Month: December 2016

Seven Months

Well another monthly milestone is upon us.  I can’t believe our littlest babe is 7 months.

Ok, moment of grief (that she is closer to one than newborn) has passed and now onto the exciting points of this month.

At seven months,

-you are adjusting to solid foods.  You still only tolerate level one baby food (which I’ve determined is impossible to make on my own. How do they get it so smooth?? so, I’ve been buying the jarred stuff until you’re ready to move up).  It seems you’ve lost your gag reflex and can eat about half a jar per sitting.  You definitely prefer it to be warm or room temp to cold from the fridge

-you have added in another feeding at night, if not two.  Just like your sisters, around 6-7 months, it seems you need a feeding or two to get you through the night.  I don’t mind too much, as it takes about 10 minutes and you go right back to sleep.  What I do mind is somehow you seem to have a knack for calling me the moment I am just about to drift off.  Every single time.  Doesn’t matter if I go to bed early, later, or what.  Just as my mind is turning off and my body is relaxed, you sound the alarm.  You also seem to like the 5:00 hour which means I feed you and get myself back to sleep just a few moments before Bea wakes up.

This works okay though, because you sleep until 9 or so and then go back down around noon and wake up about the time we need to pick up big sis from school.  So problem, mostly solved.

-you are getting up on your hands and knees and starting to use your legs as if you are trying to get into the position to crawl.  I wonder if we’ll see this out of you this month or next.  I’M NOT READY.  You’re still not very steady sitting up and always prefer to be on your belly to sitting.

-you’ve slowed your growth a little bit and fit well into 9 or 12 month clothes.  I posted an IG story video of you in the bathtub and seven people commented on it to say something about your “back rolls”.  I think that’s the most comments I’ve ever gotten on a story and funny that they were all saying the same thing.  Your rolls are indeed comment worthy and you feel so good to hold.  Your thighs, especially, have an extra fold that sticks up and begs to be pinched.

-you only let me rock you to sleep at night and put yourself to sleep during the day.  You get tired about 2-3 hours after waking up

-you love your sisters and light up whenever they are in the room

-I still haven’t put you in the church nursery yet but I have a feeling you’ll be ready this month

————————————————————————————————————————-

I feel a little socially constricted by having a baby, especially with the timing of the move.  It seems each morning is different with how late she sleeps and then I have to be ready to put her down for a nap just a few hours later.  It’s about all I can handle to spend her awake time getting errands done or sometimes going to the gym.  Most mornings while she sleeps I am doing “Bea school”, a cardio workout, cleaning the house, or other morning chores, sometimes all of the above.

Add to this, this is my first baby who refuses a bottle.  I surely should have started her a lot sooner than 4 months, but of course when I was living by myself with three little ones to manage, it wasn’t a high priority.  Her dr suggested starting a sippy cup of breastmilk this month so hopefully that will buy me more time in the evenings to sneak out on some social calls.  I don’t mind hibernating for a while, nurturing my little one.  I did it with my other two and enjoy this time as it is.  But it does feel a little weird to do this in a new city, with no established friendships (and the friends I do see, I’m only able to see them about once a month as explained at length above).  I’m trying to live with the tension of being social and nurturing a little one without rushing either.

Either way, so thankful for this little being that God saw fit to add to our family at the PERFECT time.  A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.

-smk

Christmas Card 2016

Merry Christmas! 

I hope this letter finds you well.  This Christmas, as I am typing this letter, I am looking at the same Christmas tree we’ve had for many years, with the same ornaments topping it, but with a vastly different view out of my window.  In the way news spreads in our digital age, I’m sure it is old news to you by now that we moved our family to Tennessee.

Due to the move, the new job, our new family member, Sibs (who joined us on May 23), and not finding time to work in fall family pictures into this craziness, I attempted, but ultimately failed at sending Christmas cards this year (I think the first one since we’ve been married??).  I gave it a valiant effort, but in 2016, it was just not meant to be.  So here is a little story for you instead, based on a family photo and probably what I would have said if I did.

Every day I look at this picture that was printed and placed on our bathroom counter as decoration.

This is our one professional photo from 2016. But the truth of it is, this photo was taken three days after Sibby was born…AKA our first full day home from the hospital.  Our photographer (who lives an hour and a half away) was in the middle of the move but offered to take us on anyway.  Our babe didn’t help us out any and decided to come 11 days late, therefore, we drove to the photographer’s house on the last possible day for it to work for her moving timeline.  On our way there, we had to stop in Indianapolis for a job interview for N.  The night before, I’d had a moment of panic when I realized that I had not planned any outfits for the girls for this session, nor for myself, so the morning was spent trying to pull everything together, adjust to the newest one’s schedule, and not be a minute late to the interview.

On the way there, our our van had an issue that required immediate maintenance, N had to cancel his interview, and the photographer kindly let us show up an hour and a half late (with my hair and makeup disheveled, not to mention the girls’ patience wearing thin, and Sibby wide awake).

