Friday, September 22, 2017

Weekly Happenings Post #422 (May 1-7)-- Last Few Days in Brooklyn and a Somewhat Bumpy Return

So this is insane. I realized that not only am I now over four months behind, but the last time I even published a WH post was at the end of JUNE. I know literally anyone else would probably just let this go but I enjoy having them so much and I just can't. 

Anyway, this was the very last couple of days in New York and then our flight home and starting to get back readjusted.

Peyton wrote on Facebook after we got back: "I'm at home with all my doors unlocked, my kids are playing in the muddy yard and riding their bikes as I periodically check in on them, and I'm not wishing I was back in Brooklyn. I absolutely loved seeing friends and refamiliarizing myself with a special place but upon returning to MS I'll be doing the same. Honestly, it's much more clear how easy and just plain enjoyable life in suburbia can be. We'll be looking forward to seeing Brooklyn again next year sans the family Delta flights that will NEVER be happening again (long delays and multiple return trips to the airport will do that to you). But in the meantime, we'll be celebrating the amazing life we've lucked into down here."....
I really echo all those sentiments, with the caveat that I'm deeply uncomfortable attributing it all to luck ;) It was so, SO good to be back.

That said, it was NOT an easy week. I had a really hard time with all three kids. I was really hard on Graves on the plane ride home and I was so upset myself by it (more about that in a minute).

Then the weekend was exhausting and both nights it took me about an hour and a half to get Sallie to sleep. I just had to take breaks. Partly to help the big kids with stuff and partly for my own sanity. She was so fussy all day on Saturday and Sunday. I didn't know if she was sick or if it was just readjusting to being back home. Or I thought maybe P was already her fave and she missed him. SOB.
I reminded myself of something that I tried to make a practice really early on with her. I love systems and strategies and some of my favorite blogs are full of them, but for me, it's been really freeing to let go of some of (a lot of) that. So, I told myself I just needed to comfort her as much as I could, take a break when I needed to, and remind myself that this wouldn't last forever. But my anxious side really wants to be in control and get ahead of it in situations like this. On Sunday, she ate a HUGE lunch of bananas and sweet potatoes and applesauce and two different people had told me I looked like I had lost weight and I thought "maybe shes' starving?!?" I remembered Annie and Graves's baby days where I was, not enough and barely enough, respectively and I felt this tremendous guilt and then she was back to fussing again fifteen minutes later and I knew it wasn't that. And then there was the possibility she was just rotten. P wore her a ton in New York and so she was basically Attachment Parented for a month (joke, guys: your babies aren't rotten if you APed them).

I was so worn out just from all that and then I made a joke about how if the cat got dehydrated it was on her and Annie started crying (it was the second time I made a joke that upset her- the first was about Peyton being the favorite- I'd started talking to her in a much more grown up way and forgotten that her sense of humor isn't that of an adult's). She was just holding Darth's little water bowl in her hands, kneeling on the floor, waiting for Darth to come near and tears were running down her face. I loved her more than I ever had, maybe. And I felt so, so awful again.

The good news is that most of all that was just being tired and out of sorts and it took us a bit, but we got readjusted and things returned to normal. 
Monday was a fun day. I was helping a friend and two of her friends who are planning to homeschool kind of plan that morning. I got up and got my bath and got ready and P got his. The big kids did such a great job of getting themselves ready and we headed over to her house after I got Sallie dressed and fed. They headed to a nearby playground and I visited and just helped them figure things out for about an hour and a half. Peyton and the kids got back and we headed home. We all had lunch and I took a quick nap and then Peyton got ready to go meet Jake, the rector at Calvary. Annie had media time (Graves had lost his) and then played and I hung up a bunch of clothes and straightened and Sallie played. She took a GREAT nap and I FB messaged with a friend and texted another friend. I prepped a blog post and did a few other things and went to bed.

Sallie slept so well!

This messy headed, incredibly mischievous looking girl took an hour morning nap and a two hour afternoon nap the day before and then slept from ten until six in the morning, nursed, and went right back to sleep until eight. Basically, what I think a normal baby age does. It was SO nice. She's not a great sleeper in general but this trip was all time low. This says alot about tired I look on the reg, but I think my face even looks more rested.

Tuesday was our last day and it was such a great one. It was also Peyton's birthday. We had a slow morning and then headed to Cousin John's for a late brunch.

 Peyton's birthday is today so he's having HIS special day our last day here. Non tangible, Voluntary Simplicity gifts include more walking/less transit than usual and me going out in public sans makeup.

I'm glad one of Peyton's requests was walking more because it was just the perfect day for it. It was warm but windy and the streets were covered in petals. Annie took this picture of me, the birthday boy, and this gal who is basically an appendage at this point. SO attached to both of us now, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Only nature's own confetti for Envirosweetie's birthday! 

Brunch at Cousin John's. Peyton, Annie , and I shared the blintzes and challah french toast (both are like in my top ten favorite foods), Graves and Sallie split a croissant and cookie, and we got some treats to go.

After that, we headed back to the Pier 6 Playgrounds.

 When it's in the seventies,Sallie gets dressed in ruffle panties without tights...or shoes. Mississippi girls know the ruffle panties are more important anyway.

Hungry Little Sallie having a snack while her brother and sister have fun at the playground.

We stayed a good long time and then went to Cafe Habana for an early dinner. It was DELICIOUS.

 Also on my favorite food list: street corn at Habana Outpost.

We got home and Sallie was asleep. We all relaxed and I took a short nap. After that, the big kids took baths and ate supper and I started packing.

Last round before we had to chunk this thing. When we have some down time in the apartment, Graves liked to get in the bottom and manually turn the wheels like a wheelchair and drive Sallie around. Besides the cracked handle, it also it had started to malfunction any time it bumps something and folds up on itself. Predictably, this has happened quite a few times while they're doing this. Our absurd party girl just laughed. I know it's a nature/nurture thing a d partly we've conditioned her to be this way, but God could not have created a more perfect baby sister for Graves. I do see some T-R-O-U-B-L-E in my future. 

 I started packing at about seven and finished up around ten. I went to bed pretty soon after that.

We got up pretty early on Wednesday to finish last minute things. I took my bath, dried my hair, and went through my reader. I sent a FB message and had breakfast and finished packing.

The guy got there to check us out of the Airbnb and then our car got there. We had a really pleasant ride to the airport and got checked in easily and then waited for our flight. We got there before ten and our flight was at two. Haha!

 Well, we checked out of the Airbnb, made it to the airport, did the thing where we redistributed nine pounds of crap because we didn't have a scale this time (the guy was SO kind and patient), got checked in, and took a golf cart like half a mile inside the airport to our gate. We got our wait station set up by a window, complete with a toothbrush, and we have about three hours until take off. (I say this every time, but the list of similarities between my daddy and my husband is short but near the top is their compulsion about airport punctualality. You will NOT, due to your own negligence, miss your flight if you're flying with Mick or P.)

 She doesn't mind either (actually she's a big fan of both) but this girl was super happy to not be in a carseat or the Tula and stretch her little chubby legs before our flight. Also, the carseat situation this time seemed much safer and less frantic, but I still think we'll be bringing the minivan next time.

 You win some, you lose some. I think we're losing on the minimalist front. We checked five items and are carrying on four backpacks (including Sallie's) and my purse.i was actually really glad it was an even ten to keep up with. [Just on the outside of her backpack, Annie has attached a regular sized Beanie Boo, a solar powered charger, a untensil set, a boxing glove keychain, a stuffed tooth from Coney Island, a braided bracelet, an Easter basket, and a purse. That's not even including things like the orange juice bottle full of peanuts and toothbrush in the outer mesh pockets. We are absurd.]

Guys...we ended up having  a two hour delay.

