Friday, August 22, 2014

Mourning a Life Lost and Grieving a Hard Reality

"That thug has ruined the officers way of life and career. He will have to move out of state to even be employed as an officer."

This, recently in the comments of a piece I was reading about Mike Brown and Ferguson


Oh, comments sections, what awful things you do to my soul. 

First of all, I get that not all the facts are in on this. But it blows my mind that people are mourning the *potential* loss of a WAY OF LIFE without mourning the *actual* loss of a LIFE. 

Secondly, if I never hear some black kid- or anyone for that matter, like you know, the president of the United States (unbelievable)- called a thug again, it will be too soon. 

And I'm finding people that want to talk about this kid smoking pot to be increasingly difficult to tolerate. Because? So did a ton of white kids both Peyton and I were friends with in high school. Who are ALL, incidentally, still alive. 

Someone I'm friends with on Facebook engaged me in another thread on my wall and she talked, among other things, about how the image of a black male in baggy pants is frightening to many folks. 

Which, right, some people are on edge when they see that image (ahem, person) coming up on them in the street. That's my problem. I was that girl for a loooong time. Up until this year actually. And I'm so glad I'll never be her again. I see that image every day now and it doesn't bother me in the least. I walk past the projects with my small people. I was tired of being scared of people who look and dress differently. And while gun violence happens in the communities we love and are a part of here, it's not as common as people think. 

My friend also mentioned a media slant, biased against the police officer who killed Brown. But it goes both ways. The media is often going to show a picture of a black kid looking "scary" rather than another one. There's been a great hashtag recently- #iftheygunnedmedown. You see the same black kid (or adult) in one shot dressed in a cap and gown and in another dressed in what we'll call "urban street clothes". Young black mean shouldn't have to walk the streets in their diploma receiving duds for people not to think of them as a threat. 

And as far as being perceived as a threat, that's the reality. A reality I have grieved daily for my brothers and sisters as I've watched this unfold. The reality is that I will NEVER have to have a conversation with Graves about the many things he needs to do if he's ever involved in an altercation with the police. That's not something on my radar. For many raising brown boys, though, it's high on their priority list to teach their sons exactly what words to say and what actions to take. Including, among other things, "both hands visible" and expressing emphatically that they don't have a gun in their possession. Two things, which depending on which side of this story is accurate, may not get them very far. 

I've tried to be discerning in what I link to and the ways I spout off opinions. But this is so heavy on my heart. As a mother. As an alley for people of color who are now a very real part of my life. As a human.

I want to see a better America. I hope to see it in my lifetime. I hope in his lifetime, my little fair, blue- eyed boy sees his dark skinned friends treated with the same respect and dignity he is. Because until that happens, we will never see this country as "an oasis of freedom and justice", something Dr. King dreamed of for my beloved Mississippi one hot August day fifty one years ago. 

That was his dream, but the reality he described was a land "sweltering with the heat of injustice...sweltering with the heat of oppression". 

Another hot August and I can't help but feel that sweltering heat is still alive and well. 

I long to see the reality defeated and the dream realized. And I pray that this tiny privileged white girl from the Mississippi suburbs whose body had been trained to tense when she saw the image of a brown body with baggy pants, and gold chains, and a big grill walk by will have some small part in that change.  


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Letter to (Five Year and Four Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton,

It's been such a big month up here. We've done lots of fun things. We visited the Lefferts House, which is an old house/museum in Brooklyn and you learned about growing potatoes and making textiles and all sorts of things from years past. We saw Olivia at Union Square Park and we went to a fashion exhibit featuring the dresses of Charles James at the Met twice, because you loved it so. You have fallen in love with Coney Island and your beloved babysitter from home, Claire, came to stay with us for a week. You got to see the Statue of Liberty up close while she was here and I think you found you adored her more than ever. 

 You are so funny, of course without meaning to be. And sometimes it's not even that what you say is funny, it's just the context of a five year old saying it. I had to let my nose piercing grow back because of a keloid and Annie asked me "Momma, where your stud?". Minnie freaked out when she heard about your concern for the "stud".

You have found another way to baby wear. Harness animals (you know, the backpack things with leashes your crazy momma bought before the cross country move) are perfect for five year olds who like to practice attachment parenting with their "babies". You love strapping bunny to your chest and whispering in her ear.

You wore nail polish for the first time that was anything other than pink or red. It was called "Mellow Yellow" and you looked a little hipster, if I'm being frank. I think that's part of it. I think you're going to look a little hipster at times. As long as you still wear smocked things and big bows some. 

A couple of weeks ago Peyton asked you if you wanted to stay in Brooklyn. You replied after a few follow up questions that you wanted to stay and continue living here. Your main reason was that Jackson doesn't have the Q-Train (a subway line that passes over and gives a great scenic view of lower Manhattan's waterfront area and the Brooklyn Bridge). Later in the conversation you stated that in several ways this would be easier in "silly world" (where we could of course work things out easier).

