new year’s eve

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

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

My Favorite Things (2014 edition)

{you can read my 2013 edition here}

I have lots of thoughts about the end of 2014, but I will save those for a sappier post :).  In the mean time I will share some of my favorite things from this year.  Enjoy:

Music: Last year it was JM, this year it’s his female counterpart TS.  I didn’t think I would be a fan of her official move away from country, but 1989 has grown on and into me.  Her songs are my antithesis to the Disney princess music that is always threatening to take up permanent space in my brain. Notable nominations: Meredith Andrews, Black Violin, Shane and Shane, Mississippi John Hurt

Book: I made a concerted effort to read more books this year and this summer I knocked quite a few off of my list.  My absolute favorite?  Unbroken.  It captivated me from the beginning to end and I could not stop thinking about it for days.  You might have seen the movie, or even the previews for the movie, but I promise the books is still worth reading.  I saw the movie a few days ago and it (understandably) barely touches the depth of the book.  In fact, the book is probably one of my top ten favorites I’ve ever read.  Notable Nominations: Gone Girl (with a caveat: normally I wouldn’t read something so dark and graphic but I had no idea what I was getting into.  Despite the fact I felt I needed to go to confession after, I found this book brilliantly written.  I haven’t and probably won’t see the movie) Call the Midwives, Bread and Wine

Experience: The top experience of 2014 goes to Bat Therapy in California.  I still can’t believe that we spent 8.5 weeks there on a whim but I’m also equally proud of myself for doing something so counter-intuitive (including eight days of just me and the girls while my parents were in Prague).  I’m sure there were hard moments during our stay but all that has faded into a shiny, rosy memory of the girls and I bonding in sunny Cal. Notable Nominations: Rosemary Beach

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Food: Ugh….food this year has been…interesting.  MG has been completely off dairy for almost half of the year and I’ve had to re-learn our favorite dishes accordingly.  My still go to favorite is the yellow curry I made on the fly.  Notable Nominations: The “grown-ups only” meal we are having tonight…cheese fondue, goat cheese & kale salad, roasted asparagus, mushroom topped steaks, and dark chocolate fondue for dessert

Discovery: This year seems ripe with discovery so it feels hard to narrow it down to one.  Our School House definitely falls under this category along with all of the little intricacies of life in a small town and with a large stamp of land to call our own. I guess I will have to go with the discovery of how much N enjoys owning a truck.  After just a few months of life here, we realized how “necessary” it is to own a truck.  And of course every good farmwife needs a man with a truck to load up her newly purchased antique furniture, to pick up a load of wood for her open kitchen shelves, and to haul away her old washer and dryer.  N searched high and low and finally found this old gal who fit in his price range and will work as a third vehicle but is quickly becoming his go-to vehicle. (he named her Eleanor after Eleanor Roosevelt “she’s not much to look at but she gets the job done”) Notable Nominations: Costco membership (thanks to the discovery of Costco vacation packages), an indoor pool near our house for the winter blues, some great babysitters, an Internet service that ISN’T satellite (discovered this month), and my (new to me) FitBit, Fixer Upper (a show on HGTV…this is our first year with cable!)

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Project: Once again it’s hard to choose just one project.  We completed many, many projects on our schoolhouse (update to come soon), I completed many projects for my own enjoyment, and then I opened Sweet Mama Makes in August.  Notable Nominations: bDSC_0005xs bDSC_0007 (2) DSC_0010 (2) IMG_3682

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And finally one last Notable Nominations for my favorite

Podcast: This was the year of the podcast as I burned through many while working on above projects.  My favorite, of course, was Serial (I’d like to say I listened before it became bandwagon :)) but I also enjoy This American Life, Dave Ramsey, Stuff You Missed in History Class, etc. etc. Notable Nomination: all of the Serial spoiler and spin off podcasts which helped stave off my Serial appetite until each Thursday came around

 Thanks as always for following along!

-smk

2013

In church on Sunday, our pastor spoke about New Year’s resolutions (of which I’ve already stated: I’m a big fan) vs. Ebenezer stones.  Resolutions can serve a purpose, he reasoned, but it is more important to reflect often on the blessings in your life; realizing how your story is a reflection to the world about the realness of God.  He indirectly encouraged me to keep writing as he said that our human minds often get the story wrong: we twist the facts, we consider ourselves the main character, and we are forgetful.  We should intentionally place markers in our lives to help us remember how God worked for the ultimate purpose of sharing them with others. This is how future generations will come to know Him.  My version of this is to write.