 Here we are again. Two hour delay. And once we got to Atlanta, I had no idea if we could even get home because there were supposed to be terrible storms in Jackson. Y'all know I kinda acted it was like a Corvette or something when Peyton bought me a minivan and I didn't think I could love the thing more, but I decided at that moment that if I never flew in an airplane again, it would be too soon.


We finally got on the plane and headed to Atlanta. It was a good flight overall.

Our layover in Atlanta was supposed to be three hours but even though it was slightly delayed, it was much shorter since we were held up so long in NYC. We boarded and it was a much shorter flight but felt much longer.

 Whew. We finally made it home. Thirteen hours from when we got to JFK that morning. I thought about it and with the time it took us to fly (both ways), we literally could have driven there and back. Not to mention that it was way better overall this time but Atlanta to Jackson was ROUGH. I literally feel so much worse ten minutes after getting off a plane than ten minutes after giving birth. The kids did REALLY well. I was way too hard on Graves, though. I was so patient with him when he cried twice about a hot dog and then his hands being sticky before we ever left New York but he threw Sallie's top to her sippy cup on the plane and I raised my voice. I felt terrible and told Peyton I might as well be these verbally abusive parents we saw on a video the other day. I was so flustered because I was taking him and Annie to the potty and he took forever and the light came on to get back to your seats and then the top and I just got overwhelmed. But overall, he was such a sport. Sallie didn't fuss at all until the last bit of the second flight (which was amazing because she didn't nap on either). But she was LOUD and spunky. That little bird can't stop chirping. All day, every day. She's a Herrington, alright. And Annie was SO sweet and wiped Sallie's "drooly" hands off herself with a wipey so she could play with her penguin. It was right when Sallie needed some help, too, at the end of the second flight. Also, she lost her top two teeth eating corn on the cob the day before. They've been loose forever and you can see her grown up teeth coming in already. It sorta grosses me out.

I tried to let Peyton enjoy the flights since it's something I detest anyway. He watched a movie and I had all three kids on the row across from him and he visited a TON with his neighbors on both flights (so Peyton). This guy from some country I can't pronounce that's holding Friendly Little Sallie spoke several different languages but said he wished he lived somewhere like here where you only needed to learn one. He also had one two year old child but gave P a ton of parenting advice in a sort of paternalistic way but Peyton didn't mind at all (again so Peyton). I think some cultures just find this more acceptable. I don't want to generalize, but it reminds me of of super blunt Asian neighbor who ain't shy about telling me when I look like hell or the elderly black women at the co-op who were convinced I was dressing my children inappropriately for the weather and I was like "nah, I think the ankle length down coat you wearing when it's fifty degrees is what's inappropriate". It's actually refreshing, in one sense, for people to be so blunt and I really respect my friends here that are that way. The South is too often full of "sweet" people (especially women) who aren't actually kind.

We had discovered also that we couldn't find the key to the van. UGH. Peyton's brother met us in Jackson with a key. We loaded up all our stuff (my parents had dropped it off at the airport) and headed home by way of Newks and the grocery store. We all ate and got the kids to bed (Sallie fell asleep in the car on the way home). Peyton and I chatted and went on to bed, too.

We had a super relaxed morning on Thursday. I got up and had breakfast and took my bath and did some computer stuff. The big kids played outside and Sallie played and had breakfast and then I nursed her and she took a nap.

I got all the big kids clean clothes from the trip put up and then got the toiletries and homeschool stuff organized and put up. I scrubbed the toilet, sink, and floors in the guest bathroom and really worked on the tub. Then P and I went through a bunch of piles on top of the washing machine and dryer and I swept in the laundry room and scrubbed out some cleaning supply bins. I cleaned a dust pan and took out the bathroom trash. I tried on some new clothes that came in the mail and tried to get Sallie to take another nap but she wasn't interested. We ended up just getting ready and heading over to my parents' house. We had a great time visiting and eating supper.

Three little ducklings all in a row...and all eating beans and rice at my parents' house. Can't think of many views I love more.

We came home and got everyone settled and P and I talked some and then I straightened and worked on a post. Sallie woke up and I ended up just laying down with her and going to bed myself.

Sallie and Graves slept until eight thirty on Friday. Peyton left for work at seven and Annie got up sometime between those.

 First day back at work for P after a month and I was all...

I got up and straightened in our room. I changed and fed Sallie and then she played in her crib while I made the bed. I also set up a lamp and did a few other things. I took a bath and then I had breakfast and fed Sallie some crackers.

Minnie always sends a leftover tuna croquette and I couldn't even wait until ten o'clock to eat it. I used to have compulsions about eating the "right" food for each meal, but I really can't afford to care at this point. It was so good to be back.

 I vacuumed the rug, collected laundry, and cleaned the kids' bathroom which was kinda gross. The tub was dirty and the potty was messy. I got dressed and did my makeup and our friends got here for piano. We had a great visit and the girls had a good lesson.

After everyone left, I got Sallie down for her nap and the big kids had media time. I finished a couple of quick blog posts and read some blogs. I talked to Peyton on the phone and ended up reading him a whole grocery list while he was at Walmart. I did a few quick things around the house and he got home. We put up groceries and then I organized some stuff. I went to Target and Belk to pick up a few things and when I got home everyone was eating supper. I ate something and went to bed EARLY after I got Sallie to sleep.

Annie got up when P left for work and Sallie, Graves, and I got up around eight thirty again on Saturday. Sallie played in her crib while I made the bed and took my bath. I put her in her high chair and dried my hair and then ate my breakfast. I went through my reader and email and then started some laundry. Peyton had cooked the night before and he had mostly cleaned up but the sink was full of dishes he hadn't loaded in the dishwasher and I needed to scrub the counters. I did all that and then read to Sallie, nursed, and rocked her. She seemed fussy but not ready to nap. I called the consignment place, messaged my sister in law, and then helped the big kids pick up their room. I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and Sallie's high chair and swept and Annie folded some laundry and then the big kids went outside to play. I unpacked a good bit and Sallie took a nap and I ate my lunch, finished a blog post, and rested a bit. The big kids came in for lunch and I did some grammar with Annie and counting with Graves.

Sallie woke up and she played some but was kind of grumpy. She ate a banana and some cereal and Annie and Graves went outside again. I folded some laundry and worked some more on putting up stuff from the trip. Annie did her math and Graves read a reader to me. We took Sallie outside and she was SO happy. I cooked some pasta for supper and our neighbor came by. I bathed Sallie really quickly and she took forever to get to sleep. The big kids each had baths and then played for awhile. I fell asleep on the couch and then talked to a friend. P got home and we visited and I unloaded the dishwasher, changed over laundry, and finished cleaning the kitchen. We went to bed. 

Sallie woke up around seven on Sunday and I got up and took my bath and talked to P and the big kids got up and had breakfast. Peyton left and Sallie and I ate something and I got dressed and dressed Sallie. I nursed her and got her in the car and then did my make up and grabbed a few things. It was so nice to be back. Sunday school was really good and the big kids did really well in church. I enjoyed the sermon and Sallie did great in the nursery, apparently. We did take a long time to get ourselves together and leave. I nursed Sallie in the parking lot and she transferred well when we got home. I ate lunch, texted with a friend, and worked on a blog post. Sallie woke up and played some and I went through some piles in our room, unpacked the very last of the stuff from the trip, and folded some laundry. I fed her a big lunch and the big kids had a snack and played outside. They ate supper outside and Sallie had a snack and her bath and then the big kids came in and took baths, too. I worked on getting Sallie to sleep and it took FOREVER again. Peyton finally got home and I upset Annie and Sallie woke back up. P got her back to sleep and we talked some and went to bed. 

Whew, what a week! It seems like a liftetime ago and also kind of like I lived a liftetime in that one week! Anyway, I'm hoping to get a bit more caught up on these soon =) 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Bid My Anxious Fears Subside

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death, and hell's Destruction,
land me safe on Canaan's side. 