Awhile back you were standing in front of a fan with her dress hiked up and the air blowing up it and you asked casually "Do you think when I'm grown people will still call me Annie or is that like sort of a little kid's name?". First of all, for some reason, I think I'll always remember you doing that thing with the fan. It seems a little Old South but also a little Old Brooklyn. Like city people in the 60s or 70s who lived in a big tall building like us without normal air. Mostly I hate not having central air here, but sometimes it's really fun because things like that happen and I can sort of transport myself to a different time. By the way, that whole conversation came about because the Little People call you "Little Girl" and you had finally asked them to call you by your name.


Also, regarding the heat...we were on a SUPER crowded train a few weeks ago and Graves says "put me down, I'm so sweaty". I said "Bud, everyone on this train is sweaty." And this you (extremely dainty chick that you are) go "Am I sweaty?? Sniff my hair, Momma." It was HYSTERICAL. 
  • A different day, this: "Please turn that bath water down. I do not like loud noise in this house when I'm trying to play with Little People." Life with a HSP. I get it, Sweetie. I really, really get it. 

  • Another funny quirk about you is that when you finish a puzzle you absolutely have to take it back apart meticulously, piece by piece. 

The other night I found you asleep under Graves's bed. I'm about ninety percent sure this was y'all pretending they have bunk beds. I'm about a hundred percent sure that if you guys actually did, you'd do everything in her power to get dibs on the bottom bunk. You are getting much braver these days, though. 

A lot of times when we go to the park, you like to stroll Graves yourself in the umbrella stroller. As you say so often "I'm fine with that".

Just a sidenote, but I love having two petite kids. You guys ride all over Brooklyn in the cheap Graco stroller we've had since you were born five years ago. The double is such a hassle on the subway, but you both fit in the single that we bought as part of a travel system when you were an infant. 

Watching you guys play together is always such a wonderful part of my day and I really do try not to take it for granted. The other day at church you had your arms around Graves and you said "I'm farmer Annie and he's my cow that got away".

Another day y'all were playing and you told me"We're doing this thing where just we kick each other really softly. And I'm fine with that." Okay, then. 

You guys were playing "bride and groom" and you let me know that "If this was a real wedding, I wouldn't marry Bud. You can't marry a brother or a sister. You didn't marry Cookie. And, OF COURSE you can't marry your dog".

One of my favorite things in the world is sending you to wake up Graves when his nap is getting too late- "Wake up, little Gravesy Graves". You say it every time and in the sweetest voice. I really need to get a video. I truly think that if a stranger was watching you and had never before seen you two interact, he would know just from this little scenario how much you love him, how well cared for he is by you, and what tenderness you so often evoke in your interactions with your "baby" brother. 

Big, BIG news- you are reading now, piecing together lots of little words and even two and three word phases. It's been one of my very favorite things in my journey as a mother-- teaching you to read. I've loved being there for this and knowing I'm the one who helped her take you initial steps to what I hope will be a lifelong love of words. I so often hear stay at home mothers say that it meant so much for them to see their child's first steps or hear them say their first words. Honestly, and maybe it's that I have a teacher's heart still, this has meant more. It's such a big, big milestone to me and as I said I hope it's the foundation for something much bigger than you can now imagine. 

We've gotten you in the habit of, when you want to ask a question about something (which is very, very often) pointing you toward a book on the subject. Recently you informed me that you'd like me to look at the library for a book about how bananas "work" (i.e. why they turn brown) and about the way your throat feels when you're about to cry.

As has been the case for awhile, you love to spend chunks of naptime working on "art" and "projects". You pictures are getting more and more detailed. You told me the other day, upon presenting a piece of construction paper to me, that "This is a picture of a man thinking about a mouse. And that's a cat chasing a mouse. Did you know that CATS CHASE MOUSES?"

Sometimes you also like to photograph the cat and then edit in hair and jewelry on the iPad. Obviously. 

Recently, Graves peeled a bunch of (cheap) paint off the wall (it happened over multiple instances, don't even get me started). So we put up some of your creations to camouflage it. One large sign (two pieces of construction paper) said "Welcome Miss Claire" and depicted all of the things you wanted to show her- the Q train, the pirate playground, the Children's Museum, the fountain, MonkMonk, and the library. Good thing she's stayed a whole week!

We actually got most of that knocked out. It was interesting to see Claire's perception of you and how you've changed. She, like many others, knew you when you were very tentetive and truthfully, even pretty passive. You were compliant to the extreme. I honestly hoped (and prayed a little) that you'd grow into a bigger personality with stronger opinions and more confidence. Weeeell, I got my wish. You are so stubborn and so bullheaded and sometimes so hard to reason with because you are so sure you are right. But I'm still glad for it. I know it will be much harder for a boy to take advantage of you or for a girlfriend to convince you to sneak out and meet the boys or even for a teacher or other authority figure to exercise control over you in an inappropriate way. 

