Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekly Happenings #213 (April 22-28)-- Community is the Best Medicine, You Know

Last week was a mix. I had a sinus headache most days and was stupid congested all of them. I'm so ready for the seasons to just turn and stay turned! I guess I shouldn't complain much- at least I'm not nursing and can actually take things for this stuff and it was all SO much worse both times I was pregnant. So this should feel like a relief. Aside from that, though, I've found myself getting frustrated/disappointed over *the* dumbest things-- not being able to find a dress I really wanted that I had seen at Target, Facebook changing stuff up again, and tiny ridiculous things like that. It's no secret that before kids I was a huge control freak and super high maintenance and weeks like this reveal that I still have that junk inside me. Bottom line, I wonder if it's an entitlement thing. Like who cares?? The world doesn't owe a cute dress or a simple user-friendly Facebook to me. While I never would say out loud that I think I deserve these things, when I fret and pout about it, it seems like that's kind of what my actions say. I seriously hate the phrase "first world problem", but you know, some many of my problems are.

Compounded with that silliness and the fact that my head felt like it was full of bricks, I was also sort of emotional over crazy stuff. I had not at all expected to be sad over Annie's last day of school, but we've been so blessed by that little place and knowing it will be awhile before any of our children spend a full year there again stung a little bit.

It was also a really good week in a way, though. I got to spend time/have great conversations with new friends and old friends and people I care about and it was really life giving. Truly.

I got up on Monday and got ready. I packed AP's lunch, got her bags together and put the chicken salad and tea for the teachers in the car. We left, surprisingly, on time. I dropped her off and she was a little overwhelmed because all kinds of stuff was set up to practice for their end of the year performance. I ran by the other Target to look for that dress I wanted really badly and then to a little consignment sale going on. I ran by our Target to look one more time and then came home. Peyton and I visited and I took out the trash and recycling and took all the clothes off the hangers they came on. He left for work and I straightened and made beds and started laundry. I sent a few emails and then Graves and I got ready to pick Annie up. We picked her up and it took awhile because I had to get all my dishes from taking food and sweet friends Aubrey and Annie had to get one last hug in AFTER THEY WERE ALREADY BUCKLED IN THEIR CARSEATS. We got home and I put Graves down and talked to Morgan on the phone and fixed Annie a snack. I unloaded things and visited with Annie and then it was rest time for her.I got on the computer and ate lunch. When the kids got up, they played and I worked on switching AP's closet over to Summer clothes. I fixed them supper and straightened and then they played outside while I folded laundry and grated soap for detergent. I bathed Graves and put him to bed and then bathed Annie and did her nighttime routine (and signed up for my Mistletoe shift for next Fall) and put her to bed. I got on the computer until Peyton got home.

Annie was up SO early on Tuesday because Peyton had to go to work and he woke her up to use the potty before he left. He figured she go back to sleep, but she didn't. It was before seven :-/ She hung out in bed with me for a bit and then said she was hungry. She ate and Graves woke up. I had a terrible sinus headache, so we had a very chill morning. I finally got my bath and ate breakfast and that made me feel better. I folded laundry and did school stuff with Annie and then we cleaned up and had lunch. I unloaded and loaded dishes and finished making my laundry detergent and got the kids settled for rest time. Annie ended up falling asleep, but Graves took a shorter nap than usual. I read some blogs, ate lunch, and rested some myself. When they got up, I folded more laundry and read to them a good bit. Peyton got home and I put up more laundry and then we all went outside. We came in and fed the kids supper and put them to bed. We made a grocery list and I read blogs while Peyton watched TV.

I got up and got Annie ready for her last day of school on Wednesday. I got myself ready to because I was going to the CPC since I didn't go on Monday. I packed her lunch and we left in the rain.
 They got to wear their school t-shirt the last day. I had put up the ruffle pants so we had to bust out the ruffle shorts!

 I dropped her off and then went to volunteer. It was a good morning and I learned some new things. When I got home, I played with Graves some and put up some laundry. Peyton cooked hamburgers and we all ate. I started more laundry and unloaded and loaded dishes. I put Graves down and finished a post and got on Twitter. Peyton picked up AP and they went grocery shopping. When they got home, we put up groceries and then it was time to get ready for Annie's end of the year performance. We all got ready and headed back to the school. The program was pretty long, but it was really good! My mom and Peyton's dad both came. I was actually surprised by how long Graves made it. And sweet Annie. Sweet, sweet Annie. She was pretty much oblivious to everything...during the ballet and tap numbers she just smiled and played with her hair and did things about twenty seconds behind everyone else. I couldn't have been more proud of her :) We got home and fed the kids and put them down. They both took forever to fall asleep- I think they were just overally tired. I cooked some soup and uploaded some pictures to Flikr and went to bed "early" (before midnight).

Thursday was busy, but so much fun. I got up a little after the kids and Peyton and got ready and gave AP a bath (Peyton did Graves) and then ran to Target for a few things. I got home and we hustled and got ready to go to Carrie's since we were getting together with her and Morgan. We left and picked up a pizza on the way. We had such a good time, but AP had a total meltdown before we left (about me not letting her eat one of Carrie's artificial lemons, of all things!). Anyway, we came home for rest time. Graves took a good nap and I straightened up the house some and got on the computer. I got ready and then got the kids up because my friend Sarah Catherine was in town and a group of my high school friends were getting together. I dropped them off with my mom at Batte and met my friends at Keifers. YUM! We didn't stay long and I ran by the other Target to try one more time for the dress (I thought maybe someone could have returned one) and picked up the kiddos. I Graves to bed and read to AP and got her to bed. I uploaded pictures and then went to sleep.

Peyton worked Friday morning since we had something that night. I got up with Graves around 8:30 (who hoo!), but AP slept until almost ten. I fixed Graves breakfast and we snuggled and read and then I took my bath. I made the beds and straightened and started laundry and dishes. I had breakfast and then I vacuumed the den. I ended up vacuuming the kitchen, too, and since the chairs were moved, I mopped it as well. I played with the kids some and then we went outside. I did school with AP and read some in Fresh Power. I fixed the kids lunch and made White Rotel because we were going over to have dinner with some friends from church. We're doing this thing called "Suppers of Eight" which is basically four couples taking turns hosting dinner at their houses. It's so we can kind of branch out and get to know people better. Anyway, I put the kids down and ate my lunch and cleaned up the kitchen. I got on the computer and started a post and then the kids got up. I folded some laundry and got ready and Peyton got home. His parents got here to keep the kids and we left. We had SO much fun with our group and ended up staying pretty late. When we got home, Graves had been in bed for hours and AP had fallen asleep on the floor waiting for us. I held her for a bit and then put her down. I got on computer for a few minutes and went to bed.

