Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Life Expectancy in a World of Expectations (over at MBird!!)



Another thing I should have shared about in a more timely manner (and I did mention it briefly in another post) but....

There are a handful of online spaces that I love and have thought often about submitting a piece of my own writing to, but I've been both insecure and lazy. I finally pushed myself to submit something to one of my very favorites and I am so honored the guys at MBird thought it was decent enough to publish.

Several people shared the article and commented and that meant so much to me. The encouragement and affirmation from friends who know how important this outlet is to me was really special.

Peyton linked to the post on Facebook and I just teared up reading what he wrote:
Look who put in some work, gathered her courage, and decided to do something (uncomfortable) she's always wanted to do. Sarah Denley Herrington put something forward for Mockingbird and it was published...in less than 2 days! I'm proud of this special person who puts so much into a daily habit of writing. Not because she's great at it (though she certainly did a great job here), but because she loves to do it and from writing she finds much solace. Below is the article, please feel free to read it if you'd like. She wrote about the themes of the conference we recently returned from, and really the themes of Mockingbird's ministry that mean so much to her.

Anyway, here's the link--
 Life Expectancy (In a World of Expectations): A New York Conference Review


 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Babykins #3: Comparisons and Reflections at Thirty Weeks

 I'm actually a little embarrassed I'm so behind on this. Obviously, I've spent the past year being behind on blogging but this feels different and like it should be blogged about in a more timely manner. Anyway, it will still be fun to look back on and while I'm sure I look vastly different than I did four weeks ago, the reflections are still super relevant.

It'll be time for my thirty five weeks reflections in a few days so I figured I better actually finish this one up and hit publish.

First, the pictures:

30 Weeks!

30 Weeks with Graves and Babykins #3 
(Graves on the left; Sister Baby on the right)
 

 
  
 

And a bonus-- Peyton took this one of me fussing about something. I sort of look like I'm already in labor, yes?


Okay now some reflections:

1. During the first trimester when I was so sick every day and really had a a hard time getting off the couch, Peyton asked me what I'd be doing if I worked full time and it was on my mind constantly for awhile. I had sort of stopped dwelling on it, but when Peyton was sick with the flu recently I circled back around to his question (which I have, for the last six months, let myself get way more worked up over than I should have).

Honestly, I feel like I'm showing up in the exact same way I would if I were working- I'm sure I would take days off here and there but more often than not I'd push through. And I feel like more often than not, I push through here. I've done a lot of things in a lot of pain. I'm not wearing it as a badge of honor, but I do get defensive about it at times.

That said, I feel like I'm neglecting Graves and Annie in a big way. I can't imagine any job being more important to me than the one I'm doing so I assume that if I were working full time I would not be able to give it what I could give it at virtually any other point in my life because I physically haven't been able to give them what I've given them at virtually every other point in their lives. [I know this all sounds so melodramatic.]

Someone told me awhile back that she felt like her family was complete at present because she didn't think she could be as good a mom if she had one more. I've thought about that a lot and especially lately I've been thinking that even if I could handle parenting a large number of children, there's no way I could do this to Annie and Graves (and now our New Girl) again. I know it's only nine months, but it feels like nearly a year of their lives that I haven't been present at all in the way I want to be. I'm glad I did it one more time but I also have such a strong peace as the door closes on biological children. And I've been SO grateful for this because Peyton was very emphatic that round three was the final round. 

Imagine my absolute SHOCK when he said to me awhile back "Now Sweetie, take this with a grain of salt but I think I might like more babies". It didn't upset me at all- I feel like it's a very fluid thing and it's so fun to see us both moving closer to being on the same page. And I reminded him of all those children in foster care who need homes.  (And in the  interest of full disclosure, he's since reminded me that nothing is a definite.)

I'm fully aware that fostering and adoption could put me in this same mental/emotional space or worse, but it wouldn't have the same physical components that this has had, and I'm just really glad I have a peace about being done with that.

2.  As far as mental/emotional space goes, it's been a real mixed bag. I was so happy that I only truly cried once while we were in New York and they were mostly happy, if bittersweet, tears. I've had a LOT of good days lately. I've just felt good about things, about life. Confident even.

I did have an episode a few days ago over something unrelated to the pregnancy and several weeks ago I got myself real worked up because I was really wanting to consider birth photography and well, that's just not in our super streamlined budget. There are lots of things Peyton will be supportive of but I don't think he really wanted to fork over hundreds of dollars (like six or seven hundred) for something we didn't even know if we'd be happy with the results of. Which, rationally, I did understand.

