Thursday, February 28, 2013

What I'm Into: February


On the Nightstand:
I've been keeping up with reading (offline) better again this month. That's kind of been a loose goal for this year and I'm pretty satisfied with my accomplishments so far!

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning
I didn't read as much from this in February and I'm sure I lost out on some really good truth because of it.

Work: A Kinddom Perspective on Labor by Ben Witherington III
I've continued to really enjoy this one. The style is bit difficult because the author tends to jump around a bit and there are some tangents, but overall the content FAR outweighs these little issues.
"...When we find our calling we are unlikely to find it boring, though we may find it onerous in ways. It is also unlikely that we will hate what we are called to do, though there may be days or even longer periods when difficulties or even dangers make us wish very strongly that we were called to do something else."
[Thank you, Ben Witherington, for speaking words to the cry of my heart. We can be called...truly unequivocally something and still for a day, or a season, wish mightily we were called to something different.]

"It's not just that the sluggard takes the path of least resistance; rather, he takes the path of least exertion. His life is one of avoidance- avoidance of things that require real effort or could prove challenging....(this from Derek Kidner) [He] deceives himself by the smallness of his surrenders. So, by inches and minutes, his opportunity slips away.''
[I definitely deceive myself by the smallness of my surrenders.] 

I've really enjoyed spending some time in my "homeschool encylopedia" and I'm beginning to more fully understand the foundations of a classical education. Reading this breaks things down into very basic, bearable chunks and it gets me excited about actually doing this

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Annie and I finished our first chapter book together and it was such a special experience, one I'll hold in my heart forever. I plan to write more about it on my homeschool blog, but it was wonderful to have that time with her.

"'You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.""  

"These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall. Christmas will come, then the snows of Winter. You will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world, for you mean a great deal to Zuckerman and he will not harm you, ever. Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blog again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur- this lovely world, these precious days..."
[This lovely world, these precious days....ours to enjoy. Thank you, E.B. White for this wonderful gift.]

On the Shelf:
I'm keeping one from last month and adding a new one. Interestingly, they're both "manuals".

Photoshop Elements 10: The Missing Manuel

Equipped to Serve (the Training Manual for the Center for Pregnancy Choices where I'm volunteering)

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Again, no traditional movies this month.

The National Parks: America's Best Idea
Peyton's been watching this series. It's a six disc set (he's streaming it on Netflix), so it's pretty involved and I've been hesitant to commit since I'm trying to catch up to where he is in The West Wing. I've caught bits and pieces, though. And what I've seen, I've found really interesting.

Also, this:
Besides it being the month of love, we thought it was time for Annie to see it. The three of us had the best time watching.

On the Small Screen:
Pretty much we've zeroed in on our current favorite show.

The West Wing
We're about fifteen episodes in. I love all the characters and the plots are really engaging. It seems like every episode I "fall" for a character. Toby and the funeral for the homeless vet? Y'all. If you watched the show, you probably know exactly what I mean.

In My Ears:
Mainly my February playlist. I'm pretty proud of it. Okay, the thing is stellar. You're not going to find a better collection of love songs.
Around the House:
My mom got us (mainly Peyton because it's his thing) this counter top compost bin. I love it. It's clean, cute, and SO functional. No more gross tupperware with orange peels waiting to be dumped outside. 
Also, this is a great example of how inconsistent I am with household chores. I scrub it to the point that we could get food out and eat it again. Yet all around it, a more obvious mess pervades.

Another something from my mom. She got this for us for New York and it pretty much inspired a whole post on my NYC blog.

Finally, I don't do much for things like Valentine's day, but I did bust out a few decorations for the kitchen. 
[I keep the heart dessert stand out a lot of the year and I pretty much moved the Valentine's day aprons to the front of the pile.]

In the Kitchen:
The Winter Soup Challenge is still going strong. This month I made a chicken tortilla from one of my favorite cookbooks:
Ordinary I'm not a fan of this type soup (spicy, tomato-based), but it was SO good.

And here's my guilty pleasure for the month. I've been loving trying different types of popcorn. My current fave is white cheddar. 

In My Closet:
My go to outfit this month:

I've worn this dress a few times because it's so easy and SO comfy. And I've gotten really into the textured leggings since Peyton said he liked them!
In My Mailbox:
Not much at all. The kids both got a Valentine from Peyton's grandmother. That was the extent. A pretty sweet extent, of course!

In My Cart:
I went to my very favorite consignment sale this week and here's what I picked up. I was pretty excited that I was able to use a bit of discretion. We're really working hard at this budget thing (I know, I sound like a broken record) and I'm trying to be faithful to that. I assumed this would be one of the most challenging points of the year. I took Minnie with me for reinforcements and I think we did really good. 
On My Heart:
I thought a lot about love this month and how incredibly blessed I am to be surrounded by the people I am, people that I love dearly and that love me well.

