Thursday, June 22, 2017

Float


"As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace."

-The Avowal by Denise Levertov



Monday, June 19, 2017

When Carrying More of the Load Becomes an Extra Gift

 

Awhile back, as Peyton started doing more and more and they get closer, I've been thinking about why I was so set on doing so much for Sallie myself her first year. I think it's because:

1. I like to try to prove myself. Sort of like when I insisted on vacuuming the entire pool in our early days. I thought I was over this. I am not. Probably won't ever be entirely.

2. He's NOT a big baby person. I am a HUGE baby person.

3. She's sort of my security blanket. I was this way with Graves too (I can't remember with Annie). Especially when I'm upset, I just can't imagine getting very far from her. I think it's sweet but I also try to make sure we don't become like absurdly co-dependent.

4. I don't think it's any kind of a secret that it took us awhile to come to agreement on the baby that would be our Sarah Lamar. I hope it's also no secret- and I hope I share enough about his character that it would be assumed if it's not obvious- that once we came to an agreement we were in FULL agreement. That said, I think I've subconsciously tried so hard to make sure he has not the first regret about that agreement.

But honestly, it's mostly because I've loved it.

And then  one day, he started voluntarily doing more with her. It's fun to see a real bond form and this time it's forming more organically than it did with the other two, who he felt more compelled to help with.

While I'm trying to let go of proving my worth, it does feel good to show myself and him that I can do hard things. He's been more affirming and validating than ever before, and part of that is him being home more and realizing what the work of a stay at home parent is but part of it is this. He told me for the first time this year that he really did finally understand the difficulty in this vocation and he also told me for the first time that he thought the division of labor was equal or that I was carrying MORE weight than him. He's never said (or felt) that before. Both brought tears to my eyes.

Sallie is a gift just being her, but she's also helped us grow and learn so much.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Letter to (Five Year and Eleven Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves,
 
As I told Annie in her most recent letter, Papa will write your six year old letter and then I'm hoping to catch up on these!

Back before it really got to be summer, we had quite a string of different (very not serious) sicknesses. The hardest part, I think, was missing church. I was so disappointed one week when we hadn't been in probably a month- I don't think our family had ever had a stretch of sickness that long. And while I was VERY grateful none of it has been anything serious, I was just kind of exhausted from it. It wasn't even a shred of guilt about missing this time (something I still fight), I just genuinely really wished I was- and y'all were- there. I felt a little sorry for myself to be honest. Missing Calvary every Sunday is hard enough and here I was missing Northside, too. Sweet Minnie came over and boosted everyone's spirits and that had us feeling better.

We also went to an epic, elaborate Trolls themed I'm pretty sure the highlight was when I let you drink an entire Coca Cola Classic. You love them waaaay too much. Just like your momma.

[After the party, Annie, being a bit of an obnoxious Know-It-All, mostly unintentionally, and so typically asked me, "Can you brush his teeth again? With the mint one. His breath still smells like throw up...Well, he *did* have a lot of sugar at that party. And you know when he has SUGAR that's when he throws up in his mouth. Maybe he just doesn't realize he did it."]

You also have your momma's sinus issues . You told me that "Boogers are sort of like raisins, only they have more moisture in them". You are  a connoisseur of both.

You recently named your corn on the cob "Ruffy (Roughie?) Saint George" and then preceded to name to other ears "Jimmy Cot" and "Alexander Hopper". It was hysterical. 

Awhile back, you woke Sallie up from a nap and your suggestion on how I help her fusspot self was "Maybe breastfeed?" You said it with the most earnest smirk I've ever seen-- how does someone smirk with sincerity? You do.

