Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thankfuls (Days 11-20)

Ten more days of thankfuls! I have to be honest here, I've been in a bad ugly sinful season of discontent. These lists are always a good exercise, but particularly so when I seem to be struggling in finding contentment despite many, many blessings. 

[Sometimes, things have more meaning when context is given. When I look back at these, I want to remember that context.]
*Day 13- This may sound really silly, but along with giving birth naturally, I credit the woman I am today in large part to learning how to manage public transit in a huge city with small people. I used to be extremely underconfident and very fearful. I still am, at times. But these two things have been so empowering and have shown me that through the Lord's strength I am capable of way more than I think I am. It doesn't matter that I'm small and afraid, I am fierce in Him and I will get my tail and theirs' wherever we need to be in this epic city. 
**Day 15- TMI but cough and sneeze season is always a good reminder that my body is a little broken from these kiddos (mainly Graves). It doesn't work like it did six years ago, for sure. But it also reminds me how thankful I am that it did exactly what it was designed to do TWICE, but particularly with Graves who was a lot bigger and a bit more difficult to carry than his tiny sister. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weekly Happenings Post #293 (November 3-9)-- Settling Back in Brooklyn and Enjoying Fall

I hope I can finally get back in my groove with these things. I'm planning to do last weeks at some point this week and get back on track. Anyway, the week was nice. Also the picture above is from the totally week. I've never let two full weeks pass between family pictures, but we came awfully close this time!

We had a good week. We got settled back in and and we tried to get out some while it's not FRIGID. It was pretty cold, though. The leaves were gorgeous that week and I'm glad we enjoyed them!

Peyton was working Monday, but the kids and I had a good day. They got up around eight thirty and we had breakfast and watched their shows. I folded up the couch and ate breakfast and got on the computer. I scooped liter and took my bath and made a grocery list. Then we played a bit and I did their catechism and devotion with them. I fixed them lunch and they ate and then I put Graves down. He played and I got on the computer and ate my lunch. I laid down a bit because I had a headache and then I did school with Annie. I let Graves join us for math and then did critical thinking and tracing with him. They helped me cook supper and ate and then I read to them and got them to bed.
"He was messin' with Hippo's nostrils and then he just started digging in his own nose." -Annie

"I'm your nurse. My name is Cookie." And then she started barking at him to hold his head up and be still. It will be amazing if he finds another girl who will care for him like this and put up with him. Of course, he's a charmer and a flirt and ridiculously sweet, so I think he will. Usually how it works, right? Ask me how I know =)

 I got on the computer and cleaned up the apartment and then Peyton got home. We watched TV and fell asleep.

Tuesday was a nice day. Peyton was off and we had a super lazy morning. I had breakfast and got my bath and did a few things and then headed out to get my nose pierced again.
Now that we're back in the city, I decided to get it pierced again. (I got a keloid round one and it looked horrid and I didn't want to risk it happening again before I was finished with my matron of honor duties.) 

I met Peyton and the kids at the park and it was time for Graves to go to Cumbe.
Peyton took this. Isn't it the best shot ever?

 Annie wanted to go watch, so we picked up a snack and headed there. We left and it was time for Peyton to go to his book club. He walked home with us most of the way. When we got home, I fixed the kids supper and straightened.
We call this "Crocodilia Selfie".

I read to them and put them in the bath and did dishes and cleaned up supper. I got them to bed and then got on the computer for awhile. Peyton got home late and I put up groceries. I went to bed late.

Wednesday was sort of rough. The kids took forever to eat breakfast and were so cranky all morning. We watched their shows and I finally got them settled and took my bath and planned school, ate breakfast, got on the computer, and folded up the couch and scooped liter. I played with them and we did their devotion and catechism and calendar and I texted with Ellis some. We cleaned up (there was a major breakdown during that) and then had lunch.
Annie went to her art table and spontaneously created this mood indicator. She said each day we could discuss our moods and today was "cranky". Then she said "I should have just asked of we could leave out my 'nightstand' in a kind way and not thrown that big fit (which involved spitting, lying, an immediate trip to time out plus another more severe time out during naptime- her only time apart from her brother, and her threatening not to do school to make up for the lost naptime minutes). That day sucked hard and I was dealing with my own Big Feelings, but watching her process and attempt to find better ways to express herself makes it all worth it.

