Thursday, April 17, 2014

Five Minute Friday Post: Glue

Five Minute Friday

Back in seventh grade, we did a chapter on sexual reproduction in science. It was "Chapter 23" and it was infamous. We anticipated it all here. There was a box that you could put any and all questions in (no promises the teacher would answer, but it was anonymous and questions were encouraged). I went to a pretty conservative, though not religiously affiliated private school, and at the end of the week came the obvious abstinence message. An illustration was used and I remember it positively to this day, so it must have been worth something, unlike those awful spitting in glasses and stomping on roses metaphors.

Basically, our teacher took two giant red hearts, pasted them together, let it dry and then ripped them apart. The obvious implication was that that was exactly what happened when you engaged in extra material sex and then the relationship dissolved. Chunks of your heart were pulled away. It was a good, albeit, incomplete analogy, I thought.

The trouble is, though, I've seen this happen in so many other areas, as well.

Really any time you give of yourself in a vulnerable way, you're gluing yourself in way and if and when that comes undone it's worse than a ripped off Band-Aid. It's pieces of your very heart.

A friend shared this post by Sarah Bessey recently, knowing I could relate, because she did and we're very similar in some ways. Sarah says:

"[Y]ou don’t want to have a hard heart. You’d rather be hurt than impenetrable. This is the price of living without armour, of making art with your life and stories and faith: you are vulnerable."

My, what truth she speaks. Sometimes, I feel guilty about this. Am I basically a promiscuous teenager- why do I give my heart so easily to others? Other times I question my reaction completely and if it's sensical or healthy or normal. Is something wrong with me- shouldn't I be a little more numb to the voices that bring hurt and sting my soul? Still other times, I question my perception. Of course sleeping with your fourteen year old boyfriend when you're thirteen is going to have negative emotional consequences, but a friend's (most likely unintentional) jab- why does this bite so much?

I'm the kind of person where there's not much middle ground. If we're friends and we see each other often, it's likely I've bared my soul a few times. I've tried and I really just can't operate much other way. In the end, I have to trust that the glue I let myself attach to others with is a glue that the Spirit will use and redeem for His purposes. And I have to trust that He'll do the same with the little pieces of construction paper that have been ripped off on occasion. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bubbles and Hearts and Spring Sun Against my Back

It rained last night. A hard, miserable rain that brought in a strong cold front, and SNOW, as ridiculous as that sounds. I've had a rough couple of days. I don't think the weather has made my mood, but it certainly hasn't helped it.

But last week. Last week was lovely. Last week we got to taste and see Springtime in New York.

It's been a hard Winter, what we experienced of it, and it's so nice to be validated by the locals that THIS IS NOT NORMAL and IT'S OKAY TO SAY THIS IS HARD. Because it is (was?) hard. Really hard.

At the same time, I've fallen in love with this place over the last ten weeks in the midst of that. I feel like it's sort of like when you fall in love with a person during a rough patch. You know you made it through that and you can make it through anything. Or when you love a child through a terribly trying season. What bliss it is when they round the corner and you have the framework of such unconditional love as your foundation.

I made it through those dreary months and while it was hard, there was so much good. There was weeping in the Winter, there were bouts of homesickness, but it was overwhelmingly good. All that makes me really, really excited for what Spring and Summer hold.

Anyway, back to last week.

Minnie had sent yet another care package which basically consisted of her pilfering the dollar bins at Target, I'm pretty sure. One evening I needed to do laundry. We had already been to the park, but I wanted to get the kids back outside again to enjoy the beautiful weather. So in between cycles we went outside and I busted out one of Minnie's surprises- little plastic eggs filled with bubbles. They were quite a hit.

Annie picked her own outfit. She was literally wearing three different colors of pink, red heart leggings that I bought for four dollars with another pair, and her red Chucks. A million years ago, I wrote about actually being able to handle red and pink together, but only because it was on her precious tiny self. Five years later and I kinda love it a lot, especially with her wild hair that looks like I hadn't brushed it (I had). (Apparently, that post was written at the point where I was also explaining that I loved to call her "Annie"- she was less than a month old).

Then this guy, with his perpetual bruises. His little legs today looked awful. I need to count the bruises. And I have NO IDEA about any of them. I do know where he got the massive knee scrape, though. That same concrete courtyard that's pictured. I have a feeling it'll be the bearer of a lot of bruises and scraps this Summer. He's so rough and so tender all at the same time and it's my favorite. I can't imagine him any other way, and truthfully, I wouldn't want to.

Still for just a moment, wrapped up in their bubbles and the beauty of the world around them.

And then so fully a part of it. Annie on her tiptoes reaching for the bubble. I love watching her grab and stretch for new things. I'm seeing it in so many areas with her, but especially with learning to read and write, and few things make my own soul come alive more.

And then they're still again. I said it about something about it the other day, but it's nice to watch him be mesmerized by things. To know that it's possible for something to hold his attention. He's much more easily excited about things than his sister, but much less easily captivated. I love when I get to see him captivated, just as I love seeing her excited.

He's still such a baby, in many ways and I'm glad. I've been saying that for years, though. Annie's always more grown up at any age because he's the baby. They had a fight the morn of his third birthday because she wanted to call him "Big Boy Graves" and he insisted upon "Baby Graves". I told her that he'll always be our baby. And he will, even if/when there's another baby. He'll always be our Baby Graves- mine, Peyton's, and in some ways hers.

She's so serious, so often. It's often a good serious, though. The intensity of her eyes is just a glimpse of the intensity of her soul.

Occasionally, he's somber, too. Still and quite and like he's really thinking hard about something. It's harder to know with him. But as he talks more and more, we're learning more and more about him. And falling more and more in love with him.

Sometimes, these days when Peyton works and it's just me and them are hard. The hardest part, I think, is not having the outside interaction with other (grown up!) people I had at home. But these little people. I'm learning more and more about their hearts and souls and dreams and desires and fears and hurts and struggles and triumphs.

Brooklyn in the Winter was a marvelous place to learn them better. I'm confident Brooklyn in the Spring will bring forth even more enchanted things with my beautiful people.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weekly Happenings #263 (April 7-13)-- A Big Old (Baby) Birthday Boy

Sometimes, you gotta let the outtakes be the family picture. I want to remember this- all of it. 

