Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days of Mississippi Goodbyes: Intro and Directory

So, in a few short months we (me, my husband, my flighty but precocious four year old, and my wild boy child who is two) are moving to the Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. NEW!YORK!CITY!

We are moving from the suburbs of central Mississippi. I've done a bit of writing (and there's a lot more of it to do in the coming months and years) about New York, but I wanted to take this month to share parts of my journey as I say "goodbye" to my beloved home for the past twenty seven years (or really "see ya later" as we know this won't be a forever thing, but that sounded awkward and looked even more so on the button). 

Some of this will be likely be general things involving our city and state- favorite restaurants and recreation sites, special spots, and significant people and places that belong to everyone that calls the Magnolia State home. But I'm predicting a lot of these posts will be more personal and will just be a way of me processing this major event going on in my life. I'm going to do my best, though, to share what a beautiful place I've called my own, what a rich culture I've be privileged to claim, and what an honor it is to have been blessed to be a resident of such an amazing state. 

A little housekeeping note: I'll be adding links to each post here, so this post will serve as a directory page to the entire series. I hope y'all enjoy! 

Day 1: Into
Day 6: Skipped

What I'm Into: September

On the Nightstand:
Another month, another FINISHED book. Whew. I'm on a roll. I'd love to knock out more than one a month, but this is good for me right now, in this season. 

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 

Honestly, I haven't read this very much at all this month. It's probably my favorite devotional ever, so I don't knwo why I let it slip! 

This is the one I finished. I can't say I loved it, but there were interesting stories and it had an overall good message. 

I didn't read too much in this one either this month. It's SO good, so I have to pick it back up!

I read a bit more in this and I love it.  It's really timely now because, especially with Ann Peyton, meeting her (emotional) needs in an empathetic way can be really challenging. Now that Fresh Power is out of the way, I'm going to dig in! 

Giant Steps for Little People- Kenneth N. Taylor
I've started reading this little "devotional" book to the kids at night. It was mine growing up and honestly, I thought it'd be a little hackneyed and trite. But it's been GREAT. It's got a short little lesson and then questions, usually pertaining to the illustration. It ends with prayer and a verse. Annie is really doing well with the questions (e.g.- "What is something you did today that hurt someone else?" "Splashed water in Graves's face"). The lessons in this book are from the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments. It's very practical and I love it. 

On the Shelf:

Real Sex- Lauren Winner
This is still on the shelf. I'm anxious to start it this month.  

Immersion Bible Study: Psalms- J. Clinton McCann

I started this, but haven't really gotten into it yet. Peyton and I had planned to do it together and we sort of dropped the ball on that. I'm going to try to make that more of a priority this month. 

Great with Child- Beth Anne Fennelly 

Cookie bought this book for me shortly after I had Graves (she was in the room for all the beautiful pain). She said it was just beautiful and even though she isn't her mother herself, she appreciated it so much. Pretty much every time she's in town she asks if I've read it and I always tell her I haven't. So, this is the month! I think it's going to be really different from what I spend most of time- really artsy and creative and I think it'll have a more "literary" feel than most of what's on my nightstand lately. I'm itching to start it! 

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Um, I put a docu or two in my Netflix queue, but actually watching anything? Nope. 

On the Small Screen:

The West Wing

I'm back at it. So good. Every episode is great and I'm obsessed with the characters.

Saturday Night Live

I used to watch religiously on Saturdays in high school and then I got obsessed with the reruns. It seems like the show gets less and less funny as it ages (like those 80s reruns are beyond hysterical), but I decided recently to give it a shot again. We don't have cable, so it's fun to find stuff on the networks. Anyway, I get in a good chuckle here or there (although I was laughing at something only very slightly funny last weekend and Peyton came in the room and asked if I was drunk, so...maybe my humor threshold is a lot lower than it used to be). 

In My Ears:
Ugh. I am so beyond irritated. Peyton's computer is still not fixed. Part of this is us (him) being super busy and it just not being number one of the agenda. But part of it is that we've twice received a defective hard drive from the company he ordered it from. Or his computer is just so screwed up it won't read a new hard drive. Whatever. It's getting fixed in the next two weeks. As I live and breath, it is. 

