Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: But Like a Child at Home

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

The sermon this was about home...and homesickness, a feeling I can relate to in practical and existential ways. Susan preached about a pioneer woman captured by Native Americans whom she came to love and knows family, only to be recaptured many years later by white settlers who would never understand her, twice a trauma inflicted.

Recently, I shared something on FB from the always insightful Lore Wilbert, about how "kitchens fall apart and spouses drop the hands of their beloveds and all the earth is our feeble attempts to compare to Him" But truly nothing does, of course, and that's the best news. I admitted that at different times I've worried that my love for the things of this Earth (most notably my family and other important relationships) were too much and I got sucked into a form of gnostic guilt. BUT, there's a lot of truth here. These (even the most important ones) aren't the things that matter most. It's a balance- trying the remember that AND cherish the delights I have here as true gifts from God (as Courtney paradoxically preached on last week). I've talked about this before and frankly, it's something I never WILL get right, this side of heaven. But thankfully, as in all things, His grace is sufficient.

As an aside, that guy in the back hanging on a tree limb had his BEST Sunday ever at church. He's had some very good ones lately, but he was like a different child this week. It's like he's...growing up?!? I really don't like these posts to be about behavior but sometimes you just gotta praise the Lord. He even took off his Cub Scout hat voluntarily when I told him it wasn't the most polite to wear it but it was his call. He and Annie both offered to carry Sallie's backpack and Annie told me "Well, a Scout *is* helpful". (She's working very hard to memorize loads of stuff before our first Webelos meeting.)

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Morning By Morning, New Mercies I See

Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever will be
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer
And to guide
Strength for today
and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord every morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hands hath
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me
So faithful too me 

The week before this was hard on just about every level- physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual. The details aren't important. No they really aren't- I'm not being private, they're the same things I've shared before, and I just don't have energy to give them. And REALLY they are not important. 

Sunday was better. My mind and body felt healthier and my spirit was uplifted. Courtney name dropped Ann Voskamp and talked about counting gifts and it seemed like a good idea. I accomplished a ton around the house and I had a bit of a revelation about something I've been struggling hard over. 

 Strength for today
and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside 

 Oh, and Sissy's great smile is c/o her siblings singing the Sesame Street song but changing out "sunny days" for "rainy days". 

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: When All Around My Soul Gives Way, He Then Is All My Hope and Stay

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
in ev'ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil. 
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the 'whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay. 
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand. 

Another day, another worship service in tears, but y'all know I'm a big fan of Church as Therapy, so... still in the Psalms and we discussed another emotion we don't like to deal with, much less talk about- despair or pain. Courtney shared about being on call as a chaplain and receiving sixteen calls in a twelve hour period to go be with people during something really hard, some during the worst moments of their lives. She quoted Barbara Brown Taylor and told us about how the writer found God not removing her pain but being present in it. My favorite part of the sermon, though, was when she said "God hears us, yes. But He does us one better. He put on flesh and dwelt among us. He felt every despair. Certain despairs and pains never go away, but the good news is that neither does God." 

I NEED this reminder. That even if the things that cause me pain and fear and despair in my life never change, God is present and will provide for me....

"His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the 'whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay." 

On a MUCH lighter note, this is one of my favorite recent pictures of them! 

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: My Soul Is Purchased with His Blood

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

Really wanted a better picture of these people wearing their bird dress/bubble and a really stellar coordinating brother outfit, but atlas it was not to be. 

More significantly, we reflected more on the Psalms this Sunday- guilt, and our need to always be right (chief among sinners, right here), and confession, and a Father who forgives endlessly. Thanks be to God!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Monthly Mental Health Check In: August 2018

So, I'm late on my Monthly Mental Health Check In for August, but here it is:

This summer hasn't been the worst, but it hasn't been the best, either. It certainly hasn't compared to how scary the summer we moved home from NYC was or how scary the summer Sallie was born was. Most days, I felt in control. But it wasn't near as wonderful as last summer or the summer we lived in NYC or even the summers when the big kids were little. There were just a lot of days where I felt a dull ache. Melancholy, as a friend says.

