Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Meme of Important Posts

Okay, so my friend Ashley tagged me for this.  I had seen it going around on a few blog I read, and I admit I thought it looked like a fun exercise, so I'm glad to get a turn.  Here goes:

Rules:

1) Blogger is nominated to take part

2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category (um, everyone I've seen has kind of broken the one link rule, and I followed suit).

– Your most beautiful post

– Your most popular post

– Your most controversial post

– Your most helpful post

– A post whose success surprised you

– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved

– The post that you are most proud of



3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.

4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers

5) And so it goes on!

My most beautiful post was a letter I wrote Ann Peyton shortly after her baptism.  As we're finally going about setting a date for Graves's baptism, memories of all the emotions of Annie's have come back to me.  It was such an introspective time because I forced myself to sit and really ponder the things I hope for her and her walk with the Lord.  Peyton contends it's my best post to date and I have to acknowledge it as a personal favorite, as well.

Obviously, my most popular posts in terms of pageviews came from back when I participated in Show Us Where You Live and Show Us Your Life, blog carnivals hosted by Kelly.  In terms of comments, I think the posts that usually get the most comments are posts in which I talk about deeper issues like fear or insecurity and guilt or when I talk about decisions we've made for our family, many of which aren't the same choices made by the typical American family (natural birth, paying off our house relatively quickly, cloth diapering, ect).  I don't say that with an condescension- I just think that people often find it interesting to read about a lifestyle different than their own.  I know I do!

My most controversial post is um, well, there's probably quite a few.  I guess the one a few weeks back where I posted my opinions on what is, in general, best for children and the subsequent post clarifying my feelings would definitely fit the bill.  This tongue in cheek post about why we don't use hormonal birth control was another controversial topic and actually, the ONE post I've gotten what I consider a truly nasty comment on.  And then there's this post where I further discuss the issue.

I think my most helpful posts are probably the ones I write about my experiences with anxiety.  I think a lot of people can relate to that and it makes people happy to find a safe place to share those feelings.  I also think posts where I share my struggles are helpful to other parents.  I think it's a fine line because I want to be transparent and share the ugly, hard part of mothering, but I don't want for a minute to be ungrateful for the many blessings I have.  I know I have heard other moms in my position endlessly bicker about how hard their lives are and I think about the many, many people in the world with truly difficult lives.  And then I see moms in my position paint their lives as perfect and I can't stand that either because it creates such feelings of insecurity.  Obviously, both irk me quite a bit.  Overall, I think my most helpful posts are my most real, transparent posts.

A post whose success surprised me was this post on "Age Appropriate Dressing of the Babykins".  I don't get a ton of comments in general, and people came out of the woodwork to share how they liked to dress their little fashionistas.  Honestly, I'm usually kind of surprised by the amount of comments on many of my Baby Fashion posts, for some reason.

A post that  should've gotten way more attention is a hard prompt for me, to be honest and one that kind of scares me to answer out loud.  I guess I would say I wish that all my creative/literary style posts would get more attention.  Posts like this one, or this one, or this one.  I don't feel they deserve it necessarily, but they are important to me and have grown increasingly so.  I have a whole post about this that, in truth, I'm kind of terrified to publish.  The fact is I LOVE to write and if I'm honest with myself, I wish I had more....influence.

One of the posts that I'm most proud of would have to be this one about the filthy excess that I allowed my life to become. It seems so, so wrong to say I'm proud of anything involving a sin in my life.  I'm really not exactly proud of myself for recognizing it or listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I am proud of myself for sharing it.  It was harder to write than any of my controversial posts because I was so ashamed of myself and it was so new and raw, but I'm very glad I forced myself to do it.

One thing I found very interesting about this exercise was that by and far the vast majority of these posts can be found under the label "Things Rolling Around In My Head (and Heart)".  I guess it's a catch all for all the important stuff on here!  

I nominate:
 Sarah
Allison
Rachel
Ellis
Sarah

I had a hard time with the nominating part, so please feel free to do this even if I didn't tag you!  I hate to tag people and for them to feel obligated, especially when their blog is more of a daily scrapbook for themselves and their family.  I don't say that to be mean, I just think it might be harder to find posts meeting the criteria of some of these, but again, PLEASE do it if you want to and PLEASE let me know in the comments if you do!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekly Happenings #128 (August 23-28)-- The Sad Goodbye

 
 This week was the last week of having my sister live in the same town as us for who knows how long.  She moved to Nashville on Friday and it was really hard for me.  I've gotten teary about it a couple of times.  A goal for next week is definitely to set up Skype!  Needless to say, the week was spent with lots of trips to my parents' house to see her.

In other news, I really felt like this was a productive week.  Y'all know I don't say that lightly, but sometimes I do wonder if there's really that much difference from a week where I feel like I accomplished nothing and one where I feel like I accomplished a lot.  Either way, for some reason, I really understood this week that I just physically cannot make dinner, clean the house to my standards, spend time with the Lord, do fun projects, make time for friends, blog, work in the yard, and organize the house and all our photos while keeping my sanity and giving the children and Peyton the time and attention they crave and deserve. This week the house suffered and I didn't blog as much as I like to (or read blogs as much as I like to).  I didn't keep up with cleaning much at all, but we did a lot of fun things and I accomplished a lot of other things.  I cooked more than usual and we spent a lot of time with our families and friends.  Balance is key!

Peyton was off on Monday and we had a good day.  We got a lot of stuff organized around the house and also spent time with our families!  I got up with Baby Graves around seven and when AP woke up at eight, I handed them off to Peyton and went back to bed for an hour.  When I woke up, I started laundry and dishes and then Peyton and I took a bunch of stuff to the attic and I did some organizing up there. Boy, was it hot!  I took a shower and then Cookie came over for a visit. 
 
 We cleaned up and organized the study and played with Annie while Graves took a nap.  After Cookie left, we put Annie down for a nap and I worked on organizing some in my closet and hung up laundry. Peyton and Graves took a nap and I got on the computer for a little bit  We had to wake AP up and we headed to Lowe's to get a new hose and some light fixtures to replace our old ugly ones (even though we've lived in this house for three years, we're just now getting to some stuff!).  We grabbed some food at Sonic and went over to Peyton's parents' house.  On the way home, Peyton ran in the grocery store for a few things.  We got home and were unloading and Peyton asked me where Graves was.  I had assumed he got him out of the car.  Um, he hadn't.  I nearly had a heart attack, but he said he realized all along, he just wanted us to realize that we needed to communicate about who had him.  I put up groceries and we got AP to bed and then I worked on last week's Weekly Happenings post.  Peyton and I chatted and I went to bed late.

