Sunday, March 11, 2018

Healthy Ambitions: 2017 Goals Recap

So, now that we're well into March 2018 I wanted to give an update on my 2017 goals.

Here was what I wrote about them initially:

As I shared, my word for 2017 is well. So that, of course, is what I'm trying to structure many of my 2017 goals around.

I want to do simple, silly things that it feels ridiculous to be in my thirties and not be doing (like washing my face before bed). I want to do things for my physical health (like figuring out how to get on top of my headaches) and I want to do things for my mental health (like making sure I don't get isolated and finding the balance between some personal, introvert time and pushing myself to engage and even initiate). And I want to  do things for my physical health (like exercising and prioritizing sleep) that also help keep me mentally healthy. Honestly, when I think about it, there's not a physical thing on this list that won't help me get, and stay, in a better place mentally.

I really liked my focus areas last year so I'm keeping them and adding adding a new category at the end. My eleventh focus area is

Half the list is repeats- some need more work and some are things that are on-going and I want to remind myself to keep including them in my monthly goaling. They may well appear year after year.

Focus Areas for 2017:
1. Faith
2. Family
3. Relationships
4. Health
5. Creativity/Passion
6. Education/Edification
7. Organization
8. Travel
9. Finances
10. Joy/Gratitude

I want to focus on God's unconditional love and live a life aware of his grace.
1. Join Northside. I did this on the very first day of 2017 and it was one of the most important things I've done recently.
2. Get in the habit of reading a devotion in the morning and in the evening. I did this with varying levels of success throughout the year. It didn't become the habit I wanted it to, though.
3. Search for God in the everyday. This is harder to measure, but I like to think I did this well. My Sunday reflections did seem to help me be more intentional with this.
4. Study the Bible more. Hmm, probably more than in the last couple of years, but still not the way I wanted to.
5. Alternatively, simply read the Bible more. This (i.e. reading the Bible without a commentary, Bible study, ect. along side it) I did not do and really want to do.
6. Ponder the mysteries of faith. I'll be honest- the myseries are hard for me right now and I haven't engaged with that part of my faith much lately. I make no excuses and I think it's been a good, healthy thing.

I want to value those closet to me and help them to feel how valued they are.
7. Maximize the time Peyton and I spend together. I think we've REALLY grown in this way. We've done better about spending time together and it's been so good for us.
8. Set specific goals for the children. I've done this some, especially with regards to school and it's been a good discipline.
9. Further cultivate relationships with Cookie and Peyton's siblings. I do think I've gotten closer to Cookie and my sister in law this past year, but we haven't done a lot with Peyton's brothers.
10. Observe my family member's unique personalities, gifts, and weaknesses and use that knowledge to serve them. This is something I love to do and I think I've done quite well with it.
11. Practice patience and flexibility. I certainly have tried. I think having three kids (especially at very different stages) has grown both my patience and flexibility tremendously.

I want to elevate people above activities, obligations, and most importantly possessions.
12. Prioritize people over "accomplishing things". I hope so. I've worked really hard on this and I think I've improved in this area of my life.
13. Spend time with people in ways that are meaningful and that make sense. Yes! I've really been evaluating how I use my time and that's been so helpful.
14. Send snail mail more frequently. No. Save a couple of exceptions, not at all.
15. Prioritize our children's friendships. This I have done terribly. And it's SO important to me. It's hard to work around ours and our friends' schedules but I want to make more of an effort.
16. Refuse to allow myself to get isolated. Some months I did really well and some months I failed horribly.
17. Find  the balance between introvert time and social time. Same thing- some months were good and some months were bad.
18. Be proactive in connecting with people. I'm learning how to do this. It is not easy for me.

I want to form long term, sustainable habits that will help me become, and stay, physically and mentally well.
19. Work on altering my lifestyle to try to significantly decrease my headaches. Running did seem to help and then I stopped running. SO dumb and something I plan to do this spring.
20. Go see a doctor (or doctors) about these headaches. No. Also something I plan to do this spring.
21. Establish patterns of silence and stillness in my day. I definitely did not do this and I would have been really well served by it, I think.
22. Get in some sort of exercise routine. As I mentioned above, I did this and then quit. So stupid.
23. Continue to make more and more healthy food choices. I actually think I have made small, lasting improvements here.
24. Cut back on sugar and caffeine. But I still suck in some (these) areas.
25. Eat a big breakfast on the days when Peyton is home. Yes! He is so good to me to provide that gift.
26. Wear sunscreen daily. I didn't do this.
27. Wash my face every morning and every night. Or this.
28. Color occasionally. Very occasionally.
29. Burn seasonal candles. Yes! Such a simple pleasure.