We had more hard discussions last week. Graves has been talking lately about potentially not seeing Peyton in Heaven and it's heartbreaking. I've told him that we can always have hope he'll believe again and that we can pray for exactly that. We try to be REALLY honest with them and expose them to a lot of different things and in the past I have told them that some of the people I love and respect a great deal think that Jesus' blood somehow covers everyone, even though that's not what I think.

This week, he brought it up again, and I told him that, honestly, once we're in heaven we won't be sad about ANYTHING and won't really miss the people who aren't there. And he said "but you'll be there?" and I said yes, but that wouldn't be the most important thing, we'd all mostly be focused on worshiping God not on each other. He started crying and asked if I wouldn't still take care of him. And I teared up and said that I don't know exactly what it's like but there's nothing I'd have to protect him from and even his feelings can't get hurt. He just cried and said he loved his family so much.

Annie was like "Graves, you probably won't die anytime soon and at that point you'll have probably detached from momma some anyway" and told him about living somewhere else when he grows up. (I did have to bite my lip so I wouldn't laugh at that point.) But then he got upset again and asked if he could put our next door neighbor's house that's for sale "on hold" so he could move into it when he grows up.

Then Annie basically said she thought heaven sounded kind of boring without her owls.

I wish I knew how to give them simple answers OCCASIONALLY. I wish I knew how to maintain their innocence and my integrity at the same time. I'm just so used to this "Where do babies come from?" launch into an elaborate scientific/psychological lesson parenting paradigm. If it's not obvious, I hemorrhage words and thoughts and feelings. We tell them EVERYTHING. 

And that's so hard with this.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Letter to (Six Year and One Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves,

I'm way, way behind on these things and this one is particularly long. As is our tradition, Papa writes the letters on your  birthday month and the next month I end up recapping two months. So this is that! 

First of all the biggest thing that happened during these couple of months was our month long trip to New York in April. 

We had the hardest time getting there. There was bad weather in Atlanta and our flights got cancelled two days in a row. For as exhausting as it was, it could have been much worse, honestly. The first day, we had the SWEETEST pilots and flight attendants who let you and Annie up in the cockpit for a tour. And you were SO sweet to Sallie. If you have be stuck on a grounded airplane for four hours, at least it's nice when you can be stuck with someone who adores you. You also told me at the airport "You may have a gummy worm. Even though you didn't share your M&Ms with me."  You are the sweetest little soul.

I love flying in theory- it's cool and fun and as a bad a driver as I am, it's never scared me at all- but it does a number on me physically every time and this time I realized that it has the same horrible effect on you (you and I are so similar in our sensitivity to pressure changes). You were squeezing your eyes so hard in so much pain on the descent and trying not to cry because your ears hurt so bad. 

Once we got there, you and Annie were so excited to set up your shared room. It was so tidy because y'all each brought like six toys.

We hit up our favorite places to eat and bought a year's pass to the Museum of Natural History so we could go several times. We also spent a day at Coney Island and you and Annie had so much fun riding the carousel, playing in the sand, eating junk, and strolling on the boardwalk. You road one ride by yourself. It was just a kiddie ride buy you were real serious the whole time and would do a tiny, nervous smile each time you went by us. On the carousel with Annie you kept looking at all the other kids and looking down to try to figure out how it worked. 

But, for the most part, we didn't do anything especially exciting but I loved being back so much. I just love the vibe and it clicked into place so much faster then it did on mine and Papa's trip last year. I'm not sure if it's the weather or having you guys with us or what. That said, there was a week in there where it was really, really hard and I cried at least a couple of times a day. 

Our stroller broke on the plane on the way up but we just put Sallie in the Tula a bunch. We did realize it made a good highchair for her. And a good toy! When we'd have some down time in the apartment, you liked  to get in the bottom and manually turn the wheels like a wheelchair and drive Sallie around. Besides the cracked handle, it also malfunctioned any time it bumped something and folded up on itself. Predictably, this happened quite a few times while y'all were doing this. Our absurd party girl just laughed. I know it's a nature/nurture thing and partly we've conditioned her to be this way, but God could not have created a more perfect baby sister for you. I do see some T-R-O-U-B-L-E in my future. 

One day you ran I to a bodega and tried to hide from me when we were already running late and Papa  had run back to get my phone. You also ran directly into the street without looking (you were following Papaand Annie but they were pretty far ahead of you AND instead of crossing and then turning and crossing left you ran through the intersection at a diagonal). This is why, when we lived there, you were in a Tula at three anytime when I had you and Annie by myself. Anyway, big discussion (directly following discussion on where people who smoke cigarettes go when they die-- (likely) in the ground but that's not the end of the story because of the cross and the empty tomb) and you were back to holding a hand for awhile. Annie volunteered and I was ever so grateful. I had been holding your wrist because you were FILTHY. I actually had to move away from you on the train. Along with self control, personal space is not your strength. I do love to cuddle with you when you're nice and fresh but unfortunately these days that lasts about five minutes. Funny little quirk- I used to joke that "lack of physical touch" was my love language. Actually, Annie and I are just alike- we love to snuggle but it has to be on our terms. You love to snuggle no matter what, on any and all terms. 

Speaking of, Papa put you in the (standard- ha!) Tula for fun and it was so sweet and reminded me of the old days. Another time, he jokingly gave you a paci and when we took it back you got so upset and said, basically through tears, "but it still tastes so good").You AND Sallie are both always gonna be the baby. 

I told Papa that I really wanted a fourth and that you would be ever bit as good of a co-parent as any of these twelve year old Jewish girls. The things you hear yourself say when discussing family planning in Brooklyn. That said, in New York another child felt like an exponential increase rather than an additional one.  At home adjusting to three kids was a transition but it was it was not like this was. We know a couple of families here that have three or more children so I know it's possible. But for us, I don't think it would have been sustainable. And honestly, I had the foresight to anticipate this would be the case. Even if we controlled all the other factors (grandparents, our yard, ect.), this was significant in and of itself. A large part of my motivation to move home was the desire for the baby who would be Sarah Lamar.

One of my most favorite things about Brooklyn is the murals. They are everywhere and when we lived here I loved finding new ones. I just think they're amazing and add so much color to an already beautifully vibrant place. I think ones depicting famous people are interesting but I'm often more drawn to the murals that represent the ordinary humans who together make a community. And I love that you and Annie got to be part of it again for a month.

The homeschool group we are a part of does these little presentation days from time to time. Annie's done it a couple of times and recently you wanted to do one. You did your first one on two of your favorite toys: Wolfie and the Ice Monster. You had very few hiccups and we were so proud of you. (Since you're not reading fluently yet, you told Papa what you wanted to say and he drew some pictures on notecards to cue you.).

For your birthday, we got you this big storm trooper that's nearly as tall as you are. When Annie got her huge Darth Vader, Papa went back to the store and got you a storm trooper and we put it in the attic until your birthday. We took you up there and surprised you and you loved him!

You asked us awhile back if Sallie's hair will still be soft after Papa told you that he was going to move yours and Sallie's seats next to each other in the back of the van and Annie's to the middle once Sal is a bit bigger. I'm hopeful, Bud. It's a wonder she has any hair and it hasn't all been rubbed off given how much time you and I spend kissing, petting, and sniffing her little head!

I was so excited because I got you your first bow tie for Easter Sunday. I also bought you a few belts too because you're six and it's time (SOB). You showed me your favorite belt and told me that you loved it best "because it's in the style of Papa's".

I was also so excited for spring and summer just because I LOVE you in bright, pretty colors (your sisters, too, of course, but boys are harder!)