We took a day trip to Granny's on Saturday. I got up and got ready and got the kids ready and we got on the road mid morning. We got there just in time for lunch! We had a great time visiting, but the rain was coming through and my ears started to hurt. UGH.

 We got home a little before five. I started cooking some Summer spaghetti and Peyton bathed both the kids. I put Graves to bed and then cleaned up the kitchen. Peyton made me a milkshake and then he took Annie to go shop for hiking underwear with him. Ha! I had gotten a little overwhelmed thinking about NYC and it was nice to have a break.

I got on Twitter and uploaded some pictures to Facebook. When they got home, I did Annie's night time routine and put her to bed. I read a few blogs and Peyton and I talked and we went to bed.

Peyton taught Sunday school and then we went to the late service on Sunday.
 Isn't she pretty?

And Y'ALL....this littler carton character looking boy is MINE. He's such a mess and I just can't even stand it sometimes.

Peyton ended up helping with children's church, but I so enjoyed the sermon. We came home and Peyton fed the kids lunch while I talked to El. It was good to share with him about my NYC fears and apprehensions and it was a really encouraging conversation. I got on the computer for a bit and then AP and I got ready to go to Claire's (our favorite non family member babysitter) senior piano recital. I knew AP would love it since she's such a fan of "classical" music. She did enjoy it and I think Claire appreciated us coming, too. On the way home, we dropped some cans off with our friends who use them for a local ministry. We sort of regrouped at home and got things together and then went to my parents' for a visit/supper. We got home and put the kids right to bed. I cleaned up the kitchen and got on the computer and then Peyton and I chatted and went on to bed.

This week is pretty full and some of it's not the most fun- appointments and such. We do have a few fun activities scattered in with the boring stuff, though, and I'm thankful for each new day.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Things Stay the Same


 I posted about this on IG earlier today, but I had to share my little thoughts today in this space, too. We saw Bruce a year ago today and it was one of the highlights of my life.So much has changed in a year, but a lot has stayed the same: 

1. Graves still gets called a girl often when we go in public. His Summer wardrobe is likely even more deceptive than his Winter was.

2. Annie consistently reminds me so much of myself. It frustrates me to no end, but it also gives me enough empathy to respond to her with the gentleness and grace I desperately desire to characterize my parenting. 

3. "Wrecking Ball" can make the most atrociously wretched day inexplicably beautiful.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tunes for the Month: April

I made my playlist significantly shorter this month and that was a good thing. I think I like them best when they are about CD length. It's still on the longer side by that standard, but it's more manageable. Sometimes it's just hard to narrow down. One thing I did do again this month was to sort of have a "theme", or a couple. Since it's both of the kids' birthday months, I did songs that reminded me of them or that were special to me as far as our family goes. I also included several tracks from Wrecking Ball because it was around this time last year that we saw Bruce for the first time. Here's the list:

1. Danny's Song- Kenny Loggins
People smile and tell me I'm the lucky one,
And we've only just begun.
Think I'm gonna have a son.
He will be like she and me, as free as a dove,
Conceived in love.
Sun is gonna shine above...
And in the morning, when I rise,
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything is gonna be alright.

I've always loved this old song. When I was younger and would listen to it, I would always dream of the little family I'd have one day. So, of course now that my dream is a reality, it's very special to listen to. 

2. Over the Rainbow- Judy Garland
 Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Although it almost makes me sad to listen to, I just love this song. For some reason I associate it with children/family, too and I just think it's so beautiful. 

3. Gracie- Ben Folds
Life flies by in seconds
You're not a baby Gracie, you're my friend
You'll be a lady soon but until then
You gotta do what I say
You nodded off in my arms watching TV
I won't move you an inch even thought my arm's asleep
One day you're gonna want to go
I hope we taught you everything you need to know
Gracie girl
And there will always be a part of me
Nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me
My little girl

Since it's a daddy singing, this really makes me think of Peyton and Annie and their relationship, but it's also just a sweet, sweet song about a baby girl. I love it and sometimes it makes me cry a little.  

4. Daughter- Loudon Wainright III

That's my daughter in the water
everything she owns I bought her
Everything she owns.
That's my daughter in the water,
everything she knows I taught her.
Everything she knows.
Everything I say
she takes to heart.
Everything she takes
she takes apart.
That's my daughter in the water
every time she fell I caught her.
Every time she fell.
That's my daughter in the water,
I lost every time I fought her.
Yea, I lost every time.
Every time she blinks
she strikes somebody blind.
Everything she thinks
blows her tiny mind.
That's my daughter in the water,
who'd have ever thought her?
This song has several memories attached. First of all, Cookie picked it as one of the songs to be used in the video at our rehearsal dinner. Then I heard it in a video montage after a child passed away and I just fell in love with it and couldn't stop listening. Clearly, the "daughter" in the song is very strong-willed and I know that was me growing up, but a lot of the lyrics resonate with me in regards to sweet Annie girl, too. I'll always love this song.

5. Brown Eyed Girl- Van Morrison
Going down the old mine
With a transistor radio
Standing in the sunlight laughing,
Hiding behind a rainbow's wall,
Slipping and sliding
All along the water fall, with you
My brown eyed girl,
You my brown eyed girl. 

Well, it's been the quintessential junior high dance song for like what, fifty years? But also I have a little girl with brown eyes and so it's kinda a little special. Clearly, some of the lyrics aren't applicable since it talks about love making and such and it's obviously a romantic song, but you know, parts of it work.

6. A La Claire Fontaine- Les Petits Minous

This song marked the introduction into a phase wherein Annie asks questions such as "Does this have words? No, okay, then it's classical. Could you ADD IT TO MY PLAYLIST?" Before that though, I fell in love with this song awhile back when I heard it in a movie and it quickly became a lullaby for infant Annie. I will always, always associate it with her baby days. Looking back, there was so much fear in my life but it was also a really calm time in a lot of ways and I remember just sitting in her cool nursery rocking her while it was playing.

7. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart- Wilco
I'd always thought that if I held you tightly
You'd always love me like you did back then
Then I fell asleep and the city kept blinking
What was I thinking when I let you back in?

Another Annie song. This is just weird. It's clearly *not* a kid song. It's super strange. But for some reason she loves it. Like enough to request it. So it's on the list this month.

8. Waiting for My Real Life to Begin- Colin Hay
And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I'm waiting for my real life to begin
Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine, there's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, soon
It's just that times are lean
And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in 

This one reminds me of the last few weeks when I was pregnant with Graves and on bedrest. In fact, I wrote a post based on it. It was so surreal because I knew for a season he would complete our family and I was just waiting for "real life" to begin. Like with some of the ones above with Annie, it will sort of always be one of mine and Graves's songs. 

9. Beautiful Boy- John Lennon
Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He's on the run and your daddy's here,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,
Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go,
But in the meantime,
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,
Darling Sean.

