Month: October 2014

Daily Rhythms: Guest Post Abby

In case you’re new here, I’m doing a series called Daily Rhythms where I showcase snippets of both myself and others’ lives. You can catch up here.
This Daily Rhythms post comes from a suburban mom, living in a Victorian style mansion (it’s dreamy), in the Midwest.  Abby is another friend I met at Taylor and I have been following closely to her story since then.  She is a gifted writer and curates a blog filled with delicious recipes, artistic snippets, and daily musings.   She is a mom of four, with ages spanning from 1mo to seven years old. Yes, she is well-rounded and inspiring in all the right ways
Abby’s artistic vision extends beyond her blog and she has created many beautiful things with her hands. This fall I purchased one of her handmade cowls and have been so pleased with it;  (Check out her Etsy shop here) These cowls are so affordable and less fussy than a scarf (which I love!).
I was especially interested to hear what Abby’s days entail with 4 little ones, especially with the youngest being a newborn.  It’s rare to find someone that still faithfully blogs after having four children and for her insights I am extremely grateful 🙂
Follow her story along with me:
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(P.S. When I asked people to participate in this little exchange, I gave them very little boundaries or rules.  I just told them to make it their own.  It’s been fun to see how people took that charge and each added to it their own writing style)
5:30 am finish the last round of night nursing my 3 week old baby girl and fall back asleep with her on my chest.
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7:20 am-Greeted by Isabelle and Vera as they climb into my bed to say good morning. Vera plays with her current collection of “toys”, today they are a baby bottle, red potatoes and a coffee carafe. Isabelle snuggles under the covers next to me to chat while I nurse Eliza.
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8:00am-I roll out of bed and leave the girls talking with Eliza while I get ready. First, I run to the kitchen downstairs and pour myself a cup of coffee. Most nights I prep it all so when Nate gets up for work he brews it and fills up his thermos and leaves the rest for me to enjoy when I wake up. It is a great system! Then upstairs I go to the bathroom to check if my hair needs tweaking (read: spray with water bottle and re-dry) or if I can get away with it as is. I put on some makeup. (yes I do this every day and yes I do have four children one of which is a newborn…it can be done ladies

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

Daily Rhythms: Guest Post Erica

This summer I started a blog series called Daily Rhythms (you can catch up here).  One of these Daily Rhythms posts chronicled 24 hours with me.  A few weeks later I received an invitation to “swap” 24 hours stories and I shared with you my friend Kacey’s account.  The readers loved it.  So I decided I would ask a few ladies (that also blog) if they would be willing to contribute an entire day’s post to my blog.  How interesting is it to read how other people (especially those with different circumstances…ie number of kids, location, life circumstances, etc.) live?  So here is a day in the life of Erica, as seen on The View From Africa Erica

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Erica and I met quite a few years ago at our alma mater, Taylor University.  I met her through some mutual friends and have enjoyed watching her family grow over the past few years.  She is married to Dr. Matt and has two little boys:  Bo who is 3, Max who is 13 months.  (notice that her boys are almost the exact same ages/spreads of my girls)

At the time of her 24 hour writing, Max, who was adopted from Ethiopia, had been home only 5 weeks.  FIVE WEEKS and her life already seems so….normal 🙂  I followed their journey of first announcing their plans to adopt and then what felt like forever months later they were headed to Africa to first meet him (and pass court) and then a few weeks later a second time (to bring him HOME)

Erica works from home for her husband Matt’s dental anesthesia practice. They live in the south in a beautifully restored older home (holla!).  You have to check out her blog and read about them acquiring it!

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Daily Rhythms – Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today I struggle awake to the sounds of my husband getting ready for his day.  I’m thankful that he’s up first and I can stay snuggled in darkness for ten more minutes.  As he gets ready to walk out the door, we discuss a decision that is looming. 5:55 AM isn’t an ideal time for these conversations but Matt is a morning person so he humors me, and in this stage of life we have to grab the moments when we can.  He’s out the door, I shower and then I unload the dishwasher as my coffee brews.

 

I take my spot on the couch in the pool of lamplight and pick up the book I’m reading for Bible study. I haven’t always made it a point to wake up early but with two kiddos I need the time more than ever!  As the sky brightens I hear the kids stirring – the baby first, then Bo.  They have started to play a bit in the morning but I never know how long I have. I get breakfast ready for us – a bowl of oatmeal, today with raisins and pumpkin and cinnamon. I dish the kids’ bowls and put them in the fridge to cool.

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When it sounds like Max might need rescuing from his big brother, I enter. Today Bo is actually IN his brother’s crib . . . oh, well, moving on.  I’m grateful that breakfast today is mostly drama-free.  Max eagerly finishes a bowl of oatmeal and then feeds himself for a while and I pause to acknowledge his accomplishments – trying new textures and using a spoon! I make Bo’s lunch, pack it in his Star Wars lunchbox, and get the kids dressed.  Max has done a great job playing on the floor today and letting me get ready. So many times I focus only on the hurdles and I want to practice gratitude and celebrate our achievements!