Our sweet friend who works at the library told me she had never seen a little boy with as many patterned pants as you have. It made me laugh so hard. Your momma does love a pattern and he have your whole life to wear khakis and denim. That said, and I never thought I'd see the day I said this, but I think you are SO cute in your little Levi's.

I have a picture of you outside, behind the trellis reading a Tasha Tudor book. You couldn't be more beautiful if ypu tried. But this is the story of my life. And yours. Because not ten minutes earlier, you hoisted and dangled your little sister over the baby gate, Micheal Jackson style. Fortunately, she was just unscathed as her balcony predecessor (and probably as unphased- normal is so relative when you're Little Sallie Sunshine/Blanket Jackson).

Awhile back you mentioned that "girls are bad drivers". I was shocked but you explained that you came to this conclusion because *I* am a bad driver and you overheard a conversation Papa and I were having where I asked him if a dent in the van was something I had done or Granny had done (you imitated our voices perfectly). Annie asked "How does that even relate to girls being bad drivers?" You couldn't really explain the connection, but you made it and she didn't and that's always so interesting to me when it happens (though it happens often these days).

What else?

You've been working really hard on chores and awhile back, at Mickey and Minnie's you even suggested that you  load THEIR dishwasher. So sweet. I've really gotta give Papa some credit for this one. He got y'all doing this stuff and he's way more consistent than I am.

You refer to the hall bathroom as "the women's bathroom". You and Papa primarily use the one that's off the yours and Annie's room and that's more than fine by me, but we never discussed it and I thought it was so funny that you picked up on it. As a related aside, I didn't think much of it until our recent airport craziness, when I did it while holding her several times, but you ALWAYS hold Sallie now while I go to the bathroom at church. At first, I wouldn't let you do it when I was in a "compromised" situation, but I've started trusting you more and more.

You use "breast" as a verb. It's your shorthand way of saying "breastfeeding" (e.g. "After you're done breasting Sallie, can you fix me a sandwich?" or "that baby knows the one who's got her now is the one who's able to breast her"). I think it's hysterical and love it so much. 

You love to try to "mind trick" me. You do tell me, very encouragingly, that you can't because I'm not weak minded. What a compliment =)

You told me awhile back that you thought Papa was a better cook than I was and explained that it shouldn't hurt my feelings; I just wasn't as "skilled". When I asked if I was more skilled at anything, you replied, very earnestly, that I had the squishiest tummy of anybody in our family. When you realized maybe that wasn't the response I was hoping for, you tried to redeem yourself by saying I had the most "glittery eyes" (you know, because none of the other four people in our family wear eye shadow). I kind of let it go at that point.

Motherhood in general, but specifically homeschooling, will never stop being full of surprises. In an English activity awhile back, I read one of   two words that were next to each other and you picked the correct one. You told me another halfway down the page that you didn't need to actually read both words because you just knew that "a or whatever says it's long sound when there's an 'e' on the end". I really, really thought you would more or less internalize all the rules and understand them but not be able to explain them whereas Annie would be the one who could describe why a word works the way it does. Honestly, I'm confident that when she was at this point, she could not have articulated this so well and certainly it wouldn't have occurred to her to save herself the trouble of actually reading the words by just listening for the vowel sound and looking for the silent e. Getting such a great look into how y'alls little minds work is such a delight.

Awhile back, you put a crown of thorns on Luke Skywalker and crucified him and we had lots of good (and exhausting) conversations. I really felt like you had a better grasp on this stuff when we lived in New Yorl. Lots of factors- you had this reality whispered in your own tiny ear every Sunday when you took communion, I was better at getting you to focus during services (which were shorter), and to be honest the theology was more cross heavy at Calvary than at Northside (hopefully it goes without saying we LOVE Northside, it is what it is, and honestly it's my working assumption that the theology at Calvary is more cross heavy than just about anywhere and while that was, and is, deeply important to me, I've had to keep my expectations within the realms of reality and I've found myself deeply grateful for what we HAVE found at Northside). When you did that, Annie asked how Jesus really defeated death if Granny had died and I explained that death just meant her life here was over and I'm as certain that Granny is in heaven as I've ever been of anything in my life. 

If I'm honest, I often struggle with if I'm doing enough in this area. You love to tell me that Heaven will be "awfully fun" but you also told me awhile back that you thought the pagan gods ancient people believed in were real; so it's REAL touch and go with you sometimes. Annie will say frequently (often when *I* need to hear it the most) that she knows that God will never stop loving her no matter what she does and that she knows Papa and I will never stop loving her either. There's a lot more I hope you understand one day but y'all feeling secure in that love is what I most care about right now.

You are such a cuddle bug and I think probably always will be (you also told me that he'll ALWAYS be "Baby Graves" even when you are a papa and I just about cried; you used to say five was the cut off but maybe you  realized that, even with another baby, it would just be too much for your momma to bear). You've started calling all your stuffed animals "snuggle buddies" and I think it's so sweet. You getting so grown but I'm glad you're still little in some ways.
I've been saying this for years, but Papa and I talk about it at least once or twice a week-- you are truly of the most selfless people I know. Sometimes I worry you will get taken advantage of, but overall it's something I'm so thankful for.

We love you, (Baby) Graves, and are so grateful for you!

Momma (and Papa)

P.S.  I have no idea what you were wearing on the bottom under PigPig (it was something!) but you're generally around a 5T/6T, size wise. You're getting so big!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Letter to (Eight Year and One Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton,

Well, I have a TON to catch you up on! Papa, of course, writes your letters when you have a birthday, so this is two months worth of stuff about Annie! And, of course, it's four months late. Ha!

First of all the biggest thing that happened during these couple of months was our month long trip to New York in April. 

We had the hardest time getting there. There was bad weather in Atlanta and our flights got cancelled two days in a row. The second day you told me "I just wish we could get on the plane. Then I'd be more comfortable." I said "oh, is your seat not comfortable?" and you said "I mean I won't be worried about the plane leaving us." I love how you expressed yourself.

Papa (and multiple strangers) said " third time's the charm" on our third morning at the airport and you replied  "You don't know that. It's not like you can tell the future. You just hope that's the case."Thankfully, it was!

Once we got there, you and Graves were so excited to set up your shared room. It was so tidy because y'all each brought like six toys.There were also some leopard sheets on the bed and you adored them. 

I overheard you tell Graves. "That's MY's the one with the dried blood under the pillowcase."Eek. Airbnb probs.

You also asked during our stay "Hey guys, where's some laundry to wipe myself with?"You papa was creative enough to instruct you and Graves to just use an unimportant article of clothing (panties, a sick, a sports bra) in lieu of a wash cloth (which weren't provided at the Airbnb) to bathe yourselves.

For the most part, we didn't do anything especially exciting but I loved being back so much. I just love the vibe and it clicked into place so much faster then it did on mine and Papa's trip last year. I'm not sure if it's the weather or having you guys with us or what. That said, there was a week in there where it was really, really hard and I cried at least a couple of times a day.

In some ways, I think you had the hardest time of all five of us that month. You are a creature of habit and a lover of routine. Many of my biggest flaws are your weaknesses- you can be inflexible and rigid and stubborn and entitled and you want so desperately to be in control. But you are also really special and one of the most fascinating people I know. Quirks abound and I will always be grateful I get to know the intriguing little person you are. 

I realized something- in New York another child felt like an exponential increase rather than an additional one.  At home adjusting to three kids was a transition but it was it was not like this was. We know a couple of families here that have three or more children so I know it's possible. But for us, I don't think it would have been sustainable. And honestly, I had the foresight to anticipate this would be the case. Even if we controlled all the other factors (grandparents, our yard, ect.), this was significant in and of itself. A large part of my motivation to move home was the desire for the baby who would be Sarah Lamar. I realized that for me, and for you, Mississippi is a better environment right now.

We did have some special adventures. You climbed an inflatable rock wall at an Easter festival and LOVED it. 