I had never heard this song until Ashley used in the video she made after she brought Liam home from Korea. I just loved it and thought it was so sweet. There's something very sweet and touching about a "beautiful" boy and my heart was really tender at the time and I played it on repeat for a good long while. Again, it'll always be a "Graves" song.  When I put it on the playlist, I got a little emotional. Graves has been having some issues with being "scared" of any number of things, but mostly the dark. His sweet little voice saying "scare!" (scared) is almost too much. Anyway, the first stanza just could not be more apropos. And I love the line about how not being able to wait to see your children "come of age". For some reason (I really don't know why), I think about this more with Graves than with Annie. Maybe because he's still such a baby and I've already started to see the process with her? I also love that "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans". Because, isn't it the truth?? Finally, I love the "darlings" and of course I replace "Sean" with "Graves".

10. Good Life- One Republic
I feel like there might be something that I'll miss
I feel like the window closes oh so quick
I'm taking a mental picture of you now
'Cause hopelessly
The hope is we have so much to feel good about
Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

This is ordinarily not really my "type" of song, but I heard it on the radio awhile back and it sort of clicked because I loved the idea of "taking a mental picture of you now" and the idea of missing something and feeling the window close really resonated. It's just a good reminder to live in the moment.

 11. Not with Haste- Mumford & Sons
We will run and scream
You will dance with me
Fulfill our dreams and we'll be free
We will be who we are
And they'll heal our scars
Sadness will be far away
Do not let my fickle flesh go to waste
As it keeps my heart and soul in its place
And I will love with urgency but not with haste
I've written about it a couple of times, but for some reason this song has become a bit of a mantra in my mothering. It's sort of a hipster Cobwebs poem, if you will. It's just a reminder to love my children with urgency and not with haste.

12. Forever Young- Bob Dylan
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young

Okay, had to quote the whole song here. I just love it so much. It's so, so beautiful and I recently rediscovered it. I'll probably always associate it with the kids turning four and two, it's been so on my mind. I guess I particularly associate it with Graves because for some reason, it feels more like it's talking to a boy/man. So many of these things are my actual wishes for him (and Annie)- that'll they'll always do for others and let others do for them, that they'll grow up to be rightous, that they'll always know the truth, that they'll be courageous and stand upright, and that they'll have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift. It really makes me teary thinking of all this for them. Sacred in the secular again and some of this has actually informed my prayer life.

13. Forever Young- Rod Steward
May the good lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
Surround you when you're far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you'll always stay
Forever young, forever young
Forever young, forever young
May good fortune be with you
May your guiding light be strong
Build a stairway to heaven
With a prince or a vagabond
And may you never love in vain
And in my heart you'll always remain
Forever young, forever young
Forever young, forever young
Forever young
Forever young
And when you finally fly away
I'll be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell

I really like the Dylan version better, but there's some stuff here that I couldn't not include. I love the part about serving them well and also about the prince or the vagabond. I said the other version reminds me more of Graves, but this one makes me think of Annie. Of course, like most little girls Annie wants to "grow up to be a princess". But I want there to be room in her life for "princes" or "vagabonds". Her friends (or husband if she's so blessed) may not be exactly what we envision for her, but I want her to choose them/him based on the her own heart and the Lord's guidance, not what the world says is good and successful and desirable.

14. We Take Care of Our Own- Bruce Springsteen
 I've been knockin' on the door that holds the throne
I've been lookin' for the map that leads me home
I've been stumblin' on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as bone
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own...
Where the eyes, the eyes with the will to see
Where the hearts, that run over with mercy
Where's the love that has not forsaken me
Where's the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where's the spirit that'll reign, reign over me  

This is kind of the perfect transition song, because it leads into the sort of epilogue to the playlist that is my favorite songs from Wrecking Ball, but it's also recently become very tied to some thoughts and feelings about my little family and my mission in the world right now.

15. Death to My Hometown- Bruce Springsteen
No shells ripped the evening sky
No cities burning down
No armies stormed the shores for which we’d die
No dictators were crowned
High off on a quiet night
I never heard a sound
The marauders raided in the dark and brought death to my hometown, boys
Death to my hometown
They destroyed our families’ factories and they took our homes
They left our bodies on the plains
The vultures picked our bones

This is one of those songs that I just love the music and the words are kind of periphial. It's sort of got an Irish feel to it and has such a strong beat. It almost feels millitary-esque...which is fitting since it talks about dictators and shells and armies and such. The song is clearly about how American cities have been ruined by greedy corporations stealing from "the little man". As I've said before, I don't agree with Bruce on many political issues, but I can't help but nod here. 

16. Wrecking Ball- Bruce Springsteen

I was raised out of steel here in the swamps of Jersey, some misty years ago
Through the mud and the beer, and the blood and the cheers, I've seen champions come and go
So if you got the guts mister, yeah if you've got the balls
If you think it's your time, then step to the line, and bring on your wrecking ball
Bring on your wrecking ball
Bring on your wrecking ball
Come on and take your best shot, let me see what you've got
Bring on your wrecking ball...
  Yeah we know that come tomorrow, none of this will be here
So hold tight on your anger
Hold tight on your anger
Hold tight to your anger, and don't fall to your fear
Now when all this steel and these stories, they drift away to rust
And all our youth and beauty, it's been given to the dust
And your game has been decided, and you're burning the clock down
And all our little victories and glories, have turned into parking lots
When your best hopes and desires, are scattered through the wind
And hard times come, hard times go...
Yeah just to come again

I love, love, love the tune but I'm also obsessed with the imagery. Peyton and I joke because we think "some misty years ago" is just classic Springsteen. Like, who says that? No one but The Boss. Anyway, I love that it starts of as an athem about Giants Stadium and kind of has a Glory Days feel to it, but by the end we're talking about not falling to fear and youth and beauty being given to the dust and our best hopes and desires being scattered through the wind and...if that's not poetry I don't know what is.

17. Rocky Ground- Bruce Springsteen

You use your muscle and your mind and you pray your best
That your best is good enough, the Lord will do the rest
You raise your children and you teach 'them to walk straight and sure
You pray that hard times, hard times, come no more
You try to sleep, you toss and turn, the bottom's dropping out
Where you once had faith now there's only doubt
You pray for guidance, only silence now meets your prayers
The morning breaks, you awake but no one's there
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
There's a new day coming
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground 

This is where the album starts to get super spiritual. I mentioned this on my last playlist post, but Bruce got Michelle Moore to do the rapping segment. I am no fan of rap music ordinarily, but this brings me to tears some days. It's just gorgeous. There's a lot of religious imagary in the song and a gospel choir does back up vocals. The song even includes "I'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord" which is a traditional gospel song. The lyrics above are the part of the song that's rapped and I think it's just the most beautiful picture of the desperation I know I've felt at times (espesially as a parent). But I also love the reminder "There's a new day coming". Also, as an aside: this might be my favorite music video ever. I love the juxtaposition of the urban and suburban settings and the different people writing the lyrics of the song.