I tell you this story because it greatly characterizes our year: a lot of stressful things happened, things didn’t go according to plan, sometimes I found myself grossly underprepared, some systems failed us that we had put our trust in (but ultimately everything worked out)

N had a “ton” of interviews (both in IN and TN, we weren’t sure where we would end up); we had a babyshe got really sick after she was born; while she was in the hospital, we found out we were moving to TN; we put our house on the market 2 days before we left on vacation with a 4 week old; on the way home from that vacation, we dropped N off, permanently, in TN; the girls and I went back to IN to try to sell our house, I kept up with the showings on my own, and it finally sold 5 months later; we learned the ins and outs of the crazy TN housing market and bought our house in August; MG started school early August and went to live with my parents and N; we moved in as a family on Labor Day.  And my head is still spinning.

A verse that became particularly meaningful to me this year was 1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I spent many fretful hours casting some cares upon the Lord this year, and in His perfect timing He answered those cares out of His great love.  If there is anything that 2016 has taught us is that He is faithful in all things.

Wishing you (and MYSELF) a restful, PEACEFUL 2017 surrounded by the ones we love,

-smk

Eulogy

I didn’t intend to let so much time pass between posts, but something happened three weeks ago that stunned me into silence.  The world stopped for a bit as I found out one of my best friends had suffered a stroke.  Just days after finding this out, we learned she had passed away from complications surrounding it.  She leaves behind a husband and two boys (MG & Bea’s age), as well as many other family members and friends, as one does when they die young.

It is a very sobering sadness that has pervaded everything during this holiday season.  The parallels in our lives are such that it is hard to imagine her not being able to do the same things with her family that I am currently doing with mine.  This one hit close to the bone. I don’t understand why God will take a young mom from this earth in such a quick and tragic way.  I don’t understand it at all.  But I can rest in the understanding of His faithfulness and trust Him with this one.

Amy was a good friend.  And I mean that in the sense that she was loyal, and dear to me, a good example of a friend.  I met her almost exactly 5 years ago at a play date.  One of our mutual friends started a play group for moms that had children all around the same age and she was one of the faithful attendees every week.  Because our eldest children were just about a month apart in age, we were always swapping stories and advice.  Together in that group, we watched our kids grow up together: from their first steps, to weaning them off the bottle and pacifier, to sending them off for their first day of Mom’s Morning Out, to getting pregnant with our seconds, and then starting the cycle all over again.  The last big milestone we talked each other through was sending our big kids off to kindergarten.  I thought we would be doing this until we sent them off to college and beyond.  It was natural for us to reach for each other in those big moments.

Now there is a small, silent hole surrounding milestones.

Her name may be familiar to many of you because she was a heavy commenter on my social media pages and my blog as well.  I know she was a faithful reader of my blog and always followed up with texts or comments that let me know she was interested in keeping up with my life even though I had moved away from her twice, once an hour north and the second 5 hours south.

It sounds trite to say it, but since I had physically moved away from her, that is where I will miss her the most: in 4 way group texts and her comments on my page.  She had a way of complimenting you but making it sound sincere by being self-deprecating.  I felt like she would try anything I would recommend and was interested in whatever I was interested in.  As a mutual friend put it, she had a way of being a giving friend while also requiring very little in return.

One story that sticks out in my mind is when I saw her husband at the viewing, I was worried he wouldn’t remember me, or at least my name, after a full day of having to talk to so many people and remembering so many names in the midst of so much grief; but he not only remembered me but asked me questions about my move and Sibby.  She had kept him updated on my life and it touched me in a way I wasn’t expecting.  It was like in that moment, she reached out to me to say, “you were important to me.”

Amy kept us laughing with her stories as she was always getting aggravated with her day to day life in cute and funny ways and it seemed she always had a million things to do and she always needed a vacation.  She never tried to come across as perfect or as if she had it all together and I think every mom needs a relatable friend like this to keep them grounded.

The truth, of course, was that she loved her family fiercely and had entrenched herself in their care-taking by doing things like being a room mom and taking her boys to all of their appointments, play dates, and extra curricular activities.  She sacrificed so much for her boys.  Their life became her life.

I feel, in some way, an obligation to her boys because she shared so much of her life with our little core group.  I remember and know so much of their young lives that I’m afraid will be forgotten if I don’t find a way to preserve them, in her honor.

She hated being the center of attention and she especially hated her picture taken (she would sacrifice this though, every year for the beloved family photos).  I am so glad I forced her to take a picture with me at my IN going away party even though it turned out to be neither of our best, I will treasure it.  In fact, that was the last time I physically saw her alive.  I tried to be intentional with all of my friends that had shown up to that little party, much to my embarrassment, and I remember my parting words to her were “you’ve been a good friend to me and I will miss you.”

Yes.

I think the best way to describe it is I feel like I’ve lost one of my biggest fans.  She was always cheering me on and made me feel like my little hobbies of sewing and writing mattered.  I know I am not the only one she made feel this way either; it just came naturally to her.