We also made several trips to the Museum of Natural History. When we lived here, you were OBSESSED with Native Americans. Like wore your hair in braids and hopefully didn't appropriate too much. One of your absolute favorites in the city was visiting the displays at the museum. But you always gravitated towards the Southeastern/plains exhibits. This time we encouraged you to check out the Northwestern Indians. It's a little more intense and has less of a "storybook" vibe. You were never scared of this area but I think it was just a bit over your head or something. This time you loved it and soaked up information like a sponge!

We also (of course) spent a lot of time looking at the animal exhibits. You saw a peregrine falcon and immediately said "Look! Like Frightful!" (from My Side of the Mountain- probably one of your very favorite books you've read this year). 

And for your "special day" to celebrate your birthday you wanted to go to Coney Island!  You often remind me what it is to be delighted by small, ordinary wonder.You told us that your special day was better than you expected because you didn't know how fun the roller coaster would be, you didn't think we would let you take your shoes off and play in the sand, and you didn't realize that the F train would go above ground. I was so glad you had such a special day in a place so very special to us. 

One of my most favorite things about Brooklyn is the murals. They are everywhere and when we lived here I loved finding new ones. I just think they're amazing and add so much color to an already beautifully vibrant place. I think ones depicting famous people are interesting but I'm often more drawn to the murals that represent the ordinary humans who together make a community. And I love that you and Graves got to be part of that again for a whole month.

What else? 

I'm realizing more and more that you are a very serious child and a very intense child. Papa loves this about you, but it's hard for me. I think some of it is projecting- I was both those things and while I had a very happy childhood, some things were hard. I want you to be more carefree and childish like your brother and sister. But just because you're not as cheerful doesn't mean that you're not HAPPY and that's the main reason for my concern. I love the person that you are and I don't want you to change just because it's not as comfortable for me.

You also still have plans to never marry or have children and be a single zoo keeper with lots of pets. While babies are pretty much my favorite thing on earth and I value family so much, there's nothing wrong with your current future aspirations and I try to make sure and reinforce that.

Almost any time you are addressing me and Papa together you say "Hey, guys?"

Your favorite foods right now are grilled cheese sandwiches, noodles, and mashed potatoes. We are culinary kindreds.

When you and Graves started party planning for your joint birthday in May, initially, y'all thought you wanted a Star Wars theme but you reminded him that they "had already experienced that" at your cousin's birthday party and so y'all decided to work on a bird/large cat (as in: lions/tigers/ect.) theme.

 Besides the party in May, you each, as I mentioned, had a special day that you got to plan in NYC (which is what we did in lieu of a party both years we lived there on y'alls birthdays) but when we discussed the actual day, I told you I had planned for us to go visit my Mickey and Minnie. You said "Oh, that sounds like a nice treat".

We were talking about something some of your friends had done (getting their ears pierced) that you hadn't and you told me that you didn't really care about it, which didn't surprise me. You walked off and then returned a few minutes later and said "You know, Momma? I like being different."

One of your favorite things about spring and summer is that we have so many toads and lizards in our yard. You and Graves just love catching them.   

Speaking of animals, awhile back, I heard you tell your sister "Oh Sallie, I love your tortoises." When I asked for clarification (because I certainly referred I to them as turtles when you wore the outfit she had on) you said "Well, they seem to be on land." 

You are the quirkiest person. I adore that about you. For example, recently you fell asleep reading the dictionary.

 I don't think I've mentioned it, but your favorite stuffed owl, Midnight got lost awhile back. You handled it so well but it was clear that you missed her so badly. So we got you three new owls for your birthday. YouLOVE them and named the orange and black one "Midday" (we know Midnight is somewhere at DeeDee and Grandpa Randy's and that she'll turn up some day). 

You are obsessed with note writing. You are CONSTANTLY writing/crafting/list making these days. I found some little notes you had written about Darth one day that said "You're such a nice kitty." and "You're one of the best cats." I found another note that you wrote Papa that said "Please put this dime in my bank account." sitting (obviously) under a dime.

You also wrote a note to put on our bedroom door that said. "Shhh: Momma and Papa's room (and Sallie's room right now). I love how you labeled our room as Sallie's "right now").

We rarely butt heads on clothes anymore but we did have a really hard time on Easter morning in New York. You cried because the dress I had tried on you a month before was too snug and uncomfortable. I was particularly frustrated because I DID try everything on because I knew I wouldn't have a closet full of backups, because I don't buy you and Sallie a ton of matching stuff, and because you and I had made a very clear agreement that you'd wear the Easter dress I picked and could wear your bird and bunny dresses the other Sundays we were in NYC. I know you and I know you just wouldn't even think to tell me something was uncomfortable when you just wanted to wear something else. You are blunt and you tells things like they are. You literally told someone at church that day "sometimes I do; sometimes a I don't" when asked if she liked having a sister. You don't care. And yet...I raised my voice and asked if you were lying to get out of wearing the dress that I wanted you to wear. And then I cried more because I decided I didn't blame you and Graves if y'all didn't didn't like me much. But the day turned out fine and I reminded myself that God is making all things new and you wound up in your beloved bird dress for the second Easter in a row, this time with pink Chuck's instead of Saltwaters because I had no idea it'd be 82 degrees in New York in April. Truth be told it's more age appropriate and certainly more "Annie" than what I picked and it actually looked cuter on you. 

I'm still working on getting you mostly animal clothes. I got you the cutest knit bunny dress around Easter and you loved wearing it.

I'm still mostly buying you boy pjs, because again: animals.

I did get you and Sallie these cute little knit dresses when they went in major sale and you love the floral print (I get away with ALOT with her because "plants" are second only to animals) and pockets. Papa said it looked too "young" but since you truly don't care and even prefer certain stuff as long as it fits your model, I'm gonna enjoy it just a little while longer.

Sallie has this purple dress with flowers on it and you told me you loved it. You do have a thing for florals (as I said, botanicals are a close second behind animals) but when I asked you what you loved about it you said. "The purple color reminds me of evening- it's like a sunset on a field of flowers". What?!? I adore your weird, sweet self.

I made a joke about how if the cat got dehydrated it was on you and you started crying. I've started talking to you  in a much more grown up way lately and I forget that your sense of humor isn't that of an adult's. You were just holding Darth's little water bowl in your hands, kneeling on the floor, waiting for Darth to come near and tears were running down your face. I loved you more than I ever have, maybe. And I felt so, so awful.

Sometimes I look at you and think "Could she be any dorkier?", but it's so endearing.  The other day you were wearing an old t-shirt of Papa's that said"Give a hoot, don't pollute!". You had it tucked in and causing a bubble butt so that she can ride her bike with less risk of injury.

As an aside, it's so interesting to see how you perceive yourself. One day you said "hey y'all, I know I'm awkward but..." and asked a question I don't even remember because I was so intrigued by this introduction to it. (Upon further investigation, you said that meant "weird and funny" and is "sometimes good, sometimes bad" and then informed us that you loved the way s's sound in 'sometimes'.)

You've gotten so stocky! You're still itty bitty for your age, but you are SOLID. And I love it. So surprising, though, to see what almost eight years did to my scrawny, chicken legged baby.

You crack me up with some of the things you say.

A friend and I were texting about how a neighborhood kid told her children about sex and I asked you real casually "Hey- should you discuss sex/mating with a friend? Good idea or bad idea?. "Bad idea, Momma." Then a few minutes later you said "Why are you asking me that? Did I accidentally discuss that with a friend?". You crack me up.

Awhile back you were being a bit of an obnoxious Know-It-All, mostly unintentionally, and so typically and asked me" Can you brush his teeth again? With the mint one. His breath still smells like throw up. And he *did* have a lot of sugar at that party.And you know when he has SUGAR, that's when he throws up in his mouth. And maybe he just doesn't realize that he did it."

