Thursday, July 30, 2015

What I'm Into: July

{don't think I'll use the navy polka dots again- too hard to read; lesson learned, but I do love my little Summery feeling table by the door}

On the Nightstand:

Immersion Bible Study: Mathew- J. Ellsworth Kalas
I love these Bible studies, but lately I've been having a hard time getting into it. Nothing wrong specifically, just not as much that I haven't read or heard before (the first half was more insightful to me and in general, I love the series). I'm going to finish it up in the next week or so.

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World Full of Impossible Standards- Jen Hatmaker
Waiting for the launch to do a big review, but this has been an enjoyable read for sure! Funny and serious and lighthearted and deep all at the same time!

And my old staples:
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day)- Ethan Richardson, Sean Norris

It sure ain't easy, though (from Reflections for Ragamuffins)

top is Brennan again and bottom is the kids' devotion (more on that below)- I'm thankful the Father is gracious to give us great hope in the midst of great pain

On Their Nightstand: 

Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw You Family to God- Marty Machowski
I really can't say enough about how much I love this devotion. There are a few things I'd change (ways of interpreting some things in the Old Testament on occasion) but overall, it's been AMAZING. I love that it speaks to our human condition in that we are image bearers, but we are deeply sinful and ultimately that really points the children to Jesus in a thoughtful and organic way. I have no desire to teach my kids Bible stories just for the sake of knowing them and honestly I don't even want the "lessons" to be the main point. It is about their need for Jesus and this book has been a wonderful tool for helping me with that. We read this in the morning and the Storybook Bible in the evenings and I feel like it's just the best bookends to their day. Law and Gospel for munchkins, guys! 

and this little assortment of leveled readers:
A friend in BK gave us all these readers before we left. Annie picks one to read aloud to us each night and also just grabs one to practice whenever. Graves dumped them all out the other day and I counted them. There's about seventy five and maybe ten she hasn't read! So proud of our girl!

and also, from Tails, and old favorite:
Graves wanted to know why the little peacock didn't have a big, bright tail. Before I could answer AP said "Well, you KNOW the females are the ones who get surprised. The males are the ones who are so beautiful." The bird obsession has also manifested in AP getting Graves to be the male bird and perform a courtship dance and Graves talking about finding "Podcast" (his toy dinosaur, OMG, GUYS) a mate (Which he didn't realize would need to be from Podcast's same species). I legitimately have the weirdest kids ever. Which is pretty perfect. 

On the Shelf:
Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)- Will McDavid, Ethan Richardson, David Zahl
Bossypants- Tina Fey

This didn't happen so my list is still the same.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
I honestly didn't watch a single movie this month. Weird since last month I watched three. This month was more typical, I guess, though. I hope to get a couple in with Peyton this month.

On the Small Screen:
Well, we're nuts! We realized there's one more whole season that you can't stream yet but you can get in the mail. So, we're on that!

Unsolved Mysteries: Ghosts
We are such fruitcakes. Awhile back, Peyton and I were talking about how we'd love to watch Unsolved Mysteries again. We looked it up on Netflix and found several different discs arranged by theme. Ghosts was decidedly the lamest, but also the most readily available. Obviously. It was pretty corny, but we ATE IT UP.

Law and Order: SVU
I'm back at it again. We randomly watched a few episodes the other night because we couldn't sleep (let me reiterate for the third time- we are basically dumbasses). I've watched the show here and there with varying levels of dedication (there used to be Saturday marathons and I wasted probably literal months of my life on those things) for years and years and at some point I'd really like to watch them all in order. 

In My Ears:
I honestly haven't listened to much music this month. My car bit the dust (that is a sob story in itself and truly deserves it's own post). Right now we're trying to figure out if we can maybe share a car and Peyton's been working a lot. Usually, car time is music time. Which makes me SO sad after missing it all those months when we were riding the train and I just couldn't do headphones with the kids. Peyton's about to be working less and hopefully I'll be driving more (I'm learning how to drive his standard and whew! it's coming but it's slow coming). What I have been listening to a bit, though, is podcasts and sermons:

Sorta Awesome with Megan Tietz
I love listening to podcasts with Peyton and I feel like it's getting more and more popular and quite a handful of the bloggers/writers/former bloggers I've loved for some time are now doing podcasts. I just adore Megan's show. Basically, I think she seems like one of the most adorable, gracious, humble people ever. Who is also really interesting. How does that happen? Anyway, it's just sort of about awesome things in the lives of Megan and her friends. It's not the kind of podcast that is super deep and involved and I kind of love that because I can do something else while listening (my problem with Serial and This American Life is that I can only do COMPLETELY mindless things- like laundry- while listening; which this show I can check emails and organize photos and that sort of thing, too). Sorta awesome, guys!

Grace Is Enough- Jacob Smith
Good grief, I miss it so bad! This is maybe one of my favorite sermons I've heard in my LIFE. I'm honestly not sure it gets any better or closer to the Gospel than this. Or at least I should say that's the case for me. God speaks to different people in different ways and through different messengers. For me, this resonates so very much. A few of my absolute favorite nuggets (because yes, I took a few notes):
* Your experience- the highs and the lows of life- well that's your life. But it's not your Christian faith- nor does it define your Christian faith.
* Our existentialist experiences are high and low and must not distract from the cross of Christ.
* The profundity of the Christian message is not your experience. Because at the center of that story is you. Our story is "I am weak. My life is a disaster. Let me tell you where my strength is found- in God's grace". Without such weakness, grace is an affront to us.
* The universal appeal of Christianity is that we all have thorns that pierce our pride, pierce our notions of success, pierce especially our hearts.
* All of us have wounds that are gaping, but Christ promises to be sufficient.
That there is why I miss it so terribly. The acknowledgement and validation of my gaping wounds and the reminder of the sufficiency of Christ. What more do you need?