In My Prayers:
- I'm trying to focus my heart on the cross as we prepare to remember the events of Good Friday. I certainly don't ever want it to be far from my mind, but I'm praying God will help me to slow down and dwell on it.
- Our church is going through a LOT of transition in the coming months, espesially with the pastoral staff. I'm praying for a smooth transition and that God will continue to guide us in ways He'd have us serve.
- For Ann Peyton and Graves's friendships. I've been thinking a lot about my own friendships and I've also noticed her relationship with one of her little friends really coming into it's own. I want to be more diligent about praying for the children and teenagers that will be my daughter's and son's dearest friends.  

On the Calendar:  
The big thing in March is that I'm going with two of my absolute favorite people to an adoption conference. It's no big secret that adoption is something Peyton and I passionately support and something that we believe is God's will for our family in the future. I'm excited about surrounding myself with people who care so deeply about something close to my heart and also about spending time with some dear friends.

I'm linking up with Leah again, of course!

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

What I'm Into site

What I'm Into site

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tunes for the Month: February

Doing a Valentine's playlist was the obvious choice for this month. The songs, however, aren't all obvious choices. I basically picked out some of my favorite sappy love songs; a couple of songs that may not even be romantic, but are special to me and Peyton and; and a few that I mostly associate with friendship but seemed to fit perfectly among the rest. Let me go ahead and warn y'all- this post got a little racy. Read at your own discretion. Anyway, here's this month's playlist:

1. Unchained Melody- The Righteous Brothers
Oh, my love, my darling  
I've hungered for your touch 

Okay, so this list may reveal what's already been revealed here before. By and large, I have the musical preferences of a sixty something. Whatever, I love this song. I think it's beautiful and as cliche as it is, I won't apologize for it. 

2. Can't Help Falling in Love- Elvis Presley
 Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can't help falling in love with you

This was one of the first pop songs I ever listened to. My grandmother, "Bump", had an Elvis Presley tape in her car at at the age of six, I kind of got the fever. Only a few years (eh, decades) behind the rest of America. There were probably five or so years where I was really, really fascinated by Elvis. Anyway, this is my favorite of his more serious love songs.

3. When a Man Loves a Woman- Percy Sledge
 When A Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge
When a man loves a woman
Can't keep his mind on nothing else
He'll trade the world
For the good thing he's found

Sooo...this song isn't exactly just peaches and daffodils.  Clearly, the song is about when a man loves a woman and but she treats him badly, brings him misery, ect. I think it's pretty, though, and it's clearly a love song in some sense, so on the list it went.

4. Have I Told You Lately- Van Morrison
For the morning sun in all it's glory
Greets the day with hope and comfort too
You fill my life with laughter
And somehow you make it better
Ease my troubles that's what you do
There's a love that's divine
And it's yours and it's mine like the sun
And at the end of the day
We should give thanks and pray
To the one, to the one...
Have I told you lately that I love you
Have I told you there's no one else above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away all my sadness
Ease my troubles that's what you do

This is another old favorite. Mickey was a big Van Morrison fan, so we listened a good bit in his car. Again, cassette tapes. Obviously. I've always...always...loved this song.  But the older I get and the more life experiences I have to it's tune, the more I adore it. It's got a decidedly spiritual (though not religious) quality to it, as much of his stuff does. It's one of those songs that I feel like I'd want playing if my life was a musical or in a montage at my death.

5. The Way You Look Tonight- Frank Sinatra
Some day, when I'm awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight.
Yes you're lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft,
There is nothing for me but to love you,
And the way you look tonight.

This is a sexy song. Period.  It's one of those "getting ready for a big event" songs. I should make a playlist called "Getting Ready for a Big Event". I'll get on that.

6. Moondance- Van Morrison

Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
And all the nights magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush...
Well, I wanna make love to you tonight
I can't wait 'til the morning has come
And I know that the time is just right
And straight into my arms you will run
And when you come my heart will be waiting
To make sure that you're never alone...
And every time I touch you, you just tremble inside
And I know how much you want me that you can't hide

Um, y'all. I'm not sure I can keep my blog PG rated and say much about this one.  First of all, lets address that I qouted the song about in its entirety. It's just that good. I love the imagery. A fantabolous night to make romance? Yep. Neath the cover of October skies? Yes please. Trying to please to the calling of your heart-strings that play soft and low? Well okay then.

