Monday, September 15, 2014

The Beauty of Love As It Was Made to Be: Five Years (and a few months) of Weekly Family Pictures

[If you're reading this in a feed reader, the video may not show up. I accidentally published thinking it was embedded and it wasn't.]

I've done a few compilation posts of our weekly family pictures- here and here. But it's been awhile. When I realized that in June we had been doing them for five years, I knew I had to put something together.

And I've been meaning to do it since then. Itt gave me a heck of a time once I decided to do it. More hours than I'd care to admit.

But it's done and I'm so pleased with it. It's long and I don't expect anyone to watch fully- it's 274 shots and over five years of weekly family photos. It's really special to me, though. I think it's so neat to be able to look back in this way and see how our family grew and changed over the last half decade.

I love the small things (like how dark or light my hair is and how Peyton has his tie draped around his neck in quite a few shots), the big things (like announcing we were expecting a second time at 3:07 VERY shortly after our "first trip sans Annie" at 3:01), the silly things (like Graves in the ski cap at 11:42 and Annie riding Rocky Frog on Peyton's lap at 9:42), the absurd things (like taking some of them well after both kids were fast asleep), the truly difficult things (like having our family separated for a month while Peyton looked for housing at 12:03) and the life altering wonderful things (like Graves's arrival at 4:53 and finally making it to Brooklyn at 12:13).

The cat, as well as countless other props, wound up in several pictures. Peyton looked like he was wearing a costume (fedora, huge sunglasses, ect.) quite often. There are a huge chunk, where, per Peyton's request I didn't wear make-up. Annie's broken arm is documented and my mom makes an appearance as the one and only guest star, thus far. We moved from piano bench to hallway to couch and at some point in the game AP became adamant she wanted to move to Peyton's lap. Graves shakes a pepper canister, holds a baby doll, flies a paper airplane, and is sleeping or sucking a paci in probably a quarter of them. In one, he has soot from the fireplace on his face. Sometimes I look at the shot at 11:49 to remind myself that Annie has that (the ability to be carefree and love life and not be so serious) in her. That I have it in me.

I love this little (now big) collection so much and all the stories it tells about the four of us. It was worth every bit of the annoyance and stress of adding another unnecessary thing to our weeks. I'm deeply grateful for these memories and these people.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Weekly Smorgasbord

It'd be great if I could actually do these weekly. Oh well. Here's a list from the last few:

On Police Misconduct:

This Interactive Map of Paramilitary Police Raids is Terrifying and Depressing- The
"New York City police raid the Bronx apartment of Shaunsia Patterson, her sister, and her two children, ages three and two. Patterson is eight months pregnant at the time of the raid. Police first grab Patterson's sister Misty, 15, and put her to the floor. They then confront Patterson, who is sitting on her bed. One officer pushes her onto her back, while another jumps on top of her. Patterson is eventually pushed to the floor and handcuffed while, in Patterson's words, "one of the cops stepped on the side of my face and pressed my face into the floor." When Patterson asks what the police wanted, she was told to "Shut the fuck up." Patterson is handcuffed in her underwear. Police scream expletives at the two women and two children while they scour the apartment for drugs. Patterson grows so frightened she urinates on herself. She isn't permitted to change. Police refuse to show Patterson a warrant, and demolish her furniture, her kitchen, and her floor. Hours later, Patterson is released from handcuffs, and an officer tells her, "We got the wrong apartment." It's the second botched drug raid NYPD would conduct that day. One confidential police source would later tell New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, "Two in one day -- that's bad. But I'll tell you what I honestly believe -- I don't think this happens that often." Source: Bob Herbert, "In America; Reprise of Terror," New York Times, March 12, 1998, p. A27.""

So horrifying.

That quote is via the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, which also interviewed Lollie. He was, he said, "trying my hardest to maintain my calm demeanor just because I know if I do anything outside of these bounds, they could really do some damage to me." He's right. "I really feel blessed I was in the skyway," he added. "If this had happened somewhere else, I might have ended up a little more hurt than I was."

Ugh. They tased the guy? Really. And he was so calm and respectful. I can't see how he did anything wrong. The article starts out "If you've never experienced arbitrary harassment or brutality at the hands of a police officer, or seen law enforcement act in a way that defies credulity and common sense, it can be hard to believe people who tell stories of inexplicable persecution." Really, how hard can it be after you watch something like this?

On Race:
"When asked the question, I’d usually pause. Not because I didn’t have an answer, but because some fears feel too real when you give them words. So I’d pause. Then I’d say two things: “Truthfully, the Lord has kept us from any fears that we can discern about planting the church or living in Southeast. If I have a fear it would be one thing: bringing my son Titus to the United States. He’s so tender and innocent and the States can be very hard on Black boys.” That’s my one fear. This country destroying my boy. Ferguson is my fear. I could be the black dad approaching a white sheet stained with his son’s blood. I could be the husband holding his wife, rocking in anguish, terrorized by the ‘what happeneds’ and the ‘how could theys,’ unable to console his wife, his wife who works so hard to make her son a “momma’s boy” with too many hugs, bedtime stories, presents for nothing, and an overflowing delight in everything he does. How do you comfort a woman who feels like a part of her soul was ripped out her chest?"
This is one of the most poignant and heartbreaking things I've read in some time. 

On Frugality:
"A cheap person may live for decades with the sorriest old fridge he could find on Craigslist. A frugal person might have a relatively new, and even nice looking, fridge, and yet spend less money owning and operating it. Similarly, the frugal person might own a more expensive bike or pair of shoes. The key to this counter-intuitive trick is to factor in things like energy consumption, longevity, time saved by owning a more effective product, and even life satisfaction derived from having a few very good things that you use every day. Frugal people still get to own and enjoy top-quality assets, tools, and investments."

