Sunday, August 28, 2016

Weekly Happenings Post #374 (May 3- June 5) -- Swim Team Starts!!!

 
 (Funny Hair Day at swim team!!!)

This was the last full week before Sister came! 

Monday was Memorial Day. The kids and I got up and Peyton had been up for awhile.

What a nice surprise! Peyton was finally done with all his extra shifts and he made my favorite blueberry muffins and fixed a backyard picnic!

 Do you know the muffin man?

We all ate and enjoyed it so much. I brought everything in and Peyton did dishes and the kids played outside. I came in and took my bath. I collected laundry and striped our bed and started a load and then I made up the kids' beds and straightened some and got some things together to take to my parents' that afternoon. Peyton left to go swim laps and the kids had some media time. I got on the computer and when Peyton got back we played pretend a bit and I put up dishes and folded laundry. We got ready and headed over to my parents' house.

We got there around two and left about seven. My dad grilled and I took a nice nap. We fed the kids supper and bathed Graves before we left. Annie took her bath when we got home.

 Amazingly, Peyton got all the seats to fit in the Mazda!

 Graves told us that when the baby gets here we better not let her play in the gravel pile at Minnie's because there are some tiny rocks in there and she could swallow them and it could "break her windpipe". Of course, then tonight he took the top of his flashlight and put it in a bath tub full of water.

I was feeling pretty rough and just laid on the couch and watched TV for a while. I finally got up and did math with Annie and did a few other things. I straightened some and scrubbed the tub (it needed it!) and went to bed.

We all got up early on Tuesday and got ready for swim team. I actually felt pretty put together. We had such a fun first day and I had a great time visiting with some other mommas. We came home and the kids got a little "first day" happy and then they had some media time. I rested and then worked on a post, went through my reader, and had lunch while Peyton watched a movie. 

  It's hysterical to me that Peyton found this because he's notorious for unintentionally offending people online.

I put the sheets on our bed (Peyton had slept in his sleeping bag and I'd slept on the sofa the night before) and then got ready and headed to my OB appointment. It wasn't as long as the time before, but I felt pretty rough. I finished up and ran by Sonic for a drink. When I got home, Peyton and I talked and then we headed over to his parents' house to visit. We got home and Peyton fed the kids supper and made something for me. I fell asleep super early and then woke back up and did math with Annie. Peyton and I talked and then I got on the computer for a bit and looked at blog backgrounds for June.

We all got up early again on Wednesday and headed to the pool. I got up early enough to have time to go through my reader and make ours and the kids' beds.


 June!!! I was so excited for it to be baby month!

Peyton cooked more muffins and we hit the road. The kids had a great practice and we came home and played some.


 These two had their second day of "swimming team" as Graves says and they loved it! 

 It's rare she's the one initiating the hugs!
They watched their shows and I had a snack and Peyton and I started working on a labor playlist. I folded some laundry and started a load. Peyton fed the kids lunch and then took them to the grocery store. I scrubbed the counters and swept and then ate my lunch. I started having some strong but irregular contractions. I laid down on the couch and the kids and Peyton got home. We talked and I took a little nap. I took a bath and Peyton had supper ready so we ate around five thirty.

 As I told a friend, he's rude and dense (re:offending people online), but he makes damn good muffins so I think I'll keep him! He also grilled this great spread and had been SO sweet about telling me to take it easy and not worry about getting anything done (which if you know him, is really out of character- he likes us ALL to work hard)

Peyton was going to swim laps at the Y and the kids wanted to go too but then we decided it would be easier (because of weird family swim hours) to just go to Briarwood. We got ready and headed there and had SO much fun. They were playing music and we ran into some friends and visited the whole time.

We got home and the kids played a bit and Peyton cooked kale and cleaned up the kitchen. I wrote a letter and put it in the mailbox, wrapped a little happy for Peyton, emailed him some pictures off my phone, and then worked on my header. I finished it just as Peyton finished up and we got our stuff together and headed to Minnie's to camp out. When we got there, Peyton got the tent set up and he and Graves got settled. Annie stayed in the house with me a bit and did math. We finished the LAST lesson!
  
 This might have been the biggest undertaking I wanted to accomplish before the baby got here. It was a bit of a labor of love lately. We've switched curriculums and it's a much better fit. This was a grit your teeth thing for both of us. And her favorite time to do it was late at night after Graves fell asleep. Which, I really don't blame her. And it IS easier. But I had gotten to where I  was either ready to go straight to sleep or just so touched out and in need of a break. BUT, we did it! She told Minnie how she had finished this curriculum and helped us pick (from among predetermined choices) the one for the coming year. Peyton asked me at the beginning of the pregnancy when I was having a really hard time what I'd do if I had a full time job outside the home. It really hurt my feelings but it also made me think. And now I have my answer. I'd show up in exactly the same way I showed up for her at ten and eleven at night, sometimes pushing ourselves to fit in two lessons, not putting it off except on the very hardest days. And I'd try to have the same patience with my students that I've struggled to find for her this year in this area. Praise God another year of math is in the books! 


Cookie and Conrad were staying over night (part of the reason for our visit) on the way to Baton Rouge for a wedding and they got there as we were finishing up. I let Annie visit with them a bit and then Mickey took her down to the tent with the boys. Cookie and I stayed up late talking and I had some more contractions.

We got up pretty early (6:30!) on Thursday because Graves woke up with the sunshine. I laid around for awhile and then got ready for the day. We visited a little more and I took a bath and we headed to swim team at eight. They timed the kids and Graves had a hard time because he was freezing cold and Annie had a hard time because she got scared of the deep water. But they did great! We came home and they played Legos and had media time. Peyton mowed the yard and I went through my reader and read some blogs and started two posts. I messaged with a friend on Facebook and then folded some laundry, straightened a bit, and got ready for lunch.

Peyton's parents got here to keep the kids and we headed to Walker's for lunch. SO, so amazing. We stopped in our friend Patrick's store on the way back. When we got home, we visited some with Peyton's parents and then they left and the kids played. I rested and worked on my labor playlist. Our neighbor came over and Peyton visited with him awhile. Annie got out stuff to fix their own super and I helped her heat up what she needed. After that, Peyton ran to the library and I straightened some around the house. Peyton got home and played with the kids and read to them and got them to bed. I had a snack and got on the computer. I worked on two posts and finished both of them and started some laundry.


I finished making the birth playlist, completed the sections I wanted to in the Bradley book, and in forty eight hours we'd been to Briarwood four times (would've been five but there were thunderstorms last night!). I also designed my June header and churned out two blog posts- including that month's goals- that I really wanted to get finished. We were MORE than ready for that baby!

Peyton and Annie went for a walk and I finished up on the computer. They got home and I read a bunch and straightened some and went to bed.


 My rings took a lot longer to stop fitting this time (shocking because I gained the weight a ton faster). Anyway, I absolutely LOVED wearing this simple gold band that belonged to some relative of Minnie's (maybe to my great grandmother Vada, whose name is back on the list!) and that she gave me when I was pregnant with Graves. Also: Captain America and Spider-Man.

