Friday, December 28, 2012

What I'm Into: December

Here's what I'm into this month....

On the Nightstand:
I did more reading this month, but still not as much as I had hoped to. I did finish Called to Be Holy and I'm working on finishing up 7 and Anything.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
Being honest: I didn't open it. I knew I wouldn't have time for the "challenge", so I intentionally put it off until January. I have a friend that is starting it next month and I'm so excited about those conversations!

Called to be Holy by John Oswalt
This one is done. A finished book- woot woot! If Peyton doesn't write a post about it (which I hope he will), I'm going to. It was really powerful and honestly, very transforming in how we view holiness, man, and sin.

Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Heart by Jennie Allen
I'm dragging it out. I know.

I've also started a couple of new books:

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning
I picked up this devotion book at a used bookstore in Nashville on our last trip. I really love it. It's just very authentic and beautifully written.

The Rest of Life: Rest, Play, Eating, Studying, Sex from a Kingdom Perspective by Ben Witherington
Peyton and I just started this one. Ben Witherington is one of his recent favorite authors and this book interested me a lot so we decided to read it together.

He Will Laugh by Douglas Ray
This is a book of poetry written by one of my former classmates at Prep. To be frank, it's very much outside my comfort zone. However, I'm fascinated with him and the accomplishments he's already made at such a young age, namely having a published book. For some reason, I just couldn't not read it. I found the first half hauntingly beautiful, but I haven't liked the last little bit I've read as much. I'll share more when I finish it.

On the Shelf:
These have been the same for the past three months. I addition to those listed above, I'm committing to picking these back up.

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer
This is a long, long book, but it's fascinating and I'm determined to make some headway.

Photoshop Elements 10: The Missing Manuel
I've so enjoyed Elements, but my knowledge is so limited and I feel like I need to dive back into this.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Again, not much. Peyton bought me some amazing Springsteen concert dvds for Christmas, though, so I've started watching some of that footage.

On the Small Screen:
A little Lost here and there and the Nightly News. And that's it.

In My Ears:
Mostly my December Playlist. I wanted to make the most of the seasonal stuff. 

Around the House:
I shared my Christmas decorations, but I wanted to share one picture again. 

I looked at this picture after I uploaded it and I had to call Peyton in to come see it. Honestly, I was just so, so happy and content with my house. It looked beautiful to me. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant. But if you know our story you know we're living in a small-ish house well below our means and trying to pay it off as soon as possible. We've also tried to take our time (read: Peyton has insisted we take our time) making improvements and purchases for the house. At points, I've had a difficult time finding contentment (and I know that sounds very selfish and very spoiled and VERY "first world" of me...because it is).

In the Kitchen: 
I only made one soup this month. Things were hectic and crazy and I actually made stuff to take to things more than anything. I also made Peyton his FAVORITE casserole (which I strongly dislike). 
This is the soup I made. It's this roasted red pepper soup and it's SO good. It's really pretty simple, too. I always get tomato basil soups at restaurants, but I've yet to make one I love. This is a good alternative. Here's the recipe. [I top it off with a bunch of mozzarella.]

We've also been enjoying a lot of junk.
[white chocolate covered peanut butter and Ritz cracker sandwiches and peppermint pretzels]  

In My Closet:
Well, I shared about half a week's worth of outfits here. The one "staple" I've enjoyed is my new red skinnies. They're my first pair of skinny jeans and I've paired them with several different tops for holiday functions. They're comfy and easy and still look slightly dressy! I was kind of self-conscious about this top, but I ended up loving it. I'm always drawn to a bold print!
In My Mailbox:
 WHAT ELSE? Love. Love. Love. 

In My Cart:
I mentioned this in another post, but I was so excited to find some fun stuff on clearance at Target. I also got a fun picture frame. 
On My Heart:
Of course, Sandy Hook. Honestly, it took me a few days before it really sunk in. Like I was sad, but I didn't feel like I was grieving the way the rest of the country was. And then one night, before the prayer at a Junior League meeting, someone mentioned it and I just got so upset. It's hard to live in this world, sometimes. 