Last week was nice and slow-- maybe a little too slow. Peyton worked extra on Thursday (he usually has a half day off on the weekends he works) and that seemed to make a big difference. But, it was a fun week. And Graves turned THREE. But, he still requests we call him "Baby Graves", even when we offer to do otherwise. I love that, of course. 

Monday was a nice (much needed!) relaxing day. The kids got up and played awhile and by the time they wanted breakfast it was nine! I fixed it for them and we watched their shows and then I got a bath, sent an email, and did a few other things. We played a bit and cleaned up their room and ended up having lunch super late. I did dishes while they ate and then put Graves down for a nap.

I got on the computer, did school with AP, and took my own nap. When Graves got up, they played and I swept and mopped and folded and put up clothes.
Annie told me Aurora (pretend princess) was "freaking out" because her picture of the beautiful snow got erased.

I fixed the kids supper and got them ready for bed. We read and I hung up clothes in their room. I read some blogs and Peyton got home. We ate dinner and watched TV and then I got on the computer and then we went to bed.

Peyton was off on Tuesday and we had a nice day. The kids were playing in their room again and Peyton was in the tub when I got up. I cleaned the tub and changed the cat liter and cleaned up their area and then took my bath. I swept and mopped the hallways and Peyton took the kids to buy some cat food after I got them ready. I uploaded pictures, made up the bed, cleaned out the cats' water bowls, and had breakfast. I finished getting ready and when Peyton and the children got home, we left for Target. We walked there and got a bunch of stuff and then walked home. We all had lunch and then went to a park near the apartment.
A little girl told me "she's SO adorable". I really don't know that I can make him look like more of a little boy than this??

Now this? Is a GIRL. 

We got home and I got ready because there was another screening at the Brooklyn Historical Society. It was really neat. My phone died on the way back and I was super nervous figuring out the bus route. But I made it! Peyton and I talked and I ate some boxed macaroni and cheese and then got on the computer for a bit.

Peyton left early on Wednesday, but the kids slept late. We ate breakfast and watched their shows and then folded up the couch. I put up the diapers and wipes we had gotten at Target and swept in the den.
"Bud is a little farmer. He goes to the farm and works and at night he comes home. Look! He brought me this good bacon!"

 I took my bath and started the kids picking up their room and then I did dishes really quickly and packed lunches and we headed to the park. They ate lunch and played some and I put Graves down right when we got home.

He took awhile to fall asleep. I ate my lunch, got on the computer, and read some. I did my Bible study and did school with Annie and then we woke Graves up. We started laundry and went outside in the courtyard to blow bubbles.

We changed over the laundry and I got supper ready for them. They ate and we got the dry laundry and they had baths. I put them to bed and read some blogs and wrote some. Peyton got home and we ate supper and then talked to our associate pastor back home on Facebook. We went to bed pretty late.

Peyton's usually off on Thursday mornings when he works the weekend, but his partner was on vacation, so he worked all day last week. Anyway, it was more of the same. The kids got up and played a bit with each other and then I fixed them breakfast. My mom called and I ended up texting with some friends, so I was actually not dozing during their shows :) They helped me fold up the couch and I put up some laundry and then took my bath and scooped cat liter and did a few other things. We had a little while before lunch, so I got down on the floor and played with Little People with them and then we cleaned up their room. I fixed them lunch and did a bunch of dishes and then put Graves down.

He took a good nap and I got on the computer. I uploaded some pictures and read blogs and then did my Bible study and read. Annie and I did school and I had to wake Graves up. I needed to do more laundry, so we started that and then they played while I folded the day before's laundry. We read our Five in a Row book and changed over the laundry and then the kids ate supper. I had planned to cook chili, but I forgot to thaw the meat! They had oatmeal and a ton of fruit and were super happy about it. We got the laundry and I put the clean sheets on their beds. I got them ready for bed and put them down. I got on the computer for a bit and put pictures on Flikr and worked on a post and then started the chili. Peyton was late getting home, we ate right when he got in. I finished my post and put pictures on Facebook and then cleaned up the kitchen and went to bed.

Peyton was off and we got up on Friday and got ready and headed to the South Bronx. They had an Easter party that day since the following week was Spring Break and we had fun helping with that. Again, I just felt such a strong confirmation that it's one of the places the Lord wants us while we're here. After that we stopped in Manhattan and this happened:
I did it. Annie went back with me! 

Who needs a double stroller? Perks of having tiny kids, I guess. They seriously rode a few blocks like this. Funny sidenote: they wouldn't have made it one of it were reversed. Annie does not like people up in her space. Graves's live language is physical touch, I swear. Doesn't matter of you're holding him or he's holding you, it's his favorite.

We came home and chilled out a bit. We had eaten at the party, but were all hungry so we had snacks/second lunches and rested and the kids watched their little programs for the day.
It was so nice to have a day with him! 

We skipped naptime since it was so late. Peyton was going to an event at the library and I told the kids we could go to the park for a bit before supper. Peyton walked with us and then we played for about half an hour. We got home and the kids ate some leftover chili while I did dishes and hung up clothes in their room. I got them to bed early, which was good because they were both having a really rough night. I finished sweeping and mopping, put fresh sheets on our bed, and hung up some more clothes. I got on the computer and read some posts and Peyton got home. We talked and had dinner and went to bed.

Saturday was Graves's birthday. Peyton had to work and the kids and I did our normal breakfast-cartoons-cuddle thing. I spent some time texting friends and then got my bath. We played some in the kids room and Facetimed my mom and then cleaned up.
Minnie has a great sense of humor :)

I fixed them lunch and put Graves down. He never did nap and Annie was sort of needy. I ate lunch and got on the computer and organized some in the study. I also uploaded a bunch of iPhone pictures to the external and Annie and I did a little bit of school stuff (she missed the memo that we don't have to do school during naptime on Saturday). Anyway, we let Graves get up and all got ready and then headed down to the courtyard. We played a bit and then I got the kids cupcakes.
Well, he's grown. 

Happy birthday to this guy who fights with his sister when she refuses to call him "Baby Graves". 