We got up super late for swim team on Friday and I decided not to go. Peyton hustled and got the kids ready and they left. I went back to sleep and that was a nice treat. I got up before they got home and had a muffin and got on the computer. They got home and I straightened a bit, collected laundry, and took a bath. The kids had media time and Peyton and I chatted. I started a load of wash and backed up some pictures from the big camera to the hard drive. I folded and put up a good bit of laundry and Peyton did dishes while the kids played outside. I was having a ROUGH time just walking around so I laid down and took a nap for an hour. I got back on the computer and Pocketed some things to read later and uploaded and backed up some pictures from my phone. We got ready to go to my parents' house early so Peyton could give my dad and grandmother a TDAP vaccination. We picked it up at a Walgreens on the way and headed over. Annie fell asleep in the car. We made it there and Peyton gave Mickey and Grandee the shots and Minnie and I talked a bunch. We all ate and I rested some more and then I bathed Graves and we came home. The kids played some and I unloaded the car and unpacked some stuff. I got on the computer and then I went through some boxes in the study. One had a bunch of baby clothes in it and I sorted what I wanted to keep for this Winter, sell, or send to my parents' storage unit for later. The other had some stuff Minnie had sent home with us and I went through it and consolidated it into a pile and took a basket I had put some baby toys/lovies in to the kids' room. I made a list for the next day and went to bed.



 Sister Baby wasn't ready to join the night parties!

I got up feeling relatively normal on Saturday. I was a little disappointed, but mostly glad. I just didn't want to be in pain and miserable when I had the kids all day for twelve hours by myself.  We all got up pretty late and Graves and I had breakfast and then Annie got up and she and Graves had media time. I got on the computer and went through my email and reader and started a post and then I made up our bed and straightened some in our room, the bathrooms, and in the study. I texted with Cookie and Carrie a bit and then hopped in the tub. Annie finally had breakfast around lunch time and I fed the cats and started some laundry. I put up a few dishes (Peyton had been really helpful with keeping up with washing them) and scrubbed down the counters and cleaned off the kitchen table. I also needed to put up some stuff my mom had given me in our "party cabinet" (where we keep sprinkles, candles, paper products, balloons and such) and so I did that and actually organized it a bit.

The kids had a snack and then had rest time and I read a few blogs and had my lunch. Then I got to work organizing our homeschool stuff for the upcoming year.

 Sister Baby ws still wanting to hang out on the inside a bit longer but I finally felt much better after a challenging week and a really difficult day the day before. Soooo....I'm got to work getting another thing checked off! I got the kindergarten and second grade curriculum that had been being delivered over the last few weeks organized and put up in our school area and boxed up the stuff we don't need from last year to send to the attic.

When rest time was over Annie read to me and Graves some from a magazine and then they wanted an early supper since we had ended up having brunch and a big snack. I fixed their supper and folded some bath towels and beach towels. I washed a bunch of dishes and then scrubbed the counters that weren't clear earlier. I folded more laundry and then swept the kitchen and took out the recycling. The kids played and I folded some dish towels. I got them ready for bed and they played in their room and I got on the computer for a bit. Peyton called and told me our friend Rob was stopping by. Peyton got home and we visited a bit and the kids talked to him and then Rob got here. We had a great visit and he left around ten thirty. Peyton and I talked a bit and then he went to bed. Annie wanted to do English and I did a tiny bit with her and then read some more blogs. I worked on finishing organizing the school stuff and went to bed way too late.


 Finished! 2016-2017 homeschool organization!

Peyton got up and headed to work and Graves got up around nine (we had decided not to go to church this close to my due date because I didn't want Peyton stuck in Clinton without the car). I was going to turn on his movie and go back to sleep but Annie woke up too and tripped on a clothes hanger and got hurt. I got her a cold pack and she got in bed with me for a few minutes. She and Graves had their media time and Graves took a break for breakfast. I got on the computer and made the bed and then took my bath. Annie had her breakfast and then the kids played Legos. I collected laundry and started a load and then laid down for a bit while they played. When I got up, I ate my lunch and worked on setting up this playmat thing from the attic and realized I didn't have all the parts. I ended up going up to the attic and looking for the little toy attachments, which I couldn't find anywhere. I got down a couple of other toys, though, and decided maybe we'd keep another playmat I'd been meaning to sell and sort of got everything organized. I also realized that the playmat needed washing so I did that. The kids had lunch and I cut up a cantaloupe and visited with them a bit and changed over my laundry. I did dishes and then they played some more and I searched for a bathing suit of Annie's that was missing, talked to Peyton on the phone, and texted with a neighbor. I got the last thing in the kids' room I wanted to sort through- a frog hanger that we throw tons of random toys in- organized and then played with them a bit.

The kids had rest time and I got on the computer a bit but mostly rested myself. I felt pretty rough. After that, I put together the playmat thing and put the aquarium soother on the crib and we cleaned up their room a bit. I had a snack and fixed their supper and then we finished cleaning up their room. I got them settled and then Peyton got home with Newks. We watched a show and I fell asleep. I woke back up and got on the computer and did a few things and had a snack. I went to bed late again but I had taken about three naps.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Letter to (Five Year and Two Month Old) Graves

 Dear Graves,

I am so behind on y'alls letters but by the time you read this (if you ever do) it won't matter. This was the last month it was just you and Annie before the baby came! Anyway, looking back a couple of months...

 We had a great start to Summer. We got you and Annie signed up for swim team and it took you a bit to warm up, but you ended up loving it. You were quite smitten with Coach Josaline, who you refereed to as either "Coach Vasaline" or "Coach Duckling".  At the first meet, you full on sobbed the length of the pool and then told me it was "very fun" and that you were disappointed that you only got to swim in one event. For Crazy Hair Day you decided that the best kind of crazy hair would be BODY HAIR and drew it on your chest with magic marker. Papa added a beard to your face, too!

We also went camping at Granny's (well, you and Annie and Papa did; I slept inside on her couch). And one night my friend Ashby came over and cooked us all dinner and even got you and Annie super involved in the process.

We had dinner one night at the Howie's and you had the best time playing with Jude. You two are as sweet as y'all are cute. Y'all now havee a combined total of five sisters and no brothers and I think that makes your special little bond all the more sweet!

What else? Papa replanted a tree and he broke the roots on accident and said it'd probably die. So you and Annie took it upon yourselves to take the doctor's kit outside and take its temperature, deliver it three cups of water, and wrap some toilet paper around it.

You and Annie have also been super helpful with watering the yard. Really, I just sit on the porch and watch. I've loved the newborn snuggles, but Seven and Five are so amazing.

You're are very trusting, haha. Annie had some blueberries and she told you to "open your mouth and close your eyes" and popped one in. You said "Oh! I thought it was going to be a pregnant bird". OMG, what?!?

The funniest moment in awhile was when you and Peyton got back from being out of the house for a few hours and I told Papa "I was so productive and got so much done! Come look in the kids' room!" and you got so excited and asked "Is she in there???", referring to the baby. I wasn't *that* productive, Buddy. 

You were so ready for her, though!

You told us that when she got here we better not let her play in the gravel pile at Minnie's because there are some tiny rocks in there and she could swallow them and it could "break her windpipe". Of course, then that night you took the top off your flashlight and put it in a bath tub full of water.

Upon reinstalling all the car seats, the following conversation ensued:
Graves: "How are you going to HANDLE three humans?"
Momma: "Umm..."
Graves: "I don't know if y'all can HANDLE three friends with only two grown ups...like if Papa was handling Annie and Momma was handling the baby"
Papa: "What would happen? You might cause some trouble?"
Graves: "Yep. Like might make a new lock for my room and lock just me and the baby in it."