As I always say, I love watching you grow and mature spiritually. I recently read you a book that is part of a series on the attributes of God. It is called "God is All-Knowing" and after I read it I asked you what you learned. You told me that God knows everything that will happen and I asked you if you could give me an example. You said "Well, God knows right now if me and Bud are going to have a night party tonight. He knows if we'll have enough energy or if we'll be too tired for one." I said "Does that mean God decides if you'll have a night party?" And you said "No, me and Bud get to decide if we will or not, but God knows what we'll choose." I was very proud of those connections. 

A few weekends back, Papa was feeling really under the weather and we were running late. We almost skipped church that night and you cried. I asked you later why you were so upset and you said "Our friends at Calvary-Saint George's would have missed us." At first I laughed to myself and thought it was sort of egotistical. But then I realized it shows two things: 1) You really have a very empathetic spirit and it upsets you think you might be responsible for other people feeling sad or lonely and 2) Our friends there have made you feel loved, welcomed, and valuable. So much so that you know you would be missed if you weren't there. I can't stop thinking about that. Because it's exactly how I feel.

We were reading the Jesus Storybook Bible (which I think you are growing to love as much as I do) and I told you that Jesus is with us during the "storms" of life and explained to you that that means the hard things.
"What are some hard things, Momma?" you asked.

"Well, when you had that parking garage incident and were so upset for several weeks. That was hard and I asked Jesus to help you with those feelings."
"Anything else hard?" you pressed.
"Well, sometimes I really miss Mickey and Minnie a lot."
"Oh....because they *your* momma and papa?" you replied and looked at me so knowingly. 

Sometimes it amazes me because I can SEE how deeply you are processing things. 

Graves was talking about using his tools to help God and you said "Well, Graves ..(you say "Well, Graves..." about fifty times a day and you say it in this very gentle but "hey listen, I'm about to tell ya how it really is" voice). Anyway, "Well, Graves, Jesus was SCREWED to the cross". You then argued with me that it *could* have been screws, not nails. That is you in a nutshell. And it was me in a nutshell at five. 

You are smart and funny and hard headed and exasperating and every day it's a delight to be around you.

I love you,
Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your dress is a 4T and it's one of your favorites. And you were pretending to be a lion. Really it looks more like a "howl" than a "roar", though.
















Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Weekly Smorgasbord

Well, Delicious has gone and broken itself. No, I just can't log in and I forgot my password. I tried to reset it to no avail and then emailed the Help service. Nope. I Googled and found out that the company was sold back in May, but "without staff". This can't be good. Anyway, I guess I'll be manually inputting my links. It looks a lot better, honestly. I do wish I had a site where I could back them up all together because that was nice. Oh, well. I lost an hour of my life trying to figure it out and now I'm ready to bid it farewell.

So...links for this week!

On Marriage:
5 Reasons You Should Have Sex With Your Husband Every Night
"There is something restorative about kissing the boy you love. There are times in Riley's arms when I remember who I am before I even realize I have forgotten. Yes, I am a cook, cleaner, teacher, and wiper of all things disgusting. But I am also something more, something delightful and completely apart from my roles. I am a woman! And there is potential and depth and heck, I am pretty darn good kisser, too. It is a lovely thing, finding yourself through the touch of someone else."


Peyton put this on my Facebook and said "delete if you think it will offend the sensibilities of your friends" and I said "having sex every night offends my sensibilities". Honestly, every night seems a bit much. But the article makes some good points and I decided we should maybe kick it up a notch. 

On Accuracy in News Reports:
As Christians, we have a duty to champion the truth. We should avoid spreading unsubstantiated claims and inflaming dread and panic by playing on people’s natural disgust of harm to children. ISIS is an organization that has committed heinous acts of violence and violated the human rights of many of our fellow believers. But we must not partake in the spreading of lies, even if it is against our enemies."

I'm not really sure what to think, but I think there's a change it's untrue and this article makes good points. 

On Mental Illness and Suicide
"First, suicide does not claim anyone against their will. No matter how depressed you are, you never have to make that choice. That choice. Whether you call depression a disease or not, please don’t make the mistake of saying that someone who commits suicide “died from depression.” No, he died from his choice. He died by his own hand. Depression will not appear on the autopsy report, because it can’t kill you on its own. It needs you to pull the trigger, take the pills, or hang the rope. To act like death by suicide is exactly analogous to death by malaria or heart failure is to steal hope from the suicidal person. We think we are comforting him, but in fact we are convincing him that he is powerless. We are giving him a way out, an excuse. Sometimes that’s all he needs — the last straw."