I want to make time and space for the things that make me feel happy and alive.
30. Search for, and surround myself with, inspiration. I do think I've done a pretty good job with this.
31. Determine which hobbies and passions are worthy of my time and how much time is appropriate to devote to them in this season. I do think I've really focused in on what I care about and that's been a gift to myself.
32. Continue to write regularly. No. And that's been one of the biggest punishments I've heaped on myself.
33. Submit my writing to publications (online or otherwise) I admire. No! But I actually did reach out to someone about this literally today.
34. Enjoy Instagram as an outlet, while not letting it become consuming. I think I've figured out ways to do this but damn, that algorithm is so stupid.
35. Try to get dressed for the day more frequently. I did okay during certain seasons and terrible in others (read: winter). 

I want to be a life long learner and model this well for my children.
36. Read three memoirs. Nope. I read one, I think
37. Study personality theory. Not at all.
38. In addition to my devotions (a few minutes each), daily read Scripture and spend at a minimum fifteen minutes reading something else interesting (that's not online). Nope. Definitely did not happen.
39. Most days. read aloud to the children for half an hour (combined) at a minimum. Though I do think this did and many days we went over this.
40. Work hard to complete books that I start (assuming I am enjoying them). Hmm, not so great.
41. Read at least two books with Peyton. Nope.
42. Participate in quarterly book club. Yes- though we are not very consistant.
43. Watch five documentaries. I didn't do this.
44. Find and listen to podcasts more frequently. I didn't in 2017, but interestingly I've really gotten into them this year.
45. Learn exactly one new skill that I can do with my hands. No. And I'm not sure I care at all.
46. Teach myself how to use this the curling wand Cookie gave me for Christmas. No. I really do want to do this.

I want to create, and maintain, more physical and mental space.
47. Continue to improve my time management skills. I do think I've made improvements, but I really can't articulate what they are.
48.  Back up everything on the computer and wipe it out. YES. Another huge gift to myself. Especially since the thing ended up biting the dust with no warning.
49. Get back in the habit of organizing pictures when I upload them. Still struggling with this one.
50. Organize pictures into Facebook albums a couple of times a month. I didn't do this at all and I really want to.
51. Continue to purge our possessions. This is an on going thing, but I did work really hard at it last year.
52. Make time each week to plan activities for the coming week, plan school for the coming week, and plan meals for the coming week. Most of the time, I did. And when I did not, it was very obvious (and painful)
53. Be very discriminating in the activities we commit to and the purchases we make. Yes, for the most part, and it felt very good.
54. Figure out ways to make cooking more manageable and organized. Mainly, for me, this means keeping our favorites on heavy rotation. They are simple and tasty and we haven't gotten sick of them yet.
55. Become more systematic in my approach to my wardrobe. I think I've become more purposeful, systematic may need to be a repeat goal.
56. Further improve my notebook/listmaking systems. Yes. I feel like this is a whole post to itself, but I've gotten even more into list making and I think it's helped me stay more organized than I would be otherwise.

I want to enjoy the beautiful world God has created.
57. Plan extremely well for our month long trip to New York. We did plan pretty well and it was still hard. Which I think is to be expected with two school aged children and an infant. But I don't think we adequately mentally prepared ourselves.
58. Enjoy our month in New York and find ways to experience as little stress as possible in an unfamiliar (in some ways, for some of us) setting. That said, I think we enjoyed it as much as we possibly could have given what we had to work with.
59. Take frequent trips to the farm to camp and play and visit Peyton's parents, who are moving down there. Again, this is one of those things where we did well in some seasons and in others did not.

I want to live simply and not let money dominate my thinking.
60. Stay within the parameters Peyton and I set for my discretionary spending. I did this AND DID NOT COMPLAIN. Which I was pretty proud of.
61. Be very intentional about staying on top of documenting my spending. I stayed on top of it but I didn't document as much as I would have liked to.
62. Continue to zero in on my "strategies" as far as spending money. I did this somewhat, but I could have done a lot more.
63. Treat myself to once a month Target visits and dollar bin splurges (under $20 for the whole trip). This was such a fun little luxury!
64. Treat myself to one eating out experience alone each month. I did this only occasionally and what a blessing it was. I need to do it more.
65. Purge socks and sports bras and buy new ones to restock. I didn't do it last year but I did do it recently.