Peyton and I just loved this song when we were dating. I'd almost call it "our song", but we had a lot of those. We'd sing it to each other and when we got to the line half way know the one, go ahead and find it...I could barely breath. Let's just say we had to be very, very careful with this. [And we probably crossed some emotional/mental boundaries I hope my kids will avoid in their teenage/young adult courtships.] I was trying to figure out how to say exactly what this song makes/made me feel and I couldn't. Then I reread the lyrics and, crazy of crazies, the last two lines do it for me: And every time I touch you, you just tremble inside. And I know how much you want me that you can't hide.   

7. I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues- Elton John
Don't wish it away
Don't look at it like it's forever
Between you and me
I could honestly say
That things can only get better...
And while I'm away
Dust out the demons inside
And it won't be long
Before you and me run
To the place in our hearts
Where we hide...
And I guess that's why
They call it the blues
Time on my hands
Could be time spent with you
Laughing like children
Living like lovers
Rolling like thunder under the covers
And I guess that's why
They call it the blues

Again, with quoting almost the entire song. Sorry. It's that good. It's a feel good song for me. I like to put it on and blare the lyrics about how things could only get better. I like it when Elton instructs me to dust out the demons inside. I also like it when it comes on the grocery store and Peyton and I are entwine our arms and sing it. And then I realize we're pushing two kids in a cozy coup Kroger buggy and singing about "rolling like thunder under the covers" and beebopping like teenagers and I'm a little embarrassed. Not enough so that I quit, though.

8. Something About the Way You Look Tonight- Elton John
I need to tell you
How you light up every second of the day
But in the moonlight
You just shine like a beacon on the bay...
And I can't explain
But it's something about the way you look tonight
Takes my breath away
It's that feeling I get about you, deep inside
And I can't describe
But it's something about the way you look tonight
Takes my breath away
The way you look tonight...
With a smile
You pull the deepest secrets from my heart
In all honesty
I'm speechless and I don't know where to start 

I think this is another definite for "Getting Ready for a Big Event" playlist. It's also just so sweet and true with the line "With a smile, You pull the deepest secrets from my heart". Isn't that the best feeling?

9. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)- James Taylor
I needed the shelter of someone's arms, and there you were
I needed someone to understand my ups and downs, and there you were
With sweet love and devotion
Deeply touching my emotion
I want to stop and thank you baby
I want to stop and thank you baby...
How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you...
But you brighten up for me all of my days
With a love so sweet in so many ways
I want to stop and thank you baby
I just want to stop and thank you baby

Yeah, the sweetest thing. And makes me think of Peyton everytime- his arms that have been my shelter on some pretty dark days and the understanding of some vicious ups and downs.

10. Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight- James Taylor
Do me wrong, do me right. 
Tell me lies but hold me tight.
Save your good-byes for the morning light, 

but don't let me be lonely tonight.   

This is a weird choice. It's sort of sad and (obviously) lonely.  I really have no defense of the song lyrically. It was just another JT tune I loved.

11. Your Smiling Face- James Taylor
Whenever I see your smiling face,
I have to smile myself
Because I love you, yes, I do.
And when you give me that pretty little pout,
It turns me inside out.
There's something about you, baby,
I don't know...
I thought I was in love a couple of times
Before with the girl next door,
But that was long before I met you,
Now I'm sure that I won't forget you.
And I thank my lucky stars
That you are who you are,
And not just another lovely lady
Set out to break my heart.

Such a perfect song about finding the love of your life. 

12. You Are the Best Thing- Ray LaMontagne
Baby, it's been a long day, baby  
Things ain't going my way 
You know I need you here  
Here by my side  
All of the time...
Oh because, you are the best thing  
You are the best thing  
You are the best thing  
Ever happened to me

Yeah, this is Peyton's go-to song to set the mood. I won't take it any further than that.

 13. Ran Away on the Top of the World Today- O.A.R.

i don't know nothing, i don't know a thing
but if i just keep on listening, together we'll sing
i've been walking for about a thousand years
and my feet are tired of crying all those painful tears
and my sight is going blind and my soul is way down low
but i haven't seen a thing, so that's all i can know...
i've been drinking to drown away my tears
and i'm sick of all the violence and i'm sick of all the fears
but i'm moving down the road, true i'm moving kind of slow
but i haven't heard a thing, so that's all i can know...
i've been crying and losing lots of sleep
cause the roads are getting longer
winter snows come kinda deep
but i still will move along
and i still can feel the sun
and i see or hear a thing
and i'll break into a run...
i ran away to the top of the world today
i ran away to the top of the world today
ran away top of the world today  

Super odd choice, I know. I put it on the list because when we were dating (like early, early days) Peyton and I loved this song. I have vivid memories of us running up to the hospital where he worked on an errand. It's kind of surreal that we still love running errands together eight years later. And now we have two kids in tow. I do like the lyrics a lot and think they paint a neat picture. Additionally, the tune is still one of my favorites ever.