Tuesday was another day off for Peyton and we got a few more things accomplished!  Peyton spent the morning moving the yard and weed eating and I got up with the kids and worked on our finances and then folded a bunch of laundry.  I decided to cook a sirloin steak for lunch with green beans and rolls because I meant to cook it Monday night but we went to Peyton's parents' house and we were planning to go to my parents' house for dinner on Tuesday.  I started cooking and Morgan called and wanted to know if the kids and I wanted to meet her for lunch.  I asked her if she wanted to come over instead and she said sure, so I jumped in the shower really fast.  I got ready and finished lunch and she and her girls got here.  We all had fun eating and visiting and then Peyton started working on changing a light fixture in our hall.  After Morgan left, Annie and I cleaned up toys and then she took a nap.  I got Graves to sleep, too, and messed around on the computer for about an hour.  I worked on organizing some more piles of papers (they never end!) and then we woke AP up and went to my parents' house. They were having leftover red beans.  AP wanted to wear her swimsuit and we obliged.

 yummy ice cream!

Peyton went for a bike ride and we ate and gave Annie a bath and then came home, by way of Kroger again.  I got on the computer after we got the kids to bed and then went to bed myself.

Peyton was back at work on Wednesday morning.  Graves woke up around seven and after an hour, he finally feel back asleep in my arms.  AP woke up about fifteen minutes later and Graves was up again :( I went ahead and got a quick shower and gave Graves a bath and then I cleaned up the kitchen, which was a big mess with lots of dishes in the sink.  After that I got to work doing some baking.  I know, I know, don't fall over dead- yes, I actually baked!  I made a chocolate chip pound cake and the pie Carrie made for us when we went over to their house about a month ago.  Peyton loved it and when I emailed Carrie about it, she told me it wasn't hard, but it was kind of time consuming and a lot of steps.  Code for "it's hard".  Anyway, it wasn't terrible, but it was more than what I'm used to....boxed brownies and such ;)  It's a French silk pie, but the eggs in it are cooked.  Here's the recipe for those interested. Anyway, I was cooking the pound cake and without thinking I reset the timer, so I had to guess how long to keep it in for.  I got it out early, because it crumbled and looked awful.  I had made it to take to church for Wednesday night supper and I was so frustrated. Especially since between diapers and feeding the kids and such, I had been cooking all morning!  I loaded them up and headed to the grocery store to get two things I needed to make another cake.  We went by Chik Fil A on the way home and ate lunch and then I cooked the other pound cake.
I started thinking that maybe she's too old for bubbles now that she can pretty much put one on by herself.  I decided no, though, of course.

AP stayed in her bed for about two hours, but never napped and Graves snoozed a little.  I got on the computer and made the second cake, but I realized I was out of Pam cooking spray so I had to do it old school and use regular spray and flour.  I didn't use enough flour because the same thing happened round two.  It stuck to pan and came out looking awful!  I could have cried. Peyton got home and we got everyone ready.  He offered to take his pie to church, but I wanted him to enjoy it and honestly, I know it's stupid, but I felt so much pride in making it, I really didn't want to take it to church where a bunch of people wouldn't appreciate it.  Ha!  We ended up just slicing the cake and it looked fine.  Annie feel asleep in the car and we got there early so Peyton could run off some things.  We had dinner (spaghetti!) and then Peyton did the introduction to the Christian Believer study he's teaching.  There's only six people in the class including us, but I think it's going to be an amazing group.  I'm so excited!  We got home and put Annie to bed and Graves had his first taste of cereal!
 
Peyton tried his pie and raved about it.  He's pretty honest about food and will tell me the cold truth if something sucks, so I was so happy!  I got on the computer and read blogs and wrote a post and then cleaned up the house a little and went to bed.

Thursday was busy and also relaxing. I woke up early and got ready because I had a "teacher meeting" for Mother's Day Out.  Peyton was working, so Cookie and my mom came over to keep AP and I took Graves with me.  We had a good meeting and then we stayed and cleaned toys and stuff afterward.  We got home around lunch and I had a bad headache.
 These friends misbehaved while I was gone and got sent to time out!

  Cookie and my mom left and I got the kids down for naps.  I ate lunch, watched TV, and then got sucked in by Pinterest.  I was just settling into a nap myself when Graves woke up.   I fed him and fortunately, Peyton got home right after that, so I handed him off  and took a thirty minute power nap.  Annie had woken up and we all got ready and dropped the kids off at my inlaws because Peyton and I were going to a new thing that he got an email about.  It's an organization called Inerfaith Dialogue and the topic was on "Women in Abrahamic Traditions".  They had a Muslim speaker, a Jewish speaker, and a Christian speaker who happens to be the Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Mississippi, which was a big part of why we wanted to go. It ended up being interested and the Turkish food they served for dinner was amazing, but Peyton said he wished they had gone a little more in depth into the problems women face in each of these religions. Bishop Ward and the Jewish rabbi mentioned them, but the Muslim women, interestingly enough, didn't even touch on it.  I did tell Peyton afterward that I felt kind of awkward because honestly, I'm pretty sure we were BY FAR the most conservative people in the room- in our views on the role of women and also in our views on faith in general. It's always good to branch out and be challenged, though!

We picked up the kids and went over to my parents to say goodbye to Cookie one last time before she left for Nashville on Friday.  My headache was worse and everyone was so tired, and AP pitched a fit about leaving.  We sent her to time out and my mom almost came undone.  I know initially it was hard for me to discipline such a sensitive spirit, so I get it, but we know it's what is best for her.  [Minnie and I had a talk about it the next day and discussed maybe getting her "prepared" to leave earlier.  This is not the first time this has happened.  Clearly.] We came home and I was so tired but there were a bunch of dishes in the sink.  I can leave my house messy (it bugs me, but I CAN do it), but I *hate* going to bed with dirty dishes.  It just grosses me out.  Anyway, Peyton put his hands around my face like blinders and made me get ready for bed.  We put the kids to bed and I fell right to sleep at 10:00!  That's super early for us!