Amazingly, Papa got them all to fit in the Mazda!

So, I washed and set up this great playmat thing I loved when Annie and you were babies. You put Bathtime Baby (your Ava) in it and also crawled in and demonstrated how he thought your sister would laugh and bat the toys. You also told me that you couldn't wait to tickle her a bunch but promised not to touch her booty. 
  
One thing I love is your vocabulary. You've started calling the cubby holes in your nightstand "chambers" after you saw a WildKratts about groundhogs. You love to take out the bins and set up your action figures in the "chambers". You are much more brave about using vocabulary you're unsure of than AP. Even though we've worked hard to fight it, she still I occasionally shows some fear of being wrong. You have no such fear. Which is funny because when we were worried about you talking late one thing that was mentioned by a friend is a delay where a child doens't say words until they're sure they can pronounce them correctly (yeah, you are not like that; it turned out you had the delay where it's easy to let your older sibling speak for you anytime you need something). The first of my favorite words that you used sometimes in context sometimes not is "random". It actually started one night back in Brooklyn when you told me he didn't want "just random stuff" for supper which is hilarious because Papa is ALWAYS feeding y'all "random stuff". Another time you told me that you wanted to use your cutting book to practice cutting, not just "random paper" (again with Papa, the novelty of typing paper finally wore off). You still use the term a good bit. It's also sort of just absolutely hysterical to me when you have opinions like this because you're ordinarily the most easy going, laid back child and never takes issue with that sort of thing. Another favorite was when you were asking me to get you some bath toys to play with and you listed a few and then said "and such". I also love it when you say "basically". One of the most recent and my most favorite was one evening when you said "I like keep yawning multiple times".


You ask great questions. You asked awhile back  "Why doesn't Mallory make us call her "Miss Mallory?" and we had a good conversation about just that.

Another favorite conversation recently after you guys caught a lizard:
Annie: "let's name her Lizzie"
Graves: "let's name her Bagel Bite"
Annie: "that's a horrible name, let's name her Lizzie"
Graves: "THAT'S a horrible name"
Annie: "let's name her Liz"
Graves: "you got it, Dude!"


One really sweet thing was that recently Annie was reading to you about cuddle fish and you wanted to pretend to be one!

Another day, Annie asked me what day it was because she was using her calendar to figure put how many days until the baby's due date and she realized that it was my birthday. You told me to please stay out of the kitchen for a little while and then said you had a surprise for me. It was a "cake"- a tortilla (with a bite missing), oranges, pretzels, and d plastic bead for a candle. Such a sweet little guy.

You loved to try to find the baby's head and put your head right on it. It's my absolute favorite thing and it really reminded me to to just savor those last weeks, as hard as that was.

You cried one night because Green Blankie was in the laundry. The next day I got it out and you said "Is he warm??" HE. I just love you so much it hurts. 

Even though you aren't the baby anymore, I'm so grateful you'll always be my baby.

Love,
Momma (and Papa)

P.S. You are wearing 3T jeans and a size 5 Darth Vader hoodie. Ha!














Friday, August 26, 2016

Letter to (Seven Year and Two Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton,

Well, once again this letter was due over two months ago. But having a third baby has really slowed things down. Anyway, better late than never and by the time you read these, if you ever do, it won't matter at all.

Looking back, we did so many fun things. We went camping at Granny's one night (well, you guys and Papa camped; I slept on her sofa!).

We also had our last Sunday at Northside for a bit because I didn't want your baby sister to come while Papa was in Clinton and we had the car here. That Sunday happened to be one where the children were singing and you did so great. You were by far the tiniest and you were so adorable. I had previously heard you practicing with some action figures and then serving them communion).

And one evening my sweet friend Ashby came over for a visit and to cook is dinner. She even got you and Graves in on the cooking. It was such a fun night!

We had the swim team kick off and started practices.

The biggest event, though, was yours and Graves's joint birthday party. Y'all chose The Jungle Book as the theme. 

When I asked you told me that your favorite thing was the food ("like gorilla grapes and that kind of thing"- you live for themed stuff like that and you helped me plan the whole thing) and playing with you friends. "Whiiiiiich was pretty much the whole party" you told me. I'm glad you and Bud are both so easily satisfied. I was telling Papa that I hope y'all don't outgrow these backyard family parties (as in not drop offs because y'alls friends parents are our friends anyway so it's a good excuse to all get together). And I hope y'alls friends don't get bored with them. It works so well since y'all are not in school and your friends spread a pretty wide range of ages. I really like uncomplicated things.

We had pizza and some fun themed snacks that were super easy and I made a cookie cake. I ran out of time to ice/decorate it but I managed to do it on about ten minutes during the party and then you arranged some plastic animals on it. It turned out pretty cute, actually!

I've never had activities before and we kept it SUPER low key- chalk, bubbles, a sticker craft I ordered for less than $5 for twelve, some fresh sand for the box, and these fun elephant stilts I made. I think it was plenty and SO easy! Oh, and you kept her friends entertained by reading aloud to them- first a new book about the weather from your cousins and then a book about the jungle (always on theme)!

You spilled some water on your quilt recently when you were soaking rose petals on yourr windowsill (???) and it wouldn't come out. I was planning to wait a bit longer but I decided this would actually be a great time to get the bedspread out of the attic that I got when you were tiny because *I* loved bird prints. I didn't realize I got a full set (instead of a twin) but I did a bunch of tucking and made it work! I also love how well it coordinated with most of the stuff we already had on your side of the room and of course you loved the birds. 

We also got the crib set up and a lot of other stuff done in y'alls room. One day Papa took Graves to a doctor's appointment, a movie, and to get them both haircuts and you helped me SO much all day. I asked you if I could hand her some (very light) baskets from the attic. You said of course but first you had to get dressed. (the attic stuff makes you itchy and you insists on being covered head to toe, including wearing socks on your hands.)

You guys have also caught several lizards lately. The conversations about them were just the best, for some reason. You told me that y'all were "SO lucky to have found such an easy catch lizard."

Then I overheard Graves talking to you: "ANNIE! This lizard could have DIED. He was left alone in the treehouse." (About five minutes later) "Annie, I have a plan. You have to stay up all night and watch him. I have to get some sleep."

 You actually ended up with one in a little cage in your bed one night! The set up you made for him was taking up about a quarter of your space. Also, this conversation made me laugh:
Annie: "let's name her Lizzie"
Graves: "let's name her Bagel Bite"
Annie: "that's a horrible name, let's name her Lizzie"
Graves: "THAT'S a horrible name"
Annie: "let's name her Liz"
Graves: "you got it, Dude!"

Y'all are absolutely ridiculous.

 Papa replanted a tree in the front yard and he broke the roots on accident and said it'd probably die. So you and Graves took it upon yourselves to take the doctor'a kit outside and take its temperature, deliver it three cups of water, and wrap some toilet paper around it.

You and Graves are so good at watering the yard. There's been more than one season where Papa asked me to do this while he was at work and I just didn't make it happen.  This Summer, I've just sat on the porch and y'all have literally done everything. Newborn snuggles are great, but Seven and Five are so amazing.

