Month: December 2014

My Favorite Things (2014 edition)

{you can read my 2013 edition here}

I have lots of thoughts about the end of 2014, but I will save those for a sappier post :).  In the mean time I will share some of my favorite things from this year.  Enjoy:

Music: Last year it was JM, this year it’s his female counterpart TS.  I didn’t think I would be a fan of her official move away from country, but 1989 has grown on and into me.  Her songs are my antithesis to the Disney princess music that is always threatening to take up permanent space in my brain. Notable nominations: Meredith Andrews, Black Violin, Shane and Shane, Mississippi John Hurt

Book: I made a concerted effort to read more books this year and this summer I knocked quite a few off of my list.  My absolute favorite?  Unbroken.  It captivated me from the beginning to end and I could not stop thinking about it for days.  You might have seen the movie, or even the previews for the movie, but I promise the books is still worth reading.  I saw the movie a few days ago and it (understandably) barely touches the depth of the book.  In fact, the book is probably one of my top ten favorites I’ve ever read.  Notable Nominations: Gone Girl (with a caveat: normally I wouldn’t read something so dark and graphic but I had no idea what I was getting into.  Despite the fact I felt I needed to go to confession after, I found this book brilliantly written.  I haven’t and probably won’t see the movie) Call the Midwives, Bread and Wine

Experience: The top experience of 2014 goes to Bat Therapy in California.  I still can’t believe that we spent 8.5 weeks there on a whim but I’m also equally proud of myself for doing something so counter-intuitive (including eight days of just me and the girls while my parents were in Prague).  I’m sure there were hard moments during our stay but all that has faded into a shiny, rosy memory of the girls and I bonding in sunny Cal. Notable Nominations: Rosemary Beach

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Food: Ugh….food this year has been…interesting.  MG has been completely off dairy for almost half of the year and I’ve had to re-learn our favorite dishes accordingly.  My still go to favorite is the yellow curry I made on the fly.  Notable Nominations: The “grown-ups only” meal we are having tonight…cheese fondue, goat cheese & kale salad, roasted asparagus, mushroom topped steaks, and dark chocolate fondue for dessert

Discovery: This year seems ripe with discovery so it feels hard to narrow it down to one.  Our School House definitely falls under this category along with all of the little intricacies of life in a small town and with a large stamp of land to call our own. I guess I will have to go with the discovery of how much N enjoys owning a truck.  After just a few months of life here, we realized how “necessary” it is to own a truck.  And of course every good farmwife needs a man with a truck to load up her newly purchased antique furniture, to pick up a load of wood for her open kitchen shelves, and to haul away her old washer and dryer.  N searched high and low and finally found this old gal who fit in his price range and will work as a third vehicle but is quickly becoming his go-to vehicle. (he named her Eleanor after Eleanor Roosevelt “she’s not much to look at but she gets the job done”) Notable Nominations: Costco membership (thanks to the discovery of Costco vacation packages), an indoor pool near our house for the winter blues, some great babysitters, an Internet service that ISN’T satellite (discovered this month), and my (new to me) FitBit, Fixer Upper (a show on HGTV…this is our first year with cable!)

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Project: Once again it’s hard to choose just one project.  We completed many, many projects on our schoolhouse (update to come soon), I completed many projects for my own enjoyment, and then I opened Sweet Mama Makes in August.  Notable Nominations: bDSC_0005xs bDSC_0007 (2) DSC_0010 (2) IMG_3682

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And finally one last Notable Nominations for my favorite

Podcast: This was the year of the podcast as I burned through many while working on above projects.  My favorite, of course, was Serial (I’d like to say I listened before it became bandwagon :)) but I also enjoy This American Life, Dave Ramsey, Stuff You Missed in History Class, etc. etc. Notable Nomination: all of the Serial spoiler and spin off podcasts which helped stave off my Serial appetite until each Thursday came around

 Thanks as always for following along!

-smk

To be an author

I’ve  let some dust collect on this old blog and I’m back to temporarily blow it off and assert my authority….sort of.

I’ve hit an inevitable dry spell in my writing and that combined with a vulnerability about my shop work had me questioning and deleting each word that I had pecked out for you to read.