Things are going so well with homeschooling. I think I love Essentials (Logic of English's program for older elementary students) even more than I did Foundations. It's such a perfect fit for you and me because we're so analytical and like knowing the "why" of words- both with sounds (spelling) and with meanings (vocabulary). I always recommend Logic of English so strongly, but I do so with a disclaimer. It's time intensive- for the student and the teacher. Case in point: the ten step spelling analysis we do for EVERY spelling word. We've streamlined it a good a bit at this point, but it's still a lot. The point is to help you learn skills for when you need to spell an unfamiliar word, not to memorize a list of then. And once we do this, you misspell very few of them when we review over the next two days and have almost never missed one on the assessment at the end of the week. You and I are neither one naturally good spellers, so this is no small thing. It has helped us both tremendously!

Recently, you couldn't understand my adverse reaction to your dictation sentence which was "The hawk devoured the kitten" and told me "I mean you could say it's gross. But I wouldn't ever say it's weird .It's very natural, actually." 

It's​ so interesting to me how your mind works. Awhile back we had some time with just me and you and were doing school. I didn't rush you as much as I often, regrettably, do. Anyway, you had a bunch of words that were spelled with different "ers" and you came up with this elaborate spiritual story thing about them. You said that the "ers" have different personalities. "Ur" is mean and burns things, cuts fur off animals, and turns away when people are talking to him. Really the only nice thing he does is going to church. "Ear" is kind and searches for his lost sheep even though he has ninety nine more. He loves the earth and yearns for it to be better and everything is heard by him. "Ir" is more ambiguous and can be good or bad. As I mentioned often, you are not near as vocal as Graves (Goodnight, who is?!?) so I love it when I really get some time to hear your imaginative, delightful thoughts.   

We decided to give you an old Android we had, mostly to use as a camera and we put a few apps on it. I told Peyton I thought it was inappropriate to call it a phone since it doesn't function as such (and also because I didn't want you to tell people that you had your your own phone). So you started calling it your LC for "little computer". Then Papa asked me if I thought it was a bad idea to set you up an Instagram account. I was hesitant at first, but I really couldn't think of a good reason not to as long as it was closely monitored and we established good boundaries. We're keeping the circle REALLY small and only letting grandparents, godparents, very close friends, and our own siblings follow you and you have to check if she has a request or want to follow someone. You have had so much fun with it. You love scrolling through (you follow lots of zoos and national parks and look at accounts I used to let you check on my phone) and often send us messages of your favorites that you find during your hour of media time. We respond and tell you our thoughts. And of course I let you follow me. It's already made me think more carefully about what I post about you and your siblings, which is a great thing. I told you that I already tried to think about that but to tell me if something bothered you that I had shared and you said " Is this kind of like when you ask my permission before you tell Minnie something bad I've done?". You are pretty unphased by most of that kind of thing, though. (I asked Papa what we'd do if we did have a very private child and he said he didn't that someone could grow up with me as their mother and turn into a private person just because I talk about EVERYTHING and I've made him and them that way, too.) I love seeing what you think is worth photographing and then of your pictures what is worth sharing. And (predictably) I most of all love reading your captions. It's all happening so fast and (this time unsurprisingly) I don't hate it.

Papa has been really pushing you and Graves with chores. Sweeping was one of your chores and you HATED it but we wanted you to know sometimes we all have to do chores we dislike so you did it for awhile and then we rotated you and let her take charge of a good bit of laundry (Bud collects it and loads/unloads the dishwasher- this chore scheme was largely what convinced P to get one again). Anyway, I'm sure the novelty will wear off but you said that you loveseeing all the designs on everyone's clothes. It's one of my favorite chores, but I'm happy to pass a bit of it off.

Awhile back, Papa took y'all on a big bike ride. You and Graves kept wanting to go further- "MORE HILLS!". And y'all both held up well on the trip back. He said he was anxious to plug the trip into google maps to see if you guys hit around two miles. BUT y'all did a little over......6 MILES!!!! Papa is so thrilled that y'all love camping, biking, and hiking - and really can't get enough of any of them. 

Some days I feel like you have made huge strides emotionally. And some days I feel like you are more inflexible and intense than ever. I'm genuinely mentally preparing for when the hormones hit. Graves mentioned the (HYPOTHETICAL, DISTANT FUTURE) plan for him and Sallie to move to the back of the van together and you came undone. You wanted me to promise there would never be another child back there and when I said I couldn't commit to that she said "you can you just don't want to". Which, true, but I told you that I wasn't determining our family planning on you having an entire row in the van and that I take a lot of your opinions into consideration, but that wasn't going to even be a small factor.
Gratefully, the conversation changed to what kind of car you wanted one day. Answer: none; it's too dangerous- you will walk or ride her bike. I then asked you, partly because I think it's hysterical to engage you in this stuff, if you would be willing to ride in other people's cars. You said you wouldn't ride with Graves because she doesn't even trust him to split a piece of candy fairly. You said you might trust her friends Aubrey and Mary Milton but you'd want them to take you on a practice trip around the block first. I asked you if you would be comfortable telling them if their driving didn't meet your safety standards. You said that you would try to be nice and say "This might hurt your feelings, but I don't feel safe riding with you". I hope THAT sticks.

Speaking of Papa, you told me awhile back that "Momma's rules are best, but Papa is my favorite". We discussed why this was (the former is because I don't make y'all get up as early as task-master Papa does and the latter has a lot to do with his knowledge of Star Wars and how he plays rough with you guys). And Papa later talked about how he loved how honest you are and it wasn't a big deal in this case but it could hurt other people (e.g. grandparents, friends, ect.) if you talked about who was her favorite.

Awhile back, you asked how Jesus really defeated death if Granny had died and I explained that death just meant her life here was over and I'm as certain that Granny is in heaven as I've ever been of anything in my life. 

If I'm honest, I often struggle with if I'm doing enough in this area. You love to tell me that Heaven will be "awfully fun" but you also told me awhile back that you thought the pagan gods ancient people believed in were real; so it's REAL touch and go with you sometimes. Annie will say frequently (often when *I* need to hear it the most) that you know that God will never stop loving her no matter what she does and that she knows Papa and I will never stop loving her either. There's a lot more I hope you understand one day but y'all feeling secure in that love is what I most care about right now.

On Women's Day, I thought a lot about you and Sallie- my two feisty, STRONG little ladies. In my best and brightest dreams, I couldn't have imagined daughters this incredible. You both already exceed my expectations. You and Sarah Lamar are both so loved and so valuable.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your ice cream dress is a 6 and the swimsuit top under it is a 4. Hahaha! For the most part you're wearing things that are closer to the size most kids your age are in, but you're still pretty little! Also, you wanted to do a goofy face and I love how it showcases your missing teeth!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: For the Beauty of the Earth


For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies... For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light... For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind's delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight... For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

I'm loving all these nature hymns and the sensory language. A friend was analyzing my personality recently (favorite!) and said I'm very drawn to sensory and aesthetic details. Which is so true! I always love day and night imagery, mentions of birth, and the joy and delight found through our bodies.

Graves's red Converse were too small this Sunday (which I totally should have anticipated) so I got Annie's blue pair for him.They seemed fine but he said they hurt too. There was all sorts of drama being leaving, on the way, and once we got there.

Praise God for patient Sunday school teachers who are kind  beyond measure. Praise God for little boys who rally and make it through big church without further hysterics. Praise God for friends who hedge us in, in pews and in life. Praise God for two little girls who were much easier on me than is often the case. Praise God for ears and eyes and sun and moon and trees and flowers.