14. Sigh No More- Mumford & Sons
Love; it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be...
There is a design, an alignment to cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be

Some of my favorite Mumford lines ever. Which is saying a lot.

15. On a Night Like This- Dave Barnes
On a night like this I could fall in love
I could fall in love with you
In this dark so dense, we talk so soft
The way young lovers do
The days last sight turns to cool nights breeze
And this love hangs thick like these willow leaves
Ive hid myself away from this
But your silhouette is true love's kiss

This has appeared on a previous list. I actually mentioned the steam factor on that list. I think it's beautiful. Of the songs on this list, I think the actual music is the sultriest in this one. And I think the imagery is gorgeous and sexy.

16. So Are You to Me- Eastmountainsouth
As the music at the banquet
As the wine before the meal
As the firelight in the night
So are you to me
As the ruby in the setting

As the fruit upon the tree
As the wind blows over the plains
So are you to me 
This was on the same aforementioned list. I think it's particularly beautiful and worth the repeat. 

17. Stay- Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs
Oh, won't you stay
Just a little bit longer
Please let me hear
You say that you will
Say you will...Won't you press your sweet lips
To mine
Won't you say you love me
All of the time 

I was searching for a different song from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack (the next one), but I found this and had to include it.

18. Hungry Eyes- Eric Carmen
 I've been meaning to tell you
I've got this feelin' that won't subside
I look at you and I fantasize
You're mine tonight
Now I've got you in my sights...
With these hungry eyes
One look at you and I can't disguise
I've got hungry eyes
I feel the magic between you and I

This was the first song I heard that I thought "Woah. Sexy." Could've had something to do with the movie, which I still love lots.

19. Ain't Even Done with the Night- John Melloncamp
Well our hearts beat like thunder
I don't know why they don't explode
You got your hands in my back pockets
And Sam Cooke's singin' on the radio
You say that I'm the boy who can make it all come true
Well I'm tellinya that I don't know if I know what to do
Another favorite that dates back to like seventh grade. 

20. Thunder Road- Bruce Springsteen

The screen door slams
Marys dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only...
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You aint a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me...
Oh-oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh-oh thunder road, oh thunder road oh thunder road

I've shared this before, but this is probably the closest I could come to calling a song mine and Peyton's. Several months after we started dating, this song was playing in Peyton's car one night after I ran out the front door of my parent's house and hopped in.  We just looked at each other and we both felt something there we had never felt before.  I remember we both had tears in our eyes and I kept asking Peyton "What? What is it?" and he said "I think we're falling in love" and I said "I think that's it" and we cried and hugged and kissed.  I will always love this song and that memory.

Also, for what it's worth, I will always love the memories of seeing my favorite musician, one who was singing on stage in a wife beater near forty years ago, perform. That's just surreal to me. 

21. Dancing in the Dark- Bruce Springsteen
 I get up in the evening, and I ain't got nothing to say
I come home in the morning, I go to bed feeling the same way
I ain't nothing but tired, man I'm just tired and bored with myself
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help

I just think it's a fun song and good to dance to. Obviously. 

22. She's the One- Bruce Springsteen
 Oh and just one kiss
She'd fill them long summer nights
With her tenderness
That secret pact you made
Back when her love could save you
From the bitterness
Oh she's the one

I heard this one for the first time at the concert we went to back in October. I love it. 

23. Prove It All Night- Bruce Springsteen
Everybody's got a hunger, 
a hunger they can't resist,
There's so much that you want, you
deserve much more than this,

Yeah, another really good one I recently discovered. It doesn't totally fit the list well, but I've been enjoying it lately so it made the cut.

24. If I Should Fall Behind- Bruce Springsteen

 We said we'd walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as were walkin a hand should slip free
Ill wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me...
We swore wed travel darlin side by side
Wed help each other stay in stride
But each lovers steps fall so differently
But I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

While the other songs this list speak of a romantic, passionate love, to me this song conveys the real heart of our marriage. I've loved this song so much and it reminds me of how much I cherish my best friend. The one who so faithfully waits for me every time I fall behind. I'm beyond blessed that I get to call myself his wife.

25. Stand by Me- Ben E. King
When the night has come and the land is dark  
And the moon is the only light we see  
No, I won't be afraid, oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me...
If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall 
Or the mountain should crumble to the sea 
I won't cry, I won't cry, no, I won't shed a tear  
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

Where else to end it? Basically, if the world ends (or feels like it's ending) there's really nothing to be sad or afraid of if you'll stand by me. I'm glad that my greatest hope is not in a man, I really am. But I'm also glad that when things look the bleakest or are the most frightening I do have someone so faithfully devoted to standing by me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekly Happenings Post #204 (February 18-24)-- FEELINGS

Annie had a bit of a rough week last week. I'm not sure what it was, just so much....EMOTION. Y'all her teenage years have me so scared. Peyton was saying the other night that he wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail (it takes like six months). I told him jokingly that if he'd homeschool Graves they could just do it together. Annie and I could stay home and take massive amounts of Lexapro. 