18. Land of Hope and Dreams- Bruce Springsteen

Grab your ticket and your suitcase, thunder's rolling down this track
Well, you don't know where you're going now, but you know you won't be back
Well, darling, if you're weary, lay your head upon my chest
We'll take what we can carry, yeah, and we'll leave the rest
Well, big wheels roll through the fields where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams
I will provide for you and I'll stand by your side
You'll need a good companion now for this part of the ride
Yeah, leave behind your sorrows, let this day be the last
Well, tomorrow there'll be sunshine and all this darkness past
Well, big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams
Oh, meet me in a land of hope and dreams
Well, this train carries saints and sinners
This train carries losers and winners
This train carries whores and gamblers
This train carries lost souls
I said, this train, dreams will not be thwarted
This train, faith will be rewarded
This train, hear the steel wheels singing
This train, bells of freedom ringing

This song is actually a rebutall to Woody Guthrie's "This Train Is Bound for For Glory". On Woody's train gamblers, liars and smokers aren't allowed. On Bruce's, of course, they are. This is Springsteen's America, y'all. And I have to say I'm a little fond of it myself. Whereas I've come to apply "We Take Care of Our Own" to my goals and dreams and in some ways my aspirations as to the kind of mother I want to be (doing the "work that sets my hands, my soul, free") this song always makes me think of Peyton. And it'll probably always make me think of Peyton in April of 2012 when we saw Bruce that first time. I love the lines "Darling if you're weary, lay your head upon my chest. We'll take what we can carry, yeah, and we'll leave the rest". And I love the part about needing a "good companion for this part of the ride". Lastly, this doesn't really have to do with Peyton but "Yeah, leave behind your sorrows, let this day be the last. Well, tomorrow there'll be sunshine and all this darkness past" is one of my go-to verses in a song when I'm having an awful "down" day.

Such a sentimental playlist, but such a good one for this month! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Weekly Smorgasbord

The list is super short this time. I think because last week I was doing a lot of birthday party stuff. Anyway, here are some links for y'all:

On Parenting:
Posted: 24 Apr 2013 09:49 PM PDT
"As I was pondering my heart, I thought about why it is so important to focus on our children's hearts instead of trying to tame their tongues. I will often hear something they say, or the way they say something, and it's filled with an edge. I say, "We are not going to talk like that, it is not okay." And I'm trying to tame the tongue, but really, I need to pull my child aside and ask, "What's going on? Can we talk about these words and what is maybe behind them?" It might sound like I'm overdoing it, but I see past the attitude and I see stress, or tension, or built up resentment – in children! Underneath the biting words are feelings of disrespect, being wronged, not being listened to, etc. When I take the time to gently prod the heart, I find the root of the overflow. If I can help my children untangle the roots, then their words will change because their hearts will mend. And we must do this over and over and over again, because sin is always lurking; the flesh is always ready to try and dominate the spirit."

Love this.
Posted: 22 Apr 2013 09:53 PM PDT
Megan is one of my all time favorite bloggers. Period. She's also a mother I have a huge amount of respect for. I truly admire her as a mother and as a writer. My guess is that she won't ever take this post down to protect her boys. And my guess is that they'll grow into strong young men, not in spite of, but because of, their mother's honesty.

On New York: 
Posted: 24 Apr 2013 08:20 PM PDT
So apparently this is possible :)

Posted: 23 Apr 2013 08:03 PM PDT
I love this.

On Living Life the Best We Can:
Posted: 23 Apr 2013 08:21 PM PDT
"But mere weeks into 2013 my new turquoise day planner resembled a graffiti laden underpass and revealed a life overflowing with do and very little don't....God did a wise thing when ordering the seasons, because we routinely receive fresh beginnings...I've been reevaluating."


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Love and Bliss in the Early Days of Graves's Third Year: A Follow Up

Someone commented on my recent post about Graves's early days and it got me thinking some more. First of all, it led me to think about my style of blogging and how it could potentially effect my children. It led to a discussion with Peyton and also to my asking a couple of friends who I know understand and appreciate why I write the way I write but who also deeply love my children to help me make sure I stay within the boundaries that will protect them and their hearts. I'm sure I'm going to be blogging more about this because it's something that I've been thinking about a ton.

But it also led me to realize that maybe I should write a follow up to that post.  Like I said, I love sharing our story (even the hard parts) but it's also important to me because I want to say the things I wish someone had said to me. When I finally saw that solidified connection between Graves and Peyton recently, it brought these thoughts and feelings to the surface and I just kept thinking about them so much lately. Also, I think the fact that I've been surrounded by several families that have either just welcomed or are expecting their second has brought back these memories.

 I'm not writing this because I feel like I need to defend myself (for what it's worth, I don't think the commenter was really putting me in the position of needing to do that- she was very gracious), but because the comment just prompted more thoughts. But if a fifteen year old Graves who is delving into the archives that chronicled his boyhood gains comfort from reading this follow-up then that's all the more reason to write it.

The truth is:

- In some ways, I did love Annie more than him those first few months. I wouldn't be able to type that sentence if those feelings were the same today. And maybe "love" is too strong a word. Maybe a better way is to say that I just didn't feel the "connection" that I had with her (even the one I had with her as an infant). There are a lot (alot!) of different ways to define "love" and it can be a vague term.

- Once I figured out the things he needed (me to stop drinking the freakin' cow's milk, me to be more physically present, me to let go of the idea that I should have it all "together") I was much more equipped to mother him well. And when I mothered him the way he deserved, it wasn't hard to fall in love with him. This is not something that's espesially unique to Baby Graves. When Peyton's needs are met, guess what? Our marriage is much happier. When I began to realize that Annie struggles with her emotions, at times, the way I did at her age and I began to relate to her differently, things improved with her. I'm not saying that was the whole issue, but it was a huge part.

- With Annie, I did learn a lot of spiritual truths (mostly relating to anxiety/trust/fear/faith), but I didn't feel God using motherhood to sanctify me the way he has in the past two years. That has everything to do with both Graves and Annie and I'm beyond thankful that God has used them both as instruments to make me more like Himself. 

- Which brings me to this. Honestly, Annie is the child that is much harder for me to parent right now. It's hard because she's a lot like me (I know I say that all the time). She's just much more stubborn than Graves and she's also terribly emotional at times. He's more laid back and takes things in stride. Peyton tends to get less frustrated with Annie than I do probably because he's nothing like us in that regard. However, he does get frustrated with Graves who tends to want to come up to you and just poke and pull at you until you give him attention (because that's *exactly* like Peyton). Annie can be a bit of a basketcase, which Peyton tolerates extremely well because, eh, he has experience with dealing with someone like that. And Graves can be super obnoxious which I tolerate well because, well....married that guy, your know?