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We’re out the door around 8:30 to walk Bo to school.  My neighbor-friend is leaving her house at the same time and she does half of the walk with us.  I’m thrilled to have her company. Bo is wearing his rainboots and we stop at every puddle and all the spookiest houses to admire their Halloween decorations.

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At school I kiss my big guy goodbye, and head back home, faster and quieter without my little sidekick, but a bit lonelier.  I love this walk and never tire of the beautiful homes on these streets. Soon we are home and Max is snuggled up with a bottle before his morning nap. I read him a story and place him on his tummy and walk out. He chatters but doesn’t cry – another moment to celebrate! I sit down in our home office to crank out an hour of phone calls and paperwork before I have to wake Max up . . . I hate to do it but he won’t nap well in the afternoon if I don’t. He pops up cheerfully and I encourage him to following me around the house with the walker while I get ready to head out the door.

 

As soon as he sees the car seat, Max starts to cry . . . and keeps at it.  We postpone errands for Barnes and Noble so he can get some time at the train table and a good lunch in.  We go from there to Target to grab diapers and baby food and then to the post office before landing back at home. Max goes down for his nap again and I take my lunch in to the office to deal with the calls I missed while we were out.  When Matt’s case goes long, I ask my sister-in-law to pick up Bo from school for me and I get a double bonus when she takes him to her house for an hour.  I use the time to start dinner and enjoy the quiet as I listen to music and chop veggies for chicken soup. Matt comes home and heads out to the backyard to work on the treehouse he spontaneously started two days before.  At 3:00 my sister-in-law brings Bo home and her three boys. They tumble out of the car and head for the tree fort as the baby wakes up.  I chat with  Courtney and Matt for the next hour as we watch our stairstep boys – ages 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 – climb and slide and swing down the zipline. Soon they are perfect muddy messes from head to toe.

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Bo’s school has reserved the local pumpkin patch for the evening so we head out and bring Bo’s closest-in-age cousin along.  They enjoy the mini maze and Max parks at the corn troughs for some sensory play.  I’m thankful Matt can be there with us, and even though my messy children mean it isn’t a picture perfect pumpkin patch experience, the kids have fun and we enjoy the fall afternoon together.

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We drop my nephew off at his house and race home as the dinnertime hour means meltdowns are on the horizon.  Bo is too dirty to eat so I give him a quick shower and set him down for chicken soup, which is not well received.  Matt heads out for the night to a concert so I keep the baby’s dinner simple and get him bathed while Bo realizes he does like chicken soup after all.  A couple books, a bottle for the baby, and a dozen kisses later, my little men are tucked into their shared room and I coast through our quiet house, picking up toys, unloading Bo’s backpack and admiring the day’s artwork.

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I take my soup to the couch to enjoy with my feet propped up and Hulu cued up on our TV.  I soak up the alone time. I’m dead tired, but content, thankful for the victories and head off for bed.

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It all sounds so deeply familiar, doesn’t it mamas?  Even though…even though it’s boys vs. girls, some biological, some adopted, her south, us north, …. we all share some of our rhythms in common.

Thanks for sharing, Erica!

-smk

Reflections on MOMcon

At the beginning of this month, I said goodbye to the fam and headed down south with 4 other ladies for 3 nights away.  Our destination was Momcon, a national conference for MOPS moms, this year attended by over 2,000 moms and notable keynote speakers like Angie Smith and Shauna Niequiest.  Since I joined my local MOPS steering this year, I was invited to go with several of the other ladies on steering.

To be 100% honest, spending so much time away didn’t really sound desirable at first.  Writing “sub plans” and all of the packing and headache that is involved with trying to make sure your kids are cared for the exact same way you do it is….stressful.

On the other hand, I knew this would be a unique opportunity to get to know and develop  deeper relationships with the other ladies that were going.  Sleeping 5 to a hotel room is definitely a quick way to that route ;).  And still being a “newbie” I need to take all of the opportunities I can get 🙂

So I said yes….but…as the day of departure grew closer though, I felt more and more reluctant to go as the strain of responsibility piled up.  On top of that I was quickly burning out.  This has been a stretching year for me in many ways but namely with moving twice and also opening up an Etsy store to sell my handiwork.

Going into MOMcon weekend I felt empty and spread thin.  I was ready to give up on my brand new store, this blog I have been loyal to for almost three years, and the rest of my beloved hobbies just to have some peace restored back in my life.  Prior to leaving, I prayed a lot that God would show me what direction to go in for these things and that He would grow also my relationships with the other ladies.