I got up on Monday, got ready and packed AP's lunch. After I dropped her off, I volunteer at the CPC. I mainly did some training stuff- mostly reading. When I got home I had a short little visit and snack with Peyton and then he left. Graves had lunch and I started a blog post and kind of picked up the house. We picked up Annie from school and then came home for naps. I sent a few emails, got on Twitter, and did my Bible study. I got the kids up and AP was in an awful state. The day before she had fallen asleep in the car and then taken FOREVER to get to bed that night and I think being so tired was just making her major irritable. Anyway, I got ready and Peyton's dad got here to watch them while I went to my Junior League meeting. It was the last "Provisional Training" and it was really good, basically just about our future in the League. When I got home, I cleaned up the kids room and put Graves to bed after Peyton's dad left. Ann Peyton was still so mad at the world, but once I got her to bed she fell asleep faster than she has in probably a year. I got on the computer and when Peyton got home, we watched The West Wing and went to bed.

I got up with Graves on Tuesday and then traded off with Peyton after breakfast, snuggles, and a diaper change. When I got up, we just all hung out for a bit and then I cleaned up the kitchen from the night before and straightened the kids' room which looked like a disaster area from when they played in there with Peyton that morning. I'd normally make them help, but Peyton said Graves did most of it and I knew making him help would be a headache (I've been making him clean up with us a LOT lately, but he likes to make another mess while he cleans one up). Anyway, I ate breakfast and took my bath and then Peyton left. I consolidated a few piles and we did our homeschool stuff and then straightened and had lunch.

 sweet Bud feeding and burping his baby

I put the kids down and ate a snack and got on the computer. I took a short nap and started getting ready for Ultreya and baking some cookies. When the kids got up, I got them ready and fixed them supper. We left for the meeting. It was a great meeting. The leader asked us questions and we just discussed. When we got home, I put the kids right to bed. I got on the computer and worked on a post and read blogs and caught up on Twitter. Peyton got home and we actually got in bed, talked, and went to sleep at a normal hour!

I was volunteering at Bargain Boutique on Wednesday, so I got up and got ready. Peyton dressed AP and I got her lunch ready. There was some drama about hair and it was kind of chaotic, but we made it to school. I dropped her off and did my final BB shift for the League year. It was fun and actually I found a few things I wanted to buy. Budget slash, though. Oh, well. Anyway, I got home and visited with Peyton and played with Graves and ate lunch. I loaded dishes and then started cooking a potato casserole we were going to have for dinner (since we had church I was going to pre-cook and then reheat it). Anyway, Peyton left and I finished that and fed Graves lunch and then Peyton and Annie got home. We got the kids down and talked some and then I read some in our book for that night. After that, I got on the computer and then worked on my closet at little. The kids got up and we got ready for church. Annie had a melt down in her class (that she usually loves). She told me (she's told me this a few times lately) that she "just wanted to stop crying" but she couldn't. She even asked me to "make her stop crying". I don't know, it's hard. Anyway, we let her sit in on our class and it was a disaster. She wasn't out of control or anything, but she kept wanting to whisper things to me and it was just a distraction. I ended up just taking her out and Peyton had a big talk with her afterward. We came home and fed the kids and bathed them and put them to bed and then Peyton and I ate our supper (crock pot bbq, the casserole, and okra) in peace. I fixed some soup and cleaned up the kitchen (which took over an hour) after that and then got on the computer. Two meals in one night is the way to go, cooking wise.

Peyton had a meeting at nine on Thursday and then was going to meet us at the Science Museum for a field trip at ten. I got in the tub around eight and then he had to jump in. It was kind of chaotic because I was trying to blow dry my hair and Graves was mad at me for putting him in the Pack N Play. [I think it's about time I let go of my worries about what could happen when I'm out of earshot and just let them play in the gated den.] Anyway, Peyton got off and I finished getting ready and  packed all our lunches, started laundry and fed and dressed the kids.
 This is how we field trip- tshirt, Converse, and prissy pants.

We got off just in time. When we got there it was POURING. Peyton met us there and I was SO glad for his help. I think trying to keep up with Graves would have been um...exhausting. Anyway, we came home and all had lunch and I unpacked everything and got the kids down for naps. Graves had acted so sleepy at the museum but then took half an hour to go to sleep and woke up earlier than usual. I ate my lunch, got on the computer, and worked on my closet. When the kids got up, I worked on their "buy ahead" closet and got it organized and then went through their shoe drawers.
 Bud tucking in his "babies".

