changes

Company

We’ve had a glut of company this month and the two previous.  I think it’s a combination of a more relaxed summer schedule (for us all), and we’ve also hit the time period where we’ve been in a new place long enough to comfortably host. That, and being in a place that warrants a visit.

It’s been good.  A welcome distraction from the busyness of the everyday routine that somehow sucks you in and without realizing it, time passes with no real markers.  We tend to take a lot more pictures and etch a lot more memories when we have friends and family here to enjoy them with us.

I often feel inadequate as a host, though I’m sure this is a common feeling that prevails over most of us, save for the few that are incredibly talented in this area and enjoy life filled up in every aspect.  But the only way to overcome inadequate feelings and imperfections is to practice through them.  So that’s what I strive for.

It’s been a season of running the dishwasher twice a day in order to have enough drinking glasses and silverware (why we don’t just buy another 8 sets, I do not know yet.  Eight forks seemed like more than enough when we were first married and our family took up two chairs at the dining table).

It’s been eating out at our “old” favorites and trying some new ones.  Recommended dishes described over the tops of our menus.

It’s been staying up too late because when the kids go to bed our conversations continue without interruption and that is a small luxury.  We’ve played games and eaten homemade cheese popcorn, the ice in our drinking glasses melting and condensation dripping down, making small pools on the table.  These are the things that remind us of when we were young and didn’t need a babysitter for such things.

Our A/C worked overtime these months.  Both because of the ninety-plus degree days but also a sure sign we have company.  We worry that our lifestyle of scrimping on things like air and favorite foods won’t be enjoyable for them so we roll out the red carpet.  It’s a treat for us too.

Our house has been packed with small children during these times.  And we feel so thankful that we finally feel we have a house that can accommodate them well.  A fenced in yard, a cul-de-sac to ride bikes, a playroom away from the common areas, and three eating areas with enough seats for thirteen bottoms.  These things we have longed for in our previous houses and have served us well in our short time here.

Having guests has pushed us to explore parts of our city that always felt a little frivolous to pay for or drive to when it was just our family of five.  Though I do always wish when we arrive that we were a little more seasoned and confident in our leadership. For example, we could not find the promised playground in Centenniel Park and ended up walking too far and then giving up all together for the sake of the little legs and heat beading up on our necks and the lack of stroller space. We ended up doing plan B and it was fine (and fun!), but I hate to drag friends into that.

When you have people over to your house, especially if they spend the night, you reach a certain level of intimacy with them that is virtually impossible to otherwise do, especially if you have children. There is no time limit on your conversations, sometimes you see each other in less than flattering situations, like with the morning dew still on your face, and your children misbehaving, and a little bit of marital discord (like when you disagree about the direction of the playground…).

But intimacy breeds closeness and talks about adoption and unknown futures and future fears and items that don’t normally get discussed because you are usually on a two hour time limit and you can barely cover surface level in that amount of time, get crossed over and beyond.  Conversations that start in the morning get finished in the afternoon and dissected in the evening.

It’s been a good season.  One that I’m sure God has given to us in bounty due to the coming changes, as surfacing on the horizon.  One thing we didn’t know 4 months ago is that our “guest room” would soon be turned into a full-time used room, come March (or possibly sooner). We intended to put “all three” girls in the same sister room, but the addition of the fourth made us reconsider.  Now I think we’ll do two and two, but will lose the guest room in the process (it was either the guest room or my “sewing room”/office, so something we use seasonably, or daily.  Seasonably won).

We will hopefully still be able to accommodate the more adventurous guests (my in-laws have promised us they will be fine on an air mattress in the playroom…), but I also know our life will slow predictably, for a short season, at least, with our new one.  And adventurous outings to the city won’t come as easily or often.

So I’m thankful for what we’ve been able to squeeze in during this short time, and know/hope it is a promise for more to come.  We feel the sands shifting beneath us again as we seek to change, once again, but know that with each change, our life has become even more rich and full than possibly imagined.

May it be so.