Graves rested and I did school with Annie and ate my lunch and got on the computer. Graves got up and we did Annie's math and then I let them help me cook a new soup for supper. They ate and I read to them and got them to bed. I got on the computer until Peyton got home and we talked and then I finished up a post.

Peyton was off Thursday and we kind of blew the day. I was sort of dissapointed. I got up a bit earlier than usual, when Peyton and the kids did. We still had a slow morning, though. Our sink was clogged and we had to wait for maintenance to come so we stuck around the apartment. Annie did a little school work and we played with Little People and the the kids' fun Ikea rug that has lots of places on it.
Minnie also spent like forty eight hours straight in bed this weekend and Mick called P to see if he could give her some of HIS blood pressure medicine. Flower child wedding in the Bayou and having grand babies shack at her pad for 1.5 weeks finally caught up to her. Preventing something serious until I can get my Buick back. Noway am I trying to haul small people (or myself!) around this city pregnant.

We had lunch and waited and waited. They were supposed to come at one and it ended up being like two thirty. By the time the guy left, it was time for ballet. We were going to a lights festival afterward, so we all went. Graves fell asleep on the way and slept part of the class. After it was over we decided to do the lights the next night instead and we ate at Smash Burger and came home. We got the kids to bed and I worked on a blog post and chatted with Peyton and we went to bed.

Friday was a fun day. We got up, had oatmeal for breakfast, and all got ready for a "city hike". We walked over to Prospect Park and explored for awhile.

What happens when you turn this city girl loose in an open field. She ran and ran and didn't stop for the longest time or even look back. It reminded me of Forrest Gump! 

We saw this Native American dance performance going on near the field Annie was running in and stopped to watch

It was SO cold, though. We headed home and it started sprinkling a little. I talked to a friend who is going to take our pictures next week and then started making some soup. Peyton and I both did school with Annie and then we ate and headed to the light show. It was fun but SO crowded and so cold.

We came home and it was pretty late. I added some more veggies to my soup- I felt like it was too much tomato and got on the computer and then went to bed.

Peyton had to work on Saturday, but we had a good day. The kids got up and had breakfast and then watched their shows. We were all tired so we watched one extra! Right as it was finishing, the guard booth called to say we had a package that had been delivered to the wrong apartment. We ran down and got it and then finished the show. I got on the computer and straightened a good bit and took my bath.
Graves hit his head, pinched his finger in a door, and bit his tongue in the span of about fifteen minutes. I was trying to do dishes so his nurse took over on the third incident. She brought his blanket and cuddled him in her lap. I was saying what a kind little girl she was and she said "You know, he's a very kind brother. At lunch when I was fussing because you said we couldn't have more than one brownie, he offered me his". They are so good to each other.

One more because those sweet eyes. He loves being babied by his "Sissy Missy". 

I helped the kids pick up their room and they ate lunch and then we took a quick trip to the park. We came back and I put Graves down. He actually fell asleep! Annie played and I got on the computer and uploaded pictures. I cooked some chicken and when Graves got up, they ate. I bathed them and read to them and then Peyton got home. The kids went to bed and we watched a few episodes of The Wonder Years. We stayed up pretty late.

Sunday was busy. I had to be at the church to watch kids at eight. We got up around six to get ready and left around seven. So early! Peyton walked with us and we took a bus part of the way. He left and went to work and I helped teach Sunday school. We were there from eight until one. Whew! Graves said later her was "tired from that long church". We got home and I fed the kids lunch and they had rest time. And I took a nap! I got up and got us all ready and we headed to Calvary-Saint George's. The six train had service changes and we ended up being SO late. We made it for the very end of the service. Peyton met us and we came home and I did laundry and he got the kids to bed. I got on the computer for a bit and cooked supper and went to bed.

It's good to be home. For now.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Weekly Happenings Post #294 (November 10-16)-- First Fall Freeze

It's gotten CHILLY. No snow yet, but it's been bitterly cold. It's dropped below thirty several times and we're all getting back in the habit of wearing multiple layers.

Monday was nice. The kids got up and we watched their shows and had breakfast. Then I got busy. I did my usual routine (bath, computer, breakfast, folding up the couch, scooping liter) but I also folded up the stroller and hung up a bunch of coats, straightened the kitchen, put up some laundry, and did dishes. It took about two and a half hours instead of one and a half. The kids played SO well! We did their catechism and devotion and then picked up and then I fixed them lunch after we played a little. Graves had rest time and I ate my lunch and got on the computer. I did school with Annie and then got Graves up. We did Annie's math and some critical thinking and cutting for Graves. I got their supper ready and they ate and I read to them.