We have discovered that you are overwhelmingly more successful with practicing your  high frequency words when you are strapped in his car seat and has fewer distractions. One day awhile back, Papa wasn't there to pass them back and I don't have long enough arms to give them to you individually, so I just handed you the whole wad and you  read them and then held them over your head for Annie to check and if you got it you'd throw it behind you for her to try to catch. The baby was screaming and that would have made it a no-go for me and Annie but THAT apparently doesn't distract you and you were working super hard for the Lifesaver I promised you. The control freak part of me (and also the part that haaaates doing anything in the car but visiting) was struggling. I was about to stroke out but I really just need to count it as a victory- you reading SO well (when you are restrained) and I know you're still tiny and maybe it would be a non issue if you were in traditional school but I'm so glad we have the freedom to find ways to make this work and I'm handing you a piece of candy instead of a pill. 

Bud, you are such a delight and we're so grateful for you!

Love,
Momma (and Papa)

P.S.The little outfit you're wearing is a 5T.
























Letter to (Seven Year and Eleven Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton,

Papa's going to write you eight year old letter soon and after that maybe I can catch up. But back to a couple of months ago!

Minnie took you to see Madagascar at New Stage. Y'all both had the best time. You told me the Zebra (who was y'alls  favorite) asked during the play if he was black with white stripes or white with black stripes and at the after party you told him what you thought based on your reading. You  came home and read the program cover to cover and brought it to me because you read that one of the actors had been in Our Town and you remembered me and Minnie seeing it. I know the best part was special grandmother time, though.

School has been great this year. I've decided that we're pretty committed to Singapore. I doubt I'll ever sing its praises like I do Logic of English, but it's working and math isn't a strong suit for a lot of us. It's a much better fit for you than RightStart was- it's still developmentally appropriate enough and rigorous enough for me and isn't just rote memorization and worksheets but it's also not the burden that RightStart was (on the student or the teacher).

Back before it really got to be summer, we had quite a string of different (very not serious) sicknesses. The hardest part, I think, was missing church. I was so disappointed one week when we hadn't been in probably a month- I don't think our family had ever had a stretch of sickness that long. And while I was VERY grateful none of it has been anything serious, I was just kind of exhausted from it. It wasn't even a shred of guilt about missing this time (something I still fight), I just genuinely really wished I was- and y'all were- there. I felt a little sorry for myself to be honest. Missing Calvary every Sunday is hard enough and here I was missing Northside, too. Sweet Minnie came over and boosted everyone's spirits and that had us feeling better. 

Awhile back, I was mopping and you suggested I let Sallie be in the train (you and Graves like to line up the kitchen chairs and pretend they are a train when I mop) by strapping her in her high chair. You and Papa have both started to enjoy Sallie a lot more now that she's crawling and "can play with us" as you says. She still don't like your sister to touch you because she drools SO much and it's pretty comical the lengths you will go to so that she can engage her without any physical contact.

I had planned to make these little hearts and write affirmations for you and Graves and tape them to your door during February. But I'm the worst Pinterest Mom there ever was. Papa and I each wrote you and Graves exactly one heart. Whatever. You guys know love lives here. I just have to remind myself that y'all know sometimes.You told me "Let's make Sallie a heart too- because sometimes she does sweet things. Like sleeping extra when we're trying to do school" and I thought it was just the sweetest thing. 

You are predictably charmed when I put Sallie in the little seafoam bird outfit that I adored when you a baby and am slightly less smitten with now. Awhile back I overheard you, frustrated by pretend play with Graves, in that he wasn't choosing to be an animal in the habitat you had picked, say "you don't even live where we live. You live in the Amazon while we live in the woodlands of North America". This prompted me to tell you that the name of the pattern on the travel swing I bought for you seven years ago (I have no idea how it's still going strong?!?) was named "Woodland Creatures". It's so funny (and weirdly special) to me when I look at the whimsical stuff I was naturally drawn to (lots of "love birds" and "woodland creatures" and ladybug/caterpillar/bumble bee themed things) and realize how those things represent fabric of your days and dreams now seven years later. I'm not sure you care a whole lot, but it's fun sharing these things with you. When we read her first letter I wrote you, we also remembered Mickey calling her "Baby Bird". We thought it was so significant and Papa (who never theorizes like this) said he thought it may have even contributed to your fascination.