Peyton's been making this distinction for years =)

On Urban Development:
"Between the4 1920s and the 1980s there had been a broad reordering of priorities. Twin technologies had come that would destroy the type of public culture embodied by rowhouses with porches. The first has been described by George W.S. Trow, in the New Yorker as: “Television — slayer of movies, slayer of radio, slayer of popular magazines, slayer of every form of human activity and inactivity except itself.”...Gone is the streetscape as provider of entertainment and facilitator of neighborhood interaction. The porches disappeared as now too expensive. The people withdraw into isolation inside their homes, lured inward by TV and Nintendo and pushed inward by fears of crime now that the informally policing “eyes on the street” provided by porch sitters are gone. Without the need for a porch the space in front of the building is given over to that second community-destroying technology: the private automobile, slayer of the streetcars, slayer of the passenger railroads, slayer of walking, slayer of every form of human transportation and recreation except itself."

So a couple of weeks ago, I spent a huge chunk of time learning about urban development and reading all sorts of different theories and opinions. No idea why I find it so fascinating.

Hope you found something that interested you! 

Weekly Happenings Post #284 (September 1-7)-- Labor Day and Summer's End

Well, Labor Day has come and gone and Summer is officially over. I was a little sad about it, but it felt wonderful today and I know Fall holds a lot for us, too!

Whew, Monday was rough. It started off normal. The kids got up earlier than they have been and had breakfast and we watched their shows. Everything was fine. I put them in their room and ate my breakfast, got on the computer, did some morning chores, and took my bath. They usually play really well while I do that stuff in the morning, but they kept having squabbles. I went in their room to do their devotion and catechism and we did that and then started to clean up. AP got mad because she wanted to leave all her stuff set up like it was. I told her we could leave a small amount and she got SO upset. She kept fussing and being really rude. We finally got it worked out, but it took forever. The kids had lunch and I did dishes and then put Graves down. Annie sat in time out for twenty minutes during naptime for her behavior earlier. I got on the computer and made some egg salad and kool aid and then Annie and I did school.

Graves woke up and Peyton got home early because it was Labor Day. We got ready and headed to the library to return some books. Our route intersected with the West Indian Day Parade and some cop asked us if we lived in the neighborhood and told us to get on home. It REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. We came home and got the kids ready for bed (they had eaten a snack supper on the way). We put them to bed and Peyton left to met his friend who was in town again to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I did stuff on the computer, cleaned up, texted with my mom, took a shower and had supper. Peyton got home late and we chatted and went to bed.
This literally makes me laugh out loud. I mean, I hate that her head was hurting. But it makes me think about when I was a senior in COLLEGE and we were planning a family (plus Peyton) trip to New York and Mickey told me "And nobody better be laying in the hotel with rags on their head ordering grilled cheeses from room service". [I did that at least once every vacation.]

Tuesday was a nice relaxing day. We took our time getting up and we couldn't really decide what to do because it was SO hot. We ended up staying home and doing different crafts and stuff. I talked to my friend Mallory and the kids practiced cutting and made some collages.

Peyton took Graves to take something to the storage unit and they walked around a bit while I did school with Annie. I started going through some of their clothes for Fall and then Peyton and the kids went to the park. I put up a bunch of book in their room and met them there. Some friends from home were in the city and texted me about seeing us. They ended up dropping by. We hustled to make the apartment as presentable as possible. When our friends got here, we visited for awhile and then I walked them to the train station. I walked home and talked to Peyton and got on the computer.

Peyton worked on Wednesday and Graves slept super late. Annie got up and got in bed with me and then played a little, but I slept really late. When Graves got up, I got them breakfast and started my day. I planned school, scooped liter and got on the computer. I ate breakfast and then took my shower after they watched their shows. We cleaned up their room and they got dressed. We did their devotion and catechism and I packed them a lunch. We headed to the post office to pick up a package and then to the park. They had lunch and played in the sprinkler. We came home and Graves rested. I ate my lunch and got on the computer and then did school with Annie. 

Graves got up and he did some tracing. We did his critical thinking and read a new Five In a Row book. I cooked them supper. They ate and Annie had a huge melt down because I wouldn't let her have Kool Aid. Ugh. I finally got that diffused and I read to them and got them to bed. I got on the computer until Peyton got home. 

We we on our own again on Thursday. The kids got up a little late (a little before nine) and I got them cereal and we watched their shows. I put them in their room to play and checked email, folded up the couch, scooped liter, had breakfast and took my bath. I played with them some and read, did their devotional, and worked on the catechism. We picked up their room and they had lunch and then Graves took his nap. He took a good one and I ate lunch, got on the computer, took a short nap, and did school with Annie. When he got up we headed to the park even though it was late. The kids had fun and then we came home and did tracing and critical thinking with Graves and read our Five in a Row book. They colored and I fixed supper and then they ate and I got them ready for bed. I read to them and they went to bed pretty quickly. I got on the computur until Peyton got home and we ate supper and talked.

Peyton was off on Friday and we had a good day. We got a lazy start, but since we weren't doing anything until that afternoon we decided to do some things around the apartment that morning. Peyton took the kids to Walgreens to return cans and get money for them and I started laundry. We worked on cutting and tracing with Graves and Annie practiced her letters and then played a little reading game.
The day before, after a tense moment between myself and Ann Peyton, she told me "I miss Papa". I asked her if it was because I had hurt her feelings. She said "Oh Momma, I miss him EVERY day he works". On the particular day we had a nice day at home (so hot and NYC pools are closed!). He taught her tally marks that  morning and worked on various crafts with the kids. She also made a card for Graves this Sunday at church (he was sick) that said "I miss you, Graves". Makes me appreciate even more all the time the four of us get together and the choices I'm thankful we've been given- homeschooling, staying home, being a staff pharmacist. So good to have these people in my life.

Graves's Slow and Steady activity this week- finding where each object goes. Helps to develop eye-hand coordination, matching skills, problem solving, and confidence. 

 I kept working on laundry and then that afternoon we headed out to a clown parade. It was fun for a bit and then the kids wanted to head to the playground.