I had full confidence that He would show me, speak to me, or even just give me some sort of vague indication of what I should do.  I had no idea how vividly He would answer my prayers.

Not only did He give me the courage the press forward with my shop but He directly encouraged my writing through an old acquaintance I ran into there.  I walked away from the sessions feeling so “full” and encouraged. Full seems to be the best word to describe what I was feeling.  I felt so near to God through the constant cycle of ordained words and worship.  My brain was on fire with all of the challenges and ideas and my heart was ablaze with a desire to start.

On top of the group sessions we also got to choose 4-5 workshops to attend independently.  In one I was admonished by Emily P. Freeman to chase after the things that make me come alive (art, hobbies), in another I learned the meaning and Biblical importance of rest and found some practical ways to recharge.  A different workshop led by Angie Smith  helped me to battle the ever plaguing fears of my mothering heart and another gave me very practical advice on my journey to becoming a better writer.  Art, rest, fear, & writing…those are like my ever present cycle of thoughts and conversation.

Sometimes we need a weekend on the mountain top to come back and fight the battles in the valley.  MOMcon (and really more specifically the speakers, worship leader, and the important conversations going on around me) revived my ragged spirit in a way I didn’t see coming.

Some of the practical steps I took away from it: I have started waking up earlier than the girls in the morning to both read my Bible and exercise before the girls get up; I will continue on with my passions: art & writing and be open to where God takes me with them; I am praying through my days and allowing “margins” for God to move in them and not being bound so tightly to my agenda.  And I am reading Shauna Niequiest’s book Bread & Wine (with a few other books highlighted this weekend waiting for me at the library) and by spreading them out, I hope to carry on some of the lessons I learned and re-learn them down the road.

I share all of this hoping that it will encourage you to take the time away to pursue your relationship with God…whatever that looks like to you.  AND MOMcon is in Indy next year, so perhaps consider going with me??

-smk

(if any of these lessons sound intriguing, I highly encourage you to check out the MOMcon page I linked to in the beginning.  It has all of the sessions streamed on the main page and they will be up until the beginning of November.)

Seventeen

Bea turned seventeen months over the weekend.

 

We hardly noticed this milestone but it did give me a brief moment’s pause on Sunday.  Seventeen months. More toddler than baby.  More sister than doll.

With each passing month, I am enjoying the little glimpses of human we are gaining from our Bea.  While still a few months from talking, she communicates very well….nodding “yes” or “no” to our questions (the answer to “do you want more?” is always yes), grunting her way through her desires and needs, and taking it upon herself to get where she wants to be when she wants to be (like on top of the kitchen table).

One thing I’ve come to learn about Bea is how much of an exuberant lover she is.  She doesn’t just hug us, she drapes her body weight against ours, pressing her cheek as deeply into our neck as possible, rocking her body to cover more surface area.  She doesn’t just give kisses, she gives cold, wet, open-mouth saliva kisses, so sticky you have to wipe them off. She is a lover, that Bea.

 

(all pics from Kimmy Howard Photography)

This month we’ve seen a small but important change in her play.  She can now sit and focus for little periods at a time.  It may cost us all of the books pulled off the shelf to sit and look at one, or all of our kitchen spoons placed in a bag to be taken out and put back in over and over, but those small periods of engagement are heavenly.

With each passing day, the girls play together a little more, communicate a little bit better, and find new ways to love each other (mostly through food).  There is a tight bond forming that we have prayed about for a long time.  I can only imagine what the future holds for these dear sisters.

 

Seventeen months in and we’re starting to hit a beautiful rhythm.  I no longer ache for Bea’s baby days but look forward to all that is to come with my wild, adventurous one.

-smk

Guest Post: The Story of Kade

Today I am sharing the words of a new friend, Shannon.  I met her through MOPS shortly after we moved here last year.  We were having a Mom’s Night out, eating at Panera, and doing some shopping when she told me she was pregnant.  I knew she already had two little girls and I was very excited to hear there was a third one coming (although at the time it was a secret that it was a going to be a boy).

I will let Shannon tell you the rest of the story in her own words but I will warn you that Baby Kade only lived for a short time on earth.  His story, however, is very powerful and very important.  Shannon bravely shared her story with us at MOPS and it touched us all, and especially me, very deeply.  I asked her to share her story here because of the power of her words and the message behind them….where does your hope lie?

