our lifestyle

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

The Introverted Mama

Every once in a while, the Myers-Briggs test weaves its way back into my life.  The results have followed me around like an old, faithful dog as well; I have never not received the same result: INFJ.

The way my personality has impacted me, however, has changed in different seasons of life.  Being an introverted, stay at home mama has its own set of unique challenges and virtues.

I’ve talked before about how important it is for me to have order and rhythm to my day and to me, it serves dual purposes. Not only does a rhythm help me feel calm and peaceful during the day but it also protects me from the one o’clock meltdown…. And I’m not talking about the girls.

Right around one o’clock each afternoon, I begin to feel myself start to unravel.

The morning itself starts off as a fat, tightly wound ball of yarn, full of promise, that naturally unwinds as the day progresses.  Through out the morning, it is a leisurely but purposeful roll, that rings of the promise of a beautiful creation. By one o’clock, it is unrolling so fast it’s as if someone has held onto the loose end while the fat ball rolls willy nilly, growing skinnier by the second.  (side note: it should come as no surprise that there’s something very unsettling I find about a wayward ball of yarn)

Right around this time I also find myself getting “touched out”.  I go through the routine of lullabies, kisses, and books before nap (for Bea) and quiet time (for MG).  But I don’t really enjoy them, not like I should, anyway.  I try to slow down and read every single word but sometimes I skip a few words, and then sentences, and sometimes even pages.

And then as soon as this duty is done, I curl myself up in a quiet corner and slowly rewind a portion of the ball.  Sometimes, if it is an especially crazy morning, I will purposely save MG’s “screen time” for the beginning of this quiet hour to ensure that I will get at least an hour of solid, uninterrupted time.  (though to her credit, she handles her quiet time very well, even when no movies are involved. and I have a theory that she needs this alone time as much as I  do)

As the minutes melt into an hour, I slowly find myself coming back into my own.  My thoughts are cohesive and I begin to relax.  Unwinding again, very slowly and purposefully.

Towards the end of Bea’s nap time (she is giving me great, 3 hour naps these days-bless!), MG and I have developed a little bit of a routine.  With my permission, she cleans up her room early and then joins me for whatever project I am working on.  She exclaims, “yes!” when she sees me working in the sewing room.  She retrieves my tiny blue embroidery scissors and pulls scraps of fabric from the trashcan.  She cuts these scraps into miniscule pieces and sometimes fashions bandages or headbands for Stella (secured with a straight pin, of course).

She turns off her princess CD’s and turns on Winnie the Pooh for us to listen to (she somehow got the impression that that one was my favorite!).  And she sings and dances for me while she busily cuts with her hands.  Often we both become engrossed in our projects and she quietly tells stories or shares secret dialogue that is only gifted when you don’t think you have an eavesdropper.

Sometimes I am still not recovered from a crazy morning and I ask her not to ask me any questions so I can fully concentrate on my project.  She obediently says, “okay, I understand.” And she tries very hard, but unknowingly and sweetly limits her questions to every fifteen minutes or so.

If I am instead working downstairs on a drawing or painting, she brings down her special notebook and fills it up with colorful notes for daddy.  Sometimes she will ask me how to spell certain words, other times she will just write in her own secret language and read it to me as the following:

“Dear Daddy, I love you and I miss you and I always miss mommy but I never miss her at Grandma’s house. And I hope Lexi {the dog} doesn’t tear my beautiful dress or Stella’s.  And I always forgive you when you lie to Mommy.  Amen.”

(you just gotta laugh at that one)

 

In the sewing room we use the space heater to keep warm on drafty days and she parks herself in front of it.  Downstairs in the kitchen, I make tea to keep us warm with extra almond milk and honey so she finds it very palatable.

Yesterday, she developed a small tear in a notebook page and asked for some tape to repair.  She spent thirty minutes carefully covering the page in masking tape, thrilled with the responsibility of using both real scissors and tape.