 I pulled out a bunch that were too small and got some new ones down from the BA closet. We cleaned up their room and they ate supper. I bathed Graves (who was SO fussy, I guess from being so tired) and read to him a bit and put him to bed. Annie and I did some school stuff and read and just talked and then I put her to bed. I got on the computer and ate dinner. When Peyton got home we visited and then I wrote a post. We watched The West Wing and went to bed.

Friday was a fun day.  Peyton got up and left for work and then I got up with Graves. And then Peyton got back home. He was supposed to work that night- too bad his commute is an hour round trip :( Anyway, it was nice to have him home that morning. We had a relaxing morning. Maybe too relaxing because I started getting ready, trying to get the kids ready, iron things, pack their lunches, and pick up the house and we were late getting over to Carrie's for lunch. We had lasagna Carrie had made and it was delicious. We had so much fun and it was our turn to stay FOREVER. When it was time to go, Annie lost her mind a little bit over not being able to find a plastic ring Peyton had given her. This week was so hard for her, for some reason. Anyway, we made it home and I put the kids down. I got on the computer and wrote a post and picked up a little more around the house. Graves woke up early again (and fussy again) from his nap. We cleaned up their room and got ready to go to my parents' house. We had a great visit and I put the kids right down when we got home. I did computer stuff and Peyton got home and we visited. I read some and did my Bible study and then watched The West Wing and went to bed.

We all slept late(ish) on Saturday- eight thirty! We got going and I took a bath and then tagged some clothes for a consignment sale. Peyton got ready and we loaded up and dropped the clothes off, I dropped Peyton off at his parents' house where he was meeting his brother, Andrew, for a walk. Peyton's parents were at Granny's, though, and Annie got upset they weren't there to visit with her. I called Elizabeth to see about stopping by, but they weren't home, so we headed over to Mickey and Minnie's. I told AP from the start that a) we were only staying about twenty minutes and b) if she was hungry, she could eat one Babybel and either leftover beans or leftover chicken pot pie (they tend to want to eat a lot of junk at my parents' house). We had a nice visit and I told Annie that we were leaving in about ten minutes and not to tell me she was hungry as we were walking out the door. She said she wanted to eat lunch and I asked what. She immediatly said chicken pot pie. Planning and preparing work really well with her. I don't know where she gets that :) Anyway, we finished up and came home for naps. I read to Annie and got her down and then straightened a little and got on the computer. Andrew brought Peyton home and stayed to visit a little and then it was time to wake up Graves because we had a Sunday school activity that afternoon. We were making UMCOR kits as a mission project and boiling crawfish for fun. We had a nice time at the service oppurtunity/party and stayed nearly three hours! Graves was melting down towards the end, though. I started putting up laundry in the kids room and Peyton bathed the kids. He left Graves in the tub for more than two minutes and of course he pooped. He actually finished on the frog potty, though. So...points for that? Anyway, I cleaned that up and started some laundry and tidied up a few piles after I got Graves to bed. We got AP down and talked some and then I got on the computer and read posts and put pictures on Flikr. I read a bunch in a homeschooling book and then watched The West Wing and went to bed.

Sunday was sort of weird. Not what I expected, but mostly good. We got up and went to church and Sunday school and then one of the volunteers for children's church didn't show up for the second service, so I helped with that. We came home and all had lunch and then we got the kids settled for naps/rest time.
 random photo shoot- I think my skills are improving a bit

I got on Twitter a bit and then Peyton and I hung out and talked and I read some.
 The loveseat in the sunroom is too small for both of us to stretch out on, so Peyton is on a chaise lounge, in the yard, visiting with me through the window. And also drinking hard liqueur at two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. OMG.

Well, nobody here should be struggling to read because of this. #constantchatteraroundhere

When Graves woke up, Peyton took the kids outside and I fell asleep for a little bit with the windows still open.

Peyton was pulling Graves up and he heard his wrist pop. It got red and Peyton came in and iced it. It seemed to be better and he took him outside again, but when he tried to move it he started crying. I was going to take AP and go to church, but he stretched out his arms and I knew he wanted me. Anyway, it was really too late for Peyton and Annie to go. They ended up going to the park while I tried to get Graves to bed. I laid down with him in AP's bed after I finally go his diaper changed and pjs on.
 Can't say I didn't love this- it's the most sedentary he's been since he became mobile. Poor Bud.

When they got home, Peyton put him in his crib. I cleaned up the kitchen and picked up the house (both a disaster) and we put Annie down. Poor Graves was having a hard time staying asleep. We watched the Oscars and ate supper and then I got on the computer and uploaded pictures. I stayed up too late watching The West Wing and Graves was up a good bit.

