• View More: http://kimmyhowardphotography.pass.us/miley

Happy Birthday, Bea

Today marks the second year of life complete for our Bea.  What a great two years it has been!

bDSC_0231

bIMG_0577

Bea was born early in the morning of May 18, 2013.    I held her with a second-time mother’s confidence and also a second-time mother’s love.  Loving her and all of the wonderful things that came with her, came easily.

Bea was an easy babe from the start.  Still to this day, it is rare for her to have an “off day”, be fussy, or to not have a toothy smile pushing up her chubby cheeks no matter what the day brings..

When she walks, she bounces, curls dancing behind her.  There are two things that strangers always comment on: her smile or her curls.  bDSC_0172 2 bDSC_0178_2

The only trial she’s given us is keeping her safe.  She is curious, a risk taker, and a mouther.  Each day that has brought us closer to the two year mark has helped me breathe little sighs of relief as she learns boundaries and we are able to communicate more effectively with each other.  Still, we have a much better ER track record with this one (0 times vs. 4 times for MG), and despite being a mouthy baby, she does stay relatively healthy.

Watching the sister relationship grow and form has always held intense interest for me.  MG has played a mothering role in Bea’s life upon meeting her and it has yet to cease.  Bea only half-heartedly accepts having another “mother” in her life.  I think it is only as of late that she enjoys MG’s company and companionship.  This is one of our most earnest prayers that their relationship will strengthen and flourish.

bDSC_0216_2 bDSC_0198_2 bDSC_0225 2

One thing I have noticed lately is that whenever MG is not around, Bea is a bit lost.  She looks for her, asks about it, and doesn’t seem to know how to entertain herself when she realizes she is on her own.  Sharing a room, I think, has brought them physically, as well as emotionally closer.  They both find one another’s presence reassuring.  I do not regret that decision one bit.

bDSC_0223 2 bDSC_0217_2

Bea is a great source of joy in our family.  She keeps me lighthearted when I am feeling off.  She shows her love with kisses and full-body hugs.  She is loud and boisterous and social, in a way I find totally intriguing.  I often catch her waving at strangers and they find her perma-smile nearly irresistible.

As I look ahead to year three, I anticipate many big changes coming down the lane….losing paci, potty-training, moving to a “big girl bed”, and joining us for the church service (rather than the nursery).  Year three is a hard year….but I do think our joyful little girl will do just fine.

Dearest Bea,

I’ll never forget the morning you joined our family.  I was waiting for you with big hopes.  I had spent many days hoping for you and many more hoping for your arrival.  I hoped you would be many things: a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  

In your two years of life, you have been a delight to our hearts.  You took all of my hopes, embodied them, and then completely surpassed them.   I can’t imagine there was ever an easier baby born.  Your sister has taken great joy in you and that has brought great joy to me.  You have brought something to our family that only a last-born child can bring…a sense of wholeness. 

Your personality is one that will be envied by many.  You are nearly unaffected by your surroundings, but are happy and content no matter the circumstances.  You are engaging and kind to strangers, welcoming to your friends and family.  I never worry about leaving you with others because I know you will just be yourself the entire time I’m away.  

Your personality, and the many people that love you, will help carry you through this big year full of changes. You are eager for some of the change, I can already tell.  Having a big Sis to look up to definitely gives you some hopes to aspire to.  But you get to do them your own “Bea way”.  That is the fun part about being the youngest.

I cannot imagine our family without you, though only two years ago, that’s where we were.  In my heart, I always knew there was something missing and you came along and filled that hole right up.  

I love you so very much,

sweet mama k

also, a video

Updates

The well has run dry.  I’ve been searching for my creative vein lately and all I can find is unsatisfying dust.  It seems as though I can only tap into this creative source so much before it blows and then I must search for a new avenue to draw from again.

A dear friend encouraged me to write again today…and well here I am, plopping away at the keys, not sure what’s going to come out, exactly.  But writing is a discipline and I don’t intend to ever let it go completely.

It’s 8:07pm and I am typing this on my favorite spot on the couch, feet propped up.  I had to perform tricks and jump through fiery hoops to get an internet connection.  I am typing to the hum of the massive tractor that is tilling our fields and which I find rhythmic and  comforting.

It has been a long evening, one in which I’m parenting by myself; and though the girls have been saints, it is still exhausting.  I’m praying they will need little from me in this next hour so I can use some reserves on this post.

Being a year into this house, I suppose it’s time for some updates.  But I can’t promise any pictures, not tonight at least.  So words, for now.

