Friday, January 23, 2015

Hopeful Ambitions: 2014 Goals Recap

So, before I share my goals for the current year, I thought I'd revisit the 2014 goal list and see how I did. Here they are:


1. Cook dinner three times a week at a minimum and start meal planning. Hmm. Well, we got better at cooking and I'd say we averaged three times a week. We didn't really commit to meal planning until actually right here recently. I still think we have a LONG way to go, but I've seen some improvement.

2. Read 30 books between now and January 1, 2015. This is probably the biggest joke on the whole list. That would be a hard nope. I read exactly nine books this year:
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions-  Brennan Manning 
Immersion Bible Study: Psalms- J. Clinton McCann
A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live- Emily Freeman
Many Ways to Say I Love You: Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rodgers- Fred Rogers
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child- Jonh Gottman
Real Sex- Lauren Winner
Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit- Henri Nouwen 
On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 - Gerhard O. Forde
To be honest, I find this pretty disappointing. Seeing how I started in April, I basically averaged one a month. I'm not going to be so ambitious this coming year, but I want to do better.

3. Start a goodreads account for myself (and one for the kids). I did do this (I actually just have a kids "shelf" on my account) and it's been fun to keep up with.

4. Watch 10 new documentaries between now and January 1, 2015. I watched seven (including one made for kids)
The Loving Story
Slavery By Another Name
Brooklyn Boheme
Terms and Conditions May Apply
Prom Night In Mississippi 

And also these, which are documentaries in a sense:
Nancy and Tonya
The Price of Gold 

5. Practice some form of self-care daily. I (probably) did this daily. I wish I was a little more intentional with it and noticed the time and grace I was giving myself. I also wish that this looked healthier (coming in the form of a bubble bath instead of a dessert).

6. Learn to navigate the subway by myself. Well, I knocked this one out of the park. No, not really. Some days it's still hard. Really hard. But I've made it (and the buses, which honestly can be more complicated, but are really more desirable or necessary for some trips) work for us and it's really given me a lot of confidence in myself.

7. Get my nose pierced. Yep, and I've LOVED it.

I feel pretty good about my personal goals. And in some areas (like transit) I feel stellar. The only one that really bothers me is the reading goal. 


8. Have weekly planning/budget meetings with Peyton. This didn't happen really at all. Our budget up here was intentionally the loosest it's been in our marriage and so I don't really think that it necessitated weekly meetings. The weeks we did plan out together were far and above our most successful, happy ones in the city.

9. Have a designated lesson planning time each week. I started out really strong with this and then just naturally it sort of evolved into something different. Right now, I spend about twenty minutes, give or take, looking over the days lessons and listening what I want to accomplish. I really think it works better that way right now. At some point, I'll probably need to move to something different, but I've loved that part of my routine over the last six months or so.

10. Back up blog(s) monthly. Well, no. I back them up somewhat frequently (every few months when I think about it), but I wish I was more consistent about it.

11. Consistently upload pictures to the external and Flikr. Again, NO. Like I'm way behind. There are things I prioritized high above that this year, and that's fine (best, really), but I'd like to do better. I did keep up pretty consistently with my blog and I've kept up to date with adding monthly Facebook albums.

12. Work through Storyline and figure out if I could benefit from using a tool like these Power Sheets. I didn't do it. And I really have no excuse.

I'm a little disappointed in my organizational goals, to be honest. I like to make these things a priority because it makes me feel less stressed, but if there's an area to fail in, this would probably be my preferred one. 


13. Email Darlene (my close friend/mentor) weekly. I looked back over our emails and it averaged closer to monthly than weekly. Honestly, I'm okay with that, though, because they were meaningful and I felt like they kept us connected to the extent I NEEDED to be. Also, I've ended up emailing with two other close friends from home. One is a more recent thing, the other has been going on for awhile. One of these is a multiple times a week thing and the other is an almost daily thing.

14. Call/text a friend from home weekly. I didn't do this and I wish I had made more time for it, but as I said I've connected really deeply with some Mississippi friends through email and honestly, that's really a better platform for conversations at this point in my life.

15. Call Minnie on most weeknights that Peyton works. I didn't do this at all and it's been surprisingly okay. I talk to my mom a lot less than I thought I would (once or twice a week sometimes, sometimes more). I'm usually just kind of peopled out by the end of the day and I know that if I call we'll end up talking a long time. Which is great. I love it. But it can't be an almost every night thing for me. I do want to try to do better in these last few months here.

16. Write a hand written note twice a month. I didn't do this at all. It would have been really nice and I had plenty of opportunities to do it.

17. Write our sponsored child monthly, at a minimum. Not even close. Ugh. One of my most disappointing items on the list, especially because I had big plans to get the kids involved.

Again, I feel pretty good about these. Though I changed them up a bit, I think the spirit of the goals was met. I do feel really horrible about no writing to our sweet little World Vision girl more, though. 


18. Pray for Peyton and the children daily- in specific, passionate, and authentic ways. This is an area I think I could improve in, but the truth is I could always find room to improve in this area. I think I saw improvement this year and that's what matters to me.

19. Read to the children daily. I didn't really have to make this a goal, I don't guess, but I wanted to the reminder to prioritize it. As other schoolwork takes up more and more space in our lives, I want this to remain a priority. And I think it has.

20. Have a "date" (take-out) twice a month with Peyton. We didn't do this, but I'm okay with it. We honestly haven't found as many places we love as we did in Jackson (yes, I realize the irony that we prefered restaurants in Central Mississippi to New York City, but it is what it is).

21. Read five books together with Peyton. We read one book together and I read one book shortly after Peyton finished it. That is actually more than I realized until I started thinking about it. I would have liked to have read more together, and I'm sure that will be a goal for this year.

22. Prayerfully consider the next steps in family planning and decide in what direction we will move in that regard once we arrive home. We did this and as well as considering schooling, financial stuff, and where (in the Jackson area) we'd live. I feel like we're at a really good place and a place of peace. We are trying to figure out where (as in which Walgreens) Peyton will be working and also his schedule, but those things will fall into place.