I want to cultivate a spirit of joy and experience gratefulness for all I've been given.
66. Be vulnerable in telling others how thankful I am for them. I really tried to do this and I think I was pretty successful. The more you do it, the more natural it feels!
67. Surround myself with words, music, and people that bring joy. Yes, for the most part. I think on all three counts, I could stand to do it more.
68. Challenge myself to hold things loosely. I feel like I'm improving a lot in this area. Stuff doesn't mean nearly as much to me and the things that do are fewer and farther between. I'm learning with all three of my kids to let go and let them grow up and that's a hard, but beautiful, thing to watch.

So that's it- I'm going to try to come up with my new list sometime before April =)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: On Whom He Looks in Mercy Down

How great our God's majestic Name!
His glory fills the earth and sky.
His praise the heavenly host proclaim,
eternal God and Lord most high.

His fingers set the moon in place,
the stars their Maker's hand declare;
in earth and sky alike we trace
the pattern of His constant care.

And what of us? Creation's crown,
upheld in God's eternal mind;
on whom He looks in mercy down
for tender love of humankind.

His praise the heavenly host proclaim
and we His children tell His worth:
how great is God's majestic Name,
His glory seen in all the earth! 

We were studying the Crusades and last week I was reading to Annie about how the Pope told the Christian knights that their sins would be forgiven if they took Jerusalem from the Muslims. She said "They were already forgiven, though, because of Jesus". It wasn't some profound sentiment, just a simple statement really- something she could have said five or six years ago, even. But I'm so glad she believes it and that it was her first thought. 

And bonus picture of the five o'clock picnic with neighbor friends (and our Christmas tree, geez). Kept Sallie home from church and then let the neighbor girl tote her all around. Whoops. To be fair, she seemed great that day but she'd woken up every morning this week with gunky nose after seeming like she'd rebounded the day before. But I just can't do it if I don't have my ducks in a row the night before. Anyway, I told Annie that if she was still sick this week, we'd just go to Sunday school and I'd take her to my class. PTL she's better!

Friday, March 9, 2018

On Baby Brushes and Routines with Sissy

One of the most special items in the world to me right now is this tiny pink baby brush of Sallie's that was mine thirty something years ago. 

It's such simple thing but it represents so much (so many things are like that to me and to be honest, it's probably my "Spark Joy" and how I should evaluate if I even hang onto a thing or not). Sallie's (originally mine and then Annie's- baby brush). She's got little girl hair now- enough to brush, finally!- but has absolutely no need for a legitimate brush.

Lately, my big kids feel so....big. I've said it before, but Sallie's the only one I feel like I can keep clean and looking well cared for for more than a minute. I want them to enjoy the backyard and crafting and get dirt under their little finger nails, but I'm really enjoying that Sallie doesn't do that just yet.

So, every night after her bath, I brush her soft, sweet hair. It's one of my favorite caretaking tasks with her. I love it because it's a little thing that honestly isn't really that necessary right now, so it feels good to go a little further than I have to in caring for her. It feels like spoiling her with attention and affection in a way that's not going to ever make her entitled because, unlike a lot of other ways, spoiling someone- especially a baby- with those two things is never really a bad idea. And actually, it's a little bit of a grace to myself. To slow down enough to do it. To take the time to sniff that little freshly shampooed head and remind myself few things are as important in that moment.

The routines feel maybe even more important with her than they did with Annie and Graves (and they were super important to me then). I don't always make time to just organically plop down and read her a book or have a "visit" with her (though I do feel like she and I have a running dialogue ALL DAY LONG). On the rare occasions I have just her with me, it's such a joy. But that's not most of the time. So our little routines feel like good anchors in our relationship, things I know that I'll remember to indulge in because they've become habit and I'd feel strange not doing them.

I'm grateful for a silly pink brush, ordinary caretaking tasks, anchoring routines, and most of all my sweet Sallie Girl. Also, my own flower power Wet Brush from Min.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2017

So I mentioned awhile back that this was the first year I really felt disappointed in my writing/blogging. And I do still feel that way. There were months where I didn't create much of substance at all and that doesn't feel good to me. But, when I decided I would go ahead and do this round up for myself, I was a bit more satisfied than I expected to be. I've definitely changed how I write and what I write about and it's become harder work to prioritize this space, but I enjoyed looking back and it made me excited for the year ahead. Also, this was SO much easier to put together than in the past because each month I picked my favorite posts in my What I'm Into post. So this is mostly just copied and pasted from those.

In January, I actually wrote a lot, which is kind of my habit. I did my usual yearly posts and I wrote two very important posts about Sallie- one about her birth that was six months in the making and one about our initial moments and days with her.
In the Gentle Evening Breeze: 2016 Year In Review- I always LOVE writing these Year in Review posts and looking back
The Best of In the Warm Hold (and Elsewhere): 2016- The "best ofs" are fun to compile as well.
Healthy Ambirtions: 2017 Goals- And I had a great time coming up with and sharing my goals for the new year
When Something Important Feels Imperfect: Thoughts on a Last Birth- This may be the most important post I wrote last year. In fact, I think I can now confidently say that it was. I worked on it for so long and I was so glad to finally release it into the world.
This Is the Story of How We Begin to Remember: Meeting Sallie- And I needed to tell this part of the story, too.

