Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Till We See You Face to Face

See our Lord in all His glory,
Now arrayed in dazzling white!
See Him shine in holy splendor,
Bathed in everlasting light!
See the law and prophets gather,
Lifting high the Living Christ!
Lifting high the Living Christ!

Jesus Lord, we see Your splendor
Here and now by daily faith.
In our service, in our suffering
We will follow unafraid,
On from glory into glory
Till we see You face to face,
Till we see You face to face. 

In Sunday school, we talked about Samuel's call. I found myself fascinated by Eli, the high priest at the temple with the degenerate sons he neglected to discipline. A friend pointed out that he was old and weak and I know a lot of times I've thought the same thing in this story- like the guy is really, really old. What's he gonna do anyway? I felt a bit sorry for him. But I thought about this MLK quote I've been dwelling on recently-- "the measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy". And I thought about how the measure is also not where we stand when we're excited and energized but when we're exhausted and weary. I was thinking about it in relation to these three dear hearts, but it seems apropos of, well, life- the political culture, the social climate, tiring but incredibly worthy relationships, and just living in this broken world. 

That's a real hard yardstick to measure by, though. On my best days, I'm not enough. And on my worst? I'm grateful that I'm not judged by my own righteousness and that I have a Savior that tells me His yoke is easy. 

I'm also grateful to be in a church who chose two women as deacons and who embraces those who question and struggle and stumble. Both women gave breathtakingly transparent testimonies filled with wounds and struggle and doubt and fear and anger along with stories of happiness and wholeness and abundant life. It's a privilege to gather with people who are so honest with themselves, their Lord, and their community and it's an honor to raise my babies among them. 

Babies pictured last week with the castle and shield that we're an impromptu part of the previous day's history lesson 

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Brighter Visions Beam Afar

Sages, leave your contemplations,

Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great desire of nations,
Ye have seen His natal star;
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Saints before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear:
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King! 

It was a long day with these sages, but gratefully also a lazy day. I couldn't make myself to do much but snuggle my feverish baby. I actually pulled a muscle in my neck and the muscle relaxer I took made me pretty worthless and the rain made me want to rest even more. We did read aloud about sixty pages in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and had popcorn and watched an MLK video from the library. And poor Annie needed my help finding some food she was "comfortable with" (i.e. that might possibly taste good when she felt like absolute crap)-- she ended up eating a can of whole kernal corn). Peyton and I got Newks when he got home and watched Party of Five on Netflix and it was as good as it ever was. I was very hopeful we'd finally have a normal Sunday (whatever that means) the next week. 

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: King Forever, Ceasing Never, Over Us All to Reign

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav'n replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light 

It's funny to me thinking about how last year on New Year's Day we joined Northside and this year on New Year's Eve, we weren't even there. 

It was mostly that I was worried if it rained , which was predicted, the roads would ice and it'd be unsafe to drive and we'd be stuck in Clinton. If church was down the road for us, I'd probably have made a different decision but driving forty minutes across town by myself with three kids this morning didn't feel like the right call (and there are a lot of mornings where driving forty minutes across town with three kids by myself doesn't feel like a fun call but it feels like the right one). And I'd be lying if not having Sunday school that morning wasn't a factor. It wasn't a deciding one, but it was a factor. 

So, we stayed home. Annie read four Amelia Bedelia chapter books (she desperately needed that). Graves fell off the same piece of furniture three times that I told him not to climb on. And Sallie now brings them her blanket to tie on her because "she likes being the queen". For these three who need hours of time to decompress, who climb on things after repeated warnings not to and repeated accidents one would think would serve as natural consequences/deterrents, and who are clearly just plain rotten, thank you, Lord. I am so grateful I get to hold the hands and dive into a new year with them. Guide us to the perfect light.

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Go, Tell It On the Mountain That Jesus Christ Is Born

 Down in a lowly manger

Our humble Christ was born
And god send us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn

Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born 

Bonus edition of Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies from ten o'clock on Christmas Eve when Sallie was still holding strong.