Recently, when we went for a family walk, we ran across this poor racoon just laying by the side of the pond in our neighborhood. He was clearly sick or injured because we walked RIGHT past him. Then these buzzards started honing in on him. I felt kind of sad/creepy, but you and Papa are so objective and were like "this is such a cool process to watch". Graves was just running his mouth ninety to nothing and totally giving a commentary on the whole thing and Sallie was cooing away in the carrier. I was like "um, y'all are FREAKS but I guess I can check a nature school box I wasn't expecting to today". I kept asking if we should call like an animal rescue service and then I told Papa that I felt like maybe this should be a private moment. We did end up leaving before he actually died/was eaten but it was so intense.
We love you so much and are so thankful for you, Annie.

Love,
Momma (and Papa)

P.S. The dress you are wearing is a 6T.


















 

  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Most Undignified Honor

 

I speak often of motherhood being full of undignified honors and NOWHERE has that been more true than in Sarah Lamar's entrance into the world. It's no secret that I struggled with disappointment because her birth was not what I expected, but along with many other lasts I've gotten to fully immerse myself in this year, doing the hard and holy work of bringing our girl earthside was one of the great accomplishments of my life and I will be forever grateful I got the chance to experience the beauty of birth again. It was my privilege to serve her this way and it has been my privilege to serve her- and her brother and sister- every day since.

Monday, June 12, 2017

You Will Always Be My Girl: Sarah Lamar Turns One


Well, Sallie turned one today. I've got lots to say about it (shocker) but for now I just wanted to share this little slideshow I made.

I teared up several times making it. The pictures, of course, and that fantastic smile, but also the music and all the things it brought to the surface. Thinking about how scared I was that night when I met her, how I bonded with her so quickly and felt that I did love her completely before even knowing her (despite feeling the least connection to her during my pregnancy, I probably felt the most connected during my early post partum days), and how grateful I am that I get to be the one who guides her through life. One year with our Sarah Lamar- I'm so glad she's ours!

Letter to (Eleven Month Old) Sarah Lamar

 Dear Sarah Lamar,

Tomorrow is your first birthday and I realized that I had never written your eleven month post. So here it is!

So what are you up to?
You say "ma ma" and "da da" some and sometimes gives me hugs when I ask you to (I have SO MUCH FUN practicing this with you).
You finally like baths. Until recently you hated them. It was about the only time I could count on you not being cheerful and you screamed the whole time. Which was weird because you love the pool.

Well, baths were the only non cheerful time except bedtime. That's gotten better too but you went through a phase where you hated sleep more than ever. You hated going to sleep and she hated staying asleep. In Brooklyn, we had quite a few times where I just had to let you cry. It wasn't an hours long pre-meditated training session (I'm not judging that; I just still don't think I can go there; Papa totally thought we should) and was more just specific times when I had to do it for my sanity. But you were full on screaming. It was definitely different from Graves (I don't think I'm just telling myself that either), though, who made himself throw up once and I never did it again. I think he was scared; you're just mad as a hornet. I'm so glad I can tell that difference but you're still my tiny baby and it still just about kills me. It's definitely been the hardest thing I've had to do with you since your birth. You do like a lot of attention but she's such a happy girl, so this was tough.
 
You love to eat and you eat a lot. YOuwent from snacking on Cheerios to eating pretty big table food meals. Which, I do understand is the normal progression at this age. But it was a big, sudden jump. The other day at lunch you and Annie and Graves ate a cantaloupe in its entirety. Y'all pretty much split it evenly and you basically ate a third!!! The other thing that's nice for me is that you're content in your high chair for a LONG time. Your brother and your sister are both slow eaters so I feel like they spend quite a lot of the day all sitting at the kitchen table. It's precious in it's own right and it allows me to actually accomplish things. It's hysterical that I TRULY think you average more daytime hours in that chair than you do in bed.

Speaking of your siblings, Annie has warmed up to you a lot.  She told us that she has started to like you more, partly because you are more fun to play with now and partly because your hands aren't so drooly. I guess now that you've cut two teeth the five months or so of "teething" is done for a bit.