I just love these people so much. 

We came home and had dinner (they didn't each much) and cupcakes and I bathed them and got them to bed. I got on the computer for a bit and Peyton got home. I put up groceries and added some books on Goodreads and we talked and ate. I wrote out Annie's April memory work and my quote for the kitchen.

Peyton worked on Sunday and I got up and got my bath and got the kids ready while he was getting ready. We went to Trinity Grace Park Slope. It was a really good service, but I gotta be honest Sunday's are HARD when Peyton's not here. The bus ride there was fine, but Graves didn't want to go to his class. It was a family worship day, meaning the kids all come to worship and are dismissed before the sermon. I think it was a hard transition and I ended up keeping him with me. I thought he did GREAT, but my standards for him are-- well, I don't think they're low, but they're realistic for him. I think some people near us may not have agreed that he did great. Anyway, we hustled to catch the bus after church so we didn't have to wait another half hour for the next one. We got there and I got the stroller folded up, got out my changed and was ready. However, right as it pulled up Annie dropped her craft and palm branches. I told her to hurry and get them. Well, I grabbed her hand and was watching the bus and started pulling her. I drug her right into the pole. Y'all! Bless her heart. I know her, though, and having a mild concussion would be worth it to have her stuff.

Anyway, we got home and I picked up the kids' room really quickly and then fixed them lunch and started dishes. I talked to Peyton and put Graves down. He took a long nap and I ate lunch, got on the computer, and read to Annie and then I took a nap myself. I had to wake Graves ups and we Facetimed with Peyton's parents. I let them watch cartoons for a bit and worked on my April playlist and then got their supper ready. They ate and I got them ready for bed. We Facetimed with my dad and I put them down. I got on the computer and worked on resetting my phone and read some blog posts. Peyton got home and we chatted and then I finished up with my phone.

This week is different because Peyton's working today (Tuesday) which is one of his usual days off but then we'll get a big chunk all together at the end. I'm really excited- we're doing the kids' little birthday celebration and that will be fun! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

When Your Baby Turns Three

Whereas, Annie obviously made me a momma, I'm the kind of momma I am in large part because of this guy. He keeps me on my toes. This day three years ago was so amazing. His birth was such a transformative moment in my life. I've thought about it so much lately- because in many ways our NYC journey mirrors my pregnancy with him, his birth, his little life. Just like this place I've learned scared to love, he stretches me and challenges me at every turn. But just like this place, he's full of a million treasures and I'll never be able to find them all. His heart so tender, his enthusiasm so great, his sensitivity so astute, his cheerfulness so contagious, his smile so captivating, his love so strong, his spunk so delightful- these are just a few of the gems we've mined in only three years. I can't wait to learn more about you, Graves, and for all the things I know you'll continue to teach me about myself, about love, and about the Lord Himself.

I'm so honored that my friend Mallory asked me to be part of this storyteller series on her blog. Since today is our precious Graves's third birthday, I thought it would be fitting to tell the story of his birth, an event that was truly transformative in my life.

"That ten-ish hour experience was a big one, one that will forever effect the way I view myself, the things I'm capable of, and the strength I truly did not know I had. It, to this day, gives me courage to do big things and make bold changes in my life. But at the same time, his little life has done that exact same thing for the whole duration of it thus far. He challenges me because, unlike his sister, he's very different from me. I've watched the Lord increase my patience through him and He's used Graves's life to sanctify me in a way nothing else has. Some days I battle the same fears I did that glorious day. Fears that an experience, a day, a year, or his childhood, will never end or that it won't end the way I want it to. Fears that I'll cave and give up on something- like homeschooling- that I deeply desire because it's just too hard. Fears that I'm not strong enough and simply inadequate for the task at hand. God uses him- his birth, his life- to remind me that the good (the very good) is often times bought at a price. Sometimes, it feels like it comes at the price of my sanity. But like his birth, it really just comes at the price of a bit of pain and pressure. So much beauty- patience and flexibility and trust and creativity- has been birthed out of my mothering of him and the struggle, like a birth, that it has entailed. I've learned so much from him. Thank you, Graves, for being such an excellent teacher. From day one."

Enjoy this piece over there, with both his and Annie's regular monthly letters to follow. Per our tradition, Peyton writes the yearly ones. Being as I've fallen into the habit of posting them both very late in the month, he's decided to follow suit. I offer this information mainly for my own peace of mind.

In other news, he's pretty much grown. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Weekly Happenings Post #262 (March 31-April 6)-- Long Island Railroad Museum, Mockingbird, a Drastic Haircut, and Annie Banani Turns FIVE!!!

Peyton's parents sent Graves a birthday card that could be turned into a paper airplane (they sent Annie a different, cute card, too) and Annie decided she wanted to make her own plane! 

My goodness, if the title didn't give it away, last week was BUSY! And FUN. Super fun. 

The kids actually slept a bit late after Peyton left for work on Monday. They got up around eight thirty and we did our normal breakfast and TV routine. I ended up letting them watch three twenty five minute shows instead of the usual two, but on the last one I talked to AP more and Graves just laid in my arms. Which is sort of a step up for dozing, I think. I've also been wanting to watch more of their little shows with them, so that was good. They helped me fold up the sheets and push in the couch and then I picked up a bit and got my bath and looked at a couple of things on the computer.

We read our Five in a Row book and started cleaning up their room. Ellis called and I talked to him a bit and then we finished cleaning up and had lunch. I did dishes and then put Graves down. I got on the computer for a bit and then did school with Annie. I actually had time to read some before Graves woke up. When he got up, the kids colored and I fixed them supper. I bathed them and read to them and put them to bed. I read some articles online and Peyton got home and we watched How I Met Your Mother and ate dinner. I did dishes and deleted a bunch of pictures off the camera and went to bed. 

Peyton was off on Tuesday and we had a nice day. We got up and got ready and headed to the library. I took a photography class and Peyton and the kids were going to go to a singing program. It was packed, though, so they just read books. 
The class was very informative!