The truth is, it was about more than just the pictures. The whole thing really started making me nervous. I realized there was NO way I could depend on Peyton to meet every need in the delivery room. I couldn't ask him to play the role he did in Graves's birth, plus the role of a doula, and a photographer.

I got so upset and literally cried for over an hour because I finally let myself really think about how Cookie won't be there this time. It felt like the loneliest feeling. NOW, I really need to clarify. I have a nice handful of really good, close, caring friends. I just don't know that most of them would be comfortable in this situation. I've tried to be very cognizant of that because I didn't want to put anyone in an awkward situation where they felt like they had to say yes.

3. Then I remembered Carrie and I talking a LONG time ago about how if either of us had another biological child (at that point I don't think we either one thought we would) we thought it would be really amazing to be in the room. Carrie hates awkward situations and she's not like major granola level crunchy (both of which I'd say of myself, for the record). Also, I'm guessing here but I feel like she's sort of like me in that we both hate to be naked like even when we're by ourselves. I guess modest is the word, but I don't totally feel like that fits. Basically, after I finally (very diplomatically) brought it up, Carrie pretty much summed it up perfectly "It is a vulnerable thing to ask someone. Birth is so deeply personal. I can't imagine anything more personal than watching someone give birth. Except maybe making the baby".

It was one of my favorite literal laugh out loud moments in a long time. Another big factor when I was thinking about who I could ask is that I did NOT want to put someone on the spot and I know some people would be uncomfortable with it themselves for all sorts of different reasons. The conversation with Carrie happened in a really organic, light hearted way (but also a way where we both felt the significance of it...so cool it could be both) so I knew I wasn't putting her in a hard position where she couldn't say no.

I realized that Carrie is the perfect person to be in the room when our New Girl arrives. We've been through so much together and honestly, the very first time we met we had a pretty vulnerable conversation for strangers (short story: we talked about our sex lives with our infant daughters at a table in Newks about twenty minutes after we introduced ourselves). So, in that sense, she's always been one to put me at ease and it's such a huge honor she'll be there.

As I said, I'm slated to churn another one of these out in just a week or so and so I think I'll wrap it up there. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What I'm Into: April


On the Nightstand:
Besides my devotionals (which I actually did terrible with):
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day)- Ethan Richardson, Sean Norris
I didn't read anything for myself this month, even after making it a goal. Whew. I've done a lot of other things in it's place, but I still wish I had made time for it.

On Their Nightstand: 

This isn't typical (as the above unfortuantly is) but we didn't do a ton of reading this month. We've actually been trying to get to the public library equivalent of "inbox zero" and sort of press reset so Annie's been reading a lot and we're sending back ones we've had a long time. Not much stands out, though.

I did read this book with my students at Book Buddies and then to Annie and Graves and they ALL loved it (and the age range between those kids and Graves is pretty big- they're in third grade and he's not yet in kindergarten).
What Happens to a Hamburger? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science 2) - Paul Showers
It's all about the digestive tract and it's simple and engaging. I like that it's so basic, it's a really good first book on the topic but it still includes lots of great vocabulary. There are illustrations, diagrams, and actual photographs and it's not too busy or gimmicky. Peyton actually really loves this series in general for teaching the kids science concepts.

On the Shelf:

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms How We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead- Brene Brown

Still need to finish this and there are a couple of others I'd like to add.

At the Theater (or from the couch):

Brooklyn
Okay, immigrant story got a lot of great reviews. I wouldn't say I hated it, but I couldn't really see what the fuss was about. Peyton hated it. I did love the costuming and OF COURSE the setting, but overall the plot and the characters (I've said it a thousand times, but characters make the story for me) didn't do a lot for me.

On the Small Screen:
I actually probably watched more TV this month than usual, but it was the most random stuff:

Law and Order: SVU 
An old favorite for like a decade. We actually watched quite a few while we packed, after dropping the kids at my in-laws, the night before the trip.

New York City channel
While we were on our little babymoon trip to New York, we found this really neat channel that was strictly shows about New York (we didn't have it when we lived there because we didn't have cable). We watched a great show called Neighborhood Slice that profiles the history and culture of different neighborhoods. It's My Park and $9.99 also sounded really interesting but we didn't get a chance to catch them.