I got on the computer until Peyton got home and we ate supper and watched The Wonder Years and I folded a bunch of laundry. I got on the computer again and did my Bible study. We chatted and went to bed WAY too late.

Tuesday was a fun day. The kids got up and I slept a little late and then got my bath and scooped liter and folded up the couch. Peyton headed to Target and I swept and straightened and ate breakfast. He got back and hauled some stuff to the storage unit and I bathed the kids and folded more laundry. I straightened some more and got us all ready because a friend was coming over to take some pictures. Suzy arrived and we headed out to the park. We had a great time and ended up staying out awhile and getting some good shots. We got home and I uploaded the pictures while she visited with Peyton and the kids some more.

Peyton walked her out and ran to the store and I started cooking soup for dinner because we were having company. The kids played with kinetic sand and I straightened some more (the apartment was a wreck) and finished the soup. Peyton got home with the stuff for a salad and worked on that and I started helping the kids clean their room. It was no use. I gave up and helped Peyton with the salad and Adam got here. We had a wonderful night and enjoyed the company so much. He left around ten and we put the kids right to bed. Peyton and I talked some and I got on the computer for a bit.

The kids slept a little late on Wednesday. We got up and watched their shows and had breakfast and then I planned school, ate breakfast, got my bath, and folded up the couch and scooped liter. I played with them and we did their catechism and devotion and then I helped them clean up their room. They ate lunch and then we ran to the bank to deposit a check for our land lady. We got home and Graves rested and I got on the computer and then did English with Annie. We got Graves up (he never slept) and did math and then we did our Five in a Row book (it's been awhile!), some critical thinking, a little activity and some cutting. I fixed them supper and they ate and I did a bunch of dishes. I got them to bed and called my mom and got on the computer. Peyton got home and we talked and then I got back on the computer and finished a post.

Thursday was a good day. The kids got up and we watched their shows and had breakfast. I hustled through my morning stuff (scooping liter, folding up the couch, planning school, and breakfast) and got my bath. Then I played with them a little and we did their devotion and catechsim. We read some and then picked up toys.
This is "Early", a friend we took from Cookie's massive Beanie Baby collection. AP told me that he likes to eat at a restaurant called "Worm Puddle Square". They soak the worms in puddles because, you know, if they're left in the sun they dry out and die. 

FYI, she also runs a pet shop especially for lost animals. She said one of the things she "spends time on" is walking the animals before she takes them to the store so they won't be as scared without their owners. The shy ones have a really hard time, though. HSP right here, folks. 

They had lunch and I did dishes and put Graves down. I got on the computer and had my lunch and did English with Annie. We got ready and all headed to ballet. It went by quickly and a sweet lady complimented me on how patient Graves was.
I decided to try the stroller for ballet today since there were no connections (not as many stairs as a lot of trips). Verdict: it makes me way more nervous on the stairs, it's about equal in stress to my body (those stair trips aren't easy, but it's obviously less work overall), but it's way faster. We did miss a train I know we would have made had I been able to fly down the stairs like I can when I wear him, but the trade off is that the wait time on the platform for the next one was exponentially more manageable. I am thankful for a fifteen dollar stroller and a two hundred dollar carrier that both do their job really well. It's clearly a mixed bag and something I'll just need to evaluate case by case. Until May. Then I'm strapping him in his carseat, blasting Springsteen in the Buick, and stopping for a Sonic drink. Oh wait....maybe just Kool Aid from my house. Either way, no more trains. 

We got home and did more school- Annie's math, some cutting for Graves, and that kind of thing.
I let Graves sit with us and play with manipulatives during math time. Now that he rarely naps, I can't make him stay in his room any longer than what it takes for me to have a break and Annie and I to do English (and I'm selfishly still clutching the me time). Anyway, last Thursday he made this and then said "Look, Momma, I made you a quadrilateral" (something I've NEVER directly talked to him about). This was such a happy moment because I'll ask him to count a group of three or more objects and he will literally look at me, hard laugh, and say "I don't know how, Momma". I'm always trying to decide if he's teasing (I think mostly), being lazy (maybe a little), being defiant (I really don't think this is that), or is slightly delayed (again, I really don't think so, but I'm prone to irrational anxiety). He amazes me sometimes. And then I feel silly, because he's an extraordinarily amazing kid.