We all got up around eight on Friday and I got a bath and gave both the kids baths.  Graves was due for one and AP was overdue.  I folded and put up some laundry while she was in the tub and we had breakfast and played.  I unloaded the dishwasher and did all the dishes in the sink and then we got ready to go meet the Howies for lunch.  We had a good time catching up and everyone did pretty well.  Graves was kind of cranky from not having a morning nap, but nothing awful and we had the longest lunch "out" that we've had in awhile, probably!  We got home and Peyton was back from his meeting he had that morning.  We visited with him and when he left for work I got the kids down for naps.  I got on the computer and uploaded a ton of pictures to Facebook.  That took most of naptime, but I did also call a few people about getting estimates to get our floor in the kitchen redone.  One guy said he could come over that afternoon.  Graves woke up and then Annie did.  She ate supper and the guy stopped by to measure the kitchen and then we all went outside for a little while.

After reading Jennifer's post, I got out this book I bought a long time ago.  I think I'll find some great ideas!
I had Annie help me clean up toys and then I put the kids to bed.  Peyton got home and we talked a little and then I went to bed.

Graves woke up a few times, and I handed him off to Peyton around seven on Saturday.  I went back to bed for a little while and when AP woke up, I got up, too.
 
 We started playing a little game with Annie where we hide her stuffed animals.  She loves it and today she started hiding them and wanting us to look.  Papa was sneaky with this one!

  I started laundry and cleaned up the kitchen a little and then we went outside and worked in the yard.  We spent several hours just wedding flower beds and it looks so much better.  Annie spent the whole time in her kiddie pool and Graves alternated between the sling and his swing. We came in and had showers (everyone but Graves) and lunch.  We were planning to go over to Peyton's house and then he remembered he needed to go by Cokesbury and it closes at 3:00 on Saturday, so we hustled and skipped naps.  Annie fell asleep in the car and after picking up the stuff from Cokesbury, we just drove around for a bit to let her snooze.  We got to Peyton's parents' and we had so much fun!  His mom had lots of fresh fruit and Annie got to swim more in their baby pool.  Peyton's sister and her husband and little boy were there and we had fun seeing them and catching up.
 

 

The guy that lives next door drove up on his motorcycle and the noise terrified Ann Peyton.  Noises really bother her lately, but I have never seen her so scared in my life.  She was holding on to me as tightly as she could and it took half an hour to get her calm.  I think it was partly from not having a good nap.  We stayed a long time and when we got home it was close to bedtime, so we got everyone ready and put them down a little early.  I got on the computer and worked on my September header.

Graves slept really well Saturday night and I woke up pretty rested, which was good because Sunday turned out busy!
 Graves in an outfit my sister in law loaned us.  So precious!

I had children's church for the early service and we had to stop by Walgreens to get some stickers to make Egyptian armlets.  We got to church just in time and I took Annie with me.  There were only a couple of kids at chidlren's church and they were super well behaved!  Peyton had been delivering curriculum to the Sunday School rooms and he met me for Sunday School.  We talked more about Isaihah and it was really interesting and then we picked AP up from Sunday School (she's actually got a class that she goes to during the Sunday School hour now) and I fed Graves and dropped him back off.  We took Annie to the late service with us because we're trying to get back in that habit some.  The sermon was on being "full" and our pastor talked about how we should be full of love, of commitment to goodness, and of concern for others.  It was great an afterward, we met our friends, the Deckards, at Abners for lunch.  We were pretty tired from the morning and we put AP down and then I did some laundry and straightened up a little and then got on the computer.  We woke AP up and headed back to church early because there was a prayer walk for the kindergarten and Mother's Day Out.  We did that and then just talked until Bible Study.  It was our last night of Modern Parables and Peyton came to it instead of going to church.  We drove around a little after church and picked up a snack from McCallisters.  Both babies fell asleep in the car and Peyton and I talked some more and I got on the computer while he watched TV.

This week is going to be busy.  The kids and I are starting "school" and I know that will be an adjustment as far as waking up early and such.  I'm excited, though!

Weekly Smorgasbord

I didn't really do a lot of reading last week, so my list is a little shorter than usual, and (not unusually) a day late.  But I think it's a good one!


    Posted: 28 Aug 2011 09:18 PM PDT
    I was glad to read this. I still haven't seen it, but I loved the book. Anyway, this post really helped me see the "problem" that some people have with the book and the movie. I think it's overreacting for the most part, but I do hate that Hollywood has not really given black people a chance (in most instances) to tell their own stories.
    Posted: 28 Aug 2011 09:16 PM PDT
    Jennifer had some great suggestions for entertaining toddlers. When I read posts like this, I realize that being a mom has not come as naturally as I thought it would. I WISH I was creative like this (and in a prideful way, I kind of thought I would be before I actually had kids), but I'm not. We spend most of our days reading, doing puzzles and playing outside. I know that's fine, but it gets old. I'm going to try to be intentional about creating some fun activities for Annie!
    Posted: 28 Aug 2011 09:11 PM PDT
    My brother in law shared this site with me.

    "'No folk theories. No preachy advice. No authoritarian pronouncements or pseudoscientific political dogma.'

    Instead, you'll find something pretty rare among popular resources for parents:

    In-depth analysis with fully referenced citations from the scientific and medical literature."
    Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:30 PM PDT
    "The life we waste everyday because we want a better one or because we are never satisfied with it, is the life that many wish and yearn to have and would give everything to have it."

    Such a  heartbreaking piece. Makes me wonder what I could do without so people like this could have more.
    Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:25 PM PDT
    "The most vulnerable are girls under the age of 15. As one woman said, "While we were walking, if the men with the guns saw a pretty girl, they would take her and they would keep her."

    "The problem here is not just that girls are not being protected. Or that girls are not being supported. The real issue is that girls simply are not seen. They are not valued."

    This article made me feel physically sick to my stomach. What if these were my concerns for myself and my sweet Annie girl?
    Hope you found something to entertain your toddler or stir your soul, like I did!

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Flashback Friday: Two Peas in Pod {August 2, 2009 and August 12, 2011}

    [Sweet babies wearing their "Sweet Pea" onsie from Virginia the days they turned four months old!]