In My Prayers:
- The families of the victims of this horrible crime.
- A friend who has a baby struggling to gain weight- a situation close to my heart. 
- Some dear friends from church who are in the process of moving to another state
- A more intentional 2013.    

On the Calendar:  
January looks blissfully empty so far and I'm so very thankful.  

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

This month I'm linking up with Leah. I'm excited about checking out the other posts!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Weekly Smorgasbord

Links for this week (which is really the second half of last week's list):

On Faith
Posted: 10 Dec 2012 09:49 PM PST
"Our Master did not give us this gold of forgiveness so that we might hide it. He wants us to use it. He wants us to make things happen with it. He wants us to take our salvation and turn it into biscuits, hot on the table. He wants us to take our salvation and turn it into contagious joy, into sacrifice for others. He wants us to use it."

Posted: 16 Dec 2012 01:14 PM PST
"While symbols can be important, we have focused perhaps too much on them instead of the underlying reality they reflect. Instead, we need to go back to the basics of living as disciples of Christ, living missionally for Christ and demonstrating the Gospel in tangible ways within our schools, workplaces and communities. While I would be happy to see the Ten Commandments back on the courthouse wall, the fight over symbolic issues is backfiring, alienating people from the truths of the gospel rather than attracting them to it. The kind of Christianity the world responds to is the authentic "love your neighbor" kind. Its appeal can't be legislated through court battles and neither can courts stop its spread."
Posted: 16 Dec 2012 01:24 PM PST
"But more seriously, I think if we're honest with ourselves we evangelicals can confess that we believe moving Leftward is more dangerous (theologically and soteriologically) than moving Rightward. Leftward leads to the abandonment of biblical authority and of the resurrection and divinity of Christ (which we regard as critical for salvation), while Rightward leads to a hardening anti-intellectualism, hyper-legalism and an increasingly militant opposition to all things human. Move too far to the Left and you're no longer really a Christian. Move too far to the Right and you're just a nut-job, but a saved nut-job. That seems to be the assumption. While there may be some truth to the assumption, criticizing those on our Left but not on our Right is a practice we should reject. There are just as many theological problems on the extreme right as there are on the extreme left, and conservative evangelical extremists do damage to our cause just as much as Muslim extremists do damage to the cause of Islam."

Excellent points. 

On Family:
Posted: 16 Dec 2012 01:19 PM PST
"you see, it's not about finding the perfect fit for your family. it's about finding the right family for each orphaned child. and it won't be perfect. it will be messy. hard. discouraging. lonely. exhausting. painful. raw. but it will also be wildly beautiful. full of love. life changing. exhilarating. purpose-giving. redemptive. it will expose things about yourself that you never knew were there. deep wounds that need healing as well as strengths you didn't think you had. it will change your perspective. it will break your heart. but it will be good. so, so good."

 Such a beautiful,powerful post.

Posted: 16 Dec 2012 12:56 PM PST
"I don't want my girls to be children who are perfect and then, when they start to feel like women, they remember how I thought of myself as ugly and so they will be ugly too."

Posted: 03 Dec 2012 09:31 PM PST
"Mommy and Me classes, homemade lactation cookies, and learning Cantonese is all gravy, and if you can throw them in the mix once in a while, good on ya, Lady. I have about 9,000 things I've pinned on Pinterest and I think I've done four of them which is fine by me because those are above and beyond goodies, and not part of my just-scraping-by norm." Loved this post. Loved it. Language warning, though.
Posted: 03 Dec 2012 09:29 PM PST
Sweet nursing post (don't look if you're not into breastfeeding pictures).

On Issues of Social Concern:
Posted: 16 Dec 2012 01:17 PM PST
"So, could the human version of licking and grooming — hugging and kissing babies, and reading to them — fortify our offspring and even our society as well?..."This science suggests a very different reality," Tough writes. "It says that the character strengths that matter so much to young people's success are not innate; they don't appear in us magically, as a result of good luck or good genes. And they are not simply a choice. They are rooted in brain chemistry, and they are molded, in measurable and predictable ways, by the environment in which kids grow up. That means the rest of us — society as a whole — can do an enormous amount to influence their development.""