I think this week is going to be pretty fun/relaxed. I'm hoping Baby Graves's wrist heals quickly and I'm also hoping for a less emo little girl. One can dream, yes?

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Front Row Seat to a Beautifully Answered Prayer

[Beautiful shot captured by Minda's sister-in-law, Laura Marie Anthony, whose photography blog you can see here.]

The other night Peyton and I showed Annie the video from our wedding ceremony for the first time. One recurring thought I had throughout it was how much I wish I had had this blog back then. [Of course, another was to have anxiety about needing to back it up five different ways.] Anyway, I don't have a very good memory at all and I couldn't escape wishing I had an account of some of the tiny moments that seemed so important that day, but that I now have no recollection of. Moreover, I wished I had a diary of my emotions that day. I think that a lot about previous chapters of my life. I have to say I'm really thankful  for Ellis because he remembers fabulous things about our lives together in highschool that otherwise would be lost to the past. Which brings me to this...

I never wrote about El's wedding. I meant to, but I just kept putting it off and now I'm a little disappointed because it's not so "fresh". This is why I write birth stories like a few hours after giving birth. The thought of loosing some of it is devastating to me. Well, it is what it is, but in the future I'm going to be more intentional about it. [Also: I'm working on my plethora of back-ups next week, too.] Anyway, time to get to the fuzzy details...

So, the night before the wedding I drove down to Hattiesburg for the rehearsal dinner by myself since Peyton was working. I listened to Mumford the whole way down and back and it was a blessing to have that time alone with my thoughts. I thought about so many good memories I had with El, I thought about all that marriage has brought into my life, I thought about sweet Minda. I prayed thank you a lot. Because in my biggest and best dreams, I could not have imagined this for him. My heart was full in a way I can't even describe.

At the dinner, I sat with Minda's family part of the time, but when her sister got up to feed the baby, Ellis's stepdad came and got to me to come sit with them. I couldn't stop howling the stories they kept telling (and I might have shared a couple myself). I was glad to be in the middle of things because I had struggled with not having Peyton and AP there (Graves is still a bit of a no-go for that type of thing). I seriously felt not a single bit of sadness, which was a little surreal. Surreal because, in my mind, I had pictured that if Ellis got married, even to the best girl in the world, I would deal with feelings of loss. I had prepared myself for that for years. Told myself that I might not loose our friendship, but that it would inevitably change. That I couldn't expect someone who understood our relationship the way Peyton did to come along in his life, and certainty I couldn't expect it of another woman. Of course, all my fears were in vain. That said, the night was filled with intense emotions and I missed Peyton dearly. I like to have him around when I'm feeling things deep. So, when Ellis's family made me feel so included, like part of their crazy-only Jesus-I'm the mom-you're the dad-you're the stepmom-you're the stepdad-we'll all sit together and visit like the old friends we actually are- family, it meant the world to me.  It also meant more than the world when Minda squeezed my neck and told me she had read my post and her momma told me I wrote well and that she had a friendship like mine and El's herself. It all felt so natural and so perfect.
[Most of these snapshots are borrowed from and used with the permission of Ellis's step sister, Fran.]

The next day was, of course, the wedding and I was beyond thankful to have Peyton and Annie there. I'm not sure I could have carried the day's emotions by myself. Literally, there have only been a handful of times in my life when I've known the acute sense of joy I experienced that day. It was almost too much. Perhaps I was still in shock. Part of me expected El- full of anxieties and insecurities a lot like mine, but in a different place being a man- never to be able to take that step of faith. [Obviously, that's nothing against Minda. Peyton took four years and two breaks to get to the altar and I doubted that until the minute I heard "I do". So I know of these things first hand.] I told him over and over again how proud I was of him. He's say "proud of me for what, Den?" and I'd tell him for being fearless, because I know this scared the Hell out of him. [As well it should. Let's all take a minute to acknowledge the hard realities marriages sometimes entail.] And I'd tell him that. But then I'd tell him it was so worth it. Y'all. I'd been telling him this for years. That it's one of the hardest things I've ever experienced, but one of the most beautiful. So to watch it actually happen was amazing. And to watch it happen with a girl I had come to love so much myself was just perfect. These two's relationship is something I've been praying over for years. It was hard to contain.

The decorations were beautiful and so them- creative and artsy and unique and quirky. Minda had always told her momma she wanted a picnic at her wedding- basically she just wanted a picnic to be her wedding- and so there were picnic baskets with treats on every table at the reception. Annie told me later, in a moment truly surreal, that she wanted picnic baskets at her wedding. Minda also designed the programs which were beautiful and most everything was themed around books, literature and words. Of course, I adored it.

