2015

2015 Favorite Things

Typing out a Favorite Things list is not something new for me, see for example: (2014, 2013, 2012)  So in the spirit of tradition, I present to you (in no particular order), my favorite things from 2015:

My Steam Mop: I put this purchase off for (too many) years, hearing negative reviews of people spending a lot of money only to end up with lemons.  Finally,  one day on a (perhaps nesting inspired) whim, I threw out my old, broken mop and ordered this one.  For what it’s worth, it does get pretty good reviews on Amazon and if my review adds any weight to your decision, I love it.  Over the years I’ve been gradually switching my family away from as many chemical cleaners as possible and so this received extra points for killing germs simply with steam.  The only thing I would change about it is the cord, which is too short, difficult to roll up, and just overall annoying.  Other than that, it won me over. The proof is in the filthy mop head I throw in the wash each week.

steam mop

(pic via Amazon)

Amazon Prime Photo: This is a free cloud storage app for all of your photos and videos for Prime members.  So far I am loving it.  It takes up little space on my phone and I’ve had a better success rate with it than iCloud.  Get yours in the app store.

prime

(pic via lightandmatter.org)

Unisom: I think this little OTC sleep aid has earned its rightful spot on my 2015 favorite things list.  During the first tri, my morning sickness raged the worst at night and 1/2-1 blue tab helped me to sleep it off successfuly.  Those of you who need something during the day, talk to your Dr. about Diclegis.

unisom

(pic via unisom.com)

Digize: I wouldn’t consider myself fully on the essential oils bandwagon, yet, but if there is a problem that I am reluctant to treat with medicine or something that doesn’t necessarily call for medicine, I am willing to give them a trial run.  If I could chose only one oil to have in my cabinet, this one would be it.  Stomach bugs terrify me. I used this on the girls every time they complained of any kind of stomach trouble, and each time I felt like it worked (placebo, maybe, but it gave me peace of mind that I was doing something)

digize

(pic via youngliving.com)

Sewing Machine: I would probably characterize 2015 as the year I finally learned my way around my sewing machine.  Early 2015, I replaced my first sewing machine with my current one and have been so very happy.  Right now sewing has become my creative outlet.  When the mornings are busy, stressful, or even just boring, I dream about my afternoon sewing projects and what new things I can create.  It gives me a creative purpose and a way to express myself that is extremely satisfying.  2015 was not a friend to my serger, BUT, as of just recently I think we’ve made up.  And I’m hoping it lasts.  I also added a Scan N Cut to my creative mine, but truthfully, I haven’t been as happy with it as I imagined (perhaps most of this is the fault of the user).  I hope to be re-inspired by it this year.

sewing

(pic via thegraphicfairy.com)

Clarisonic: I actually purchased this facial brush a few years ago, but found it irritated my skin and put it away after a few uses.  I was re-inspired to use it  again several months ago and brushed past my irritation to really smooth skin. Now I use it religiously, morning and night, and love the results.  I only wish I had gotten the hang of it sooner.

clarisonic

(pic via Amazon)

Kindle: I was gifted a hand-me-down Kindle late last summer and fell in love.  I don’t know why I dragged my feet on them for so long.  The best part is the instant gratification of checking out ebooks from the library, especially when they are the hard to come across tangible ones.

kindle

(pic via Amazon)

Looking back on the past two years,  I wrote my list with a heavy focus on the arts: music, literature, and theater.  I read a ton of books this year, but I decided I can’t highly, highly recommend any of them for various reasons.  However, if you need a light beach read, I’m your gal.

Our movie selection was limited, and we decided we were okay with that this year too.  I think we’ve discovered that we are more documentary/shorter shows and less 2-3 hour movie types in this stage of life.

My music selections didn’t really change, well at all, since last year.  I still listen to podcasts when I exercise, clean, and sew, but with a few exceptions, those are roughly unchanged since last year as well.

As far as favorite experiences of 2015, topping the list would be the (unexpected) magic of Disneyland and N and I’s anniversary trip to LA.  The older I get, the more I find what they say is true: you won’t remember what presents you received, but your memories of experiences will always stay with you.

More experiencing and less gifting in 2016,

-smk

Visionary

I just returned from a weekend at MOMcon which always leaves me feeling encouraged to write more.  One of the workshops I attended was called Express Yourself by Amena Brown  (she is an extremely gifted “spoken word” poet, look her up).  She gave us some writing prompts about shoes and they almost immediately went to an emotional level, for all of us.  There is something about being given a limited amount of time to write on a specific topic that gives you a freedom not to overthink.  It is when your brain doesn’t work too hard that your heart shines through.  There was an open mic where we were encouraged to share our writing and I felt tears prick my eyes after nearly every one because I love to hear stories and perspective from other women in the same stage of life I’m in.

The week leading up to MOMcon was a busy one (as they usually are when you are preparing for a trip away from your kids/home).  I had to pick MG up early from school and happened to catch her at the end of lunch.  She was sitting at the far corner of the cafeteria with a table full of girls.  There was one little, petite, open seat beside her and Bea happily filled it, while I kneeled behind, waiting for her to finish.  The first thing I noticed was that she was the only child not eating the school lunch.  I know I would probably pack a home lunch anyway if given the choice, but it made me sad that she is not given the choice.

This doesn’t seem to affect her social standing though, as the girls that surrounded her were happy to tell me about how they know her and collectively shared a story that had happened to her earlier that day.  MG told me their names and I tried to memorize their faces so I could have context to the stories she tells me in the evening.  “_____ has a cat but she’s a mean cat.”  “_____ has a princess backpack just like me.”  “One time _____ hit _____ but she’s never hit me.” She has always been prone to grace.

It’s picture day and that is obvious by the choice clothing and perfectly kept hair. They all look so pretty with their curled hair and big eyes.  They stare at me attentively in between stories, and I feel like a queen visitor.  I am reminded how much I love preschoolers.

I love observing my girls in social situations.

This month has been a growing one since the loss that accompanied last month.  Just recently, N and I feel like God has given us a vision for our future and our hearts are set on attaining it.  In some ways, it is hard to keep my feet grounded because my head is in the clouds, thinking, wondering, hoping, how and when we will accomplish this.

MOM con always gives me a taste of what God is trying to teach me and a chance to meet with Him without distraction.  This year MOPS is focusing on a theme verse (which I pitifully can’t remember), but the three tenets of it are Notice Goodness, Celebrate Lavishly, and Embrace Rest. The one that I felt continuously sticking out to me was the last one.  At first I felt defensive of it; I am an intentional “rester”!  When I need sleep, I take a nap.  When I am overstimulated, I sneak away to be by myself.  I guard my energy level. But as the weekend progressed it became clear to me that it was my mind that needed to rest, not my body.

Fear and worry sometimes plague me into cyclical thinking before I even realize it.   Do you know what I also learned?  The number one predictor of anxiety in girls is anxiety in their parents.  That is one trait I wouldn’t wish on my sweet, curly-haired girls and if it’s out of my control, then I will have to teach them the power they can have over it.

-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

 

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