- Graves is at the age he is now is probably the most "fun" I've had with any child. Annie and I have (probably daily) some of the most beautiful, almost poetic moments but she isn't fun the way he is. Again, with the parental parallels :) I'm thankful for Graves because I think (especially when Peyton's not here) he brings a lighthearted cheerfulness to mine and AP's more serious sides. He's just a very bubbly, very affectionate child. Now that he, you know, talks(!!!) he's also very verbally affectionate and it's endearing. I said I don't like the phrase about there being "something about mommas and their boys", but I think there's just something about my boy. That child (like Peyton) has done wonders to help my anxiety. He has an infectious joy and he's a bit of a flirt. There's nothing that sucks about being on the receiving end of that.

- I want to say a little more about the gender dynamic. I found myself quickly in the role of being a "girl mom" but it was harder for me to really get into being a boy momma. That's why I love things places like MOB Society and why I really gravitate to blogs of mommas with little boys these days. When I post a picture of Annie playing with a tea set and baby dolls, the intense joy I feel in that moment came very naturally. When I post a picture of Graves dirty and sweaty and so cheerful in all his disgusting glory, the every bit as strong intense joy came supernaturally. I struggled thinking about what kind of "boy mom" I'd be. And while I don't think I'm the epitome of the perfect boy mom or anything, I do think I've embraced it and love it. There came a day, actually around this time last year, right after he turned one, that I just felt something in me shift. It was one afternoon late and we were playing outside and he was disgusting sweaty. Actually, we all were, but I looked at him and thought "My, aren't you such a darling, so dirty like that?" and from then on it was like the dirtier/messier/wilder he was, the more adorable he got. I was blown away by how much I loved having a little boy. Again, I don't think this is unique to Graves- this learning to love. I feel like God has worked powerfully in my heart to help me become much understanding and flexible and ultimately embrace the way Peyton likes to live life. Similarly, I feel like He's done something amazing just in the last few months in helping me better understand Annie's little personality. The way that it manifested with Graves was that I got over my need to have to be in control of as much- in his infancy that meant allowing for less schedule and structure and in toddlerhood it's meant embracing more dirt and mess and broken things and filthy outfits. 

- At this point, I feel comfortable sharing this sort of thing. Partly, I think I feel comfortable because I know the context now (that I adore them equally) and partly because I've seen the ebb and flow, the variance. My love for these two little people doesn't vary in degree, but the closeness I feel to one or the other sometimes does. My mom was honest to a fault and made no bones about the fact that at different times she was closer to my sister than to me and vice versa. I doubt she'd have shared if it hadn't changed year to year (or month to month!). That honesty was good for us. I felt a lot of stability knowing that she loved us equally, but her feelings changed at times. Because heck, my feelings toward her sure changed! I will also say that I think I was able to take such truths in stride because Cookie and I were surrounded by a wonderful, LARGE support group who valued both of us for our different, unique gifts. There were plenty of people to affirm and encourage us in addition to Minnie. My stomach gets torn to pieces when I think about people who know their parents have a favorite child, but I know that wasn't my context growing up and I know it won't be my children's. So I feel like I have the freedom to explore the hard, as well as the lovely, parts of mothering them. At least at this point I do.

I'm writing these things because that's the sort of blog I have. I want to look back and see the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the hard and the almost effortless. And honestly? I think it'll be great if they look back and see it all, too.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Work That Sets My Hands- My Soul- Free

I was listening to Wrecking Ball the other day in the car and I was moved by the first song on the album ("We Take Care of Our Own") in a way I never have been before.

Where the eyes, the eyes with the will to see
Where the hearts, that run over with mercy
Where's the love that has not forsaken me
Where's the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where's the spirit that'll reign, reign over me 

These lines have always been some of my favorites from the entire CD. But a year after seeing The Boss in concert and acquiring this album, they seem to have new meaning. 

I feel so confident, more than ever before, that I'm doing the work that sets my hands, MY SOUL, free. I used to struggle with this a good bit. And then there were seasons where I sort of walked through life in a haze. But I've found the work that sets my hands, my soul, free. And I can't tell you how wonderful that feels. It's so, well, freeing. 

I've found it in mothering. I feel like a good mother more often than not. [This is sort of a new thing.] I think part of this is that my children are growing into people with more developed personalities. My primary task in their lives is less and less bum-wiping and more and more soul-nuturing. I relish that. Some days I hate the drudgery of homeschooling and some days it feels me with such deep gratitude that I GET TO DO THIS! I'm watching their minds and hearts develop daily. Graves says new words and I can't get over his new found communication abilities. Annie is learning to think critically, to better articulate her emotions, and to relate to us on a more mature level. A day doesn't go by that I don't have a priceless conversation with her. My friend Kodi wrote a post about "leaning in" recently and I feel like I'm leaning in like never before. "Lean in" is a huge term in the birthy world. I'd dare say most women who have intentionally pursued a natural birth have at least heard the phrase in reference to coping with the pain. For me, that's a big part of it. I'm growing as a mother, as a person, and as a disciple of Christ by leaning into the hardships of motherhood. But I'm also growing by leaning into the joy. 

I've found it in writing in this space. It is one of the most freeing things I do with my time. I've yet to find a way to articulate what it means to me and sometimes I get weary even trying to. I'm deeply deeply grateful to have a best friend who is a writer and the conversations that have arisen between us in recent months. Yet another example of God's provision through this friendship.  It's an area where I just get nervous and embarrassed talking much about it. It's one of a very few areas I feel vulnerable in my life. But if I'm honest, it's come to be a huge part of my life. 

Lastly, I've found it in a new effort to be an encouragement to others. I won't say it comes naturally and I won't say I excel in it, but I do think it's a God-given work and at true calling on my life. I know how deeply I'm impacted by the affirming words of others and I desperately desire to be that voice in the ears of my children, my husband, my friends, and even strangers. 

I have the eyes with the will to see

I am surrounded by hearts that run over with mercy.

I am encompassed by a love that has not forsaken me

I know the Spirit who reign, reigns over me

And now I've found the work that sets my hands, my soul, free.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekly Happenings Post #212 (April 15-21)- M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E PARTY

So, this week was the kids' joint birthday party. It was a lovely party and I'll do a full post soon!
I got up EARLY Monday because once again I forgot to get AP's uniform washed and I had to get it in the dryer. I went back to sleep and woke up again about an hour later and got ready. I packed AP's lunch while Peyton helped her get dressed and then I dropped her off at school and headed to the CPC. I got to sit in on a session with a client for the first time which was really neat. When I got home, I talked to Peyton some and then he left for work. I read to Graves, started laundry, did dishes, and straightened up. We picked up AP and came home for naps.