That said, there were a lot of good days, too. I've long credited Briarwood with being a saving grace to me, emotionally but I'm not sure I've ever articulated why. I think I figured it out this year. It's the memories, but more than that, it's the community. There are SO many friends we have there that are not (and probably will never be) our best friends. But in theory, they could be. There are so many people there that I don't really keep up with through the school year, but I truly cherish. I was thinking about this recently. I've really been thinking about how I need to put energy into things outside our little family for myself and one of those things is relationships. It's really not healthy to expect P and the children to meet every relational need I have. In the past, I never thought beyond best friends. And my best friends ARE really important to me. But...I think there's a lot to be said for quality relationships that are sweet but don't require deep emotional investment.

This summer I got completely off my Zoloft and this month I completely weaned Sallie. I know it's going to take time for my body to regulate from both of those BIG things. One thing I told a friend is that it is super hard for me is figuring out what is hormonal, what is exhaustion, what is not exercising/getting outside, what is not being on an SSRI. Ugh. Not sure it even matters, though, I think it might be best to just try to make good choices (rest, run, got to therapy, self care the hell out of naptime, ect.) and not stress over what's causing it.

I'm looking forward to fall and what's ahead.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September Goals and Happenings

This background totally reminds me of a bumble bee. But I do think I like it, even if this shade of yellow isn't my fave. I love the header pictures- Annie looking so grown, Graves on his first day of dance, Sallie in a pony and a last summer meal and fall lesson planning. And the quote-- I want to remember to treat people in a way that makes them feel loved and valuable. 


 August was a nice month. We took a trip to the waterpark in Collins with a group from church last week and went down to Peyton's parents'. We didn't make it to the pool as much as we wanted to, but we had some good evenings there when we went. We started back up with piano and dance and we really got into our school routine.

September has been good so far. We've gotten together with friends more than usual and my little nephew, Teddy, is here! Obviously, meeting him will be the highlight of the month. Peyton is going to take all three kids camping while I go stay in Nashville for a few days with Cookie and Conrad and Teddy. I've had a few "down" days and a few sick days and I think the seasonal tranisition has made me feel yuck, plus picking up a lot of stuff as far as school and activities for the big kids just has me worn out. I feel a bit more normal this week and I'm hopeful that will only keep getting better.

Here were my August Goals. We have gotten into our school year zone and that was my biggest thing I wanted to tackle.

1. Spend the month trail running our new fall schedule. I mentioned it before, but the details of this are that P and I made out a schedule where we get up earlier and I get most of my school done with the big kids by around one. He takes care of Sallie almost exclusively in the mornings and does errands and housework and then we eat lunch all together at the table. Sallie takes her nap and we all have a break and then we switch- he does science and reads with the big kids and I take care of Sallie. We also have a good many activities in the afternoon and evenings.

We did this and I saw how well it worked. We've had some really, really good school weeks. I will say by mid afternoon I kind of feel spent and I'm confident homeschooling has never taken so much out of me. But overall, I feel positive and successful.

2. Try to make it to the pool a couple of afternoons a week. As I said, this didn't happen as much as we wanted it to, but when it did, it was fun. I think we were all kind of over the pool and there were quite a few rainy days, as well.

3. Practice good self care. Hmmm, not much intentional. I did drop Annie off for some special time with my parents' one afternoon and stayed and read outside in their backyard. I need to do that sort of thing more but it's hard to prioritize it.

4. Go outside for a bit every day. I did pretty good about this. Not every day, but much more than I'm used to doing.

5. Keep on posting here. Yes, and now I lost my steam. I do feel like I did really well keeping up on here in August.

6. Get myself more organized for Cub Scouts. I did get more organized (bought a leader guide, looked at stuff online, ect.) but I still have a long way to go.

7. Email Peyton and Annie each Wednesday with our schedule for the upcoming week and lesson plan weekly. Yes! I actually missed it this week but overall this has become a consistent practice.

8. Try to plan some fun educational activities to do at home with Sallie. Yes! I'm pretty proud of this, too, because it's something that feels very beneficial but not at all essential. But I did plan (and executed!) some fun stuff for her.

9. Finish up the final touches on the kitchen. Nope. Hopefull this week!

10. Finish up buying curriculum and things we need for extra-curriculars. We got all the Cub Scout stuff and the piano binder and I finalized my curriculum buying until probably January.