Peyton offered to go to the eleven o'clock Christmas Eve service and in so glad I decided that afternoon that was going to be a no. It made me sad and it's not a guilt thing. I told Peyton I knew this one service wasn't going to be the difference in whether he realized he loved Jesus again and I don't put that kind of thing on myself anymore. 

A guy in my Sunday school class said he remembered when they first started the service and lots of young families came and the children fell asleep on the pews. I wanted that. I wanted that to be us. 

But more that that, I wanted to take care of myself and my family- something I've been doing a piss poor job of lately. The kids actually probably would have done fine. It wasn't about them. We did this midnight service in NYC and I'm pretty confident Sis would have snoozed in the Tula. But I wanted to be kind and present with my family the next day and either my in laws on the day after that and I wanted to be patient with my kids and I didn't want to get any sicker, physically or mentally, than I'd already let myself get that month. 

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: In Heav'n Bells Are Ringing


Ding dong merrily on high,

In heav'n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv'n with angel singing
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis! 

Another Sunday, another Runaway Sal. Sigh. Laugh. Fuss. Offer a sucker.

December is never my favorite (and I never want to admit that- even to myself). But this one has been particularly exhausting/overwhelming/sad/tough. I have to remind myself that God's faithfulness is contingent on neither my Christmas cheer nor my circumstances. And my praise needn't be either. And I remind myself how grateful I am that he gave me these rediculous small people who make it all much easier (and much harder). 

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: And Our Eyes At Last Shall See Him, Through His Own Redeeming Blood

Once in royal Davids city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above:
And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone. 

The last two stanzas in this hymn are some more of my favorites as is the actual tune. I'm always grateful for the reminder that he cares when we are sad and shares when we are glad. I also love the part about our eyes at last seeing Him, through His own redeeming love. 

I got up a lot earlier than usual but through circumstances that were my own fault and also because of the bathroom habits (and fighting) of my two kids who aren't in diapers, we were as late as usual, if not more so. But it turned out to not be our worst Sunday. (I was also kind of frustrated I didn't get a single good picture out of like thirty but I kinda love this one of Sallie looking at an ornament and Annie and Graves looking at their baby sister.) 

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Truly He Taught Us to Love One Another

Truly He taught us to love one another, 
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 

One of my favorite lines in any hymn.

Sallie's gunky nose gets worse and worse and especially this close to the holidays, I didn't want to risk getting a little friend in the nursery sick. But Advent is the big kids' favorite time of the year in Sunday school and what am I going to do, say no to kids begging to go to church? So I took Sal, in her PJs (I was pretty sad all her Christmas ones were in the laundry), to my class. She did great and the big kids were not dissapointed in their wonderful class this morning.

Truly He taught us to love one another. 

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: O Come, O Come, Immanuel

O come, O come, Immanuel,

and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear 

The prechurch picture didn't happen this particular week, so this edition of Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies is from our afternoon walk through the ditch behind our house.

Some weeks, I like these things to be theological reflections and some weeks I like to just document what life is like during these moments with Annie and Graves and Sallie. This time, it's going to be mostly the latter with a bit of the former.

The service that day was beautiful but quite long. It was everything plus Advent plus Hanging of the Green plus communion. Plus the dedication of the most beautiful baby girl with the most beautiful double name (whose gown Graves had about four million questions about). He had to use the bathroom three times during it. And because I still take him in the bathroom, I know the need was legitimate. I'm hoping he just drank a bunch of water this morning and nothing weird is going on. Also, the women's bathroom is getting increasingly less appropriate. It's not so much a fear of predators as it the fact that I know even if I stood outside the door, it would take him a solid twenty minutes and he'd probably come out with his hair soaking wet from refreshing his "style" in the sink.

Annie played countless games of tic tac toe with a darling friend and immersed herself in The Great Animal Search (Finding Waldo but with animals, basically). I'm not sure when I'm  going to insist she attempt to pay attention (I do mostly make her sing, stand, ect.). I'm thinking either fourth grade or when she turns ten. Either way, not this minute.