-smk

Transition

I wrote these two snippets when I was in the midst of the summer of 2016, living by myself, taking care of the girls, and selling the schoolhouse.  I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it at the time, but now that it is over, it feels safe to put these feelings out into the arcing reach of the Internet.  Enjoy…

We are one month from moving and the goodbyes are already starting to roll in; some in the form of texts, others in final visits to old stomping grounds.  Many I’m putting off and I keep reassuring people that we haven’t left yet.  But I think they know what I am trying to deny: our time here is finite.

It’s been hard to process everything when I’m flying solo during the week.  Sometimes the weight of three extra bodies needing everything from you is enough to bring you to your knees.

There are nights I spend running from bedside to bedside and not seeing nearly enough of my own.

There are nights where I lay awake, over-analyzing every little sound.  No peace to be found.

There is a constant feeling that we are only one vomit, one fever, one car malfunction away from a disaster.  The only reason we are holding together is because we are being held together.  But one small upset in this delicate balance and you realize you cannot possibly sustain this lifestyle for very long.

During this time I prayed specifically against mastitis (I’ve always gotten it around the 6 week mark, which is the first week I was left on my own.  This time I have been free of it!).  I also prayed that in the absence of the girls’ earthly father, God would step in.  He’s given me control over my fear at night for safety and has provided a few interactions for the girls with other men that reminded me of the way N interacts with them.  Not a perfect substitute, of course, but enough of a break from me to give them some familiarity. Finally, I prayed that God would give me extra patience for the girls and that I wouldn’t say anything to them in frustration or anger I would regret.  It’s amazing, but prayers do work. Although I did have to apologize to them twice for losing my patience so far, i’ve felt myself very calm and serene this entire time.  Almost like I’d been drugged, I’ve been able to let so much roll over me without getting under my skin as it may normally on a given night when I am carrying the needs of the family by myself.

I feel like I am treading water.  I set up a bunch of systems in place to keep things running without me turning the crank every time.  But there’s only so much independence and reliance I can give to a five year old, three year old, and two month old.

MG is my right hand man.  She is a joyful helper; I don’t know what I would do without her.  She jumps at any chance to fill a need, mommying both Bea and Sib as well as attending to me at times too. I feel guilty letting her carry some of my burdens and I feel overwhelmed when I don’t.

I feel so vulnerable by myself with three, dependent, little ones.  We are often at the mercy of strangers, reliant on their goodwill.  An opened door, an extra day at the gym the day after our membership ran out, the retrieval of a dropped item. Nothing felt too small and these interactions were crucial to my survival.

Each week gets a little easier as we sink into a rhythm, but I still feel pretty martyr-ish by Thursday night. (N comes home on the weekends)

It’s also weird living in a house that doesn’t belong to you anymore, especially right now.

I have several friends who have made an effort to checkup on me, the neighbors who have watched over me, and one friend in particular who has gone out of her way to invite us over for dinner many times.  This community I am completely dependent on and soon I will have to walk away from it completely to start over.


Part 2

MG is gone now and it’s just me, Bea, and Sibs.  I’m afraid Bea will curl up in a ball of boredom without her best playmate here.  That’s  only happened once or twice so far.  She is learning how to play by herself now and has gotten quite good at it.  I underestimated her. In many different ways.

Sib is starting to sleep much longer stretches at night.  I don’t know what I would do if she was colicky or awoke through the night.  Literally don’t know what I would do.  God has orchestrated the timing of this and a few other little things for me and I have noticed it.

Now I am deliberately saying my goodbyes. Our final church service, lunch dates, playdates, and even drives. Goodbyes are hard.  They’re awkward and weird and filled with a lot of promises that I’m not sure will be able to be kept.  But they are necessary too.  And they also represent many good things. God has taken me on a few scenic routes lately past some of the memorable parts of this town.  I think He is helping me close the door. I know I can’t wait to bring the girls back here one day and take them on these drives along with my memory-laced narration.

I feel like I have spoken these words before but I don’t know another time when they would trump right now.  This has been one of the most stressful and difficult seasons of our lives.  There have been so many little things that have been hard compacted on top of the big things that are difficult anyway.  N and I living apart, both with our hands tied up in so many things, trying to make a living and keep a life. So many foundational things are changing all at once. It has been hard to keep our relationship intact across the miles.  But if absence makes the heart grow fonder then consider my heart’s beating the most devoted cry in the world.