You can take the boy out of the 'Sip. Can't take the 'Sip outta the boy :)

We walked home and had lunch and then we organized and started taking boxes to the storage unit. It's in another building on the premises of the complex we live in and we worked for about an hour and a half (we obviously took the kids on all the trips since we both made all the trips). We actually got locked out on the last trip because it closed at five. UGH. We also still had one more big box that was going to be a huge hassle. But we were just happy to have access to it. We fixed the kids supper and let them play and I cleaned some and then we put them down early. I worked on my April blog design and Peyton and I chatted. I finished a post and Peyton went and got us some snacks and we went to bed earlier than usual. 

Tuesday was Annie's birthday and it turned out slightly interesting. The kids got up early before Peyton left. I had a headache, but I took some medicine and that helped. I fixed them breakfast after we played with stuffed dinosaurs in our bed for awhile. Then we watched their little shows. I let them pick one extra since it was Annie's birthday. After that they jumped on some bubble wrap for awhile. I started folding up the couch and picking up around the apartment and I realized Peyton had taken the keys. I was planning to mail a package that afternoon and more importantly, I wanted to stop at a bakery and get Annie (and Graves, of course) a little treat. Anyway, I was sort of frustrated, but I got ready to put the kids in their room and take my bath. Well, the gate wasn't secured (this has happened one other time recently) and Graves was sort of fussing and objecting to being put in there and the gate fell over and we crashed down with it (I was holding him). I just held him until he felt better- that really doesn't take long with him. After that, though, Annie discovered a kitty had pooped on her quilt. I was, of course, super frustrated, but she was DISTRAUGHT. I finally got her calmed down enough to get a bath and I realized we didn't have enough money on our laundry card. 

At least it was going to end up being a productive day, I decided. I got on the computer for a few minutes and then hopped in the tub. I dried my hair and got things together and then we ran down to the basement to start laundry. We filled up the laundry card at the guard station and then walked over to the other building so I could leave a note saying not to throw away our stuff (we had left a few things outside the unit the day before- it was basically just boxes Peyton wanted to save). The whole thing was locked, though, so I couldn't. We came back and played a bit until it was time to change over the clothes. I fixed the kids lunch and did dishes while they dried. After we got them, I made up Annie's bed. I went ahead and cleaned up the kids' room really quickly myself and then put Graves down for a nap.

He never fell asleep, but he did pretty well. I ate lunch and rested a bit and got on the computer and then did school stuff with Annie. When he got up, they played and we read our Five in a Row book. I also hung up a ton of Peyton's clothes and cooked some asparagus and orzo and made quesadillas (random, right?) for supper for the kids. They ate and we Facetimed with my mom and dad. We opened a birthday present from Peyton's parents (it included several Berenstein Bears book she told me "Oh, I've been wishing for these!") and then I got them ready for bed and put them down. 
I also let them help me make cake in a cup in cereal bowls after supper (I think she liked making it more than eating it- girlfriend loves to cook).

I got on the computer and called my mom back. Peyton got home and we talked and I wrote a blog post and read some blogs and went to bed. 

Thursday was a really pleasant day. The kids got up when Peyton left and we had breakfast and watched their shows and then I got my bath. I talked to Peyton on the phone and made another phone call and got on the computer for a minute and then I got the kids ready and we went back to the storage unit. It was locked again (apparently you need a key to the whole room), but a maintenance guy unlocked it and our stuff was still there. We moved it in  and then came back up and got the stroller and a package and went to the post office that's about a quarter mile away. We picked up muffins on the way home and the kids ate lunch when we got home. I did dishes and put Graves down and swept. 

He took a great nap and I ate lunch and laid down for a few minutes, read some blogs and did my Weekly Happenings post, and emailed someone about Junior League stuff. AND I organized some pictures and spent some time doing school with Annie. Graves got up and we did our Five in a Row book and read some more Berenstein Bears and I put up dishes and washed the ones from lunch. I folded clothes and texted my mom and then started cooking the kids eggs and oatmeal for supper. They enjoyed it and I had some, too. I cleaned the kitchen up and bathed them and got them to bed pretty early. I had another bad headache and it kept getting worse and worse. I swept and picked up around the apartment took some medicine and then laid down for a bit. I ended up taking a two hour nap at eight o'clock. UGH. I got up and did a few things on the computer before Peyton got home and then I took some more medicine and we talked and I ate a snack. I finally made myself get up and get ready for my big day Friday. 

Friday was SO amazing. I got up and got ready and headed to a the Mockingbird Conference. Y'all it was so incredible.

 I took a huge amount of notes and I'm going to try to type them up into something coherent and formulate a blog post soon.
Afternoon break outs. I went with the Childish Gambino and learned about Online Honesty and Instagram Authenticity 

Anyway, I took three trains, had lunch at a restaurant by myself (the food wasn't great, but I enjoyed the alone time), made a handful of new friends I had SUCH a delightful time visiting with, and got home around nine thirty. It was a long day, but a great one. Peyton and I talked and I wrote a post and emailed Darlene and then went to bed.

Saturday was another great, but tiring day. We had a fun adventure planned. We got up (late!) at around seven fifteen. We needed to leave by eight and if we didn't it was going to put a kink in our travel plans. We HUSTLED and got to the subway and got on the G train. We caught the E train a few stops later and were glancing at our watches the whole time. We made it to Penn Station and ran to get tickets and get on the train to Long Island. We made it! It was an enjoyable ride and we met our friends, Barb and Kim (who were the closest friends of Peyton's amazing late aunt), at the station around eleven thirty.
Kinda neat to see a "normal" house on our way through Queens. We also saw some adorable (and I assume much more affordable) little shotguns. I told Peyton, though I'm so glad we didn't end up in Queens where you have to have a car, ect. Brooklyn is the PERFECT (for now) midpoint between suburbia and a place like Manhattan. 

We grabbed lunch at Panera and then headed to the Railroad Museum. We had a BLAST.
It was so awesome to have a couple of extra sets of hands. What a nice break for me and Peyton! 

Inside of a coach from the 1950s that was operational until fairly recently.

A windy ride on this little guy who made his debut at the World's Fair some half century ago.

This guy was obsessed. 

Inside a "Bay Window Caboose" from the early sixties. 

Toot Toot!

After that, we stopped by Barb's mom's house for a bit and then went to her house and had pizza for supper. We got back on the train exhausted. 