We played for awhile and got Smash Burger on the way home. Peyton gave the kids showers and got them to bed and I finished laundry. We watched a movie while I folded everything. I got on the computer briefly and went to bed pretty late.

We woke up on Saturday and Annie joined us in bed. Graves was already in our bed from late the night before. Anyway, we had a lazy, snuggly morning. I got up scooped liter and folded up the couch. I had breakfast and got my bath after the kids watched their shows. They had breakfast  and Peyton got his shower and I cleaned up the kitchen- did dishes and swept the floor and tidied a bit. We got ready and headed out. We went by the farmer's market in Fort Greene Park and then headed to a new park we haven't visited in Park Slope. It had an AMAZING playground. We stayed awhile and then got ice cream and came home.
Annie picked her own outfit. It's a 2T and now the dress is a top, the leggings are shorts, and she's still tiny enough to wear things meant for kids three years younger than she is.

Caught her in mid air- no idea how this actually came out. But it makes me think about the time Mickey convinced me he could levitate.

We stopped at Target and again at the farmer's market and then came home. The kids took a shower and then ate supper and Peyton put them to bed. I was so tired and emotional, I ended up falling asleep at eight. I woke up around ten thirty and ate something and talked to Peyton. I called my mom and sent an email and did a few things on the computer. I did my Bible study and read and went to sleep.
It was a wild night party, okay?

We had a fun, full day on Sunday. We woke up later than we meant to and hustled to get ready for church. We packed a lunch to eat afterwards because we were going to a birthday party in Crown Heights a few hours later and didn't want to come all the way home. Church was really great and I enjoyed the sermon a lot. After church, we ate lunch at the park nearby and watched some guys playing soccer. We headed to the playground and killed some time until the party started at the same park. It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast. And I enjoyed visiting with some friends.

Matt the magician (and also the daddy of the little girl's whose birthday it was- so cute!)

I did have a bad headache, though. We got home and I started laundry and did a few things while Peyton helped the kids shower and fixed them supper. I got them to bed and we talked some. Peyton fixed me eggs and grits and we watched a movie. I uploaded pictures on the computer and cleaned up the whole kitchen and scooped liter and unpacked the stroller.
Um, whose dad just built these fabulous Adirondack chairs this weekend? Mick is such a talented handy man!

Aw, man.....Liv Tyler wrapping her leg around Ben Affleck in that passionate hug, singing alone in bedroom about how I could "stay awake just to hear you breathing", and trying to figure out how exactly I could get my best friend to fall in love with me. Gosh, being thirteen was hard.

It was pretty late when I went to bed.

This week we're starting up a few Fall activities and I'm looking forward to that! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Weekly Happenings Post #283 (August 25-31) Saying Goodbye to Minnie and Peyton's Back Injury

So, Minnie left and Peyton hurt his back pretty bad last week. The week was...emotional. To say the least. Peyton's back to normal, though, and I'm dealing with life as usual without my momma. We're fine. We're fine. We're so fine. But last week was HARD. 

Monday was....exhausting. 

Peyton's back had been hurting and he said the night before that he didn't know how he would work on Monday (it was his only day to work while Minnie was here). He got up and went to work, though. The kids got up and ate breakfast and then Minnie played with them for an hour and I went back to sleep. I got up and folded up the couch and talked to Peyton on the phone and just then there was a knock on the door. It was security. Someone in the courtyard had seen the kids jumping on the bed near the window in the spare room (which is a problem why? I guess they could fall into the glass and break it AND the metal child safety bars??). Anyway, I asked the guard if someone said something and he said "yes, please don't be angry with me". I told him of course I wasn't and got dressed and headed down to talk to whomever. The lady that "reported" us was actually really sweet. The guard had already told her that my mom was in the room with them and she said "I just think moms need all the help they can get". I told her how impressed I was with how helpful New Yorkers were and we discussed the kids and her grandkids.

I headed back up and got my shower and picked up a bit around the apartment. Peyton had ended up going to the doctor and coming home around noon. I browned a roast and cut up potatoes and put it in the crock pot.

I had said we'd stick close to home and go to the park near our house and the pizza place we always take people to and maybe walk around the neighborhood a bit. Because, oh wait, the kids had both had diarrhea during the night the night before. Like I got up with Annie several times and finally just took the gate off and Bud was crying because his bottom was raw.

Anyway, it got to be lunch and they hadn't been sick, so we went to get pizza and decided to head to Central Park since my mom wanted to go at some point. I knew it would be sort of a hassle without Peyton and just because Minnie gets stressed pretty easily. We got on the train and she was shocked how long it took. We made it to the park and at first we saw some pretty areas (a bridge I put up a picture of on IG a few weeks ago and a really pretty little path that we'd never found before and Annie loved). She had wanted to see the stream that I had shared a picture of, but I knew it would be hard for me to find. 

[As a sidenote, I've gotten SO much better at the subway and directions on the street, but parks are hard. Because, HELLO, no road signs. And we had done finding things in a park two days in a row at that point. Even still, I'm so much more relaxed when visitors are here when Peyton can guide us around. Peyton had told me that he'd probably be laying low for the rest of Minnie's trip and probably Thursday. Then he had to work Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I totally teared up just thinking about facing all that. Truly hormonal, y'all.]

Well, we started looking for this place called "Sheep Meadow" that Peyton loves to show everyone. It's basically a big field and you can see the Manhattan skyline all around it. So it's kind of surreal- like you're in this huge grassy area but you have the city all around you still. I think it's neat and most people do. Anyway, we got turned around a couple of times (y'all, I am bad at this!) and finally were headed toward it. Minnie goes "I'm getting really tired. And this isn't even that pretty." And of course, that was it. After that she commented that "New Yorkers must be so desperate for green space". I was like um, it doesn't take everyone this long to get to it, Min. 