I spent a lot of time doing mundane catch up posts in February, but I did write one special post.
This Land Was Made for You and Me: 2016 Herrington Family Roadtrip Adventure
It was fun to look back over our camping trip and I realized that the memories had become very special to me already.

In March, I was again really trying to hammer away at things and was honestly almost exclusively catching up on my Weekly Happenings posts so there's really not a lot to link to.

April was our month in NYC, so I wrote some reflections on that.
Belles and Beaux Back in Brooklyn: Reflections on Getting Here and Getting Settled
I shared our initial (eventful) first few days.
Belles and Beaux Back in Brooklyn: Reflections on the First Half of the Month
And then here I reflected on the first two-ish weeks.

I wrote a final reflection on the trip in May and also a short one on motherhood.
More Than Enough- I wrote about how I don't read to Sallie near as much as I did to the other two when they were babies and how I just don't have the mental energy in some ways.
Belles and Beaux Back in Brooklyn: Reflections on the Second Half of the Month- I wrote my last reflection post about our month back in BK.

I didn't write just a ton on the blog in June, but what I did felt very...emotional. God was very gracious and Sarah Lamar turning one wasn't nearly as tough as I had prepared myself for, but just about everything felt sentimental and bittersweet.
Just a short little post and a slideshow to celebrate Sallie's birthday. 
A Most Undignified Honor
I wrote a tiny little post reflecting on Sallie's birth, which was such a profound event in my life.
When Carrying More of the Load Becomes an Extra Gift
I wrote this post about the little bonus gift that mothering Sarah Lamar the way I have has been.
Just a C&P of a poem I adore along with a picture I took of Annie that I fell in love with.

In July, I started a couple of new little series on the blog, which were really just ways of reflecting on things (my faith and mental health, mostly).
If I Did Things Differently
This was a prompt a friend and I discussed and I wanted to share it on the blog.
Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: How Great Is He Who Has Made All Things Well
I decided it would be fun to share weekly my little Sunday pictures and hymn lyrics and reflections that I put on IG and I decided that it made sense to make it its own post.
Postpartum Check In: One Year Out
This was my last one and it was a little bittersweet.
Monthly Mental Health Check In: July 2017
I decided to start this series to replace my PP posts. It has been a good place to process.

August was another dry month. Between a bit of sickness, getting into a real school routine, and some travel, I didn't blog near as much as I wanted to. Mostly it was the kids' letters that P wrote, some Sunday pics and reflections, and my mental health check in.

In September it was more of the same, but I did share one special post.
This Summer I Went Swimming
I wrote a bit about how special Briarwood is to me and put together a little slideshow since I had so many pictures from the pool that I loved.

October was more of the usual- Sunday posts and a mental health check in. I did write ONE additional, interesting (to me) post.
Annie Gets Dressed/Buddie Gets Dressed: Spotlight on Winter Water Factory
I thought it would be fun to share a little about one of my favorite brands for the kids' clothes.

Same old, same old in November- my Sunday posts, mental check ins, and a handful of letters to Sal. Each year towards the end of it, I think about what I want the blog to look like the next year, so I started doing that.

And then my computer died in December and I kind of had an existential crisis. No really, but it did set me back and sort of left me floundering and really questioning what I wanted for this space. It did give me some time to think about all that and refocus on what I wanted to prioritize.

Like I said, I'm more pleased with what I shared this year than I expected to be but this exercise also encouraged me to do better at prioritizing my blog and my writing this year. Onward!

The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2010
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2011
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2012
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2013
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2014
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2015
The Best of In the Warm Hold: 2016

Friday, March 2, 2018

What I'm Into: January

Well, hopefully I can share February's in more of a timely fashion. But here's January!

On the Nightstand:
Nothing really. I attempted to read Faulker for my book club, but I just couldn't do it. I didn't give myself enough time and I just didn't have the bandwidth for it. It was actually a good book (As I Lay Dying), from what I could tell, but he's so hard to follow and I didn't have the energy. 