Graves has a new game he plays with you called "magic horse ride". He basically just gallops around the house holding you and sort of chanting "MAGIC HORSE RIDE". You seem to enjoy it thoroughly.

I don't think there's much in the way of "events" to report besides that we concluded our New York trip and came home and got back on a normal schedule.

One really special thine about the trip was how comfortable I got nursing you anywhere and everywhere.  I've nursed you in so many places, many of which I never have before- probably at least six times on an airplane, in multiple airports, sitting on the sidewalk, on playground benches, while riding the train, and in a church service. One weekend, I figured out how to nurse you in the Tula and Papa thought she was sleeping when he came out of a store. Another day, I nursed you in a crowded train and had to unzip my dress and pull it off one shoulder to do it. You had literally thrown her paci onto the tracks and were screaming so hard and Papasuggested getting the little applesauce squeeze thing out of the bottom of your backpack which was full of the big kids' Easter eggs. Yeah, no. You were exhausted and hungry and there was a much easier way to take care of that. And one that I knew you'd find a lot more comforting than an applesauce pouch. You needed me and it didn't matter much that I hadn't worn the most accommodating dress or that the train was pretty full. Papa told me later how proud he was of me. When he says that, it always means the world go me. I certainly don't have it all figured out and here with my third baby, I'm more cognizant of that than ever. But it's nice to feel confident about a few things and to be comfortable enough to do things in a way that's easy, and to be honest, very natural; instead of nursing her on a toilet. It's such a joy to be able to serve you this way. And I'm so grateful I get to do it this last time. 

-As we get closer to celebrating a year with you, I've been thinking about how different your nfancy has been from your siblings'. I've mentioned it before- how much of the responsibility I took on myself. P said to me "you know you basically raised this baby yourself up until now". That's a gift itself but the bonus gift is that it has released me from a lot of "what ifs" and hypothetical regrets that I know I'm prone to. When I am tempted to say "gosh, I wish I had been more present during her babyhood" I can face myself in the mirror and say, with great sincerity, "well damn, if you had been any more present you'd have well been present at a mental health facility somewhere". I know that I could not have (healthily) given more of myself to you or to this season and that's an incredible feeling. That said, you and Papa have really bonded. He can get you to sleep now and he's even been getting up with you at night to give me a break. I know I shouldn't be anything but happy, but it hurts a bit. I'd been waiting for him to fall in love with her but I'm not sure I wanted you to fall in love with him. Selfish.

Also, awhile back , I very nearly had a mild heart attack. I brought you some books to look through and I realized I couldn't remember if I've EVER read to you. It was such a huge component of Annie's infancy- it was one of THE only things I did consistently, I was so paralyzed by so much. I didn't do as well with Graves, but I prioritized it. Annie reads to you a good bit, but....part of me felt like I was being way too dramatic but part of me was devastated. I know it sounds absurd but it was one of those "I can't believe this is me" moments. I realized I had read to you some when I've read to the big kids while bouncing you in my lap or nursing you. But never really for your own sake. In many ways I feel like I've given much more of myself with you than with them, but in others I know the opposite is true. I've taken much better care of myself physically this time- getting enough sleep and eating much better- but with homeschooling and just the incessant, often deep, dialogue that comes with school age children, I'm much more mentally drained than I was when I had an infant and a toddler. I thought about it and I don't sing to you nearly as much as I did to them, either. When I hold you I mostly want to snuggle you, not read you a book and I mostly want the silence when I can have it.

I whisper over and over that "I love you, Sarah Lamar. You're such a special girl, Sallie." I trace your features and I stroke your soft, thin baby hair and I make little circles in your palm with my thumb and she you still often drift off to sleep with us holding hands. That's enough. That's more than enough. You will know that you're loved. I'm sure of it.