23. (***See NYC Family Goals)


24. Daily pray, read Reflections for Ragamuffins and do some form of Bible study. I feel like my prayer live has developed a good bit, I've been reading my devotional regularly and loving it (though, I haven't always this year) and I have been doing a Bible study, but not as consistently as I'd like.

25. Find a temporary church home in BK- one that is manageable when I'm on my own with the children. Again, we knocked this one out of the park. No, in all honesty, though, the Lord did. We found not one, but two communities that we adore, and that I've been able to manage getting to with the kids when Peyton works.

26. Privately journal prayers and thoughts more often. I didn't really do this and actually Peyton mentioned just the other day that he thought it would be helpful for me. I think he's right and I should work on that.

27. Find some form of missional service to be regularly involved in around Brooklyn, or in the surrounding boroughs. We did! We became pretty enamored with the raw, genuine, earnest way we saw others serving at A House on Beekman and it was our great privilege to join alongside these new friends in ministry.

Obviously, this would be a category where it would be deeply important for my goals to reflect my heart and I think they did and I think I was mostly successful and that feels good. However, it also feels good to be at a place where I know, more than ever, that my worth is not tied to accomplishing anything and especially in this area, it has been accomplished. 


28. Take advantage of writing workshops, classes, ect. in the city.
Eh, I did this once. Well, really twice. One of much more beneficial than the other, though. I did do a lot of learning, though, I think (programs at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Mockingbird, and a photography class, for example). This is only relevant because I was just simply only willing to be away from my family so much this year. So, I feel really good about this.

29. Blog 4-5 times a week. Mostly, yes.

30. Write "creatively" at least weekly. Probably not even half the time. This will always be a goal (or at least it seems like it will be for the foreseeable future) because even though it's can be labor intensive, it's such an important part of me.

31. Become intentional about commenting on others' blogs. Eeek. I went in waves. And never very strong ones. I wish I had done better.

32. Read three books about writing/creativity. Not really. I read some good writers and I read Nish Wiseth's book about Story, but that was less about writing and more about just sharing your story.

33. Take pictures with my real camera at least once a week (in addition to the family picture). I failed miserably at this one. Actually, the failure could only be surpassed by...

34. Teach myself some form of hand sewing (probably cross-stitching). There was really no reason to add this to any list during the one year of my life when I live away from Minnie: picture smocking extraordinaire, crochet queen, crossstich boss. I mean WHY?

So, yeah, my blogging/creative goals was another area I could have done a good bit better in. 

***Now for the asterisks on number 23....we have some goals specifically for this year in the city. We have a few for "days off", but they're sort of included above (reading a certain amount, cooking a meal, and Peyton and I do our Bible studies together), so I'm just sharing the monthly and weekly goals. Anyway, here they are: 


- Meet up with new friends (i.e. we have several "friend of a friends" and shallow connections and we'd love to make those relationships more meaningful). Ideally, this will turn into more than once a month. We did this at least once a month, I'd say. And that has been really amazing.

- Do two "city walks". Not really. We've just found so many other interesting, exciting things to do. I don't have any regrets about not getting these in.

- Get outside our borough. What? This one is so funny in retrospect. We get into the city at least weekly, I'd say and we venture up to the Bronx a good bit to help out with A House on Beekman. We've been to Queens exactly once and never to Staten Island and that seems just about right.

- Be involved in some sort of missional activity at least twice a month. It was really weekly in 2014 and serving in the South Bronx is one of the things I'll forever remember about NYC.


- Go on at least one educational outing. I think we did really well with this one. We joined three museums (The Met, the Museum of Natural History, and the Children's Museum here in Brooklyn). We went to those a good bit (well, really not as much The Met) and we've done alot of other random things that popped up.

- Make a trip to either the (a) library or the Brooklyn Children's Museum. We didn't do this weekly all year. During some stretches, I'd say for sure we did. But when we didn't, I think it was because we were busy with other good stuff.

- Go on at least one "long" walk (two miles or more). Being married to Peyton made this a reality =) We walk two miles to church and back on the weekends he's with us. So that's four miles. It's nothing for us to walk a mile somewhere and a mile back. That probably sounds like no big deal to most people, but I'm in much better shape than I've been in a good long while.

- Try one new restaurant/eatery. Again, no. That has been one of the few struggles with kids here. Spaces are just small and we have this big stroller a lot of the time and it's much more difficult to pop in a place than in Mississippi. We probably averaged two new places a month at first and now probably one a month. Also because it just gets easier to go back to your favorite places you know work well. 

- Attend church. Definitely. Both places on most Sundays. I'm not going to lie, especially when Peyton is working, but really in general, Sunday is our hardest day. And I know for some people that wouldn't sit right. But it's been beautiful for us, really. We've gained so much from our two communities and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

So, I think we did REALLY well on our goals specific to the city. And quite honestly, it's partly because of that that some other things fell by the wayside. That's okay. We only have a year here and I feel like we prioritized things very close to the best way we could. Obviously, there are a few things I'd change if I could go back, but that's what this year is for =)

It's been a great year and as far as this kind of thing is concerned, one of my best (if not the best) yet. We (mostly) lived our priorities and we loved well and that is a lot to say for a year! 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Weekly Smorgasbord

Here we go. A little round up of some interesting links lately:

On Faith:
Posted: 12 Jan 2015 11:05 PM PST
I am guilty of managing my experience of difficulty so my struggles don't feel wasted. In this action, I fear I've missed sacred times of healing in the darkness because I've wanted to rush ahead to the more understandable light. I have bullet-pointed my soul so that things make sense and have regarded God only as my teacher, forgetting he is also my friend. School is good and necessary, but in my heart I long for home.