On Their Nightstand: 

The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli
I just grabbed this book off the shelf at the library (something P loves to do) and it's been one of our favorite read alouds this year! Annie and I adored it and Graves was much more interested than I ever would have guessed. It's realistic fiction, which is sort of my favorite, and after reading about talking pigs and mice and swans for about five years, (which I enjoyed/enjoy immensely) it was time. It's written in this cool little vignette style so it reads SUPER quickly. We'd read forty pages some nights. This has been the kids' first literary introduction to divorce. They know what it is, but it's the first time they've experienced the feelings of a child dealing with this through a character. It provoked Graves to ask some very sensitive, empathetic questions about a friend of his whose family dynamic is different than ours. "School Shopping" was one of my favorite passages and the details about the erasers and paper clips and candy colored folders we're so vivid. I could see and feel those school supplies. I cannot overstate how much I love the way the narrator, Bindi, expresses and articulates her feelings. She knows her own emotions the way I want my kids to know theirs. I especially loved how she described some really intense ones where she was dealing with hurt and anger in "Dark". I also enjoyed how she talked about how her teenage friend uses shopping and buying things to ease her hurt ("Ruby Francis says it's impossible to feel totally sad when trying on the rings") and how Bindi finds that doesn't work for her.  It's very interesting to me how frequently things don't meet our expectations. Sometimes, good things are better than we imagined and hard things are more difficult than we could have ever comprehended. But often, I find, the good things feel a bit empty and the hard things are not nearly as hard as I prepared myself for. Especially with material things, I find that they often don't bring the happiness I think they will. But conversely, sometimes a new little candle or book or some decorative thing for my house brings a lot more joy than I would have expected. 

On the Shelf:
Yeah, sort of not relevant at this point.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
We actually watched the new one together. It was kind of creepy (I mean, Johnny Depp, duh). It also adds in a problematic relationship between Willy Wonka and his father that is not there in the book. It was interesting to discuss that with the kids (Annie liked the additional element, she said). The kids watched the Gene Wilder one later on their own (I would have too, but I just wasn't feeling like a movie that night).

On the Small Screen:

Party of Five
Guys. I was SO excited to see that this was on Netflix. And I was shocked that it was just as fabulous as I remembered.

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
This is Letterman's new show for Netflix. Apparently, they release monthly and as the title suggests feature really high profile people. The conversations are pretty in depth but also funny, it seems like. We watched the one with President Obama and it was fascinating.

In My Ears:
I've been listening to more podcasts lately. I listen to Sorta Awesome and I've been trying some new ones.

Note to Self- this is an NPR podcast and it's SO interesting to me. It's about technology but it's super practical and really engaging.

Around the House:

I set up my new calendars and chose an MLK quote for January!
And I finally got all my Christmas stuff settled into new homes. 
Think Minnie knows my style? Whimsical florals, lots of color (but mostly aqua), nooks and Peanuts, glittery teacher affirmations, nostalgic pictures...and she got two of our parsons chairs that a kitty did some serious damage to years ago recovered

I organized our cloth diapers recently and purged some and I realized I never talked about a new personal Voluntary Simplicity achievement I made when Sallie was born-- no more (or significantly fewer, let's be real) disposable baby wipes!!! With the first two, I really felt like cloth diapering alone was enough of a commitment. I knew a couple of people who used wash clothes and such but I just couldn't imagine it'd get them as clean. I don't know why it grossed me out way more than the diapers but it just seemed totally next level and felt not very fresh. Peyton wanted to try it for a long time and this time the overwhelm I experienced regarding the daily tasks of mothering was significantly less (I  certainly had other struggles this time; I think that goes without saying). It didn't seem like a big deal to try. And I came up with a great procedure (as my friends from the School of Ed know, I LOVE a procedure; S/O to Harry Wong!). I have a little squirt bottle (from the hospital to help with post partum recovery; reuse and recycle!) filled with water and a couple of squeezes of baby wash and a spray bottle (that used to have room freshener in it) full of plain water. Plus another of rubbing alcohol for my hands (works just like hand sanitizer- even dries them out just the same- but isopropyl alcohol is way cheaper). Honestly, I feel like it gets Sallie MORE clean. It's like a mini bath each time and her bottom smells like heaven, ha!  And it's clearly no trouble to add them to the diaper wash (it's actually less trouble because I don't have to make a trip to the potty/trash, separate the disposable wipes before I wash, or wash them and separate them before they go in the dryer (which sounds weird but is usually what I did). Just wanted to share another adventure in simplicity!

This was a big day for purging I FINALLY conquered all the piles in our room and it was time to tackle two tubs from the laundry room. I've been putting stuff in them to sort to sell, donate, and maybe just chunk. At this point, I've had limited success with it and I think I've decided consigning stuff just isn't worth my time and energy.