 They were a bit wild. Riding on a Long Island Railroad train back from Long Island. We had like two more hours before we were back in BK. It wouldn't be as bad, but we had to get off the train at Penn Station and get on the subway and then change subway trains and then walk several blocks. With car seats. And no stroller. BUT, we had an awesome day. Also: this is some (alot) of people's COMMUTE. Can you imagine?

They would not calm down on the train ride home, so since we had the seats anyway we decided to restrain them. They loved it! What a day!

On the way home, I tripped and fell. With Graves (who was asleep) in my arms. It was scary and left me shaky. We finally got home around ten and put the kids right to bed. Peyton and I talked and I did a few things and went to bed.

We (of course) woke up late on Sunday. I had told Peyton I really wanted to try Calvary-Saint George's (the church where Mockingbird was held) that morning and somehow we made it, just a little late. We got the kids bathed and fed in about an hour and ourselves ready. We were late getting on the train, but we made it. I overheard this guy tell his boyfriend "Who needs a hug machine when you have the six train at rush hour...or the L train when everyone is going to brunch?" It was so crowded.

Anyway, we finally made it and the message was AMAZING. I'm going to have to do a follow up post about churchs we've visited, but I want to be very careful how I frame it because at every single place I have (or Peyton has) been we've heard the gospel proclaimed- which frankly, I wasn't sure we would at some churches here. Of course, we've tried to be discerning in even where we visit, but it's still been a really happy condition. I was pretty upset last night as we tried to figure out where we'll actually commit to but this morning as I reflect on it, I realize that it's a pretty good problem to have.

Anyway, after that we bought some snacks/lunch at Duane Reade and ate on the steps of a park while we listened to some people protest about the "Dream Act". We swung by the store again for a bathroom visit and then headed to the East Village to get Graves's haircut. It was a pretty long walk (not like some here, but longer than I was expecting) and I had on church boots and we didn't have a stroller for AP. But we made it! And Graves did great.
I took him to the Russian barber. It was one of the most terrifying things I've done here yet. Not even kidding. I'm picky about, and emotionally invested in, boy baby boy hair.

The guy wasn't the sweet girl form the salon at home and it's definitely not Graves's signature Buster Brown, but our Russian barber was so kind and we we did end up with a classic lite boy cut, as opposed to some of the crazy do's I saw them working on. So I call it a win. His hair was so absurd. It was insane how much the guy cut. Graves goes "You cutting off ALL my hair?" And the barber says "No Sweetie, you got plenty".

After that, we tried to go get my nose pierced, but I didn't have my ID. We got another snack and headed back to Brooklyn. When we got home, the kids played and I started cooking Italian chicken. I played on my phone and started laundry and we ate. Peyton got the kids to bed and we talked and then I cleaned up the apartment some and wrote a post. I was actually really upset because we had sort of different opinions on which church should become our regular place of worship. I went to bed feeling frustrated and unsettled.

This week has been long for some reason. I've think we've come up with a plan for church (I'll write more about it later), so that's nice. This is Peyton's "long" week, though, and I think that's been harder coming off such a busy weekend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Running With Scissors, Discovering the New World, and Moving Twelve Hundred Miles Away: Thoughts on the Over-Medication of ADHD

As I mentioned yesterday, this article really needed a full blog post response. 

First, it's a long article, so here a few of the best snippets, in my opinion:

""We are pathologizing boyhood," says Ned Hallo-well, a psychiatrist who has been diagnosed with ADHD himself and has cowritten two books about it, Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction. "God bless the women's movement—we needed it—but what's happened is, particularly in schools where most of the teachers are women, there's been a general girlification of elementary school, where any kind of disruptive behavior is sinful. What I call the 'moral diagnosis' gets made: You're bad. Now go get a doctor and get on medication so you'll be good. And that's a real perversion of what ought to happen. Most boys are naturally more restless than most girls, and I would say that's good. But schools want these little goody-goodies who sit still and do what they're told—these robots—and that's just not who boys are.""

"Yes, the drugs these children consume may work. They help them focus for longer periods of time. They help them do better in school. But consider this: Stimulants work on just about anyone. "These are powerful drugs," says Bob Schaffer, the former Colorado congressman. "They would work on me. They would make anyone more focused. And everyone's happy because the kid is now under control." The fact that the drugs would help you perform better at work doesn't mean you should take them. And it certainly doesn't mean a seven-year-old boy who doesn't suffer from a psychiatric disorder should be taking them. Why not, if they help him do better? Because, for one thing, an important study of four thousand children published last year concluded that children who took stimulants didn't do any better in school than kids who didn't. But also, and perhaps more important, because he might not be the same seven-year-old boy once he starts, and he may never be the same boy again."

"Ned Hallowell, the ADHD expert who has the disorder, writes books about it, has talked about it on Dr. Oz, and thinks medication usually gets good results, feels the same. "The medical model is so slanted toward deficits that it excludes strengths—and it also reinforces stigma, that this is shameful, this is bad, this means you're a loser. And that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's the old line of whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. And what breaks my heart is how these kids, and the parents along with them, get broken in school, and they come out of twelfth grade believing that they're stupid. Believing that they're defective. But this trait, these are the people who colonized this country! Just think of it: Who in the world would get on a boat in 1600 and come over here? You had to be some kind of a nut. You had to be a visionary, a dreamer, an entrepreneur—you know, a risk-taker. That's our gene pool. So this country is absolutely full of ADD."

And here's where I land personally. Because, for me, it is sort of personal:

I was just talking to some friends about this the other day after hearing someone talk about her little boy who is almost exactly Graves's age and who was very concerned about his ability to "sit still".

I'm not Jon Rosamond, I totally believe this is a real thing. In fact, I live with a grown man for whom this is a reality for EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE. For a time, I also watched his swallow pills and endure those facial ticks and lack of hunger and mood changes this article makes mention of. So I get it. In the only way someone who doesn't have it can. That said, I'm fully convinced we are a society that does not allow little boys to be little boys.