Always Gospel: All You Need- Mike Campbell
I realized recently that it would make a lot of sense for our church search to listen to sermons online before going places, and a friend had recommended we try Redeemer, so I gave this one a shot. Sadly, the pastor just moved and this was one sermon in a series of goodbye type talks. Bummer, because I really liked him. I'm sure the church will find someone else wonderful and we're still going to visit at some point, hopefully soon. This particular sermon was sort of about what "defines" this church and what they want to be known for. I stumbled upon it (okay, I clicked it because I was hopeful about the message based on the title) and what a perfect thing for someone who wants to know more about the church. I doubt it was a coincidence and I'm willing to admit more and more than not much is. A few bullets here too:
* Redeemer is known for a lot of things (its missional place in the community, its music ministry, its multiracial congregation) but everything flows from an unwavering commitment to the Gospel.
* Sometimes churches tweak the Gospel and never talk about sin. Sometimes we pick a thing (family, politics, ect.) and call it the Gospel.
* There is a huge diversity of people and thoughts (paraphrase) but when you keep the Gospel ultimate, it "relitivizes" everything.
* Christ's imputed righteousness brings freedom. We are continually under the kindness, the grace, and the favor of God.

There is NO replacement for us finding a body of believers we can call our family here, but I will say that listening to these two men speak these good words helped me immeasurably this week. 

Around the House:
Taking a step back from the deeper, meaning of life stuff, here's what's going on inside these walls:

We finished up Graves's side of his and Annie's room and I was so excited with how it turned out:

The clown, the Wild Thing, and the acrobat are no accident. He is all those things so unapologetically, and while bold colors and vintage motifs and nods to ligature are certainly peeks into move loves, I hope this space feels so perfectly his. 

Also, Minnie finished his alphabet. We love it. 

We also added some on-their-level art to the reading nook and hopefully it feels even more magical. AP is fond of telling people she has "another room inside her room" and it's worked out perfectly to have such a spacious spot for their books (and also to use some of the pastel nursery things I have a hard time parting with).

And I finally figured out a good strategy for maintaining a clean room. It had gotten out of control in Brooklyn and too much of our day was devoted to straightening, which was/is pretty essential to me since we don't have a playroom or something where I feel like I can just look away. Anyway, they only have access to a fraction of their toys at one time- usually a big basket of stuffed animals that is easily picked up, one or two "big" toys (like the Little People castle or the Ikea play rug), a big bin of dress up clothes, and they each have two cubes in their nightstands that we switch out regularly. Plus the nook, of course! I think it's a great system. 

I did a little tweaking in the kitchen and put up a new quote on the chalkboard:
The sink and windowsill feels just right with the little jars and potted plants and my favorite little burlap sign and the fence tray beneath. It's honestly one of my favorite spots- I feel sort of old fashioned for some reason, washing the dishes and looking out the window at the children playing. It's wonderful really because I can be content to spend lots of hours there since we decided to not worry about fixing the broken dishwaser. 

I heard Bruce say this years ago on a Storytellers and it really transformed my thinking about moving to New York. Lately, I've thought about it in regards to our journey toward simplicity and what we are willing to give up for it. But even more recently, I've been applying it to our move back. People who don't know our story (and even some who sort of do) often ask "Did you not like it?"/ At first I was so caught of guard, it was hard to formulate a response. But it's not as bad now. Living within a few miles of our families and most of our best friends is a lot more meaningful because of what we gave up for that- namely a place where I felt more comfortable, more safe, and more alive than I possibly ever had. We may not always be here and we may be. But we are for now. Looking at it this way- as a beautiful and worthy sacrifice- was ironically what got me to Brooklyn and is helping me now in unspeakable ways. 

Last up, we made a lot of progress in the study (which is fun because it was needing LOTS of love):
Peyton ordered these national parks postcards (he also got a set of cities) and stained some plaques from Hobby Lobby. I love how it turned out! 

I guess I might feel guilty about being selfish and keeping this room as our little sanctuary if my kids didn't wake up and play for an hour before they even call me.

Actually, one more thing and this was mostly logistics. But I had to get rid of my "Summer shelf" which I love so much. We had the kids' Ikea table in the kitchen since we moved. It was super functional but also did not in the kitchen at all. I really didn't want to put it in the attic because I wanted it accessible for projects and I was thinking about putting it in the carport. Peyton reminded me of all the things we've had mildew out there and I tried to think of something else. I decided to put some of my Brooklyn storage strategies to work and see if I could fit it in the laundry room. It will not let us outgrow this house anytime soon =)

In the Kitchen:

Well, the other week we had five out seven real, home cooked meals (in the interest of full disclosure, I'm counting beans that Mickey cooked). That's literally NEVER happened before. Feel free to judge. Annie asked me the other day why I had started to always cook dinner for me and Peyton and then serve them the leftovers. I told her that I thought she and Graves loved leftovers. She said they did and I think the "always" cooking was what really piqued her interest =) Anyway, I think we *may* have found the golden ticket for a healthy, positive family dining routine. Peyton cooks breakfast and that's our together meal at the table, the kids eat a late lunch of leftovers after he leaves for work, they have a light dinner of sandwiches and fruit, and then I fix a real dinner for me and Peyton for when he gets home. I try to have the kitchen cleaned up and be in bed by one. It's definitely not traditional, but I think if we stay disciplined it could work. 

We haven't done very much with the Summer Salad Challenge this year, but this BLT salad from Southern Living was pretty good! I gave it four out of five stars.

And nothing says Summer like a veggie plate for dinner...

...unless it's homemade pimento cheese on a groovy flower plate! 
In My Closet:
Our full length mirror broke in Brooklyn and I haven't made it a priority to buy a new one. So not many outfit photos. Or really, none. 