I want this not to be about a bunch of do's and do not's that are, in my case, more about me looking good and feeling holy than anything else. Honestly, I've realized that a life of faith isn't primarily about what I do or don't do and for a long time my motivation was that- looking good and feeling holy. I hope they grow up recognizing that's not the point.

And precious Tequila would not let one well intentioned person rock Sallie to sleep. I was more grateful than usual for her nap that day and actually took one myself.

***I'm planning to roll out the last month and a half of these today, so just be patient with me =) 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Monthly Mental Health Check In: December 2017

I'm going to try to get back into finding my blogging rhythm over the next couple of weeks. I feel SO SO SUPER BEHIND. But as a dear friend reminded me once, it's my blog so I can't really be behind. I get what she meant, but it's hard not to feel that way. Anyway, first up is my check in from last month and then I'll post my big back log of Sunday Hymn/Picture/Reflection posts. 

So where I was (inside my head) in December: 

It was a particularly hard month for me. I went back and forth between thinking "I think this every year and every year say it's the hardest one yet" and "Um, this actually does get harder every year and I need to make some changes". I told Peyton and he said "well, this probably is the busiest December we've ever had" and I said yes and often busy equates to terrible in my mind but I also just felt a lot of...sadness. And I think it's really hard to admit that I don't particularly love this time of year. I love Christmas once it gets here and I love spending time with our families but the stuff leading up to it? Such a Scrooge about it all.  He said "Really? I thought you seemed like you were doing pretty good?". And I do think I did a good job managing it. But I need to do better on the front end- next year I'm going to plan more (even if it means micro managing a bit), have better boundaries, and practice self care. 

I did myself no favors by having my house (and specifically our room) turned inside out for most of the month. I exercised exactly zero times and ate an exceedingly absurd amount of trash even by my own horrendous standards. I treated my body poorly and I paid a hefty price, no doubt. 

I was (and am) so glad for the way Christmas fell this year, because it meant more time with the Reynauds but I severely underestimated how much I'd struggle with Peyton's schedule. I'm grateful he didn't have to work on Christmas, but Mondays are usually a bit of a recovery/reset day after his twelve hour shifts and additionally (because my parents are so kind and accommodating and because my sister and brother in law are so good to him/us) we ate our big Christmas meal at eight forty five on Sunday night. On top of that, he worked two extra shifts (including one out of town) the week before Christmas. It was managable, obviously, but I didn't prepare myself for not having as much support from him as I often do.

I'm feeling better but there's a lot of things I'm thinking over. I really think I love the new year more than I love Christmas. NOTHING feels better to me than a fresh start.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

An Unintentional Blogging Break and Some Thoughts

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend and she said she had mentioned me to someone recently, saying she loved my writing and what a good storyteller I was. I was, of course, so flattered. I like storyteller much better than writer. When people say someone is a writer, it seems like a career, or at the very least a vocation. Being a storyteller seems more like a hobby. Which is what this is. If it is even that these days. 

This year we didn't do a Christmas card/letter and I'm so glad because I don't even know where or how I would have begun to formulate a letter this year. And then my computer broke which was incredibly stressful but made easier by the fact that just in the last year I've gotten to where I do backup everything on an external hard drive. But it was also an extra blessing. When I get down, I just don't feel like keeping up the blog. It's hard enough to do the mandatory stuff like laundry and schooling the children and eating dinner so I don't really feel like prioritizing my blog. But then I do feel this pressure that I'm not. In this case I just kind of let that go because I didn't even have the capacity to do it even if I wanted to. And last of all I lost my camera battery charger thing and realized like two days before Christmas that I was just not going to find it and had a huge come apart. But again also kind of a blessing because by Christmas I barely had the energy to like snap some pictures on my phone and post them on Instagram so I was glad I wasn't even fretting about the big camera. There has only been one other time since Annie was a baby (so almost nine years ago) that I've taken this significant a break from the blog and that was when we moved home for New York and even then I think I kept up a bit more. But it's more than just this past month. 