Posted: 13 Jan 2015 08:50 PM PST
"The average internet-level narrative goes something like this: the earliest Christians had no clear understanding for why Jesus died on the cross and what it accomplished. The idea of a substitutionary atonement is a late invention designed to retroactively explain the (otherwise embarrassing) death of Jesus. In fact, it was not until Anselm's Cur Deus Homo (Why the God-Man?) in the middle ages that someone came up with the idea that Jesus died in place of sinners...The average internet-level narrative goes something like this: the earliest Christians had no clear understanding for why Jesus died on the cross and what it accomplished. The idea of a substitutionary atonement is a late invention designed to retroactively explain the (otherwise embarrassing) death of Jesus. In fact, it was not until Anselm's Cur Deus Homo (Why the God-Man?) in the middle ages that someone came up with the idea that Jesus died in place of sinners."

On Parenting:
Posted: 12 Jan 2015 10:01 PM PST
"If I'm trying to cultivate faithfulness, I want to make sure I'm using those words. Instead of saying, "Thank you for cleaning up your toys," I'm going to say, "Thank you for faithfully choosing to be responsible," or "Thank you for making the choice to be faithful to your job even though you didn't feel like it or it wasn't fun." It may seem awkward to use words like "faithful" and "responsible" with your little ones, but let me encourage you, our children are so much more intelligent than we give them credit. As we familiarize them with words like "faithful" and "responsible" they will better recognize when those attributes are discussed in scripture. "

On Creativity: 
Posted: 12 Jan 2015 09:45 PM PST
LOTS of good advice.

On the Ethical Treatment of Animals:
Posted: 21 Jan 2015 07:12 PM PST
This breaks my heart for these poor creatures. I love my down coat (I'm so cold natured and it actually works up here when it's in the teens) but we'll be investing in synthetic materials from here on. And while I'm going to try to keep the overarching guilt at bay because I didn't know any better, there will, I'm sure be toasty moments of true remorse knowing it likely came at a painful price. As an aside, Peyton thinks the antidote to this sort of careless consuming is to painstakingly determine where each and every item we purchase came from and exactly how it was produced. Which will, of course, make us de facto minamalists. So, win-win. Or something like that.

Posted: 21 Jan 2015 07:13 PM PST
In case you've never seen a live plucked goose or in case you're thinking I've become a big bleeding heart animals rights activist. Rest your eyes on this bird for more than a few seconds and ask yourself what a jacket or a blanket is worth to you. This is also an excellent source about the trauma feeding involved in making the "delicacy", foie gras.

On Local (Mississippi) School Clubs:
Posted: 21 Jan 2015 07:15 PM PST
Even though I don't agree with practicing homosexuality, I don't think this is really fair.

Powerful (or just funny) Quotes from the Week:
"Here’s all I think I can say about MLK this year: I believe he would make me a lot more uncomfortable than I’d like to imagine or assume." -Preston Yancey
Every time I think I’m not qualified to do something, I’m going to remember how many times Mitt Romney and Rick Perry ran for president. -anuandrea Grimes (@andreagrimes)

Powerful and Awesome Images from the Week:

Hope you enjoyed them and/or learned something new! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Weekly Happenings Post #302 (January 12-18)-- On the Town

Last week was fun. Peyton and I actually got to go to a Broadway show! His (very generous!) coworker had given us tickets for Christmas and I had been trying for WEEKS to find a babysitter for the kids. We didn't have anyone on Thursday and it was on Saturday and I was so stressed and had basically given up hope and then we found someone (who was actually the perfect person and is such a sweet friend).

Peyton was working the afternoon shift on Monday and they kids got up late. I took my bath, scooped liter, straightened, and had breakfast and played with the kids. I got on the computer and we talked some and then Peyton left. I texted with a friend and then planned school. We did their morning school and played a little and then cleaned up their room. I fixed them lunch and did dishes. Graves rested and I got on the computer. I did English with Annie and started cooking some chicken. I did some school with Graves and we did math and then I fixed them supper. They ate and took baths and then I got them to bed. Peyton and I ate when he got home and I got on the computer.

Peyton was home all day on Tuesday and we had a low key morning. We all slept late and then he cooked breakfast. I took a bath and had an emotional breakdown over something we were discussing. After we had gotten dressed, we all headed to the Children's Museum. We had a great time and Peyton and I really enjoyed talking on the way there and the way back. When we got home and Peyton went and picked up a pizza for dinner. We ate and then I did math with Annie while Peyton and Graves took a bath to get warm. Ha! We got them to bed and Peyton and I talked a bunch more. I got on the computer for awhile and went to bed late.

Peyton was off again and we all slept late again on Wednesday. We did stuff around the apartment- Peyton made some phone calls about the move and cleaned up the kitchen and I took down the rest of our Christmas decorations. We ate lunch and then he and Annie left for the South Bronx. Graves helped me straighten a bunch (the couch still needed to be folded up, the stroller was out, and there were some toys and a few more dishes). Then he and I did a puzzle and played a memory game. We ate a snack and did a tracing/cutting activity (which he did great with) and then he took his nap. I ate lunch and got on the computer. Peyton came home and dropped AP off and ran to get some groceries and I browned some meat and cooked corn and beans for tacos. We ate when Peyton got back and then got the kids to bed. I did several loads of laundry and cleaned up the kitchen. I got on the computer and finished a post and sent some emails.

The kids got up earlier than they have been on Thursday. Of course, I had a headache. We watched one more show than we usually do :) I took my bath, did chores, planned school, ate breakfast, and got on the computer. Then I realized Annie had ballet. Not a huge deal, but it sort of threw my plans off. We did their morning school and skipped cleaning up their room. I fixed them lunch and got Graves settled. I uploaded some pictures and then laid down for a few minutes. I just needed to let myself settled. I ate some lunch and got us all ready for ballet. Annie had a great time and Graves did really well waiting.
First of all, this is the kind of face he makes when he really gets to talking about something. His expressions are ridiculous and also so adorable. I need to get a video. Secondly, he wants to be called "Big Boy Baby Graves" now. When we do memory work and practice his whole name he says it's "Big Boy Baby Graves Crocodila Jackson Herrington" but he reminds me that "that's kinda hard for some people to me".

Also, I'll be so sad when he grows out of occasionally still talking in word salads when he gets super excited. For example: "I'm not a gentleman. I'm Baby Graves. I Baby Graves Gentleman Taking Care of General. Until he gets surprise lost." He knows what he's trying to say. I think.

