summer

Summer

After a quick, unexpected trip North, and some end of the year craziness, today was our first true day of summer break*.  And it was every bit as magical as I expected.

*this post was written earlier but sat for a while until I could get back to it.

I was eating dinner with a bunch of moms last night and someone asked the group which we prefer: the schedule and routine of the school year, or the relaxed laziness of summer.  Only two of us were solidly in the latter group.  Everyone else said they preferred the routine.  I was stunned that I was in the the minority, but after having another 12 hours to contemplate it, I still agree: the school year is something I endure in order to thrive in the summer.

Today the girls slept in till about 8.  I didn’t get as lucky because I have been waking up to run before N leaves for work, but the payoff being I have the rest of the day to devote to them with zero interruptions while I am doing it.

Sib woke up a quite a bit earlier but lazily rolled around in her bed until I was able to get to her.  I made oatmeal, one of my favorite breakfast meals because of the variety of ways it can be dressed up.  Today we had it with almond butter and honey, and a handful of chocolate chips to entice the girls.  And because in my mind, chocolate is always acceptable for breakfast. I accidentally grabbed only two bowls at first and then quickly added a third before MG caught my mistake of not factoring her in.

“What are we going to do next?” they asked as soon as they had put the last bite to lips, their bowls already forming a hard crust of leftover oats around the edges.  I instantly felt the doubt spring up in me for an anxious second.  For one thing, I did not have a solid plan for the day yet as I wanted to take a more laissez-faire approach on day one to get my bearings. Secondly, I did not want to be their source of entertainment.  I am determined to let them spend many hours of “boredom” this summer and try not to intervene.

It’s playtime right now while I do my morning chores, I responded and they marched off merrily, MG happy to have time to play with her toys and Bea happy for a play mate.  Easy as that.

I made quick work of my chores, every once in a while hearing some verbal skirmishes upstairs.  They just need some time to acclimate, I told myself, don’t intervene.

Thanks to her early morning wakeup, Sibby went down for a morning nap, with promise of an afternoon one as well.  I set the girls up on the deck, each with a glass pan full of dried rice, and enough miniature cats, water bowls, litter boxes, and balls of yarn between them to hopefully inspire some Montessori free play.  It kept them busy for a good hour and a half.  I could not believe my luck.

Lunch was crock pot roast beef, shredded and served cold, with a small dab of mayonnaise and a proportionately larger smear of mustard, presented on gluten free white bread. On the side, pretzels in the shape of pillows with a small pat of peanut butter inside, and a plug of peach applesauce. The girls ate fast, talking through the meal, over their excitement of our plans to go to the pool next.

MG has loved the pool since she was a baby, but the past three summers, we’ve had to bribe her to get her face wet and swimming lessons have been met with many tears of fear and frustration.  This year she turned the corner, even before we could get to the lessons (another parenting lesson to just wait until they are ready?).  She has been jumping in, going under, and even trying to swim on her own, much to her own pride (which we have happily been stroking). Today she told me the first thing she wanted to do at the pool was a head stand.

Going to the pool at the noon-2pm hour usually doesn’t yield a lot of friends for the girls to play with.  Most moms of young kids are home during these hours, napping under the cool AC.  But we were in luck today as a little girl about MG’s age was there and eager to practice headstands too.

While I watched them play, LB floating lazily between us, and me keeping Sibby from plunging head first into the water, my mind instantly began writing a hundred blog posts while I tried to ESP them to my phone, less than a dozen feet away, that may as well have been a hundred.  I also couldn’t stop stewing about the disparaging comment a mom made to me on our way in that had to do with raising girls (right in front of my own little tribe, no less).  I don’t get those comments often, but when I do, they stick with me for a little while, like a bloated mosquito bite.

I looked over to the “big pool” and watched two boys, feet dancing on the concrete, hands reaching out to smack each other’s chest, in an effort to butt each other into the deep end.  They reminded me of young rams, both showing off and claiming territory, horns clashing loudly and every once in a while, locking. I feared for their safety as they were close to a corner, close to a ladder, and close to other little kids.  I tried deftly with sweeping glances to see if another adult, perhaps closer, hopefully a mom, was also watching this display.  That’s when the mosquito of insecurity bit me again.  Like maybe I wasn’t meant to have boys because I am too careful.  Or maybe I have girls and that’s why I am so careful.  I don’t know, but it’s something that nags at me the rest of the time we are there.