11. Make a book list of readalouds for the whole year.  I didn't do this and I REALLY want to.

And here are my new goals for September. I'm

1. Finish all the prelessons for Graves's phonics curriculum and finish Annie's History Pockets. These are my big school goals that I want to actually complete this month. It shouldn't be hard and I'm hopeful I can knock them out before our trip to Nashville.

2. Finish Mr. Popper's Penguins and attend bookclub (and lead an activity). This is our bookclub book this month and it's really great. I'm excited about it but we do have quite a bit more to read before next week.

3. Plan Cub Scouts through December. I really need to do this in the next week.

4. Try a couple of new dishes each week. I select these and occasionally cook them. Peyton's largely in charge of the cooking when he's home, though.

5. Get back in the swing of things with blogging. Like I said, I felt like I hit a good stride in August, but I've published, well nothing, in September.

6. Go to therapy (at least once). I made an appointment for next week.

7. Start excercising. Likely when we get back from Nashville.

8. Enjoy a trip BY MYSELF to see my sister and new nephew. I'm over the moon excited about this (and a little nervous/sad about being apart from the kids and P for a few days).

9. Read (like actuall books).

10. Do a morning and evening devotional. 

11. Make sno cones with the Briarwood machine while it's still warm. Really need to make this one a priority =)

12. Get a healthy amount of sleep consistantly. I get better at this for awhile and then do really bad. I NEED to do this for my health.

Twelve very doable things for the rest of the month! We'll see how succesful I am.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

In Lieu of Vacation Bible School...

This year, for a variety of reasons, we did four activities we thought were beneficial throughout the summer instead of a traditional VBS. 

The first activity was a camp out at some church members' house. It was such a wonderful (albeit warm) time to enjoy food, friends, and fellowship. The children fed chickens, explored during a nature walk, met some tiny possums, attracted and observed insects after dark, enjoyed hot dogs and smores, and sang and told stories after the sun went down. As an added bonus, we got to spend a lot more time than we do on Sunday morning with our little church friends and I loved visiting with people in a relaxed environment. God was gracious to use other people to pour into us in exactly the way we needed after a long summer day when we felt "parched". So many simple things that brought so much delight- it is a memory that my children and I will not soon forget. 

The second event we planned was a morning of art and nature and music at the church with special guest, our own Robin Whittfield. It was such an honor to have her come lead the children in discovering different materials right on the grounds of the church and then using those pigments to create beautiful works of art. Different people will connect with the Lord in different ways but at least one of my children sees God most often in His Creation. I have told her about Robin's work as an artist/explorer/conservationist before and she was so excited to meet her and spend time learning from her. I had really built the day up and it completely lived up to her expectations. I think all the children benefited so much from Robin's talent and the gift of her time. Pastor Courtney led seperate devotions with the younger children and older group and both my nine year old and seven year old came home telling me what they learned about caring for God's creation. And I think that Graves has been picking up "two pieces of trash" every day since then! 

It is such a joy to be part of a community that truly cares for God's creation, not the least of which are the tiny humans He has entrusted to us.

Our third children's/youth activity of the summer was a trip to two fire stations in early July. This one had a service focus- we wanted to do something the week of the Fourth that would support community helpers. The children assembled bags of treats and supplies that the church as a whole had collected and made cards for the firefighters in Clinton. 

We went to two different stations and learned so much! In Clinton all the firefighters are EMTs and a few are paramedics. 75% of their calls are medical and they can do most things that are done in the first ten minutes in the ER (and obviously, in Clinton, they will always drive on a scene before an ambulance can). The fire marshall told us that in his twenty something years in Clinton, he's delivered seven babies!  One station is very new and the room where the firefighters relax and watch TV is built "for the community" and has concrete walls. In the event of a tornado, those without adequate shelter are encouraged to come there. There is a generator for those who require medical machinery. The firefighters will also come to your house (inside the city limits) and install your smoke detector as a service. 

One fireman was sweet enough to suit up in all his gear for us- it weighs seventy five pounds and I told my seven year old, Graves, that was equal to him and his baby sister, Sallie, put together! 