In My Ears:

Some AMAZING talks, that's what. The conference recording is up now for anyone interested in "the boldness of grace in a world of expectation". 

Around the House:
Not alot and certainly not much exciting! 



It took me a full week but I finally got caught up on things after our trip. I got the house vacuumed and dusted and I'm finally caught up on laundry, math with Annie, and (sort of) my blog. I was so pleased because I grocery shopped and the kids (and bathrooms!) had been scrubbed and have had their nails clipped. I washed the kids' bedding and washed our the next day. It felt great to get a jump start on May! 

  
The house needed deep cleaning and more than that I needed to finish unpacking and start a week's worth of laundry. So naturally I decided to start organizing the craft closet (which has been on a master to-do list for months). I've still got a good bit more to do but I got our supplies sorted into a box for paints and brushes, a box for markers/crayons/pens, a box for tape, a box for scissors, a box for glue, and a big box for miscellaneous stuff like buttons and push pins and pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks and other random things I use for homeschooling. It's SO much easier to not be resentful about not having more space when I manage what we do have well. 

In the Kitchen:
This is a cheat. It's not even our kitchen. But I was enjoying some self-care in the city and was so glad we decided to take it easy one morning. I was actually in a pretty good cooking spell before we went on the trip but Peyton got sick right after we got back and I haven't really gotten back into my routine.

In My Closet: 

Just more of the usual- dresses and gym shorts =) Actually, though, this month saw some of my favorite outfits as far as pregnancy goes!


For some reason, I always like to pair my mint green Hunters (they're not near as aqua as they appear in the picture) with this super soft orange jersey wrap thing (which is also a sort of different color than it appears).
 

 
One of Peyton's lit tees (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- my favorite and it happened to have a bit of green that match my favorite gym shorts). 


A friend gave me a big bag of maternity stuff and this sweater was one of my favorite things. I sort of missed out on it in Mississippi, but I wore it two different days in NYC.


This dress is one of my favorites- pregnant or not. It's so soft and I love the bright colors. It's also nice because I wear it to church some but it can be relatively casual, too.
This top, plaid Converse, and maternity jeggings I bought when I was pregnant with Graves have been one of my big go-to outfits this time around. I used to never would have worn this because I considered these exclusively my "dressy" jeans and I was (and mostly am) so anal about this kind of thing. But I hate all my other jeans this time and it did NOT want to buy another thing, so I've basically been existing in these, leggings, and yoga pants and the limited wardrobe has actually been sort of nice.
In Their Closets:
 
I think this chickadee must already be practicing for the Homeschool Homecoming.
 
I got this dress for Annie ages ago when I was still into buying ahead a bunch. And it runs really big so we waited even longer than I expected. I loved the color and the hot air balloons. Annie was delighted by the !!!hedgehogs!!! Which I'm pretty sure I didn't even notice when I got it!


 
Another balloon dress from Jelly the Pug that I bought ahead years agao and a little smocked short set you can't really see (it has puppy dogs on it). Clearly, I need to get better about getting shots of Graves. His wardrobe is mostly lit tees and graphic Star Wars tees, which I also sorta love. 


 I can't get enough of this goofy gal who wanted to wear soccer socks to her brother's game. For some reason, she's in this stage where I think the dorkier she is the cuter she is.


 

Again, see: dorky.

 
I love everything about Annie here. Her little hands, her "panther feet" (what she calls bare feet). I'm so excited about putting Sister Baby in smocking to play but I can't even say I don't love the rolled denim shorts. I'm sorta surprised I'm as fond as I am of her little style, but it's so much fun seeing her come into her own and I think she's the cutest little gal.


There we go- a lit tee. I love it so much because it's so him. Last time they went on sale Annie picked an animal one (The Origin of Species) and he of course picked one with a baby on it! 

 In My Mailbox:
One of the very few things I've bought for Sister Baby is this precious bonnet (I mean Annie's wardrobe could outfit about ten infants). But I found a great deal on it- I actually ordered it before we knew she was a girl. It seems so special to pick out a few things just for her. (Oh and the model is a new friend Annie selected with her birthday money.)
In My Cart:

I had no desire for our New York trip to turn into a shopping expedition (I'm actually not a big fan of real life shopping anymore, ha!) but I did want to hit up the Flea and IKEA. Peyton wanted to go by REI and Warby Parker. So four stops over a full week. It worked out  well! 