Another day, I explained that new life began when the algae started producing oxygen. You said "wait, there's oxygen in the sea?" I told you yes and you asked why people couldn't breath under water if there was oxygen. I said because the water would get into your body and choke you if you breathed it in. You wanted to know why someone hasn't invented a device that traps the liquid but let's the oxygen through. I love your little mind and it's SUCH a privilege to be your teacher.

You have these neat books you really like and you are super into the human body one and Graves really loves the mythology. And y'all both like reading about the individual states and deciding which y'all would like to visit! (You told me that once Sister Baby ("Daisy") is two or three months old she'll be ready for our trip to the Smokey Mountains, ha!). 

You have turned into my favorite version of a tomboy- a phrase I don't love and Papa hates- not the truly sporty kind, but the blue jean shorts/little boy muscle tee kind that reminds me of Joey Potter and Vada Sultenfuss and Roberta from Now and Then and is a bit of a throw back. I LOVE it (But I'm glad you still love sweet, fun dresses for Sundays and special occasions, too.)

Your style has changed a lot and we had so much fun working together to create your Summer "capsule".  You had other things that fit from last year, but we bought a few things. SO different from previous years.Your Summer uniform basically consisted of:
- four t-shirts
- three pairs of shorts
- two new church dresses and quite a few from previous years that still fit
- three swimsuits (plus one worn out one for the yard)- a buzzy bee one, a flamingo one, and a watermelon one
(re: yard work bathing suit.- the bottom is as thin as tissue paper. Entirely inappropriate for anything else.) 
PLUS
- Saltwaters for church and athletic sandals for play
- several rompers and dressier shorts sets also from previous years and a couple of things I got her at the Brooklyn Flea

We picked it all out together this time. So fun to give her some autonomy and watch her take ownership.

 Another fun quirk: we buy ten pound bags of sausage at the meat outlet because you love meat so much!

I have to share this recent conservation with Papa"
Papa: "Ok y'all, I've been with you since you woke up this morning playing and enjoying the day, right? I'm going to take my bath and do some things to get this day going"
AP: "No, that isn't true, you pottied without us!"
What followed was a discussion about boundaries and the need for personal time/space...a discussion I seems to have with y'all every few days (I.E. "yes, I will homeschool you. No, I will not be with you ever waking minute of your day.")

You are still so very stubborn and we've had a few standoffs. Your stubbornness is really probably the part of parenting that exhausts me the most. The day to day (and minute to minute) correcting and disciplining Graves over and over about the same thing doesn't cause me to become near as weary. Papa feels exactly opposite, which is so nice, and in my opinion, God's grace to us.
The other day it was the gravel mound in Mickey and Minnie's driveway. It has red clay in it and you did not want to change out of the nicer play dress you had on into an inexpensive mildly tacky Walmart outfit that had actually already had the bottoms stained by the aforementioned clay at a visit approximately forty eight hours earlier. You fussed and told me basically that it was too much effort to change and would "take too long", ironically for about forty five minutes. I FINALLY got it out of you that you didn't want to get the top stained and I allowed you to wear your pajama top I had also packed and wear the beloved shirt post shower in lieu of pajamas. It was a hard won victory (for the both of us).
Then the next day you got so upset because I deviated from the usual order of our day and decided rest time should be earlier. After a lot of no's from me and a lot of tears from you over the unmet requests you were making you finally settled yourself enough to ask if I'd just play animals for ten minutes. I did and you were completely content for the next two hours. I hope you can channel this intensity for good.
This is your last letter before your baby sister made her appearance. When I was newly pregnant Papa joked that we could "give the baby to someone else". You nonchalantly said "that'd be fine". I reminded you that you had said something similar about Graves after he was born and how special he is to you now. You told me "it takes awhile-- they have to grow up a little". We discussed further and you admitted that you think they get fun between two and three years. You have also, over the years, told me that "your husband" will stay at home with your babies and that when they're old enough you will wake them up to bird watch with you. But there at the very end you started hugging my tummy so often and saying "love that baby". I was so, so happy about that. To be fair, people like you and Papa don't get enough credit. I myself have, at times, inadvertently shamed you two because y'all aren't super into babies, particularly our own babies. But I know a lot of people who would take a perpetual four month old and significantly less people who would take a perpetual two year old. 

I think most people worried about Graves's transition (because he'd been the baby so long, because he'd be the middle child, because he's the only boy) but I really thought that, for a number of reasons, it'd be harder on Annie. For one thing you're just not as go with the flow. You had a HARD time when Graves was born. Of course you were two. But your personality is still largely the same. And the fact that babies aren't you thing. And the fact that you'd be getting less attention (which Graves just often sort of demands) and more responsibility (which Graves just often sort of refuses). In the end, I knew you'd and it'd be so great for all of us and (spoiler alert!) I couldn't have been more right!

Annie, we love you so much and are so very proud of you!

Love,
Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your pjs are a 5T and you were pretending to be Robin in the picture!





Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Best Laid Plans: Remix


Hey guys, remember this post? Deja vu, in a way.

Back in the Spring, I was approached about a job. A job that looked strikingly close to my dream job. For reasons outside my control (I blogged about it awhile back, they're no secret) it didn't work out.

One reason I felt like the timing was so good, despite expecting a. tiny infant, was because I don't know what our future will look like- we may be traveling the country, or hiking it, or fostering, or adopting. We will hopefully be homeschooling three kids instead of two. I have no idea what to expect with those things because I've never done them. I thought I did know what to expect with a newborn.

But I had no idea how complicated my emotions would be. In one sense they've been a lot harder to manage and I already struggle wearily to find those elusive things like boundaries and balance. But in another sense, I've been able to enjoy a peace- one that requires shunning a to-do list and reminding myself that my worth is not in my accomplishments- that I never found in the early days with my first two. I've said it before, but this New Girl stirs up so much in my heart.

Honestly, if the decision had been mine I STILL don't know that I could have turned it down. I was attracted to so much- the hours, the content area, the adorable quirkiness and earnestness of the students and the relentless pursuit of goodness and wisdom of the faculty, and the whole philosophy of education. The thought of actually having some autonomy and independence in a way I never really have was appealing, too.

In reality, the more I've thought about it the more I realized I still would have regrets if I'd had to turn it down myself.  Certainly not as much as I wanted a baby, but I wanted a job- this job- deeply. It would have been a bit of a hard yes, but a much harder no.

I know Peyton Herrington, stay at home dad extraordinaire except for weekends, would have fought tooth and nail to have made it work for all of us. If I had gotten the job it would've been fine.

And I do think I would have loved it.

But after nine months of a difficult pregnancy and then spending the remainder of what's been nearly a year coming back to an emotionally healthy place, I think it's good to give myself a pass on this year.I'm already seeing how, for my own emotional well-being, I need to really soak in all this. I just want to hold Sallie and love on her. ALOT. And I sort of think I owe my children, especially Annie and Graves who have been patient with me beyond what I deserve, as much as I can give them of my full self this year.

Also: this was a lot of work.



Monday, August 22, 2016

Feeding a Baby the Third Time



Annie asked me the other day about nursing in public and how she thought breasts were a "private area".