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The following is the story of my baby boy, Kade Robert William’s, birth and death. As you read this, maybe you know someone who has experienced the death of an infant or child, or perhaps you’ve gone through this painful experience yourself. Although my story is unique to me, I know that it unfortunately happens to too many families. If you do know someone who has suffered this dreadful loss, please take time today to just reach out to them, even if it’s just a quick text, to let them know their loved one is not forgotten.
I was surprised when I found out last November that I was pregnant. After 15 years of marriage, I thought that my baby-bearing days were over. I’d even just started selling some of our baby items to clear up some much-needed storage space. It took me a couple of days to process the idea, but then I quickly became excited about this third child we would be adding to our family.
Although I was considered high-risk due to my age and history of infertility and pregnancy problems, everything seemed to be going well with this pregnancy. Every ultrasound showed a normal, seemingly healthy baby boy. An ultrasound when I was 29 weeks showed that there was a little extra amniotic fluid than normal, but no one seemed worried about it. We know now that it was because he wasn’t able to swallow properly. Another ultrasound three weeks later showed even more fluid, so my doctor sent me down to Indy for a 4D ultrasound with a specialist. Although the fluid was still high, he too agreed that my baby looked perfect. Everything was growing as it should, including his brain.

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I returned to my doctor the next week on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, where he hooked me up to a fetal monitor. The test strip showed a strong heartbeat, but no accelerations and decelerations, indicating possible fetal distress and neurological problems. He immediately sent me to the local hospital for another ultrasound and more monitoring. After more tests showed the same results, he decided that he wanted to deliver my baby boy that day. However, since my doctor suspected he would need to be in the NICU and may need very specialized care, we decided to have us flown down to Indy for delivery so that we’d have access to a Level 4 NICU, if needed, and it certainly did end up being needed.

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Since the children’s hospital was full, I was flown by helicopter (sounds a lot more fun than it was!) to another excellent hospital in Indianapolis. The doctors there repeated the same tests as my doctor, but didn’t feel the urgency that he did. Over the next two weeks I was pretty much confined to the hospital bed hooked to monitors. I would talk and sing to my precious boy, grateful to have a couple of weeks with just him before I was going to be taking care of three children at home. Two of my favorite songs to listen to while bed-ridden were Oceans by Hillsong United and 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. I remember crying as I listened to the lyrics of Oceans.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I truly meant these words as I sang them. Little did I know just how deep into the ocean of trust I would be called over the next few weeks. Every step of the way, though, I was never alone.

The Lord blessed me with the most amazing doctors and nurses who genuinely cared for my baby and me. I saw on their faces the struggles as they made decisions, wanting the best for us both. They would do daily ultrasounds looking for practice breaths, but never saw any, another sign something was wrong. We were all worried and knew he’d probably have some health issues, but no one expected what we would discover after he was born. He was very active, almost constantly moving, so much so that one of the nurses and I jokingly and ironically named him “Baby Chyll”. But then on the morning of Tuesday, June 17th, he was very still. I was 35 weeks at that point, and the doctors decided it was time to meet him.

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They wheeled me into the operating room. It happened so quickly, that my husband, Brian, didn’t make it in time to see our son’s birth. He was still back at our house with our 2 little girls, almost an hour and a half away. One of the doctors that I’d grown close to over the last couple of weeks asked me if I’d like to hear some music. After I replied “contemporary Christian”, she found a station on her smartphone. The first song to start playing? 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

The first melodious notes were like a salve to my fragile nerves. It was as if God Himself was there in the room with me reminding me that I am never alone. At 10:46 a.m., my son was delivered into this world. I remember not hearing him cry at all, but everyone seemed so upbeat that I didn’t think much about it. Despite all the test results, because he’d been so active, I wasn’t concerned. They cleaned and wrapped him up and showed him to me for about two full seconds before whisking him away to the NICU. He looked perfect and even made a soft little whimper.

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What I didn’t know at the time was that he’d started having seizures about two minutes after birth, so they game him medication. Brian finally arrived a little while after the nurse had wheeled me to the recovery room. I remember asking the nurse how my boy was doing, if there were any red flags. Although she gave me a quick shake of her head to assure me he was fine, this usually friendly woman who’d spent the last few days taking care of me, couldn’t quite look me in the eyes. A few minutes later, an EMT came in the room to explain to us that our son had been having seizures and to let us know they were moving him to the children’s hospital NICU just a couple miles down the road. At this point, I still wasn’t overly worried. I’d dealt with seizures with my oldest daughter, Aubrey, already, so I thought that maybe I’d just have another child with epilepsy. They brought him into the small room in an incubator. I could barely reach him, but was able to hold his tiny hand for five minutes before they transported him down the road. It was there in the recovery room that we decided to name our son Kade Robert William Dewar (after our grandfathers).

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Still unaware of the direness of his health, I chose that evening to rest in my hospital bed while Brian went to see Kade. I knew they’d be running tests on him, so I wouldn’t be able to hold him. I thought I’d have plenty of time to do that later after the meds from my surgery wore off.