 
Brooklyn Flea buys! The pirate ship top was cute and cheap and the foxes + hedgehogs are obvious because whimsical animals! I got the little yellow dress for Annie because a) it looks like something I would have worn at seven b) it looks like something an "Annie" would wear and it looks like my Annie, in fact c) she is still determined that the baby's nickname is "Daisy" and when I saw it I immediately pictured her wearing it to the hospital to meet her baby sister.
Our IKEA haul. Four cushions for the kitchen chairs, a duvet cover for someone for later, and two duvets (one for the cover and one because I needed a double size one for something else).

Around the Town/In the City(and At Home):



 We had a great month of soccer with both kids!


 
And "Coach P" loved his little blastball buddies. He's had so much fun doing this!

We also had a great time being lazy in the sunshine in our own backyard!


Okay, so the trip was pretty magical. Honestly, the first day we got there we spent a lot of time just relaxing in the Airbnb. It was so nice to have a break from the kiddos! And this space was so much fun to stay in. Our friend who owns the Airbnb we stayed in works in costumes in TV/film and she worked on the set of Boardwalk Empire and got all this beautiful stuff when the show was cancelled.

We got to enjoy a wonderful relaxing brunch, complete with a refreshing cucumber limeade, at an old favorite, The General Greene. 

We went to the Tenement Museum! It was something I always wanted to do when we lived here but it's not exactly little kid friendly. I'm so glad we were able to fit in a tour on the trip.

Who's seven months pregnant just made it to midnight at the EpiscoDisco? This girl! [Yeah, MBird isn't your typical Christian conference.]



Annie and Graves had their own blow out vacation. This is one of his favorite things- I'm sure he's in heaven! (And I'm so sure Mickey is pleased that his "fishing buddy" (that's why he's always called Graves "Bud") dream he's had since he found out he was getting a boy are coming to fruition!). This is why we could never leave Mississippi for good either! 

 DeeDee and Grandpa Randy took them to story time at the library with their cousins, the science museum, the Ag Museum, and Dairy Queen. Plus they did art projects and enjoyed their uncle's sugar gliders. Mickey and Minnie took them to Pump it Up, made chicken pot pie per request, spent three hours at the McDonald's play place, and visited the playground with ducks. 

Annie with the "bunny salad" she made!

Not long after we got back, Peyton got the flu. UGH. Poor, sick Papa getting a little fresh air. He's the antsiest sick person I've ever known in my life. It was so miserable.

Construction worker Bud with his two chainsaws at the Children's Museum once we got home and Peyton recovered. The last two years in Brooklyn they didn't have birthday parties so we had "birthday days" where they each got to (mostly) pick what we did all day. They are having a party this year (a month after their actual birthdays!) but we love this tradition so much we kept it, too. Graves picked pancakes for breakfast, a trip to the Children's Museum and the Dollar Tree, Primos for lunch, and a visit to Mickey and Minnie's house.
We ended the day with Darth Mal face paint and a movie (also pictured: Princess Leia and a ewok).

At the Schoolhouse:
 
Eating a wiener pulled out of a nasty pot of boiling water by a street vendor > doing math on a sunny day. Trying to be patient with this little hard headed one, who I would have never guessed would have such strong opinions on things.

 
I will say that the lesson where I picked a random page of a book and she had to guess which side it would be on, based on if it was even or odd, was a winner. It also discussed how to say years in regards to copyright dates. Real world extension (albeit a bit obscure) meets involving books and she probably could have done this all day.

Some days teaching Annie math is like pulling teeth. But some days it's really fun. She told me she used gray for zero because it means "nothing" and yellow for one because it's like a first place trophy (maybe she has synesthesia which I learned about from @annebogel and @emilypfreeman). Then to figure out how many letters are in Peyton's name she subtracted three (Ann) from nine (Ann Peyton) instead of just counting. The best was when she added a column for people whose names have zero letters and wrote in the baby since she doesn't have a name yet.

I totally underestimated the amount of prep work for our math lesson the other day. You had to build these three dimensional geometric shapes out of basically cardboard two dimensional shapes and rubberbands. Actually, to be totally honest it was something the parent is supposed to do ahead of time and I just didn't even look at it. Luckily, I have some fine helpers and they were more than happy to help with the construction work once I figured out what the directions were saying (which again, being honest, took the bulk of the time). Also, why is this ALL math?

 
Okay, finally something else. Peyton's taken a break for awhile but it's always fun to nature journal (and to catch things!). 