The other day, I was thinking about my usual year end round up posts and I thought specifically about my "Best of In the Warm Hold" where I pick my favorite posts from the year. I thought about how this is the first year I've really been disappointed in my writing/blogging and how I've prioritized it.

The scales used to tip the other way- I feared I gave it too much of myself, wasted too much of my time on documenting our life, rather than living it. And maybe I there were periods where I devoted too much too it for not much return. But I loved, and love, it.

I've mentioned it many times, but over the last several years I've noticed a tone shift- less creative writing, more reflective writing. And I've tried to make my peace with doing what felt natural, while challenging myself to do what felt harder on occasion.

But this is not that. This is a me not doing much of anything on here. Yes, I was working on catching up one things I've tried to catch up on for two years. And yes, I did commit to my Sunday pictures and reflections, and mental health check ins, and to three posts (What I Learned, What I'm Into, and Monthly Goals and Happenings) each month. And yes, I share a lot on IG of what I used to would share here and then it winds up regurgitated on the blog. Which now that I type it all out, is something.

But it feels not enough.

I know that very few people, if anyone would care if I stopped and over the last few years I've really come to terms with this being primarily, almost exclusively for me. I miss the interaction of blogging from almost a decade ago when I'd get a handful of comments on a good many posts but I've found that elsewhere, on Facebook and Instagram, and it's just become a way to document things. It's basically a rehash of IG and Facebook but in what feels to me like a more permanent, accessible format for year from now.

However, this past month, for the first time, I thought about just stopping. It sort of terrified me. It's a huge thing in my life. I knew it would feel like an incredible lost and I felt rattled that the thought even crossed my mind. Besides feeling the tug of wanting it simply as a record, writing a bit more than is practical on social media (and possible in the case of the Gram) was really, really good self care.  I used to LOVE sitting down for about an hour a day and crafting a post or documenting some experience or sharing a memory.

Several friends have suggested I just scale back and not do as detailed Weekly Happenings posts (or not do them at all) and I have done that in some areas, but I just don't feel like I can let go of the way I've been doing things for years yet. The other things I let go of (for example, writing my Year in Review in a different way than I had previously last year, and becoming okay with not getting a family picture each and every week- though, that's been harder and I'd like to go back to to that, and waiting until Valentine's for our card this year) have just felt right in their timing and scaling back in a bigger way really doesn't. But I'm not sure it's sustainable and I get more and more behind each month and it's been so nice not worrying about it.

Each new year, I try to figure out ways to prioritize the things I care about. I'm never, ever successful with all of it but having a plan helps. So, that's my plan. To get one.

Friday, December 15, 2017

What I'm Into: November

November was fun and it went by so quickly! Even though this is way late, I'm excited to share this month. I did a little photo challenge about books on IG so I documented more of what we read than I usually do (and just happened to actually read more, at least as far as personal reading, too). So it's more heavy than usual in those categories!

On the Nightstand:

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
I read this pick from Diverse Book Club in a few days. I loved it more than any fiction I've read in ages. Maybe the foster care/adoption theme feels really timely, but I think it's mostly just excellent writing and a big focus on characters (which I say all the time, but people are my favorite literary element, followed closely by place, hands down). It's been a LONG time since I've immersed myself in fiction like I did with this one. I was on page forty one night and I stayed up and read two hundred pages and then spent the majority of nap time  the next day finishing it. I became deeply invested in Ginny, I cried twice, I HAD to look at the last page ahead of time, and I felt a strong sadness when the book ended even though it ended just the way I wanted it to.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia 
As I've mentioned multiple times, I was at one point, an avid reader. And it's really a source of great shame that I'm now...not. *But* I've also realized that reading looks different now, too. I'm actually not sure I don't put in just as many hours as I once did, but I'm reading very different things (i.e. a lot of juvenile literature). I actually told Annie recently that in college one of my very favorite classes was Children's Lit. We basically just read a crap ton of really excellent children's books (lots of Newberrys, ect.) and wrote little book reports or did presentations and projects. I learned so much in that class and enjoyed it as much as anything in my college experience.