To be honest, I'm not a minimal person at all. I love trinkets and knick knacks and we have way too much junk. I'd love to be a minimalist, but it's never going to happen. But this. It will be fun and exciting to watch our loved little house stretch to accommodate six people. Truthfully, I'd be devastated if I had to leave it now (so different than my feelings for it a ten years ago when I was wrapped up with always comparing). I've tried to explain why to people a lot lately, and I really can't articulate it well at all (which y'all know is so frustrating to me). A lot of it is sentimentality, a lot of it is location, and a lot of it is a decade of getting it close to where I want it to be. Love has surely grown well here

We're about to do a kinda big overhaul in the kitchen. I'm soooo excited- we've lived here nearly a decade (Peyton longer) and we spend an awful lot of time in there and it's time to really throw some money at it. But I thought I'd share a few kitchen things I love in the meantime:
- This bright orange pot Minnie gave Peyton that she was about to chunk. I live it and he's obsessed.
- The pasta from Minnie. She doesn't practice Voluntary Simplicity and indulges the kids in seasonal/animal/fun pasta. It's also super nice because on the nights when P's working I make it and they have fruit and raw veggies. That and quesadillas (also with fruit and vegetables) are my go-to choices for a Low Energy Mom Supper.
- The black and white jars that I think Minnie also gifted me from her own kitchen. Obviously, there's a trend here. Thanks, Min.
- Okay, I *did* buy the strawberry pot holder and oven glove thing from Anthro myself. In the interest of full disclosure, they're functionally worthless and you burn the mess out of your hand if you try to use them for their intended purpose. As with so many things (the ugly Corningware vs. my pretty Casafina casserole) Peyton's really tacky, borderline vom inducing ones from college work way better. But I like looking at the strawberries so...

I posted a picture of Sallie in her high chair awhile back, and several people commented on this sampler. I love samplers a quirk that I've shared before) and even have a wall of them in the hall bathroom. But this one is especially meaningful. It hung in my grandmother's house, which incidentally looked very much like the little house pictured. One of my greatest hopes is that love fills our home the way it filled hers. 

I've mentioned it before but I love these dollar spot candles in cute tins from Target. I rotate them seasonally and burning them is a tiny practice that brings me a lot of pleasure.

In the Kitchen:

In My Closet:

Wore this for a low key kid birthday party down the street. This top has been one of my favorites since I got it a couple of years ago at Target. It's so nice as to wear and is basically a loose sweatshirt but I think it looks a little nicer than a regular one. And I love the different stripes on the sleeves and neck. If I don't blouse it, it's plenty long to wear with leggings. Coral Converse? check. Sinnies? Check. Poofy pony? Check. I should do this more often 

In Their Closets:
red plaid, red check, and pjs (I forget a few from December!)

When Sunday falls on Christmas Eve (and from now on this winter; I just wanted this to be the first time) Annie and Sallie wear their "peppemint dresses". I think I mentioned I love scallops, yes? And sweet Bud gets dressed in the red check that has paid for itself a thousand times over. Geez, I wish his little khakis we're just a tiny bit wider at the bottom.

Love her in this sweater knit longall!

#AnnieGetsDressed in kitty cats, head to toe and brings her papa his roll on lidocaine that looks like deodorant because he still had shingles. And we are the most inefficient people on the planet- we left Clinton a full hour after church ended.
When her papa's watching her, sometimes Sallie gets dressed in her big sister's pj top and her momma's not sure she's ever been cuter.

Annie in bunnies and boots. And our dentist's office is also totally a throwback-- to like the '70s. He's insanely affordable, though, so perks of not doing an office remodel for like four or five decades 

I'm ordinarily not a fan of animal print on babies, but when she takes a sick day, Sallie gets dressed in her leopard one piece. I found this when she was a few months old and Annie remembered she had worn it in one of her monthly pictures and thought it was so cute and was horrified I was going to donate it. She's never like that about clothes (Graves on the other hand- I was not one bit surprised when he told me he hoped he had a boy baby one day to wear a diaper set he found that was Peyton's and I told him I was saving it for their kids), so of course I did keep it. And I have to admit the Smitten Kitten (geez, I hate things with words on them) is super comfy and very appropriate for the day.