She apologized later and told me that she was just so tired and teared up a bit. Second time that's happened. She cried when we had to leave Bud the day before to go to the Cloisters and said "I know it's good for him, but Peyton is so hard on him and he's so sensitive." [Peyton had told him if he ran out the door and followed us, he'd gate him in his room.] Poor Minnie, I know this wasn't easy for her. Her and Mickey are just under a lot of stress with the wedding coming up and Minnie has this thing where she makes herself so exhausted she gets physically ill. I wanted to work HARD to avoid that on the trip.

By the time we used a restroom and left the park it was close to six. We had thought about going to Fort Greene Park or even the little playground right near our place to show her, but she was really tired. I explained to Annie and she got upset but did okay. We got on a pretty crowded train and Annie and Minnie were sitting a little way away from me and Graves. We got close to our stop and I motioned to them that it was coming up. It took me awhile to get their attention and the train was crowded and it stressed me out a little. When Annie realized, she got stressed and started trying to get to me. Minnie followed and the train stopped. Well, the train moved and Minnie tried to grab a rail, but missed and fell flat on her face. OMG, y'all. She was fine, but the kids got toppled over and of course Minnie was mortified. Thankfully, nobody was truly hurt. We made it home and she helped me cook brussel sprouts. We had dinner and the kids took showers. I started doing the dishes and she took over. I got the kids to bed and finished in the kitchen. Peyton did go for a short walk and I got on the computer for a bit. He got home and we talked and then went to bed.

Tuesday was Minnie's last full day here. Of course, we didn't have Peyton again. We got an extremely slow start and I picked up around the apartment and got myself ready and did a few morning chores. We were ready to go around one and Annie got so upset- crying and screaming and fussing- about not wearing the shoes I wanted her to wear. Peyton made a point that it was a silly thing to wage war on, but at that point we were so deep into it, I really had to stick to my guns. [I'm not above telling her I was wrong about something, but I know in this situation, even though it was a trivial thing, I needed to stay firm.] Anyway, it broke my heart because she said "Momma, you are so hard on me" and I know that upset Minnie, too. She really has been SUCH a trooper and has picked up a lot of slack from Peyton not being able to help. That's a lot for a five year old. But still, she her behavior was unacceptable. She was SCREAMING in the courtyard. I took her back upstairs to regroup and I discussed leaving her with Peyton. I knew that would ruin the day for me and Minnie as well, though. Minnie pleaded with her with tears in her eyes and told her "I don't have much time left with you" and I thought my heart was breaking. She finally got herself together and I agreed she could wear the shoes she wanted on the way home (she ended up forgetting about them, but I packed them). I was annoyed with myself for even fussing about it in the first place, and I think I partly did it because my mom had mentioned how Peyton was tougher on them than I was and I heard her tell Cookie that Annie just starts to tune up and she (I thought she said I did) will give her anything she wants. Minnie told me later that she was proud of me for standing my ground and that she couldn't do it when I was Annie's age; that she was scared of me and what I'd do. 

Anyway, we finally got on a bus. We did the whole four bus round trip to Crown Heights thing and Minnie got pretty stressed (it can be stressful, I know!).  After bus #1 she started to tear up and said "You really do this by yourself??". I was proud of myself in that moment but sad because I know she'll worry more know that she knows what it takes. In defense of the transit, I had the umbrella stroller instead of the Tula. Thought it would be easier with an extra set of hands. Nope, still a PITA. I'll wear my 29 pound sack of sugar and sweat bullets next time unless P is there. Also, I explained that when he is there we just walk the four miles and she about died.

We finally made it to the Children's Museum. It was crowded and there were pushy big kids, but we had fun. We stayed a few hours and explored and then did the buses again.
Under the sea at the Brooklyn Children's Museum with Minnie. Notice Graves hanging from the seaweed! 

Would you look at this crew? Minnie was a little concerned she was going to get lice. 

Don't let the tough looking pirate fool you.

Think he'll always love being the butterfly...

Brooklyn Block Lab! She's actually gotten more into it than block-loving Bud.

 I had trouble finding the first bus stop and figuring out where exactly to go and I know that was stressful. We made it home, though, and I fixed tacos really quickly. We all ate and I got the kids ready for bed. Minnie read to them and then she talked with me and Peyton. I got on the computer a bit and went to bed. I was super sad about my mom leaving and it was compounded more because I knew we couldn't get out and do a bunch of fun stuff to take my mind off of it because of Peyton's back. 

Minnie was leaving on Wednesday. I didn't sleep too late that day and we just had a nice morning visiting and eating breakfast. Peyton even felt like making pancakes with the kids! We called a car and Minnie left around noon. There were a few tears, but it wasn't a terrible goodbye. The kids had lunch and I put Graves down for a nap. I ate lunch and did some things on the computer and Graves slept for awhile. 
Annie is obsessed with "decorating" pictures on my phone. It's gotten to be a fun thing we do together sometimes these days! The "pink camera app" is her favorite naptime indulgence. 

I laid down for about ten minutes and when he got up we headed out for a walk to Fort Greene Park since Peyton was feeling up to it.

 We got some Cokes and milk at Walgreens on the way home. Peyton decided to bake with the kids again and they made muffins. They ate supper and had showers and we put them to bed. Peyton and I hung out and I read blogs a bit and worked on my Weekly Happenings post. We chatted and went to bed.

We had another good day on Thursday. I decided to just make it a normal day and do school and stuff even though Peyton was home. So the kids got up and I got them breakfast and we watched their shows. I ended up taking awhile to get my morning chores done- I folded up the couch, swept in the den and hallways, cleaned out the liter box and the whole kitty area in the closet, planned school, ate breakfast, got on the computer, and got my bath. We did their devotion and catechism and then cleaned up their room. They did such a great job cleaning up. They ate lunch and Graves had rest time (he never fell asleep). I got on the computer and both the kids were pretty needy and kept calling me for things. I was kind of frustrated. I ate lunch and did school with Annie and then we got ready and headed to Underwood Park. We stayed for a good while and when we came home, the kids ate dinner and we read to them and got them to bed. I read some blogs and worked on a post and we watched the news and ate supper. I did dishes and went to bed. 
Remember when Annie was five months old and the cat was still bigger than her? Timehop does. Thank goodness because I barely do. Sweet little Annie Baby.