It’s been three years since I started my open journal I call sweetmamak.com.  In that three years I’ve gone through multiple makeovers and three website moves.  I opened up a vein and let it bleed out for a while, confident in nothing but my desire.  My writing style has changed over the years and I still flush with embarrassment over some of my posts and the grammar mistakes I still catch.  Each post here represents a bare minimum of an hour’s worth of work to type, edit, post, reread, and re edit.  That doesn’t include the time I spent in introverted silence, bouncing the words around in my head until they felt right to put to “paper”.

Three years later, I’ve hit a wall.  My brain is tired, my heart is sore, and I’m unsure of the correct path to take to scale it.

In the back of my soul is a tiny flame that burns to be an author. It was there with me in fifth grade when I read my first short story to my class and beamed with pride. And it burned ever deeper with each daily diary entry, magazine-clipping-decorated poem, and short story about ugly ducklings in the coming of age years. Different events and accolades have thrown kerosene to this flame but it has yet to engulf me. I feed it but I have never been consumed by it.

And until I know the purpose of this flame I bide my time with grown up diary entries and blog posts attempting to keep the muscles from atrophy and the spark alive.

So I’m going to try the only thing that feels right….to do something different, change things up, find my passion.  I need to try something I’ve never tried before.

Three years ago, I set out with the goal to write two times a week and I accomplished that nearly without fail for three years. This bought me some time to figure out where I was going with this blog plus it forced me stretch my muscles and mind.  Now that goal feels awkward and uncomfortable.  For three years I wrote from my head as I poured my thoughts into this thing.  But I realized that my favorite writings are the ones that flowed out of my heart.

I think there is something to be said for discipline and perseverance but sometimes discipline and preservance can make one lifeless and depleted.

So in 2015 I’m going to try spontenaity and inspiration and writing strictly from my heart.  No rules, no timeline.  Just a desire to feel and write and persevere.  I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for but I do so hope to find it this year.

-smk

A 2014 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas from the Midwestern cornfields!

(Photo cred: Kimmy Howard Photography)

We hope this holiday season finds you happy and healthy.

We’ve had some big changes in our lives this year, including our view.

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The cornfields haven’t worn on us yet and we still find our new small town life kind of charming.  We’ve joined a church, converted all of our shopping/dining/doctors to local places and we even have changed the pronunciation of our town to match how the locals say it (emphasis on the second syllable).

 

Even though it hasn’t been quite a year yet, we’ve seen four seasons in our house (summer was our favorite) so it feels like we’ve been here long enough to call it home.  Our project list is still rather long but we feel pretty proud of all the work we’ve put into it so far (including, dormers, painted 75%, water filtration, fireplace, new carpet, stair runner, & outdoor playset).  And before this year’s out we are looking forward to new windows and N putting up built-in bookshelves.

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N loves to work in the little “workshop corner” of the garage when he has the time (in between doctoral work and actual work…).  He has made a few things for our house including a chicken coop (which we hope to fill in the spring…) and has also helped make quite a few plaques for my business venture.

My little Etsy shop kept me quite busy these last few weeks (especially as the holidays were approaching) but I have truly enjoyed the creative outlet.  Right now though, I’ve closed up for a few weeks as a break (both physically and mentally) was truly needed.

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It’s no secret that this year has been a challenge for us as well. MG’s endured a long sickness this summer that turned into a severe intolerance for dairy (and a few other trigger foods, but dairy being the main culprit).  Seeing her so sick (and not having any answers for a while) brought me to tears and really scared me.  I’m thankful to have a diagnosis now (gastroparesis) but I still get sad for her that she isn’t able to enjoy her old favorites (cheese and ice cream) and that she isn’t able to have a “normal” relationship with food.

 

Often when I found myself discouraged, I would look out our bedroom window and think “how could anybody be sad when this is their view?”  Even in the trials we have so much to be thankful for.

God’s blessings have been very evident to our family this year and I hope to yours as well,

-smk

 

Daily Rhythms: Mandy

One thing I loved about college is for just that short little four year period of my life, I was surrounded by people in the exact same bracket as myself. Age, denomination, schooling. There are times when variety is really nice (and greatly appreciated) but too much difference at times makes it harder to connect.