That said, I ordered the kids some educational/inspirational CDs this month and we've been enjoying those. I am so, SO not a person who bops along to kids' music. It sounds awfully arrogant, but it's almost a point of pride (okay it is a point of pride) that my kids- at least my oldest- have at some point or another either identified or requested Mumford, Bruce Springsteen, and Wilco. I just don't do a lot of kid music. BUT, we've found some okay stuff.

The President's March

This gets annoying real fast, but it is helping Annie learn the presidents and I think that's a lofty goal for a four year old. It basically just lists the presidents (and the first ladies if you make it to track three) to the tune of John Phillip Sousa's Washington Post march. The kid request it like crazy for some reason.

The Way My Story Goes- Jamie Soles
I don't love every song on this CD, but it has some catchy ones. I especially like the first track, which lists a bunch of (some pretty obscure) Biblical figures and then states "these are they which speak of Me....all these stories, they show my glory....these are they which speak of Me". Anyway, it's been fun to find bearable kids' music with lots of Scriptural messages. 

Around the House:
We got a new calendar time chart. I was using a bulletin board I had created, but this is so much more compact and durable and it's really been a great tool. I put it right on the side of the cabinet in the kitchen.

I've had my aprons hanging there for a long time, but I just moved them to the other end of the cabinet.

I also finished up this whole bulletin board full of monthly quotes. I've just been keeping them and gradually adding them and now it's FULL. I love the way it looks, sort of patchwork like, but moreso, I love the good words that it contains. 

In the Kitchen:
I've cooked a few things lately that were huge hits with everyone.

 I made my friend Karissa's lasagna-esque Buster Keaton casserole and it was SO good. 

I also made Minnie's super easy chicken pot pie. 

I tried this grilled chicken with roasted grape tomatoes and eh, nothing to write home about. 

And I tried a chilled cucumber and avocado bisque. It just tasted a lot like...cucumbers. I know, I know. Duh.

 We're better off with caserole-ish stuff and canned condensed soup, I think. We're simple folk with pretty unsophisticated pallates (okay, I am; that's not entirely true for Peyton and the kids). 

In My Closet:

Polka dots are my weakness. I love this dress. It's so comfy and feels sort of retro. 

I got this at Target recently and it is SO comfortable. Like the most comfortable item of legit clothing I've owned ever. I went back and got it in two other colors.

Ahh, I feel like the epitome of Peyton's girl in this-- EnvioSweetie takes being green pretty seriously. 

In Their Closets:

This little 18 mo. shortall has been in Graves's closet for years. I think I found it on eBay when he was an infant. Anyway, it runs big and he's finally in it.

And I got sister this Jelly the Pug dress off Zulily recently and she (and I) love it. But whoa, so grown up, right?

They happened to have these "back to school" looking outfits that sort of coordinated. I didn't buy them together, but they looked so precious! 

In My Mailbox:
In addition to a couple of lightweight jackets, I got the kids a couple of toys from Zulily. I'm pretty picky about their toys. I just really like them to be simple things and/or things that encourage them to use their imaginations. I don't like a lot of gadgets. Anyway, I got Ann Peyton this precious tic-tac-toe book and I love it. 

We also received this. How adorable is the invitation  I loved the mixed patterns. And we are *so* excited about getting to be part of Katie and Andrew's big day. 

In My Cart:
I'm trying to gradually prepare us for New York City Winters and I think I'm doing okay. Last month, I got myself a legit coat and this month I tried to tackle the kids outerwear. I still need to figure out boots and order gloves and hats, but I think I've got the coats/jackets/ect. covered.