While they rested, I talked to Morgan on the phone and then got on Twitter, sent some emails, and uploaded and organized pictures. When the kids got up I put up a TON of laundry plus all their stuff that I had ironed the week before. We got ready and went over to my parents' house to eat enchiladas. We got home really late and I put the kids right to bed. I got on the computer and Peyton and I chatted when he got home and then went to bed.

Peyton had the day off on Tuesday and he spent the morning at a work day at Camp Wesley Pines (the Methodist summer camp/retreat center in the state). I got up with the kids and got going more quickly than I have been lately. I took a bath and then started laundry and dishes. I played with the kids and they colored some and ate an early lunch. We played and read some more and then it was time to rest. I put them down and got on the computer for a bit. Peyton got home and we visited and then I made a dessert for Ultreya that night. I got ready and ran to Party City and Hobby Lobby and back to Party City to return something I found for cheaper at HL while Peyton fed the kids and got them ready. I got home and helped him finish getting everyone ready and we cleaned up their room and then headed to church. I knew our kids were going to be the only ones there and I'm in charge of getting a sitter, so I decided it was pointless. Peyton and I took shifts- I ate and visited and then I took over in the nursery and he went to the program. We ran by the grocery store on the way home and then Ellis called. By the time the kids ate and we got them bathed, it was late. We put them to bed and I cleaned up the kitchen and cleaned out the fridge a bit. I did a good bit of crafting for the party and went to bed late myself.

Whew, Wednesday was busy! I got up early to put AP's uniform jumper in the dryer. I know, I KNOW. Then I got up again around eight to pack her lunch and get her things together. We were all tired, so I got her dressed while Peyton took a quick bath and she just ate cereal in the car. Super suprisingly, Graves wasn't up yet, so I went back to sleep. SO nice and he slept until after nine. It was that wonderful morning sleep where you're not totally out but just enjoying your bed and thinking happy thoughts :) He got up around the time Peyton got home. We visited and had breakfast and then I took a bath and Peyton started working in the yard.
 We all miss Annie on school days, but having a few hours where we have with Graves what we had with her for twenty four months is priceless.

I picked up in both bedrooms and the office. I had been crafting in the office and our room was just a disaster. I vacuumed all three rooms and then read to Graves some. Peyton came in and I went up to the attic to get our infant car seat for a friend from high school who is flying into town to see her parents.  I also took a few loads up. It was HOT. Peyton left to get AP and I fixed Graves's lunch and unloaded and loaded dishes and started laundry.
Remember how I said I was so glad he didn't have opinions on clothes yet? Well, that was short lived. I took off his shortall after he got half his lunch on it and he started crying: "Duck! Duck?!? Duck 'ease?" What do you even say to that? Glad we've got multiple duck outfits (however, we do need to get Minnie to move the buttons).

I put him down and put the cover on the car seat and picked up toys. Peyton got home and Sarah Catherine's mom got her to pick up the seat. I got on Twittter and uploaded pictures to the hard drive and Flikr. The kids got up and I played with them and worked on sewing some areas of the rug in the living room that the kitties had popped their claws in. I vacuumed the rug and under the couch cushions and then folded some laundry. Peyton came in and I head out to do a few errands and go up to the church for a Sunday school curriculum meeting. I stopped at Hobby Lobby and picked up something at Chick Fil A and then headed to the church. There was a wreck, but I got there right on time.
 It'd been ages since I've driven up here by myself. Made me kinda nostalgic for the old Outfield days (our youth group was "The Outfield").

After the meeting I ran by Target. Peyton and I visited when I got home and then I got on the computer and worked more on birthday crafting.

The kids slept late and then Peyton got up with them so I slept even later on Thursday. I got ready and dressed the kids and we straightened up and I did the dishes and then we headed over to Morgan's for lunch and a visit. She had invited Carrie over, too. The kids had a great time and it was fun to visit and catch up. When we got home the kids had rest time and I got on the computer. I got on Twitter, read some blogs, and wrote a post. Then I took a little nap. The kids got up and I organized some books in their room. I fixed their supper and did dishes. I organized some Summer clothes and then they played and I folded some laundry.
They love to play this little game where they spread out blankets and turn off the lights and pretend to sleep. Annie now insists on walking Graves through her entire nighttime routine when they do it. This is, of course, my favorite part.

We cleaned  up their room and I bathed Graves and got him to bed. Annie and I did her nighttime routine and some school stuff and then she had a bath. I made my April playlist (ridiculous) and folded more clothes and put her to bed. I got on the computer until Peyton got home.

We had a field trip Friday morning to the zoo. Of course we slept later than I meant to, but we ended up leaving on time. We ran by Walgreens on the way. We had a good time, even though it was pretty cold! We left before lunch because Peyton had to get to work and I had wanted to just take one car. When we got home, I fixed the kids' lunches and then put them down for naps/rest time. Graves took awhile to fall asleep and Annie fell asleep playing in our room. I got on Twitter and finished a blog post. I called my mom to ask her something about the party. We talked a bit and then I realized she didn't even know that the party was this weekend...and she had to work. I was SO upset. [She ended up finding someone to work for her.] Anyway, that's when I found Annie. I put her in our bed and actually just laid down and snuggled with her some.
 The party was so much fun, but those kinds of moments are what make me know I'm alive.

Then I vacuumed and mopped the brick floors and cleaned both bathrooms. I relaxed a bit until the kids got up and then it was time to get ready because I had a meeting at Annie's school that night. I unloaded and loaded dishes and got dressed and we left. I dropped the kids off and went to my parents'. The meeting wasn't long and afterward, I ate supper with my parents. We got home and I put the kids to bed and decorated some for the party. I finished up crafting and got out my serveware and got on the computer for a bit until Peyton got home. I wrapped up the favors and went to bed.

Saturday was party day. We got up and got going. Well, Peyton and Graves took the recycling to the recycling drop off. When they got home, AP and I got up. I got my bath and started some dishes and then got to work on the food prep. I made chicken salad and pasta salad and cut out some circles out of bread. I made lemonade and updated my monthly playlist a bit.

Peyton was busy outside (the kids played SO well that morning) and he said it was so nice. I said I wished I had known how great the weather was and we could have done everything outside. Well, we discussed for a few minutes and decided to move the decorations out there under the carport. I got a little stressed, but it was so nice and AP said she really wanted to have it out there. How can you say no to the birthday girl? Anyway, I put fresh sheets in the crib (Graves's diaper had leaked) and cleaned the highchair and then it was lunchtime for the kids. Peyton bathed them and we put Graves down and Annie played for a bit  in our room. Peyton ran to the store and I picked up toys and balled some fruit. I made the sandwiches and iced the cupcakes and it was almost party time. I put some pictures on a flash drive for the digital frame and then got ready SUPER fast.