Peyton signed Annie up for this "Around the World" project with the homeschool group we're in. It's really the first big thing like this we've done (you had to have an authentic dish, a craft for the other kids, a poster, a fact sheet, and a "passport" and stamp for everyone else's passport). For the day after the night our flight got in at 8:00pm. Of course we had done about a quarter of it before we left. We both helped her with it a bunch last night (she was up until one) and then Peyton really helped her with making the food this morning and putting a bunch of finishing touches on things. Most everyone else's posters were more advanced but I was so proud of Annie because she did so much of it herself (Mick helped her some with the drawings). And she didn't say nearly everything she meant to but she did her presentation in front of everyone without any coaching from us. It's SO hard for me to step back and let go of wanting things to look polished and perfect (and as "good" as everyone else's) but I'm so glad when I do! And she had the best time working on it and visiting the other countries! 

And this cute guy did SUCH a great job telling everyone about how he was a vanilla bean farmer and most of the world'a vanilla comes from Madagascar. 

On the Blog (and elsewhere):

I didn't do a lot of real writing on here last month. Truthfully, I was trying to do a lot of catch up with Weekly Happenings and Smorgasbord posts and letters to the kids and baby posts.

Feelings on Visiting Our Old Home
 I did write a bit about my complicated thoughts on visiting Brooklyn. I started out feeling one way and winded up feeling very differently. 

Life Expectancy (In a World of Expectations): A New York Conference Review (over at MBird!!!)
 I wrote an essay about the conference, an NPR piece, my life, and the Theology of the Cross and how those intersect and it got published!
 
On My Heart:
- I guess it's because it's just that time of year. April, which brings the anniversary of both Annie and Graves's births and the anticipation of another year of life with both of them, always seems to have me very introspective. Over the past seven years, being home with the children has meant a lot of different things to me and in different seasons I have had different reasons for doing it. Awhile back, during a discussion with Peyton, I realized one of the main things I find value in is the hours upon hours each week that I get to devote to being a student of them. Being a student of other people- analyzing them and learning their quirks and what makes them tick, their fears and passions, the driving forces that make them do what they do- is so exciting and fascinating to me in general. And those extra hours I get for this favorite task with these favorite people? Is a big part of my purpose right now. 
- When I thought about it that way, it also gave me an even stronger impetus towards our financial independence goals. I want Peyton to be able to have more long hours devoted to knowing them deeply and learning their secret hurts and deepest dreams. It's not that it's a burden I want share with him, although it is a hefty responsibility. It's a great joy in a very deep place and it would feel wrong for me to keep it only for myself when I could do otherwise. 
- Our trip to New York brought up so many complicated feelings. (From the post I wrote recently...) At first I really questioned if maybe I had just curated an image of the city when we lived there. This is something I've thought about before but I gave a lot more thought to the first couple of days we were there. Maybe when we lived in New York I made up an image of us that I thought would get a lot of Instagram likes. And maybe it wasn't even for them...it was for me. Was it self-preservation? Was the picture of the city I loved so much one I needed to create just to survive? Gradually, after so many conversations with dear friends we did remember how very magical a place it is. And toward the end of the week it got much warmer and the colors were so vibrant and we even saw a young couple just totally making out on the sidewalk and I remembered what a Brooklyn Summer looked like. It was a total one eighty from the first day or so. 
In My Prayers:
- During the trip, we both realized even more how much we miss the city (and how much we love Mississippi!). The very best part is that Peyton is dead set on how we can live some of the year in Mississippi and some Brooklyn as soon as possible. That's been a dream for a long time but it's neat to think it might be able to be a reality sooner than we thought. And it's really amazing to be SO on the same page about such a unique adventure. I've been praying about that since.
- I really stepped out of my comfort zone with a couple of things this month and that took a lot of faith and a good amount of prayer. One thing ended up the way I had hoped and I'm still waiting to hear about the other.
- A friend of mine from way back found out she was pregnant and had some scary first few days/weeks. It turns out everything is great and it's a healthy pregnancy. So lots of praise for that! And it meant the world to me that she trusted me to pray for her when they were still in those initial, scary stages. 
- Of course, I'm praying for our transition to a family of five in just over a month!
 
On the Calendar: 

Now that the trip and conference have come and gone, I really only have one more "event" I want to make before this baby comes and that's the kids' joint birthday party. And it's this Friday! After that, I'm planning to spend the month nesting and going hard with school so we can take a good break when Sister Baby arrives.

What I'm Into