Heavy jacket and ski suit for Graves:

Heavy jacket and snow bibs for Annie:

Lighterweight (but still substatial) fleeces and windbreakers:

I got some mad deals on all of it. A friend sold me Annie's ski bibs for next to nothing and I got Graves's heavy jacket and bibs at a consignment sale for just about that. The four lightweight coats were off Zulily and were very discounted. The only thing I paid much for was AP's heavy coat. It's a 4-in-1 system coat from Land's End and I got it off eBay. I paid about half of retail, which was not pocket change, but I felt like I got a good deal because of the versatility inherent in a 4-in-1 and because the liner (that zips out) is DOWN FILLED. Obviously they probably don't really need this much, but I feel prepared and I did it pretty frugally. Overall, I'm pretty proud of my purchases.

On My Heart:
 I'm just thinking more and more about the time we have left here and the new chapter of our lives that seems to be so close now. I'm sure this will be a theme for the next few months, bu it's starting to feel so real. 

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying for a good friend who is struggling with a lot right now, but who I feel like has been given a supernatural peace. I'm praying that God will continue to give her that. 
- I'm praying for my sister as she begins the journey to the altar! Woot woot! 
- I'm praying for God to give me a sense of peace during what I know is going to be an incredibly busy month! 

On the Calendar: 
So, so much! We (Peyton, AP, and I) are going to Chicago for a friend's wedding, Peyton has a retreat that he's on staff at, and then there's just lots of other day to day stuff. I'm slightly overwhelmed, but optimistic

Linking up with Leigh again as usual!

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Coney!"

"Coney" as Graves calls him had a big question for our sweet Cookie....

This guy and his sister are going to be saying "UNCLE Coney" in true legitimacy before too long and we couldn't be more over the moon. In fact, what prompted this video is the fact that I could not stop saying "OH MY GOSH!" on repeat like crazy when she told me over the phone the other night. Cookie's here this weekend (he proposed on Wednesday night and she was already planning to come home on Thursday...we feel like he's got things pretty well figured out or something).

[ETA: In a surprising fashion (nothing truly surprises me with him anymore) Peyton announced that he didn't really like the kids saying "Oh my gosh". This from a guy that I'm one hundred percent confident will allow them to swear when they're teenagers. He told me he actually doesn't say it himself because it's a "made up word created as a stand-in by people so they wouldn't take the Lord's name in vain" or something like that. He said there are just better phrases and now his adorable son is saying "Oh, dear!" quite a bit.]

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Weekly Smorgasbord

Wow, lots of links this week. A pretty good variety, I think, too.

On Faith:
Posted: 20 Sep 2013 09:15 PM PDT
"Spadaro asks Pope Francis point-blank, "Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?" The pope's answer is shocking: "I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. … I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance." "

Hey, guys, the interview wasn't just about abortion and gay marriage. Also-- this is REALLY good. Love him.
Posted: 20 Sep 2013 09:14 PM PDT
"But when we discourage members of the body of Christ from challenging the status quo or even the fundamentals of our faith, we limit their own discovery of truth. By testing the claims of Christianity, we substantiate them in our own hearts."
Posted: 23 Sep 2013 06:40 PM PDT
"The key apologetic for Christianity—far more important than knowing the right answers to hard questions—is love. Communities of faith that embody the kindness of God in cruciform 'works of love' are deeply attractive and are themselves evidence (not proof) of the truth of the gospel."
Posted: 22 Sep 2013 03:01 PM PDT
"It took motherhood for me to realize just how much I need the gospel. Before I had children, the gospel was like viewing a tower in the fog. I knew the gospel, understood its importance, but I didn't see the impact in all its fullness. The details were hazy and its beauty shadowed. But after becoming a mom and taking on its package of responsibilities and challenges, I have begun to see the gospel with more clarity. It has become for me the tower of refuge that it is."
On Parenting:
Posted: 20 Sep 2013 10:00 PM PDT
"Look, I'm a mother. I care deeply about my children's safety. But safety is just one important thing to teach our children. And it's not even anywhere near the most important thing. Keeping your kids from dying or getting hurt is of secondary importance to teaching them how to live. Safety isn't even a virtue. If you're teaching your kids more about safety than you are about honesty, kindness, respect for others, responsibility, gratitude, integrity, cooperation, determination, social skills, enthusiasm, compassion and manners, you're doing it wrong."
Posted: 25 Sep 2013 10:35 AM PDT
"They need my questions and my laughter and my attention. They need my blessing. They need my hands on their heads as I pray for favor and growth and a heart that hungers for God. They need to know that I love them more with every passing day, that no amount of exhaustion or solo-parenting or stress can stand between them and me."
Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:18 PM PDT
"We have pretty high standards in the Lia household. No doubt about it. But we are NOT a house of shame. I can't think of a time when God ever sent me, head hanging to my room. He prods me to the right path, He allows trials and tests, but He is never frowning, and always speaks that which will give me life."
Posted: 22 Sep 2013 03:07 PM PDT
"So, we have a problem: Our children are growing up in a sexually corrupt and corrupting culture, and due to the technological revolution, putting them in a pristine bubble isn't even an option anymore (as though it was ever healthy....)"

