of His faithfulness and trust Him with this one.

Amy was a good friend.  And I mean that in the sense that she was loyal, and dear to me, a good example of a friend.  I met her almost exactly 5 years ago at a play date.  One of our mutual friends started a play group for moms that had children all around the same age and she was one of the faithful attendees every week.  Because our eldest children were just about a month apart in age, we were always swapping stories and advice.  Together in that group, we watched our kids grow up together: from their first steps, to weaning them off the bottle and pacifier, to sending them off for their first day of Mom’s Morning Out, to getting pregnant with our seconds, and then starting the cycle all over again.  The last big milestone we talked each other through was sending our big kids off to kindergarten.  I thought we would be doing this until we sent them off to college and beyond.  It was natural for us to reach for each other in those big moments.

Now there is a small, silent hole surrounding milestones.

Her name may be familiar to many of you because she was a heavy commenter on my social media pages and my blog as well.  I know she was a faithful reader of my blog and always followed up with texts or comments that let me know she was interested in keeping up with my life even though I had moved away from her twice, once an hour north and the second 5 hours south.

It sounds trite to say it, but since I had physically moved away from her, that is where I will miss her the most: in 4 way group texts and her comments on my page.  She had a way of complimenting you but making it sound sincere by being self-deprecating.  I felt like she would try anything I would recommend and was interested in whatever I was interested in.  As a mutual friend put it, she had a way of being a giving friend while also requiring very little in return.

One story that sticks out in my mind is when I saw her husband at the viewing, I was worried he wouldn’t remember me, or at least my name, after a full day of having to talk to so many people and remembering so many names in the midst of so much grief; but he not only remembered me but asked me questions about my move and Sibby.  She had kept him updated on my life and it touched me in a way I wasn’t expecting.  It was like in that moment, she reached out to me to say, “you were important to me.”

Amy kept us laughing with her stories as she was always getting aggravated with her day to day life in cute and funny ways and it seemed she always had a million things to do and she always needed a vacation.  She never tried to come across as perfect or as if she had it all together and I think every mom needs a relatable friend like this to keep them grounded.

The truth, of course, was that she loved her family fiercely and had entrenched herself in their care-taking by doing things like being a room mom and taking her boys to all of their appointments, play dates, and extra curricular activities.  She sacrificed so much for her boys.  Their life became her life.

I feel, in some way, an obligation to her boys because she shared so much of her life with our little core group.  I remember and know so much of their young lives that I’m afraid will be forgotten if I don’t find a way to preserve them, in her honor.

She hated being the center of attention and she especially hated her picture taken (she would sacrifice this though, every year for the beloved family photos).  I am so glad I forced her to take a picture with me at my IN going away party even though it turned out to be neither of our best, I will treasure it.  In fact, that was the last time I physically saw her alive.  I tried to be intentional with all of my friends that had shown up to that little party, much to my embarrassment, and I remember my parting words to her were “you’ve been a good friend to me and I will miss you.”

Yes.

I think the best way to describe it is I feel like I’ve lost one of my biggest fans.  She was always cheering me on and made me feel like my little hobbies of sewing and writing mattered.  I know I am not the only one she made feel this way either; it just came naturally to her.

Going back to IN for the funeral didn’t make much sense with the time of year and the snow and ice that came showering down the day of the viewing.  But I felt like I had to go, for me AND her.  I had spent so much time in denial, and in some ways I am still there; because it is hard to reconcile the thought of seeing your healthy friend alive one day and being told she’s not the next.

I’ve been to few funerals that have been so sad.  Everyone was sad. Her sweet boys were almost too much to look at, being so innocent to the tragedy in their lives.  I kept stealing glances at them though because I wanted to take it in in case I needed to tell them someday how it went. (I know that sounds weird to say, but I observed that we all seemed to pick up different roles in our mourning.  I kept trying to write mine as storyteller)

The oldest one, MG’s age, sat respectfully and followed the directions of the priest.  The little one, Bea’s age, had to be reminded not to pick his nose (haha!) and then fell asleep on his dad’s lap midway through.  The gravity of seeing her in her casket was especially marked by seeing their little names etched onto it in scrawling Sharpie marker.  How does a dad of two little ones carry on after this?  I just don’t know.

I think we all sat through that funeral with questions in our hearts.  Why, God? For what purpose, God? Will you take care of them, God?  Will you redeem this one day?  And quickly following these questions, a plea. Come back, Jesus.  Soon.  Don’t leave us alone down here with our grief and death.  We are aching for your return,

-smk

 

 

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

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