Everyone got here and we had a blast. It was so nice outside and both kids had a wonderful time. It was so much fun to catch up with lots of friends at once. After the party was over, we visited with my mom and started cleaning up. We played with the kids some and then cleaned up the nursery (it was a mess). Peyton fixed the kids supper and I bathed Bud and then we ran up to Walgreens for an errand. We went by DQ and Newks for treats/supper. Annie fell asleep in the car and we transferred her and put Graves to bed. Peyton and I talked for awhile and then he went to bed. I got on the computer, cleaned up the kitchen and went to bed.

Peyton got up super early to finish his Sunday school lesson. He was doing children's church that morning but the kids and I slept late. I got everyone ready and out the door on time and we went to Sunday school and then church (Peyton stayed for church since he had done children's church). We went out to lunch with some friends afterward.We came home and I got the kids settled for nap/rest time and then I got on the computer a bit. I uploaded pictures and read some blogs. I had a bad headache so I laid down in bed. Annie came in and wanted to lay down with me. OF COURSE, I let her :) When Graves got up, we all just played in their room for awhile. I didn't worry about laundry or anything, we just played.

We cleaned up and went to Target because I had seen a dress I REALLY wanted. Of course, it was gone and the kids were not on their best behavior. I haven't taken them very much lately and when I do I use the car with the little benches in front. I just didn't want to worry with it, but Graves was MAD about having to sit in the baby part with the strap buckling him in. Annie had to teetee and while we were in there Graves said he did, too! I put him on the filthy Target potty and he did it! Wow. Anyway, after that I switched the kids (of course Annie loves the "baby" part of the cart). Graves did much better and he actually didn't start trying to stand up until the very end. We had to go by Kroger, too, but they did really well there because I let them "drive" one of the little car buggies. I was sort of tired when we got home. Peyton had left right when we got home to go hiking with his brother and I didn't expect him until late. But right after the kids finished supper, he walked in. Graves went in the pottied in the frog potty and I got him ready for bed and put him down and then Peyton talked to Annie and we did her little routine and got her to bed. It was late and I still had to clean up the kitchen, unload and load dishes, and make chicken salad and berry tea for the teachers at AP's school the next day. I did all that and then got on the computer for a bit and went to bed.

Whew! I think this week will be more low key! It's Annie's last week of school and she has a little end of the year performance. And then this weekend will be sort of full- we have a church this on Friday, are going to Granny's on Saturday, and on Sundays there's an adoption conference in the area! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Weekly Smorgasbord

Not a ton on the list, but it's all SO good this week. I could probably say that every week, but I don't. So take note!

On Faith:
Posted: 17 Apr 2013 10:55 PM PDT
"I don't think that God always tells the person with OCD that he doesn't need to wash his hands five times. I think He makes sure he always has soap."

This brought tears. Oh, how many times He has made sure I had soap.

Posted: 13 Apr 2013 07:28 PM PDT
"Depending on how you view alcoholism, Brennan was either the victim of a terrible disease, or he was just a lush. In any case he made a long habit of lying (at least through omission) about his condition...Brennan Manning taught me the Gospel. If I have ever shared the love of Jesus with you, you can be sure that Brennan was partly to blame. If I have ever pointed anyone to kindness, forgiveness, or hope, you can be sure that Brennan's words helped to form my message. Though I only met him twice, he was one of my most important mentors in the faith. Now he joins most of those mentors in glory."

On Family:
Posted: 12 Apr 2013 01:12 PM PDT
"The thing is: Real Manhood means you hallow womanhood. A woman isn't a toy to amuse your lusts, a thing to aggrandize your ego, a trophy to adorn your manhood. A woman is of your rib, who birthed your rib, who cupped your rib, who is meant to be gently cherished at your rib, at your side....The culture of boys will be boys — means girls will be garbage and you were made for more than this, Son. Your Dad and I believe boys will be godly and boys will be honoring and boys will be humble.."

On Friendship:
Posted: 08 Apr 2013 08:13 PM PDT
"But how good does it feel when you just, you know, don't? How good is it when friends visit and you don't lift a finger? I say when your visitors don't command a freshly-scrubbed toilet, they are your Cave Brothers and Sisters. They know you for what you are and they don't judge you, because they have hairballs on their bathroom floors and piles of dirty shoes at their front doors, and they think that's perfectly fine."
On Mental Health:
Posted: 08 Apr 2013 08:18 PM PDT
"We're the people who say: there's no shame saying that your heart and head are broken because there's a Doctor in the house. It's the wisest and the bravest who cry for help when lost...There's no stigma in saying you're sick because there's a wounded Healer who uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and medicine to make miracles...There's no guilt in mental illness because depression is a kind of cancer that attacks the mind. You don't shame cancer, you treat cancer...Shame is a bully and Grace is a shield. You are safe here."
Posted: 08 Apr 2013 08:16 PM PDT
"I think this is an awful but real human impulse — we want to find a way to exclude the possibility that something bad could befall our children. I will admit here that I'm not immune to this impulse. When something horrific happens to another child, I find myself quickly cataloging the details, trying to find something that would make the tragedy exceptional . . . some slip-up that the grieving parent made along the way that would comfort me from a concern that it could happen to me. I've done it when I've heard about infant death . . . I've scrambled to figure out if the parent was doing something wrong. Was there some rule they failed to follow that would assuage my anxiety about my own child's mortality? I found myself doing this as I watched the Sandusky trial as well — quickly casting aspersions on parents of the victims for their lack of discernment. "
On Sexuality:
Posted: 14 Apr 2013 10:43 PM PDT
This was really fascinating and I want to read this book so badly (by Wesley Hill, a gay Christian committed to a life of celibacy).

On Finding Refreshment:
Posted: 12 Apr 2013 12:47 PM PDT
Great tips!

On Topics of Sociological Interest:
Posted: 08 Apr 2013 07:15 PM PDT
This was so interesting.. Peyton is so bad about (or good at?) this.

On Topics of Great Hilarity:
Posted: 08 Apr 2013 08:15 PM PDT
Hysterical. I used to do this about the weekly family picture. Now Peyton sets it to ten and "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit".
Enjoy and let me know what spoke to you!

Fear and Guilt in the Early Days of Grave's Babydom: A Retrospective

I think I'm more blown away by Graves being two than by Ann Peyton being four. Last year it was the reverse. Three just seemed so old, but I felt like he was most definitely a one year old. Since their birthdays are so close and since I'm so analytical, I'm sure I'll think about this every year.

I think part of what it is comes down to that while Ann Peyton being a little girl (rather than a toddler) is a Big!Deal! Graves being at this stage where he's really much more toddler than baby feels even bigger.