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    SD's Bookshelf: Faith

    I though it would be fun to share with y'all some of what I've read lately, am reading, and am intending to  read in the near future.  I've always been a fan of reading multiple books at once, so I typically choose one book on faith, one book on parenting or marriage, and one other additional book.  Lately, I have been SO behind on reading (and everything else in life!).  I really want to make it a priority, because not only is it enjoyable, I know it is personally edifying for me and my family, and in the case of faith based books, probably helps me better serve others I come in contact with.

    Recent Reads
    Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller
    I started reading this book awhile back as it was a Bloom Book Club pick.  As the title implies, it's all about slowing down and learning to rest and enjoy the peace of God. It was good, but I never finished it. I kind of want to go back and reread it with Peyton, even though, I admit at times it did get repetitive.  It also caused some controversy on the Bloom site because the author quotes teachers of other religions and shares practices of different religions.  It's really not a book that has huge theological implications, though, so it didn't bother me.  I feel like we can learn from others in the way they practice their spirituality without compromising our faith at all. I give it 2.5 (out of four) stars.

    Twelve Extradoniary Women: How God Shaped the Women of the Bible and What He Wants to Do With You by John McArthur
    I did this study on Wednesday night as part of a women's group. I was kind of nervous about the study because John McArthur and I have some fundamental differences of opinion on a few issues ;)  I actually ended up loving it, but I never finished the last two chapters because we were finishing up right as I had Graves.  Anyway, it was a really good book because it a true character study of some really neat women in the Bible.  One thing I liked, and the title sort of makes it seem like this is not the case, but the author doesn't really spend too much time focusing on the practical applications.  He kind of leaves that for you to figure out.  I like that because so often I see authors kind of take liberties with the text of the Bible and really spend so much time making applications without spending time fully exploring and explaining it first.  In this book, you see a lot of the history and the background of these women's lives and that's really neat.  I came away learning a lot of things about the Bible that I never knew before! I give it four stars.

    Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan
    We read this a while back at church.  It was great for several reasons.  First of all, it's really challenging.  It forces you to really think about how you use your time and your money and if you are truly "sold out" for Christ.  I'm not at all saying we are perfect as far as our giving, but I was personally more convicted about how I use my time than how we use our money. The book gives several examples of "lukewarm" people (whom the author contends are not in fact legitimately Christians).  I went through and marked the ones I feel like Peyton and I struggle the most with and it was very convicting. One thing it really showed me was how big our God truly is and how sometimes I view Him as so small.   Another great thing about the study was that Peyton and I were part of a group that met on Sunday nights and was a larger cross section of our church than what we are accustomed to fellowship with (i.e. our mostly thirty somethings Sunday School class of young married couples with and without kids). It was so neat because we got really close and were able to be surprisingly vulnerable with a relatively large and pretty diverse group of people.  That was really an awesome experience for me!  I would say it's a three star.

    Current Reads
    Modern Parables: Living in the Kingdom of God by Thomas Purifoy 
    We've been doing this study on Sunday nights at church and I can't lie, it can be a little dry.  The basic premise of the study is that you watch a dramatic rendition of one of the parables Jesus taught set in the modern day United States.  For example, in the parable of the good Samaritan, a man is mugged in a urban setting and a pastor and youth minister ignore him, while an Arabic man steps up to help.  Sometimes the videos seem a little contrived and to be honest, I feel like at times they take a lot of creative license and make assumptions that sway a little too much from the Biblical text for my comfort.  To be fair, the reading that accompanies the video is usually pretty informative and, unlike Crazy Love, it's really more of a true "Bible Study", in that it explores the Scripture and what it means. I give it two stars.

    Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God by David Platt
    Peyton and I started this book and I really like it.  It's a lot like Crazy Love, but actually maybe a bit more intense.  I feel like David Platt uses Scripture more and like the book has a stronger theological component.  Peyton read Radical and he wanted to tackle this one together.  [Radical is basically about an individual faith walk; Radical Together has more applications for the collective church.]  So far, it's been stirring.  We've both really come to see how much of what goes on around us is a "cultural Christianity", especially living in the South.  We love our church so much, but there is SO much we could do better in.  I'm so thankful that we have found a Sunday School class and been able to see it grow.  There are so many people in our class that are truly on fire and want to make a difference for the Lord.  If it weren't for our class (which, a couple of years ago was us and two other people), I don't know if we'd still be at our church.  This book has me really thinking about how we can be more missional.  In the next few weeks and months, I'm really going to involve myself in serving others more.  I'll share more about that in a separate post later, but a lot of exciting things are hopefully about to happen! I love this book and what it does to me- four stars!

    Christian Believer  by J. Ellsworth Kalas
    This is the new study Peyton is leading on Wednesday nights at church and I'm really excited (and a little nervous0 about it.  It's a big time commitment and it's a pretty intensive study.  It's not intense in the Crazy Love/Radical sense, but more in that I think it will require a lot out of me mentally.  The study will encompass two and a half hours on Wednesday nights and a commitment to about forty five minutes of reading daily.  In addition, this is not light stuff.  The whole book is about doctrine, basically, and what our fundamental beliefs are.  I can't really rate it because I haven't really dug in yet!

    Prospective Reads
    What Women Fear: Walking in Faith That Transforms by Angie Smith
    I ADORE Angie, her blog, her first book.....everything about her.  In this book, she discusses something that I'm very well acquainted with- a very real anxiety and the emotions that come with it and also the way she has allowed Jesus to redeem this issue. I remember her tweeting and asking her followers what their greatest fear was.  Without hesitation, I replied- "My greatest fear is having to live out the pages of your first book in my own life". The fear of loosing someone close to me is all encompassing at times and I know this will be a powerful resource for me.  I can't wait!

    1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
    Y'all know this- Ann Voskamp's is another blog I love.  I love her writing style and I can't wait to start this book.  The idea behind it- learning to live joyfully amidst sin and sorrow and suffering- is a simple one, but a profound one.  And one I need to put into practice more in my own life. 


    In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to share some of my "family" reads and my "for fun" reads. As a side note, I've got so many children's books I'd like to share, I may have to get serious about resurrecting the old Won't You Read to Me? Wednesday!  But again, so many blog posts, so little time!

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Weekly Happenings Post #127 (August 15-21)-- Ups and Downs

    [Baby Graves was so upset and Peyton decided we should all pretend to scream, as well!]