In another part of the shallow end, a clearly high-school aged couple was engaged in making a Boomerang video.  He was crouching on the concrete, she was practicing her jumps in the water, each time making a different face or motion with her hands.  I was struck with the silliness that goes into making those.  But the end result never looks that silly.  When we’re watching them, we don’t really think about what it took to make. And I pondered some more about all I had to be careful for.

Thirty minutes after we arrived, adult swim was called.  I had to explain it to the girls and I knew exactly what they were thinking.  Those ten minutes to a kid are the longest ten minutes of the summer.  I was there for a quick bribe though, organic cheddar ducks and applesauce pouches.  As I handed out these particular treats, I thought, I could not be a more suburban mom if I tried.  But it’s everything I wanted and exactly what I pictured it would be as I was growing up.

I’ve arrived.  Not in any worldly sense, no the opposite, actually.  I’ve arrived at the intersection of my childhood dreams and factual reality.  And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Long live summer,

-smk

Post-holiday blues

I’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately.  Being a self-described psychoanalyst, I have spent some time mulling it over, trying to root it out.

And I’ve “narrowed” it down to this list:

-post spring break/easter blues and the press to the end of the year madness:  Coming off of the holidays are always hard, but I never seem to remember that until the night before the routine starts back up.  After getting to spend so much time as a family unit, it is so hard to think about separating to go back to reality.

-sewing: usually one of my favorite pastimes that brings me a touch of joy in the afternoons,but lately I’ve had more “flops” than successes as I try to learn my new machine.  Unfortunately, the machine only comes in for the FINAL stages of construction, so an outfit may be near perfect and then ruined on the last draw.  Heartbreaking and discouraging.

-sleep: never enough, per usual, but always important to note how it throws so many other things off-balance

-emotions: my sister and BIL are just about to have their baby!!  I am SO excited, both for them, and also for our family as a whole.  We are about to grow again by another life and I get to experience being a hands on aunt.  I can’t wait!  At the same time, the timing of her pregnancy is eerily similar to Sibby’s (she’s due on the same day I was, one year later).  Watching them enter these final weeks, while also getting emotional about the upcoming first birthday for Sibby (always a hard one for me!), compounded with knowing that we have closed that chapter of our story, has stirred up a whole bunch of stuff.  It’s good for me to work through it though, and I’m honestly happy that feeling these small doses of sadness are bookended by immense JOY for them.

Thinking back to just about this time last year was when everything….well…exploded.  I was lamenting on Instagram last night how it feels so good to be on the other side of all of that madness, BUT, oddly enough the growing pains aren’t over quite yet (I mean, of course that sounds obvious, but doesn’t immediately come to mind when I’m feeling a little blue).  We are still connecting to our new life here and that will take a while to feel like home again.  Until then, there will be little tinges of sadness as I think about relationships, our church, and, oddly enough the stages of life we left behind.  I do so miss having all of my little ones home with me under one roof, all day everyday.  When I think back to living in Upland and Noblesville, those warm, fuzzy feelings will always be most prevalent.

I hope and I KNOW these moments of heart-squeezing sadness will turn into warm, fuzzy feelings too, eventually, but it feels like I have to spend a while here first, before I can move on to the next chapter.  It is nice to move forward confidently when you’re ready to no longer linger in the past.

-lack of time: I feel like I divvy myself out each morning but then everyone keeps coming back for seconds and before I have finished giving out seconds, multiple people/things are coming back for thirds and it seems like my firsts and seconds weren’t satisfactory enough because they just want thirds and fourths.  Even though I repeat the phrase ‘”I am doing my best” both aloud, and just mentally to myself, it seems like I am falling short in the attendance of at least one human in my life on a daily basis, or the housework, or to being social, or to myself.

This is mainly due to two things: 1) Sibby’s age (being so young and also mobile she requires so much attention, OF COURSE.  This will pass soon, but is a very involved stage for now.  Also, I KNOW I felt this way with the other two at this age,so that helps, somewhat.) 2) the school calendar .  Why have I still not adjusted to this yet?  I don’t know.  I’ve felt instead I’ve spent the whole year working against it.  Every single morning, I wake up, not knowing or remembering when Sibby will need to take a nap (and do I need to wake her up now to keep her on that schedule?). School pickup really messes up my afternoon think time because it falls right smack in the middle of rest time and really the afternoon.  Not having those forty minutes, for some reason, often throws off my whole plan for anything I want to get done by myself.