And praise God for sermons about how much of life is lived in the shadowland, in circumstances less than ideal, and how God isn't threatened by our questions. Praise God for a pastor who reminds us how God desires a relationship with us more than our good behavior- especially relevant for the one who writes these absurd little snippets; who wanted to turn around and drive home but was rebuked by her eight year old; and who did not go late to her own Sunday school or even have a moment of solitude with the Lord, but played on her phone instead and told herself she deserved that break.

Praise God for His grace and Himself- best gifts divine.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Letter to (Thirteen Month Old) Sarah Lamar

Dear Sarah Lamar,

Well, this letter is FULL, Sister because it includes two months of happenings since Papa writes your yearly one but I didn't want to miss out on sharing anything with you. Of course, I'm two months behind, just like I get with your brother and sister, but by the time you read these, it won't matter.

Let's see-- what are you up to?

Some people have told me that "three kids in one bedroom will not work". Well guess what? it's working!!!

On a friend date awhile back, Miss Carrie was like "look, nobody is saying you need to full out stop nursing Sallie anytime soon and nobody is saying you gotta CIO but maybe just TRY night weaning her?" I talked Papa and Minnie and they both acted like it was ENTIRELY NORMAL that you were almost a year and waking up every four hours. I guess because I trained them to think this and they've only ever known you doing this and it's been five years since the last baby. I mean I told the pediatrician you were rotten and he was like "I can tell you how to fix that" I was like "eh, nope, like her that way". Annnnyway, back to the friend date- it was a good word from a good friend. The month before it had been TOUGH. It was totally fine until it wasn't. And somehow it got really hard. I still contend that the first nine-ish months, you seemed equally pleasant when she slept terribly and slept well. And I handled it okay. But then one day I realized my delightful little person had become so cranky and I was floundering myself. And Papa, who had been totally chill about it all was suddenly REAL READY to have some couple space in our room (FYI, cosleeping/roomsharing doesn't have to hinder...romance, but it does complicate things just a bit). And I was getting there myself.

Papa started getting up with you some and not giving you to me to nurse until a certain time. The first night was tough and then you transitioned to waking up to nurse around five or six and then sleeping until eight thirty. And then you got to where you pretty consistently woke up just once in the night (which is FINE by me). AND, we got you taking two (way too short, but whatever) naps or one decent one and IT WAS EVERY KIND OF AMAZING.

I told Miss Carrie she was knocking it out of the park between this and helping me pick your name and she said we were basically co-parenting at this point. I'll take it. I need all the help I can get. It takes a village.

When we transitioned you into the room with the big kids getting you to sleep in the crib wasn't super easy (partly because I'm so short- I have no idea how I did it with Annie and Graves. Papa did  it a lot after I would nurse you the last time each night and that was tough for me. One night awhile back, I used some of his tips (standing up and holding you while swaying, patting you once we lay you down- in some ways you are super low maintenance; in some ways you are rotten). I did that for awhile and after a bit, after I thought you were totally asleep, you stood fully up. Girl. I gave you a hug and told you I loved you and walked out and you didn't cry once. I was astounded. You've also adjusted  well and we can turn on a lamp, whisper, or snap a picture of her just like the other two Herrington babies. Those things are key, FYI, if you're bunking three to a room.

You have four teeth now. You started cutting the bottom two in New York and the top two came in this past month. You are even more of a voracious eater these days.

You love veggies. You've tried squash, zucchini, and broccoli  loved it all. Actually, I'm not sure you have met a food hat you don't love. Sweet potatoes are your absolute favorite, though. 

You love eating blueberries straight off the backyard bushes and you love playing with the toads Bud and Annie catch. Bud also introduced you to roly polies and you thought they were so fun! 

I feel like you spend about eighty percent of your waking hours eating or nursing. I also feel like you've gotten SO BIG. I tell Papa every morning that you look bigger than when I put you to bed. And I feel like you just keep getting cuter and more charming, also by the day.

Annie decided that she was unafraid of baby drool enough to actually be willing to feed you her extra refried beans herself but you thought you were to grown to be spoon fed and attempted to fight her on it.

Awhile back I had to go scavenging for your supper at Mickey and Minnie's and it lead you to your first ever vanilla wafer. The Summer of Abundant Blessings continues on for you and you are totes living her best life now. Since bananas and Nila wafers are pretty much your favorite foods, Mickey decided to make you a banana pudding in lieu of a first birthday cake. I think you were as big of a fan as your momma is! 

You also drank cows' milk for the first time! I really hadn't even thought about it (you still nurse about five times a day- I only know that because a friend asked me recently and I tallied it up) but Minnie wanted to put tea with caffeine in your sippy

You mostly have two baths a day- one after lunch and one after supper (I try to feed things you that aren't messy at breakfast because three baths seems excessive). You take after your sister and sweat like a pig. You can get stinky from it (SO crazy that a baby can have body odor?!?) and between that and being a messy eater, the copious baths are inevitable. I just inhale your right when you get out and use baby lotion in between. There's something so sweet about a fresh, clean baby and I'm willing to invest some time in having one (and also willing to admit that you're going to get way dirtier way earlier than my big kids). It is funny that I don't remember them getting stinky and gross this early but I think it has to do with your eating and how active you are and how much you are outside. Annie was just a total lardass (as Mickey eloquently describes lazy people) and didn't walk until she was seventeen months and I told her Dr. Denney was going to send her to physical therapy if she didn't do it and Graves was a comparatively busy baby but he's not near as hot natured as you and Annie. They neither one seemed to love the outdoors quite as early or quite as much as you do and neither ate like you do.

You've been wearing bubbles to church which is something I NEVER did with Annie and honestly, ismuch more casual than what Graves wore when he was a baby. I had all these rigid rules- no bright colors or playful motifs and only dresses for Annie. Not all smocking is created equal and I broke another one of my rules and bought stuff that just wasn't even cute (to me) just because it fit what I was trying to do. I talked to a friend awhile back to troubleshoot it and she was like "yeah, putting Sallie in those dresses doesn't really fit your model of 'Sallie only wears what SD loves' *and* she would fit better with the big kids' vibe in more casual stuff. Whew. Praise God for friends who analyze meaningless stuff with me. So...I got rid of all that and just put you in what I want to.You aren't wearing  footies to church, but there's now a huge continuum with tatted dresses on one end and seersucker bubbles on the other (okay, that *feels* like a huge spectrum to me). 

I got you  three bonnets this year, fingers crossed our beloved Briarwood would live to see another year, and we'd be able to make good use of them. It did and we have (already). All Etsy purchases, hand made and without the price tag of some of the fancy brands, it was a perfect little splurge on our sweet sunshine girl, the tag along baby who spends quite many of her days among the elements.
(Aside regarding the bonnet splurge of 2017: part of me said "be pragmatic and get her a white (or heavens, at least a solid) one". The other part said "mint polka dots/pink gingham, Kelly green seersucker/reversible rosebuds and pink, and red polka dots are indescribably more charming". Clearly, the latter part won and I haven't wished for that white bonnet once.)

We haven't gone for your one year check up yet, but I'll be interested to see where you are growth wise. You are wearing nearly all of Annie's stuff from when she was one very comfortably so I'm thinking, despite looking much rounder, you may now be on the tiny person trajectory with your sister and brother.  

I hate admitting this, but last month was the first time I really got mad at you. I've been stressed before but I always felt like that was on me; I just wasn't being patient with you. But recently I felt about you ike I do about the big kids. It was such a "toddler" moment and it kind of tore me apart. You had a runny nose and had been screaming and you needed me as much as you did when you were a newborn. I closed my eyes and nursed and cuddled you and my feelings changed in just a few minutes but it was a tough moment.  

 You are such a fun girl! Papa said awhile back that he thinks you might be his AT hiking partner because you are a nature chick like Annie but are high energy like Bud. You gotta love nature on the AT and you can't be lazy on the AT. 