As I told a friend, I've pushed a baby out of my (very small) body without any medication. And that pain does not hold a candle to the sometimes paralyzing anxiety I've experienced in regards to him and his sister (and about a million other things over the years). It's a haunting sort of fear that just grips me and terrifies me with its power. But even on my worst day, I know it's nothing compared to what so many people face. I don't really have words for that. And I didn't really think Matt Walsh did, either. 

"Many intelligent folks have pointed out that suicide is a choice, but one made by a mind submerged in an unspeakable darkness. Suicide is a choice, but one chosen under great duress.  To these people, let me offer this stipulation: of course. Yes. I never said otherwise.But ALL destructive choices are made under these circumstances. ALL. Every single one. The more destructive the choice, the more troubled the mind."

He wrote a follow up post. I think it did clarify some things. He still drives me bonkers and probably always will. That said this was more compassionate and again clarified some things for me. And I think it's only fair to link to the follow up since I linked to the original. 

"Living is the pro-active choice. Is suicide a choice? It has been a free choice every time I have ever said no so far. I have chosen to say no. That is not because we can blindly, arrogantly, say that it is a moral choice, though. It is because I have been really lucky that I am (still) healthy enough to say no. The thing is, saying ‘’no’’ to suicide is evidence that I am healthy enough to say no. But, if I should ever commit suicide, it will not be because ‘’I’’ made the choice, but because my depression would have. Because the depression would have won its battle over me, no medically or morally differently than if cancer had won a battle over me."

Honestly I found a lot of stuff in it that seemed insightful and helpful in framing an understanding of mental illness. That said, I understand how friends of mine that have struggled with deep depression feel like this is a very upsetting narrative, one that robs them of little personal freedom.

"We're the people who say: there's no shame saying that your heart and head are broken because there's a Doctor in the house. It's the wisest and the bravest who cry for help when lost...There's no stigma in saying you're sick because there's a wounded Healer who uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and medicine to make miracles...There's no guilt in mental illness because depression is a kind of cancer that attacks the mind. You don't shame cancer, you treat cancer...Shame is a bully and Grace is a shield. You are safe here."

I've posted this before, but it's one of my favorite things on mental health I've ever read. Ann's words soothe and comfort, remind and rebuke, and show us a better way forward. Take heart, sick Christians, the good Doctor is in the house!

On the Reality for Black Men in America

"To even acknowledge this line of debate is to start a larger argument about the worth, the very personhood, of a black man in America. It's to engage in a cost-benefit analysis, weigh probabilities, and gauge the precise odds that Brown's life was worth nothing against the threat he posed to the life of the man who killed him. It's to deny that there are structural reasons why Brown was shot dead while James Eagan Holmes—who on July 20, 2012, walked into a movie theater and fired rounds into an audience, killing 12 and wounding 70 more—was taken alive...To ascribe this entirely to contempt for black men is to miss an essential variable, though—a very real, American fear of them. They—we—are inexplicably seen as a millions-strong army of potential killers, capable and cold enough that any single one could be a threat to a trained police officer in a bulletproof vest. There are reasons why white gun's rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying children's toys." -from the article

"The double standards, the hypocrisy...I can't. David saw a picture like the one below today and asked me, "what are those bad guys doing to that man?" How do I even answer that? That 18 year old boy looks like every other man on our block and to David, they're people and friends, not threats. That's one of the many reasons we choose to live where we do." - words from my friend who shared this.

I have so many thoughts on this. Pretty sure there will be a full post coming. 

This is the damn Reading Rainbow guy, y'all. When pulled over, the GUY FROM READING RAINBOW sticks his hands entirely out the window of his car to ensure THE OFFICER'S RELAXATIONS and HIS OWN SAFETY. This is our America, guys.


There ya go. Hope something peaked your interest or taught you something new. Or just motivated you to hop in the sack with your sweetie more often =) 







Sunday, August 17, 2014

Weekly Happenings Post #281 (August 11-17)-- Brooklyn Bridge Park Day, Coney Island Round Three, and Clinton Hill Summer Block Party

I missed the memo we were doing a goofy picture again! 

Whew, what a PERFECT Summer week. Coney Island, a FULL afternoon at Brooklyn Bridge Park (all five playgrounds!) and our own neighborhood's street party. Reality is setting in and I know Summer is quickly fading away, so it felt good to have such a great week outside under the Brooklyn sun (and moon in the case of Coney Island). 

 We really got back into our normal routine on Monday. The kids got up and I fixed them breakfast and we watched their shows. I took my bath, got on the computer, ate breakfast, and planned school for the day. We played and then did their devotion and catechism and cleaned up. I fixed lunch and they ate while I did dishes and swept and mopped the kitchen floor. I put Graves down, but he never fell asleep. I got on the computer and ate lunch and did school with Annie.