Peyton was MUCH better on Friday, but still didn't go into work. I did let him sleep pretty late even though I had a bad headache. Graves got up earlier than usual and had breakfast and then I let him watch a show. He had a second breakfast and watched another show with Annie.
Superman in his slipper sneaks. This guys a trip!

 I decided to skip school stuff and just act like it was a regular day off that day. We got ready and did a few things around the house and then headed out to do some errands. We went by the park and then picked up some specialty mayo for a present to mail and then headed to Target to buy some plastic cups. We stopped on the way home at a new restaurant and got a snack and then picked up some new medicine for Peyton and stopped by Fort Green Park. 
afternoon alfresco dining in BK...yes, please! 

sprinkler rainbow! 

We got home and let the kids watch Beauty and the Beast (Peyton had rented it off Netflix for them). They ate supper and we got them to bed. I spent a LOOOONG time working on my What I'm Into post. It always takes forever and usually I start working on it during naptime or sometimes even a day or two early. Anyway, I worked on that and then ate some supper and went to bed. 

We had a fun day Saturday. We had another relaxing morning and then headed to Central Park. We spent the whole afternoon there, playing in our favorite little stream and laying around in Sheep Meadow. 

We came home and fed and showered the kids and straightened a bit. I read to Annie and Graves and put them to bed and then Peyton and I got take out and watched a movie. I helped my friend Mallory with some blog stuff and then worked on a post and sent an email. 

Sunday started out a little crazy. Graves had an upset stomach again and I had planned to do childcare since Peyton's back was hurting. We were all planning to go, though, until Graves got sick again. Well, I didn't get up early enough (Peyton didn't tell me that I needed to get there early, but he always does so I should have known). Anyway, I hustled to get ready and get Annie ready and we took a different bus that usual. It dropped us off in an unfamiliar area that was sort of desolate and we had to wait about ten minutes for the next bus. We finally got on and made it to church. I had a really fun time doing the kids' ministry. I went outside with a little group and they were so cute. There was a brother and sister that were a little older than Annie and she played with them a bunch. We all helped clean up once church was over and then we headed home. Our bus was really late and it took awhile to get home. 

I helped Peyton with a few things and got Graves down for his nap and Peyton left to meet some friends who are in the city. I got a good bit done during naptime- I had my lunch, read some, uploaded pictures, called my mom, and had a snack. Graves and I woke up right before Peyton got home. We talked and put up groceries and played a bit and then we fed the kids supper. I sent an email and we finished up the movie from the night before (we had to rent it off iTunes and you only have twenty four hours) and then he got the kids to bed. I got on the computer for a bit and picked up around the house and then we ate supper and watched the news. 

Having Minnie here was so much fun and I miss her terribly, but like I said, we're getting back into the normal swing of things. And before I know it, it'll be October and time for our trip home! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September Happenings

This header was super fun to create. I don't love the colors, but the quote really speaks to me. I struggle sometimes with how much I love this place and how hard it will be to leave while at the same time knowing in my heart we are not meant to be here forever. I also thought it was fun to jazz it up a bit. And I do love the pictures a whole lot.

August was great- we had Claire visit, we frequented lots of parks, we had a visit from Minnie, and we just enjoyed Summer!

September looks fun:

- Annie's starting a new ballet class.

- I think we're going to try to find some kind of activity for Graves as well.

- We're getting together with our friends who live in Long Island.

- The church we attend in the evenings in going to be starting back up after (that service) being on hiatus for the month of August.

- I'm going to try to get my hair cut =)

I'm glad it's pretty low key because October is going to be intense with our trip home to Mississippi!

I didn't do great with my goals at all this month. I'm giving myself grace because we had a good bit going on with our two different visitors.  Here were my August goals:

1. Do a Bible study with Peyton (consistently). Well, we did it, but not consistently. To be honest, I didn't do it myself consistently either. Not great. 

2. Start and finish one book. Nope. Still working on that.

3. Clean up (and back up) my blog(s). Cleaned up (new pictures on the sidebar!) but not backed up.

4. Plan Minnie's trip. Did that and we had a blast.

5. Soak up the last month of Summer in the city (maybe forever). I think we did a pretty good job of this!

6. Write with intention and consistency. I didn't really do as well with this as I wanted to, but I did alright.

Oh and I never do this, but I added a goal:

September goals:
1. Spend time together with Peyton in prayer/reading the Bible/discussing our Bible studies. As I said, I'm leaving it on here until it happens on the regular. It's really embarrassing for me we don't do a better job and it's something I truly want to work on.

2. Finish the book I'm reading and start a new one. I don't think that'll be too bad.

3. Plan for trip to Mississippi. This is actually a pretty big one. I want to go ahead and pencil in the people we're going to try to see on the calendar- I feel like if we don't either we'll get really stressed out and try to do too much or we'll just be sitting on the couch staring at each other because we didn't make plans at all. I also need to make a packing list. I need to make a list of things I want to accomplish while we're there. And I want to make sure to have everything ready for Cookie's wedding!

4. Start Annie's math curriculum. I'm actually planning on doing that this week!

5. (Mostly) change over the kids' closet. I'm going to wait until closer to the end of the month (it's hotter now than it's been all Summer) but I want to have it mostly done when we leave for our trip.

6. Find and purchase the kids' Fall wardrobe, as much as possible fair trade. I actually had put this as a goal I accomplished last month, but I realized I still had a few things I needed to add. This is a whole post to itself, but I thought a fun challenge would be to try my best to buy all the kids' clothes for Fall and Winter fair trade. It wasn't easy and it was pricey, but I really worked hard not to buy in excess and I think I've pretty much got things covered. I'm going to write a big post about it sometime soon!