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 12:57 PM PST
One reason I wish Mississippi (or anywhere in the US) didn't have the death penalty.

Posted: 03 Dec 2012 09:15 PM PST
"Like the article discusses, we need as a society to talk about and be more aware of how (particularly) men wrongly interpret signals that (particularly) women send out. But we also need (particularly) boys to learn that a consent won through pestering isn't much of a consent at all. I wish I'd learned that lesson before I had to." Interesting (in a disturbing way).
Posted: 03 Dec 2012 09:14 PM PST
"Because ironically, much like the dogs followed their nature when they encountered something unfamiliar in their pen, people exhibited their own pack mentality as they descended upon Elizabeth Derkosh, Maddox's mother. Endlessly, it seemed, they sought to reaffirm to one another that this could only have been due to her idiocy and neglect, with comments denigrating her invariably getting more support than the few attempting to call off these wild animals. Common themes emerged in their attacks." People can be so cruel.
On Entertainment: 
Posted: 10 Dec 2012 09:38 PM PST
"Lincoln says the Civil War is about slavery. Full Stop. No mealy-mouthed "brother against brother" nonsense. No vague whining about tragedy. Slavery is the tragedy. No homilies to states rights. The right at stake is the right to enslave. And the black people doing the killing and dying are not confused. Nor are the authors of the Confederacy. I have never seen these facts—basic history though they may—stated so forthrightly, without apology, in the sphere of mass popular culture...A Frederick Douglass biopic, this is not. But hopefully it might be a step toward making that possible.' AS a history buff and someone who cares deeply about social justice, I'm excited about seeing this. As someone who loves the South, I'm a little frightened.

Posted: 06 Dec 2012 09:17 PM PST
Funny, I named it #1, too.

On Various (Some Extremely Random) Topics of Little or Great Importance:
Posted: 07 Dec 2012 01:18 PM PST
"But if we think more deeply about pleasure, we realize it isn't always so straightforward or even comfortable. After all, why do so many of us love sad poems, disturbing horror films, or intense, subtitled psychological dramas. Why am I capable of loving Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska" or The Smith's "Meat Is Murder" or Elliott Smith's "From a Basement on the Hill" — while at the same time I can enjoy T. Pain, Taylor Swift, and dancing with my kids to Psy's "Gangnam Style"?" "With the arts, we inherently understand that without the darker, more confounding elements, there can be no light. Wine is no different. Just as in novels or films or musical compositions, the more complex and ambitious the wine, the more unique and potentially discomforting aromas, textures, and flavors we'll find." For some reason, I found this interesting. Please don't ask me why.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Let It Echo Across the Land

Weekly Happenings Post #195 (December 17-23)-- A Trip, A Party, and A Sister Visit

Last week was long, but in a good way. We had so many fun things going on. I'm a little tired and on edge, but the week was great!

Monday was pretty low-key. The kids slept kind of late and I woke up a little after nine. We had breakfast and Peyton and I talked and then I got a bath and ran to Target for a few groceries and a gift. Peyton left for work and the kids played while I folded laundry.

They had lunch and I put them down for naps and got on Twitter and worked on last week's Weekly Happenings Post. I ate a snack, watched Lost, and folded laundry. My mom got here and picked up the kids just as they were waking up because I had a Junior League meeting. I finished getting ready and left.

 It was one of my favorites so far- Maggie Wade spoke and it was really powerful. I ate supper with my parents and took the kids home and put them to bed. I got on the computer when Peyton got home and then we hauled all the boxes the Christmas decorations were in up to the attic.

