Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days to Write True: Our Next Big Adventure!

So, our next big adventure that I alluded to is a bit different from this current one. Actually, VERY different.

We've talked about several things- traveling the country in a Winnebago and hiking the Appalachian Trial, among other things. In the case of the AT it's not something I've really wanted to do or something I feel anywhere near capable of doing. In the case of the Winnebago, I really, seriously, so hope it happens some day. But with both of those, we knew (if we did them as a family) they were a good ways down the road.

So we were kicking around ideas and also just speaking with excitement in our voices about small things we wanted to do when we got back to Mississippi- joining the pool, being more intentional in our relationships with specific friends, minimizing a lot.

And then Peyton discovered a blog and our life was immediately threatened to be turned upside down by this Mr. Money Mustache.

Peyton has enjoyed retail pharmacy to varying degrees over the years. He's good at it and I think he's been able to figure out how to find contentment and fulfillment in it as much as is possible for him. He's had amazing co-workers, wonderful bosses, and incredibly sweet patients. But he's also tossed around ideas quite frequently of doing something different.

Well, we realized when he started reading this blog that if he could "retire" early a whole world of options would be open to him.

He could teach third grade in the inner city.

We could do some type of full time ministry, without worrying about funding for our own living expenses.

He could help me with homeschooling in a much deeper way.

He could work one day a week as a pharmacist and have the other four weekdays to do meaningful work that we wouldn't be compensated for.

We'd have the freedom to have more kids (or rather I'd have the courage) than if he was working in a traditional setting. We'd have the freedom to adopt a child (or children) that might be more than I thought I could handle on my own.

He could have an even more daily presence in our family, and our family (the four of us now) could serve others, in a very different way than we'd be able to do with him working full time as a pharmacist.

We'd have more flexibility for other adventures and more fluidity in our roles. *I* could teach third grade in the inner city. I could do some freelance writing. I could spend more time volunteering at places I believe in. And someone would still be at home with our children.

We wouldn't be dependent on Peyton's pharmacy salary. Actually, we wouldn't be dependent on any salary.

But all this will require some sacrifice. We talked to our financial guy while we've been home and turns out, it is actually possible. It's entirely doable. But...the big adventure is living on a TINY FRACTION OF PEYTON'S INCOME for the next three or four years.

That's going to be hard. I don't think of myself as a frivolous gal, but it's going to be HARD.

I kept telling Peyton initially that we already live on a pretty modest budget (we do), but he kept saying I was comparing us to the rest of America and I didn't need to let that be my measuring stick. And he was right.

We have a lot of expenses that aren't truly necessary. Luxuries. I actually do engage is more frivolous spending than I'd like to tell myself. It turns out nobody owes me a dinner at a restaurant once a week. It turns out that I don't just deserve to get my hair highlighted every few months. It turns out that, even though I've made big strides, I'm not entitled to spend what I do on clothes for the children.

That was a big word that occurred to me in all this. I had this sense of pride because we HAVE made good decisions and are already living in a way many folks our age aren't- we have literally no debt. Our school debt is paid off. Our cars are paid off. Our whole damn house is paid off. And we've made sacrifices. I drive a '94 Buick and our house is basically tiny for what most people in our income bracket live in.

And I had convinced myself that it was okay to drop five hundred dollars on the children's clothes for one season. That there was no amount of eating out that could offseat our good behavior in those other areas. That spending huge chunks of change at Target on the regular was an acceptable activity.

Because I'm not yet thirty and MY WHOLE DAMN HOUSE IS PAID OFF.

I realized this is totally an attitude of entitlement.

And I was fighting against something that not only did Peyton deeply desire, but something I knew would probably provide a better life for our family and something I knew would help us all contribute to our communities in more meaningful ways.

I also realized that this is not an indefinite time of downward mobility. This is less than five years. Surely I can do anything for a few years with my best people by my side?

So we're doing it. When we move back, we're slashing the budget in a major way.

I'm hoping in the process we'll learn a lot about ourselves, become closer to one another, appreciate the intangibles more, and grow in humility and Christian love.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days to Write True: Decided

September was a difficult, draining month for me. Honestly, probably the hardest one I've had since we moved in February. Literally almost every day was a struggle and I felt more anxious, sad, and lonely than I had in a long time. I think there were probably several factors that came into play, but one big one is that Peyton and I just spent a lot of time talking about what is next and trying to make decisions for the future. 