    This week started out really nicely and ended well, but there was one day in the middle where I just really felt almost to my breaking point. I don't want to keep saying "I'm just so tired" over and over. What mother with an infant and a toddler isn't? I think of moms with tons of kids and I feel dumb complaining. I also think about moms with toddlers who never sleep and aren't as compliant as Ann Peyton. And I feel stupid. But the truth is- I hit a wall Friday and it was hard. The rest of the week was really great and we had some super fun things going on!

    Peyton got up with Graves around eight on Monday and then woke AP up at nine when I got up. We all got ready and headed to see Dr. Dennney for Graves's four month check up. He got a good report and it was nice to see Dr. Denney. We went by the church and McDonalds on the way home and then tried to feed AP lunch. She was tired and kept saying "Go to bed", though, so we let her! Peyton left for work and I cleaned up the house a bit and got Graves down for a nap.
    [Some sweet friends from church gave us a bunch of their old VHS tapes, so I organized those and put them in the closet by our tape player!]

    I got on the computer and then started a load of dishes. Graves woke up in not the best mood and I held him and watched Lost and then folded clothes. AP woke up and had a snack and then I put up clothes in the nursery. I went in the office to type an important email and Graves started fussing. I took a few minutes to get in there and AP had covered his face with a blanket. She wasn't trying to be mean, but we had a discussion.
    What's under there making BG so happy?


    A rice sock, of course!

    We all went outside and played a little and then Annie had supper and I got them to bed. I got on the computer and emailed back and forth with a friend and then Peyton got home. I finished last week's Weekly Happenings post and we had sandwiches and leftovers and went to bed.

    Tuesday was a bit of a rough day. Peyton woke up and we chatted a little before he got ready for work. I was about to go back to sleep, but Graves woke up, so I took him in the den. Annie woke up right after him and I got her breakfast ready. Graves was super fussy all morning and really didn't even care about being held. He was just so cranky...I think from his shots. I still managed to get a few things done- dishes put up and another load rinsed and put in, laundry changed over and kitties fed. I kept having to go give Graves his paci, hand him his lovey, remove his lovey from his face, ect. and he never did take a morning nap. I decided to organize a little and I cleaned up some piles and then went through some old VHS tapes and put them on a shelf in Peyton's armoire next to the TV in our room. I cleaned out the box they were in and used it as my sewing bin; I sorted the stuff to go in it and labeled three ziplock bags- stuff to mend, scraps and stuffing, and fabric. I put Graves in the sling part of the time and then he played a little on the floor. I put AP in the tub and put up laundry in my closet.

    She had lunch and I fed Graves and put her down for a nap. She never did fall asleep and Graves kept waking up, but I ate lunch and played on the computer and finally got a bath!

    Peyton got home and I cooked Suddenly Salad to take to our Ultreya group. I fed Graves and got ready and we headed to the meeting. It was good, but short and when we got home, we fed the kids and put them to bed. They were both overly tired and had a hard time going to sleep. I got on the computer and wrote a post and went to bed.

    Wednesday was Peyton's day off. Baby Graves had been up a few times during the night, so Peyton got up with the kids and I got a little more sleep. Once I got up, I got ready and got the babies ready and we did a few errands to help get ready for this weekend's Cursillo. After that, we both had hair appointments.


    I usually don't put nursing pictures on the blog, but I had to share- look at the 'ittle footsie!


    [our attempt at the post cut picture]

    After our haircuts, we came home and had about an hour before we needed to be back at church for the Fall Wednesday night program kick off. My mom and Cookie dropped by to pick up a bed frame Cookie is going to use when she moves to Nashville (sob) and I did some dishes. We got ready and headed out the door again. We went to church and then picked up Abner's to take to Morgan and Haydn's house for dinner. We had such a good time hanging out and Annie loved playing with Mary Milton.
    We put the children right to bed when we got home and I got on the computer and Peyton fell asleep on the couch. I straightened the house and started some laundry and went to bed.

    The kids slept kind of lateish on Thursday, which was nice since Peyton had to rush in to work. He was supposed to be off that morning, but his old partner went into labor, so he went in to work for her husband, who is also a pharmacist. Graves got up and I took a quick bath before Annie woke up and then dried my hair and cleaned the vanity in our room while Annie played in our bed. Annie and I read books and played and I fed Graves and he took a nap. Graves woke up and I gave AP a bath and folded and put up clothes in our room. Annie had lunch and I ironed some clothes and Graves took another nap.

    I tried to put AP down for a nap, but it was storming and the thunder scared her. I put her in timeout for getting up, but then I felt bad because she was so scared, so I just let her stay up. We read and I put up more laundry and then we got Graves up and got ready. I was having dinner with some people from our Ultreya group, so I dropped AP off at my mother in law's house and brought Graves with me to Applebees. Graves did pretty good and then we picked up AP and headed to my parents' house. We had a good time and when we got home, I gave Graves a bath because he had a blow out diaper and put Annie to bed. I cooked some chicken to add to leftover soup and shredded it and then got on the computer. Peyton got home and we stayed up way too late.

    Friday was a rough day. I was SO tired and Peyton had a meeting in the morning and was working the afternoon shift. We all got up and just had a lazy morning. I did get a shower and folded a load of laundry, but mostly we just hung out on the couch, snuggling and reading books. Peyton came home for lunch, and I put up clothes and fed Annie lunch. She took a good nap, but I couldn't get Graves to sleep. He was so mad and just cried and fussed, even in my arms. At one point, I had to put him in a "safe place" like they tell you in childbirth class because I really wanted to just scream "Please stop crying". I got him up and I started wondering if that's how people feel right before they "snap" and hurt their babies. It made me sick, even though I know I wasn't close to that, really, it scared me. The termite guy came to check our house and then I woke up AP and we headed to my parents' house early. I got to rest, but poor Graves screamed in my mom's arms most of the time. I wish I could figure out what was wrong with him. He's so inconsistent- he has some good days and some really bad days. I know some of it is just fussiness, but my dad did say "Babies don't just cry for no reason" and I wonder if he's right. If something is hurting him, I just want to figure it out. We got home and Peyton got home shortly after. We chatted a little and I went to bed before midnight I was so tired.