In My Mailbox:
Look what came in the mail! I've been wanting these loafers for nearly a year after seeing them on two blogs I love. I got online to look for them a several weeks ago and I found a new pair with a minor imperfection for half off retail in my size. I love loafers on women and I'm trying to be a little more cognizant of dressing in a way that's appropriate and sensible for someone in their thirties but is still really fun and a little quirky. Pretty sure these nail it on all counts. Also, I took the picture and then noticed the theme. I think my favorite color is becoming even more of an obsession. The cart was actually the first thing I purchased with my 2018 discretionary budget. I've been wanting the one from Ikea in this color forever but I didn't really have a spot for it and then it got discontinued. I found one on Amazon and it was twice as much but I love it. It's my bedside table in our room: the top shelf is for lists, notebooks, planners, my hymn calendar, and pens. Middle shelf is desk supplies, a fan, a seasonal calendar, and other odds and ends. And the bottom is homeschool stuff that is currently in use (things to grade, prep for the next day, ect.). It's a unique set up, serving also as a nightstand but I've enjoyed it so much! 

And Annie got new kicks, too!

In My Cart:

 I've been thinking ALOT lately about how my buying practices for the children has changed several times over the past almost decade. After Christmas, I ordered both big kids a batch of "play clothes" from Amazon favorite, Fiream. They're pretty much a Boden knock off and literally use the same prints. I'm sure they're more cheaply made, but they serve their purpose at this house. I used to buy nearly everything consignment but it's gotten impractical for my big kids, I like to have a better selection, and honestly I really, really like shopping from my desk. So I've found myself splurging on a few dressy items each season and feeling very pleased when I find options I LOVE that are super inexpensive. presents problems if you have more metrics than cute and cheap. 
I guess this is most things- like meals. It seems so hard to me to find food that is inexpensive, easy, and good for our bodies. Any two out of the three? Easy cheesy. Add in the third variable and it feels not impossible, but hard. And there's that meme, do I want a clean house, happy children, or my sanity? Because you know you're not gonna have all three. Here's what you not gonna have with Amazon Boden knockoffs- sustainable, ethically sourced/produced clothes. Duh. 

Around Town and At Home: 

These little ladies had the best time playing together. Annie had told Aubrey she had forgotten what their house looked like. The boys played really well, too, for the most part. And Francie graciously shared her sippy cup with Sallie and Sallie repeatedly called Carrie momma and ONLY wanted to snuggle with her (which Carrie then had to console me about). We all have some great best friends (and a great bonus momma)!

It took her all of the twenty months she's been here, but Annie now loves to hold Sallie?!? And Sallie adores is. She'll do the grabby hands for Annie if we're both standing in front of her. This particular day, Annie was doing math with Sal in her lap and then she asked me if she could take her outside for a few minutes when she got fussy. I told her it was awfully cold and she said "well, that's because you're not dressed properly" and I put a jacket on Sallie and turned them loose and watched through a window. A milestone for sure! Look at Sallie waving "bye" to me on the way to the backyard. It stings, but only a tiny bit. I love how she's doing talk to the hand to me and looking at her older sister like she's her biggest admirer. 

I love this sort of picture. It just seems nostalgic even though it's happening right now. It seems like the essence of childhood. The sun going down over the fence and the kids in rain boots even thought it's perfectly dry out. Annie told me playing with this airplane one of P's brothers passed down was almost as fun as media time (their uncles are so precious and seem to love passing down toys almost as much as their papa does). I told her that she needed to come in and do some school and she said "Momma, I know that school is very important but in this case I just don't think it's MOST important. We got so lazy in December and didn't want to bundle up and that was a bad idea. I just think we need some outside time. The Bountiful Benefits of Beans (some health magazine she got at Newks two years ago and has hoarded and is one of her favorite resources) says being outdoors helps you get calmer and clears your mind." It probably goes without saying, we had a lot of extra school work the next day.

We'd been sick and Minnie had been out of town and I think we only missed a week but it sure felt like more. But here's the proof Queen Sunshine was here- the whole den cleared of enticing, breakable objects and Mickey's gorgeous baby gate he custom made nine years ago.

 My big people got cabin fever like woah after several days at home. During rest time they made this list of possible places we could go this afternoon/evening. To their credit, they had already crossed off New York when they presented it to me and Annie said "I know many of these will not be possible". They listed grandparents; godparents; quite a few friends; camping and a hotel; the pediatrician and dentist (desperate times, yo); home and outside (gots to be realistic); and J.C. Penny, Kroger, Target, and Walmart. Graves said those last three we're his favorite places besides heaven but he said he didn't really want to stab himself today (um, thank goodness, gracious). I also love the "sp" all over the place (I've never said spelling was her strong suite).

When I say I feel like I'm coming into my own as a home manager, I mean that I send my husband detailed emails about the week each Sunday. 