I may have said this before, but one reason I think I've enjoyed our time in Brooklyn so is because we have been able to press pause for a minute and just live in the moment. I think Peyton and I both struggle to do this. Peyton because he like to search and adventure and always wants to be scheming up the next idea. Myself because I'm a planner and I like to know (and truthfully control) what is coming next. I know I've said this before, but I spent too much time wanting get engaged, and then married, and...well, I didn't have much time to wish away our newlywed days for babies, but I'm sure I would have. I learned to slow it down a bit when the children came because I realized how beautiful our days were and they've truly been the best days of my life. I hope we'll have plenty just as precious, but I can't imagine anything being better than this season. So I had gotten away from wishing away time and wanting the next phase to come, but there was still a pull. I just wanted to know (and again, really decide) what was coming next. Somehow, in Brooklyn, I just feel like I broke through from all that for a bit. 

I didn't stress about school options because I hadn't really given myself any besides homeschooling. We didn't plan any new adventures, because it was a huge adventure. I didn't fixate on having another child, because I knew I didn't want to be pregnant or have an infant in Brooklyn. And we weren't worried about when to leave because we wanted to just experience it first. 

Well, for some reason a lot came to the forefront in September. And I sort of HATED going over it all. Over and over. It was exhausting. Peyton and I are both talkers. We think too hard often and we talk too much often. It wore me out. 

Thankfully, we were able to make a lot of decisions before the trip home, so it's been a lot more relaxed than if we still had things up in the air. 

Here is why I feel settled:

- We're moving back to Mississippi in May, most likely the beginning of May. The trip home has given me a real peace about it. I know I will leave a part of me in New York and that I will carry pieces of Brooklyn in my heart until the day I die. But being home has been wonderful and I've felt so right here. That doesn't mean there won't be days I don't cry because I miss the city so much or that there won't be things about the South that frustrate me to no end. But it does mean that I know this is our place. For now, anyway. 

- We're down to two options for schooling- straight homeschooling or doing a two day a week school (which is different than the program Annie did for a year and a half when we lived here). I feel really good about either and now it's just weighing the pros and cons and deciding what is a better fit for our family for the next school year. Sometimes deciding between two great options is really difficult for me, but it's a good predicament to be in! 

- We've discussed this a lot and really thought about what we want our family to look like (obviously the Lord has veto/overriding power on that-- HEEEEELLO, Annie Banani!) and we have an idea of what we're hoping for going forward. Spoiler- it includes more kiddos! I'm reminding myself that it's important to keep it one kid at a time, one year at a time. But at the same time, I think it helps to have a gameplan so we can plan for things like housing and such. 

- Speaking of, we had really talked about moving into Jackson, but I think we're going to stay in the suburbs for the next two or three years. That could totally change, but it feels good to at least have the intention determined. 

- Which leads to this....we've decided on our next adventure/project! I'm going to blog about it in more detail because it really deserves it's own post.

It was interesting typing this all up because I realized more why it had been so stressful. That's a lot of really big things we put upon ourselves to decide. I'm glad we can move forward and enjoy the rest of our New York adventure with a sense of peace and that we can relax and enjoy the ride! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Days to Write True: For the Rest of His Life

I have to share a really special memory from the wedding. One of the most special moments of the night was seeing the groom sitting at a table visiting and motioning for his mom to sit on his lap. They snuggled a little and it was such a precious moment between the two of them. 

A couple of years ago when my little guy was still a baby, I had a conversation with some friends about that stupid saying "a son is a son until he takes a wife; a daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life. Honestly, I felt sick at my stomach. It devastated me to think that one day Graves and I might not be particularly close, but I knew that wasn't uncommon. So often I think little boys love their mommas with this amazing, unique, different kind of love but as they grow up things change, particularly when important new women appear on the scene. So I grieved a bit thinking about the future.

I'm so thankful I got to witness that sweet moment with Conrad and his momma. It showed me that such distance wasn't an inevitable fate. 

I promise "Write True" hasn't turned into "Big Feelings from Cookie's Wedding", but I had no idea how deeply meaningful it would all be and it's been special to process that fully over the past week. 