She's started showing me excerpts of books she thinks I'd be interested in or often, reading them aloud to me herself. She loves to do this when she runs across something she finds really funny. She and Peyton are reading this one together but I had some huge FOMO, so I just started reading it myself and guys, it is so good. It's hysterical and heartwarming and heartbreaking and poignant and true. I always say that I care about characters and settings more than the actual plot and a book about three precious sisters who are so uniquely different dealing with the inherent struggles facing black and brown people in Civil Rights era America along with the additional struggle of reuniting with their estranged mother couldn't be a more perfect fit, even if it is written on a fourth grade level.

On Their Nightstand: 

Here are some of our recent reads (bottom to top)

1. You Wouldn't Want to Be a Viking Explorer by Andrew Langley- coordinates with our history and is comical and entry level and perfect for a first grader.

2. A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer- one of our three spines; we're settling in with the Battle of Hastings this week.

3. Falling Up by Shel Silverstein- Annie and Graves are both obsessed; they each pick a poem every night.

4. ESV Easy to Read Children's Bible- this is a super readable translation; we're doing something different and not using a Bible curriculum right now and are just going through the Gospels. It's convicting and challenging to try to explain Jesus's words to them. 

5. East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon by G.W. Dasent this also coordinates with history. It's a ton of Norwegian folktales. The language is pretty archaic and I was shocked but they both LOVE it. It's also really...graphic? Like as in, people gauge other people's eyes out and there are really grotesque monsters and such. There's even an author's note where he says his friends asked him to edit out some of that. Anyway, it's interesting. (Graves did tell me that if he accidentally poked Sallie's eye out with a stick, she could just "go to the lemon tree". Yeah, no.) 

6. Can a Bee Sting a Bee? by Gemma Harris- Annie loves informational books and on nights when we need to streamline and they each just pick one, she ALWAYS reaches for this one. It's full of questions about psychology and nature and technology and a ton of other stuff. The answers are only about two pages but come from an expert in that field.

7. Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary- again, this one is mostly for Graves (Annie's read it before). I LOVE Beverly Clearly. I prefer Ramona, but they both love Ralph. 

8. Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones- an excellent resource, as is anything by SLJ.

9. Tiger Handbook- Graves is working on the Scout Oath as part of his memory work and this is just a good time to practice.

All this plus praying, talking about the day, listing thankfuls, ect. takes about an hour on the nights we do this. Sometimes it feels like too much and often it feels like not enough.

And here are a few more:

1. Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
As I mentioned, brought lots of feels.

2. Winter's Coming: A Story of Seasonal Change by Jan Thornhill
Graves still really likes picture books and I could tell he really enjoyed this book. And I did, too. It's about a snowshoe hare who doesn't understand what (or who!) winter is and how she should prepare for its coming. All the while, she's gradually changing from solid brown to solid white. The illustrations are somewhat realistic but still have a whimsical element. Graves had looked at it prior to my reading it and he kept reminding me to notice Lily's changing appearance in each page.

3. Ralph S. Mouse- by Beverly Cleary
As I said, this pick for Graves, too. He lovvvves mice stories for some reason. I think some of it went over his head but overall, he enjoyed it. Beverly Cleary books seem like a good fit for read aloud with him right now.

4. The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli
Peyton loves to just grab interesting looking books at the library and last week, I tried my hand at it. I picked The Dancing Pancake for a read aloud for Annie, not knowing what a winner it'd be. We are both enjoying it so much. I'm a really big fan of realistic fiction and up until now she's much preferred books with talking animals to books about other children but this has been a big hit. It's written in little vignettes which makes it unique and extra engaging and I think she just likes the main character's voice.

On the Shelf:

Christmas Stories from Mississippi edited by Judy H. Tucker and Charline R. McCord
I just grabbed this book at the library because it looked beautiful and felt timely. Also, it's about time to evaluate how November went at the #SchoolhouseInTheSuburbs. The months seem to being going by faster and faster lately.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Again, no movies this month. They really aren't my thing and I should probably just combine it with the next category.