Oh well, no matter.  Summer is around the corner and hopefully I will have a new handle on things by August (which by then, Sibby will probably have dropped one of her naps, which means I will have to figure out something NEW).

That being said, I’ve been prone to daydreaming lately, as an escape to the above.  Coming up with a summer bucket list and a loose schedule for the days has been a nice diversion.  Being in a new city AND state is really exciting because it affords us what could feel like an extended stay-cation as we hunt some new things to do and try.

If you’ve made it this far through my lamentations, I appreciate you.  These posts aren’t the most fun to write, but I find them both helpful for processing my current feelings and also as a nice reflection when the tides have turned.  I also write 90% of this with the hope that one day my girls will find some comfort in their early days of motherhood or life changes.  And the other 10% hopes that perhaps you will too.

-smk

Summer Wrap up

Today is the very last day of summer break.   The alarms are set, the lunches are packed, the outfits are neatly laid out.  This is it.

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(the first day outfit still needed some finishing touches in this picture, but I’m having   SO MUCH FUN creating some fall pieces  for MG)

Just like all summers before it, this one went by too fast.  But unlike summers before it, I’m not left with any lingering feelings of regret  nor that nagging feeling of desperation…a state of denial that it’s really over.

Over the years we’ve worked really hard on our delicate summer balance of trips, work, and play and this year we concluded that we hit it pretty close to perfect.  It’s similar to the feeling of not receiving a tax return check because you had just the right amount of exemptions taken out of your paycheck.  Disappointment cloaked in diligence.

On July 22, we celebrated 9 years of marriage.  Our big trip was really the celebration, so a quiet dinner out was the perfect endcap.  Our anniversary has always felt like an indelible summer line.  I try to hold off on my feelings that summer is over until we’ve reached it, and then once we have, I know it’s time to begin the grieving process.

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Our little garden experiment went fairly well, all things considered.  We had a ton of rain especially in June and I don’t think I watered more than 2-3 times the whole summer.  We also lost a futile battle against crabgrass.  Next summer, we’ll do more prep work to keep it at bay.  But we’re still getting tomatoes and beans out of it and we’ve eaten quite a few already along with several kinds of peppers.  Valiant rookie year, next year we will go for the gold.

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(hallway, taken at night)IMG_2568

(new lighting in living room)IMG_2480

(having fun with the Scan N cut)IMG_2695

(new bed, still needs to be styled but had to show off N’s handiwork)

One of the big pushes this summer was to cross a lot of house projects off our list.  As far as production goes, it was a huge success!  And I can’t tell you how it feels to be relieved of that burden. We only have one big project left (replace the bathroom vanities) aside from a few other little light fixtures here and touches up there.  I’m so glad we can head into the busy part of fall and not have these to-do’s hanging over us.  N installed two new floors, made a bed, had new wiring installed for an industrial light fixture, added a window and new door in the sister room, and finished up some painting.

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(new upper, upper cabinets to extend the height)

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(sister room inspo, silhouettes by N)

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(creative collab with Hello Maypole,  “this one’s for the girls” color way)

Our kitchen received its finishing touches and there is a new sister room coming to the schoolhouse soon.  One of the floors N laid will be the base and I’m envisioning greens, pinks, and bright colors, along with this succulent quilt I made (copycat from an Anthro pineapple quilt I was inspired by)

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The kittens have been a wonderful addition to our lives this summer.  They are (still?) so sweet to the girls and MG has been doing a great job of keeping them fed and watered for her chores.  Whenever we are outside, at least one of them is around and purring.  Dream come true.

I had nearly forgotten until almost the end of the summer what a treasure (??) Taylor Lake is. The local moms start arriving around 11:00-11:30 and spread their blankets under the ample shade trees like a giant patchwork quilt.  The kids eat their pb&j’s and dip their hands into Costco sized bags of pretzels or chips as sides while making visuals as to where their friends are.  Sunscreen and floaties are applied and then sand digging and swimming can begin.  The moms begin their seaside vigil (with the help of lifeguards) but we cover the hours and back with stories and our best offerings (advice).  The kids get dirty feet and track sand all the way back to the car but they leave tired and happy.  And so do the moms.  We will certainly miss it when we are hibernating this winter.