-smk

 

Updates

{In case you missed it, here some of the previous house updates we’ve done.}

The weather is beautiful here today.  Seventy-five, sunny, and partly breezy.  More early than late fall.  We ran out early this morning and finished our Monday errands and then ate lunch and did schoolwork (sidewalk chalk alphabet of course) outside.

 

 

It was heavenly.  I’m trying really hard not to let my mind believe what my body is telling me…that spring is around the corner.  But I’m not trying too hard, because I am of the opinion that a little ignorance never hurt anybody.

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N was on fall break this past week and we took advantage of his time at home to get some house work accomplished.  One of our awesome sitters (holla for living in a small town in between two Christian universities) came over on Thursday and then Grandma came over on Friday, freeing up even more of our time to work.

And on that note, we put the finishing touches on the powder room!  The first room in the house to be completely d-o-n-e (for now :))!

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(The paint color is Old Navy by Benjamin Moore.  Light fixtures are from Lowe’s.  Mirror is antique.  Shelves are made by Nate.  Illustrations on wall are from artist Mari Kloeppel)

Also, we had our fireplace installed this weekend(!!!!!!!!)  I am so incredibly excited to have a fireplace; I’ve been dreaming about one for the past 8 years.

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It’s about 85% finished so more pics to come.

We’ve moved upstairs and started work in the hallway.  We didn’t have ANY hallways in our last house so I’ve had fun dreaming up possibilities for this little space.

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After the stairs are finished being painted (no they won’t stay both grey and white–just grey–this was just N’s genius way of painting them while we were still able to use them) we will lay down a runner.bDSC_0056 bDSC_0049

We hung a “hometown” gallery wall in the hallway.  You can purchase some art like this for yourself in my shop 🙂

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(the pink barn and field are well-known landmarks near where we fell in love <3)

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N started tearing up the hallway carpeting and I think we will lay down a herringbone patterned wood floor…ideally made from an old, dead tree we cut down in the yard.  Wouldn’t that be amazing if it worked??

Next up: the wall of books to go in the “library”, painting the upstairs, and a fun little project I am working on for the upstairs hallway.

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Stay tuned!!

-smk

Updates

One of the things we wanted to add to our new house was a playset for the girls.  This house doesn’t have a playground within strolling distance like our last two 🙁 🙁 and I knew having a hang out in the back yard would be a useful addition for many summers to come!

 

I began scoping out our options on Craigslist, convinced we could beat the price of conventional play grounds as long as we were willing to put in a few blood, sweat, and tears (we were.  we just didn’t realize how much blood, sweat, and tears would be required).  I spent a few days playing the CL game….frantically emailing/texting, waiting in line, bidding and negotiating.  It was only a matter of time before we found one that really struck our interest, was within our driving range, and priced just right.  We won the bid and made plans to pick it up a few weekends ago.

 

We knew this was going to be a big project but we had no idea how to quantify it.  We both thought N would have to disassemble the entire thing and then carefully attempt to reassemble it at our house.  Thankfully it came apart in only three manageable sections but that meant two, hour and a half trips out there, two different size trailers, and some much needed help from both our neighbors and some boys from the college.

After a long day of driving and hauling, N made it home for a quick bite of dinner before bee-lining it to the yard to put it in place before losing the remaining daylight.  He had three boys on hand to help him and the first thing they did was get the trailer stuck in a muddy ditch in our front yard.  Next thing we knew, one of our neighbors was driving his tractor over in a, “hey it looks like you might need some help” kind of way and rescuing them from the ditch.  He stayed to see the entire project through and even brought over some new hooks for our swing.  Meanwhile, I got a phone call from our other neighbor saying, “hey, do y’all need some help?”  (think we must have looked a little pathetic??!!).  “I was driving by and couldn’t stop in the moment but I’d be happy to run over now!” Just a few minutes later they victoriously finished the set with just enough daylight for MG to get a few celebratory slides in before bed.

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N and I were almost brought to tears by the willingness of our little community to help.  This has definitely been a season of reliance on others.  We’ve had to suck in our pride a little bit and accept help, advice, and even shelter from our friends and family.  In some cases we’ve had NOTHING to offer in return. Literally nothing other than a sincere thank you.  I don’t know how much longer this season will last but I am feeling myself being changed through it.  For that, I guess, I am grateful.