Graves drives me up the wall just about every day of his little life. He really does. When he doesn't have the self control to sit through a meal, when he gets distracted every two minutes while picking up his toys, when he rounds a corner RUNNING with scissors (albeit the preschool kind) in his mouth, blades on either side of the tongue. Him sitting still for an arbitrary reason is the least of my concerns. I am doing my best to make sure he doesn't get hit by a train or run into traffic. I'm also trying not lose my mind, and my temper, every day. And I'm slightly terrified to try homeschooling him.

But I'm also remembering that, while his sister is brilliant in her own more socially acceptable way...HE will be the one who discovers the New World, walks on the moon, rides the fire engine.

Or he'll move his wife and very young children 1,200 miles away from everything they know and love, insist they only ever use public transit or walk everywhere they go, and drag them to the South Bronx. And God will use him to wreck their lives in the most glorious way.

I'll say this, it's easier when you know how the story can turn out. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Weekly Smorgasbord

I'm trying to get back to making this a regular thing, but I'm not doing great at it. Anyway, here's some links from the last couple of weeks!

On ADHD and Over-Medication:
Posted: 02 Apr 2014 09:12 PM PDT
Yes, the drugs these children consume may work. They help them focus for longer periods of time. They help them do better in school. But consider this: Stimulants work on just about anyone. "These are powerful drugs," says Bob Schaffer, the former Colorado congressman. "They would work on me. They would make anyone more focused. And everyone's happy because the kid is now under control." The fact that the drugs would help you perform better at work doesn't mean you should take them. And it certainly doesn't mean a seven-year-old boy who doesn't suffer from a psychiatric disorder should be taking them. Why not, if they help him do better? Because, for one thing, an important study of four thousand children published last year concluded that children who took stimulants didn't do any better in school than kids who didn't. But also, and perhaps more important, because he might not be the same seven-year-old boy once he starts, and he may never be the same boy again."

I have thoughts on this. I actually sort of went off about it on Facebook. I plan to share my thoughts here, but it really needs to be its own post. 

On Marriage:
Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:33 PM PDT
"As I read the passage in the book, I realized something very important about my body image. Mainly - I need to verbally tell my husband the words that will help me. The words of affirmation that will REALLY help me, and also the words or phrases that don't help. I want to go on the record by saying that I have the most incredible, sensitive and supportive husband in the world! He would be the first to agree though, that he's not a mind reader. If there are words or phrases or topics that we're really sensitive about, we have to tell our husbands! It clicked for me that that's what so many women crave - throwing away mirrors and just being told by the person we want to impress the most (that SHOULD be our husbands) that they see us as God sees us."

My friend Ashley blew me away with this post. So many great insights here.

On Homosexual Activity and Other Sins:
Posted: 02 Apr 2014 08:54 PM PDT
"If our only response is to speak the truth in love to the exclusion of the hundreds and hundreds of verses that call us toward mercy, peace, kindness, hospitality, and patience while leaving judgment to God, the only One able to judge fairly and correctly (James 4: 11-12), consequently also the only One who transforms and sanctifies, then I insist that you exercise that practice with every single sinner in your life. Every single one. Every single sin. Otherwise that obedience has no integrity. Every. Single. Sin. I want it called out in truth and love, I want it blogged about, I want it argued into legislation, I want it discussed in public forums outside of genuine relationships, I want articles, I want excommunications. I would respect a believer who calls out every sinner and sin around him in equal measure over one who selectively applies Scripture to certain categories. (I would not like that believer, but I would at least respect his consistency.)"

On Adoption:
Posted: 20 Mar 2014 10:11 AM PDT
This was a different perspective, one I didn't really even no was an option, as the title alludes to. What an amazing gift!

On My Mind and In My Heart:
Posted: 27 Mar 2014 08:34 PM PDT
"I've been wanting to share more of our stories over here on this blog. I'm keeping up with my Weekly Happenings on my main blog, but I want to really write about some of our experiences here. Anyway, last week I actually went to a writer's group at the library and I just wrote for an hour. It was hard and it's NOT my best writing- I was scared at first I'd just leave with blank pages- but it seems to work for an introductory post and a recap of one of my favorite days."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Marriage Letters: How We Co-Labor

Dear Peyton,

If we're together, I never push the stroller. And you couldn't do a load of laundry correctly to save your life. You mostly do the grocery shopping and I mostly do the cleaning. We rock a baby equally well, but obviously we don't nurse a baby or give a piggy back ride equally well. We sort of compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses in the pragmatic ways

But that's not really what this letter is about, is it?  I think we co-labor best when we're working through the hard things.

I put something cryptic on Facebook lat night about how one of these days there'll be a decision to be made and I'll be the good one and you'll be the selfish one. I said how one of the hardest things in the world is being married to someone more noble than yourself. So often your motives are so much more altruistic than mine. So much more long-sighted.

But even here I think we balance. You dream big. I think you're a sort of visionary. And, while I've mostly learned to go along with it and just see what comes to fruition, sometimes I have to help you get your feet back on the ground.

And I have to make sure there's at least one damn pair of socks clean to go on the feet of such a bold servant of the Lord.

Surely that is not insignificant?

I actually don't think it is. That's where I land right now. It took me awhile to get here, but I've realized the beauty, and the worth, in the ordinary, the dirty, the profane. The tasks of daily life that require humility to accomplish and creativity to make the accomplishment mean something. Such is the life of a mother to young children.

And often such is the life of serving a servant.

It's a blessing to call you mine, even when the mirror of your eyes shows mine to be dirty and tear-stained and feeling not enough.

You push me to greater things.

I hope that in some ways, I do the same for you. Weather that means bringing you back Earth-side or laundering socks for the flight to the moon.

Standing and Flying with You Always,


Friday, April 4, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Writer

Five Minute Friday

When do you get to call yourself a writer? A real writer?

When you publish your first novel?
When it makes the New York Times Best Seller list?
When you bang on your keyboard after the babies are finally in bed?
When someone validates those keystrokes and tells you that you encouraged them?
When you nervously sweating scribble in a notebook in the writer's group at the library?

When I was little, I read lots and lots of books. I was a voracious reader and I couldn't get enough. I liked to write my thoughts down, too and when I didn't have a pen and paper I'd just narrate my whole day in my head with the best adjectives and most vivid prose I could muster. I remember one day when I was walking into my elementary school and I glanced around, mortified, to make sure no one had caught me. "She pulled the hard wooden door open as a gust of wind blew through her hair that October morning", I had said out loud as I had opened the door.