They had supper and I read to them a good bit and got them to bed. I blogged and Peyton got home. We talked and watched TV and then I got back on the computer for a bit.

Friday was nice and relaxed. We had a slow morning. Peyton cooked pancakes! I got my bath and we all got ready and headed to Prospect Park.

We stopped back by the library and then came home. By the time we got home and played a little, it was time for the kids to eat supper. I bathed Annie (Graves had taken one that morning) and read to them and got them to bed. I did a bunch of laundry and visited with Peyton while I folded. I worked on my closet change over and then wrote a blog post.

Saturday was a fun day. We had planned to go to a TGC Home Group at a friends' house. We've meant to go before, but never made it. We knew with being in Mississippi for such a big chunk of time, we weren't going to sign up, but we had wanted to pop in. Anyway, we realized they only have two more times and so we decided not to go. I had gotten up and gotten ready, but I ended up dozing on the couch and playing/snuggling with Graves. We headed to the Children's Museum a little before lunchtime. They had a special craft time and a story time for Native American month. Annie loved it and we played a little and then headed out for a late lunch.
Storytelling at the Children's Museum. We ALL loved it. And Graves was so still and quiet! 

We had a great snack to tide us over and then came home. We relaxed and the kids played and ate supper and then we bathed them and got them to bed. Peyton and I talked and watched TV and I uploaded a bunch of pictures from October to Facebook and then went to bed.

Sunday was BUSY. We got up and headed to TGC. We were running late and almost skipped, but Annie was very adamant about going. I'm so glad we did! We left there and headed straight for the Museum of Natural History for more Native American exploration. After we saw some exhibits, did a craft, and listened to a (more adult geared) presentation.

Annie loves the replicas of their homes. Graves loves the outfits the most. Peyton likes to point out how many luxuries we have since we don't have to build underground houses for Winter. 

The kids wanted to go to the Discovery Room and on weekends they do "passes" and only a certain number of kids can come in every half hour. We got passes for the next session and  headed to the food court for a snack. It was so overpriced, but we got a bag of chips and a chocolate milk for around $5. We came back and did the Discovery Room and then headed out for a real meal. We found a sandwich place and there were so many options (it was a chain place and it was just overwhelming). I finally got something, but ended up having a bit of a meltdown. We ate and then walked across town to Calvary, which was about three miles. Whew. We went to church and it was wonderful and then stopped to get some medicine for my headache. We got home and I was so tired. We fed the kids supper and put them to bed. Annie got SO upset about something and it took hours, literally, to calm her down. I finally ate and got on the computer for a bit and went to bed.

This weeks been great so far. I'm glad to be caught up!

Halloween Through the Years and the Realization That I'm Letting Go a Tiny Bit

I realized this year that we are now at the point where, when it comes to costumes, I have a few options to choose from:
a) Pick something I love (that probably costs too much) and force the kids to wear it. Ovbiously, this defeats most of the purpose of the holiday. Since unless you're a devil worshiper or somethings, it's basically just for fun. Being as we're not Santanic, this eliminates option A.
b) Let the children have total free reign over what they'll be. This is ceding too much control and makes me a little panicky.
c) Help them choose costumes based on what I know they like/what we already have. This seems to be a wonderful compromise and the added bonus is a not disgruntled Sweet McFrugal.

I thought it might be fun to look back and see how we got to this point:

Halloween Year #1: Go Light Your World
Annie was six months old and I decided on a plush glow worm costume. It was actually pretty inexpensive. At this point, I had not yet discovered Chasing Fireflies and I thought Children's Place plush was the best thing out there. Bonus points for such a colorful costume. Aparently at the point, I was consumed with making my six month old's gender obvious, because I really stressed about the fact that people might not know she was a GIRL GLOWWORM. Never mind that the only people who saw her were our friends and family. Many of whom had changed her diapers, or at the very least been sent a relatively frilly birth announcement and interacted with her in pink smocked bishop dresses a good bit. I also became slightly neurotic about taking pictures with just about every worm apparatus in our house. Strangely, we had a good handful of worms/caterpillar toys. Basically because we had too much crap.