MG met her teacher last night and school commences tomorrow.  I’m not ready.  But I’m ready.  She’s ready.

I spent an hour last week carefully sharpie-ing her name onto all of her supplies, envisioning her using them to make beautiful creations.  I wondered who her new friends would be and if she would love her teacher to the point of obsession, like most pre-schoolers do.  I wonder what books she will be introduced to this year and how long it will take for her to feel comfortable speaking up in class.  Our home-dictated schedule is coming to an end and we are about to embark on the next chapter of MG’s life.  The one that starts and ends with school.

Happy School Days to you,

-smk

Updates

The summer days are quickly winding down.  The strange thing is, the dog days haven’t even hardly begun yet…at least here anyway.

Tomorrow is our anniversary (9 years–woohoo!) and it always seems to be a marker for the beginning of the end of our summer.  N has already had a few days he’s put in and we kind of flounder around without him in a weird, unstructured, depressed kind of way.   I kind of forget all of my SAHM experience and have to re-learn how to single-parent again.  MG is especially aware of his absence on the days he is gone and I’m not really sure how to prepare her to do this full time again.

This year will also be the start of official pre-school for her.  I know I should be excited, and I am sure she will love it, but this too also feels like a definitive marker.  Soon she will no longer be fully mine.

I’m dreading all of these small changes that will be here in less than a month.  It seems that the first few weeks of August are one of the busiest times of work for N and we lose our little, tight-knit family for a while.  It’s painful at first and I get anxious thinking about what it will look like.

Grandma Mary cleaned out her sewing box (she said she’s retiring :)) and gave me the contents.  I found quite a few treasures (the bag of buttons was especially exciting) and set to work almost immediately on the first inspiration that struck me.

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The poms & fawn patch both came from her box, the straps from a friend’s yard sale, and the fabric was from my stash.  This is one of my favorite projects I’ve made because it’s so meaningful.

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This past weekend we took a short little weekend trip to Chattanooga.  We trailblazed down I-65 at a snail’s pace, stopping more often than I’d like to remember for construction and road blocks.  But we made it to Chattanooga by dinner time on Friday night and that Southern Chick-fil-a with all of the double-first-named soft-drawling children running around (and another MG!!!) was plenty to revive our travel-worn spirits.

 

Saturday was spent swimming, eating out, lots of family time, and a movie in the park to top it off.  MG is definitely our movie girl.  She is riveted by anything on a screen and pays close attention to the plot line.

 

I set a lofty goal for myself to make (sew) the majority of MG’s fall wardrobe (Bea already has a large wardrobe of hand-me-downs, but I’ll make a few coordinating things for her too).   I’ve been day dreaming some ideas that include corduroy, velvet, stretchy denim, and structured shirts.  Wish me luck!

I found a deeply discounted Scan N Cut at my favorite TN store Essex…AKA Bargain Hunt.  My brother-in-law spotted it first and in my memory, he carries it across the store to me, holding it high above his head in a victory march.  I have been wanting one of these things forever but could never swallow the price tag.  As soon as I got home, I began playing around with it and my imagination is exploding with ideas.  I’m trying not to ignore my family too much 😉 so I can tackel it.

I’m (slowly) reading Go Set a Watchman.  I’m still early into it, so I haven’t encountered the controversial Atticus yet, but I am especially struck by her talent as an author.  Ms. Lee can tell a story.  That is my number one aspiration with this blog, to be a teller of my girls’ stories until they are old enough to take over.

-smk

 

CA

It seems a lifetime ago we packed up what felt like too much of our little family and caught an early flight to California. 

The girls are becoming old pros at this flight stuff and we breezed through Dallas and made it to Sacramento before 11am (PST).

After experiencing an extremely rainy summer thus far, we ran to the pool with open arms.  The dry CA heat and sunshine never felt better.

The next morning, N and I kissed our girls goodbye and left them in the very capable hands of Granny and then went to the airport BY OURSELVES.  We drank coffee and ate a snack without having to share it with anyone constantly monitoring our contents.  And we strolled leisurely around when our flight was delayed an hour because IT DID NOT MATTER.  