In Their Closets:
These are some grown babies. Look at them! My favorite thing on Annie this month was her kitty cat dress that feels oh so Brooklyn and my favorite thing on Graves was his Wizard of Oz literature tee.

In My Mailbox:
 We got the remaining resources I had ordered for our homeschool year and then dove right in, so that's been fun! 

In My Cart:
Not really in my cart, but a new fun thing sort of. These birdhouse sheets have actually been in the attic for years and when I found them Annie was over the moon! (I actually have a comforter up there for her big girl bed/room that I bought when she was an infant because I was the one obsessed with birds then. Like decorative ones, though, not real ones.)

Around the Town:
Peyton's been working a lot of extra days and with the car situation, we've been spending a lot of time at home. When we're not home, we've been trying to make it to the pool a good bit (and practice driving the car).

On the Blog:
I wrote about my Summer Goals for the Smalls and I wrote about how in many ways moving back is like starting from Scratch.

On My Heart:
- These last few weeks with Peyton working so much and without having a car have been interesting. It's provided a lot of time for just the kids and me. Which, sometimes that's frustrating, and exhausting, and overwhelming. But we're in a really sweet spot where I've mostly enjoyed the extra time just us.
- Some days being back feels {almost} unquestionably easy. It feels so right and so perfect. There are still a lot of days where it feels good in a lot of ways but it hurts so bad to be away from the things I love in New York.
- I've enjoyed less time out and about with the kids, but Peyton's been really helpful in making sure I get some adult time with friends when he has been home and I'm thankful for it.

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying for Peyton and for myself and for the children. All of our faith journeys and how they influence each other's.
- I'm still praying that we find a faith community that feels like a good fit.
- Peyton's schedule is about to change in a big way and it's a good change, but for me, any change feels sort of terrifying. So I'm praying that the Lord will show me how to navigate that well.
On the Calendar: 

More friend time, more pool time, and more enjoying the last bit of the good ol' Summertime! 

What I'm Into

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weekly Smorgasbord

Time for another round up of links! Lots of good stuff here from how the church dying isn't awful, to sweat as an purposeful aesthetic, to stories and simplicity. Enjoy it! 
On Faith:
Posted: 16 Jun 2015 08:23 PM PDT
"Well, I've been dipping into this post-Christian world over here in the UK, the place where America is heading, and I wanted to share a few things. It is true that, compared to the US, the churches here are smaller. And those smaller numbers do present the expected sorts of problems and hardships. But what Jana and I have experienced, over and over, is that the small churches in this post-Christian context are vibrant, passionate, Spirit-filled communities. Christianity isn't dead in Europe. Christianity isn't in decline. Checked boxes on demographic surveys of "religious affiliation" cannot capture the winds of the Spirit. Currently, Jana and I live in Texas. It's a place where just about everyone is a Christian. Which means, to echo Kierkegaard, that no one is a Christian. Here in the UK nominal affiliation has melted away leaving churches behind that, yes, are smaller but churches that have been distilled, a Christianity that has been purged and reduced to a potent spiritual concentrate. The believers and faith communities in a post-Christian context are powerful thing to behold."
Posted: 16 Jun 2015 07:00 PM PDT
"You and I would do the same. Were God to show himself in the ways we so often think he should – were he to do things the way we would do them – we would probably never be able to accomplish our mission. We would continually be wanting to die in order to cross over. We would be like Flash, having empirical involvement in the world to come, but still having one foot in the current world. However, unlike Flash (who had Superman and Wonder Woman pulling him back!), we most definitely would cross over. Why wouldn't we? The mysterious would be unmysterious. The lines between this life and the next would be so blurred that we would not hesitate to take that extra step of death, even by our own hand. At the very least, if God were to talk to us face to face, we would never get enough."

Posted: 03 Jul 2015 11:43 AM PDT
"But more so these days there are scenes seen over the seventeen thousand odd days I have been becoming John. They all play now in my head, the silent movie of my low-budget technicolor life. I know it is now time for my voice to put words in other people's mouths, to describe the pain on the walls of the only past I've ever known."

Posted: 03 Jul 2015 11:19 AM PDT
"Nevertheless, fragility is ever present, sapping our soul of honesty, integrity, and authentic caring. To make matters worse, Christian sermonizers–preachers whom Cathleen Falsani calls "spiritual bullies"–man their pulpits like a captain on the bridge; they manipulate our already innate anxieties and turn timidity into terror. The perpetual fear of eternal damnation turns a fragile soul into a petrified self. We fragile ones go through the motions of life, but we don't really live it." 

I have about a million things on my "to-read list" but this looks fantastic.

On Relationships:
Posted: 11 Jul 2015 08:27 PM PDT
"Perhaps we're all guilty of over-estimating our good advice and underestimating the value of connection. People don't need a fixer, they need a journeyer. I know this because it's what I need, too."

 Love this.

On Stories:
Posted: 16 Jun 2015 07:19 PM PDT
"We [writers] decry too easily what we do, as being kind of trivial — the creation of stories as being a trivial thing. But the magic of escapist fiction … is that it can actually offer you a genuine escape from a bad place and, in the process of escaping, it can furnish you with armor, with knowledge, with weapons, with tools you can take back into your life to help make it better… It's a real escape — and when you come back, you come back better-armed than when you left. Helen's story is a true story, and this is what we learn from it — that stories are worth risking your life for; they're worth dying for. Written stories and oral stories both offer escape — escape from somewhere, escape to somewhere."
Posted: 20 Jun 2015 02:13 PM PDT
"Yes, we need to own a million heartbreaking stories of discrimination and prejudice, and make millions of changes, and hold space for a million tough conversations. But, if each one of us owns one story and makes one change and has one honest conversation where we listen more than defend or offer false comfort – we can do this. There is a way to write a brave new ending to one of the most painful stories in our history. What remains to be seen is if we have the will and courage."