The firefighters were so generous with their time so hospitable when showing us the facilities.  We got to see their exercise room where they work out and do pull ups on the bars and they were gracious enough to even show us their bunks. Spraying the fire hose and climbing in the truck were the icing on the cake! It was all so informative and I think helped the children appreciate this important work even more. I know I gained even more admiration for our "hometown heroes" than I already had! 

As Annie wrote in her card "Thank you for bravely protecting our community". Summer is friends and being grateful for your community across town.

At the beginning of August, a bunch of children, youth, and some fun loving chaperones headed down to Grand Paradise Waterpark in Collins for our fourth and final adventure.  This was the activity that I had helped organize but, truthfully, I was kind of dreading it. Because, as a low energy introvert, I kind of hate water parks. 

Until we got there and I remembered that I LOVE WATER PARKS (I love fairs and amusement parks and the grosser the better and the highest/scariest/craziest slides and rides are the favorite of this not very brave, often under confident girl  and I made P take me to a big one with Annie when she was Sallie's age and I'm such an enigma but whatever). Annie and Graves and the rest of the crew had such a wonderful time. The park was an absolutely perfect spot to spend a late summer day. It's not a huge park and and there were so many grown ups from Northside, just watching out for kids that weren't necessarily their own. We ordered quite a bit of pizza and everyone enjoyed snacking on it throughout the afternoon. We visited and heard stories and were able to spend time laughing and sharing and passing a lazy summer day away. I don't always have (or if I'm honest with myself, make) the time for these interactions on Sunday and it was precious to me, and I'm sure was precious to Annie and Graves. 

P and I left Sallie with my in laws and had the best time just being parents of big kids. It's not a huge park and they're both very competent swimmers so we let them loose.

 It was the first time I've really let my big kids loose at a place like that, Graves just becoming a really strong swimmer this summer, and they relished the freedom.  They played with their friends and it felt likea HUGE break for us but they realized quickly we weren't tethered to a toddler and kept coming to find us to go on slides with them. They also had other adults they love, including pastors and Sunday school teachers pouring so much into them in a non church venue. And they got a lot more time than usual to socialize with their church buddies.. They didn't bicker and actually went out of the way to be so sweet to each other (i.e. Annie telling Graves excitedly "this time it's JUST US" on the toilet bowl tube slide so P and I could go try the two really big slides) which is hard these days. Graves just grabbed me and put his head on my tummy and squezzed me so hard and I knew he loved getting to be our baby again. It was a beautiful day and full of God's goodness. Summer is for...recognizing those things at the water park.

This summer hasn't been my easiest (it hasn't been the hardest either) but it's been full of some truly special moments and these four events were all up near the top of the list!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Sallie Reels: Sallie Says Her Name

About a month ago, I got a couple of videos of Sallie saying her own name. I used to do these "Annie Reels" posts with fun videos- mainly for milestones or cute videos that I felt deserved their own post. I think I'm going to bring those back with Sallie...and with Annie and Graves!

Peyton saw a FB post I had shared about baby names and said he sometimes he still wishes we had a Vada, but it absolutely wouldn't fit this girl at all. She's much to spunky and friendly and button-nosed. If we had had a Vada, it would have had to be Annie.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Let Us Mourn and Let Us Dance

One more picture from the anniversary celebration. This one just needed it's own post. Had I posted it right after that night, I probably wouldn't have thought so, but these thoughts have been rolling around in my head and the picture fits them perfectly. 

I mentioned in my hymn post on this particular Sunday that I felt very understood in the presence of weepy people- and Northsiders are always so weepy on anniversary Sunday. But, I feel very understood, and comforted, in the presence of people who know how to laugh. 

I recently saw a Henri Nouwen quote that said "We tend to stay away from mourning and dancing. Too afraid to cry, to shy to dance...we become narrow-minded complainers, avoiding pain and also true human joy...While we live in a world subject to the evil one, we belong to God. Let us mourn, and let us dance". 

I am so inexplicably grateful to have a place amongst people who know how to do both. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

An Evening of Celebrating and Storytelling at Northside

As part of the forty ninth anniversary celebrations at our church, I recently got to sit on a panel with other newer members and older members of Northside and answer some questions about the church. I was pretty nervous (not to slam NBC, but I was not expecting this turnout) but I'm so glad I had the chance to do it.  It was SUCH an honor. I did leave early to pick up Sallie who had not taken a nap and Annie and Graves, whose Sunday school teacher/former SS teacher generously took them down to play in the Sunday school room when I asked her if they could sit with her during the program, so I missed the Baptist Congo line.