The next morning, Brian and I went to the children’s hospital to see our son. It was shocking to see him hooked up to so many machines. He seemed to be sleeping soundly. Kade was big for being 5 weeks early, I thought, 5lb 5oz and 19 inches long. Shortly after we were there, about a half dozen doctors and nurses stepped into our room and closed the door. We knew it wasn’t going to be good, but I never would’ve guessed what they were about to tell us. They proceeded to say that the MRI showed Kade’s brain had stopped growing around 33 weeks. At first I thought that they just meant he’d be behind a little developmentally or mentally for a while until his brain could catch up. Then they explained that it had stopped growing and started dying. The cells were not growing anymore and he was losing more each day. I finally mustered up the courage to ask what his chances of survival were. I’ll never forget the pain and sympathy on the doctor’s face as she replied, “Not very good. I’m so sorry.”
It seemed so surreal, and it took me days to actually accept what they were saying.

My only son was not going to live.

Still the doctors agreed with us to give Kade every chance we could. I knew he was in the hands of a God who could save him if He so chose. The doctors experimented with weaning him from the seizure medicine then adding a different one. I will eternally be so grateful to each nurse and doctor that cared for Kade so lovingly.

Over the weekend it finally hit me that my son was most likely not going to make it, though I still wasn’t ready to give up. We made the most of the short time we had left with our son. I gave him his first and only bath. I dressed him in a soft pair of blue newborn jammies, jammies that I keep near my bed and that still smell like him. We brought Aubrey and Avery in to meet their brother for the first and only time this side of Heaven. We got lots of hand and footprints and even molds. On Monday evening, one of the pastors from our church came down to have a baby dedication for Kade, while his wife took the most beautiful pictures.

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On Monday afternoon, we met one last time with his doctors. Another MRI showed that his brain had started bleeding, he was having both the visible and non-visible seizures and he was getting sicker by the day. I could see it. Over the weekend, he had some muscle reflexes when the nurses would pick him up. By Monday morning, he was so limp, his arms just dangling when he was picked up.

On Tuesday morning, June 24th, I woke up knowing it was the day we’d be saying goodbye to our son. We spent every second with him that day, and I spent the afternoon just snuggling him close to me, skin-to-skin. When the nurses needed him back in his bed briefly, they carefully lifted him from my arms. As they did, I noticed two perfect little imprints of his feet on my bare belly. It was as if they’d been engraved into my skin. I had Brian take a picture so I’d never forget.

The whole day I’d been praying, begging God not to make me make this choice, to have to decide when to remove his breathing tubes. How is a mother ever supposed to choose when to give up on her child? It was so unfair! I prayed that God would let me know when His timing was right. I knew God had ordained the days and even seconds of Kade’s life before time even began. Realizing that gave me the strength I needed.

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We had chosen to have a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer come to capture the last hours of Kade’s brief life on earth. It has been such a blessing to have those photos of our cherished son. After Jason finished the photos and quietly left, Brian was snuggling with Kade in a big blue chair. I was sitting next to them in a separate chair. I knew that I’d never really be ready to remove his tubes, but I leaned over anyway and whispered to Brian, asking if he was ready. His response was truly heaven-sent.

“I’m not ready, but he is. Kade is ready.”

His words gave me the peace and knowing I’d been begging God for. At 6:30 p.m. on June 24th, we removed Kade’s breathing tubes. Although they warned us what it would be like, I wasn’t prepared. As he struggled to breathe, I started to scream, “I’m so sorry, Kade! I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you!”
I felt so helpless! I wanted to run and get the nurses and beg them to put the tubes back in, tell them I’d made a huge mistake!

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Brian’s gentle words reminding me that Kade needed me helped me calm down so I could sing to my son and whisper words of comfort. At one point, Brian asked me to hold Kade because he needed to get up and walk around the room. As he handed him to me, I immediately felt at peace. For a good part of an hour and a half, as Kade fought to hold on, I rocked and snuggled him. The doctors had turned off all the monitors in his room before removing the tubes so we didn’t have to see or hear his heartbeat slowing. I didn’t need the monitors or the doctors to come back in the room to know when he’d drawn his final breath. I just knew. I looked at the clock and it was exactly 8:00 p.m, the time God had chosen. I kissed my son goodbye and later watched as they placed him in a beautiful little paper casket, placed the lid on top and tied it with a dark green satin ribbon. He was gone… but not really.

The Hands that are holding him right now are holding me, too. Kade and I will always have that connection. And one day, I WILL hold him again and never have to say goodbye! The time I have ahead of me to spend with him in eternity in the presence of our awesome and faithful Creator is far greater than this short amount of time I have to live without him now.

I still struggle with the grief and sorrow every day, but even among that grief, there is Joy! I’m learning surrender, full and absolute surrender. I’m learning that my hope can only be in Christ. Everything else is temporary. If I place my hope in having another healthy baby, as wonderful as that would be, and maybe God will allow me to have that, it cannot be where my hope lies. If it is, I’ll be disappointed. I’d love another baby just as much as Kade, but he could never be replaced. He is unique and as much my child as my others. If my hope is in Christ alone, that can never be taken away, no matter what trials may come.