Since my last update, we have actually finished a few rooms.   The entryway and library are both complete.  That is a very settling feeling as it it is the first thing we see when we walk in the door.  With the addition of some new artwork and exposed pipe shelves, the living room is complete as well.  I’m sure I will still layer in a few pieces here and there but that is the fun part; filling a space with the things that make you happy.

The kitchen is our main push this month.  We’ve been fridge shopping, purchased subway tile & hardware, added a new light fixture, and N is building some new upper cabinets.  I promise pictures when it is complete.

We’re going to skip the laundry room for now, as it hasn’t been touched, nor does it feel like a priority.  Maybe not even a 2015 priority.

Going up the stairs, the stair runner is down, a gallery wall lines the steps, and there is a nice little vignette at the top.  All that is left to hang is a large family picture.  After the kitchen is complete, we will shift our attention to this hallway and add new flooring and light fixtures.  That should be easy to get to this summer.

Finally, we have the bedrooms.  All three need a little TLC, some paint in one, and some decor.  We did something we’ve been talking about for nearly 9 years and purchased a king size bed.  We moved our queen to the guest room, but both beds still lack a character giving headboard.

When those are complete, all that’s left is the bathrooms.  Both could use a partial, if not complete makeover.  We’ve had a few contractors over to  give us bids.  We’ve only received one bid and it was astronomical.  Even if we did scrape together the money to do it, we would probably never recoup it in a resale….so for now, we will probably stick to things we can DIY ourselves…new floors, shower curtains, countertops, and paint.  Our ultimate hope is that by the end of this calendar year we will be 95% done with house projects and can finally feel at rest in our schoolhouse.

Bea’s birthday is in just 4 days.  My parents gifted her a Jungle gym which seems perfect for our adventurous climber.  My dad and N stayed up late putting it together last night and it matches perfectly with our playset. I’m excited to add to this a sandbox for her birthday.  Every schoolhouse needs a play ground, no?

I’m intentionally slowing down on SMM.  Not as in taking less orders, but just purposing my time so it doesn’t consume me.  I never imagined it would take so much of my time, but it takes as much as I give it.  I’ve started giving myself my evenings back to work on fun things or relax and it has made a world of difference in my stress level.  When N has a few days a week off this summer, I plan to ramp up my output a bit more.  I have some ideas of new products to add, I just temporarily burned out the creative flame to pursue them.

Speaking of summer, I am mentally there, though not yet physically.  The weather has greatly improved my mood and all winter coats, gloves, and scarves, have been packed away.  This is the time of year where we start making our summer plans.  This gives us the final push to make it through the last trying weeks but also helps us not to waste our summer days away and forget about the memories we want to create as a family.

Our saintly neighbor tilled up our vegetable garden today.  Our seeds and seedling will go in the ground in between the promised rain storms this weekend.  I’m setting low expectations for our output this year.  I’m just hopeful that it is enjoyable.  That will be enough for this year.

I’m reading a book right now that I don’t really like but that everyone raves about the ending.  I’m only reading it to see how it ends.  Sometimes a good ending is enough to turn my opinion 180 degrees.  Does that make me fickle?

-smk

 

Queen Bea

bDSC_0176_2Right now I’m sitting in our upstairs landing, typing this.  It’s the same chair that I used to nurse and rock her to sleep in, every night. I have to chuckle because at this stage, it’s hard to even imagine her sitting on my lap for any length of time.

In just three weeks, she will officially turn 2.

bDSC_0177_2It’s hard to believe it but in 2015, our house will be free of diapers and pacis, maybe even cribs (not for good, hopefully, but for now).

The memories of newborn Bea seems hazy and a little golden.  A very sweet time in my life, full of God’s promises and feeling particularly close to Him.  And two moves later, it is getting harder and harder to remember specific memories, just feelings.

bDSC_0172_2In the last two-three months, I’ve noticed some big changes in Bea.  She is starting to become a more fluid talker, adding in a few new words each day.  And MAJOR–she now calls me “Mommy” (we skipped right over “Mama”!). I don’t know why it takes my girls so long to address me (MG was closer to 20 months, Bea 22), but it never fails to feel completely wonderful and validating when it does come.

Her talking at first came on her own terms.  Now she is starting to repeat words after us, if we ask.  Also answering questions like, “how old are you?” and “what do you want to sleep with?” (“puppy”) are the new norm.

Our relationship has grown by leaps and bounds now that we can communicate.  It is so lovely to have two little beings that can retrieve items and follow simple commands.  I feel like I am heaving a big sigh of relief after the past year of being completely necessary for every waking minute.

bDSC_0175Now that the weather has turned, we’ve been stretching our winter-atrophied muscles outside as much as much as possible.  That experience is also night and day different than last year.  She plays, rather than wandering around.  She stays near by, rather than wandering around.  And if she does take a notion to wander, she gauges me first to see if she is within bounds.  What a huge difference this makes!