On Simplicity:
Posted: 03 Jul 2015 11:39 AM PDT
"I am transformed by two simple lessons. The first? I have enough. It sounds so simple, so obvious. Rewind back to the moment that I contemplated making this resolution, though, and you'd find me anxious. Anxious that I would not have access to something I needed. Anxious that prohibiting myself from the shiny, glorious convenience of Target would cause some sort of actual pain in my life; that in depriving myself of new things, I would in some way deprive myself of joy as well."
Posted: 03 Jul 2015 10:42 AM PDT
"My desire for stuff, and the choices I make when I spend money have far-reaching implications. You know this. I know this. But who has the time, the energy, the knowledge to make only perfect choices? It's all so complicated. So hopelessly complicated. When what I want is peace. What I want is simplicity."

Posted: 07 Jul 2015 01:29 PM PDT
"All the things that I considered ridiculous up to this point in her book had been easy to ignore, or replace with a faith-based alternative. But this last bit sounded too sad for words. In the end, a tidy home afforded Kondo her "greatest happiness" - being surrounded by the things she loved. Not people. Not a relationship with the living God, or any god. Not faith or hope. Not love."

Interesting thoughts. I think this is a little heavy handed and preachy (if you want a Christian organizing book, good grief, read a Christian organizing book- I'm sure there are several). But it did make me think. About how (honestly, even if you focus on the writer's more noble reasons for a tidy home) it can become an idol. Put in secular terms, I wouldn't ever want a minimalist journey to take precedence over a life of love and grace.

On Hospitality:
Posted: 02 Jul 2015 08:40 PM PDT
"We always try to make our home an open and inviting space, even though our house is small. We are very happy to transform our master bedroom into a guest room and camp out in the living room, and our kids love playing host in their own room to visiting little friends— the more the merrier as far as they're concerned."

On Caring for Oneself:
Posted: 05 Jul 2015 01:29 AM PDT
"It's become imperative that I schedule in not quiet, but loud. I need the loud of movement and music and friends, of being outside and waterfalls and boat rides and swimming. Oh goodness I love immersing myself deep into the water where the sound goes away and the water glides over my back and the light—the blessed light sifts in and dances under the surface."

On Blogging:
Posted: 20 Jun 2015 02:15 PM PDT
"Where else is there such a powerful reader/writer connection — a conversation, a call to interaction, a buffet of topics and ideas and thoughts and insights? It's an invitation into the living, breathing, fighting, wild, loud, raucous international family of humanity. It's the coolest thing."

On Sweat:
Posted: 03 Jul 2015 10:46 AM PDT
"I think the key items to this look include: a good highlighter for your cheekbones, a slightly slippery lip gloss, and a complete disregard for wintertime values like matte skin and a comfortable internal body temperature. What bodily functions are you making peace with this summer? Tell me!!"

Noteworthy Quotes from the Week(or Month):

"It's hard for me to admit when I'm wrong. It's partly my personality, partly good-old-fashioned sinful pride, partly just what it means to be human. But I've been thinking today it's also got something to do with this lingering sense that God punishes us for being wrong. Growing up, I heard a lot of Christians say that if we get our theology wrong, if we make mistakes in how we understand the Trinity or atonement or religious pluralism, we risk getting spewed out of God's mouth and sent straight to hell for all of eternity. (I didn't pick this up from my parents so much as the broader religious culture. My parents always spoke of God in loving, parental terms, and they approached their own faith & theology with great humility.) It's a frightful thing - thinking you have to get God right in order to get God to love you, thinking you're always one error away from damnation. It's a kind of legalism, really. And to this day, I fight like hell to prove I'm right about religion and politics, partly because in the back of mind I sense there are dire consequences to being wrong. How ironic. The very condition of humanity is to be wrong about God. The moment we figure God out, God ceases to be God. Maybe it's time to embrace the mystery and let ourselves off the hook." -Rachel Held Evans 

My life is a witness to vulgar grace–a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinningdrunk who shows up a ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying theif’s request–”Please, remember me”–and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mind. This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.
-Robert Farrar Capon

"If all of your friends hold all of the same opinions that you do, you need to widen your circle of friends." Condaleza Rice 
Pentecost! It is the biggest day of the entire year at our church. Why? Evangelicalism today seems to be fond of saying things like "Jesus is enough." But He wasn't, and isn't. Not even Jesus thought that. He said that Another would be sent. And in Acts 2 the gathered believers had the opportunity to see what He meant. Somewhere E. Stanley Jones wrote that there is a line that runs straight through Pentecost Sunday. On one side of the line you have denial, betrayal, hesitancy and the believers behind closed doors. On the other side of the line you have courage, witness, conversions, a Great Commission march. I know which side of that line I want my church to be on! "There was a time when the Christian Church celebrated Whitsunday, the anniversary of the coming of the Spirit, more than it did Christmas, the anniversary of the coming of Christ. Now Whitsunday has largely dropped out. Did we find it was easier to celebrate Christ's birth than it was to be born again? Was it easier to commemorate his coming into the world than it was for us to go with his message into the world? Did it cost less to give gifts at Christmas than to give ourselves at Pentecost? Christ is the festival of God with us. Pentecost is the festival of God in us. Is he more with us than in us? "Go through Palestine and you will find that the Christian Church has fastened on almost every important event in the Old an New Testaments and has commemorated them by the erection of a Christian shrine. But none has been erected in commemoration of its own birthday, Pentecost." (E. Stanley Jones, The Christ of Every Road) We erect no shrine today on Pentecost Sunday. We don't plot to commercialize the day like our culture has done with Christmas and Easter. But we celebrate the birthday of the Church and anticipate the best days that are coming for her witness in the world. And they are coming because of the Holy Spirit, our precious Jesus and "our Father in heaven." Happy Pentecost Sunday! -Matt Friedeman
"The gospel is absolutely scandalous, but that doesn't mean we sweep scandals under the rug." -Nate Pyle