Graves saw this poster and told me it was Conrad. I told him I could see how he thought that, but I really didn't think it was. He said "that really, really the REAL Conrad, Momma". He's been pretty fascinated with the Reynauds lately (maybe since he found out they are coming to visit?). He and Annie love to say when they grow up they'll be me and Peyton and we'll be Mickey and Minnie. The other day he told me "I have another idea. Annie will grow up to be Cookie- but a momma- and I'll grow up to be that big boy Conrad". Then after class Annie was telling her ballet teacher about all her family she was excited about living close to again (Mickey and Minnie, DeeDee and Grandpa Randy) and Graves said "and Cookie and Coney!". She said "Nooooow Bud, you KNOW they live in Nashville".

We talked to Annie's teacher afterwards and I realized how much I'll miss it even though I hate the waiting area and the transit to get there. Ms. Patty is SO sweet and encouraging and precious. I told her Annie wouldn't be there next semester and how we were moving home. She's from Georgia and her parents are still there and she has a young baby-- she got it.

We came home and I fixed the kids supper and talked to Peyton. I FINALLY found a babysitter for Saturday. [It was a friend of my mom's daughter who lives in the city. She's usually really busy so I don't even try her. I knew it was a longshot, but I tried and she told me she'd love to but there was a little- maybe big- catch. She had just gotten a positive strep test. But I she said ask Peyton and he said forty eight hours would be enough for her not to be contagious.] I did math with Annie and then stuck them in the tub and cleaned up the kitchen and swept the den.
Part of AP's math lesson today included tallying members of friends' families. (I love that Claire- her babysitter from home- consistently makes her friends list). Anyway, afterwards she did some self initiated reflection and told me that Mary Milton and Miss Claire both have two siblings and she and Trinity both have one. I asked her how many she'd like and she said "lets have two more babies". Trying to keep up with Aubrey, I think. 

Peyton got home and helped me bath them and get them to bed. I got on the computer and he watched a movie after we talked a bit.

The kids got up around nine on Friday and we did our normal routine. After I got them settled playing, I scrolled IG and then did my chores and read my devotion and planned school. I actually had a good bit of energy and felt great. I played with the kids and read to them and then we did their morning school and cleaned up toys. I fixed them lunch and folded some clothes and swept their room and then got Graves settled. I ate some soup and started feeling so bad- I had a headache and my back (like the top part) was hurting like crazy. I took some medicine and laid down. The kids were really needy and I got so stressed. I laid down for a good while and then did English with Annie and got Graves up. I did math and her critical thinking and fixed them supper.I got them ready for bed and we told a story instead of reading. Peyton got home and we talked and then I worked on a post.
It was a trying season, but I learned so much.

Two years later, same sweet girl 

Peyton was off for the weekend and Saturday was a fun day. He ran to Mr. Coco's when we got up and I laid around and watched a show with the kids. When he got back, I took a bath and then started straightening/cleaning the apartment. I ate something quickly and finished getting ready and Marianna got here to keep the kids. We introduced her to the kids and left. We made it into the city and grabbed a huge cookie on the way to the show. It was fun. I'll do a better review in my What I'm Into post.

 Anyway, after the show we headed back home. We fed the kids supper and I started laundry. Peyton went to the grocery story and I had to take the kids downstairs to get the laundry. I got them to bed and ate something and I fell asleep for a bit. When Peyton got home we chatted and I got on the computer for awhile and then went back to bed.

We had to be at church super early on Sunday to help set up. It was really cold and pouring rain, but I couldn't find a bus route I felt comfortable with because it was so early, so I agreed to walk with Peyton. Well, we discovered there was ice on the ground and we were slipping everywhere. It was actually slightly terrifying. We kept sliding and skidding and at one point we pushed the stroller up one of those cut outs every sidewalk here has and it started slipping back into the road. Peyton was on his knee pulling it and I was holding on/trying to push it while grabbing someone's wrought iron fence. He finally said "I guess we should just try to get to the train instead of walking the entire two miles" (freezing rain is no deterrent thankfully the thought of compromising his children's safety is).

We decided we would, in fact, just try to make it to the train. We rode the train several stops and then got off and walked a little more. Peyton and I both helped with kid's ministry and we both had good days. We rode the train home and all had lunch and cleaned up the house again because some friends were coming over. I fell asleep for a few minutes on the sofa and Katie and her husband Andrew got here. Katie is actually the friend who Peyton visited here years and years ago on the trips that inspired his love for the city.

We talked for a couple of hours and then they left and I started cooking chili. We ate supper and got the kids to bed. Peyton and I talked and I got on the computer.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2014: The Year in Headers

I'm about to be done with these 2014 posts. I do still want to recap my progress on my 2014 goals and I'm planning to do that this week. Then it will be full steam ahead into 2015!

I always enjoy doing a little header round up. I remember seeing someone with doing one who made her headers in a similar stlye in January several years back and that's what got me started doing them.

This year, for the first time, one month is missing. I didn't create one for February because we were mid move and I didn't even have access to my computer most of the month. Here are the other eleven!

Weekly Happenings Post #301 (January 5-11)-- Bronx Botanical Gardens and the First Real Snow of the Year

The kids woke up around ten on Monday and then we had breakfast and watched their shows. I had my breakfast, scooped liter and folded up the couch, got on the computer, and took my bath. By the time, I started doing their memory work and devotion, Peyton called to say he was on his way home. He was supposed to get off at four, but there was an overlap and he was STILL feeling under the weather, so he was coming on home. I helped them clean their room and then fed the kids "lunch" and got Graves settled. Peyton got home and he ate something himself and then did English with me and Annie. We started math and he went and played with Graves. By the time we finished, it was time to cook supper. We all hung out in the kitchen and made a yummy pasta dish. We ate and then got the kids to bed. It was late. I cleaned up the kitchen a bit and got on the computer and wrote a post and went to bed late myself.