On the Small Screen:
One Mississippi
So this was an interesting show we tried this month. It's about a radio comedian (think like NPR storyteller, not goofy slapstick or shock jock) who moves back to Mississippi after her mother's death. She's a lesbian and is dealing with chronic illness and is working out some tough family dynamics so it's really serious in some parts but is also funny. One thing I read said that the humor is "dark" and I wouldn't really say that; I'd just say that the show has serious elements. It's not like my new favorite show, but I enjoyed the couple of episodes that I watched.

In My Ears:
Really, the same old same old. Hamilton and Springsteen, mostly. 

Around the House:

I did a little Instagram photo challenge (more about that in another post) and this was one of the pictures. This book case is pretty sentimental. The top two shelves we're my great grandmother's Harvard Classics from a time when higher education was not a reality for many women. The bottom shelf is board books and a bin of Sallie's toys. The metal wind up trains on the top shelf belonged to my uncle as a little boy and my little boy (and both my girls have adored them, too). The picture on top is of my parents on their wedding day and the one on the third shelf is a from the back picture (I lovvvve those) of my dad and Graves fishing on my parents' pier when Graves was two. The little cottage picture on the second shelf is made of fabric and is one of my favorite things ever, especially hanging inside the bookcase like that; I got it on a visit to my grandmother's and it makes me think of her- one of my favorite people ever. I love how this part of our home represents so many generations and so many of the things I value. 

And this is one of my favorite spots to sneak away to during naptime (I scroll on my phone more than I'd like to admit). On cold, but sunny days it's maybe the warmest spot in the house. And now Graves and I read together in this chair a lot. I make him sit at the table when he needs to write and often we do math on the floor, but I love to put him in my lap when he reads to me. (On and under the little table is where the kids keep their library books that aren't curriculum related).

In the Kitchen:

Peyton prefers to cook lunch and have like sandwiches for dinner. I prefer a more, uh, traditional routine. So when I cook it's dinner. And when he cooks...I try not to complain.

I love this blackberry cobbler hack (butter, frozen berries, and cake mix) and and also this ugly Corningware WITH A TOP that I wanted so desperately to get rid of when we got married but P was determined to keep. It's held up better than my fancy everyday china casserole dishes and I don't lose my mind scrubbing it with steel wool keeping it pretty (aside: the other day, Annie goes "I lost my mind and forgot Graves had a headache and screamed at him" and it was about the funniest thing I've heard her say). 

Deconstructed salads for friends with new babies make me feel more put together than I actually am. 

In My Closet:

Um, I guess I didn't get dressed much this month =)

In Their Closets:

Sallie in her first pair of OshKosh overalls!!!

I love both the girls in their floral PJs (and alliteration, obs). Annie has these sweet Hannas via Zulily (broken record, but I LOVE when I can find soft sweet things for her) and Sallie has these sweet Gymboree via a consignment sale jams. The aren't one of my very favorites from the 12-18 mo. batch, but they're at the top of the second tier and I do love the lady bugs 

More jams! I put Sallie in her first ever two piece jams (with the exception of a onsie/pants set that was Graves's and she wore as a newborn and last year's Christmas pjs that she wore exactly twice because the janky polyester gave me HSP nightmares). Strangely, I don't remember this being a big milestone with Annie. I do remember thinking the stripes and ballet slippers were about the cutest thing ever. It came with a coordinating tutu that I've just got to find because I'm sure Sallie would love it every bit as much as Annie did, if not more (and honestly, I want to hear Graves squeal when he sees her in it).

Okay, last jammie pic but I really love my little reader in her book pjs! 

Sweet Sallie in her Little Bo Peep corduroy romper for story time at the library with her papa (P picked out her outfit himself!). I love how puffy it is.

Annie wore this dress for definitely the last time (she's getting so tall...for her) and another pair of my footless tights. I decided to pass these in to her permanently. The last time I wore them I was (super early) pregnant with Sallie. I mean they are VERY stretchy but how was that remotely comfortable?!?