We had a really good talk- that I wish I had been more prepared for and ended up following up on later- about how yes, generally in our culture beasts are considered private, and how feeding a baby is important work and not something to be embarrassed by, and how I do my best to make sure our friends and family and strangers and our Sister Baby are as comfortable as they all relatively can be at the same time- while giving a bit of preference to Sallie's comfort- and sometimes that means putting something over her and sometimes that means using discretion.

And how I'm never, ever going to hide in a bathroom and feed Sarah Lamar on a toilet like I did with her and her brother again. 

I can't put into words how, like a million other things, I'm so very grateful to get to do this one more time, so very grateful to have become more comfortable in my choices, and most of all so very grateful for this little girl whose life it is one of my great privileges to sustain.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Letter to (Two Month Old) Sarah Lamar

Dear Sarah Lamar,

It's been another really special month with you. We've done so many fun things. We took your first real road trip and we also made a trip to see Granny. Cookie and Conrad came into town twice and they loved seeing so much of you.

So your first trip. Papa signed up for a shift in Oxford and Walgreens paid for his hotel and his driving time (and apparently the hotel will throw in the crib without charging the standard ten dollars if you ask nicely) so we decided to all go along for the ride. First trip as a family of five! You were such a trooper and was the most laid back traveler!It was a fun, whirlwind trip and I'm proud of myself because this kind of think is not always my favorite. It was a a great day, though! You and Graves were both up really late in the hotel but slept pretty much all morning the next day which was so nice and Graves only climbed in the crib with her once during your (and my!) morning nap. We had about four hours to kill until Papa's shift ended so we ate lunch at Newk's, visited Petsmart, and had dessert and enjoyed the play place at CFA. We picked up Papa and walked around the square and spent about an hour in Square Books, Jr. while it poured. You woke up for a good bit (perfect!) and we shared an early supper at Ajax and headed home. There were a few pull my hair out moments and I do HATE driving in unfamiliar places, but overall it was pretty easy. You guys are, gratefully, pretty flexible. (I, typically, am not.). Oh, and I put you in her Colonel Rebel dress since we don't make it to many (any) games these days. 

Your first trip to see Granny was such a sweet, sweet gift. I will treasure the picture always. We were finally able to introduce you to Granny and it was such a beautiful interaction. I'll never forget Granny not even really being able to sit up comfortably but tickling your tiny feet and visiting with you. Granny seems to be nearing the end of this part of the journey and it was a great joy that I got to introduce you to one of my favorite people in this world. You are named for her late husband (Lamar) and she told me today that her mother's name was Sally (we had no idea!) and when she was acting like her PopPop would tease her and call her Sally. Such a sweet connection we had no idea of. She sure was smitten with her tiniest grand girl and it was just beautiful seeing these y'all together.

Graves told me "I think she made a new friend named Granny. And she has an old friend named Graves."  


We actually went back the following week, too. We decided to make this a regular (weekly?) thing for just as long as we have left with Granny. It's too easy of a trip to make in a day, you guys are too good at traveling, and it means too much to her (and to us!) not to. Makes me appreciate homeschooling even more and how we can structure school around our life instead of our lives around a (traditional) school day.

As a bonus, the second week we got to see Papa's Aunt Beth who was in town and his brother who lives near Granny. Andrew got to meet you for the first time and he told me no less than five times how beautiful you were, just doted on you like crazy, and was absolutely precious in the way he took care of his grandmother. He's so much like your brother, Graves- just the sweetest guy who cares so much for others. When we all worked at the pool a million years ago, I wasn't always so kind to him and I still regret it. He's one of the good ones. Beth was so sweet and played with the big kids a bunch while everyone was focused on you. And then she told me that, when I was pregnant, without even knowing it was on the table, she and Peyton's uncle talked about how she thought Sally would be the perfect name for Sister Baby?!? And she told us about HER grandfather, Peyton Graves, and how he was her hero and taught her to garden and brought flowers to different widows in town each week.
We also finally made it back to church. Our first Sunday back was such a good one. I had every intention to haul you to Sunday school and the service with me (and was a little anxious about the pew experience with all three of y'all by myself) but the nursery folks seemed so genuinely excited to see you they didn't have to offer twice. You  did great- slept, "visited", and slept some more! You wore a sweet vintage Feltman dress that Cookie and I wore three decades ago and that matched your beautiful eyes. It makes me so happy to get to put a baby in those dresses again.

You also wear a lot of  vintage apparel on Friday nights when we see Minnie. I'm glad the first pair of shoes you ever wore had eyelet on them and were mine. And you've been wearing a bubble that Minnie embroidered (or cross stitched- who knows? I have no idea about hand sewing?? I wish I had her skills!) for Annie and then pulled out and did for you. It's so sweet.

Speaking of clothes, Annie learned the word "nautical" the other day. She just happened to coordinate with you one day in your sailboat/anchor outfits and I had to take a picture. I realized that, apparently, not only do you look huge compared to Annie at one month, you huge compared to her at seven years. Hahaha.

Every time you wore your fish jammies (which are now too little), I sang this song to you:
He said,"Rise and follow me. 
I'll make you worthy. 
Rise and follow me. 
I'll make you fishers of men."
I heard this song once at Calvary and loved it so much. I hope you follow Him. And I hope I can help you  understand that your worth (in His eyes and in mine) has nothing to do with your own merit. And I hope that you fish for men.
We had our last night in the sweetest "storybook" jams. Fortunately, even Annie's bedtime collection was extensive and well curated so it'll be exciting to move on to new pieces. It was something I took very seriously as a new mother  

You've been wearing a bit of Graves's old clothes, too. I know I'm biased, but you look pretty precious in your brother's sand bucket bubble, as well. Little Sallie Sunshine =)

I bought a little duck bubble in a moment of sheer absurdity seven years ago. It was too small for Annie but it was about $5 at a consignment store so I bought it in the hope of having another girl one day. I still love it and as much as I love the comparisons, it's special that you have SOMETHING Annie didn't wear.

We celebrated your biggest cousin's seventh birthday. It was a Star Wars party and you wore the 18 mo. tee DeeDee gave us at some point and that Graves finally relinquished with fancy panties because obviously.

We also took you swimming. You had been to the pool of course, but we actually put you in a swimsuit and got you in a few times this month. News flash: you and I both fit in our bathing suits. Big day. Afterwards I put the Star Wars t-shirt on you for the first time and Graves was so excited and kept yelling "Come see Babykins!!!

Another fun first was the Children's Museum. You nursed the majority of the time and ended up in a pink striped onsie because of a blowout diaper all over your clothes, my clothes, and the sling. I'd say it was a successful first visit! I'm glad I was prepared. I think it's interesting that the stuff I carry around has changed each time. In addition to diapers and wipes, with Annie I had tons of toys, diaper cream, a largish medicine kit, and a paci sanitizing contraption (ha!); with Graves I brought the Velcro swaddler, about five pacis, and sometimes even the rice sock. Now I bring a bonnet and a tiny fan (we're outside a good bit), a light blanket, a very simple extra outfit, a wet bag (even when we're using disposables it works great for dirty/wet clothes), and the sling. Some of it is me learning things over time; some of it is three unique babies with different sets of needs.

I was gone from eight to five one day for a training day for my Junior League placement and when I came home Papa had a hickey on his forearm is where you tried to nurse. He said you got a really good latch.