My friend Ann Lowrey did a whole (four part, I believe) series on sexual ethics. Totally worth the read...all four parts.

On Singles in the Church:
Posted: 23 Sep 2013 07:39 PM PDT
"t is a strange kind of grief because most people don't recognize it as a validated loss.  Singles often feel a deep sense of grieving, and yet we don't feel like we deserve to be grieving because nothing concrete has happened to us."

On Orphan Care:
Posted: 25 Sep 2013 11:16 AM PDT
"Don't get me wrong – I think supporting orphans is important. Vitally important. But I want to make sure that we aren't creating and sustaining a child's orphan status because it's the only way we are offering a family aid. An orphanage is not a good way for a child to grow up. We have tons of research supporting the idea that children raised in institutional settings will struggle relationally, cognitively, and emotionally. In the US, we see that non-family care leads to horrible statistical outcomes: less likely to go to college, more likely to be in prison, less likely to gain employment, more likely to be homeless. Therefore, when we talk about "orphan care", our goal, when possible, should be family care."

On Homeschooling:
Posted: 23 Sep 2013 05:38 PM PDT
Interesting infographic!

On Feminism:
Posted: 19 Sep 2013 08:26 PM PDT

Posted: 24 Sep 2013 09:16 PM PDT
As long as people want to live in good neighborhoods and pay cheap rents, and as long as there are artists and gays and bohemians, and as long as we keep producing young people who crave newness and a place of their own, gentrification will continue. Our neighborhoods will continue to be reshaped. Policy changes, like inclusive zoning and strong rent control, can help reduce the amplitude and pace of these changes, but the process itself can never be stopped, until New York sinks under the last wave or the final heap of ash. ..acknowledge that while gentrification is inevitable, its character is not. Small, personal decisions, like buying your coffee at the local place instead of at Starbucks, can give gentrification in your neighborhood a more organic, human character. So will voting for liberal candidates, who support subsidies for the poor and the elderly, and also donating to and volunteering with charities that support these groups. Don't be a destructive transient: the future of your neighborhood, and your city, is in your hands.

On Fall:
Posted: 19 Sep 2013 07:50 PM PDT

On Children's Books:
Posted: 22 Sep 2013 01:27 PM PDT
"News that an unfinished manuscript by children's illustrator Richard Scarry is to be coloured up by his son and published this autumn may not immediately thrill the children of today, but it will provoke waves of nostalgia in those of us who grew up with his busy anthropomorphised beasts." 

Speak for yourselves, writers of The Guardian. I know a certain Busy Bud who *will* be thrilled. Also? If your little boy is not growing up with plenty of exposure to anthromorphised're doing it wrong.

On Things That Are Truly Ridiculous:
Posted: 22 Sep 2013 01:30 PM PDT
Guess I should maybe stop saying the "Y word"? Nay.

On the Aging Process:
Posted: 22 Sep 2013 03:05 PM PDT
"By taking photographs of different family members and merging them together, these filmmakers created "Danielle," showing us in five minutes the almost imperceptible effects of aging throughout a lifetime."

On Things That Never Stop Being Funny:
Posted: 21 Sep 2013 02:07 PM PDT
These things never stop being funny.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When Being Wrong is Hard and Scary

Annie: "I thought I was going to cry. The teacher told me to draw something round and I thought I was just drawing something OVAL." [Her teacher drew the example on the left. Also, to clarify she didn't misunderstand the instructions she was just beside herself because she physically couldn't draw a more circular shape.]