When we finished, I got Graves up and we headed to the playground. They played in the sprinkler for a good while and I visited with another mom. We came home and read our Five in a Row book and did Graves's critical thinking and then I fed them supper. I bathed them and talked to my mom on the phone and put them to bed. I picked up, did dishes, and swept in the den and then I got on computer until Peyton got home. We ate and watched TV and both fell asleep on the couch. I got up HOURS later and sent a couple of emails, finished a post, started a post, put pictures on Facebook, and messaged a friend on FB. I went back to sleep again and woke up and chatted with Peyton and then snoozed a bit. Such a WEIRD night.

Tuesday was a fun day. Peyton was off and I got up before nine so I could get a bath because they were supposed to be working on pipes in the building starting at nine. We all had breakfast and got ready and headed to the Natural History Museum. It was a dreary day so it was pretty crowded. We had a good time, though. We packed a lunch and ate it and explored the museum a bit more and then headed home.
Watching the rain fall at the Museum of Natural History...

We got off the G and onto an A train going to the Natural History Museum. Annie said "Oh, we'll have to change to a C; the A doesn't stop at the museum!". Then she clarified that a B would work, too. Peyton explained to her what an express/local trains are (i.e. express trains run faster by not making as many stops). Without looking at a map, she said "The D is express, too". Sure enough, there it is running along the same line as the B. It's not train we've ever taken and I had to check the map to know myself! She's so obsessed!

We stopped at a playground to play even though it was wet. When we got home, the kids played and Peyton read and I took a short nap. I ate something and Peyton and the kids baked muffins from scratch and he had to go buy some cupcake liner things. He couldn't find any and he went to FIVE stores. We worked puzzles and played. He came back with Pam and they finished up. They ate super and Peyton got them ready for bed. I did some laundry and folded another couple of loads from a few days back. Peyton and I talked and then I got on the computer. He fell asleep and I scooped liter, did a bunch of dishes, and swept and mopped. I put up some laundry and got ready for bed.
Peyton made blueberry muffins from scratch with the children (because that's the kinda dad he is). They are amazing. And I'm eating them in bed at midnight (because that's the kinda girl I am).

The kids slept pretty late on Wednesday. They got up and I fixed them breakfast and then we watched their shows. I folded up the sofa, planned the school day, got on the computer, ate breakfast and took my bath. I also browned a roast and then put it in the crock pot. I played with them some and then we read and did their devotion and catechism. We cleaned up and they had lunch.
"I be Annie and she be Baby Graves." FWIW, he does wear the black tutu pretty frequently when he pretends to be "Wicked Witch". 

I put Graves down, but he didn't fall asleep. I was kind of glad because it was late. He stayed in his room for awhile and I got on the computer, ate lunch and did school with Annie. A cat had teeteed on the guest bed the day before (UGH!) and I really wanted to wash the bedding so when Graves got up, we headed down to start laundry. We came back up and did some joint school stuff and then changed it over to the dryer.
Graves's Slow and Steady activity for the week was taping tiny household objects to a piece of paper and discussing them. It helps develop freedom of choice, creativity, awareness of texture, eye-hand coordination, and language skills among other things. 

The kids ate supper and then we headed back down a final time to get the laundry. I put the bedding back on the bed and bathed the kids and got them in bed. I started mine and Peyton's sides (cabbage and new potatoes) and started a post. Peyton got home and we ate and talked and then I sent an email and finished the post.

Thursday was so much fun. We had a slow relaxing morning and then we got ready and headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park. We had the best time!
Annie's intense love for all things Native American means this is her favorite hair style. Sidenote: last time at the museum we saw a replica of a house that seven different families would live in. I said "Annie, does that sound like fun to live in a house with SIX other families?" She said "Well, that's one way to make a lot of friends!".

And then  this crazy guy called me....DenDogg. I got this adorable (ahem) nickname from a group of JNCO wearing, metal listening, foul talking misfit boys who I loved more than life itself during most of junior high and high school. As one of these people continued on in my life in the years following, Peyton picked it up and very occasionally uses it to be funny. Hilarious that Graves found it fitting.

We literally went to five different playgrounds. First we hit up the Water Lab:
So much (free!) fun! 

City oasis! 

She's so brave. I think she lives to climb as much as I did!

I genuinely thing it was one of the best days of her life. 

Next we headed to "Slide Mountain"....
Can you spot the babies?

Tiny boy, giant slide.

Tiny girl, (different) giant slide. 

My favorite little (boy) monkey!
And then "Sandbox Village"...
This was Annie's favorite...

and I think it was this guy's, too! 

We also did "Swing Valley" (but it was crowded and the least impressive) and the pirate ship.