I pumped so much for that training and it got me thinking Back in the Spring, I was approached about a job. A job that looked strikingly close to my dream job. For reasons outside my control  it didn't work out.
One reason I felt like the timing was so good, despite expecting a. tiny infant, was because I don't know what our future will look like- we may be traveling the country, or hiking it, or fostering, or adopting. We will hopefully be homeschooling three kids instead of two. I have no idea what to expect with those things because I've never done them. I thought I did know what to expect with a newborn. But I had no idea how complicated my emotions would be. In one sense they've been a lot harder to manage and I already struggle wearily to find those elusive things like boundaries and balance. But in another sense, I've been able to enjoy a peace- one that requires shunning a to-do list and reminding myself that my worth is not in my accomplishments- that I never found in the early days with our first two. I've said it before, but this you stir up so much in my heart. Honestly, if the decision had been mine I STILL don't know that I could have turned it down. I was attracted to so much- the hours, the content area, the adorable quirkiness and earnestness of the students and the relentless pursuit of goodness and wisdom of the faculty, and the whole philosophy of education. The thought of actually having some autonomy and independence in a way I never really have was appealing, too. It would have been a bit of a hard yes, but a much harder no. And I know Peyton Herrington, stay at home dad extraordinaire except for weekends, would have fought tooth and nail to have made it work for all of us. I still think I would have loved it. But after nine months of a difficult pregnancy and then spending the remainder of what's been nearly a year coming back to an emotionally healthy place, I think it's good to give myself a pass on this year. And I sort of think I owe my children, especially Annie and Graves who have been patient with me beyond what I deserve, as much as I can give them of my full self this year. Also: that pumping was a lot of work.

We started school back with the big kids and you fell asleep during Morning School in Graves's lap with him pawing all over your face the first day. 
 
Hmm...a few more details about you at two months. Your  routine is about the same- your daytime schedule varies a lot but you do a good six or seven hour stretch each night and then sleep another two to three after I feed you. You're pretty unpredictable in your eating, too. If you're fussy, I nurse you. So there's that. You are so much bigger than your brother and sister were- you are around the fiftieth percentile in height and weight. When Papa saw a picture of you compared to pictures of them he goes "Oh man, it looks like Sarah Lamar ate our other two babies". Hahaha. We're completely out of the 0-3 mo. footies and you  literally spent about two weeks in the 3 mo. things. Most of what you wear now is 3-6 mo. and a few 6 mo. outfits. My mind has successfully been blown. You've gotten so smiley and you have THE best grin. I can't get over it. You'd think I hadn't done this twice before. You are getting so grown and love to hold your head up. You're such a bobble head, though, and will head butt me and bust my lip in a hot minute.

You do have your fussy moments, but overall you're so chill and not much bothers you. We love hauling you around on adventures and you don't seem to mind your brother aggressively loving on her. We love you so much, Sallie Girl. It's so much fun seeing little glimpses of your personality. We're so grateful for the precious gift you are.

You size- I can't tell y'all what a joy this is. Annie and Graves both had weight issues as babies (both were truly scary for different reasons at some points). I worked so hard to not supplement- with Annie waking her up at night and feeding her every two hours during the day long past the stage where that's typical- but I ended up having to anyway. With Graves, at around a year, he dropped off the charts (lower than Annie, who always stayed at least around the first percentile and a little more concerning because unlike her, who had been little bitty her whole life he was a very typical newborn and the percentile just kept dropping that year). Turns out our Tiny Girl, as Graves calls you, isn't so tiny. I figured as much since you've moved into a lot of 3-6 mo. things and still nurse ALL the time during the day but the numbers still BLEW MY MIND.
You're in the 46th percentile for weight and 87th for height on the WHO charts. I am so thrilled.
Sidenote: praise God our pediatrician's clinic finally went to the WHO charts, which paint a much more accurate picture of growth curves for breast feed babies.

Annie asked me the other day about nursing in public and how she thought breasts were a "private area". And we had a really good talk- that I wish I had been more prepared for and ended up following up on later- about how yes, generally in our culture beasts are considered private, and how feeding a baby is important work and not something to be embarrassed by, and how I do my best to make sure our friends and family and strangers and our Sister Baby are as comfortable as they all relatively can be at the same time- while giving a bit of preference to your comfort- and sometimes that means putting something over you and sometimes that means using discretion. And how I'm never, ever going to hide in a bathroom and feed you on a toilet like I did with her and her brother again. I can't put into words how, like a million other things, I'm so very grateful to get to do this one more time, so very grateful to have become more comfortable in my choices, and most of all so very grateful for a little girl whose life it is one of my great privileges to sustain.

We had lunch with a dear friend and two people at Chick Fil A came up and encouraged me. One lady thanked me for "letting my baby cry" (I guess because we didn't make a mad rush to take you outside or flip out about it or anything). She literally had tears in her eyes and she said she had grown children and she missed that sound. And another lady thanked me for nursing you in public (something I make a point to do every time I see a momma nursing her baby). Both interactions meant so much to me and made me realize that I should take time to encourage a stranger more often.


We've had some rough days here and there and they are so unpredictable, and mostly so out of character for happy little Sallie. It breaks my heart those tears still glistening on your little eyelashes.

I kind of got myself worked up and worried about it one night and Papa (AKA the man I've told a million times that nearly all babies have some degree of reflux, food intolerance, ect. and it doesn't mean something is "wrong" with them, they just have underdeveloped little systems) told me "She might have some hard days, Sweetie, but that's her just getting used to being alive and stuff, you know?"

Your brother adores you. More and more each day. He calls you Babes a lot and he even let you borrow Green Blankie the other day. He also told me awhile back that "it's very hard for a tiny girl not to cry". So many people remark about how much alike you two look!

Graves also told me that your hair is as soft as a lamb and your nicknames could be Scooter and "Feels Like a Lamb". Speaking of hair, Annie had a very pronounced widow's peek, Graves had chicken hair, and you seem to have a bit of male pattern baldness.

Mickey is probably your other biggest admirer. While they're surely each other's biggest fans, Mick and Bud are polar opposites in a lot of ways. One commonality they do have is a near obsession with you. Mickey texted me a Sallie Selfie after we had left one night. He whisks you away and gets you to sleep nearly every time we're there. A few weeks ago we took you away from him and he heard you fuss after a bit and he swooped in and questioned us "What are y'all doing to my girl??". I just love watching him love my babies.


A friend at church asked Annie if she liked having a baby sister and she basically shrugged and said "ummm". But she does love you. Just in a different sort of way. 

You are so expressive. I love what a passionate full face yawner you are. And I hope your bottom lip never changes. It's the cutest thing ever when you poke it out.

Minnie is very excited that you finally "look like a human" She's not a huge fan of newborns. Ultrasounds horrify her. I recently found out that when she was pregnant with me and Cookie she felt totally weird and uncomfortable about it. The funny thing is I was just telling a friend of mine who is a midwife how it took me SO long (and is still a process at times) to be comfortable with pregnancy and birth and breast feeding. Pretty much to be comfortable with bodies. Honestly when Annie was born I couldn't even describe myself as a woman (I much preferred girl) or say the word breast and both birth and nursing skeeved me almost beyond what I was able to bear and to some extent terrified me. It's so interesting how the things you fear can become things you're passionate about.