    Peyton had to work on Saturday, but we had some fun things going on! I got up and got ready and then got the kids ready and wrapped a present and we headed to my nephew, Simeon's birthday party. I made the mistake of telling AP when she got up, so the morning was full of asking and pestering about "biiiiiiirthday potty". I'm glad it was so early!


    It was a pool party and we got there around 10:30 and stayed until almost one. We swam and had lunch and Graves did pretty good, too, since there was always a grandparent to hold him. We got home and I put both kids down for a nap. AP took one of her epic naps and Graves slept a little while and woke up pretty happy. I read blogs and then spent a long time organizing videos we've taken with the video camera on the computer. Graves woke up and I fed him and sorted through more videos. Then I got neatened up the house a little and got ready because Peyton's parents were coming over to watch the children while I went to a fundraiser for the women's ministry at The Pointe (our church's church plant). [Peyton was down at Camp Wesley Pines doing stuff for Cursillo.]

    I finished getting ready and my in laws got here and I left for the fundraiser. It was SO MUCH FUN! They had a really good local singer whose not technically a Christian musician but a lot of his songs are about his faith. He kind of had a country/Jimmy Buffet vibe. There was a Chinese auction, an adorable (super relatable) speaker, and a fabulous dinner. It was chicken spaghetti, and I KNOW it had dairy in it, but I decided "go big, or go home" and got a big serving and decided I'd watch Graves the next couple of days and see if he had much reaction to it. It was probably a bad move, but I couldn't just not get any you know? I got home and Graves had been sort of fussy, but right when I walked in he started smiling. Um, Momma's boy? Right now it is so hard to leave him with anyone, because he's just so unpredictable and doesn't take a bottle well and I feel bad when he's fussy like that for someone else. Anyway, I fed him and got AP to bed and then straightened the house and got on the computer. Peyton got home and we caught up and went to bed pretty early.

    I'm glad I did because Graves was up every two hours. I have no idea what was going on- I don't think it was the spaghetti because he'd go right back to sleep if I fed him. I tried to just give him his paci and pat him back to sleep, but he wanted nothing to do that, so I ended up feeding him. I think part of the problem is he needs to be out of our room, but he's not ready to be in the nursery with AP because I don't want them both waking up! I'm thinking I may just move his Pack N Play into the study. I've read several places that around four months a lot of babies kind of go through a bad sleep phase and it fixes itself in a few months. I may try some gentle sleep training around the six month mark, but I know it's not going to be a ten to twenty minute fuss like it was most of the time with AP, so I'm not really sure.

    Sunday came nice and early and AP tried to get up at 5:00. I let Peyton handle that one and he got her back to sleep for a few hours. We got ready and went to Sunday School and late church. Peyton had to be back at Camp Wesley Pines for the afternoon, so I got AP to help me clean up the toys she got out before church and I got the kids fed and down for naps and cleaned up the kitchen, which was a disaster from the whole weekend. I watched some TV and ate lunch and then Graves woke up fussing, but I got him back down and then made some homemade laundry detergent. I had stopped for awhile, but it really is a cost saver and it's not too much of an inconvenience, so I decided to start back up. I had been procrastinating, though, and the laundry got kind of out of hand. Graves woke up fussy and then Annie woke up. At least she was happy! I got some laundry folded and Peyton got home and we got ready to go eat with some of his pharmacy friends. We went to a sushi place, which is good because sushi, edamame, and miso soup don't have dairy! The kids did remarkably well and we stayed almost two hours at the restaurant! We got home and put the babies to bed and then talked some. I got on the computer and straightened the house and then read my Bible and went to bed.

    Things are about to start to get busy around here! We're starting a new Bible study at church that Peyton is leading and the reading is about forty five minutes a day. Several people told Peyton that they just didn't have time for that kind of commitment. He said that it didn't bother him if they didn't have time for his study, but he hoped that they had time for that kind of commitment to the Lord in some facet. In truth, I have been doing pretty rotten with reading my Bible lately. I have good weeks and bad weeks and I am hoping this will keep me accountable and get me in the habit of more good weeks. Additionally, Mother's Day Out is about to start up and it's high time for me and the kids to start reorienting ourselves to a normal schedule. I'm ready!

    A Dramatic 'Do or Two

    For awhile now, Peyton has been asking me to get a "dramatic" haircut.  I told him I would, under one condition....

    That he get one, too.

    So last week we loaded everyone up and made a trip to see Mandy, our hairstylist that we love.  Mandy is super cute and is the quintessential hairdresser. I feel all Steel Magnolias when I walk in and she starts talking to me about Target, babies, and everything in the People magazine she tosses me.  It's like we've been best friends for ten years.  This is what I pay her the big bucks ($20 plus tip!) for. 

    Anyway, I thought I would show y'all the results of our new dramatic 'dos. 

    First here I am before the cut.  [Of course, I remembered last minute that we needed to take before and after shots, so these were snapped in the car.]
     

      
     
    And here is my new look:
    It feels so fresh! [Disregard all the hair in my face.]

    Before Peyton moved into the chair, we decided we needed another photo op because our hair was virtually the same length for a few minutes: 
     
    Baby Graves and Ballerina Bunny included!

    Here's a couple of better shots of Peyton's before:
     
     
    And, wait for it....
    here's the after:
     
    It's a Mad Man!  Per Ashley's advice, we Googled "Mad Men haircut" (which, um, I have yet to rent/watch-- WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME, period piece fanatic that I am?) and it led us directly to one of Peyton's favorite blogs, The Art of Manliness.  We showed Mandy and she did her magic.  She suggested Peyton use liquid gel to smooth it, so as to avoid the crunchiness that often comes with a pomade.  It seemed like it dried up and just evaporated pretty quickly, so it didn't hold well.  TAOM recommended this pomade, but we couldn't find it in Jackson and plus it's pricey.  We found a (we thought) comparable substitute, but it gets greasy really fast, so Peyton decided to just bite the bullet and order the American Crew. A real old fashioned pomade- legit on so many levels as Ash said.  Whew!  This guy has never been one to put "product" in his hair, so it's a whole new world!  Oh and I think his definitely took the cake for "most dramatic".  Two people at church thought he was a visitor!