"We are created in the imago dei. We are transformed into the imago Christi. That's the Holy Spirit, discipleship, sanctification, and grace."- Nate Pyle

Something that has become clear in the last couple of weeks: so many people, I would even say most of us, are dealing with brokenness and crapstorms and situations and things falling apart, but we look fine on the outside. We know how to camouflage into a world that prefers everything on the rails. We know how to say "fine, thanks" and act normal enough to pass. Sometimes we don't know how to explain our truths, sometimes we are afraid of the inevitable reaction, sometimes we don't want to admit where we are actually at. If we knew what was really going on, we would be so much kinder, gentler, and more understanding with each other. We would understand that fear sometimes looks like anger, and that sadness sometimes looks like cool detachment, and that pain sometimes looks like cynicism. The exaggerated reaction usually belies something very raw underneath. We would be less careless with our words and ideologies and blanket statements and casual judgments, because we would understand that the wounded are constantly among us. Sometimes they are sitting right next to us pretending to smile and nod while we nonchalantly pour salt into a hidden wound. Or we are the wounded, holding back tears and trying to blend into our environment. Life is hard and people are struggling. We would do well to assume most folks are far more tender than they are letting on. We should treat people with a disproportionate amount of grace, because the worst thing that could happen ISN'T that they didn't really need it when we offered it...but that they really did need it and we failed to notice. -Jen Hatmaker 

Noteworthy Images from the Week (or Month):

Hope you enjoyed! 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Weekly Happenings #325 (June 22-28)-- Herringtons Do the Beach on the Cheap

This last week in June we went to the coast. Peyton was working two days down there and he asked Walgreens if they'd book him a hotel near the beach so he could bring his family. It ended up being kind of crazy for a variety of reasons, but it was fun having the time together! As I read back over this, I realized what a crazy busy week it was! Wow.

I got up before anyone else on Monday and got a bath, started laundry, and left as AP was waking up. I headed over to Darlene's and she made me breakfast and we talked for a couple of hours. It was so refreshing and wonderful. I came home and changed over the laundry and Graves actually hadn't even been up long. I got the kids breakfast and Peyton left to work in Philadelphia and I uploaded some pictures from my phone and made a collage for Graves's monthly letter. I played with the kids and then they watched a show and played themselves. They had lunch and I did dishes and then they had rest time. I ate my lunch and got on the computer and took a nap. When they got up, they cleaned up their room and I folded a lot of laundry and they helped me pack. They ate supper and I messaged a friend on Facebook and folded laundry. I read to the kids and they took their bath and I packed some more and cleaned up supper and did dishes. I finished the laundry and got it put up and got their bath finished. I worked on a post and the kids were both still awake when Peyton got home. We took out the trash, fed the cats, finished packing and got the car loaded. We left around eleven and got to Gulfport at two. We were finally settled in my three.
Having a midnight (or midmorning) snack once we got settled into the hotel at three AM. Peyton made these muffins that morning while I had breakfast with Darlene; drove to Philadelphia, worked, and drove home; packed; and then drove to the Gulfport where he was working and we enjoyed a (nice!) hotel on Walgreens' dime. Super Dad deserves a shout out! And it is the *Mississippi* Gulf Coast and the water is, of course, about as crystal clear as the Reservoir but you take what you can get. 

The kids slept late on Tuesday and Peyton didn't have to be at work until ten. Graves didn't wake up until close to eleven and I got my bath and checked my email and they played. We waited around in the hotel a bit because they were supposed to switch us to a room with an ocean view. We ate lunch and then got ready and straightened a bit headed on out to the beach. The lady at the desk said our room would be ready in an hour so I figured that was perfect. We got out to the beach and were literally out there for about ten minutes and it started thundering.
We were on the beach for like ten minutes and it started thundering. It's probably for the best, though. Because I'm not even kidding, there was bacteria in the water. But they were really excited about how their first time to try Salt and Vinegar potato chips turned out and our hotel picnic that consisted exclusively of junk food excepting the whole bell pepper Bud ate. One thing that I've always been terrible at and that I want so badly for both of them is the ability to be flexible and roll with the punches and stay positive. Related: the only Coke in this hotel was $2.50. I hardly ever paid that when I lived in one of the most expensive cities in the nation, I sure as hell didn't intend to pay it here, Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

We waited a bit and it got pretty dark so we came in. Our room was ready so we packed up everything on a cart and wheeled it up to the second floor. I was sort of in a hurry and the kids were helping me. We got settled in our new room and returned the cart and I washed off the kids' legs and sent an email to a friend and FB messaged another friend and we all had a snack. The kids got sort of restless and I realized we had left a pillow in the other room. We went down to the desk and then talked to several housekeeping people and it literally took nearly an hour to track it down. But at least we only had one more hour until Peyton got off. We came back to the room and did button art until Graves started throwing the buttons. We literally started reading the magazine about the Gulf Coast that was in the desk. The kids would see an advertisement for a casino with a frog and they'd talk about the cute frog for a few minutes. Whew. Peyton finally got back and we realized I had left some of his work clothes in the closet so I went down again and tracked those down and then we all went back down to the beach. It was really nice and a little cool. It had been such a sweltering, stormy day but the evening was really beautiful. We talked to some people visiting from Arkansas and then came back up.

It was too late to go for dinner so Peyton got a few groceries and some McDonald's fries for the kids (AP really wanted fries). They watched some animal shows on the Nat Geo Wild channel and fell asleep. I ate supper and fell asleep, too.