I've actually been reflecting a lot on your birth. While I think the work that I do (that all mothers do!) is hard and holy work every day, this was a special kind and I was so honored to do it for you, sweet girl. 

I had a hard week awhile back. Papa was working extra, and he had an appointment that brought me right up against the reality of our decision that you will be our last baby (this way). And I had a three day weather headache- the worst one since I was pregnant. I've been trying not to take anything strong because I don't want the caffeine to hurt you. I had been looking at some beautiful birth photography and birth stories in a group I'm part of on Facebook and then someone shared a beautiful story. It's been a while since I've played the comparison game with houses and cars and clothes but oddly- and I feel so absurd admitting this- I got swept up in it. It was the fifth time in a few weeks I had seen an amazing birth story or pictures. I thought back on your birth. The broken car and bright lights and novice nurse and bedpan episodes seemed nearly totally devoid of any tenderness and had nothing in common with these soft, serene accounts. The photographs that had become one of my greatest treasures weeks earlier seemed garish and too raw. And I got sad it was my last chance at it.I put you in one of my favorite sleepers of AP's and I thought about how it's my last chance at everything. I talked to a friend who gets this part of me- both the creative part and the compulsivity I often struggle with (wanting to do a thing over and over until it's perfect, which is not sustainable with, you know, giving birth). She told me she knew how important it is to me to capture a beautiful story and that she knew your birth was beautiful to me even if I lost sight of that for a bit. She reminded me that the important thing about my story is that it's mine. She was so right.

I decided I'm going to attachment parent this you. Not because I think it's better. Not even because you demand it like her brother did. But because Cowebs and all (good grief, that poem makes me bawl). And because, with some exceptions, I just don't really want to put you down. So I'm not.

No really, I'm being tongue and cheek about about attachment parenting. Actually, I will say (and it SEEMS like this is the reverse of that, i.e. container babies) we are making much better use of our gear than we did the first two times. I have your swing in the kitchen most of the time (why didn't I think of that before??) and sometimes move it to the study. Your bouncy seat is in the den and if I'm on our bed (not sleeping!) I really like to put you on the Boppy pillow (or my chest of I'm not doing something I need my hands for). With Annie and Graves it seems like I put them in their crib/the Pack N Play a lot more (and you do do about one daytime stretch and a good bit of her nighttime sleeping on the PnP). Partly because people recommended it and I was anxious about sleep issues but also just because I don't think I enjoyed being near a tiny person quite as much. This time, I just like to have you in the same room with me. The other day Mickey took you on the deck for about an hour and it's the longest you had been out of my sight ever. Also, it is revolutionary having my big people be big enough to trust. As responsible as she was, I didn't trust Annie alone with Graves for ten seconds at two. But I pretty much started leaving them alone with you day one. I mean, I wouldn't go take a nap or anything and I don't leave you in the middle of the floor but I secure you in something and go about my business and trust them not to do any damage. That's a HUGE thing, especially with Graves and something I wasn't expected to be a reality for years. We talk a lot about guidelines and safety and he's really impressed me. He does love to "hug" your head, which looks terrifyingly like a choke hold but is actually pretty gentle and you are SUCH a sport and never cry and rarely even wake up.


I recently wrote a lot- and thought a lot- about your name. IT was SO analytical but that's so me and I'm glad I wrote it all out so I'll remember all those thoughts and feelings and can tell you about what a gift it was to get to name one more baby years from now when you're thirty and naming your own little babykins.

One of the most special things about your first few days was finally, decisively settling on your name. There are things about your birth and first few days that I now sort of wish were different but I told Papa that, as long as it took us to pick, there are not a lot of things I've ever felt so sure about in my life. I know that sounds downright stupid in a way. I mean, it's not an issue of eternal significance. But I second guess myself most of the time, replay every situation, and analyze things to death. I haven't with this. Not once. And that feels like a gift. To be able to just rest in something and enjoy it. Much like her very babyhood, in some ways.

Names have such strong connotations. Several of my teacher friends had such a hard time with them because of knowing a million kids with every name. And Minnie originally told me she thought of a graveyard when she heard Graves's name. Where did I get my lack of a filter, you ask.I have a baby names book and one of my favorite features is that it tells who/what image the name brings to mind for most people. An old friend told me the other day that every time I mention our girl she thinks of Sally Brown, Charlie's sister.
I never realized it, but this too, is how I picture a Sally. You will likely be a bit darker featured but I associate it with a happy little sunshine person and always the color yellow.

This probably sounds weird and vain and I think it's a combination of things- how incredibly important names are to me and how long we waited to find the perfect name for you (or how long we waited for it to find us)- but not a day has gone by that I haven't thought at least once about how much I love your name and how unbelievably perfect it is for our precious girl who was simply Sister Baby for so long.

I've personally had a hard time with my emotions lately. Feelings of overwhelm, scary visuzalizations, and just lots of sadness. One day, I squeezed your paci in my hand to try to manage some of my big emotions and for some reason I thought what if I love you so much I squeeze YOU too tight? Just weird and scary.

Sallie, I've never enjoyed a baby so much. With Annie, we struggled with the reality of unexpected parenthood and carelessly thwarted plans until the moment we held her in our arms. My anxiety became really difficult to manage and we were trying to learn to be a husband and wife in the middle of learning to be a papa and a momma. I fretted about schedules even though she slept beautifully and I tried to determine what her cries meant even though she rarely cried. I imposed dumb rules on myself- like not doing anything else while I nursed her. Partly, I think, because I was ashamed by my reaction to the pregnancy and wanted to bond with her so badly. And partly because I was, every day, trying so hard to prove my worth as a mother. To the world, to Papa, and to myself. With Graves, while he was very planned, two kids was a hard transition and I struggled to learn his ways and bond with him initially. It was a full year of survival mode. I spent a lot of time exhausted, anxious, and paranoid everyone was judging what were my very best efforts. And I wasn't honest about it with myself or anyone else. This time I've worked incredibly hard to be honest with myself and with Papa. I've tried to be transparent in all the spaces it helps me to be so. I've realized it's an extremely worthwhile use of my limited energy to process all of this in real time instead of down the road. And I'm in my early 30s instead of my mid 20s. I know the hard times (and good times) are just a blip in the span of a lifetime with our Sarah Lamar. If you're asleep, you're asleep. If you're awake, you're awake (and typically in one of our arms- I ain't worried about Babes getting spoiled). And if you're crying, I almost always nurse you. The time when the solution to life's problems is that easy is unbelievably short. I'm able to be present in organic, non artificial ways. My lifestyle is much more simplistic, my anxiety is better managed, I more often notice ordinary wonders all around me, and I know where my worth lies (and it's not in how well I mother you guys, as important a vocation as it is). Those things are about as magic as the baby shampoo I'll be in the corner sniffing for the next thirty years.

Papa and I were talking recently about how weird it is that we are past our physical prime (he was talking about swimming laps). We started dating when I was eighteen and in some ways that doesn't seem so long ago. (Why is time blowing my mind so much these days?) But when I catch a glimpse of myself or look in Papa's eyes, I can see the age. And that's okay- we've worked hard since we were eighteen and twenty one- we've created three new lives and done our best to invest in them daily, we've moved twelve hundred miles across the country and twelve hundred miles back in a year and a half, we've lost people we loved and gained new friends, and we've learned a whole bunch. We're tired. But, some days- most days- I don't even mind it, you know?