When we did board our flight, we sat in the exit row and I read a book from gate to gate while N  prepped some doctoral work to work ahead a bit.  It was glorious.  

Our flight took us to LAX and our final destination was Marina del Rey; only about a 15 minute drive if you don’t hit traffic (a rarity in LA). We had booked our place months ago through AirBnB and we were a little excited/nervous finally see it in person.

(I need to interrupt for a minute to give a shout-out to my sister/brother in law who found our place AND sent us a ton of restaurant and entertainment ideas that really panned out for us.  THANK YOU!!)

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We were so excited when we finally cracked the door open and took in our condo for the week.  It was a one bedroom, one bath with a kitchen, eating space, and a balcony (perfect for breakfast and lunches)

We had decided in advance that we weren’t going to rent a car because of our location and the prospect of beach cruisers that came with our rental.  Biking post-kids is a luxury and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the city by bike. LA is a pretty bike friendly town and we explored all over Venice, took a bike path to Santa Monica, explored Abbott Kinney Blvd (my favorite!) and even ferried  groceries back home several times.  For the places we went to that were too far by bike, we bused (for when we had time, it rarely cost us both more than $3 for an hour+ride) and ubered (when time was important to us).  

Some of the sights outside of Marina del Rey/Santa Monica we saw were the Getty art museum and Hollywood.  

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We chose to do a bike tour of Beverly Hills (another suggestion by my personal travel agent :)) and it was my favorite thing we did.  We had our own personal tour guide who took us through celebrity neighborhoods (we saw some A-list celebrity homes, heard many celebrity stories, and saw some vintage celebrity homes as well.  No celebrity sitings, and most homes had such high privacy fences that you couldn’t see much of the home; but it was still fun to be casually riding our bikes through these mulit-million dollar streets!).  On this tour we also stopped and explored this old mansion (Greystone Manor)  that has been the site of many A-list movies.  It has beautiful grounds and a ghost story to boot.  Exploring that (and peeking in the windows) was probably my favorite part.

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(just casually riding our bikes down Rodeo Drive!)

The bike tour met in West Hollywood and afterward we made our way over to North hollywood for Graumin’s Theater and Madame Toussad’s wax museum. It was the closest we came to seeing any real celebrities.

We ate really well on this trip and got quite spoiled by all of the gluten free bakeries and ice cream shops nearby.  Our condo had a pool and we spent a few afternoons there reading and relaxing….by definition my favorite way to spend vacation.

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When our six days were up, we were ready to get back to our girls!  They hardly seemed to notice our absence; Grampy and Granny kept them entertained (swimming 2-3x a day, walks, movies, snacks, and all of the new-to-them toys {including my old barbie dolls]).  

We spent the remainder of our vacation soaking up the fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk CA rays and doing more of the same; walks, swimming, shopping, and movies.  

I don’t know yet when we will be back to good ol’ California but it certainly has been good to us

-smk

Summer Break under the stress

Summer break officially began for us sometime last week.  But it seems these past 8 days or so have found N and I trading kid duties while we both work on our “second jobs”.  (his being doctorate, mine being Sweet Mama Makes).  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a welcome relief from the pace of normal life, but I don’t think either of us are feeling very well-rested.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so frenzied is that I just launched a new line of Shorties and Bloomers  (I’d add pictures, but apparently my Internet connection will only allow me one at the moment).

Since this was my first time making them, I had to create the pattern, perfect it, make one in each size in the range, make an example in each fabric to give customers an idea of what they would like, press them, photograph them, write Etsy listings for them, and then advertise and sell them.  And finally to create them!

This has been an interested venture to say the least and not all of my handmade things have been very successful sellers, but I’m thankful for what I am learning from being my own businesswoman.  And while I don’t think SMM will be a permanent fixture in my life, I am counting all of the life lessons I’m learning.

So far in the 9 months Sweet Mama Makes has been opened,  I’ve noticed a predictable cycle…first I drive myself into a frenzy, then I get overwhelmed and swear I’m going to quit after the next round, then I take a few weeks off and enjoy it so much I say I’m never going back, then I get that itching urge to create again and then make something I want to share.  And on it continues.  I do love having an outlet that lets me express myself when the urge strikes but I also realize I’ve got to find a better way to balance my time or else I’m going to burn out quickly.