Anyway, I think this MAY be the last wedding post. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekly Happenings #289 (October 6-12)-- Flying Home and Getting a Sister Married

Whew! It's been a whirlwind the last week and a half. This is actually the first time I've been able to upload pictures and really work on the blog in a substantive way. We've been at Peyton's parents for a week and he's flying back tomorrow but the kids and I will be here a bit longer! 

Monday was a good last day with just me and the kids. They got up a little late and then we watched their shows and I cooked them oatmeal for breakfast. They ate and I did my morning chores (folding up the couch, the liter box, and straightening a little) really quickly. I did spend too much time on the computer and then planning for school took longer than usual. I played with the kids a little, took a super quick shower, and then we did their devotion and catechism. We did a quick toy pick up and then they ate lunch and I put Graves down for a nap. He played pretty well, but made a LOT of bathroom trips. 

I got on the computer and did part of Annie's school. When Graves got up we did math and did his critical thinking and tracing. I fixed them eggs and grits and then we read and I got them ready for bed. I cleaned up and Peyton got home. We watched TV and talked and then I worked on a couple of posts. I went to bed late.

The kids slept late and we had a lazy morning on Tuesday. Peyton was off and we just did things around the apartment to get ready to leave. I scheduled the car service to the airport and sent an email. I took my bath and had lunch and folded laundry and then Peyton took Graves to Cumbe. Annie played and I got on the computer and had lunch. I started packing and folded more laundry and when the boys got home, we cleaned up the kids' room.
Packing for three people for three weeks in which festivities include a wedding, a rehearsal dinner, a bridesmaids luncheon, a ten year reunion, and a day trip. I asked Minnie about the weather and she advised "dark cottons" since it's in the eighties. She reminded me of the fair and Halloween. I reminded her that in almost thirty years of living there, I could never figure put how to dress appropriately for either. And the rest of the apartment looks like a tornado hit it. 

Peyton helped me get them fed and showered and ready for bed and I did one last load of laundry. Peyton met with a group of guys he's friends with and I packed some more. I got on the computer and did dishes and Peyton got home. We talked and I folded the last laundry and finished packing. We went to bed late.

Wednesday was the day! I snoozed my alarm a few times and when Ellis texted at eight we talked a bit and then I got in the shower at eight thirty as the kids were getting up. We all got ready and packed the very last things. 
Peyton packed his clothes for a week in a MESSENGER BAG. The rest is mine and the kids'. Originally he was going to take the small black suitcase, but I needed it.

We did a few last minute things before leaving the apartment and went out to meet our car.
We found a car service with multiple car seats (some I called would only send one). The driver was so nice, arrived five minutes early, and drove like a human being. And it was only marginally more expensive than a cab! So much better than getting our seats out of storage and lugging them to Jackson or trying to do transit to LGA. 

We made it to the airport and got checked in with tons of time to spare. 
It makes me emotional. I think about flying into and out of here on the the trip Peyton and I took over a year ago. And I think about flying here by myself with the kids. Both the trip and the experience were transformative for me, so being here leads to big feelings.

The kids were pretty relaxed and did great. 
I was sure I packed his "green blankie" this morning when he woke up. Coulding find it in the carry on and it wasn't under the plane as I'd hoped. He said "I'm just so sleepy. I want my green blanket." And Peyton said "we don't have it, Bud." And he said "then I'm not sleeping". I had a tiny stuffed dino, a WELL loved duck lovey, and no less than five baa's. But I still felt horrible. I know how much that stuff means to him. 

I think LaGuardia got its feelings hurt when Vice President Biden said it was like being in a third world country. There were iPads EVERYWHERE.

We boarded and had a good flight, other than me feeling sick.

leaving the big city!

 The kids did fabulous! 
Graves did GREAT on the flight thanks to this densely packed and incredibly gory book I've bought like a year ago after a friend shared it. I had been saving it for a special occasion and I think his dino obsession may be at its peak. He devoured it. Pun intended :)

And Annie and I went ahead and knocked out some Logic of English since we had a few hours. 

We had a nice layover in Atlanta. We got eat lunch/dinner, but it wasn't too long. 
Back in the South!

We boarded and got to Jackson quickly. Peyton's mom was waiting for us at the airport when we got off the plane. I also saw my high school librarian! We got loaded up and headed to our house to pick up our car. Peyton and I took the kids by my parents' house and picked up my dress to get altered and the kids' stuff. We got back to Peyton's parents' (where we were staying) and ate dinner and got the kids settled. We visited and I blogged a bit.
These two just pretty much had Christmas morning. DeeDee and Grandpa Randy had their room set up with adorable new dinosaur and mermaid sleeping bags, a pile of books, their own little suitcases, and a couple of new outfits. Such a fun surprise for our sweet small people who, in this season, don't get to spend birthdays and Christmas with their grandparents.