We love you Little Sallie Sunshine,
Love, Momma (and Papa)

P.S. I think your dress is a 12 mo. but the tag has been cut out. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

June Goals and Happenings


I do love the design this month and I'm digging the header. I used to hate yellow but it's growing on me more and more. The pictures include all my favorite people and a couple of my favorite places (Briarwood and the sunroom). And the quote is a new favorite I heard at Mockingbird.
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I felt like May went by SO fast!
- We celebrated Peyton's birthday in NYC and then came home and tried to get back into our normal routine.
- The pool opened and swim team got started.
- We had the big kids' birthday party and have enjoyed getting together with several friends.

June feels kind of crazy but I sure love summer!
- We're going to swim practice every morning and have meets on Monday night. That alone is kinda wearing me out. Ha!
- We have VBS this week. This year, Northside is doing it on Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday morning with water games on Saturday afternoon and a closing program on Sunday.
- Peyton's going to Florida for a pharmacy convention.
- My sister in law and I are planning to have Sallie and my nephew's birthday together at some point soon. It's just going to be a low key little celebration with mostly family. I'm excited. My niece's party is also this weekend.

Here were my May goals:

1. Read both my devotions daily. Ugh. I did horribly with this. I think it's part of a larger problem of just not finding a flow lately. And truthfully, I don't see that happening until swim team is over. It's not an excuse, but it's the reason behind my failure. Anyway, I'm going to give it another go. (Faith)

2. Prioritize my time with Cookie while she's in town. I did this. It actually meant turning down an invitation to something else and while that was hard, and I felt a bit of guilt about it, it was the right thing for the time. (Family)

3. Enjoy the sweet friendships we've been blessed with at the kids' party this week. I did pretty well, I think. This may be one of the last years for the joint, family parties. I was glad I got to enjoy it and I think Annie and Graves did, too. (Relationships)

4. Be intentional about self-care and document it. I did this and I'm planning to write a whole post on it! (Health)

5. Get back in a writing habit. Hmm. Somewhat. I could have slid backwards a lot further, but I also could have done a lot better. I want to really get back in the habit of prioritizing it most days. (Creativity/Passion)

6. Read for fifteen minutes a day at a minimum. Not really. I did more reading than is typical for me but that's not saying a lot anymore. (Education/Edification)

7. Continue to work on organizing the attic. I did a bit more but I need to hit it hard and just do a ton up there. (Organization)

8. Make a trip to the farm. I said I wasn't sure it would happen and it didn't. (Travel)

9. Get caught up on finances. This didn't either and I feel like I've had it on the list for a year. Ha! (Finances)

10. Surround myself with words that bring joy. Sort of. I changed my monthly quote in the kitchen but that was the extent of it. (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Start Annie's new writing curriculum. Yes! And we adore it! (Additional Goal)

12. Plan my "special day". My birthday kind of got put on the backburner. That's okay. It's totally the stage of life we're in and May/June have been kind of crazy. (Fun Goal)

13. Watch the new season of Master of None with Peyton. We only have one episode left and we've been saving it for when we can really enjoy it! (Fun Goal)

And here are my goals for June.

1. Read both my devotions daily. Putting it back on the list. (Faith)

2. Have a joint birthday party for Sallie and Evan that's mostly family. (Family)

3. Continue to prioritize relationships. Peyton and I had a long talk recently. We had a full week with friends and were both exhausted. Combined with swim team and going hard with school, it was just a lot. I decided that maybe we needed to take a more relaxed approach to schooling this summer. I still want to get things in but I'm going to be chill about it. And the basic reason is that our friends that are in traditional school (even hybrid situations) have a lot more time to do things and I want us to make space for enjoying their break, even if we aren't taking one. (Relationships) 

4. Drink more water and determine a few other healthy habits to work on. (Health)

5. Get back in a writing habit. Yeah, I want to keep working on this one. (Creativity/Passion) 

6. Finish my bookclub book and host bookclub. (Education/Edification) 

7. Continue to work on organizing the attic. Another one back on the list. (Organization)

8. Stay positive and don't allow myself to get overwhelmed while Peyton is at the convention. (Travel)

9. Don't spend any money on impulse buys this month. (Finances)

10.  Surround myself with music that bring joy.  (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Go on a date with Peyton. (Fun Goal) 

Here's to June, a special month where we celebrate our first year with our (for now) last baby. Let me be filled with gratitude for her early baby days and look with joy towards a delightful future with our Sarah Lamar.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

What I Learned in May

 

I had a few more things I learned from our big trip that I didn't share in my April post as well as several other good take-aways from the month!