I challenge you to ask yourself today, honestly, where is your hope? Is it in the temporary: a new baby, a new job, the perfect house, the perfect weight, the perfect husband?

In his book, Turn My Mourning Into Dancing: Finding Hope in Hard Times, Henri Nouwen says,

“Hope born of faith becomes matured and purified through difficulty.”

If your hope is honestly in the Eternal, in Christ alone, you will be able to survive when your own difficulties and trials strike. It won’t be easy, and the tears and sorrow will come, but so will the Joy!

Thank you for allowing me to share Kade’s brief but precious life with you.

-Shannon

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A link to the video tribute they made for Kade’s memorial service.

 

In honor of all the precious lives lost and remembered worldwide on October 15.

-smk

Daily Rhythms: A Guest Post/London Calling

I’ve been writing a series called Daily Rhythms.  You can catch up here.

A few weeks ago, I chronicled an entire day in the life of Sweet Mama K.  Today, I am happy to share with you a slice of life from all the way across the world.

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Kacey (you may remember her as the founder and chief editor of inspowoman) lives in London, England with her family of 5 and I was so happy when she decided to share with us what a typical day looks like for them.  I think you will find her life, with all its similarities and differences to ours, so interesting.   There are two things I especially enjoy about this narrative : 1) the names of their English friends (okay, alright, I am a self-admitted baby name enthusiast…I guess this even translates to other countries).  and 2) Her pictures.  The one of her eldest in the eye exam chair looks like something straight out of a turn of the century movie.  So dreamy. Enjoy.

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The day starts at 5:30 am when my alarm goes off. But let’s be honest, I’m incoherent thru snoozes until closer to 6. I make my way down from the 3rd floor master suite in our London flat, stopping on the 2nd floor where my daughters (5, 3) and my son (2) are sleeping soundly in their respective girls and boy rooms. Slowly (& ridiculously quietly) I push the girls’ door open and hang a scarf on the inside doorknob- their signal that they can come join me downstairs once they wake up. Down another flight of stairs to the main living room, down another flight of stairs to our “basement” dining room/kitchen. I grab my cozy corner of our little couch and pull out the current bible study I am working thru with an incredible group of women that I’ve met over the last year and a half.

A few pages in and I am joined by my eldest daughter. Who promptly curls up next to me on the couch and begins flipping thru her own book, knowing that this is sacred quiet time. By 6:45, the littlest guy begins stirring and I begin the climb again to get him out of his crib before he climbs out on his own. (a skill he has mastered during play time but thankfully has yet to do during bed/nap time….) my middle daughter joins us and we head down for breakfast. Today? We had Natural Greek Yoghurt and Gail’s granola. As well as strawberry banana puree smoothies for the kids. We finish up together and head upstairs to get dressed for the day, I make sure this is by 7:45 to keep us on track.
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The girls dress themselves and I dress my son and the 3 of them play in their rooms together while I get myself ready. On this particular morning, they are playing quite nicely. My husband joins each of us for awhile before he goes- he’s headed to Germany for the night. Kisses good-bye and big “I’ll miss you!s” and he’s out the door. The kids and I end up down in the main living room and pick out shoes and jackets for the day and pack 3 bananas in 3 mini backpacks for the communal fruit bowls at school. We prepare for our commute- which means, the little guy is strapped into the seat of the stroller, my middle daughter stands on a board on the back of the stroller, and my eldest daughter straps on her helmet to scoot. All armed with muffins for the long trek. It’s 8:45 am.
We walk 1 mile along the Kings Road, a very busy and very popular shopping road in Chelsea. We left in enough time this day to stop at the fire station and stare at the fire trucks and wave at the firemen for a few minutes and to pack a lunch for a homeless neighbor that we surely will bump into along the way. Thankfully, it is beautiful day so our commute is greeted with sunshine and comfortable temperatures.

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Once we arrive at school, the children are each in charge of their backpacks and we travel down the flight of concrete steps outside leading to school. I fold up the stroller and carry that and my purse and barely hold my son’s hand. I am sweating like it’s my job. I run up and grab the scooter and we finally make it in the front door. We shake the teacher’s hand as a greeting and the girls go into their classroom while I take my son to his. It is his FIRST day staying at school today and we are a mix of unsure, excited, ready and not ready. He has been doing this drop-off with the girls for a year and a half, so naturally he thinks he owns the place and walks in in such a way. Upon my departure, I have 3 very happy children ready to do a half-day of school and I leave, thanking the Lord for the way He has provided for us with our move from the US to the UK- providing an intimate school that has been such a blessing to our family.
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I have nothing in my hands and no stroller to push. Um, the first time in 5 years, really… And it is an odd and invigorating feeling. I’m really excited for the season of life where I get to run them around from hobby to hobby, help them channel their passions and strengths and talk thru things. I’ve loved babies, but I find myself eager for this next season. Anyways, I set off on a run (all by myself) and I get a quick 4 miles in at Battersea Park before heading back to the house to shower (all by myself) and prepare lunch for the kids (all by myself) and walk back to school to pick them up (all by myself…). All by myself? Yeah, for the first time in 5 years.