These days, most of my thoughts and most of our stories that are worth recording find their way out of my heart, through my fingers, onto the screen. I'm thankful for it because it's one of the best  anxiety pill I've ever taken. Once it's out on the page, whatever it is, it has less power in my mind. Sometimes it's a true worry release or a genuine heart pour. Other times, it's just something taking up mental space. Either way, it feels good when I process and it becomes unjumbled and occasionally it becomes a thing of true beauty.

But that doesn't answer the question. When can you call yourself a writer? I say it tentatively, with a good bit of fear- it's one of the things I'm most self conscious about. I mostly say it in a whisper, I usually prefer "storyteller", and too often, when asked about it, I allow myself to make self deprecating comments along the lines of "oh, it's just a dumb thing on the Internet about my kids."

Something changed awhile back, though. My best friend, who is a real writer- who writes real things, and studies the literary giants, who can quote Flannery on a dime and who is well on his way to a PHD in these studies (I would have never thought my thirteen year old heavy metal listening, drum playing, Puma wearing, best friend would be a doctor of any kind when we grew up, but God is funny and irony abounds) affirmed me in it. He said gracious words about my words and God used him to chip away some of the insecurities. I made other friends who understand what this craft means to me and Peyton came along side me in a big way and acknowledged that this is a chunk of my heart and that tears are sometimes spilled on these keys and that I'm most alive- most myself- doing this this thing.

These days, I still whisper. I still insist I tell stories. But I don't call it dumb anymore.

And sometimes, in the silence, when all I hear is the clicking of keys and the thoughts untangling in my own head, I say it, just to myself....

I am a writer.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Weekly Happenings Post #261 (March 24-30)-- Getting Outside of My Comfort Zone (or Hard Places, Powerful Cities, and Forgotten Neighborhoods)

How cute is Mr. Chipmunk in my lap?

Monday turned out to be a good day. Graves was still asleep after Peyton left, which is always awesome. He got up around eight and had breakfast and then I actually woke AP up because I knew she'd be disappointed if she missed watching cartoons with him. After that, I got busy. I changed the kitty litter, made up the couch/bed, straightened a little and sent a text to my brother in a law about a package that went to our house in Mississippi. I got my bath and then I folded a bunch of laundry in the kids' room while they played. We read our Five in a Row book and I then had lunch. I put up dishes from the night before and got Graves down. I read some, uploaded pictures, got on Facebook, and ate my lunch. Annie and I practiced some reading/writing and did a few math pages. I also went through some of Graves's Spring/Summer clothes. Someone came to fix our bathroom sink and then Graves got up. 
Annie decided about a week ago that they are "Baby Kitty's" parents. It's an ongoing thing literally all day. She'll say things like "Daddy will get your bottle" and then Graves will run and fetch something they pretend is a bottle. She told me "I call this a family hug". 

We took some laundry to the basement and then the kids did some coloring sheets while I scrubbed a pan and did more dishes. 
Annie's sweet Sunday school teacher back home sent her (and Graves) these little lessons from Sunday school with coloring pages on the back. Tuesday was going to be full of things outside my comfort zone and this was actually just what *I* needed to hear.

We changed over the laundry and I folded some and played with them. After we got the laundry, I made up AP's bed (I had washed her sheets) and the kids ate supper. I got them ready for bed and read to them.
Such intensity. Feeding her baby peas. Do you see that devotion in her face?

Then I got on the computer and ate supper.
I used to dream of having a "Jenny" wedding myself. I ended up a little (alot) more traditional in my old age (twenty three). Anyway, I can't wait to see how Cookie rocks this. I also can't wait to see the flower girl in her tiny hippie dress and the shaggy ring bearer in whatever she finds for him. It's going to be perfect.

 Peyton got home and we talked some and I finished a blog post and then stayed up too late watching TV.

Tuesday was BUSY. We got up early and got ready and caught the train to go volunteer in the South Bronx. It's actually about an hour and a half trip there and another hour and a half back, but we felt this huge tug toward this ministry. Anyway, it was AMAZING. 
Peyton and I found out about, and felt this huge tug, toward this ministry. By many standards, it's the most impoverished area in the United States and I've got to be real here- I was terrified. Mostly for my children's safety, because I've heard it described as " a third world country", a war zone", and worse. We went for the first time and y'all. It was amazing. It reminded me so much of MDO days- something I've longed for since the day I quit. But different, because mommas weren't doing much needed grocery shopping or going to doctor's appointments sans little ones; they were in a nearby room attending a parenting class on positive discipline. One little boy spent a good chunk of the time in my lap. He was missing his momma so bad. Peyton kept trying to distract him and at first I did, too. But then I started just pulling him closer and promising him over and over again that his momma would be back for him. I'm wary of telling other people's stories, but I found out later that he's had some major disruptions in his tiny life. I knew my words had been perfect for him. I'm serious when I say I've never really had a moment like that. I just felt the Spirit moving in such a powerful way. I would have been more than content to never leave my vanilla life of suburbia in the 'sip, even for a temporary adventure. I'm so thankful God gave me someone who never could be. And I'm so proud of him when I saw the way the little boys gravitated toward him when they saw a man in the room and then stuck like glue to him while he read stories and played with animal figures. Maybe the best day yet! Peyton, thank you for forcing us into hard places, powerful cities, and forgotten neighborhoods. So glad to be living your our dream together. (And sorry I've you've read this five times on Facebook and IG and the NYC blog. But it was kind of amazing.)

On the way home, we stopped at The Met. We probably only spent forty five minutes there, but since we were going right by it on the subway and we have a membership, it made sense. Plus, Annie's going to get more out of it in small chunks than if we try to make it a three hour thing. 
Joke's on me. Playgroup in the South Bronx will wear a fella out. 