Here were the questions and my answers:

Question: What brought you to Northside?

My Answer: We had just moved back to MS after a very transformative year an a half in New York City. While we lived there, we attended two churches and became involved in a ministry in the South Bronx, all three of which impacted me greatly. I realized, on a deep level, that church wasn't about behavior and appearances. During this time, Peyton also told me he no longer considered himself a Christian. I knew we needed to find a place where our community would not encourage my kids to make Peyton their project. P loving Christ is my greatest desire and I pray about it often, as do the children, but it's NOT OUR WORK and I needed a church who bought into that. 

Question: What is a situation where you thought that is the epitome of my church? 
My Answer: Two things- when Annie's Sunday school teacher told her God believed in Peyton and when Graves wore a bandana around his head like a pirate up to the front of the church for the children's sermon and nobody batted an eye. In both of those situations, folk's gracious, loving responses flowed without effort because they are Spirit full people. 

Question: What are you most excited about for the future of Northside?
My Answer: People of all ages who feel scared or sad skeptical or disappointed by the church finding a home in our midst. 

Courtney called this a time of "storytelling" and as is probably evident, story telling is one of my most favorite hobbies. It was such a delight to get to share in this way.

{Annie and Graves's block creations from their time downstairs with one of of the people I admire most on this earth, Cynthia Goodman.}

Monday, August 27, 2018

What I'm Into: July

Before August is over, I wanted to share my big WII round up for July! 

On the Nightstand:

The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah Mackenzie

Slowly reading through this, still.

On Their Nightstand: 

Not even sure what girlfriend's got ahold of but it looks delightful! Raisin' a reader!

On the Shelf:

At the Theater (or from the couch) and On the Small Screen:

Just more of the same- SVU and Unsolved Mysteries and season four of The West Wing.

In My Ears:

I listened to some podcasts and that was fun:
Sorta Awesome - I don't listen every week but when an episode description catches my eye, I tune in
The Lazy Genius- I listened to a really good series on summer
The West Wing Weekly - I just started where I was in the show, in the middle of season four

Around the House:

Baby baracade while we get new windows because Peyton's latest hobby horse is energy conservation (okay, it's always been a hobby horse but he's riding the thing extra hard these days). 

In the Kitchen:

I mentioned it already, but l felt so domestic over this. I know banana bread is legitimately *the* easiest thing in the world to bake, but the usual response to noticing three overripe bananas would be momentarily thinking about banana bread (which I LOVE) and then throwing them directly into the compost (or more likely throwing them at Peyton who loves to bake but he's been SO busy and I knew they'd be trash by the time he got to them. 
Bud asked for an additional piece for his treat. I know it's full of butter and sugar but it's way better than the super processed stuff he (and I) love and I was surprised he enjoyed it that much. I also hacked up some watermelon which is truly the bane of my existence and I'd maybe rather have a lifetime of toilets to clean. 
I will say that the kids' supper the previous night was hot dogs, corn on the cob, and watermelon and that night's was butter beans, tater tots, oatmeal, a pickle, and more watermelon. I typically try to fix one real meal when Peyton works two days of 12 or 14 hours shifts and then do boxed macaroni or grilled cheeses the other night. I do like that I at least have a plan now. All this to say, you win some; you lose some.

Black-eyed pea cakes with a bit of sour cream plus Mickey's Cock of the Walk copycat slaw that is so on point plus cherry tomatoes c/o a coworker of Peyton's  equals a pretty tasty summer supper. 

Peyton has always acted like someone who grew up during the Depression and had a scarcity mindset about shelf stable, non-perishable items, but it gets weird when you start playing hoarder/prepper with large produce. In fairness to him, he basically eats watermelon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all of July. And there was a fifth one already cut up in the fridge!

In My Closet:

When it's the Fourth of July, I get dressed in a swimsuit purchased at TJ Maxx in 2003. Vintage??? I love the light blue stripes and I love this type if fabric (I need to find out what it's called. I always enjoy collecting mostly irrelevant and useless knowledge). I told Peyton that it's still one of my favorites and feels like it fits me better than some of my others. Bud told me very innocently that it looked like it was getting a little small on my tummy.  Summer is for...wearing bathing suits from high school even if they might be a little snug. It's definitely not for cleaning mirrors. 