After repeating the commute steps in reverse- schlepping the stroller and scooter back up the steps, gathering the children, strapping 1 in, standing 1 up, and preparing the last to scoot; we head home. They are too hungry to make it home before they break into their egg & mayo sandwiches, ice waters, and dried mango. We eat & chat while we walk our mile back to the house with many complaints of hot/cold, tired and needing the toilet along the way and many funny stories about how Miss Anita forgot her crackers so she had to run to the store before lunch so she would have something to eat. Can you imagine?! Home at last, I scoop up my big school boy and bring him right to his crib for a nap. Us girls play in the main living room for a bit before the world’s best nanny arrives in our door. Another one of God’s incredible blessings to our whole family. I grab my laptop to get an hour’s worth of work in for Inspo- the website that I edit. I settle in at Café Nero and my fingers get to moving as quickly as possible for the hour that’s mine.

After that, I boogie back to the house (2:30 pm) and grab my eldest daughter for an eye exam and ballet. An eye exam for a 5 year old is kind of hilarious- can you read those letters? No. Now can you? Yes. Which was better? The first one. Um, but you couldn’t read them with the first one… Yes. Once we are done and we establish that she could probably benefit from reading glasses, but would she actually wear them? We head off to ballet at Chelsea Ballet School. It’s about a mile in the other direction of school. So my big girl scoots and this time I pull her most of the way. This is one of my favorite times with my girl because it’s just us and she really gets to chatting when she’s in the middle of things. Like scooting. We talk about schools and new schools and friends and missing friends. We talk about who would win in a race between a bike and a scooter. We talk about what we will have for dinner and what she likes about ballet and whether or not her sister would like the Bounce ball that she is snacking on. She tells me about visiting her brother in his classroom at school because she wanted to check on him (which she asked to do about 30 times in the 3 hours that they were there..) and I marvel at her big and kind heart and remember that this will be her “proud moment” on the day.

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We make it to ballet and see our good, good friends, Slavyana and Vasilisa. The girls run into class together in their matching uniforms- hyacinth blue leotards, white skirt, white tights/sock, pink shoes, hair in buns- and Slavyana and I sit on the concrete steps outside and have 40 minutes to just chat. They are newer friends who moved to London recently from the Ukraine by means of Los Angeles- London. We talk about schools and a project she is working on. She seems to accept my invitation to join our Alpha group this term and once again I’m humbled to our Father for the way He works. We gather the girls and scoot together for awhile on the walk back home.

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Once home, our nanny leaves and it is time for the triple threat- dinner/bath/bed. My wild child (middle daughter..) decides she’d rather bathe first and before I know it, she is naked and climbing in the tub. I decide this is not a battle we need and declare bath/dinner/bed instead. All 3 kids in 1 little tub and I spray them with the removable showerhead like an assembly line. “Heads back, eyes closed!” “No, mommy, no!!” And just like that they’re clean… While they splash and spray each other with squirt guns, I run down the 2 flights of stairs and pound some chicken to throw in the oven and boil some water on the stovetop for pasta. Somehow we all end up downstairs and we brush hair and put on pajamas and “help” add the pasta to the boiling water. Once it’s all ready, we sit at the table to eat. Dinner can be hit or miss with a 2, 3, and 5 year old but tonight seems to be well-received. They all actually sit in their seats and we consume our food together, wrapping up the day. It’s about 6:30 at this point. Ahhh…. We clear our spots and the kids play while I clean up the dishes. We live in quite a small space, so rooms are very multi-purpose. The dining room/kitchen/quiet time space also serves as another playroom- with doll houses, pretend food, and lots of books. As well as our arts & crafts room, laundry prep room, ironing room. Oh yeah, and a treadmill,-exercise room. Naturally.

Finally, we are ready to head up to bed. Teeth are brushed, hands and faces are washed with pink soap and more stairs are climbed. My son goes down right then, at 7:15 and the girls crawl into their beds for a bible story. We read thru the Jesus Storybook Bible on the iPad each night, a great habit that started about a year ago when we did it for Advent before Christmas. It usually seems like they aren’t listening until they ask ridiculously intelligent or involved questions. I bend over each girl and share a moment that I was proud of them during the day, kiss their heads about 100 times and get 1 more snuggle. I close their door and head back downstairs. A bit more tidying up and I finally sit down. Tonight? They don’t call me upstairs for at all- which is not the norm. So I enjoy sitting all the more.