I actually woke up feeling really good on Tuesday. The kids slept in again and we had our normal routine- breakfast and shows, but that day it was followed by more breakfast. I got them settled in their room and got on the computer, planned school and my day, read my devotion, had breakfast, did my morning chores, and took a bath. I played with them some and we did their morning school. They picked up their toys mostly by themselves and I got lunch ready. They ate and we went outside and played in the snow.
So excited! Graves spent half an hour jumping and sliding in it and and then started sobbing when he had enough. Annie brought her dinosaur and kept burying her and digging her up and playing little imaginary games with her. She was NOT happy to go inside.

We came in and I relaxed a bit and ate something and then did English and critical thinking with Annie. Graves joined us for math and I helped him with his critical thinking and tracing. I cooked supper and after they ate, they had a bath. I did dishes, swept, and hung up all our coats and and some clothes in their room. I read to them in the tub and then got them to bed. I got on the computer and Peyton got home shortly after that. I did some stuff and went to bed.

Peyton didn't have to go in until Wednesday afternoon. He got up and made pancakes with the kids and then I got up and started straightening some because our land lady was coming over that night to check out the apartment to get it ready to list again. I got in the tub and Peyton left. The kids played and I planned school, ate a little something else, and folded up the couch. I also REALLY cleaned up the kitty's liter area. UGH.

I played with the kids and read to them and then we did a bit of morning school. We cleaned up their room and I fixed them lunch. They ate and it was rest time for Graves. I got on the computer and rested a bit myself. I started baking some chicken and did English with Annie and then Graves got up and our land lady got here. It went smoothly and after she left, the kids ate. I did math with Annie and then read to the kids and got them to bed. Peyton got home, but he had forgotten my Coke.
So I walked to the store to get one. Clearly, I have a big problem.

We ate supper and then I finished a post and sent an email.

Peyton was off Thursday and Friday. Thursday we all slept late and then had breakfast. I took my bath and did a few things around the apartment. Peyton worked on fixing the stroller- the frame broke and it was going to be super pricey to replace, but he called the company and they sent us a new one for FREE- and the kids watched a movie on chimpanzees. We all got ready and headed to ballet. We were running so late, so Annie and I hopped on a bus. We had to RUN to make it and Graves slid out of his stroller and tried to get on with us. That nearly gave me a heart attack. We were a bit late, but we made it. Peyton met me there and Graves had fallen asleep. Peyton made a phone call and I played on my phone. After ballet, we headed to Target. It was SO cold. We got back home and fed the kids and got them to bed. I got on the computer and Peyton and I chatted and then I cleaned up the kitchen.
Peyton cinched her coat and something about it makes the whole ensemble look more intense to me. Also, I decided they're just wearing snow boots around now. I want to get my money's worth out of them (which was like $15 on eBay) and her little canvas mary jane tennis shoes from Target don't seem appropriate at all for the climate. Also, updated IG filters + co-op halls looks like something from the '40s (fun fact: it's been here about that long. We're less than a mile from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and our building was designed and built to house navy yard workers about seventy five years ago!) 

Timehop was so awesome that night. We'll start with this gem.

One of the most stressful weeks of my life. It took Mick; ALBERT; and our beloved friend from church, Buzz all rallying around our ridiculous commode for me to keep my sanity.

The top right is the complex we live in. I cried several times because I thought it was such an eyesore. I cried HARD sobs when I knew it was our only real option after being soclose to two seemingly perfect places. If you know the area, you know the ONLY other residential buildings that look like this is the public housing. In fact, on our initial trip we thought it WAS public housing. Such a huge part of me wanted my Brooklyn experience to be one where I came home to a quaint brownstone on a "sunny, tree-lined block" as the realtors say. But the co-op has been amazing- so convenient with great amenities and more important than anything else, I think by far the best fit for our small people. The Lord knew much better than I did (per always). I love strolling past those beautiful brownstones (and the mansions that line Clinton Ave), but I'd take my project-esque building anyday. We'll never forget you, 193!

We got up early on Friday (for us, it was like 8:30) to go to the Bronx for the Holiday Train exhibit. We were running late for that, too, and were supposed to be meeting friends from Connecticut. We missed the Thomas show (I think Graves would have enjoyed it, but it wasn't a huge deal), but we had fun looking around at the exhibit.The buildings, representing specific buildings in NYC, were beautiful and SO detailed. Annie's favorite thing was the cactus.

We had lunch there afterwards and then headed back. On the Metro North back to Grand Central Graves and my friend's little boy had the best time talking and playing. It was so sweet to watch him with a little friend! We got home around four and Peyton and I both had headaches. We let the kids watch a couple of shows and just laid around. Peyton took the kids outside to play in the snow after that and I started laundry. It was so frustrating because like two of the twelve dryers actually work well. UGH. Anyway, it took a long time, but I finally finished. Peyton fed the kids dinner and got them to be and I folded the laundry. I ate supper and we watched a documentary.

Peyton worked Saturday and we had a super chill day at the apartment. Actually, it was the first day in WEEKS I've woken up feeling entirely well. So nice! We did our usual routine of shows and breakfast- but the kids actually picked a dvd because I couldn't get our Apple TV to work. I got them settled and did my devotion, made a list for the day, and scrolled Instagram. I ate breakfast, scooped liter, folded up the sofa, got on the computer, hung up jackets and put up the strollers from the day before, and took my bath. I played with the kids and we didn't do any school stuff, so I gave myself some extra time to just be with them. I read to them and then we picked up toys in their room and I put fresh sheets on their beds. I fixed them lunch and did dishes while they ate. Graves went to his room and Annie had rest time and I got on the computer and read a few blogs and started a post and ate my lunch. Graves joined us and we did math and then I started working on supper. I cooked a new recipe! The kids played and Peyton got home while I was working on dinner. They played with him and brought toys back to their room and then we ate and got them to bed. Annie read a book she had "written" to Peyton in lieu of us telling her a story, but Graves got said that he didn't get a story and said he wanted a dragon one but that it didn't have to be very long. I was about to start a quick story when Annie jumped in his bed and snuggled up with him and started telling him a story about a sweet dragon!
[listen around the 40 second mark-- "you'll find your muder"

Peyton and I watched more of our documentary and I folded more clothes. I cleaned up the kitchen and got on the computer and also read some. I went to bed pretty late.
Watching a Ken Burns documentary about the civil war and I look up and see Peyton eating leftover brussel sprouts from supper straight out of the pan. Seriously, is he trying to channel a rebel soldier or something?