    I feel like my haircut is nice and fresh and was a welcomed change, but I am obsessed with Peyton's.  Honestly, I think part of it is that it just looks sort of old fashioned and I like that look.  He looks "sharp" as my grandmother would have said when she was alive. I also just love that he's so adventurous and not scared AT ALL to take a risk with something so inconsequential. 
     
     I'm mad about this man for sure!

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Weekly Smorgasbord

    Another content heavy Smorgasbord, folks. Some things really got me thinking this week...



    Posted: 21 Aug 2011 09:13 PM PDT
    "Her face is beet red and crinkled with pain, her body making little sounds of too much air."

    "I am a stubborn one and so motherhood is one of the only ways I'll allow a holy kind of soul cleansing thing to happen in me. I am otherwise so occupied with myself that I pay that kind of change no mind at all."

    "So I answer to her when she cries and it is an honor to serve her. No matter what kind of ugly I am when I'm at the end of myself at the never-end of the days, it is an honor."

    I have felt every one of the emotions articulated by Heather. And I've felt them particularly strongly this past week. I get frustrated with Graves. I doubt my competence as a mother. I get upset because Annie was so easy and as much as I know he's a little bit of a needy child, part of me thinks "WHY CAN'T YOU HANDLE A TYPICAL BABY??". And then there's sleep. I ALLOWED people to make me feel guilty abut how well Ann Peyton slept and now I allow people to do the same with how poorly Graves sometimes does.  Clearly, the problem is me.  I'm becoming so much more aware of my own insecurities lately and that is a good thing.  For example- I really have had myself convinced that several of my real life friends have their stuff together in a way that I unfortunately do not.  And those friendships, friendships that I truly love and value, have suffered for it.   This post was just a good reminder that it's okay to be real and it's okay to feel things deeply and it's okay to say "I'm not good enough" and then find the grace to be enough.
    Posted: 21 Aug 2011 09:07 PM PDT
    I love Heather's simple photography tips!
    Posted: 21 Aug 2011 09:06 PM PDT
    "I don't feel like I fit the "mommy-blogger" world but because have the mummy-stuff on here, I can't fit in the spiritual/deep/writer blogs either."

    As you may have noticed from a post or two, I've kind of been analyzing the "direction" of my blog lately, too.
    Posted: 21 Aug 2011 09:05 PM PDT
    "He was talking about emotions and how emotions are REAL, but they are ignorant. We FEEL a certain way because of how the mind thinks about a situation."
    Posted: 21 Aug 2011 09:04 PM PDT
    Okay, nobody freak out, but I've felt all of this so much this week, and if I'm honest, the last four months. This week was the first time that Peyton asked me if I thought I needed to get back on some sort of medicine. I'm not there yet, but it was nice for him to notice and acknowledge that I was feeling the burden of my own mind.
    Muthering Heights and Other Senseless Sensibility » Hugged And Unhugged
    Posted: 21 Aug 2011 08:58 PM PDT
    I love this quote. I need the reminder to "unhug".
    Posted: 21 Aug 2011 08:57 PM PDT
    I am so here. I just feel frazzled so much of the time. Twitter (and some blog posts) say that a life planner will help with this, but I'm not convinced. Pretty sure I need to just buckle down and find a system.
    Posted: 21 Aug 2011 08:55 PM PDT
    "So, as I'm trying to be more intentional with my encouragement and do-gooding every day (and finding that it's not easy in this already not-easy life) it doesn't mean I won't keep trying."
    Posted: 20 Aug 2011 12:02 PM PDT
    I thought this article was interesting. Let me be clear before I start up another controversy. I fully believe that Christ is the only "path" to heaven. But just what does that mean? In the comments the author points out that a child can have a very real relationship with his or her parent, but not know the parent's proper name and have very little intellectual "knowledge" of the parent. SO is it necessary to call on Jesus BY NAME to be saved or is it possible for those who have never heard of Him to recognize a sin nature within themselves, repent, and enter into a relationship with Him without having ever been exposed to Scripture or hearing the name "Jesus Christ"? Something I've mulled over for quite some time.



    Hope you find something that you enjoy!

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Flashback Friday: First Giggles and Free Fallin' {August 13, 2009 and August 12, 2010}

    I was going to post these last Friday when I looked for what was going on that day a year ago and two years ago, but then I rememembered that I needed to do Graves's four month old post, so I skipped it.  Anyway, here's what we were up to this time of year in 2009 and 2010:

    2009-
    We took this insane goofy video of Annie's first laugh.  Can you tell we're both BESIDE OURSELVES? Can you tell we're both first time parents? Can you tell she was (and is) our pride and joy?

    Sweet baby Graves has done a couple of little laughs, but nothing to this extent. I can't wait to hear it and being as I'm given to overly emotional responses, I might just get weepy again.

    On the blog, I was posting funny pharmacy storiesanalyzing my purposes in blogging, and (this is really timely) trying to focus on living in the present and not wishing away Annie's baby days.  I was thinking just today how I want to be intentional about not wishing away this time, but man will it be nice when Baby Boy can tell me what's bothering him instead of screaming in my face all afternoon and night ;)

    2010-
    I had just found out I was pregnant with Graves a few days earlier and Peyton and I took our last trip alone since that time.  We went to Nashville for the specific purpose of seeing one of our favorites, Tom Petty.  Little did I know my unborn son would end up sporting a similar 'do to the cat in front of us:


    And on the blog, I announced and elaborated on our exciting news and participated in a fun 30 Day Blog Journal.

    Looking back like this is always such fun and such a sweet reminder of our many good times as a family!

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Small Style: City Boy

    On Graves:
    Old Navy footie pajamas

    I got these as a gift for Peyton last Christmas, as both a nod to his desire to spend at least a year of our lives living in New York City and a reminder of my commitment to help him make that dream a reality one day, even with two little babykins in tow!

     

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    The "Versus" Strikes Again: Opinionated vs. Judgmental and Good vs. Best

    I got several comments on my use of the word "best" in my Smorgasbord post yesterday and I wanted to address that.  I wanted to further explain the connotations of what I feel like that entails. I hope no one will think this is me backtracking.  I stand by what I said, but I want to clarify and further explore these things.