One of the things I've really been working on with Annie lately is letting go of worrying about being wrong. It's just something she struggles with and I know it's in her blood. I used to erase my name until my paper had holes in it because I wanted to do each letter perfectly. Honestly, that's a huge part of the reason I dropped the "Sarah" and went by just "Denley" starting in Kindergarten (I missed the double name so I picked it back up in college). It really makes me sad sometimes to look back on that little girl because she was so crippled by her compulsive need for perfection.

But at the same time, it's part of my story and it's part of who I am. That drive and motivation helped me succeed in a lot of things. And I've also come to realize that I don't really think there was anything anyone could have done to make it better. My mom did so much. In fact, it's probably to her credit that I functioned as normally as I did, especially those early years where she guided me through so much of it.

But seeing that in Ann Peyton? Is hard.

It's actually gotten better. This Summer was sort of rough. I remember at one point she refused to say the word "straw" at my parents' house. I thought she was just being silly, but I looked at her little face and I knew she was scared she was about to get the word wrong. It's just like when you see someone and you think you know their name, it's on the tip of your tongue, but your terrified you're wrong. Except it was about a STRAW. It didn't matter at all and I was the only one around and she was terrified of getting saying the wrong noun to describe the little sipping device.

Then she started doing this thing where she needed me to sort of validate and encourage her to say things, again really simple things. Like one day we were talking about a toy or something and she asked me who had given it to her. I knew that she knew my sister had and I asked her if she didn't know. "Cook..." and then she stopped and said "Can you say 'You're about to say it?'" and for awhile when we did her critical thinking books and stuff she needed me to prompt her in exactly that way before she'd answer a question. It became...a bit of a compulsion.

She's a smart girl and she knows what she's good at and what she struggles with and she says "can't" about the latter way more than I really think a four year old should.

One thing I'm doing is working really hard on focusing on how it is okay to fail. For a while, I'd say "Oh, but you can!". But honestly, that's not what she needs to hear. She needs to hear about what happens if she can't. And the truth is, sometimes there will be things she can't do-- at least not at first. She's asked me a few times lately "Why it okay (I know that's bad grammar) if I mess up.....because that's how we learn?" and I smile and nod. Peyton and I try to tell her that so often.

Another thing I'm doing is showing her when I make mistakes myself. I think this has really helped and it's also been good on a spiritual level because it reminds me that I need to ask for her forgiveness more often that I probably would otherwise. But sometimes it's just simple things-- "Oh no, momma left the top off the marker and it dried up...but it's okay" or "Oh look, momma made a wrong big deal!".

It scares me sometimes how much of myself I see in her, but I also know that God is going to guide me in the ways I need to support and encourage and comfort her. I'm so amazed every day by the incredible little person that she is.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weekly Happenings Post #234 (September 16-22)-- Papa Gets to Studying

Peyton's been working hard to get ready for his New York pharmacy law test. He actually took it today! So he spent some time last week studying. It was a somewhat busy week, but it was fun!

I got up on Monday and got Annie ready and then got ready myself to go to the CPC. Peyton packed AP's lunch and dressed Graves and we left about the same time. It was a good morning at the CPC and when I got home Peyton and I talked some and we realized the sink was clogged. Peyton had to leave for work, so Graves and I ran to Kroger to get some Liquid Plumber. We got home and I used it and then Graves and I played and hung up clothes. I did dishes and we had lunch. We played a little more and went to get Annie. I put Graves down when we got home and AP and I talked about her day. I got her settled and got on the computer. Graves never went to sleep and it seemed like one or both of them needed me the whole nap time.
Not the way naptime is supposed to look!

 I ate a snack and read a few blogs. I got the kids up and folded laundry while they played and then I fixed them supper and we ate outside. I read while they ate and played. We came in and I bathed them and put them to bed. I ate something and read some blogs and worked on a post until Peyton got home. We talked a bunch and went to bed.