Going back to IN for the funeral didn’t make much sense with the time of year and the snow and ice that came showering down the day of the viewing.  But I felt like I had to go, for me AND her.  I had spent so much time in denial, and in some ways I am still there; because it is hard to reconcile the thought of seeing your healthy friend alive one day and being told she’s not the next.

I’ve been to few funerals that have been so sad.  Everyone was sad. Her sweet boys were almost too much to look at, being so innocent to the tragedy in their lives.  I kept stealing glances at them though because I wanted to take it in in case I needed to tell them someday how it went. (I know that sounds weird to say, but I observed that we all seemed to pick up different roles in our mourning.  I kept trying to write mine as storyteller)

The oldest one, MG’s age, sat respectfully and followed the directions of the priest.  The little one, Bea’s age, had to be reminded not to pick his nose (haha!) and then fell asleep on his dad’s lap midway through.  The gravity of seeing her in her casket was especially marked by seeing their little names etched onto it in scrawling Sharpie marker.  How does a dad of two little ones carry on after this?  I just don’t know.

I think we all sat through that funeral with questions in our hearts.  Why, God? For what purpose, God? Will you take care of them, God?  Will you redeem this one day?  And quickly following these questions, a plea. Come back, Jesus.  Soon.  Don’t leave us alone down here with our grief and death.  We are aching for your return,

-smk

 

 

Multi-Generational

Suddenly, I feel like I’ve woken up from a long nap and I’m looking around going, “am I really here?  Did this really go according to the plans we made years ago? Am I really back in the south again, reunited with my family?”

Yes.

It took about three months, but all of our IN affairs are settled, Sibby is no longer a newborn, and we are finding ourselves marching to a rhythm down here in our new land.

One of the common questions to be asked down here is, “what brought you to Nashville?”  No one, well hardly anyone I’ve met, was born here.  It is rare to encounter a native, though it does happen every once in a while.  For most of us, we came here with a story, ours being not very different than most others.

When I get to the part about my family living here, most of my friends with children look away wistfully and say, “I would love to live by my family.”  There is something about having children that, for most of us, changes our hearts back home after a decade or so of necessary independence.

Free babysitting is one thing, but a very surfacey side effect at that.  There are shared birthday celebrations, relationship building between generations, and a greater, more sensitive pulse to the daily life of those closest to you.

One of my favorite things have been our weekly “family dinners”.  Mom will pick up the girls from school and take them back to her house to play.  The rest of us join in sometime around dinner and enjoy a(n always delicious) meal together.  I look forward to these meals every week and one thing I’ve noticed is that if I go into the meal stressed or anxious about something, I always walk away feeling better.  We don’t even have to address my concern (although sometimes we do have deeper conversations about it), but there is something about time spent in company of those that know and love you best that does the heart good.

Another benefit I’ve quietly observed is the cohesiveness of multiple generations coming together.  This has been a stressful year for all of us, no doubt.  There have been new jobs, retirement, new life, new moves, new school, new friends and relationships, new neighborhoods, the selling of houses, the settling of estates, sickness, stressful parenting, large financial decisions, and then just the normal stresses of up and down daily life.  Sometimes, I think we just take note of each other as we look around the room, and say, “we’re still standing! We’ve almost reached the end of this weighty season, and it is good, very good.”

My parents, now the true matriarch and patriarch of the family, have the benefit of a life spent following God.  When my mom talks about God taking care of them, and my dad shares meaningful Bible verses, the look they get in their eyes and the passion in their voices, it feels so real. They have been able to walk with us through stressful situations and remind us of God’s faithfulness because they have an amazing track record of it.

Our little ones, down to the littlest, are so needy and dependent on us.  They have SO MANY needs they rely on us to meet but I dare say they never spend a moment in worry, wondering if we are going to provide.  They are an example of the hope that comes from a life of trusting God to care for us and believing that He will.  Little Sib, the most vulnerable among us, is no respecter of persons.  She would reach for and smile at the most unlovely person, no matter how filthy, poor, sinful, sick.  It doesn’t matter to her.  A picture of God’s love.

And then that leaves us, the twenty-thirty somethings somewhere in the middle.  I’d like to think we contribute to this generational dynamic as well.  And I think we bring a lot of (most of the?) burdens to the table.  We are making so many decisions about careers, parenting, finances, relationships, all the meaty things that will indelibly shape our future.  Some of these decisions don’t afford us much thinking time and have to be made on the fly, other ones leave us alone with them for an agonizingly long time until we are finally able to pick a side.  But I think somewhere in here, there is a picture of God’s tender mercy and grace.  I think God has given us an extra helping of mercy in this season of life where we make a lot of mistakes, sometimes we rush into things, or speak out of line, but we get by with love and forgiveness, and we let things go and move on to the next weighty matter, all the while trusting in God to provide, with the careful knowledge that He has yet to disappoint us.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

This is why we came here, I think.  To discover the character traits of God in the unique lens of a whole family and to write some stories for a watching world.

-smk