So at college I met all of these new friends, who were doing the exact same thing as me, who were just as busy as me, and who came from a background similar to mine (*I know some people disagree with me stating that Taylor is too similar and doesn’t have enough diversity and I can definitely see their point.  I’m more or less hyperbolizing to make mine :))

And then we  said our goodbyes at graduation and we were swept up into a cyclone that flung each of us out a different times while scattering us all into different places.  And though our lives are just beginning to resemble one another now (most of my college friends are now married and most of them are now moms), it is kind of nice there is a sense of common history but diverse presence about us.  That’s why I’ve done this daily rhythm series.  To highlight both of those things.

Mandy is another friend from Taylor.  She has always had a celebrity aura around her that attracts people to her.  She was a trendsetter back then and still is today and my go-to source for anything fashion related.  She is a mommy to three: Cohen, Kempton, and new baby Aniston and she married her college sweetheart (who I think was MY husband’s fashion muse as they were on the lacrosse team together :))

When Mandy told me she was going to share what a typical day looks like when she works (as a make up artist), I was all for it.  What mom doesn’t daydream of getting a few hours to herself every week to  leave a needy house in high heels and lipstick to go talk to her peers about the most feminine of pursuits (and she even gets paid for it!)?

But yet, she is still solidly mommy: worrying that the kids make it home from school, getting back in time to make dinner, ending the night with bath time and prayers.  Her daily life is so different yet so similar to my own.  That’s why I love reading these.

Enjoy:

Daily Rhythms {of a part time working mom}
When Kate asked me to be a part of her daily rhythms series it took me about 2 seconds to run through a typical day in my head and I thought I don’t know if I have a “rhythm” yet. I mean a lot of days I don’t even have dinner ready till 7 p.m. YIKES!! My days consist of nursing, playing with metal cars, and coffee, lots of coffee. So just repeat those three over and over till 5:00 p.m.,with a trip to the gym every now and then and you have my day in a nut shell. Hmm I should probably think about coming up with a schedule ASAP. You other ladies have inspired me.

However there is one area of my life that a daily rhythm is imperative or our family will just crash and burn. This is when I replace my mommy hat with high heels and bright lipstick to join the corporate world for the day. I have actually found that my day flows very smoothly through the chaos of working part time. I am more organized and more specific about the activities to take place in my day, thus I get more done even while working two jobs (mommy and makeup artist). So I decided to write out for you a typical working day in the Odle home.

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Alarm goes off at 7:15. However I’ve already been up nursing Aniston at about 6:00 a.m. and we are co-sleeping at this point. Daddy gets up, wakes Cohen up and I faintly hear them talking about where our elf Milton might be. Once he has been successfully spotted they hop in the shower. I put my quiet sleeping baby back in her bassinet and head downstairs to make the coffee and pack Cohen’s lunch. This is also when I get a little bit of quiet time on a good day when Kemp sleeps in.

7:55 Whoosh daddy and Cohen are out the door for work and school. By now I’m normally changing soggy diapers, getting a milk cup and gathering up all the “animals” (monkey Patch, baby Charlie, froggy, monkey George) and blankies for a little bit of snuggle quiet time before I have to get ready.

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By 8:30 I start the getting ready process. I say process because I am more than likely going to get interrupted about 540,893 times but that’s ok cause in less than 1.5 hours I will be kid free and in the land of adults. “Mommy can I have breakfast”, “bread chewocwoate”, “mommy can you get dis down”, “mommy wook at me”, “mommy did you seeeeee dat?” Aniston doesn’t normally wake up till about 9:30 when I am just finishing my makeup. Perfect timing. I get her changed and then nurse her. By this time grandma Becky is rolling in. She normally makes a comment like “you look so cute today”, cause NO I don’t wear makeup everyday. We quickly go over the day, I grab my pump, my wallet out of the diaper bag, give kisses to my babies, and I’m out the door.