7. I already started this and it feels funny to call it a goal- but it is in some ways. Anyone who reads this blog and follows me on Facebook knows how passionate I've become over issues of systemic racism. Well, I realized there is one small thing I can do. Every time I pass a black man on the street I'm going to look him in the eye and say "hello". I feel like I'm pretty friendly in general but like anyone here and I can get caught up in the rush. Or I can sometimes let me lack of comfort dictate my actions. Or sometimes it can just feel awkward. Those are crappy excuses and I want to do this small thing as a way of saying "I'm not afraid of you".

8. Attend a write-in with Gotham Writers at least once. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but haven't made it a priority.

Here's to September, a month where we say goodbye to Summer activities and anticipate Fall's arrival. May it be a month of preparation in many ways- preparing our hearts for home, preparing our bodies for cold, preparing our minds for the effort the Winter months entail, and, as always, preparing our souls to seek the Lord. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sideblog: Sun Scorched Pavement and the Beauty of a Brooklyn Summer

I wrote (I think) for the last time about how wonderful Summer has been here over at Belles and Beaux. So many things combined to make this Summer amazing and unforgettable. Join me over there:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Letter to (Three Year Four Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves, 

It's been a great month for you. You've had so much fun in the city. If I had to guess, I'd say your top three adventures have been:
- seeing the suits of armor at The Met
- almost weekly trips to Coney Island for fireworks and food and rides
- discovering some fabulous playgrounds at Brooklyn Bridge Park

We also got your hair cut by the Russian barber again. Ouch. It was a liiiiitle short. Thankfully it's growing. Minnie requested I get you and Papa both haircuts mid July so that you guys would have a solid three months before Cookie's wedding to let their Southern shags grow.

People ask me quite a bit about your clothes- "What do you call those things anyway?" "...When President Kennedy was in the White House and JFK, Jr. was tiny..." If I had a dollar for every time I've had this conversation in the last six months, I'd have...probably a lot more jon jons for you =)

You're such a little boy, but so big. One night at church you sang the hymns (you pointed to the band and said "I'm their big helper") and repeated the creed (the congregation said "on the third day, He rose again" and Graves said "One day, He rose again" in his bitty voice). Then you walked from church to the train and from the train to the apartment. (Obviously that was after Papa joined us.) Some days he seems so little, some days so big.

(BTW, you say that you'll be "Baby Graves" until you're five. THEN we can call you just Graves.)

I was talking to Miss Carrie recently about how you still seem like such a baby. She said she feels the same way about Alaina and it's just because (right now!) you two ARE our babies. I wonder if I'll ever stop. I guess if you end up with a younger brother or sister. We'll have to see :)

You are my funny guy. The other morning I was taking a bath and had you and Annie gated in your room. Annie needed a potty break and then I hear you say "Next monkey coming up!". How fitting! 

Also, apparently spaghetti sauce plus noodle plus milk yields "dragon sauce". You told me it's "pretty messy" and I'd say you're right, as I found some in your EAR.

You love to make up songs. Your best one to date has been a song involving Joseph of The Bible being thrown into a well, then killed, and now living in Harlem. 

You are as sweet as your are funny, though. You love to snuggle, you miss people when they leave, and you feel sad when you see other people hurting (physically or emotionally).

You're such a momma's boy and I wouldn't have it any other way. You had a tiny cut on your hand awhile back and you told me "Sometimes little boys get hurt. And sometimes they need their momma to feed them supper." 

Also, you love this The Very Hungry Caterpillar movie we found on Netflix. In it's there's a "sad cricket" who is noticeably in a bit of emotional pain because he can't make noise. You cry over him every time. Peyton said he's not sure what he'll do if we're three for four in Highly Sensitive People.

A few weeks ago we dropped a stroller off at Papa's store. You were so sad to have to leave HIM there.  "Why Papa stay at work....waaaah?!?" intense sobs on the train. I took a pictures and you seemed so little. Almost worth it for you to look like a one year old again.

Listen, there's some skills we've got to work on, though. It's one thing when you have a hard time not pooping in your britches. It's a complete other when you do an art project in your room with their contents and your momma is still unearthing evidence of it HOURS later.

That's only happened once lately and by and large, you are doing really good with potty training. 
  • You are such a BOY, though. A week or so ago you had a nosebleed because, to quote you, "I picked it WAY too hard". My goodness. 
You've also peeled a few large patches of the (admittedly cheap) paint off the wall. 

Sweetness covers a multitude of mischievous acts, though. I went in your room during naptime to help you with something awhile back and you said:
 "Momma, I'm so happy." 
SD: "That's wonderful why are you so happy, Bud?"
 G: "Because you're in here with me." 
God, in his graciousness, has been so sweet to allow one of the most difficult stages with you to be one of the most tender. Every day I'm reminded what delight is found in being your momma.

One of my favorite things in the world is sending AP to wake you up when your nap is getting too late- "Wake up, little Gravesy Graves" she says to you. I said this in her monthly post, but it is so obvious the love she has for you and you for her. It's truly one of the greatest blessings of my life. 

She also likes to "read" to you. One day at naptime you weren't sleeping so she started reading you a story she wrote, "Annie and Graves's Big Adventure". I heard her say "And every day he'd go outside and look for the magical carpet..."

You are such a wonderful gift and such a joy every day. I know sometimes I take that for granted and I want to focus on how special these days are. 

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your little bubble (which is hardly visible) is a 2T. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

What I'm Into: August

This month is sort of like May- I feel like I don't have as much to share as far as what we've been eating, watching, and reading. I realized that, just like in May, we've had two different visitors and so we've just been focused on other things. To our immense delight! I also decided as I was looking through my phone pictures from the past month that I wanted to add a new section to these posts (Around the City). 

On the Nightstand:
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 

As always, it's just so great. It really is hands down my favorite devotion book I've ever done. So often it's just the words I need. 