We stopped at Shake Shack on the way home and then ran by Target. Peyton bathed the kids and I read to them and put them to bed. I talked to my mom, emailed a friend, and read some articles online.

We had a pretty chill day on Friday. Peyton and I chatted and then I went back to sleep. The kids and I got up late, ate breakfast, and got ready for the day. We sort of lazed around awhile- read to the kids some, that kind of thing. We had lunch and then Annie and I headed to Soho to pick up some Fall stuff at American Apparel while the boys stayed home and waited for someone to come fix our tub drain.
Annie with her map of the neighborhood. She really does know how to navigate Clinton Hill better than I do, embarrassingly. 

We went to the outlet in Soho and the regular one and then to the one in TriBeCa and couldn't find what we were looking for. We came home and recharged and then all got ready and headed to Coney Island.
We are getting REAL predictable in our old age

Fireworks on the beach!

Since we go every week, they pick one ride. Last week was fire trucks!! 

We got home late and put the kids to bed. I got on the computer.
Happens every time...before we even get to the first stop on the train. Annie, on the other hand, wants second supper when we get home at midnight.

Saturday morning was SO nice. The kids slept until TEN and then I lazed around until eleven. I got my shower and had breakfast and cleaned out the kitty closet and picked up around the house.
In one of her most generous moments to date, Annie let Graves sit and watch her beloved jewelry box ballerina spin. I usually discourage it myself, but she's been saying he can if she's "watching him"". I heard her say "We are NOT going to put on this jewelry. It's very special jewelry and I don't want us losing or breaking it". I'll never get tired of watching them interact.

A little family portrait- SD, Peyton, Graves, and AP. And Darth and General floating in the air. 

I cleaned the bathtub and put up the stroller from the night before and then took the kids' monthly pictures.


We got ready and headed outside to the block party.
Brooklyn block party. As I said recently, this was one of the things that sold us on the neighborhood. Today, for the first time, we ran into one if the families we talked to last August. It was so surreal and such a neat moment. 

Truck Ride

Summer in the city. The quintessential urban children picture. Feels like something from yesteryear. I'll treasure it always. 

Goofy guy. Whose hair is growing, praise God.

We stayed for hours and then Peyton walked down the block and bought fish from the fish market and some stain remover from Walgreens. I went upstairs and cooked while Peyton played some more with the kids. I did dishes and then they came up and we all ate. I started laundry and was sweeping and wiping the table when we discovered this:
This was at nine and we decided we wanted to go try to catch it. So we knew we had about twenty five minutes total (it takes fifteen to walk there quickly). The kids were already in their room going to bed but we snatched them up and got ourselves dressed really fast and rushed down to the train station. Too bad it was FRIDAY night.

We grabbed the kids up (Peyton had bathed them and put them to bed) and hustled and got ready and headed down to the train station. We waited through three trains and then I ran up and checked on my phone (no service in the station) and discovered it was the day before! Ugh. We came home and I put my laundry in the dryer and Peyton took the kids to Mr. Coco's for a treat. We let them have it and then put them to bed. I got my laundry and we watched the news.

I got on the computer and sent an email while Peyton researched some stuff and then I started a blog post. We stayed up way too late.

There was rain in the forecast for Sunday morning and I woke up with a headache. I probably would have gotten the kids up and got ready but the thought of the buses/bus stops and walking a quarter of a mile really didn't do much for me. I've always said that I was going to try to do the two church thing and give it my best go (right now Calvary-Saint G's evening service is on Summer hiatus), but with weather stuff I just give myself grace. Annie was MAD and especially so when it really didn't rain. Anyway, I fixed the kids breakfast when they got up (around nine) and scooped liter then. We watched their shows and then I took a shower and got on the computer for a bit. We cleaned up their room and they colored some and then I fixed them lunch. I washed some dishes and put Graves down. He took a great nap and I ate lunch, uploaded pictures and took one, too. When he got up he and Annie played and I put up a lot of laundry. I fixed them supper and picked up around the house. We played and then I got them ready for bed. Peyton got home and he read to them and then we talked some. I worked on a blog post and got ready for bed.

This week is going to be great because MINNIE IS COMING. I'm so excited I can't stand it!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sideblogs: Characters and Alphabet City

I wrote a couple of posts over on the sideblogs this week...

On Belles and Beux, I wrote a short little note about characters in the city.

On Schoolhouse in the City, I wrote about some of the activities we're doing to reinforce the phonograms Annie is learning

Enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Weekly Happenings Post #280 (August 4-10- A Few More Days with Claire, Resting and Recuperating, and Governors Island


Silly faces!

Claire left on Wednesday and we had a slow, but fun finish to another beautiful Summer week!