In Their Closets:

sailboats and polka dots!!!

Graves in  my new favorite t-shirt of his. I found several things I wanted for the kids on a recent Target trip but this was the only thing I went back for. I buy so much more for the girls because it's almost always cuter and I'm really trying to only buy things I love and I don't love a lot of what is out there for boys. He has what he needs but he's the one who enjoys a happy more and he's also the one who cares the most about what he's wearing. He put it on the minute he saw it. 
I love the acronym-ish (I don't guess it's a true acronym since it's not the first letter of each word) word play and I'm totally obsessed with the retro rainbow font. It reminds me of Welcome Back Kotter (LOL) and watching Nick at Nite when I was his age. Summer is for...nostalgia, maybe more than anything else. I think that's why I love it so.

Sallie, Bud, and Annie in soft powdery blues, butttery yellows, sailboats, and stripes. (Also, a Herrington Quirk, but either roll up your sleeves or tuck your shirt in and wear a belt, GRAVES.)

When she's double fisting strawberry PopTarts poolside, Sallie wears probably my least favorite suit of the season which is still my favorite green and still a floral pattern. Can't loose at the Briarwood Pool!

And Graves sports the current teen trend of too small sweet pants and flops because he got his first set of spacers that morning and the ortho office is cold!

Love Annie these Natives knock offs she bought herself. She has a pair of tennis shoes and flip flops and that is totally sufficient but she HATES wearing her sneakers because they're too hot. For places like the playground, I've told her that flops are not ideal and she learned the hard way awhile back. I showed her these I had found and she picked the pattern she liked and used some of the money in her bank account that we set up, hoping she would spend it on practical things sometimes! Initially, she told me that she picked these because the squiggles reminded her of worms, but upon further thought, she said they reminded her of bacteria. My sweet geeky girl!

Sweet Sissy in linen, embroidery, rosebuds, and kelly green seeersucker. Some of my all time favorites!

When you and your papa unexpectedly match in your teal and bright pink (and your great, squinched nose smiles). Sal in hearts and polka dots and P in his tried and true flamingos.

Strawberries and kiwis for slip n slide fun at a friend's house!

I adore this swimsuit and cover up that include so many of my favorite things- terry cloth, baby blue and butter yellow, a duck with an impressive beak and a HAIRBOW, ruffles, and polka dots!

Can anybody guess my favorite summer motif? Graves has these three swim trunks (yellow banded ones are my fave); Sallie has two sailboat suits (and a plethora of sailboat dresses, bubbles, and diaper sets), and Annie has one (just one because I try to indulge her in animal/bird prints). 

In My Mailbox:

Nothing interesting! 

In My Cart:

I got these flamingos and funky pineapples (the sharks Graves really wanted weren't available in his size and he was so mature and reasonable about dealing with second best) at Old Navy's annual flops sale and then Graves found this tshirt on clearance for $1.99 and I thought it would be fun for our little world changer this fall (being optimistic that she'll use her spiritedness as a force for good). Anyway, we came out at just over $5.00.

Around Town and At Home: 

We made cards and took them to the fire station to thank our community helpers the day before the Fourth of July!

Graves held the cookies and brownies for the cakewalk and we're occasionally letting our nine year old ride without a five point harness. Annie said it was so crammed in the Mazda (which already had the booster and carseat in it and we were short on time) and reminded her of "old times" (as Graves says). Except when Sallie was a newborn she didn't kick Annie. Annie and Peyton are on Team Toddler, though, and Annie told Graves she also didn't help them clean up their room when she was a newborn (which she loves to do now). Also, P looked recently and the Mazda is worth about $1500 (but a heck of a lot more to us). This is basically the only picture I got of the big kids today but they had so much fun (Annie said the Fourth is equal to Christmas to her). 

Summer is for...friends who cheer for you every time you jump to your momma from the second step in the pool.

Found an old friend at the pool!

We celebrated Graves's bday (a couple of months late)!!!

Northside's forty-ninth anniversary celebration was a hit!!!