Immersion Bible Study: Mathew- J. Ellsworth Kallas
Truthfully, I haven't gotten very far in this. One of my goals for this month was for Peyton and I to do our Bible studies together and discuss. That happened more than it has in the past few months that it's been a goal, but truth be told, I didn't really get very far in it myself. 

I've started this and am about halfway finished. It's actually a really fast read (while still being quite powerful) and I've probably only sat down with it three or four times, but I knocked out twenty pages really quickly each of those times. 

On Their Nightstand: 

We made it through our ginormous stack of library books we got towards the end of last month (it's been so busy we haven't been back)!
Our favorites:
- I loved The Chicken-Chasing Queen from Lamar County. It's CLEARLY a book very much inspired by the South. If you can't tell from the cover, you will be able to by the first page. It's a cute story about a little girl who chases chickens and the charm is in how vividly the author writes, her wonderful use of rural Southern dialect and colloquialisms, and the word pictures she paints.
- I got The Monster Who Lost His Mean specifically for Graves and he really enjoyed it. A little monster loses his "m" and can't be mean anymore and he ends up becoming a great friend to human children who celebrate his kindness. It was really clever and sweet at the same time.
- Annie LOVED The Great Big Book of Feelings. It was one of my picks for her because I'm trying to really help her learn to identify and name her emotions in a more grown up way. I had no idea what a hit it would be, though. We read it multiple times.
- She was also a big, big fan of What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World. It showed children from different cultures all over the world in their different attire. It was really interesting!
- I also picked up this specific Bible for children, because, while we have a plethora of children's Bibles, I was captivated by the illustrations in this one. Every single page was full of people of color. Which is, you know, what first century Jerusalem and ancient Israel were full of. That said, I was a little disappointed by the text. Nothing heretical or anything, but it was choppy and short and didn't flow as well as I would have liked it to. 

On the Shelf:
Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World- Nish Weiseth
I added this to a recent Amazon order, just because I couldn't not. Nish founded A Deeper Story, one of my favorite blogs of all time and she's a pretty great storyteller in her own right. Can't wait for it.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
I only watched one movie this month:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty- Peyton said it best on Facebook, if you like movies that inspire romance (not romanticism) about life this one is for you. It basically follows a guy who has a pretty boring day to day existence and is constantly living in a fantasy world of what his life COULD be like. He ends up going on a truly epic real life adventure and it's just really captivating. The cinematography and soundtrack are FABULOUS and the plot line is interesting without being too complex. It was also neat in that it's a (secular) movie for adults that is rated PG. Peyton and I don't get too worked up over that, but I know to some people it's an area of conviction. It had VERY little language, no sex, and the only violent scene (I remember) was a fanciful interaction involving a Stretch Armstrong figurine. AND it wasn't remotely corny.

On the Small Screen:
...and hardly any TV. In fact, nothing but my standard Nightly News. 

In My Ears:

My August playlist

Around the House:
Nothing interesting. It got deep cleaned twice for the visitors. That's about it. 

Oh and this:
It took a great deal of strategizing, but I figured out how to get the fancy new double, the faithful old single, the incredibly functional twenty dollar umbrella, our four cleaning tools I pared it down to in February, and the ironing board in our coat closet. Plus, as a bonus, quite a few coats. Pretty sure it's my biggest #tinyspacegiantlove achievement to date! [More on the fancy new dble later.]

In the Kitchen:
Again, not much worth sharing. I've been cooking all our old staples. Both times we had house guests I cooked:
- Italian chicken with roasted broccoli and orzo
- Tacos
- A delicious seasoned roast from Trader Joe's with potatoes (once with cabbage, once with brussel sprouts). Worth noting- it gave directions for the oven and the crock pot. I cooked it in the crock pot and it was falling off our forks to die for. I cooked it in the oven and it was so tough and chewy it was almost inedible. I hate that it turned out great for my mom and awful for our sweet babysitter/friend from home who I would rather impress ;)
- I also cooked spaghetti while Claire was here and we've had fish and BBQ chicken. I've decided I really don't like the fish we get from the fish market here, so we may just take a break from it or try to find it elsewhere.

I can't take any credit for these, but gosh are they good. Peyton likes to bake with the kids. I married a good man, y'all. 

In My Closet:

I love this shirt dress. It's like a very lightweight denim with tiny pinstripes. I seriously probably wear it almost weekly in the Summer. 

While Claire was here, Peyton and I went out on one really nice date. This is one of my favorite dressier dresses. It's SO easy and comfy and it looks dressy, but still fun to me with a silky feel and polka dots and ruffles. 

Again, this dress is so wearable. I've had it forever, but it's so easy. I like that it's a little funky and I usually wear it when I want to be bright (a festival, concert, ect.). I have this awesome jersey knit sweater thing (it's not really a sweater because it feels like a t-shirt) and that worked perfectly over it for one of our trips to Coney Island. 

This was Cookie's old dress and while I love it, I've haven't ever found the right occasion for it. I love a print, but with the puff sleeves and short length, it's a bit much for a lot of almost thirty year old mom occasions. But seeing Rock of Love on Broadway? SUUUUURE. 

Romper room! This was another fabulous investment from the kids' section at Target (mine, AP's came from the toddler section). It's so comfy, but cute. I like it when I'm not in the mood for a dress but want something more than a pair of denim shorts.

In Their Closets:
Annie hasn't worn this dress a lot this Summer and I don't know why. I love it. So simple with just the pink gingham and green seersucker straps. It's a favorite and I've been making up for lost time this month! 

I adore this jon jon! They traced their bodies in children's church and one of the sweet helpers decorated Graves's outfit! 

Can't go wrong with Babar! I'm going to be so sad when he truly outgrows it (soon!).

Superman in his slipper sneaks! 

This is another favorite dress of Annie's that she hasn't worn that much. I guess she's mostly just worn rompers except to church. Anyway, I love the big plaid and rick rack. And I've gotten to where I adore Graves in shorts and a t-shirt like that with his Saltwaters. Good thing because I think we're only doing jon jons for church next year. 