    First of all, I really do hate "mommy wars" and I try not to propagate them.  I feel like calling something a "war" assumes that there are two sides, at odds, each doing some attacking.  I guess you could say my post further engaged the whole Mommy Wars drama.  I just wish the whole thing could be "Mommy Debates" or "Mommy Dialogues".  In those cases you still have opponents in a sense, but no one is attacking each other.  I know to some people the idea of discussion and especially debates is not fun either and they just want privacy in regards to their choices.  That is why in real life, I am careful about talking about these things and usually get into discussions when someone asks me my opinion on them or it naturally comes up in conversation.  Interestingly, things often do just come up naturally!  To me, though, discussion and debate and engaging each other about parenting decisions is helpful and healthy and that's why I choose to do it on my blog.  For example, with the childbirth issue- I originally began thinking about it simply because I had been presented with the argument that it was best, not because I thought it would be an awesome life experience.  I've come to believe both, but for a person such as myself, the later would have never preceded the former.  I am thankful  for people that cared passionately about birth choices and helped point me toward my eventual decision.

    Secondly, yes, I am a pretty opinionated person.  However, I think sometimes people equate being opinionated with being judgmental and it is my view that the two are not synonymous.  I got an email last week in which a blog reader said that she and I had very different opinions (actually, on non mothering issues), but she had never felt judged or slapped in the face by me.  That brought me so much happiness because I know there have been others (friends even) that have not felt the same way.  She said she assumed I did not have to try very hard to be that way.  The truth is though, I do try very hard to walk the fine line of realizing that this is my blog and it's a forum in which I want to be comfortable sharing my thoughts and the desire to not appear overly harsh and like I am casting judgment on another woman, as a person or a parent. In one of the linked articles, the writer talked about "extreme wording" and "blanket statements".  I realize that to some that is what my opinions feel like, but as I've written before, I don't want my words to be arrogance filled or to reek with superiority.


    Finally, the word best.  I've said it before, but I wanted to express my feelings on this again.  There are two components to the "good vs. best" decision making process in my mind and in our home:

    1. The idea that sometimes there is a "good" option and there is a "best" option, but the difference between the two is marginal.  For example, Peyton has shown me numerous studies showing that it's not ideal for children under the age of two to see any television at all.  Do I believe what those studies say? Yes.  Did  Ann Peyton (and to a much greater extent, will her brother) see a good deal of television before her second birthday? Absolutely.  Because, in my opinion, the results may be slightly harmful, but not significantly damaging. Or carseats.  Ann Peyton is two and a half and she's ridden forward facing exactly once in her life.  Because it's my understanding that that is best.  But she loves the car. Not every kid does.  It is my goal to keep my kids rear facing until two (per the new recommendation), but beyond I'd probably flip them if they were unhappy. So yes, I guess I did imply that anyone making a choice different than these is "purposefully choosing to forgo what is best for her child", as one (sweet, friendly) commenter put it. But I've done the same thing.  And some people feel like things like getting an epidural or not breastfeeding are similar to the way I view under two year old television watching.  Of course, I don't agree with them but I do respect their opinions and their right to hold them.

    2. I know this is probably going to get me in trouble with some people, but we do not strive to be a child centric family.  We love our kids, cherish them, and try for the most part to do what is best for them.  However, there comes a point when we have to do what is best for the family unit as a whole.  This means different things to different people.  For example, I feel like I'm pretty passionately pro breastfeeding.  However, show me a mother with PPD who needs medicine that is contraindicated for breastfeeding. Tell her she's selfish and I'll tell you that you're being an ass.

    Since breastfeeding seemed to be one issue both commenters picked up on, I thought I'd share a little more. on a more personal level.  First, if you've followed this blog for awhile, you know that when Ann Peyton was around nine months we started supplementing with formula due to her weight issues.  I fought it a long time and really struggled with the decision to do so.  In the end, at that time, I felt it was the best choice.  I think I'd make a different choice now, but I still feel no guilt over it.  I did what I thought was best and that's all that matters.  If someone were to shame me for it, it would sting I suppose, but I know in my heart that I did what I felt at the time was in her best interest.  I would not say that a mother who gives her child formula when there is a legitimate need to do so is giving her child "second best".  As another post I linked to stated "Many bodies out there don't produce what comes naturally to so many others. Some bodies don't produce enough tears, some bodies don't produce enough insulin, some bodies don't produce enough estrogen, some bodies don't produce sweat, some bodies don't produce sperm and some bodies don't produce babies. Just because someone has all the parts doesn't mean they all work in harmony (or at all.) But a body that doesn't produce breastmilk is the only one that is judged both openly and silently on a fairly regular basis." I fully understand that and it makes me sad.  It also makes me sad that in Mississippi only about 8% of mothers breastfeed to a year. Something seems very wrong with that and being an advocate for breastfeeding seems to be the only thing that will help.

    Another personal example- breastfeeding past a year.  I have not done extensive research, but I'm inclined to say at this point I probably won't go past a year with Graves.  I do think there are benefits, but to me it seems they are marginal and in all honesty I'm at such a better place emotionally and mine and Peyton's, um, physical relationship is much better when I'm not nursing. And to be truthful, I feel about one hundred times better physically when I'm not sustaining another life through pregnancy or nursing.  I have been pregnant or nursing for all but six months of our marriage and I feel like making my emotional health and our relationship more of a priority will probably trump the benefits of nursing past a year.  I could totally change my mind based on the additional research which I plan to, but right now I'm not afraid to say that I plan on doing what is "good" for Graves by doing what it "best" for our family as a whole.  I know some women make a similar decision much earlier on and I don't fault them for it.  It's a complex issue.

    Similarly, when I talked to my AMAZING doula at our initial meeting, I asked her if there was ever a situation where she would support the use of an epidural.  She said if a woman had experienced a really long, difficult labor (as in 36 plus hours, getting "stuck" at a point, ect.) she would not only support, but encourage, the gentle use of intervention in order to try for the greater good of avoiding a cesarean.  I felt that there was so much grace in that answer and in her ability to come to the table without a strong bias.  On a related note, of course I don't think inductions are ideal, but if it's that or risk your husband missing the birth of your kid (I've known at least two people in that situation), I say walkwalkwalk, have sex, and then pack your bags and get some pitocin pumped in you.

     All this is to say that while I generally believe that the choices we made are the best ones across the board, I understand that sometimes "good" is what is "best" for a particular family and sometimes we choose "good" because we see the risks/benefits as marginal.