Caught (and released) this cool, super bright guy in our yard! Summer is for..resting in your shady place and perpetual glares. This dude took RBF to a new level. Annie said he looked like such a grumpy old man and I told her maybe he was a grumpy old man.

These people had so much fun playing at some of our dearest friends' house. I kind of felt like all three of them were a total disaster, though, and like I was a failure as a mom. I just truly hate parenting with eyes on me, even the eyes of my closest, least judgemental friends. But this sweet friend reminded me that the work is hard and exhausting, but it's real life and it's energy well spent. And I reminded myself that it is especially so for homeschooled tinies who need more social interactions and introverted mommas who sometimes let themselves get isolated (and party girls who out to occasionally get their relational needs met even if they are only two). Summer is yourself, and your people, some grace and for friends who love you regardless of your imperfections.

Annie and Peyton had an evening commitment so I let Graves help me get Sallie to bed. He just looked at books on Annie's bed for a bit but then he wanted some baby cuddles before she fell asleep. Sissy thinks snuggles with her Bud are the best! 

At the Schoolhouse:
Stuff my kids say when their other parent has no real knowledge of systems of the human body (NFP failure- or success!!! depending on how you look at it- story 🙋) and answers the question "Why does poop have so many germs in it?" by saying "Listen, you have to trust me, it does and you don't need to mess with it any more than you absolutely have to". [This same parent keeps reminding this same child he CANNOT run around naked and now his little sister tries to cover herself when her diaper is off. His big sister told me she thinks I might have inadvertently shamed Sallie about her body. And when I said "you really think I made her embarrassed and ashamed?!? Annie did the eeek face and said "...maybe".] Y'all, parenting is just not even for the faint of heart.

Critical thinking word matrix and of course Annie picks "carp, tapir, white ibis" instead of the more predictable cat, tiger, wolf.

Graves, while scrubbing kitchen cabinets. He can't read much at all (I go back and forth between having such a peace about it and being terrified he'll be a grown man and be completely illiterate- P was like "do you even *know* anyone who is COMPLETELY illiterate?" and I was like "let alone whose momma devoted significant portions OF HER LIFE to reading to them and whose vocation consisted mostly of educating them?") but he's so, so smart. Or at least I think he is.

His Sunday school teacher, who was an elementary school teacher for like thirty years and who understands him better than probably anyone outside our family and close friends, said he's a "global learner". Despite my background in education, I didn't know the term. But it's what I've been saying about him for a long time. He learns whole to part, not part go whole and he sees the big picture but not the details. I Googled it and sometimes these kids read between eight and ten rather than five to seven, like their peers. Peyton said "well, that might be true...I know it feels good to you to have a possible answer". And that's when I was like "surely there IS an answer, right? It's this or ADD or something? I mean, he's a bright child." We haven't even tried to look outside our family for answers but when we were talking Peyton said things like Cub Scouts are about to get hard for him. Annie wouldn't care, but he's our kid who will be heart hurt when he can't keep up, I think. 
That conversation was hard but, when he outsmarted Alexa, I felt good. 

Annie, when she got put on the spot while making small talk at a baby shower and forget that the correct answer to "What grade are you going into?" is "I'm homeschooled, but in the fall, I'll be doing work mostly at a fourth grade level". In Annie's defense, her answer is every bit as accurate 

On the Blog:

Not a bad blogging month, overall. In fact, I'd say it was a very good one- not just in quanity, but in quality.

Adoption Post #3: Someday, but Not Today- This one was good to write out. I had shared it on Instagram and I was (and am) slowly making peace with this. 
A Very Full Decade- I reflected a little bit on TEN YEARS of marriage. 
A Herrington Baby Writes Her Own Hymn- I really didn't write much because I didn't want to take away from the beautiful, childlike simplicity of this. 
Pool Thoughts- It was fun to share some thoughts about the pool. 

On My Heart and Mind:

Voluntary Simplicity was hard this summer. 
- Starting back our full school routine felt very daunting.
- July seemed to be really long and fly by all at the same time.

In My Prayers:

- I prayed about the upcoming school year.
- I prayed about my health.
- I prayed about my priorities.
- I prayed for friends in tough situations.

That was July! I'm trying to complete these in a more timely manner, so maybe August will be up in the next week or so!