At the Schoolhouse:

I'm trying to share more of our read alouds and this was a crowd pleaser for sure. Lots of laughter from Annie; Graves loved the zaniness of it; and it was the most descriptive, imaginative writing I've read in awhile (not to mention convicting-- "oh yes, we know it keeps them still; they don't climb out the clogs and clutters up the mind! It makes a child so dull and blind. He can no longer understand a fantasy, a fairyland! His brain becomes as soft as cheese! His powers of thinking rust and freeze! He cannot think- he only sees!"). I read a hundred and thirty pages to them out loud over the past three days- about sixty on Sunday when the girls were sick. That's a lot for me OUT LOUD. I do it teacher style and if I'm too tired to read in an animated way, I'm too tired to do it. It's literally the ONE area I outshine Peyton in, energy wise (Annie told me PLEASE not to let him rad any of it because he always trails off and starts mumbling and falls asleep) and it simultaneously exhausts and exhilarates me. Anyway, we we're on a time crunch for bookclub today (so many fun experiments and activities involving candy- this is a really neat group to be a part of) and I was proud of my efforts. 

To be honest, reading aloud still isn't always easy with Graves. There are lots of interruptions (some "related" as he says, many not). But I'm realizing more and more what an important part of our school day it is. Maybe the most important. He absorbs so much more than I realize and he's such a big picture guy. SKILLS are hard for him. He can't count to one hundred and I know he's not on a first grade reading level. But he gets concepts and nuance send humor really well. He's learning a lot about the world and I hope I keep getting more comfortable and confident letting him be him and move at his own pace. That's certainly one of the privileges of a home education and I'm doing us both a disservice if I can't embrace it. 

We've spent a lot of a weekend working on our castles- it's the "big" project in history this year. Well, Annie did. Graves made a rocket ship with Baby Jesus and Snap, Crackle, and Pop off the Rice Krispie box inside, a chameleon out of a Coke box, and a shield he was desperate to watercolor at seven o'clock at night. 
It's funny because I remember when I was in sixth grade at Saint Andrew's, we did this exact project. I dreaded that class period for the week, even though we were missing class for multiple days basically to craft.  It was a foreshadowing of the sleepless nights caused by projects in the School of Ed and my anxiety was even worse because it was a GROUP PROJECT. I could handle taking notes and reading homework and tests, even with the addition of discussion questions, but I could not stand projects. 

And truth be told, I still can't. It is one of the hardest parts of homeschooling to me, to be honest. And sometimes feels like a waste of time. But if I were a classroom teacher, I know I'd want to do this kind of thing. Because as disgruntled as I was, this is where a lot of kids that maybe aren't the best test takers shine. And they deserve that chance. 

And Annie and Graves do, too. They love them and they seem to learn a lot from them, so I try to make space for that. And also, I try to really focus on the process over the product and understanding over aesthetics and participation over perfection because I don't want to project my negative feelings onto them. (The styrofoam cup is a "dovecote" and all four boxes open- Annie's planning to create furniture and decorations this week

Peyton got everyone doing art one morning. Annie and Graves were using chalk to replicate pictures from books and Sallie had her first experience with coloring with (and tasting, obviously) crayons. 

We try to do these question cards with the kids at night and it's been SO much fun hearing their answers and the reasoning behind them. For this one, Graves said "READ MINDS!!!! Wait...what does 'read minds' mean?" LOL. Annie said she'd rather fly, which I very much expected, but I was surprised by her reason. She said she wouldn't want to read minds because some people might be having thoughts they didn't want her to know and it just didn't seem very respectful of their privacy. And also, flying would be really neat and interesting. I love getting a peak into how their minds work. 

On the Blog:

An Unintentional Blogging Break and Some Thoughts 

Awhile back, I was thinking about my usual year end round up posts and I thought specifically about my "Best of In the Warm Hold" where I pick my favorite posts from the year. I thought about how this is the first year I've really been disappointed in my writing/blogging and how I've prioritized it.The scales used to tip the other way- I feared I gave it too much of myself, wasted too much of my time on documenting our life, rather than living it. And maybe I there were periods where I devoted too much too it for not much return. But I loved, and love, it.This past month, for the first time, I thought about just stopping. It sort of terrified me. It's a huge thing in my life. I knew it would feel like an incredible lost and I felt rattled that the thought even crossed my mind.

What I Learned in 2017- I shared my thirty biggest take aways. It was fun to sort of comb through the blog as well as add a few new ones.

On My Heart and Mind:
Winter has been a challenge this year, maybe more than any other. It's just felt very long and dreary and January was paticularly hard. It made me aware that I need to take better care of myself, especially during the winter months. 

In My Prayers:
I started praying for wisdom each day and most days I prayed for patience and energy, too. I liked starting my day off with prayer and asking for those things I knew would help me and my family throughout the day.

On the Calendar:

Again, since February is almost over it doesn't seem very relevant.