And if I'm honest, it's also the way our (specifically Peyton's) relationship have evolved with him. This is a big post for another day, but it took these guys *so* long (like nearly two years) to really learn one another's ways.. I didn't really think about it until his birthday week, but it's another reason why in our particular situation I'm really glad we're waiting on number three....I think I could handle being stretched thin by three little people, and I know Peyton could handle it, too. But I'm glad he has this time where Graves is so infatuated with him and vice versa to really devote to enjoying him (and Annie, but they're been in love with each other since day one).

Like I said, that's a post for another day. Honestly, I hope it's a post Peyton will at some point write himself. He touched on it here, but there's a lot more to it really. It's just been neat to see what has bloomed when I finally settled down and waited on God's timing and didn't try to force it to happen.

What I've been thinking about a lot is Grave's early babyhood, like probably the first six months and how incredibly different it was from Ann Peyton's. I loved him instantly, don't get me wrong, but I didn't have the same feelings that I did toward Annie. I didn't enjoy him as much on a daily basis, my heart didn't feel like it would burst out of my chest, and I wasn't just eaten up with how precious he was.

Now, part of that is that he was number two. I get that.  I fully get that.

But it was also more. I can say that now, because like with other things, I'm so far on the other side. I've said before that one thing about his speech issues (he just doesn't talk much for a two year old- but he's made big strides!) is that it's made me and Peyton able to view these little achievements made by our second child with the same awe we had with our first and we kind of loose our minds over the tiniest thing he says. Anyway, I know all of it didn't come down to him being the second and me just being less enthusiastic about stuff. 

I was really really careful about who I shared these feelings with for a couple of reasons. First of all, I felt like a horrible mother for feeling them. Second of all, I had been incredibly honest about how insanely easy Annie was and I didn't want to look like the wimp mom who just couldn't handle a "normal" baby. But the reality of it was that it didn't feel normal at all. 

I'm not saying I hated my kid. I'm not saying I had post partum depression. I'm not saying there weren't lots of times I looked at his tiny face and thought "I love you, little one". 

 I am saying there were days I hated my life (mostly because of what I was feeling internally). I am saying that I struggled with my feelings (and more so with the guilt for even having them).  I am saying that for a lot of months I didn't love him the way I loved Annie (even the way I loved her those early months of her own life).

I was talking with a friend recently about how things in the past are sometimes sort of magnified. She was saying that I possibly remember AP being a lot easier than she actually was. I think she's right and it's also highly possible I remember those months with Graves being a lot harder than they were. I'll tell you what I do know, though. Annie's first two years were the easiest it's been, mothering wise. Those first few months with Graves (and the child Annie became almost immediately following his appearance in our home) were some of the hardest months I've mothered through. And these months lately? They're harder than those initial two years, but in many ways I'm much, much more content.

I think some of it came down to Graves's personality and that he was just a harder baby than AP (in some ways he's been a much more laid back toddler than Annie) and so I think that made things between us feel more "tense" because I was so stressed out. He had that dairy intolerance the first few months and before we figured that out, life was sort of miz. I really didn't want to share that with people either because I deeply feared being told "um, that's just how babies are, get a grip" and being judged as incompetent. Truthfully, I said those words to myself enough.

I also think part of it was selfishness and stubbornness on my part. Graves just had a lot of different needs than Ann Peyton did as an infant. I wrote about it before, but he was much more "attached" and sadly I kind of fought that in the very beginning. That part of his nature has stuck- he's much more social than Annie and not nearly as independent in some ways. He says maybe two or three two word phrases and one of them is "hold me". I literally don't think Annie ever said that at his age. [And for the record, I don't know who is the more unusual child. Probably Ann Peyton. Not saying he wasn't normal, just saying it wasn't my normal.]

And lastly, I think part of it was I was sad about what I had to give up for him: namely, my easy well-behaved first child. Now, I'm not saying that I resented him for Annie's behavior. I'm also not saying that it wouldn't have happened eventually anyway, in fact that it might not have happened at that very age regardless of the circumstances. I mean, there is a phrase called "terrible twos" and I wasn't the first person to experience the reality of those words. But at the same time, it was like my angel baby morphed OVER NIGHT into a sort of malevolent monster. When he was days old, she hit him in the head (hard) because I was HOLDING HIM.  I know, perfectly normal reaction to a new baby from a two year old but I'd be lying if I said it didn't break my heart. It was so uncharacteristic of her. It took me until she was two years old to see her sin nature really clearly (it took me until maybe a year with Graves) and when I saw it it just slapped me in the face. And honestly, I struggled with how to deal with it. I never really wished we hadn't had a second, but I questioned the timing- had we added to our family too early? And I questioned myself- had I not done a good enough job equipping Annie for this change? More importantly- was I not doing enough job giving her the attention and affection she desperately needed during this transition? It was just such a battle in my mind. 

Anyway, fast forward to about the six month mark. We figured out the dairy thing and I figured out Graves and learned his little ways. I also sort of embraced the kind of baby he was and the needs he had and we did some things differently with him. And I got ahold of Annie. I let her know what wasn't acceptable and we had lots of conversations and I carved out special time for just her and gradually she warmed up to him. We hit a good groove and I really enjoyed life more. Then a few months later, the rest came. I started enjoying him more. And not just that, I sort of became obsessed, in love with him the way I was in love with Ann Peyton.

A mom talked to me recently about that phenomenon where "there's just something about little boys and their mommas". I generally avoid those sorts of statements like the plague, because when I had just a girl they sort of stung my heart- for myself and my daughter whose relationship seemed to be minimized and also for these women and their daughters whose relationship seemed similarly undervalued. But now, in a way, I get it. I love both my kids equally, but they are so different and the things I love about them are so different.  The things I love about Annie are largely things I relate because I know them to be inside myself- her sensitive spirit, her inquisitive nature, her seriousness of purpose, her stubbornness, her ability to think "deeply" about certain things. I love that she enjoys playing delicately with breakable tea sets. My heart almost breaks from her preciousness. The things I love about Graves are entirely different. I love how affectionate he is, I love his charm and his personality, I love that he's so full of life. I love that he rarely has a bad day and when he does it can be fixed with hugs and snuggles. I love his energy. I love his passion. I love his sweet spirit. But I also love his rough spirit. I love that he enjoys doing demolition to block towers. My heart almost breaks from his preciousness. I don't know how much of this is a boy/girl thing, though. And I don't think it matters much. I just know it's a Graves and Annie thing. 

I wrote all this partly because it's part of our story and I enjoy sharing our story. But I also wrote it, because as is sometimes the case with my writing, I wish I had read it. I wish someone had normalized this experience for me and told me that I didn't have to keep asking myself hard questions about if I'd always have a "favorite". I wish someone, ONE person, had told me it was okay and time would smooth the broken edges. 

And if they had a time machine, they could have told me we'd figure out his dairy issue. That I'd learn to die to myself in a way I never had. And that I was giving Annie the best gift- the gift of her best friend.  

But really, telling me that it was normal and okay would have been enough.