One thing that hasn’t changed…she is still just as yummy as she has always been.  Her full cheeks are nearly edible, her skin is just so soft, and she really cares for physical affection in a way that MG doesn’t.

Something that still blows my mind is comparing the two girls and where they are, developmentally, right now.  MG is picking up extensive vocabulary at a rapid pace, following along in the rabbit trails of our “adult” conversation, and learning new concepts everyday.  To think she has really only been talking since she was Bea’s age–two and a half years ago–that is amazing.  Double Bea’s age and she will be there very soon too.  Oh how they grow, Mamas.  This is nothing to sneer about.

XO-smk

Woffrakeleys do Disney

(started this draft a few weeks ago, finished it today :))

Just returned from another dreamy spring break in sunny CA.

The girls and I left a few days early and looks like we narrowly escaped the return of winter back home.  Snow, wind, and below freezing temps always like to make one final appearance in March (sometimes even April :-o) and I’m hopeful that this is IT.

Meanwhile, the weather out there was 70’s and sunny every-single-day.  It lifted my spirits and gave me the energy that the first day of spring always brings.  Mmm…the smell of sunscreen alone is enough to give me a Spring contact high.

We spent our days (pre-Daddy) hanging out with Granny and Grampy.  Thanks to our extended stay last winter, we have a little routine worked out that we seem to ease right into.  We hit up some of our favorite spots and added some new ones with the girls in the morning.  The afternoons were for rest and decompression, the evenings spent chatting around the table and walking the dog.  Baths, reading, and bed to follow.

IMG_5239 IMG_5254

The girls made me so proud on the plane ride(s) out there.  Being by myself, I always feel a little vulnerable; but thankfully this wasn’t the first time doing it so I knew what to expect.  Last time we flew in the late afternoon and got in way past bedtime.  This time we flew early, early in the morning and landed at 10:30am, CA time.  The morning travels seemed to go a little more smoothly, in my opinion, and even though the girls didn’t nap (Bea started nodding off at the descent of each flight), they seemed to enjoy the trip as they knew what to expect.  (Jamba juice and silly putty being at the top of the list).  Also, I brought our cracked iPad on a whim and let Bea do her damage on it (the only app she will play is Peek-a-boo pets but she will spend about 20 minutes rearranging apps and pictures before becoming tired of it).  That seemed to help a bit too.

Daddy joined us on Saturday, as did Mary and Joel the day before.

IMG_5399

We had four short days to cram in our favorite restaurants, games, and even a little pool time, before jetting off to Orange County.

IMG_5450 IMG_5398 IMG_5371 IMG_5342 IMG_5341 IMG_5340 IMG_5435

We were up at 3:40am to fly (cheap flights & only an hour versus a 6+ hour drive) and we were in the park doing activities by 9:15am.

I was expecting a huge crowd with long waits due to spring break, but I couldn’t believe how much we were able to do and see in our 48 hours there.  MG wore her new Aurora gown both days and we saw nearly all the princesses and rode all of the kiddie rides.  Day two we did Toon Town (Mickey and Minnie’s houses were extra fun) and California Adventure (Frozen Fun,meeting Elsa & Anna).

We stayed out late each night and the lack of sleep/naps barely slowed us down.  We were running on adrenaline and Dole whips.  The girls really hung in there.  Both cat napped in the stroller and on Granny’s lap the first day.  We went back to the room to nap on the second day but it wasn’t enough time for MG to nap and she fell asleep on the 9:15 bus ride home, waking up only to change out of her dress-up and secure the well-being of her new Rapunzel doll.

Of course no memory making trip is complete without a video, courtesy of yours truly.  Enjoy

One Mile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I don’t know what to do.  

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

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

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

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

&

“Mommy, Bea is eating play-doh”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-smk

 

 

Updates

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

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

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

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

-smk

Vignettes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How was your hang-out?” she asks.

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

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

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

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

-smk

Practice and Theory

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

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

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

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

Theory:

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

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

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

Practice:

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

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

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

N/A:

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

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

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

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

IMG_3984 IMG_4154 IMG_4154 IMG_0021 IMG_0022 IMG_0023 IMG_0024

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

-smk

 

The New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time (think Spring thoughts),

-smk

Resolute

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

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

It doesn’t get much more strange than that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auld Lang syne my dears,

-smk

1 2 3 38