We came home and Peyton literally turned right around and ran out to pick up pizza and grab some baby shampoo. When he got home, I scarfed down my supper and headed out again. 
Part two of my adventures in being uncomfortable (I'll share part one later). Taking the public transit, going to something alone, going to something where everyone there could potentially be very different from me- all outside my comfort zone. But I'm trying to seize the opportunity and do things I won't have a chance to back in Mississippi. And I'm SO excited about getting to attend this *free* screening of a film about the Lovings, whose landmark Supreme Court decision legalized interracial marriage. 

I got home around nine and was so tired. Peyton and I talked some and I got on the computer for a couple of minutes and then we went to bed.

Wednesday was nice. I fixed Graves breakfast (he actually snuggled with me for a bit first) when Peyton left for work and then he and Annie watched cartoons. I got them a snack and then they played while I folded up sheets and got the couch fixed and straightened things from the day/night before (the stroller was still out in the middle of the hallway- ha!). I took my bath and then we cleaned up their room and I fixed them lunch and did a bunch of dishes. 

I put Graves down and he didn't sleep long. I ate my lunch and got on the computer and then took a short nap myself. Graves got up and the kids played and I straightened some piles in the kitchen and safety pinned the curtains that go behind our other curtains in the living room (I'll explain when I finally put up pictures of the apartment). I hung up some clothes, folded some more and did a few other things and then it was time for supper. The kids ate and I read to them and put them to bed. I read blogs and started a post. Peyton got home and we ate leftover pizza and watched SVU and then I finished my post. 

I woke up with a headache on Thursday and it didn't fully go away until about nine o'clock that night. 
Still hope she's wrong....

Peyton wasn't working until four and we did stuff around the apartment all morning. We searched and searched for my keys, which were lost and I took a bath and swept in the living room and put up some clothes. Peyton ran to Trader Joe's while the kids ate lunch and I did dishes. He got home and took them to the neighborhood grocery store. I had taken their monthly pictures, so I uploaded those and read blogs. When they got home, I put Graves down. He never fell asleep, so I let AP go in their room, too. I edited pictures and organized them and read a few more blogs. I ate my lunch and laid down for a bit. When they got up, we picked up their room and read some and then I started supper. They colored and then ate and I got them ready for bed. I put them down and watched The West Wing. Peyton got home and we ate dinner and watched a show and then I wrote Annie's letter for this month

I woke up feeling much better on Friday. It was raining and we had a slow morning. I got my bath and Peyton cooked breakfast. We ate and got ready and ran some errands (the hardware store and two banks). Then we went to the park and had a little picnic. 

It was raining again, but since Papa was off and it was over forty degrees, we had a picnic at the park!

Tiny tight rope walker and her brave partner.

We got home and put Graves down and Peyton took a nap, too, because he was working overnight. I got on the computer and had a snack and then I did my Bible study and read. Graves woke up and I went through a box of Summer shoes in the kids' room. Peyton got ready and left and then we cleaned up the kids' room and I let them help me cook supper (scrambled eggs and oatmeal). They ate and I bathed them and read to them and put them to bed. I got on the computer and wrote Graves's letter and uploaded pictures to Flikr. I ate my supper and watched some Bruce Springsteen YouTube videos and then watched The West Wing and fell asleep.

The kids actually slept late on Saturday. I'm convinced they knew the fun parent was not on the premises. Anyway, they slept until almost nine! (Actually, Graves woke up around six, but he settled right back down after I covered him back up with his blanket). We had breakfast and watched cartoons and Peyton got home and went to bed. My parents Facetimed us and we visited with them awhile and then I got my bath. It was almost time for lunch by then, so we picked up the kids room and then they ate. I put Graves down and Peyton got up. He and AP ran an errand and I got a box ready to mail and uploaded pictures from my phone and then went through a big stack of papers in a folder on the desk (it was actually a stack that I hadn't had time to go through completely before the move). 

Peyton and Annie got back and we got Graves up (he never did fall asleep). We put on a Charlie Brown Easter video and I started laundry and cooked fish for the kids. They ate and then we played a little. We put the kids down and I changed over my laundry. I got on the computer for a bit and cooked our fish. I straightened up some papers in the kitchen and got the laundry and Peyton and I ate and watched the news. I got back on the computer and then we watched the first episode of How I Met Your Mother. I called my mom and did dishes and we went to bed. 

I had decided the night before we probably wouldn't go to church because it was going to be raining all day. I discussed it with Peyton and I really felt this huge guilt over it. It's funny because I was able to give myself some grace at first, but now that I knew I could do it, I felt awful not doing it. But Graves has no rain gear (not even a raincoat, let alone boots) and while the walking part is relatively short, I didn't want to deal with waiting for a bus at stops that might not be covered. I decided to set my alarm and if it was pouring we couldn't go, but if it was light rain we would. Well, I forgot to set my alarm. 

The kids slept a bit later than usual, but when I woke up and saw it wasn't raining I realized we still could make it if I hustled. They were playing in their room really well and I checked the weather. It said it wasn't going to rain until that afternoon. I even got my bus fare together in case there wasn't enough left on my Metro card. That's when I realized that Peyton had the one set of keys (we've been looking for mine all week and it's not as simple as just getting one made here- we have to go through our landlady). Anyway, I was pretty discouraged and irritated but there was a peace knowing I had really given it my best shot.  

We ended up having a super lazy morning and it was really nice. The kids actually played a bit longer and then they ate breakfast and watched their little shows. They helped me fold up the sheets and push back in the couch. I didn't even take my bath until around eleven. We picked up their room and had lunch and then just read and played because our landlady was (finally!) coming over to give me the key to the storage unit and she needed to show it to me so I was planning to keep Graves up. She was supposed to be here between two and three and she got here at three thirty. We went down and saw it and Graves got a late nap. I had to wake him up around six. He was so cranky and I probably just should have skipped it, but I really needed a break. When I put him in there he actually dug in his dirty diaper AND teeteed on the floor. AHHH. Anyway, he finally fell asleep and I did a few things on the computer. When he got up, the kids played and colored and I folded laundry and then they had supper and I got them ready for bed. I watched The West Wing and worked on a blog post until Peyton got home and then we talked for a bit. I uploaded pictures and finished the post and we watched How I Met Your Mother. He went to bed and I worked on lesson plans until pretty late. 

Well, this week is over half over and it's been pretty good so far. This weekend is going to be BUSY and fun!