We got a good start on Thursday because we had a LOT to do. We got the kids ready and got showers and then left them with DeeDee while we ran errands. We dropped my dress off to be altered; stopped at our house to get some toys for the kids at the hotel, a pair of shoes, and Peyton's suit; and then headed to Target for a few last minute cosemetic purchases. We drove through Canes for lunch and then went back to get the kids. We changed them into clothes for the party that night and Peyton dropped me off to get my hair colored. He picked up my dress and bought a new dress shirt for himself because we had discovered a stain on the one he packed. After they picked me up, we stopped and got snacks and used the bathroom (and visited with our friend Erika!) at Walgreens. We got on the road around five thirty.
We left this here (but took the Batman and Joker cars). He really didn't miss it for months and then just in the lady couple started asking about his racetrack. He was so excited he's had it on his lap the whole trip so far. Annie, on the other hand, told us last night that she wanted to stay in NYC and not move back for good. I asked her why and she said she didn't like her bedroom in MS as much. We talked more and she said it's because she'll have even MORE toys to put up than in Brooklyn (as I mentioned, we left some things here). We discussed and she said she'd be so happy if we put some of her toys in the attic and rotated them. Needless to say, her papa was PROUD!

Dress altered, hair trimmed and colored, and we're on ourselves to Baton Rouge! I'm getting it SHORT before we leave, but I didn't want to right before the wedding. Also, this is DARK. But I just can't maintain it any blonder in the city. Or on the crazy budget Peyton's worked up for when we move back.

We stopped twice (QUICKLY) and made it to Baton Rouge by eight thirty. We had drinks and visited and met all Conrad's family.
{flower girl-ring bearer-flower girl}at a rooftop gathering celebrating the bride and groom

 After that, we went to dinner with Cookie and my parents. 
We walked out of an elevator and and a guy said to Peyton "After you, beau". This ain't a bad place to be. 

The kids did really well, but they were so tired (Annie in paticular, Graves had taken a car nap around seven pm).
Being a goofball at the fancy restaurant. He was actually SO well behaved.

We got back to the hotel room and it was midnight by the time the kids got to bed and one by the time the rest of us did. We actually didn't have a room reserved and were just going to stay in a different hotel, but we ended up staying with Cookie. So fun!

We had a slow morning and slept late on Friday. Peyton and Cookie were up early, but the kids and I slept until ten. We bathed the kids and got showers ourselves and repacked and then checked out. We moved our stuff to my parents room until we could check in and then went to lunch at a po-boy place. Graves had an accident right as were were finishing so we came back to the hotel and changed his clothes and visited with my parents a little. I printed out my toast and worked on a blog post a little.

After that, we all got ready for the rehearsal and then left to go practice. We left the kids and Conrad's niece who was the other flower girl in our hotel room with two babysitters. It was finished quickly and we went to dinner. It was wonderful, with so many friends sharing beautiful toasts.

Peyton and I went out to a bar with the rest of the wedding party and then turned in for the night.

Saturday was the big day! Peyton actually got Graves up early in hopes he'd take a good nap. Annie and I slept in a bit and then I got on Instagram and my mom came to our room to help me decide on Annie's outfit for the bridesmaid's luncheon. I took a quick shower and ironed our clothes and then got the kids dressed while Peyton got our carseat out of the car for Annie. Minnie and my aunt and Annie and I were taking a taxi so we met Peyton downstairs and he got the seat buckled in. Peyton and Graves hung out and we headed to the luncheon. It was beautiful!
lovely flowers! 

The flower girl (and her momma) had so much fun at the bridesmaids luncheon! 

dainty treats! 

The flower girls. Cookie and Conrad are both so lucky to each have gained a precious new niece.

I had a hard time waking Peyton up to get him to answer the door once we got back to the hotel. He finally let us in and Graves was still sleeping. We chilled out a bit and then I joined Cookie to have my hair and make up done.