I woke up around eight thirty on Sunday and the kids were up, too. We were going to Calvary because they're having this thing after services called "The Forum" which is sort of a deeper look into our faith. Anyway, I got the kids up and dressed and fed and finished getting ready and we left. I got there and realized that there was no Sunday school- it starts back next week. They made it through the service okay, but it's longer and more difficult than at the six o'clock. They did have childcare (and a light lunch!) at The Forum. I dropped them off after a LONG potty trip for Graves. It was really neat and I enjoyed it so much. I picked the kids back up and we rode the six train to Peyton's store and visited with him for a few minutes. We got back on the train and headed home.
Bad lighting but...when Peyton changed stores his schedule flipped and it bought us a free Sunday off. Then he took off a couple in December to enjoy the season. Then we all got sick. In other words it's been a LONG time since I've done this (and an even longer time since I've tried it with heavy coats and mittens and all that). He's a bit heavier and I'm out of practice. I let him hold my hand from church to the six train to Peyton's store today and he did great but it's still really anxiety inducing (platforms scare me way more than the sidewalk even though kids get hit by cars here all the time). I know I couldn't do this or a stroller much longer and while it's been amazing to face a lot fears this year, I'm glad this is one I'll get to avoid the emotional energy of working through. 

When we got home, I read a bunch of blogs and then took a nap (Graves had fallen asleep during rest time).
Annie's prompt on her little app was "draw someone on stage". "Look I drew Joseph on stage at church". I recently told her how I was sad she'd miss Creative Arts Camp this year and she said it made her sad too but maybe we could find out what Bible story they were learning about at camp and I could find in in the Bible and read it to her and Graves and they could act it out themselves. On Sunday, we ran into our very sweet and talented friend, Jackie, at church and I think CAC must have been on her mind all day. I (truly) think all our return visits will likely be scheduled around either Mockingbird or Creative Arts Camp.

I got up and woke up Graves and let the kids watch a couple of shows since they didn't that morning and since Graves was grumpy from being woken up. I worked on getting their memory work and my kitchen quote for the month written up and Instagrammed a few pictures.I started heating up leftover soup and texted Cookie something and hung up clothes. I straightened a little and Peyton got home and we all ate supper after the kids took their toys back to their room. We told them a story together and got them to bed. Peyton went to bed early, but I stayed up. I swept and did dishes, did a little sewing (mending) I needed to do, called Minnie, and texted with a friend. I sent an email, finished working on the kids' memory work, and read some more blogs. I started a post and then did my Bible study and read. Whew!

I'm a week behind, but we had a good week this past week. It seems like everyone has totally recovered from their colds and we're just enjoying Winter as best we can!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Best of In the Warm Hold (and Elsewhere): 2014

This is one of the best exercises I do all year. Before I started writing this, I really didn't think I produced that much meaningful stuff this year. It felt less than other years for some reason. As I look back over the list, I realize I worked through a lot of things and I tried really hard to share the beauty in our days. Those are probably two of the biggest purposes of my blog these days and I feel like I succeeded, at least to some degree, in making space for both. It was an amazing year and I'm so thankful for it. Here are my favorite posts from the year!

January was actually kind of quiet here at In the Warm Hold. But over on my NYC blog, I was pouring out some emotion.
Letting Plan B Settle with Me- I wrote about the end of our journey in the search for housing- the perfect place would fit our needs in Brooklyn. I also wanted it to be beautiful and quaint. Turns out that wasn't in the cards and I needed somewhere to "let it settle".
A Kingdom of Love Waiting to Be Reclaimed: Thoughts on the Last Phase of the Search- I shared the backstory of apartments that  that we loved that we lost after they were so close to being ours. I backed really far up and shared everything Peyton had looked at in the city. And then I finished the post with a lot of tears, an over indulgence (if there is such a thing) in Springsteen lyrics, and sort of an abrupt decision to return to the fun, lighthearted girl I had been a long time ago. I knew there was something magical awaiting us in the city. And I was ready for it. Even if it meant living in an ugly building.

We moved in February and that required a lot of adjusting and a lot of processing. Per usual, I did a good bit of it on the blog(s).
Brooklyn Beginnings: Thoughts on the First Few Days in Our New Home (at Belles and Beaux)- I wrote about "the good", "the bad", "the ugly", and "the truth". It's fascinating to look back and watch how I was sorting through my feelings and my approaches to new circumstances.
Feelings from the First Two Weeks (at Belles and Beaux)- Again, it's really interesting to look back on these and see all the things I was trying to process at rapid speed in addition to settling down and learning to live life here.
Winter Weeping- I wrote out some hard, scary stuff I was feeling. I was worried and anxious mostly about how lonely I anticipated the children's birthdays to be. It was cathartic to write and good to publish. I know I will look back and see a strong majority of the blog dedicated to how much love and joy I felt during our year in the city, but I'm glad there are a few posts that really articulate the raw pain I felt at times.

In March I wrote about marriage, about adventure, about the city, about fear, and about ordinary and exciting days.
Marriage Letters: What Makes You Come Alive- I wrote about how the city was making Peyton (and myself) come alive and how we were growing so much in our love for another as we grew into the city.
Five Minute Friday: Crowd- I immediately thought of a crowded train when I saw the prompt. I loved writing this post and it still feels so true to my New York experience.
Adventures in Being Uncomfortable (at Belles and Beaux)- Peyton and I felt a strong tug toward a ministry in the South Bronx, an area that terrified us. By God's grace, we cast our fears aside and decided to dive in and it's been a big part of our experience in the city.
Ordinary Days and Adventure Days (at Belles and Beaux)- I wanted to share more about what our days here look like, but I wanted to do it in a way that conveyed the beauty of the experience. I can't say I did it well, but I tried and it's one of my favorite posts from the year.