Travel

1. I realized that in addition to flying, there are several ways we could improve our experiences traveling with the children. Planning ahead and streamlining our school routine would be really helpful next time we go on a long trip. I think we'll try to do a better job of coordinating meeting up with people and I think we need to position ourselves where we can homeschool on the trip but do so in a low key way and not have to bring so much stuff/spend so much time on it (I'm at the point where I doubt we will ever just totally stop schooling for​ a month- Graves would forget ninety percent of what he's learned and Annie would be a monster trying to get her back adjusted after that long off.  We also talked about just coming by ourselves next year but with three kids now I don't really think that's realistic (which prompted me to tell Peyton that if we can't leave them anyway, I think it just makes sense you add one or two more, ha!). But, by the end of the trip it was evident the kids really have enjoyed being there and more than that, *I* want them to be children who have these experiences even if it costs us something. So, I realized we'd be taking Sallie anyway and dealing with playpens and car services if we flew and it seems dumb to come back without the big kids. Time will tell, but I wouldn't be totally shocked if we're doing this again next year with some little (big) adjustments.

2. My husband has an appreciation for space and routine. It was beyond hysterical to me that Peyton "missed his personal space" and was "ready to get back on a routine", I think on both counts more than his tightly wound wife did. It was a touch ironic that I think I kind of ended up to be the one to love New York the most in general. To be fair to him, he's had more solo time with the kids on the trip, which is the opposite of our dynamic at home. (He also suggested, at one point, that we buy the kids a new board game?!? Who are you? Where's my husband? Did we switch personalities?)

3. When traveling, I love having Sallie in the carrier.
I'm actually really glad the stroller broke. It was just less to keep up with and I wasn't constantly going over "what could happen" if I like left her unattended in it for a split second in a museum. She was on one of us unless we were somewhere where she could crawl around and play. I remember how much peace the Tula brought with Graves when we lived here and this had been very similar. That said, we got a lot of hours at the airport tomorrow and we gonna miss having a seat for the baby real bad.

4. The South is too often full of "sweet" people (especially women) who aren't actually kind.  Peyton sat by this guy on the flight home from NYC and he had one two year old child but gave P a ton of parenting advice in a sort of paternalistic way. Peyton didn't mind at all  (so Peyton). I think some cultures just find this more acceptable. I don't want to generalize, but it remined me of of super blunt Asian neighbor who ain't shy about telling me when I look like hell or the elderly black women at the co-op who were convinced I was dressing my children inappropriately for the weather and I was like "nah, I think the ankle length down coat you wearing when it's fifty degrees is what's inappropriate". It's actually refreshing, in one sense, for people to be so blunt and I really respect my friends here that are that way. 

Systems and Strategies 

5. I love systems and strategies and some of my favorite blogs are full of them, but for me, it's been really freeing to let go of some of (a lot of) that. Awhile back, I had a hard day with Sallie. I told myself I just needed to comfort her as much as I could, take a break when I needed to, and remind myself that this wouldn't last forever. My anxious side really wants to be in control and get ahead of it in situations like this. The day before she ate a HUGE lunch of bananas and sweet potatoes and applesauce and two different people had told me I looked like I had lost weight and I thought "maybe shes' starving?!?" I remembered Annie and Graves's baby days where I was, not enough and barely enough, respectively and I felt this tremendous guilt and then she was back to fussing again fifteen minutes later and I knew it wasn't that.

6. Tissue paper is great from wrapping presents. 
Like not in bags. Just use it as wrapping paper. I've started doing this for my own people and spontaneous happies for others (which we do/try to with our friends and family more than birthday, ect. presents).