And you're such a sweet girl.  You love to lay your little head on mine and Papa's legs when we're sitting on the couch or right in my lap if I'm on the floor playing with you. I'm pretty sure you initially did it when you were sleepy, but I squealed about it so much, I think you just do it now to be sweet. 

Minnie recently said that she think you are "Bump made over". Bump, of course, was my beloved grandmother and one of my best friends, and is the Sarah that you is named for. She was spunky but also very, very laid back and knew how to "go with the flow" better than anyone I've ever known. I told Minnie that's exactly the vibe I need around my house. 

You've spent a ton of time at the pool this summer and you just adore it. Every time we are there, I keep thinking about doing this same thing last summer and those last few weeks with you on the inside. I've been reminiscing alot about it lately. I'm really thankful, deep down, that it's something I'll never do again, but a tiny part of me misses it. That said,  sure did enjoy the first part of the summer more than I did last year when I was pregnant! As an aside, I'm pretty sure I heard you say "Lila" fairly clearly the other day. You know you've been spending a lot of time at the pool if one of your baby's first ten words is the name of the swimteam coach.

We spent ALL day at the pool on the Fourth- we got there before nine that morning and got home around six that night. You  literally had ONE meltdown at the very end and I don't think you cried or fussed otherwise. Best baby ever. Who also has the best village ever. I was thinking that I'm not sure how much of this is nature and how much is nurture. I remember posting something one year on the Fourth about how it was weird to me how parents complained about fireworks but then I realized they probably thought it was weird we took our kids to Coney Island for fireworks every Friday and got home at one in the morning and had a great discussion with some friends about how their kids probably couldn't tolerate that. Honestly, we pay for this stuff with Annie, but the trade off is usually worth it. Graves rolls with the punches mostly and has for the longest time. But you are a whole nother level of flexible and continueto blow my mind with your easy going nature. I initially set the PnP up in the back of the concession stand (perks of being on the board and always being one to help Save the Briarwood Pool and mostly being friends with the manager and the lifeguards) but Papa thought it was a little inconsiderate and you really didn't want me to leave you in there and honestly it wasn't super convenient to have to either sit in there or go check on you a bunch. So I set it up in the shade and you just used it as a playpen two different times for about twenty minutes and then Lila got you to sleep and our friend Callie held you for probably an hour and then transfered her exhausted self. I nursed you four times and you got in the pool on three different occasions and were so happy to enjoy being carried around on various hips. Nine hours is a long day at the pool at any age but for sure at twelve months old and you were such a champ!

You are such an angel. I took you and Annie and Graves to the pool while Papa had a meeting awhile back and you were so content to hang out on a lounge chair and snack and watch her brother and sister swim while P had a board meeting at the pool. Cheerios, sunshine, and momma snuggles are all you need.

Your siblings are so smitten with you. We went to a birthday party at Pump it up a couple of months ago. Graves played for awhile and then kept asking me to let you play on this riding toy. You were totally content in your stroller, but I finally relented.You got your foot stuck under it and cried a bit and before the party you got a busted lip at the hands of an overly excited brother who was jumping in your crib with you in it. You're as tough as nails, though, and cried less than a minute both times.

At the pool one day, Graves smacked Annie hard. Totally inexcusable but when I asked him why I found out he was upset because she had pushed the stroller "near the pool". We were all probably thirty feet from the water's edge but he said "Sallie's my baby sister and I do not want her to die". One of my greatest comforts in you growing up (something that's been even harder than usual as you got close to a year) is that you and Graves seem love each other more by the day. Y'alls precious relationship is one of the purest loves I've ever seen.

One rainy morning swim practice was cancelled, so Bud strolled you around inside the house. He took you on a tour of it-- "not sure you remember this room. It's where you sleep now. Pretty big mess in here.") You two are so high energy. At this point y'all both drain my reserves pretty quickly, but on my darkest days, you two are some of the brightest rays of sunshine I could imagine.

After overhearing me telling Papa that I thought you were fussy because you were on the brink of another milestone, he told me "I think she's probably thinking 'Wah...y'all guys can walk and I can't'".

I put you in some Baby Gap banana jams Graves wore at one the other night. He thought you were SO CUTE in them and asked me please not to change you right away in the morning so he could play with you  in them. After you went to be that night he said "I wish I could have a baby just like Sallie- a girl baby would be great- that looked just like Sallie and acted just like Sallie and was named Sallie and had one those banana pjs". Bless his heart, he apparently loves these things. He also told me that you were even "sweeter and kinder" when you wear them them. I think he means "cuter and softer".

And Annie takes such good care of you. I was in the bathroom and Graves had what Annie referred to as a "gumball explosion" in the den (they spilled everywhere). Fearing a choking hazard, Annie picked you up, brought you to their room, moved this stool across the room using her feet while still holding you, and hoisted you  into her crib. Not bad for someone who doesn't even really like to touch drooly babies.  I asked Annie to demonstrate (as I always do with things like this) and she said "I'm sorry you've got to go through this experience again, Sallie". She really did a great job and seemed completely in control of the situation.

Graves and Annie have been coming up with several new nicknames for you- he calls you"Cheeks" (which seems very appropriate given your big grinny round face) and "Banana" (I think it's a reference to those jammies he loves and I also find it special because we used to call Annnie "the little banana"). He and Annie also call you "Comet" when they play Star Wars. I asked them recently how they came up with it and Annie said because it was a "space name". 

Just over a year ago I was chuckling, thinking about how the Sister Baby we had yet to name would fit in with our crazy crew. And lately I'm laughing even harder, thinking about how our Sallie Baby could not have been a more perfect addition. I'm grateful for so many things about them, but close to the top of the list is the laughter you and your brother and sister bring to my life.
It's really really fun for me to see the ways you are similar to both of them (like how Papa said you may be his hiking buddy because you're a nature girl like Annie but have Bud's energy) and ways in which you are like neither of them.  

I know this is unsurprising and I know I say it all the time, but you seem so much older at one than they did.. You mind really well (I'm sure that will be short lived) and are really communicative and seem to understand so much (like I told you the other day that you couldn't go in a room with the big kids and you started fussing).

I love how you've started interacting so much and are clearly really cognizant of your surroundings. If Papa has worked a few days straight, you seem to really crave *his* attention. And one morning you were fussing and then you heard Graves's voice and started laughing and clapping. 

You say a handful of words but you don't really say any of them super consistently. My favorite recent edition is when you call Graves "Bubba" because I refer to him as "Bud Bud" to you a lot.

I also still can't get over how fun it is to have a Cousin Baby and a Sister Baby three weeks apart. You and Evan are both messes and are both perfect tag along, easy natured, third babies who are already trying to keep up with the big kids. Y'all love to pat each other and play together and be silly.

I treasure my days with you, Sal. During City Meet, Papa had Annie and Graves with him, and I brought you home so you could nap. I was so hungry and kind of desperate for some time to myself and had a list of things I needed to do but you so rarely falls asleep nursing these days. Time moves like a freight train these days so I had to just hold my girl for a bit.

When you turned one, my heart didn't break as much as I thought it would be. But my mind was effectively blown. It went really fast but I think I soaked it up as much as a human being is capable of.
This year has been such a delight. I wanted another baby so badly and for so long, but in my best and brightest dreams I couldn't have imagined the joy you would bring me. We adore you, Sarah Lamar.
I speak often of motherhood being full of undignified honors and NOWHERE has that been more true than in your entrance into the world. It's no secret that I struggled with disappointment because your birth was not what I expected, but along with many other lasts I've gotten to fully immerse myself in this year, doing the hard and holy work of bringing you earthside was one of the great accomplishments of my life and I will be forever grateful I got the chance to experience the beauty of birth again. It was my privilege to serve you this way and it has been my privilege to serve you- and your brother and sister- every day since.

We love you, Little Sallie Sunshine

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your pjs are 12-18 mo.!