Tuesday was a fun, buy busy day! The kids slept late, so of course I did, too ;) Poor Peyton was up and out the door at six thirty for a super long shift. Anyway, when we got up, the kiddos ate breakfast and I wrapped an ornament for the ornament exchange I was going to at lunch. I looked through the new Christmas cards and did dishes and got the kids and myself dressed and ready. Our sweet babysitter, Claire, got to our house and I left for the ornament swap. It was with the Mother's Day Out ladies I worked with the past few years, and they were sweet enough to still include me! It was so much fun and did my soul good! I got home and played with the kids some and we picked up toys and then I made creamy ranch roll-ups and put them down for naps. It was a really late nap for Graves and I ended up having to wake him up. I got on Twitter and worked on a post and then got ready for another party! Sweet Claire came back to help me out since Peyton was working such a long shift and I feel like we've kind of overburdened our parents lately. This one was for our Circle and it was so much fun, too, once I finally got there. I got BAD lost (multiple times) on the way and it was so stressful (I know I was making the cars behind me so mad). Anyway, when I got home, Graves was asleep.  I think he had a hard time, though. I got Annie ready for bed and then I got on the computer until Peyton got home.

Claire braided AP's hair and I had to take a picture I thought it was so pretty. I've got to practice French braiding!

We chatted and went to bed late.

We all slept late again on Wednesday. I'm loving that! Anyway, we got up and got ready and left to run a bunch of errands around lunch. We picked up the tree that had the angels on it from church and got Abners for lunch and then I stopped by a store that I had credit at to get some Toms. We came home to pick up a few things and then dropped a Christmas outfit that was too little for Graves off at a friend's office. We went to the bread store and Walmart and then dropped some cans off with a friend who collects them for a ministry we support. We made a final stop at Target and headed home. By that time, the kids were ready for supper so they ate and played. I cleaned up the kitchen, started laundry, and then cleaned the bathrooms while they played with Peyton. We put Graves to bed and I ate some supper myself and then I worked with AP on school stuff and put her to bed. I mopped the kitchen floor and then got on the computer.

I slept late on Thursday morning and when I got up I took my bath and vacuumed. Peyton left for work and Annie and I did some school stuff. I wanted to see how she did during the morning with Graves around since it's been a while. She did fine and it was nice not to have it hanging over our heads that night, but I still think evenings have their merits (namely, the lack of a wild brother running around taunting you with stuff you could be playing with while your mom tries to get you to focus). Anyway, I fixed the kids lunch and then Annie and I read and did her Advent stuff after I put Graves down. I took some pictures of our Christmas decorations and had lunch and got on the computer. When the kids woke up we ran to Kroger and then I cooked Peyton's favorite supper while they ate and played. I read and played with them some and put Graves to bed. Annie and I read some more and I got her to bed relatively early. I got on the computer until Peyton got home.

We got up on Friday and got ready and ran to Target to print some photos for gifts. Peyton was having lunch with a pharmacy friend, so the kids and I came home. I straightened and they watched a movie and played with blocks.

 Graves was all out of sorts (he had been all morning) and I felt terrible for him (I know he looks terrible in that picture). I fixed their lunches and then put them down for naps. I ate lunch, folded some towels and got on Twitter and wrote a post. Graves took a super short nap, but I insisted he stay in his crib the regular amount :) When they got up, we cleaned up and then headed over to my parents' house.

We had a great visit and a great supper, of course! I put them both to bed when we got home and read blogs until Peyton got home. We set up the kids' Christmas gifts from us for the next morning.

Oh, except that Peyton went in and snuggled with AP and it woke her up (it never does). So she was eating Oreos in our bed at two in the morning. Because Christmas! Fun! Merry! (says her Papa).

Saturday was a fun day! Peyton and I both went ahead and got baths and then my mom and dad and Cookie (she got in late Friday night) arrived while the kids were getting up. [Actually, we had to distract AP with Dora for a bit while I finished getting ready.] We tried to keep it minimal and they loved what they got. I'm going to do another post, but it was so perfect!