We all slept pretty late on Wednesday and Peyton realized ANOTHER thing had gotten left in our first room. I found it and took a shower and we just played in the hotel room because it was too late to go to the beach or lunch. Peyton left for work and I got on the computer a bit and we all ate lunch. Annie and Graves actually decided they'd rather do the pool than the beach. I knew there was a storm coming and we'd probably only have time for one, and they decided for sure. We got ready and we only lasted a bit longer at the pool before the storm blew in. We had a good time for a little bit, though. We came back to the room and had a snack and I read some and got on the computer.
Annie took this picture of the Gulf as another storm was about to blow in. She told us the day before that "playing in the sea was really what was important to me about the beach" and then on the way back she told Ellis and Minda that they didn't get to get in the water much because "momma was worried we might have an open wound". But when we asked them about it, she and Graves both said they had a great time (watching cable and eating snacks for meals, I guess) and were glad we went. There are things I'll do differently next time, like planning better and bringing a car that's not a standard so I can drive it (or learning to drive standard-more on that later) but I'm glad we went too and I'm so thankful for my sweet little family.

The kids played and then we ate supper and read a bit and I got them ready for bed. They watched tv but never fell asleep. Peyton got back and the restaurant he was going to get take out from was closed. It was eleven something at that point and both kids were awake and WIRED. He ended up taking them to get me a burger and them fries again and I emailed a friend. They got back and we all ate and went to bed.

We slept late on Thursday and then got up and got showers and packed up our stuff. We checked out right before eleven and stopped for lunch at the Blow Fly Inn. We got on the road and headed to Granny's. We spent a couple of hours at her house visiting and then met Ellis and Minda for supper in Hattiesburg. We got back on the road around seven and the last two hours were HARD. The kids were just so restless from being trapped in the car and in the hotel for two days. We got home and put them in their room and I unpacked most everything. They took forever to go to sleep. I got on the computer and finished a post and went to bed.

Peyton and I got up and chatted on Friday and then I went back to sleep for a bit. It was going to be a busy day. I got up and started laundry, took my bath, and ironed a dress while Peyton helped me bathe and dress the kids. I made the bed and got them some snacks together and we headed to Carrie's house for a play date. We had a great time and the kids really played SO well together. There was hardly any fussing and Graves didn't stick around me and Carrie the whole time (sometimes he prefers the adults to the other kids when we get together with friends). We came home and I quickly grabbed some lunch for me, put up dishes, and changed over the wash. Peyton was home all day and had been working around the house. I left the kids with him and ran to get coffee with our old associate pastor, Owen. I had some things I needed to talk about and it was good to speak to someone who I respect so much spiritually. I ran by Hobby Lobby on the way home.

I got home and did a bunch of dishes while the kids cleaned their room and Peyton put up his tools. We all got ready and headed to my parents' house. I was worn out but we had a great visit and it was nice Peyton got to come. Graves fell asleep on the way home but Peyton had promised Annie we'd play some more. So we played for like twenty minutes. At ten thirty. Whew. I got on the computer and then went to bed.

The kids slept late on Saturday and Peyton was working. We got up and all had breakfast and then they watched their shows and I took my bath and started laundry. Slyvie (my new sister in law) came over because she's selling knives. She did her presentation for me for practice and that took a little while. She left after a couple of hours. The kids had lunch and I did some laundry and dishes. They rested and I finished a blog post and talked to a friend on Facebook. The kids got up and we all played and then I put up more dishes. They had supper and cleaned their room and I hung up clothes. I read to them a bunch and got them ready for bed. I got on the computer and Peyton got home. We watched a movie and went to bed. Graves got up several times and ended up in bed with us.

Sunday was a nice day. We got up and got ready and headed out to visit the Lutheran church. I really, really loved it. We came home, ate lunch, and got ready again and headed out to the pool. We got to Briarwood and it was closed because of algae in the water! Ugggh. Anyway, we decided to go to the Reservoir Y and we had so much fun. It has a graduated entry and like a there was a whole end of the pool that was two feet deep. The kids enjoyed that and were able to really play plus we practiced swimming. We got home and I did dishes and Peyton got ready to go meet a friend for supper. The kids had a snack and (a late) rest time. I got on the computer for a bit and worked on some things. When they got up they played outside and I put up dishes and did laundry. I talked to Minnie on the phone and Peyton got home while they were eating supper. He cooked a sweet potato pie and sweet potato casserole with the kids (we had a ton of sweet potatoes that were about to go bad). I listed some stuff on Craigslist and then we played with the kids and got them to bed. I got on the computer and Peyton fell asleep reading.

Now that it's almost the end of July, I'm about caught up to July. I'm glad to not be falling behind anymore, but I wish I could get more caught up on these! Oh well, so many blog posts, so little time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Goals for the Smalls

I mentioned in my June Goals and Happenings post that I'd like to set a few manageable Summer goals for the children. Well, of course I'm just now getting around to writing about them!

First of all, I've definitely mentioned it, but we do school in the Summer over here. We had a nice break that coordinated with moving and now we're picking back up steam. I'm just sharing that since some of these goals, especially for AP, are academic ones.

Ann Peyton:

1. Learn to swim. Peyton's been working a bunch of extra days, but in August his schedule should get a lot better and I'm hoping we can make some serious progress. Annie's doing great with putting her head in, kicking, floating on her back, and swimming from our arms to the steps if it's just a yard or so. But I'd love it if we could say we have a real SWIMMER by Summer's end. If not, that's okay too. But it's a good goal and it's deserving of it's first place prominence on the list.