I wrote a LOT in April. And I wrote a lot that was meaningful to me. And I wrote vulnerably. All three significant, I think. Annie's and Graves's birthdays both had me writing and then I wrote about writing. I wrote more about our marriage and how Peyton and I labor together. I wrote out my opinions, I wrote about beauty and sunshine and blowing bubbles, and I wrote about trusting others with my feelings.
On Spending Half a Decade with Annie- It felt like such a huge birthday and I tried to find words to share how special and amazing she is.
Five Minute Friday: Writer- This was one of my most vulnerable posts all year, because it's in a deeply vulnerable feeling area. But I wrote about what writing means to me, how I've found some confidence in it, and what I whisper in the dark to myself.
Marriage Letters: How We Co-Labor- One of my favorite letters to Peyton, because again it was deeply vulnerable. I tried not to be self-deprecating, but also to look at the reality of our marriage and our experiences together. I shared how it's an honor to serve a servant and how there's beauty and worth in the dirty, profane, and ordinary.
Running with Scissors, Discovering the New World, and Moving Twelve Hundred Miles Away: Thoughts on the Over-medication of ADHD- This is less "feelsy" than some of the other stuff, but it was an important "opinion piece" for me to write.
When Your Baby Turns Three- I had to share a little bit about another special, amazing blessing.
Storyteller Series (at The Palanca Life)- And then I shared a little more on my friend Mallory's blog. I talked about his birth and his life and how those related to and prepared me for our city adventure.
Bubbles and Hearts and Spring Sun Against My Back- Spring finally came to Brooklyn. I took the opportunity to practice with my real camera and also write a little about the children.
Five Minute Friday: Glue- I wrote about gluing myself to others and the potential for raw injury that's at stake.

May was super busy with multiple friend visits. I kept up with my Weekly Happenings posts, did an apartment tour, and gave an update on my goals for the year. And not much else.

In June, I wrote about my little boy, my daddy, and my husband. I also wrote one of my very favorite posts about my very favorite season in one of my very favorite places.
Equally Frightening- Another think piece, this time about why it's just as scary to me to raise a son as it is to raise a daughter.
Missing Mick: A Father's Day Post- I reflected on a handful of memories of my dad as I spent my first Father's Day nowhere near him.
The Best Thing About New York City-- Happy Six Year Anniversary, Peyton!- I shared a bit of history from the last little over a decade and talked about how much our relationship evolved in that time.
Hot Town, Summer in the City (at Belles and Beaux)- I wanted to try to share a word picture of Summer here. I think I succeeded mostly, it's one of my favorite posts from the year.

I wrote about church, blogging, and the ways the city made me feel comfortable, save and alive in July.
The Church Post (Saying a Hard Goodbye to First Methodist and an Issue Below the Surface)-- Part 1- I wrote about our home church and saying a hard goodbye and some struggles I had experience.
The Church Post (Joining God in the Renewal of Brooklyn; Knowing Christ and Him Crucified)-- Part 2- The second part of my "church post" about our beloved churches we've found here and the incredible way they've inspired and changed me.
Serious and Silly and the Recent Thoughts About the Blog- I wrote about blogging and how my style has changed and how I missed writing the old way sometimes even though I love the new way.
Comfortable. Safe. Alive.- This was one of the hardest posts I wrote this year. It took a lot out of me, as did the church posts. I needed to share the ways I felt more freedom and more life here than I had, in some ways, in Mississippi.

August meant posts about homeschooling; Mike Brown, police aggression, and race in America; and just general deep feelings.
Rock of Ages, Risky Love, and Deep Feelings Day- I had a really hard, emotional day and I just laid it all out there in this post.
Herrington Homeschool Routine (at Schoolhouse in the City)- This is a departure from the style of most of these posts, but it's one I wanted on the list because these type things are really interesting to me and it was fun to document.
Mourning a Life Lost and Grieving a Hard Reality- This post was more issue oriented (it had to do with the death of Mike Brown and the ensuing protests) but it was bathed in emotion.

I shared more about our wonderful Summer and made a slideshow of family pictures in September.
Sun Scorched Pavement and the Beauty of a Brooklyn Summer (at Belles and Beaux)- This past Summer was very truly one of the best seasons of my life and I again tried to capture why that was with a few words.
The Beauty of Love As It Was Made to Be: Five Years (and a Few Months) of Weekly Family Pictures: I put together a slideshow and I cry every time I watch it. So much beautiful change has scoured since we took that first shot and I wrote a first words about it, too.

We were in Mississippi in October, but because of a writing challenge I produced a lot more content than I otherwise would have. I wrote about trust, my beautiful sister and her husband, our next adventure, being 'home' at my parents' house, my high school reunion, and the place of peace I finally found myself in by the month's end. Things really came full circle that month.
31 Days to Write True: Trust- I wrote about trusting the Lord with a lot of my current (at the time) fears.
31 Days to Write True: To a Sister and an (Almost) Brother- My toast for the rehearsal dinner. Makes me cry to read it.
31 Days to Write True: Our Next Big Adventure!- We have a new adventure coming up and I blogged about it for the first time here.
31 Days to Write True: Home- I wrote about how special it was to be back in my parents' house for a week and a half. Because we've either lived really close or really far, I've never really been on a "trip" to my parents' house. It was wonderful and sort of surreal.
31 Days to Write True: Classmates and Community- I wrote about my reunion and how it was influencing my thoughts on my own children's educational experience.
31 Days to Write True: In the Garden of a Thousand Sighs- I ended the month in a much different place than where I began it. A peaceful place.

I wrote some silly things in November and it felt fun and right. I also shared my thankfuls for each day.
Halloween 2014: Oz Meets Brooklyn and Other Happenings Around the Hill- This had a very different feel than most of the other posts I've shared. It was fun to try out my old voice and see if I could still blog that way. It might have seemed awkward to some people reading, but it felt so right. And Halloween/Fall seemed like the perfect topic for this sort of post.
Halloween Through the Years and the Realization That I'm Letting Go a Tiny Bit- So much so that I followed it up with another one in the same vein.
2014 Thankfuls- I also shared my thankfuls. I created little graphics with an app on my phone this year and that was fun. I try to be pretty transparent with these and I always enjoy looking back at previous years because it's a reminder of exactly what I was struggling in and finding joy in.