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9:45 Ahhh I’m in the car alone. I’m ALONE! Sometimes I just sit in the running car for a minute and take it all in. I then make my 10 minute commute and bust through the doors of the beautifully crisp Saks Fifth Avenue. It’s 10 a.m. and the day is just beginning in the world of retail. We all have our hopes set high that this will be an awesome day. Today in particular is a special holiday event and fashion show. My job will be to quickly do the model’s makeup and then my appointments that start around 11. So I pick out a lip color for the day. That always sets the mood. Hmmm today it will be red, bright red. Chanel Pirate to be exact. I check the counter’s stock of this color before applying because what I wear I sell and will no doubt deplete their stock by the end of the day.

It’s noon and we are into the thick of it. I’ve already run through my whole education/daily routine multiple times now and I’m starting to think about lunch. I check my phone to make sure there aren’t any texts from home and sneak away to pump. At home daddy is on his lunch break helping grandma feed the kids. It’s a pumped bottle for Ani and “noodles” for Kemp. By 1:00 p.m. both kiddos are down for a nap and daddy is back to work.

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2:00 we are approaching our busiest time at work. Multiple appointments stacking up and getting ready for the midday show. I get do all types of girly things. You never know what you might have to do for a client. Today I’m fixing hair and painting nails for a “regular” of ours. She is comforting to see. A constant in this crazy, high paced world.

It’s now 2:30. Is it raining today? Snowing? Do I need to remind someone to pick up Cohen from the bus. Nope sunny. He will be fine walking home.

2:45 and he’s off the bus. 2:50 I get a text from grandma, everyone is here and we are eating a snack.

3:30 I finally take a break. Pump. Check in with the hubs. Make sure we are on the same track for this evening. Head over to the Gap to spend my Gap cash. Wait in a crazy long line (it’s the holidays after all). Now there is no time for food. Shoot. It’s a piece of See’s chocolate for lunch, Altoids, and the granola bar I stashed back at the counter. Fix my lipstick and I’m right back into the makeup grind for the next 2 hours.

6:00 peace out primp and perfume world, hello sticky and snotty world. I’m on my way home. If it’s a crockpot dinner night I usually try and run a couple errands kid free, but tonight is burger night. It happens to be a night with no sport practices or small groups so dinner will be a little more extensive than usual. I have the meat thawed in the fridge and veggies prepped. I call my husband and tell him to fire up the grill. He starts on the burgers and I begin chopping the salad. We’re a good team. We actually prefer to cook together. Every single person (and animal) in our family is now in the kitchen while we cook. The kids just gravitate to any room that I’m in, but right now I don’t care. I have missed them today and I want to hear all about their day. We turn on Christmas music and sing along. Kemp is a funny dancer and it makes us all laugh. Daddy then proceeds to make up funny lyrics to the tune of Jingle Bells and we all play along. We wonder is everyone this weird or just us?!

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8:00 I give the little ones baths while daddy and Cohen finish homework. I then put Kemp to bed which he drags out as long as he can, “mommy my finger hurts”, “no not that book”, “I don’t wike these jammies”, “mommy I don’t wike this pilwoh”, “mommy get that stuffed animal waaay up there”. By the time I nurse Ani and put her down it’s pushing 9 p.m. Cohen and Brooks have been snuggled up in the basement watching the IU game or a Christmas movie I don’t know. I thinking flipping back and forth between both, but when I get down there they are both squished together on one end of our extra large sectional. It’s really cute actually. But it’s time for Cohen to head upstairs to bed. We both go up and do devotions and then daddy says a prayer and he’s out in the blink of an eye.

9:30 It’s finally mommy and daddy time! We look around the house. Should we pick up? Nah let’s eat some dessert and watch a Christmas movie. It seems this time of year brings out all our bad habits. Cookies, milkshakes, large diet sodas ugh, they make the cuddle time so much more fun. We turn off all the lights in the house and snuggle under the glow of our Christmas tree till entirely too late because the Hallmark channel gets us every time.

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I pump once more to store some milk for our “date night” bank then it’s time to sneak up to our bed. I like to go into all the kids’ rooms and give them kisses or say a quick prayer over them. We crawl into bed, check the alarm, make a comment about how much we love our Tempurpedic pillows, and drift off to sleep only to do it all again the next day. But hey I don’t work tomorrow. Turn that alarm off. Tomorrow will be a whole different animal and I am ready and excited for a day without a rhythm. A spontaneous, I’ll take whatever you throw at me, kind of day with my little family of five.