We all got dressed and I cleaned up the house. I did dishes and got myself and the kids packed and put up the Christmas loot in less than two hours. We had to make the time count because we needed to get on the road. We were going to one of Peyton's high school/college friends' announcement parties in Florence, Alabama. We got on the road and we actually made really good time. The kids did really good until the very end. We ran in the hotel and got all four of us ready in about twenty minutes and headed to the party. We had fun, but as I expected, Graves was busy, busy, busy. I just had to stay on top of him the whole time to make sure he didn't break anything or hurt himself. I think Peyton had a great time catching up with Katie, though, and it was important to both of us to be there for her. We both remembered taking Annie to the Chicago marathon to see Katie when she was almost exactly Graves's age and just how different that was ;) We got back to the hotel late and kind of expected the kids to just zonk out...well, at least Graves. We tried putting him in the bathroom and turning off all the lights, but we ended up all still being up close to midnight. We finally got the room completely dark and put both kids in our bed and they went on to sleep. I felt kind of selfish and stupid for not just trying that earlier.

We had planned to go to church with Peyton's aunt and her family on Sunday since they live in Florence, but after that night we didn't make it.
This is how you feed a messy boy without a highchair. Peyton is creative :)

Close up. When I say he's a mess, I mean the most beautiful sort. I love him so much it hurts. 

We ended up meeting Katie and her family for lunch and then stopping at Target and Walgreens for a few things and getting on the road.

Impulse buy from the clearance section at Target. Felt acorns and pinecones on the left and right, respectively. 

We drove pretty much straight and the kids did really well again. They're good travelers! I'm so glad because Peyton nearly looses it listening to Graves scream for like twenty minutes. Anyway, we actually went straight to my parents' house because we all wanted to see Cookie.

My mom had made brisket and we loved that, of course! Along with the Santy cake...

We got home pretty late and put the kids to bed. I started a new book and stayed up late reading it then Peyton and I chatted and went to bed.

Friday, December 21, 2012

You've Got Mail: 2012 Herrington Christmas Card and Letter

Happy Holidays from the Herringtons

Oh, friends. I hardly know where to start. This year has been filled with abundant blessing and we are beyond thankful for all the events, experiences, and people that have filled it so beautifully. 

Peyton and I are coming up on our fifth wedding anniversary this Summer and I think we are both humbled and encouraged by how much we’ve grown and changed- as individuals, as a couple, and as a family- in those years. So much has happened in these four and a half short years- we’ve dealt with lost jobs, we’ve experienced the joy of the addition of a precious little girl, we‘ve undergone changes in jobs, we’ve experienced the joy of the addition of a precious little boy, we’ve gone on fantastic trips, we’ve had life changing experiences, we’ve developed our faith in many ways and we’ve learned more about each other and about those two tiny beings that have become such a huge chunk of our world. 

Peyton is still enjoying his job at Walgreens. Recently, there has been an influx of “traffic” to his store as Walgreens bought another pharmacy in the area. His days are long, but he’s a hard worker and more than that he’s patient, and kind, and gracious. I am so proud of him. He’s also taken on some new responsibilities at church and has a strong presence among the “lay leadership”. His area is “adult education” and he is working hard to find new and exciting material that will best serve our congregation. 

This is the first year that I haven’t worked a (very) part-time job at our church’s Mother’s Day Out program. If I’m honest, I miss it terribly some days. But, I’ve seen firsthand that you can miss something, even yearn for it, and have a total peace about the fact that it’s not your circumstances for a season. The primary reason I decided to step back this year has to do with our schooling choice for Ann Peyton. We are planning on home schooling our children and this was our first year. I have to say, it’s already been both challenging and enriching and I know it will grow me as well as the children. It is so very exciting for me to step back into the role of an educator, as I spent four years in college learning to be one. I am beyond thankful that Peyton has taken an active part in this endeavor and intends to continue to do so.  We also found a two day a week school that was developed specifically for home schooling families- Annie takes ballet, tap, art, gymnastics, and music as well as doing some age appropriate pre-reading activities. She loves it and it’s been nice a nice addition specifically for the socialization aspect. I knew she’d miss the time with other children when she got too old for Mother’s Day Out and this has been the perfect replacement. 