2. Do English lessons 80-100. The way the English curriculum that we're using works is that Foundations (which is the basics for reading) is divided into four levels. I had planned to try to do A and B in Kindergarten and C and D in first grade. We are working our way through C (which is lessons 80-120) and this will put us right on track to be a fourth of the way through our entire first grade year (halfway through Level C and then we should start Level D around Christmas) by Summer's end. I technically think it will be around mid September. Different things work for different people, but I love the idea of having one "term" almost completely finished when everyone else is going back to school. It works well for us because we can take a week off for sickness or travel and we also only have to average about three days a week of school.

3. Do math lessons 1-35.
This will also put us about a quarter of the way through math. We actually got to skip nine or so lessons at the beginning that were review because Annie did really well on the little assessment at the beginning of the book. Again, the idea of having one term out of the way by September is really appealing.

4. Feed the cats twice a day. This Fall, I think we're going to try to get the kids doing more chores. This is just a basic one that I'd like to go ahead and start on.

5. Discuss and decided on a fall extra-curricular. Sometimes my goals for myself are just to make a decision, so this seems fitting. I really want the kids to each have something fun they can be involved in and something that will provide a bit of social interaction outside of just play dates and such. That said, I will never be the mom driving to a different lesson every afternoon (or at least I don't think I will). So we're limiting it and I'd like to make the best decision we can, with lots of input from her, of course.

6. Work through all 75-ish readers we own.
A friend in BK gave us a bunch of these before we moved and Annie picks out one to read to me each night. She also thumbs through them at resttime or whenever the urge strikes her. I realized recently that there's only about ten she hasn't read and it would be fun to say she's mastered them all! I have to say, that's a lot of reading and I'm very, very proud of her.


1. Learn to swim.
Here again, I'd love for it to happen and I'm cautiously optimistic with Peyton having a lot more days to come with me and work with them. Graves is a lot more brave than AP and will not hesitate to jump in to one of us (Annie still struggles with that). He's unafraid to put his head under even without googles and he loves the slide. But, he's got a long way to go in regards to form. I'm assuming most super active four year old boys do, though.

2. Actively participate in morning school. Part of our school routine most days involves a little calendar time, a very small amount of memory work, a short devotion, and some read-aloud time usually from a library book or something that's nonfiction. Since we started this back in New York Graves mostly wanders around and does his own thing during this time. I've been okay with that as long as he's not disruptive and honestly, he picks up more than I expect him to. BUT, I really want to start practicing focusing his attention this year. It's actually one of my big academic goals for him this year before we start Kindergarten when he's five. So I'm trying to figure out certain times when I can help him train himself to focus. I'm thinking of getting him some little fidgets (he doesn't have ADD or any kind of sensory issue that we know of, but I think this could be super helpful) and I'm trying to practice a lot of patience.

3. Join us and act appropriately for part of homeschooling each day. Again, this is more of the same. Although, this is less about paying attention and more about allowing Annie to concentrate. There is no way I can fit all of "First Grade" into his rest time and still have my sanity. There just isn't. So it's pretty integral to this working that he be able to play or hang out near us and not disturb the process. Again, lots of patience.

4. Help me pick a read aloud specifically for him and read it. I so often pick our books more with Annie's interest in mind and as he gets older, I want to focus on him and his special little interests more, too. So we're going to figure out a chapter book or something he'll love.

5. Practice good table manners. 
This is his big chore and actually he and AP both need to work on it. Asking to be excused, bringing their dishes to the sink, and not randomly getting up and walking around the kitchen (that one is more him). We're pretty flexible (see the "picnic" going on above) but there needs to be a little more order.

6. Discuss and decided on a fall extra-curricular. He really needs the social interaction more than AP. He's pretty intimidated by groups and he kind of clings to me and Peyton. Since he's not in school, I really feel like this is something we need to prioritize but I'd also love it if it was something that was loads of fun for him.

So, those are my goals for them this Summer. They seem extremely manageable but also incredibly worthwhile and beneficial. I'll probably report back in September. And maybe for Fall, I'll let Annie be involved in helping me with a new list!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Weekly Happenings #324 (June 15-21)-- Summer Weddings and Pool Time

The kids got up around eight on Monday and Peyton was working. I got up and reheated some oatmeal for them and then made my bed, looked for a lost remote in our room, and started laundry. I put up dishes and washed some more dishes and then looked for a lost remote in the den.

Peter and Tinkerbell dressed PigPig up as Tiger Lily in my old pillowcase Indian costume. Never grow up, guys. 

They watched their shows and I got on the computer. I worked more on backing up pictures and took a bath while they did kinetic sand. The kids wanted lunch a little early which worked out perfectly since I was shooting for an early rest time. We all ate lunch and then I played with them and read to them.

They had rest time and I finally finished the back up. One folder wouldn't move and I had to move each of the subfolders manually. Uggggh. I finished that and skimmed my Reader and then tried to do a healthy survey thing for Walgreens. I ended up messing it up and was so frustrated. I read my Bible a bit and texted with my mom and called Peyton and then the kids got up. They played so well and I went through some stuff to go to the attic and purged some for Goodwill. I made up their beds and then got them started cleaning their room. I made some pesto and did dishes really quickly. I got the kids ready and fixed them a snack while I got ready and then we headed to the swim meet where Peyton was timing at Briarwood. We had a good time but it ended up getting called off early for rain. We stopped at Hickory Pit and ate and then came home. We visited with our next door neighbors for awhile and then came in. The kids were hungry again (we had split some stuff at the restaurant) so they ate and then I helped them get ready for bed while Peyton did some stuff. I cleaned up the kitchen and got on the computer and then we went to bed.
When we moved to Brooklyn, we somehow forgot to pack glasses. We bought a very basic set at Ikea mostly for when we had guests and I treated myself to this little pear cup. I thought it was so cute and I literally drank out of it everyday. I thought about buying a backup but never did, and it wouldn't have been true to the experience anyway. Having my one personal glass I handwashed each day seemed quintessential Brooklyn. It broke that night and so did a few days streak of no tears and (less) heartsickness. I'm thankful to be in a better place now, but there are still so many hard days. 