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Thanks, Mandy.  Sometimes we DO pursue more of a rhythm on the days that require it from us.  It’s nice to have a small mixture of both, no?

-smk

 

Interview with a 4 year old

Last year’s birthday interview is here

What is your name?  N-i-e-v-a (she spelled it)

How old are you? Four

What is your favorite thing to do? get on dress-ups!  Play dress-ups!

What do you want to be when you grow up? A ballerina (to dance in ballet class!)

What is your favorite thing to eat? Pizza! and Jell-o!  And Apple juice (and orange juice).  Lemon juice? Ew, I don’t like lemon juice

Who do you like to spend time with? Eli and “Crabby Ethan” (a pet nickname she gave to her friend Ethan)!  Liesel and Moira

What do you do really well? Clean up room, put my dress ups away, clean up my artwork

What makes you laugh? When elephants take baths and when people eat seaweed (funny because those are two inside jokes at our house)!  And when Daddy and Bea make silly faces

What is the best time of day? morning, not nighttime.  Because I do NOT like nighttime because I just like to spend time downstairs and play games

What makes you afraid?  Thunder (hasn’t changed since last year)

Who is your best friend? Eli (same answer as last year)

What do you like your to do with your family?  I don’t know.  Stay up late and play games, work on my artwork, and watch tv

What do you love to learn about? Princesses and Ana and Elsa, but NOT princes

Where do you like to go? To the track and jump on the marshmallows!
(the cushions that the pole jumpers jump into have been named “marshmallows”)

What is your favorite book? Ana and Elsa and Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel’s and Cinderella…but not evil queens or princes

What is your favorite tv show? Sleeping Beauty but I’ve never seen Cinderella or Merida movie

What is your favorite animal? Pigs, little teeny pigs that I get to oink, oink (makes rocking motion)
(strikingly similar to last year’s response.  I had no idea she had a thing for pigs)

Where do you live? Where do we live?  I don’t remember

Who lives in your family? Mommy, Bea, Daddy, and Stella, and MG

When is your birthday? November 30!

-smk

 

Four

Dearest MG,

During the wee morning hours of November 30, 2014, while you were still warm under your bed covers, you turned four.  Four. FOUR.

You’ve been anticipating this birthday for what feels like a year and the months that made up this year felt like only a few short days since you said, “Mama, we forgot to put o-on my cu-cake dress.“.  In fact, I think the last twelve days of my pregnancy with you felt like more time than this year has accounted for.

 

 

This year has been hard on all of us, MG, but certainly for you, being young enough to  not understand everything and old enough to not be forgetful.  Nothing has humbled me more this year than watching you endure cycle after cycle of sickness, all with a ready smile and a sweet disposition.

But this year also brought you many good things too.

You memorized Bible verses, swam in the ocean, learned the sounds to half of the letters of the alphabet, left pennies for kids to ride Sandy the pony at Meijer, made your first pie, rode a real horse, learned to ride your bike, traveled on an airplane, fell in love with dressing up, received your first haircut, listened to your first chapter book,  and won over the hearts of your Sunday School teachers, the old ladies at the grocery store, and friends from California all the way to Indiana.

You have experienced emotions from the depths of your soul to the heights of ecstasy.  You’ve cried a lot, but you’ve comforted too.  You’ve laughed quite a bit, and brought others into your silly jokes as well.

You learned that you were afraid of lobsters and spiders, wary of strangers, and confident at the dentist.

You’ve transitioned from little kid to preschooler with the hand of Stella (whose name has changed from Baby Jesus, to Aurora, to Rapunzel, back to Stella) at your side.

You’ve learned how to write your name, memorized the days of the week, and just about every Disney princess fact known to man (all the important stuff, of course).

Aside from a strong loyalty to Sleeping Beauty around the age of 6, I, personally, have never had a huge attachment to Disney.  But this year I teared up when you hugged 4 princesses because I knew that was the most special thing your heart could imagine right now. 

MG, three was a wonderful year.  I will miss it and all of it’s wonderful moments (the bad ones are already dim).  I can’t wait to see where four takes you.

All my love (and princess affection),

-smk