Speaking of Annie, she’s quite a darling. She loves princesses and ballerinas and fairies and all things pink. She insists that we call her “Cinderella” and it’s a bit comical the things she comes up with. She actually told me the other day that Cinderella had to ride to the hospital in the ambulance (because she had a bad cold), but her mice had to “take their own car” so they could ride in their “tiny car seats”. We were howling. She has what my dad refers to as a “definite determination of purpose”, something he remembers fondly (ha!) from my childhood. She is still such a sweet, typically good natured child, but she keeps us on our toes with her questions and her deep desire for an explanation. I love that I see myself often in the way she seems to feel things deeply and respond to them. I count it my blessing to try to help her channel this as a force for good…for God. 

Graves is just a mess…in such a perfect way. He’s full of energy and he just loves people. We’ve grown to realize that he’s very social. He’s a risk-taker and will climb on most anything. And he loves any kind of ball. He seems like a true little boy in some ways. But in others, he’s still such a baby. He walks around with his blanket (and usually two or three other comfort items) and is just almost unbearably sweet. Peyton has taken to calling him “Linus”. I love to watch his personality develop and I pray for his character, for the man he will become. 

So many things have happened in the last twelve months that I’d love to share with you….books that have molded my heart-music that awakened my spirit-events and experiences that wrecked me in all the best ways-conversations with friends that deeply encouraged and edified me in ways I didn’t know possible-mundane moments of parenting and marriage and educating and  homemaking that took my breath away because of God’s abundant grace. But the white on my page is quickly disappearing and two pages is more than sufficient for a yearly catch-up. Just know that our days are beautiful (except when they’re ugly- and there’s beauty in that), full (except when they’re empty- and there’s a fullness in the overflowing of praise for those), and joyful (except when they are difficult and tiresome and frustrating- and there is more than enough hope to find joy even in those). 

I have a quote written in our kitchen that says “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a smiling family all wrapped up in each other”.  Our prayer, dear friends, is that you will find these things in your days….that you will feel wrapped in the love of family, friends, and the Lord. 

The Herringtons 

2009 Card and Letter
2010 Card and Letter
2011 Card and Letter 

Deck the Halls: Christmas Decorations 2012

So, Christmas decorations. I actually didn't decorate as much as usual this year. No major changes, I just left some of the knick knacks in boxes and tried not to stress over not doing every last thing.

We also kind of had to come up with a plan regarding the tree (really all breakable/dangerous decorations). Honestly, I don't know how anyone does it with a rowdy toddler unless they barricade the thing. I'm sure there are ways, I'm just clueless. Anyway, Peyton said from the get go that we needed to not put the tree in the living room like usual. I told him I'd just put the ornaments that weren't breakable on the bottom and he was like "Um, Sweetie, I'm scared Baby Graves will pull the whole thing over on himself". Anyway, we ended up doing what Peyton has always wanted to do and put it in the sunroom! Now that we have stockings that I love and a few other decorations that are really meaningful, I felt okay with the living room not having a tree. It looks Christmasy enough. And the sunroom turned out way cuter than I realized it would!

Merry merry!

I like having areas that are funky and festive and other areas that are more serious and subtle. I love the fun colors of the mantle/fireplace!

My card tree is at the top of my list of favorite decorations!

I added this pillow this year (actually today!). It's a place mat from Target and they just had one (plus square place mats look funny on our round table), so my mom whipped it up into a pillow, which is way cuter anyway! I keep moving it around. It really looks cuter on the couch or in one of the black and white chairs, but the red matches our red chairs almost perfectly and the other colors really coordinate with the curtains! I just adore it...and it was $1.99! 

A few of the more serious areas in the living room.

I took an extremely minimal approach in the bedrooms and study. All I did was put on our Christmas sheets! I have so much love for these things, though, so it was enough!
We have trees and Annie has stockings. I also already have some for Graves's big boy bed :)

The kitchen is pretty much all just fun and whimsical. But that's kind of the theme of our kitchen year round, so it works!

Annie had so much fun helping me decorate the tree!
We got had a few new ornaments this year.

 And I enjoyed hanging some old favorites, too!

Like I said, I really ended up loving the way the sunroom turned out. We even call it "the Christmas room". Annie has loved it especially!

This is Peyton's favorite thing to do- lay on the tiny sofa in the dark with the tree lights on!