I had been kind of nervous about Monday. We were going to have a museum day and go to the Museum of Natural History and the Met to show Claire. With both the kids. I never do those museums without Peyton and honestly, even with Peyton, it's still kinda tough with Graves sometimes. I knew I'd have Claire's help, but I wanted her to focus on enjoying it. Anyway, we meant to leave the apartment between nine and nine thirty but we left between ten and ten thirty. We hit the train and started at the Museum of Natural History. The kids did SO well and made it a long time- we did North American mammals, ocean life, gems, and the dinosaurs.
At the Natural History Museum, posing with everyone's favorite conservationist

It was getting late (like close to three) and the kids hadn't had lunch and I knew The Met would close at five thirty. We finished up and walked across Central Park to the The Met.
This guy outside The Met was so cool. He sang in Japanese and is a former marine and also a graduate of Juliard.

Momma son "feet-sies" as Graves would say. "Look, we match!"

We say the arms and armor galleries and went back to the fashion exhibit.

Watching a dress be constructed virtually. I hate this exhibit is leaving next week but I'm SO glad they got to enjoy it another time! 

Then we headed home. We crossed the park again to get to the C train and then Claire realized she didn't have her Metro Card. We got a new one and waited a long time for the train.
I took this to convey that there are, in fact, more ridiculous grocery shoppers than us in the city. In an effort to not be obvious, I said "Look a here, Baby Graves!". I didn't even notice his face until hours later. The verdict: we retain our ridiculous status. 

When we got home, I heated up leftovers for the kids and bathed them. I started laundry and cooked our supper. The laundry turned out rough- I ran out of time for the basement laundry room and then there were no good dryers (some just don't dry well) in the one across the courtyard. We had dinner and the meat was REALLY tough. I had cooked the same cut in the crock pot a few weeks before and it was so good, but I forgot to thaw and I had to thaw it all day. So I cooked it in the oven and it was awful. UGH. We all ate (potatoes and roasted cabbage mostly) and talked and then Claire and Peyton went to bed. I got on the computer and cleaned up the kitchen. And went to bed LATE.

Peyton was off on Tuesday and Claire and I had some time to ourselves. Peyton took the kids to a little puppet show and Claire and I headed to downtown Brooklyn to buy half off Broadway tickets. We stopped at Cousin John's for breakfast first, though. We got tickets to see Rock of Ages and then headed to the Botanic Gardens. We had a great time and got through it pretty quickly without kids :) We came home and and had a snack and I did another load of laundry and folded some and then we got ready for the show.
Ready for Broadway!

I loved this show! I once ordered a "Monster Ballads" cassette tape off the TV. I've watched a lot of VH1 "I Love the '80s". I'm a girl who loves her some Whitesnake and on hormonal days gets teary when she hears Mr. Big sing "To Be with You". The critics weren't kidding when they said this is the best party on Broadway! Another FABULOUS night in the Big Apple!

We walked around after the show and ended up back in front if the theater right as some of the cast was leaving. Had to snag a shot with the leading man, Constantine. Claire said he was taken. I said "I am too, Claire". She said she wasn't talking about me =)

It was SO much fun. I really enjoyed it. We ate at Five Guys and then headed back to BK. We talked to Peyton and then got ready for bed. I did a few things on the computer and it was two o'clock! I was tired to the point of weepy. I had that weird post-event nostalgia that I sometimes get and I was irritated with Peyton over something that didn't work out.

We had a lazy morning on Wednesday. The kids got up and ate breakfast and then snuggled with me and watched shows for longer than usual. I got my bath and they played with Claire and then we all got ready and headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park. We had a little picnic and showed Claire the pirate ship playground.
So grown in his big cousin's old cargo shorts. Y'all. Baby Graves is wearing cargo shorts. (BTW, he says he'll be "Baby Graves" until he's five. THEN we can call him just Graves.)

 We headed home and the kids crafted and Claire finished packing. I called a car and we walked her down. We said goodbye and the kids played some more while I did dishes and a few things around the house. I fixed them supper and bathed them and then put them to bed. I tried to find a dvd of a high school play and couldn't and got so frustrated. Peyton got home and we talked and watched the news and then I wrote a post and emailed a friend.

We had a SUPER laid back day on Thursday. The kids had breakfast and we watched cartoons and then I got my bath and folded up the couch and scooped liter. I played with the kids and we did their devotion and catechism and then cleaned up their room.
I couldn't be more happy that the first day of school came gradually over the last few months as I introduced new curriculum, that I get to be her kindergarten teacher, and that her three year old brother gets to be her classmate for part of the school day. On a more superficial level, I'm happy we can wear pjs until lunch if we like. And on the very deepest level, I'm just glad to spend the time with her. I know it's not for everyone, but I've never felt more secure in our schooling decision. 