-smk

On Grieving

I’ve mentioned before I am a sensitive soul. My emotions are strong and my feelings are like a compass, constantly steering me forward while my head and hands are left, trying to catch up.

I haven’t always been an emotional being though… I started to notice the walls begin to crack and the floodgates begin to open shortly after we were married. At first I blamed my (then) soy milk obsession (the extra estrogen, you know…). Then I blamed pregnancy, hormones, being a tired new mom. But it really never went away. And I’ve become somewhat comfortable with my new delicate heart and leaky tear ducts. Though not especially when it comes to goodbyes, bridesmaid speeches, or watching movies…

One of the ways this gift can really be a curse, however, is on the verge of something new. I am on the edge of a monumental moment and all I can think about is what I’m leaving behind. California…boohoohoo….and even grieving our old house a bit too. I suppose this has become a rite of passage for me. Before I can fully engage my excitement, I must count my losses and wholly grieve them.

Not having lived this way the first half of my life I can definitely see some benefits to this method. I spent the first few years of our marriage having random crying jags over sad things that had happened years earlier that I’d never shed a year over up until that moment. These belated sob sessions have propelled me into fully grieving in the moment and also allowed me to express my full excitement when the time is right.

Today we pack up California to head home. A “new”, exciting, fresh home to call our own. But pardon while I take a few hours to say my goodbyes….

-smk
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If you decide to sell your house…

If you decide to sell your house,

Maybe you will have to mourn a little before you can go on to experience the wonderful things in your new life to come. Much like welcoming a new child into your family, you will recognizance it as a parallel experience to your second pregnancy. The wait, the exciting promise of fulfillment, the morning sickness, the mourning period, the labor pains, the beautiful birth and the promise of new life.

Much like it did in your second pregnancy, the grief at the end will surprise you. You know that something wonderful is coming but that something is new and unknown.  And it will be hard to imagine because you realize in order to get it, you will have to give up something  in its place.  Something that is already beautiful and wonderful on its own.

Perhaps you will go through a period of great excitement.  You will envision all of your shiny things perfectly positioned in your new house.  They will be arranged to your liking. You will begin packing boxes with care and imagine where the contents will be at rest.

You will uncover treasures.  You will find forgotten pictures, receipts, letters.  They will have been placed there from an earlier time, perhaps so that you  would discover them in this moment and say, “I remember”.  “I remember the life we had here in all its fullness, it was wonderful.”  You will think about the secrets this house holds and you will reminisce and cry and smile.

Maybe you will go through a period of regret. It comes somewhere in between the first packed box and the moving of your bed.  You will question everything about this decision and wonder why you put yourself through this.  “Isn’t this house good enough?” you will ask yourself.  And it will smile back at you all clean and spacious and empty and it will be.

You will put on a brave face for your family because you hope they don’t feel the same way.  The last thing you need is to be the cause of a mutiny.  But eventually it will come out.  All gushing out.  And they won’t feel the same way, at least not now, and they will talk you off the ledge and into the good days to come.  You will feel better.  You will come to the realization that a very important part of your life has been lived there.  One you will go back to often in your mind.  You smile when you think of the sweetness that he been shared there and you will wonder what it will be like to live in a place that has no memories.

Maybe then you will walk through your house and look around at its nakedness.  You will be sad that it is no longer full of your things though it still holds so much of your memory.  You will walk to the nursery and think about how many times that path has been walked before and be sad that you will never be able to do it again no matter how much you may want to for the sake of reliving.   Your girls will never sleep again in this room you so carefully decorated for them. You will not get to sit quietly and rock in it on their first day of kindergarten when all you want to do is go back to the day you brought them home form the hospital.  There is some pain in that stinging but you will work through it.  You will just keep packing boxes and you will probably save that room for last so that it will stay with you the longest.

You will look at the picture in your frames of the candid smiles and you will feel heavy in your heart.  You will ask yourself, “will I ever feel this happy again?”  Which is funny because you are actually really sad.