I have to admit, I love these late afternoons with my little buddy.  (after I’ve had my own space, of course).  It feels special and set apart and a space in which to grow our own relationship.  Plus there is something that feels very holy about creating with someone.  Of course our creations have very different end results but we both have a deep admiration for the others work.

When they told me I was having a girl, this is exactly what I envisioned.  Quiet afternoons at home, sharing ideas and secrets, materials and songs.  A little blonde friend who I adore, and a pooh bear melody between us.

-smk

We bought a (school) house

Well I guess this is your official introduction

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!!We are finally homeowners again!! Which mostly means we have a to-do list a mile long, another big move ahead of us….but most importantly… a place to call our own.

This house came to us in a surprise little package, neatly gift wrapped and brimming with possibility. She was the one we were looking for all along but had given up on her, sure she didn’t exist.

Our dreams of her began long ago. If you’ve been with me very long, you may know that I’m an avid reader of Wendell Berry. N and I discovered him through some of my coworkers back in 2008. His writings, along with their influence, put a dream in our hearts.

A big part of the dream was to live on land. To grow our own food. To move our parents in next door (still working on that one ;)).To raise our girls in a place where they can climb trees, collect eggs, star gaze.

I began looking for her about two years ago. Sure that when she was ready, she’d present herself to us.

To be honest, the house hunt was a torturous (for our realtor) but terribly fun (for us) endeavor that finally, finallylanded us here.

I’ll spare you all of the conflicting details, but you can be sure I said, “I’ll never….” many times and eventually all of those nevers were pursued.

One of those nevers was that we would never move permanently to this area. We thought n would put in his year of experience and then we would move back to our familiar home turf. Much to our surprise we fell in love with the people out here, the small town, and most importantly N’s job. He has had an exciting year full of many ups and downs but his desire to stay has been consistent. Plus he has an amazing opportunity to pursue his doctorate and it seems foolish to turn that down by changing locations now.

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” -Mark Twain

Our realtor gave us this quote after we finally, finally said, this is the one! And those words have been ringing in our ears since…spurring us on to this new adventure and the realization of a long held dream. It wasn’t so much the house we were searching for all along, more so the lifestyle. Living on a few acres is no guarantee for a simplified (and perhaps idealized) life (and is certainly not everyone’s calling) but it is a starting point for us. The start to pursue this crazy dream we have.

How perfectly cliche, but terribly fitting, that two former teachers would buy an old school house?

We couldn’t have packaged her better if we tried,

-sweet mama k

Remember When

note:  I’ve found my writing style to be a bit different lately.  possibly due to this current phase of life I’m in:  my head is foggy, my heart is mushy, and my hands are full. thanks for bearing with me as I find my new voice 🙂

Dear N,

Remember when we went to see Catfish in theaters, on a school night, at 11pm?  When we only had exactly two loads of laundry each week?  When we changed our sheets only once a week?

 

Remember when every night was date night?  When the determining factor in picking a restaurant was the menu and not how close it was or how high-chair friendly it is?

Remember when our cars were spotless?  When we could haul stuff around in the backseats because there weren’t 2 car seats and an explosion of toys?  When we didn’t look in the rearview mirror to see a little green frog-shaped potty?

Remember when we took a hip-hop dance class just for the fun of it (what were we thinking?)  And that time we slept in the guest bedroom for 6 weeks  just because we could?  When we used to sleep in and make biscuits and gravy on the weekend with those little fancy plates?

 

Remember when we used to turn the heat off at night to save a few pennies?  When we didn’t have to hide in the pantry to eat something sweet after dinner?  When we used to have “reading parties” at the supper table because we both enjoyed the silence? 

Remember when we used to just pick up and take off for the weekend (why didn’t we do that more??)?  When we picked up our phones, made a phone call, talked as long as we wanted, and then mindlessly put them down?  Remember when we thought our little ball of grey fluff was the cutest thing ever and that we’d never be able to give anything as much love as we gave to him?

I don’t much either.

Those were the old days, but they weren’t the good ones.  No, I’m quite certain that is what we have now,