The actual ceremony was charming and meaningful and also so unique to Ellis and Minda. I teared up about three times and came near doing the crazy cry just once. They walked in and I got teary and then her dad (a pastor) said a few things and the ceremony began. One thing I loved (and always love when it happens at weddings) was how personal the ceremony was to them. Minda's dad talked a lot about God's divine creativity- something that is a huge part of both their lives. It was special to me because that is such an important theology and one we often take for granted. The next time I got teary was reading my passage by Madaline L'Engle:

Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens...Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage in itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature...If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation...It takes a lifetime to learn another person...When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of the co-creation which is our human calling. 

Again more of the great work from Laura Marie Anthony. One of my favorites of myself of late.

I was holding up fine until the vows. They said the traditional stuff, but had also added their own words and they were some of the most beautiful I've heard at a wedding ever. They started out by proclaiming to each other "I love you with all I've ever known the word to mean" and finished with the commitment that on "this day, and every day, I choose you from among all others". Some of the most beautiful vows I've ever heard.

 [Credit: Laura Marie Anthony}

 I thought about my own vows, about how those words resonate in my relationship, and how I've done at keeping such a commitment (to be clear: I'm not talking about an affair. I'm talking about choosing silly things like Twitter over my beloved). In our wedding, one thing the pastor (one of our dear friends) talked a bit about was how hopefully our wedding would serve as a reminder and an instigator to those who were worshiping with us to be purposeful in valuing and growing their own marriages. I can't tell you how much El and Minda's wedding did that for me. At the end of the night, Minda told Peyton that they had a hotel reservation in New Orleans, but they were both just worn out (they had both had awful colds and were pretty sick the week leading up to the wedding). Apparently, El was also stressed about some papers he had to grade. Here it comes, y'all....she told Peyton that she had suggested to Ellis they just go home and she'd help him with the papers. On her WEDDING NIGHT, guys. That is a sacrificial love I did not know the day I married Peyton and to be perfectly frank, I'm sure I still don't daily embody. What a testimony to grace and love. I would have been bitter. I would have been ugly. I walked away so inspired and so overcome and so much more committed that Peyton and I would love one another well.

The ceremony ended with the two of them serving communion to all their guests. When her godfather and her new godmother served my tiny girl the body and blood of Christ, it was then that I came the closest to full on wailing. Minda told me later, when I officially asked her to be Annie's godmother, that giving Annie communion was one of the most precious moments of the night to her. At that point, in the privacy of my home, I did sob.

I can't say how much this day meant to me. But it pales in comparison to the last fifteen years of friendship with El and the last four or so with Minda. I was so blessed to have a front row seat to a beautifully answered prayer, but beyond that I'm blessed to have a person (really now two people) who understand me when I share my greatest dreams and deepest fears. I'm blessed when I see them overcome those deep fears and enjoy the reality of one of the greatest dreams that can be fulfilled on this Earth. Beyond that, I'm inspired to put aside my deep fears for another's great dreams because of the sacrificial love I saw from a wife of two hours. I have a lot to learn. Praise God for friends who teach and encourage me and call me to a deeper love and commitment.

Five Minute Friday Prompt: What Mama Did

In the mornings, she poured our cereal, the sugary Fruity Pebbles that are more like candy than anything else. She turned on Under the Umbrella Tree and did a few things for the day. We followed her into the kitchen and stretched out on the checker board linoleum and talked her ears off. She'd settle us again at our little table with crayons and some days, some scissors and paste.

In the afternoons, we'd go outside and play for hours. We'd hop on the tire swing and soar higher than the fence and then she'd play make believe right along with us and show us how to form mud pies and catch rolly-pollies. And we'd top it off with at least half an hour of Mother May I on the stoop.

Inside for dinner and visiting with Daddy and bedtime routines. And then. And then...

The agonizing hours after my head hit the pillow. The endless trips to the bathroom. The "worry stones" she gave me to rub and the other crazy tactics that never worked.

Finally, she just leaned into it and listened. Sometimes for a great deal of the night. The darkness of a five, six, seven year old's mind. The despair of eight, nine, ten year old's heart. The paralyzing fears over anything and everything- far away wars and the fiery cross I was convinced could show up at anytime in our yard because I loved black people and had learned of the Civil Rights Movement that day. The crippling thoughts of loosing someone closest to me that would never leave me, only ease its forceful grip. The pain of being friends with little girls who are mean. The terror of her leaving me at some point and getting in some sort of accident and never returning. The panic that sleep would never come.

That's what Momma did...she listened. She stayed. For hours. At great cost to her own sleep and sanity. She was the first person to walk through those things with me.

I only pray I can mother in the sacrificial way she did and that I'll never dismiss trying to meet the real needs of my children because it's too hard or burdensome or complicated.

Five Minute Friday