I’m just nearing the end of a frenzied period and taking some time off this week to create for myself (the girls really).  I saw this Eric Carle fabric and had to have it.  Today it turned into a pinafore for Bea.

 

We’ve also been pre-gaming for an upcoming vacation (where we can’t wait to rest HARD).  This means we’ve given up refined sugar for 2 weeks (honey and maple syrup are okay). I’ve been eating a lot of desserts like “ice cream” made out of frozen bananas and “brownies” with an avocado base.  I don’t hate it…but that first vacation shave ice sure will taste good.  So will that first vacation night of sleep.

Bring it on,

smk

Summer and Kittens

Although there is not much new around here, I’ve been itching to write something this entire week.  I said at the beginning of the year that I was going to take a more spontaneous approach to the blog and it seems like the desire comes in 2-week spurts. 

One small, but exciting bit of news: we got kittens!  We’d been talking about doing this for maybe a year now. When N opened up the barn this spring to find a toss bean bag broken open with its contents strewn everywhere (dried corn), he soon discovered that mice had gotten in.  With the barn being right next to the field, it only makes sense that it would be a harbor for them.  He set traps but that’s when we started to have the serious talk about whether we should add some kitties on land patrol, if you will.  

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Plus, what is a farm without farm cats? 🙂

We didn’t pursue the thought too much, as it doesn’t seem like kittens are too hard to come by, especially out here in the country.  We just figured when the time was right, the right ones would come along.  Sure enough, we saw a few signs in yards that said, “free kittens” and one of them worked out.  

These two kitties are sisters and were abandoned by their mom at three weeks (mom and dad both were strays, mom stumbled into a neighbor’s garage to have her kittens…can you imagine???). There were three girls, the third one was placed by a friend.  With these being barn kittens, we thought two would be a good number because they can watch out for each other and keep each other company.  

So far, this theory has proven true.  They sleep, eat, and play together.  It is adorable.

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Just like two human sisters I know…

And have they ever been a source of entertainment for us!  Of course, MG is obsessed with babies, so she babies these kittens and they are too little to say otherwise.  She carries them in baskets and in their arms.  N and I always sneak out to the barn after the girls are in bed to get some uninterrupted kitty time.  This has been a stressful week for both of us, but there is something about petting (two) kittens that evaporates your stress level.

The black one is my favorite, she is quick to purr and more playful than her dainty sister.  Her hair is black but long and tipped with gray/white. She has a small diamond of white under her neck.  I’ve always loved long-haired cats so I can’t help but fawn over her looks.

The grey tabby is cautious and timid.  She does not love easily but tolerates being held for a lot longer (she will nap in MG’s arms as she is transported on many adventures).  The black one is always the aggressor in play but the tabby is the stronger eater of the two.  All this strikes me as ironic because she is the runt.  

We didn’t bring the kittens home the same day we looked at them.  We waited 24 hours to talk through all the details and buy supplies.  In that time, we also started brainstorming names.  We liked literary names, famous sister names, names that connected us to our past or present.  MG liked princess names.  

N said that MG would get to choose one and name it and since Bea was too young to name the other one that I could.  Fair enough.  He did use it as a learning opportunity for MG, saying, “names are very important.  We spent a long time thinking about your name and your sister’s name, because it is something that sticks with you your entire life.”  He told her she had to think about it and not tell us the name she chose for 24 hours.  When we picked the kittens up, she could then bestow it.

She instantly agreed to these terms and said she already had a name picked out.  It was the same name she had liked since yesterday, she said.  I, of course, assumed this meant “Snow White Rapunzel” or “atticus the girl” as she had been throwing out these suggestions all day.  But something in her confidence made me think she was hiding something a bit more clever.  

Sure enough, she chose Teacup, which was a huge surprise to us because we’d never heard her say this previously.  Apparently “Teacup” is a “disney palace pet” that belongs to Princess Belle.  So it has the Disney connection but thankfully not an unbecoming princess name.  I do think it’s an unintentional but very fitting choice for such a small, dainty little thing.  You did good, MG.  

Since we weren’t going to have a pair of say, “Scout and Boo”, “Charlotte and Fern”, or “Delta and Dixis” the naming options for the black one were blown wide open again.  I narrowed it down to a few choices, “Minnie the Mouse catcher” (I liked it because it fit our disney year), “Little Black Olive”, and “Junebug” (we picked them up on the first day of June).  But after hearing Bea say, “Bird-EE”, I was sold.  And that’s how Blackbird AKA Biridie and Teacup came to be.