In My Mailbox:
An invite to a shower for my sister that I can't go to, a flyer for a consignment sale in Mississippi...ugh, living the dream can be hard somethings. 

In My Cart:

While Claire was here we went to a street fair and there was a booth with smocked kids' clothes(?!?). Some of the best prices I've seen for new stuff. Annie loved the blue dress on the left and it was so cute how she was "shopping" along with me. I do NOT love it (I don't think it's heinous, but I never would have picked it). But Peyton had just been talking to me about giving her some autonomy in picking out what she wears (like what to buy, not from her closet). So we got it. It was just $10, but it was $10 I really didn't want to spend. But afterwards it felt so good knowing she had picked out her very own dress to buy and take home for the first time.

This past weekend at the Flea, I wandered over to a booth I like and had bought a few things for the kids from last August on our trip. I checked tags and was SO excited to see "made in the USA". I called Peyton (he had taken the kids home to potty) and he said be sure to ask about the actual fabric. I was a little discouraged but did and the lady working told me "Yes, we care a lot about fair trade practices, too". I visited with her some and found out that she designs the patterns and that this is basically their "outlet" store at the flea ($56 knit dresses marked down to $25). Annie arrived back at the flea and I shared with her what I had found, held them up to her, and started eliminated. She had a favorite "Cinderella" dress that wasn't necessarily my favorite. Anyway, the lady said "I'll give you a good deal". She ended up just giving me a knit top and the dress she saw Annie admiring. Then she totaled it up to be $150 and said "we'll do $120". So we have part of the kids fair trade duds for Fall and I'm even more of a lifelong fan of Winter Water Factory!

Peyton bought me these great old lady glasses at the Brooklyn Flea and I was ecstatic! 

This is the BIG one and it wasn't even in any "cart" (of ours)! Peyton got home from a Trader Joe's trip last week and he had a four hundred dollar stroller he found on the sidewalk with a "please take me sign". We washed the cloth parts, Lysoled, and (because he's paranoid) sprayed for mites. The seat in the back is really for a little baby but Peyton (who is the primary double stroller pusher) thinks it's SO smooth and easy to push. Also: (this is so Peyton) he told Annie "I would have never spent that much money on you and Bud, but this thing is great". SweetieMcFrugal.

Around the City:
This has been such a fun month! I'm really sad to see Summer go! Some of our favorites this month: 

We love this place. The kids are OBSESSED and it just feels like such a quintessential New York Summer activity. They do a (really awesome) free firework show every Friday in the Summer and we pretty much go weekly for it. Since we're there EVERY week we let the kids pick one ride each time. When Claire was here, I did the huge orange roller coaster. When Minnie was here I showed her and she screamed hysterically and said "Oh my Lord! You are a MOTHER." Hahaha. 

There's just so much to explore! Annie and Graves look like a little country boy and girl to me in this picture, but they are right in the middle of Manhattan. The park is so pretty and I don't think we'll ever find all it's treasures! 

This place has some amazing themed playgrounds (Slide Mountain and Sandbox Village pictured below). It's also got some great eats, a beautiful view of the bridge and the Manhattan skyline, a pop up pool (which we never did take advantage of) and a roller skating rink (didn't get to that either). 

So another thing that the piers offer is a two dollar round trip ferry ride on weekend to Govenors Island. Another really cool place! There are TONS of food trucks with really eclectic artisan treats, a mini goof course, tons of green space, different historical demonstrations, and a "hammock cove". Plus this mindblowing treehouse! 

The Cloisters are part of The Met. It's way, way up in Manhattan but it's worth the trip. The grounds themselves are just lovely and it's all art from the Medieval period brought to America years ago. There are also gardens that are replicas of those from that time in Europe. Really beautiful and interesting. It was sort of a bucket list item for Minnie so Annie and I took her up there. Notice the unicorn slaying tapestry.

The Brooklyn Children's Museum is currently featuring a "block lab" exhibit. There are so many different kinds of blocks of all different sizes. Annie has loved it even more than Graves, who is an avid block builder. It's a nice air-conditioned (unlike our apartment) venue. 

A little al fresco dining in Brooklyn at Habana Outpost. Seriuosly. So cute. So good. So kid-friendly. And beautiful sunshine. Nothing not to love. [Really good guac and fish tacos, truly amazing roasted corn.]

Peyton and I also walked around our block while Minnie was here and stumbled into Maggie Brown. We sat in the "yard" which was pretty perfect. It's not exactly Southern food, but it's good "home cooking". I got a fish sandwich, which I shouldn't have done, but it sounded interesting. And the fried pickles were a little spicy but good. Overall, I just loved the atmosphere. 

On My Heart:
- Minnie left this week and having her hear made me miss her (and home!) so much. I've been thinking about October and how emotional I know our visit home will be. 
- Peyton and I have been talking a lot about the future- if/when we'll have more children, schooling for the two we do have, career possibilities for Peyton, the prospect of moving out of the suburbs and into the city once we get back in Mississippi, and a few other things. It's a lot to think about!  

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying about October. That the trip won't be super stressful and that we can make the most of our time in Mississippi. 
- I'm praying over Cookie's upcoming wedding, and (much!) more importantly, marriage.  
- Honestly, I've been praying over silly things that have me worried (not even in an fear/anxiety way but more in a just stressed out way)- "Lord, if this (seemingly silly, inconsequential thing) happens, please help me to let it go and not focus too much energy on it". 
- Henri (Nouwen) is talking a lot about "peace" in his book and I've been thinking about peace- peace abroad the every day tragedy involving ISIS and Israel/Palestine, but also on American soil in regards to Ferguson. I want my heart geared toward peace in every way possible and the only way that will happen is by prayer. 
On the Calendar: 

It looks like September is going to be supper low key, which is great because October will be busy with a big trip home! 

As always, I'm linking up with Leigh. Go check out some other What I'm Into posts!

What I'm Into