 I thought we had more time when I got back to the room, but it was almost time to go. Peyton helped me get the kids ready and I did a few last minute things. We hurried down to the buses and got in a van and headed to the property. The kids danced on the dance floor (with no music) and then we did pictures.

 Then it was time! The ceremony was really sweet and special.

After it was over, I had to sign something to witness the marriage. The reception was great- we had such fun dancing and eating and visiting.

Toward the end the band had all the bridesmaids get up on stage and DANCE BY THEMSELVES. I was SO worried and was thinking about how I'm like basically an SNL character with this sort of thing. Peyton saved the day and handed me Annie and so it was much less awkward. The kids were SO tired when we got back to the hotel. We went to bed.

On Sunday we all got up and finished packing and took baths. Some of the fastest baths our kids have ever taken. We got out and on the road and didn't stop at all. We still didn't make church, but we caught some friends after the service. After that we had lunch with the Deckards and another friend at the Mexican restaurant and then we came home and regrouped. We headed over to our friends, the Roberts' house. We stayed super late and had such fun.

We had a great week and this one has been, too!

31 Days to Write True: The Only True Adventure

One of the groomsmen at the wedding shared this quote and I loved it. 

I'm not an adventure person.

I married an adventure person, however. 

We've had a few good adventures, some actually incredible. I feel like we've got a good many more in us. 

But we've also lived some mundane moments together. And that's been beautiful, too. Incredibly beautiful, actually. 

Because to love, and be loved, is the truest adventure of them all. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Days to Write True: Flower Child Wedding in the Bayou

This is going to be, for a good part, a picture post. And so thoughts and feelings as well, of course. Anyway, the wedding: 

I really want to write a whole post based on this picture, and I think I probably will at some point. Hopefully this month. I think they fell right behind Cookie and Con in the running for cutest pair of the night. 

I mentioned it before but her dress is made partly from my momma's wedding dress and that was incredibly special to me. 

I can't tell you how happy I was to stand by her and hold her flowers and straighten her dress and sign official things and do all the tiny things that are especially significant when you're the matron of honor. 

Something about this baby being out in nature and looking almost a part of nature herself. Everything really did. It all seemed so perfect and natural and organic and beautiful. 

Don't these two look excited and adorable?

such a beautiful, magical night!

I loved watched her little nieces and nephew surround her and the space for them she made in her day

As I said earlier, this guy was SMITTEN. I told Conrad that some guy kept staring at his wife and it was kind of creepy. Honestly, the older guys have just learned not to bed so obvious. I've never seen her more beautiful or more happy.

 He is such a little spit fire, but also the sweetest boy alive, I'm totally convinced 

Graves loved the wedding cake. 

A few days after getting back in town, the bride had to text me and Minnie and remind us it was Mick's birthday. From her honeymoon! Eeek. He knows he's loved :)

You know it's a good party when the band takes a break and puts on a rap cd and the ringbearer takes to someone's shoulders and starts raising the roof! 

Goodnight, sweethearts! 

Married folks drinking in their bathrobes. Happiness, yo. 

31 Days to Write True: Sleep

Last night, I fell asleep on Peyton's parents couch at nine thirty. I'm a huge night owl, so that's absolutely unheard of. You may have also noticed my lack of attention to the blog. There's a lot that's not gotten my attention that usually does. But we've had an amazing week together and an amazing time catching up with friends and just enjoying dipping out toes back into life in Mississippi. I'll be happy when we're all four back in Brooklyn and things slow a bit, but for now I'm enjoying the ride. It's a good one. 

31 Days to Write True: My Charming, Precious Ring Bearer

I wrote about my sweet flower girl a few days ago, so now it's this guy's turn. He was such a charmer (per usual) at the wedding. I think we all could have just eaten him up in his cute little "suit', but it's his personality that does it. 

He was slightly more reserved on the dancefloor than his sister, slightly less when it came to the cake. He smiled and laughed and played and was just an absolute joy the whole (long) night. Even when he got super tired, he really stayed in good spirits. One of Graves's biggest strengths is how good-natured he is. He just goes with the flow so well. 

One of the most fun aspects of the night was how enamored with the bride he was. He adores his aunt, but this was something altogether different. He could not take his eyes off of her. I thought it was the sweetest, more precious thing. Cookie told me several times "He just keeps staring at me" and all I could say was "Do you blame him?"

I hope the next woman he finds this beautiful has as sweet of heart and kind of a spirit as his beautiful aunt.