As I mentioned earlier, this has been a stressful set of weeks for us.  N is wrapping up his school year and his summer break officially started yesterday.  It was a sprint to the end, especially combined with doctoral summer classes which are on more of a condensed schedule over the summer.  

I introduced a new product to SMM which meant a lot of time spent perfecting the pattern, photographing, and writing listings for it.  It was a successful launch so now I have to fulfill these orders and if that goes well, then I will probably offer it again in some new fabric choices.  I’ve already been scoping some out (fabric shopping is an addiction), but I also need to figure out what to do with the ever-growing mound of scrap fabric I have.  I have soooo many ideas of things I want to make for the girls, my shop, the house, myself.  This summer will afford me the time to pursue some of those ideas but I also don’t want to walk away from the summer feeling like I spent the whole thing working.  

Summer is typically a little slice of relief for our family.  We soak up time together and N gets to join us on our day-to-day life.  There’s always a few hiccups as we adjust to each other’s rhythms but by the end of the summer we are so enmeshed that it is painful for him to return to full-time work.  

On his first day off yesterday, he gave me the day off to tie up the ends of my launch and took to the girls to story time after making waffles and before smoking some meat for dinner.  We reconvened for dinner and ice cream and separately, but both around the same time, the girls took tumbles and needed some comforting.  They both refused my arms and went straight to Daddy.  

One day with Daddy…that’s all it took for me to be dethroned.  One day.

-SMK

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

 

Vacation 2014, part II

As promised, here is the video from our recent trip to Rosemary beach.

Rosemary Beach 2014 from Kate on Vimeo.

A few notes: MG is STILL obsessed with Sleeping Beauty.  Granny brought a Disney princess crown for her and she wore it nearly the entire time, as evidenced by the video.  When we went outlet shopping, we also took her to the Disney store and let her pick something out.  She chose a Sleeping Beauty nightgown.  Then we saw the Princess Sophia “dress-ups” were on major clearance and since she’s been very much into dress up lately, we had to have it.  (she’s never seen princess sophia but she knows who she is.  She has worn her dress-up every waking moment inside the house since our return.  I have a rule that she can’t leave the house in it…although she has tried).  Then, they got us again with $10 Sleeping Beauty dolls.  So she walked out with three things.  And it was pretty magical.

-smk

Vacation 2014

It is hard to believe but our summer break is now (more than) halfway over.  Too many fun things coupled with deceptively cool weather has lulled us into the lazy, carefree summer rhythm.

One of the highlights of this summer will be the family vacation we just returned from.  My immediate family attempts to congregate in a new location every summer and this year we chose Rosemary Beach outside of Panama City, FL.  As far as vacations go, this had to have been one of my favorites.  Easy beach access, sugar white sand, huge pool, beautiful (and beautifully decorated) beach house, bike rentals, too many good food options, frozen yogurt/sno-cones nearly every evening, and outlet shopping (always a family vacation must).  Plus, Rosemary beach and neighboring Alys Beach have lots of visual appeal with their spendy homes and amenities.  Of the two, Rosemary is the well-established, classic choice while Alys is her tonier, new-money sister.  We enjoyed several nights just walking and biking through the sidewalks, gawking at what we could peep at from the lit interiors.

As hoped, by the end we were so relaxed we were nearly catatonic.  I guess not cooking, mowing, cleaning, laundrying, and erranding will do that to you after a week.   In their favor, the girls vacationed well.  The flights (and 5 hours layovers!!!!)  both went as smoothly as possible.  MG could have spent nearly every hour digging in the sand and we learned that after Bea got over her desire to eat and drink it, she enjoyed floating in the water.  While down there, we also ran (literally, ran) into some good friends and caught up with them with the roar of the ocean in the background.   Our evenings were spent walking or biking, followed by book discussions and family Jeopardy.  It’s the same old, comfortable family vacation routine we’ve fallen into, but we have no desire to change it.

I’m working on a vacation video (which always seem to capture the feelings better than words and pictures), but in the mean time, here are a few teaser pics:

IMG_9836 IMG_9838

-smk

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