Love,
Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your outift is a newborn. I think that was your last time to wear it but I wanted to squeeze in one more so I could have it for a comparison picture with Annie.





Thursday, August 18, 2016

I Shall Be Well

 

I wrote a bit about what a hard time I've been having last week and I wanted to share a little update.

First of all. I've really been thinking about this and the thing is so multi-faceted.

Mainly the hard emotions have felt like sadness this time. But I've had some of the scary visualizations like with Annie and now some of the overwhelm like with Graves.

I just have these weird stream of consciousness spirals. For example, I started thinking I was  disappointing people? I know nobody thinks it's my fault, but people like to hear a happy story. There's so much sadness in the world and I'd already complained for nine months about how hard this pregnancy was and I know it was nice for people to just see Sallie and enjoy the sweetness and then everything got dark again. What a downer. OR did people think I was being fake when I shared the happy stuff? OR did they think I was being overly dramatic about the this? And then the last was kind of the worst. I started wondering if people (like even real life people, my best friends and my parents) knew how much I loved Sallie and that I never regret the decision for a third (even though sometimes I do wonder what I've gotten myself into).

Plus- and this was a really big thing- I realized that the good stuff felt almost painful (more on that in a minute).

And the incident that happened a few weeks ago still kind of shakes me up. I told a friend a friend about it and she said it sounded like a panic attack. I'm hesitant to label it as such in the same way I'm hesitant to label my headaches as migraines. (Though I will label natural childbirth as a ten on the pain scale. That's still a source of contention between me and P, albeit a lighthearted one.) But I've only gotten like that twice before that I can remember- once in college after a heated argument with a friend and once in high school at the funeral of someone very special to me.  

It was actually very reminiscent of SL's birth- everything was very chaotic in my brain and felt completely out of control. There was a lot of fear (mostly, like with her birth, about how long it would last) and at one point I felt like I could hardly breath and was choking I was crying so hard. But P said I managed it really well. 

I found that endearing. He does a lot of things well but he's not a man who throws affirmation around lightly. It sort of meant the world to me.

In talking with another friend, I realized that two things I need to look at when doing a cost-benefit analysis about getting on medicine is a) how frequent are the really good days and how frequent are the really bad ones and b) how intense are the good ones and how intense are the bad ones? I have almost no mediocre ones these days and they virtually all were when I was on medicine last time. I didn't love it.

And a lot about my days felt really good.

But I knew I needed some action steps so I wouldn't get to that scary dark space again:

1. Exercise. The sunshine and physical activity make my mind feel healthier. This is such a duh thing and really many of these are. But even a short walk around the block puts me in such a better headspace.

2. Sleep. I've struggled with this for a long time. I so value alone time and I cherish that time after the house goes to bed. Which is great in moderation. But sacrificing sleep is sacrificing my sanity. 

3. Eating. Our Tiny Girl still nurses like a paria. I'm a pretty low energy individual anyway, but I've got to keep shoving things in my face unless I want to be a no energy one. 

4. Allowing myself time for the things I enjoy- writing, music, reading- as long as it doesn't conflict too much with number three.

5. Not getting too isolated. The one car thing is typically VERY doable, but sometimes it's almost frightening how it robs me of a sense of freedom and autonomy and it can feel sort of paralyzingly, especially when Peyton has a lot of commitments close together. But I have places we can walk to, a backyard we will never take for granted after sixteen months without one, and friends and family who are happy to come to us when I force myself to extend the invitation despite my exhaustion and our messiness.

Last week, I had a two hour lunch with one of my dearest friends- my truest mentor. The trip and the lunch were inexplicably good for my soul. It was so restorative. I need to make space for these things more.

Carrie and I were talking about how it used to be so easy to see each other weekly when our big girls were babies. In some ways, there's just so many more responsibilities and things to work around now. Having elementary age kids seems like such a sweet spot in so many ways, but it's complicated because you can't leave them at home like teenagers but you also can't just grab them and go like we could when they were babies and toddlers. I guess it might be different if the big kids were in traditional school and that might allow for more schedule flexibility, but with our schedules it seems tough to manage.

So we came up with a plan! Once school starts back, we're going to shoot for one play date a month, one family date a month, and one girls' night or lunch a month. If we can see each other three times a month that will be remarkable and almost like the old days. And I'm working on figuring out ways to be more intentional with other friendships, too. 

 I think those five action steps will go a long way. 
 
But also, number six.

I had a big realization. One of the big ways my anxiety (or depression, I don't really know what to call this?) is manifesting is that sentimental and beautiful things just tear me to pieces. They are such a heavy weight. If you know me well, you know I'm probably one of the most sentimental and nostalgic of all your friends and also that I've basically devoted my life to searching for beauty and documenting it is some way. So, this is tough.

One of the main reasons I wanted to avoid medicating is because it made me so "blah" when I was on it before. But the peeks haven't even all been easy. The really happy things sometimes seem...bittersweet? 

A friend mentioned she didn't know I was having a hard time. She said something like that everything seemed so bright and happy. And sometimes they were. They really, really were. But too infrequently I think. 

I mentioned to several friends that this has felt a lot like when I finally decided to supplement with formula with Annie. I gave it my very best, but ultimately what was the very best wasn't necessarily what I would have chosen. 

I cannot, CANNOT let Sallie's baby days be a sad fog. I deserve better. It's not fair to myself. It's not fair to her. And it's not fair to Peyton and my older children.

So here we are.

Julian of Norwich says "All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” 

I believe Julian's words. And I trust that I too shall be well. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Drowning



I shared it on Instagram and I feel like I need to share it in this space, too.

It's hard, but it's necessary. Real talk.

A couple of weeks ago, I got so upset over Sallie's birth and while some days I'm at peace with our decision and some days I'm excited about it because I know if we had another we'd be much, much less likely to adopt or become foster parents, some days it's really hard. Graves asks me often if we can have "just one more". And it breaks my heart to tell him that Sallie was our one more. 

What began as an under the surface sadness turned into a lack of motivation for daily things which snowballed into total overwhelm and ended in a much darker place.

I needed to go to Target but going to Target seemed too hard. Then, in a throwback to my old anxiety days, I started thinking of if something happened to me. Peyton would have his three kids and maybe they'd be better off without me? But then that awful, sickening feeling took hold as I thought about them being raised in a household without a believing parent. And then I had this truly horrible feeling of "would it even be all that different?". And, on top of that, in a throwback to Annie's babyhood, I have been having scary vivid visualizations of something happening to all of THEM. I squeezed Sallie's paci in my hand to try to manage some of it and for some reason I thought what if I love her so much I squeeze HER too tight?

I thought about how there are, at the very least, three people who need me to not be this way. That in itself is a lot of pressure.

I felt like I was drowning in the sadness. 

That was when it became uncontrollable. And when P gently brought up maybe needing to be on medicine again (which is another big deal coming from him- we just try really hard not to medicate what doesn't HAVE to be medicated and sometimes when people shake their heads at me about the epidural I think "eh, if you only knew the other stuff I work so hard to avoid"). But there comes a point where it's warranted. I'm not there yet but I'm for sure keeping a finger on the pulse of it.

That said, I'm much, much better and I feel a bit better equipped for if/when I'm not.