This time of year always pulls at the sentimentalist in me and that means reflection tends to come naturally.   My heartstrings are strung very tightly and they are moved with just a slight hint of Auld Lang Syne .  I tend to guard my heart a little at Christmas because as soon as it is over, I know what is around the corner….the end.  The end of another year with my little girls, the end of another year of health and happiness, the end of the known. The beginning of a dark and cold winter, the beginning of the new, the beginning of the unknown.

To stave off these feelings, I put together the video below using only pictures captured by my phone.  I think it speaks volumes that my phone contributed far more to our collection this year than our dslr.  Something about being portable and usable with only one hand…

So here is our 2013 in 100 seconds:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/82848721%5D

https://vimeo.com/82848721

Watching this video, I am struck by several feelings. At the beginning of the year, I remember  being….cold.  It seemed like it was May before we finally got our outside weather.  My life revolved around getting a toddler to use the potty and I stayed in the potty zone for far too long.  I remember getting cabin fever and feeling like I would be cold, tired, and pregnant forever.

I remember being pregnant and life before Bea.  I knew life would be better with her in it, but in order for that to happen, things had to change first.  Some of my fondest memories from this year include my weekly doctor dates with MG.  She was always so excited to go and follow our little routine (pretend baby, sucker, real baby’s heartbeat, sticker).  The time we had as just the two of us, though sweet, is already growing dimmer.  Bea has completely changed things, though for the better.  The joy she has brought to each of us has been very real. And as cliche as it sounds, it is a joy to wake up and serve her every day.

I especially remember giving birth and how merciful God was to me in that.  Baby Bea made up many of the one hundred seconds of this video and rightly so; she was the biggest and best thing that happened to us this year.

When I look at our summer pictures, my heart is completely welled up with feeling.  I had captioned one of the pictures of N reading to the girls, “I will never forget the summer of 2013” and I hope it is true.  We enjoyed life together this summer.  We took a few trips and MG really bonded with our extended family.  I had a newborn but I hardly knew it because I was so well taken care of by so many.  Our life was calm and predictable then too…right before it exploded into many unrecognizable pieces.  If I could return to this summer and relive most of it, I would in heartbeat.

What the summer brought in feelings, the fall brought the opposite.  I remember feeling lonely, often, caring for the girls from sun up to sun down.  I remember lots of hard talks about our future, about our present too.  I remember searching my soul for grit and knowing I had it in me to continue, sure that good things were to come out of it.  I remember feeling frustrated often with MG…perhaps it was the absence of Daddy that brought about her deep mood swings and little to no naps; boundary testing, and withheld affection.  I used up a lot of my reserves on her and then felt like I had very little to give the rest of my family.

But then we moved.  The pendulum swung…a lot.  The things that were hard got better, the things that were easy got harder…for a while at least.  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.

The most important feeling from this year is that we walk away changed.  Literal change where our life looks 100% different, but also emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually too.  2013 brought many things our way, my most favorite being this:

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Thanks as always for sharing with me and following me through out the year.  Tonight we will raise our glasses to (mostly) kept resolutions, a path guided by Faith, and landing where we are meant to be.

 

May 2014 bring good fortune  to you too.  Cheers,

 

Holiday Wrap-Up

Well, a little late, but better late than never, right?

Our holidays were filled with much love and joy.  Just the way we like ’em
From finding out It’s A Girl!

To celebrating two Christmases, plus our own little family one.

(one of MG’s many baby-related Christmas gifts.  Think she’ll still want to change diapers when Mayby comes?)

(who knew Elmo was so mulit-functional)

(our good little traveler)

To a “blizzard” of meager proportions (I kind of expected a blizzard to be more Laura Ingalls Wilder meets The Long Winter.  But I guess I’m glad it didn’t inhibit us from safely taking off on our travels the following day.)

(our apologies for the outfit, MG.)

(and for not being able to stop laughing at you)

(but you sure modeled it well)

(she wanted to help Daddy shovel the driveway :))

(following in his footsteps)

(snow!)

(love them)

To a New Year’s Eve celebration that got us home and in bed by 11pm (for the first time in years!  I can’t remember the last time I didn’t stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year).  But I guess this is just a sign that “we are getting old” as we were giddy with excitement to go to bed early.

Although, I do have to say, the local fireworks woke me up at midnight, so I did officially get to ring in 2013 right on cue: with N sleeping peacefully beside me, MG warm and cozy in her bed, and baby girl sweetly kicking her excitement.  I can’t think of a better way end to our year!