I fold laundry and watch Ted Talks. And then head up to bed and crawl in with a murder book that I’ve been enjoying. I reflect on the day: 3 healthy children, a good connection with my traveling husband, overall joy thru some of the current challenges of life right now, 9.4 miles on foot, and topped off with a phone call to my mom and a good night call from my lover. It is 11 and I drift off to sleep…

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-smk

Winner, Winner!!

Here are our winners for the #sweetdreams Giveaway!

SweetMamaMakes pom trimmed swaddle blanket: Leanna Herr

Tucked In Lullaby CD: Christen Perry

Headband of Choice by The Pleated Polka Dot: Heather Williams

Poster Choice by MaKenzie Noelle Creative: Julia Montroy

Leather Paci Clip and Mini Bag Tag: Cindy Schum

Personalized Swaddle Blanket by Creations by K. Design: Becca Pietrini

Mustard Yellow Chevron Knotted Headband by Wuthering Iris: Farina Roe

*Winners, please contact your winning shop via Facebook or Instagram. Each shop owner also has your email so she should be in touch with you.  Once she makes contact, please respond within 24 hours or you could be disqualified.

*If you didn’t win, there is still a consolation prize.  I am offering FREE SHIPPING (on any order, not just swaddle blankets) good through tomorrow.  Just use code SWEETDREAMS when you check out

All swaddle blankets, including Pom Trimmed ones have been listed in my shop.  Check it out!

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Also, see you tomorrow with a special guest post from across the pond.  Stay tuned!!

 

-smk

Hype

I’m so excited to share with you my very first blog giveaway….coming on MONDAY!!

One of the girls in this (very talented) group approached me about doing a giveaway and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect as I was thinking about and getting ready to roll out my swaddle blankets.

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I’ll be giving one of these pom-trimmed blankets away to a lucky winner and six others will win one of the following (click on the names to check out their pages):

-headband of choice from The Pleated Polka Dot . 

I’ve mentioned my love for these headbands before.  Bea wore hers for months (until she refused) and always received compliments.  Abbey (the owner of The Pleated Polka Dot) and I went to high school together and she is an absolute pleasure to work with!    Check her page out on IG too; you’re definitely going to want one of these for your little princess:  @thepleatedpolkadot

“Tucked In” by The Night Nights

You have to click on this link and preview this lullaby CD.  I’m kind of a picky music lover but the first few previews completely won me over.  I think “A Bushel and a Peck” is my current fave.  It has that folksy, Elizabeth Mitchell sound that I love.  (I’m totally envisioning my next video to go along with it.)  PLUS this CD is a mother-daughter-daughter collaboration…which is totally something I can get behind.  Give it a listen!

-Mustard Yellow Chevron Knotted Headband for either Mom OR Baby by Wuthering Iris

Mustard? Chevron? Knotted Headband?  It doesn’t get more on point than that! You know what is severely missing from my wardrobe?  Knotted Headbands.  I think I need to remedy that soon.  I love the fact that you can chose which size you want too!   Check out Jenn’s IG page here: @wutheringiris

Creations by K. Designs personalized swaddle blanket

Your chances of winning a swaddle blanket just doubled!  Creations by K. designs is also giving away a swaddle blanket, this one customizable with your child’s name!  She has some amazing colors too… Check out more of her work on IG @creationsbykdesigns

-Choice of 11″x17″ Nursery Poster by MaKenzie Noelle Creative

MaKenzie is another gal on this list I am proud to call a friend!  She and I went to Taylor together and during my senior year we had a J-term class together.  The class was one of my remaining gen ed credits (that I purposely saved for this moment) and I think I sat in the back most of the time and daydreamed wedding registry….ooops….anyway, I knew then that MaKenzie had some bottled up talent but I had no idea until she opened her shop.  Her work is stunning!  Do yourself a favor and check out it out!

-Leather Paci Clip and Mini Bag Tag by Coconut Robot

Coconut Robot is run by another sweet friend Kacia.  I first met Kacia at Taylor and we connected over our love of running and instant oatmeal (do you remember that, K?).  I have watched her talent exude out of her in all directions ever since then and I can’t say I’m surprised to see her talents now being sought after by so many.  She has been making these unique paci clips and bag tags since right around the time MG was born and both of my girls had to have them!  They have been favorites ever since and we always receive a good amount of comments on them!  (plus the leather paci clips hold up so much better than the ones you buy from the store!)

Kacia just had a dollbaby baby boy.  Check out her IG feed here if you want to have baby fever @coconutrobot

 

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Like what you are reading?  Any of the above winners could be you!  Don’t forget to enter on Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday…you know the drill :))

-smk

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