Perhaps you will wonder if you took enough pictures and recorded enough video.  Because you feel that someday, after the dust has settled, you may want to temporarily return here and you don’t know if that will be entirely possible.

For a while your new house won’t feel like home.  You will continue to forget where you put the oregano and the vanilla. When you fill in your address you won’t be able to remember your new zip code.  When the hot water doesn’t’ work, you will have a wistful longing for your old house.

You will be sad because you will be half here and half there and fully no where.  Your new house, though lovely and great, will lack this and that from your old house.  At first you will miss those things.  You will miss them badly before you realize you’ve forgotten about them and come to love this and that about your new house.  At that time, you will be able to look back on your old house with a fondness.  A soft sigh, a quietness on your heart that reminds you of a sweet life that was once lived there.   In that moment, you will realized you have moved forward.

Though you haven’t fully understood it, your life will go on to greater things.  The place you call home will not be left behind.  It will carry on with you to erupt with more joy and love than you an ever imagine.

But should you ever decide to sell your house, you may feel this way.

Maybe you will, or maybe it’s just me.

I just thought maybe you should know,

 

First Day

Even though I knew this day was coming (since I willingly imposed it upon myself last spring), it hasn’t been any easier to face.

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Today is the first day of “school” for MG for the rest of her life.  Okay technically it’s only pre-school (or is it Mother’s Day Out?) and technically it’s only one day a week.  But still.  It feels monumental.

We’ve been prepping her for this big change for quite some time.  In fact, the main reason I want her to go is so she can become more independent & comfortable in group settings.  Developing a relationship with authority (other than ourselves) and with other children.  The main focus of the year for her little ten person class is playing with each other.  Brilliant.

But I will miss her.  Much.  My biggest fear is that I will look back on this year with regrets.  That I will regret the one morning a week that I willingly gave her up.  That I will wish this time back.  But then I look at little Bea and remember that she needs me too.  Being the good baby that she is and the second one at that, she rarely sees me other than to eat and cuddle these days.  We need a quiet morning with baby activities to enjoy together.  Especially now that she is getting on 4 months and about to start scooting (eep!).

It will be good, right?  For all of us, right?

Because it is the FIRST day and I am a huge, huge sucker for tradition  I couldn’t let today slip by unnoticed.   I carefully handcrafted her lunch, complete with a message on a napkin…of the artistic variety…because cats are her love language…

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At breakfast, I prayed a special blessing over her and for a great school year.  I held out her two little pro-biotic vitamins (because we narrowly escaped the Norovirus last year and I am quite certain it is knocking at our door this year) and let her choose which one she wanted.  The cat won again.

We drove to school and we practiced saying her teacher’s name and what to do if she needed to potty and how to handle a little boy that bothers her (you should hear her say “stop” in her “mean” voice).  Then she randomly brought up the time she had to get her “picture taken by the blue man”

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(i.e. her follow up x-ray for her broken collarbone).  Perhaps this was her way of emoting her fear–by bringing up another time she was afraid.

Once at school, she proudly placed her backpack and lunch in her designated cubby.

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I kissed her goodbye at the door and told her I was so proud of her.

 

I watched her through the picture windows to see how she would respond.

 

My little lone soldier went immediately to the slide (didn’t she learn anything from the blue man incident :)?)

And then she spotted IT

 

And I knew she would be okay.

Later, the preschool director sent me this:

 

All is well for my little student 🙂

And of course I couldn’t let this day get away without a video tribute. So here you go:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/73867871%5D

MG first day of school from Kate Miley on Vimeo.

 

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,

 

The Wise Baby

In case you haven’t yet heard, I’m sharing one of my favorite homemade activities over on The Wise Baby today!

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I will be guest posting on a semi-regular basis over there, doing mostly DIY’s and a few reviews of my favorite products.  In case you haven’t ever visited, the Wise Baby is a wonderful resource for new and pregnant moms, grandparents, and caregivers. They do comprehensive reviews on all kinds of baby products and help you decide what to register for and what to skip.  Plus, they are constantly doing fabulous giveaways (of which, I’m sad I will no longer be able to justifiably enter :().

I am so excited for this new endeavor as I hope to expand my writing and learn some new things in the process.  Enjoy!