They had lunch and I put Graves down. I ate my lunch and did a few things and took a short nap.
Since he wasn't napping, Annie read him a story she wrote, "Annie and Graves's Big Adventure". "And every day he'd go outside and look for the magical carpet..."

Graves never fell asleep and I got him up and let him and Annie play while I put up some clean laundry. I fixed eggs and grits for supper and they ate and then I got them ready for bed and read to them. I got on the computer and Peyton got home and we watched the news and ate. I finished a post and sent an email and went to bed late.

Friday was another lazy day and I was glad for it. I did try to accomplish a little bit more. The kids got up and we did our breakfast/show routine and then I checked email, took my bath, folded up the couch, and completely cleaned out the kittys' area in the closet. We did the kids' devotion and catechism and then picked up toys in their room and I fed them lunch. It was late again and Graves actually did decide to nap. I got on the computer, ate my lunch, and did school with Annie. When Graves got up, the kids played and then we had supper. I let them take a long bath and I read some while they were in there. I read to them and put them to bed. Since Graves had taken such a late nap, they were up pretty late.
10:30. Time for bed, party peeps. 

 I got on the computer and finished a post and then Peyton got home and we watched the news and did our Bible studies together. I got back on the computer and looked at fair trade clothes for the kids for HOURS. I went to bed way, way too late.

We got up and got going on Saturday morning. We had breakfast and I took a bath and got ready and we headed to the Brooklyn piers to catch a ferry to Govenors Island. We had such a blast and it was really a wonderful day.
Romper Room!

Worth the ferry ride for this epic treehouse alone! 

This slide went so fast! She and Graves both LOVED it! 

Y'all! What a cool, creative space. We'll be back before Summer's end (and probably before next week's). 

And the mini-golf course representing all sorts of aspects of the city- city bikes, urban gardening, and even the George Washington Bridge Kristy scandal. Creative, educational, and humorous! 

Know what the coolest thing about today was, though (and what it almost always is)? Spending time with sweet friends, hearing more of their stories, and feeling so very loved even though we are still so not yet very known.

We caught the four o'clock ferry back and stopped at Trader Joe's for just a few things.
We read a book about transportation this week and I asked Annie what her favorite form of transportation was. I totally expected her to say the subway, but she said "riding in the carrier". 

We got home and fed and bathed the kids and I did some laundry and we put them to bed. Peyton had a headache and went to bed super early and I was planning to follow him soon. I finished my laundry and took a shower and then ate supper. I got on the computer for a bit and watched The West Wing and fell asleep.

Peyton and Graves went to church early on Sunday and Annie and I got a later start. We actually got there a little late.
 They traced their bodies and one of the helpers decorated Graves's!

After church, we came home. We stopped at a grocery store and bought a few staples and some ice cream. We fed the kids and put Graves down for his nap. He took a great nap and Peyton and I both napped most of the time, too.
Per Peyton's suggestion, we all (excepting Annie) took loooong naps after church this afternoon "so we can be rested and not get sick". I have pushed myself to go hard for things this year in a way I never have in my life. But thirty two has seemed to be a magical year for Peyton where God decided to finally take away some of his ridiculous energy and start to make him into an old man (or a normal human) and also take away the burden of feeling the need to be involved in anything and everything put before us. This has been wonderful because without us both adjusting I don't think we could be enjoying the city as much as we are. But more than that, this tension between running and doing and staying and resting has been one of the great sources of tension in our marriage over the years. It feels good to be at a place of mutual understanding and to live at a pace that is sustainable and enjoyable to both of us.

"Papa looks like he's in a crib!" Or getting an MRI, ha!

We got up and fixed the kids supper and then went to Target to get a few things.
Another day, another twin. Didn't notice until after we left the apartment.

We came home and put the kids to bed (it was late!) and ate chicken salad sandwiches. I sent an email and did a few things on the computer and then we chatted.
This is going to sound really strange, but I've been anticipating this week in Timehop for awhile. Last year, we were enjoying our first day of a search which would determine which New York neighborhood we'd call home for a season of our lives. That trip was the first real indication I could do just that- call this place home. A little teary looking back.

This I was not anticipating- apparently four years ago today we announced that Annie Banani was going to be a big sister. Unlike Annie herself, who was as unplanned as you can get (Peyton basically threw his pants over the bedpost a couple of times and I turned up pregnant) we had intentionally tried to space them two years apart because I wanted to do my best to replicate mine and Cookie's sweet friendship. Her brother was born ten days after she turned two and everything I wanted for them has far been exceeded- he is her very dearest friend and the most faithful buddy. So funny to look back on her cutting her eyes like that and think of how much more of the story I now know.

I found more fair trade options for the kids Fall clothes and then I did a very basic picking up of the house. I did clean out the liter box. We went to bed really late.

We have a pretty laid back week this week and Peyton has a good many days off. I'm excited!