Halloween Year Two: Strawberry Fields Forever
This was the pinnacle of indulgence, as Halloweens go. I think I spent $40 on a perfectly adorable, "stringy, chenille like strawberry costume from Chasing Fireflies. I still do love that costume and we got a lot of good play time in it over the years. I also decided abruptly, a few days before the big holiday, that Annie NEEDED some red Keds to go with it. She had red t-strap shoes that seemed too dressy and also a couple of pairs of tennis shoes. But I desperatly wanted something that would match her outfit colorwise and be appropriately informal. I think she wore the shoes a good bit afterwards and Graves got a ton of wear out of them, so it wasn't a total bust. But it was weird thinking, I feel like. And then they turned out to not even be the right shade of red. My neurosis flared up again and we had to do more pictures with strawberry props.

Halloween Year Three: Under the Big Top
Graves had made an appearance and this was the year I struck gold (with such a precious baby, of course, but also with the costumes). Ovbiously, at this point, I was working with a theme and not a singular costume. I had found Graves an precious clown costume of Zulily for next to nothing (seriously, I think it was less than $10) and ordered it before I knew if he'd be a boy or a girl. I thought a boy clown would be cuter, but I knew I could finagle it a la Annie Glow Worm from 2009. I was searching for a monkey costume for Annie, but my friend Kellie alerted me to a psychedelic elephant costume and it was a no-brainer. Elephants in general, I think are cute, but the flower power motif in bright fuchsia just made the outfit. I didn't realize until I went digging around for these pics, but MORE PROPS! Annie had sweet Babar whom she still loves dearly and actually rode the train not two days ago and Graves has a mega creepy clown. Wow.

Halloween Year Four: Never Grow Up!
This is where things started going downhill. To be fair, I had a near nervous breakdown and was HORRIBLE to my dad when Peyton brought me to surprise Spingsteen. Things where way upside down in my life, so I'm not sure there was room for it to be a stellar costume year. The thing that bothered me most, though, was that it was a definite miss, but a close miss. Annie looked pretty good in her Tinkerbell costume which was two sizes too small and the second one I bought (the first was about four sizes too big) even with the tights and turtleneck under it.
 I actually MADE (as in sewed) Graves's costume and shock of all shockers, that part looked pretty darn good. The screw up was with his leggings. Which were actually green sweetpants with a weird brown striped trim that for some reason went basically up to his knees.

I had gotten in a bind with what he'd wear for bottoms and I just DID NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE with him wearing green girls' leggings. Again, this seemed to be a struggle for me. Y, ALL, times have changed. I've moved to Brooklyn and became enlightened. Just kidding. But two things happened:

1. I started putting his sister's hand me down leggings under jon jons and gingham pants on the regular. Because I just could not do denim every day. And because apparently, not only is lightweight gingham not really suited for Yankee persuasions it's not suited for the climate either. It's basically like wearing a Kleenex.
2. I did decide that fretting over gendered costumes was not worth my time...
Exhibit A:

Exhbit B:
*For the record, I still fully think gender is a thing and that it's not as fluid as probably some of my friends believe. But at the same time, a costume is a COSTUME and the whole point is you get to pretend you're someone your're not. So I probably wouldn't have a problem with buying my two year old green pantyhose. In fact, if it was humorous enough and his tunic was long enough, I don't think I'd have a problem buying Peyton green pantyhose. And I definietly wouldn't be stressing over feminizing the glow-worm.

Halloween Year Five: Princess and the Frog Prince
While Year Four was probably my least favorite in actual practice, Year Five was my least favorite in theory. I didn't really have a gameplan, though, and Minnie found the kids some great marked down costumes at the TJ Maxx. I'm just not a huge fairy tale/princess/ect. type person. For some reason, it's just not my thing. HOWEVER, Annie was about as enamored with the huge hoop skirt (somewhat Swedish looking?) princess dress as I was the worm, chenille eatable, and psychedelic fuchsia elephant of the first three years. I was mostly just happy that they coordinated in some way. And I do think they ended up being a charming "couple" and they played the parts well. Lots and lots of kisses! No props needed for photographs when you have spontaneous sibling affection. It wasn't a bad year.

Halloween Year Six: Oz Meets Brooklyn
I feel like we had a completely different vibe this year. I think a lot of that was me and Peyton dressing up. The kids loved that and I think we'll continue it for awhile. I also think that I was more creative, if you can call it that. It didn't look perfect. AT ALL. But this year, for the first time, we really worked with what we had. We bought some stuff for Peyton's costume, but otherwise we all wore things we had. And I (with some help) figured out a way to make a theme fit what we had rather than choosing a theme and then buying a bunch of stuff. It was a good exercise for me.

It will be fun to see what next year holds. Especially since our budget is going to be UNREAL =)