Sallie in her first Christmas outfit of the year. Too bad she's the biggest (literal and figurative) mess and the pants were already in the laundry at this point. I do like how her diaper cover coordinate with the trees, though. 

It's that time now so expect lots of these ridiculous posts. Annie in her plaid and scallops (and kitty shoes and my leggings, obs), Bud in his very versatile (4th of July/Memorial Day/Valentine's Day/all December) red check. And Sallie in red and green Kissy Kissy and t-strap Angel shoes with the rubber sole-- melt my heart. 

In My Mailbox:
Nothing of note. Haha, I'm so punny, right? 

In My Cart:
Hmm, well, I did order some Black Friday stuff but I'll share that next month =)

Around Town and At Home 

I seem to have way less to report than usual, but it sure felt busy?!? 

Peyton got sick with the flu and then I got it. Ugggh. At least it was a pretty mild case.  

A little pre bedtime duet. It's so blurry, but the way Annie was looking at Sallie just melted me. 

At the Schoolhouse:

Recently, Graves drew a slug and its "goo path" in the pew attendance pad at church but Y'ALL, he now has the ability and attentiveness to write each letter of his name without any assistance. (And yes, I realize a lot of kids do this when they are like four. His sister did and she had much more involved name to write at that point. It didn't feel like near the kind of victory that this does.)  

This is a new writing curriculum (IEW) that we've been experimenting with for Annie. This lesson took about forty five minutes and then she retold the story to me using her outline she created (NOT using the source text) and then we did the accompanying read aloud (her favorite part). So about an hour total. I chose the level for 3rd-5th grade and it's been challenging for her (and me!) but she's doing great with it. 

We have a pretty extensive before bed routine that I do with the big kids (not every night). I've started calling it "night school" because it is a significant part of our school day and it's similar to the Charlotte Mason concept of a "morning basket". I am SO not a morning person, so this works well most of the time. Basically, it's big picture stuff I want to hit with book big kids- Bible reading, a short devotion, read alouds, some history, and our "ethics" lesson. Right now I read them a Bible story (from a children's bible), do a short devotion from Sally Loyd Jones's devotional book, and pray. Then, I have our read aloud time. Sometimes, I read history from one of our spines but mostly I try to read them some classic children's literature that coordinates with the history and is developmentally appropriate for both of them. We usually have an unrelated chapter book going too. And I read this really interesting Turn of the Century book when we get to a new century in history (or whenever I feel it's appropriate). I also try to incorporate some informational/nonfiction stuff that's just fun (e.g. Can a Bee Sting a Bee?). We just finished up our "ethical dilemmas" book so I'm going to start something new soon and that's when we do our world religion studies some nights when P is around.
We sometimes play the high/low game and talk about how their day went and sometimes we do a variation of that and they pick one person in the family that they would like to give a compliment to as well as something they think that person should work on. It helps them learn to offer (and receive) encouragement and constructive criticism. It's kind of hard to prioritize this at the end of the day, but for now it's where it fits best and I usually have an hour of down time between when Sallie goes to sleep and when I start. It's one thing that's working really well at our house. As it changes up, I think I'll share more of what I include because I love seeing other people's ideas. 

On the Blog:
Same old, same old- my Sunday posts, mental check ins, and a handful of letters to Sal. Each year towards the end of it, I think about what I want the blog to look like next year so I've been doing that a good bit lately. 

On My Heart and Mind:
- I say this every winter, but the cold seriously makes me twitchy. And it's not even that cold, really. It just wears me out so bad. 
- Peyton and Sallie have been getting closer lately and it makes me so happy but also a little sad that I'm not the overarching favorite so much anymore. 

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying for friends who are lonely, hurt, or grieving during this season.
- I'm praying as our church continues to search for a pastor.
- I'm praying for each of the children in different ways.

On the Calendar:

Well, Christmas, obviously. And some other fun Christmas-ish activities!