I got up and got ready before anybody was up on Tuesday and left to go walk with Mallory just as everyone else was getting up. We had a nice walk and visit. I got home and talked to Peyton a bit and then he left for work. I made the bed and started laundry and then fixed the kids lunch. I played with them and read to them and they had rest time. I got on the computer, ate my lunch, and rested a bit myself. When they got up, I folded laundry and helped them clean up their toys and then I played with them some more. They ate supper and I did dishes and then read to them. They had baths and I got them to bed. I got on the computer until Peyton got home and we watched TV and went to bed.

Wednesday was Peyton's day off and we all slept late (well, Graves woke up but he and I fell back asleep in the living room). Despite that, I was frustrated all day. We got a slow start after breakfast and I got my bath. I did take a bunch of stuff to the attic and then helped Peyton put the new legs he ordered on the couch. We all ate lunch and I vacuumed a rug we were going to put in the attic and took a second shower and got ready to go to the pool. We stayed at the pool for several hours and we saw the Howies there so that was fun. After we got home, the kids ate and I straightened some and then we got them ready for bed.
We had a lot of snacks at the pool, so for dinner Peyton just handed the kids these hug broccoli "trees". AP and Diplie (the Diplodocus) finished hers off, leaving nothing but the trunk. 

They went to bed and we ate supper and got on the computer and went to bed ourselves.

Peyton didn't have to go into work until one thirty on Thursday. We were all tired from the pool and slept late. Peyton and the kids made muffins and I slept really late. We all had breakfast and then I folded laundry and did dishes while Peyton mowed the front and back yard and the kids played outside. I got on the computer and straightened a little and swept and then Peyton left for work. The kids watched a show and I took my bath and then vacuumed a bit while the kids had lunch. Minnie came over and talked to me about the house and the kids played with her a little. They had rest time late and I ate lunch and got on the computer and uploaded pictures after I searched for the cord that connects the camera and an easel for a plate. After they cleaned up we watched some of a Planet Earth dvd and I folded laundry. We played and then I fixed them supper. I ironed a bunch while they ate and then bathed them. It was almost ten by the time they went to bed. Peyton got home and we talked and fell asleep watching Parks and Rec.

Peyton got up with the kids on Friday and then I got up and made the bed and had breakfast with them. I started some laundry and talked to Peyton and then I had my bath and cleaned up the kitchen. Peyton left and the kids and I watched another documentary and I got out some decorative stuff for the top of the refrigerator and sort of moved things around.
Making Mickey proud (I mean, I don't think he's ever *not* proud of this guy). Our little engineer got out his tools and built a "diving board" for Early (Annie's favorite Beanie Baby). 

We had lunch together and then they had rest time and I worked on a blog post. I did my Bible study and read a little and then we all cleaned up (toys for them, dishes for me) and got ready to go to Mickey and Minnie's. We headed over there and visited a bit and then had supper, visited a bit more, and came home. Graves fell asleep in the car and AP followed quickly after we got home. I got on the computer and worked on the post I had started and then Peyton got home. We stayed up LATE watching a movie.

The kids got up and I handed them breakfast and got back in bed on Saturday. They ate and then Peyton got up with them. It was a weird day- Peyton was taking AP and going to a friend's wedding out of town and Graves and I were going with my parents to another one in town. I got up and Peyton helped me put some platters and pitchers and baskets on top of the bookcases in the den. I started laundry and then bathed the kids. They had lunch and I did dishes while Peyton got ready and then I took my bath. I helped him get Annie ready and they left for their wedding. Graves had rest time and I started another blog post. I read some blogs and then fixed Graves a snack and got ready. Mickey and Minnie got here to pick us up and I dressed Graves really quickly and we left. The wedding was beautiful and Graves has seriously never been as well behaved for any other forty five minutes in his life. He did so well!
Two of my classmates' weddings were that same night (actually three of my classmates, two of them were marrying each other!) and Peyton and I both really felt like we needed to be at both. We split up and he and AP drove to Tupelo to see a special friend from our lifeguarding days get hitched. And this guy was my date to the wedding of a fellow Bicycle Club member and a friend I've known since I was littler than him. Such a fun night but we sure did miss our Sister/Sweetie!

We had a wonderful time and I saw quite a few friends at the reception. Mickey and Minnie said they were going to pick up Newks and did we want to come over. Bud, of course, said yes. We needed to pick up my car and I came in and did a few dishes and changed clothes and we left. Graves almost fell asleep on the way over there as it was close to nine. We ate and came home and he did fall asleep on the way then. I got on the computer for a bit and went to bed. Peyton and AP got home after I fell asleep.

We hadn't decided where to go to church on Sunday but I got up and took a bath and got ready. I was dressed and everything but we couldn't make a decision and we ended up not going anywhere. We had a low key morning and then I cleaned out the laundry room. I organized a bunch of stuff on top of the washing machine and went through a few boxes of cleaning supplies and consolidated them. Peyton worked on some shelves in the study. I also did the floor of my closet in the kids' old room and half of the top shelf. Then we all had lunch and went to the pool for a few hours. We got back home and had supper and played some and then we got the kids to bed. I worked on a couple of blog posts and texted with friend and went to bed.

Things continue to feel more and more normal, but it still feels like we have a long way to go before things are settled and I'm really longing for that. Some days (like today) it just drives me nuts. I have to remind myself that this has everything to do with priorities and I'm not willing to sacrifice a fun Summer, relationships, my own self care and mental space, school with the kids or numerous other responsibilities. And the thing is, once we get the whole house done, we have to do the ATTIC. Which is basically a nightmare. But one day at a time!