In December I shared about a special Sunday and about where I was emotionally. I wrote our Christmas letter, reminisced about last year, and did another quirky post as the holidays seem to lend themselves to those.
Sunday in the City- We experienced some powerful things at both our churches one particular Sunday and I had to write about it.
What December Looks Like In Brooklyn (or In My Heart) (at Belles and Beaux)- I just sort of wanted to document where we were in an actual, physical sense and also emotionally.
You've Got Mail: 2014 Herrington Christmas Card and Letter- It's a good summary of our year!
January Joy- I wrote about what a meaningful time last January had been and a few of my thoughts about facing the upcoming January.
Christmas in Brooklyn: Flapjack Jams, Potato Penguins, and an Unconventional Christmas- I decided this would be another perfect opportunity for a fun, quirky, laid back post. Holidays seem to be good for that.

I'm constantly reevaluating what I want for this space and I think January is a great time to focus in on that. In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing more of my thoughts and probably a few concrete goals for blogging forward in 2015.

The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2010
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2011
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2012
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2013

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Kingdom of Love Waiting to be Reclaimed: 2014 Year in Review

Now pray for yourself and that you may not fall
When the hour of deliverance comes on us all
When our hope and faith and courage and trust
Can rise or vanish like dust into dust
Now there's a kingdom of love waiting to be reclaimed
I am the hunter of invisible game

Our January started off a little rough. Peyton left to find our new home in the city on the last day of December, Graves was diagnosed with a bout of bronchitis, and I started really intensely packing. I dealt with toilet issues on my own (or actually with a very supportive tribe rallying around me) and Peyton found us an apartment (though not the one I was set on)! We got our moving cubes loaded, got a cavity in Annie's mouth filled and made a spontaneous trip to visit Granny, who was in the hospital because she broke her hip. An on the very last day of the month, we moved to New York City.

February was our first month in our new home. We got a huge snow the first week here and, though it took longer than expected, our moving cubes were delivered and we were able to set up house. We took our first trip into Manhattan to see the ballet and near the end of the month I had my first of several big homesick struggles.

March brought our first trip Central Park and I attempted transit by myself and then with the kids (which turned out to be a VERY eventful first experience). I also shared shared my goals for the year.

April started out with sweet Annie turning five. We started volunteering with an amazing ministry in the South Bronx and I attended a truly life changing conference in the city. My baby boy turned three and I finally felt Spring. We took Graves to the Russian barber and I got my nose pierced. We celebrated Easter with both of our precious church families and we also had a really frightening experience where Annie almost got hit by a car in front of a parking garage.

May was an amazing month. Spring finally came to Brooklyn and we visited the Botanic Gardens and we took our first ferry ride. Also, an incredible friend who was visiting from Mississippi took care of the kids so Peyton and I could go grab lunch together, Carrie and Ashley came up to the city and we had such a wonderful visit (which was just what I needed), and then I got to share our beloved new home with my best friend of fifteen years and his precious wife.

We experienced the joy of playground sprinklers all over the city in June and the kids and I spent every afternoon for a week in Manhattan at Calvary-Saint George's Creative Arts Camp. We also had a blast seeing friends and eating Southern food at the Mississippi picnic in Central Park.

In July, we celebrated the Fourth with friends in the city and took our first trip to Coney Island. Our precious babysitter from home came to visit for a week and we loved getting to show her around!

We took a trip out to Govenors Island, found some epic playgrounds at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and enjoyed our street's block party in August. The highlight of the month, though, was a visit from Minnie. Sadly, Peyton also hurt his back.


September meant the start of Fall activities- basically dance classes for both kids and the addition of Annie's math curriculum to our Kindergarten homeschool routine which I had gradually integrated into our days during the Summer, but was otherwise low-key. We also made a visit to a rooftop farm in Queens!

October was a big month. I did a lot of processing and we traveled back to Misssissippi. We were blessed to join Cookie and Conrad for their big day and we had loads of fun in our original home. We sent Peyton back to the city (somebody's gotta pay the bills) and the kids and I had another great week in the Magnolia State. I attended my highschool reunion and had such a absurdly fantastic time. We made it back to Brooklyn just in time for a incredibly fun and magical Halloween. 

In November, I shared my thankfuls. We had houseguests and we had a special Thanksgiving celebration together and saw the Macy's parade balloons get blown up the night before the parade. I also really struggled with intense homesickness for probably the third time.

December was purely amazing, though. We had some really special, worshipful experiences at both our churches, we attended more special celebrations at church in addition to the regular services, and we participated in a protest against over-policing, which is something I'll never forget. We went to a holiday train exhibit at Grand Central and we visited the tree at Rockefeller Center. We celebrated Christmas Eve at a party with friends and by attending (and serving at) the eleven o'clock service at Calvary-Saint George's. We spent Christmas day just the four of us, very happy and thankful. We finished off the year with all four of us sick. It was VERY reminiscent of the previous year, but I was so thankful we were all together and that we had all four learned to call Brooklyn, New York "home" in 2014.

2014 was such a year of growth for me individually and for our family as a whole. There were some challenging parts and I did things I never dreamed I could do. But somehow, I sort of knew going into the move that there was "a kingdom of love waiting to be reclaimed". I wasn't prepared for the depth of it, though. In my biggest and brightest dreams, I couldn't have prepared my heart for the way it would love this city. I learned to love it scared, but I learned to love it fast. And I wasn't prepared for the way I learned to love my people better this year. My relationship with the children has certainly grown and strengthened, but more with Peyton, I feel like our love has been made inexplicably stronger. It was a year full of some much joy and I am grateful for it.

I am also anxious and excited for the adventures that are awaiting in Mississippi. I know, there too, are kingdoms of love waiting to be reclaimed.

2009 Year in Review
2010 Year in Review
2011 Year in Review
2012 Year in Review 
2013 Year in Review