7. Worn thin panties make EXCELLENT dust clothes.
I thought for half a second about sending these to the attic and then decided "Nah, three and a half years is a good run for a pair of Target panties and Sallie may well be our caboose but we're not gonna set her up for a life of ratty panties". Voluntary Simplicity means a lot of things but it don't mean you can't take pride in your undergarments. At least for me, the girls, and Bud. I won't speak to that in regards to P.
 
8. I feel so much better with a plan. 
Don't know why I ever do anything different! 
 
Anxiety

9. Human trafficking is one of my biggest anxiety triggers (actually, it's probably *the* biggest) currently. That's one big reason it was just so much better for my mental health to have her attached to myself or Peyton.

Time

10. The seasons with babies and small children are short (I don't mean the years; I mean the actual stages where you get in a routine with one thing and "find your normal" and then it abruptly changes the next day). I've been thinking about this so much lately. How you just find that groove and then all of a sudden it changes. It's making me more flexible, having a child the age where stages happen at lightning speed again.

11. How nice to actually know in the moment the future good of the present tired. A friend shared this sentiment recently and I thought there was so much wisdom to it and it was such a good reminder on a day when I was incredibly tired.

Fashion

12. Bubbles are acceptable for church.
This marked the second time either of my girls wore a bubble to church and honestly, it was much more casual than what Graves wore when he was a baby. I had all these rigid rules- no bright colors or playful motifs and only dresses for Annie. Not all smocking is created equal and I broke another one of my rules and bought stuff that just wasn't even cute (to me) just because it fit what I was trying to do. I talked to Carrie awhile back to troubleshoot it and she was like "yeah, putting her in those dresses doesn't really fit your model of 'Sallie only wears what SD loves' *and* she would fit better with the big kids' vibe in more casual stuff. Whew. Praise God for friends who analyze meaningless stuff with me. So...I'm getting rid of all that and just putting Sis in what I want to. She probably won't be wearing footies to church, but there's now a huge continuum with tatted dresses on one end and seersucker bubbles on the other (okay, that *feels* like a huge spectrum to me). As a related aside, I've started wearing way more casual things to church myself. Lots of my favorite dresses are not what I used to consider church dresses (I literally felt like if it wasn't wedding/funeral appropriate it wasn't church appropriate), but the days of wearing pumps and dry clean only stuff are gone and I wear sweater dresses, rainboots, my own Saltwater sandals, and sundresses.

13. I adore little boy cut style bathsuits on Annie.  

I didn't even realize it when I ordered them, but I'm so smitten with the style of these. Her little body has changed a lot in the past year and I love the style and feel like it's perfect for her in that regard and in regards to her personality. And I love it because it looks classic and traditional instead of trendy and cheap (which is always how my boy shorts suits ended up looking.  

Marriage

14. I love Peyton more every day.
I saw this picture and I thought about how he's TRULY even more handsome than he was fifteen years ago when I watched him do this on the regular. We're back at it with cleaning the pool and scrubbing the concession stand, only this time we're taking breaks to nurse bonneted babies and teach simultaneously terrified and fearless six year olds to swim instead of to splash around flirtatiously and make out in the water.

15. In innumerable ways P is exactly the father I imagined him to be at eighteen and in innumerable ways he's more than I imagined. Though some would think I shouldn't admit this, there has not been a day that I have wished I hadn't married him, even on the hardest days. And there have been some hard ones. I ran across a video recently where I was filming Annie and he appeared from a bedroom where Graves was howling, presumably mad at life because he was being put to bed. The vast majority of our married years have consisted of Peyton doing just that-- operating in the background, behind the scenes, often helping out a crying baby- something he absolutely detests. I think in most every marriage there are things each spouse wishes they could change, and I try to be pretty transparent (maybe too transparent on occasion) about ours, but there's also a lot about Peyton that I'd never change and that I'm incredibly grateful hasn't.

Can't wait to see what kind of learning and reflecting will happen next month!