Peyton worked on Tuesday morning and the kids slept late-ish. We got up around eight thirty and I was still just laying around when the doorbell rang. It was the termite guy I had forgotten about just over to do our yearly inspection. Anyway, I put on some non-pjs shorts and answered the door really fast. He checked and I ate breakfast. It was actually good because I got going. I started dishes and laundry and he left and the kids and I did school. I took my bath sort of late and we all went to the libray.
This wild thing did pretty good today on one of the twenty five book library runs. Could've been better, but could've been WAY worse.

We got home and the kids ate lunch and I got them settled. Graves took a pretty short nap and the kids seemed extremely needy again. I ate lunch and read a few blogs, but I really didn't get much done. I folded a bit of laundry and got ready and got the kids ready and we left for Ultreya. I hadn't been able to find a sitter for the nursery and I was planning on going to a (my favorite) consignment sale that night. Anyway, Peyton met me there and kept the nursery while I went to the sale. We had a misunderstanding and he sort of got there late(ish). I made it to the sale right in time. Minnie met me there and Morgan and a few other friends were there, too. It was really fun. When I got home, Peyton had the kids in bed. I cooked Tilapia for us and we ate and talked. I cleaned up the kitchen and got Annie's school stuff ready and got on the computer for a few minutes. We went to bed pretty early for us.

Peyton had a seminar on Wednesday morning and he was so tired (Graves was up early and we just put him in our bed, but he was sort of restless). Anyway, he slept and I got the kids ready to take Annie to school. I had a little extra time so I did a few things on the computer and got Annie to color a picture for the director of her school, whose birthday was that day. We left and dropped AP off. When we got home, I played outside with Graves a bit. I read some and also straightened the carport a little. We came in and I started laundry and picked up around the house. I got our bed made and the kids room straight and then I worked on organizing some clothes in boxes at the top of their closet. Graves was all  in my hair, but he was so sweet, too. I just love having this time with just him. Anyway, we ate lunch and I got him settled for a nap. It worked out well that he had gotten up early because I knew there wouldn't be much time between picking Annie up and going to church. I got on the computer and worked on a post and checked my email and stuff. I ended up taking a short power nap and then we left to get Annie. There was a short birthday celebration for Dr. Ward, the director of the school, and we stuck around for that. After that, we came straight home. The kids ate a snack and played with play dough almost until it was time for church (like over an hour). I unpacked AP's bags, straightened, organized piles, and started flipping through a huge stack of magazines I need to go through. We got ready and left for church. It went well and we had a lot of good discussion in our group.

We got home and the kids ate a bit and then I got them ready for bed.
Well, that wasn't an exactly easy conversation to have with my four year old. Sometimes I feel so ill-equipped for this.

Best sleeping picture to date. Sorta reminds me of The Wizard of Oz.

I finished Graves's letter, put pictures on Facebook, and read some blogs. By the time Peyton got home I was SO tired and we talked and just went to bed.

I woke up a few times during the night and I was sort of tired when I got up to get ready to volunteer at the Children's Museum on Thursday. I got ready and left and it was a good, busy morning there. Peyton met me there with the kids so he could get to work. We came home and straightened and had lunch and then I put them down for naps.I got on the computer for a bit, ate lunch, and then took a legit nap. It was nice and I got up groggy, but it helped us have SUCH a productive evening. When the kids got up, we played and I started dishes and laundry. I cooked supper and did more dishes and then we did school until it was ready.
I made a new lasagna-like casserole and Graves was a BIG fan!

 The kids ate and I bathed them and put them to bed. I got on the computer and read blogs. When Peyton got home we talked. He went for a walk and I went to bed early-ish.

I got up feeling so well-rested on Friday. The kid slept sort of late and we actually did school while they were having breakfast. Annie was so focused and alert! I took my bath and we all got ready and Peyton left for work and the kids and I met Carrie and her crew at Newks for lunch. It was pretty chaotic, but we had fun! When we got home, I did dishes and swept while the kids played. We picked up toys and I got them settled for naps. I read blogs, wrote a post, and checked Twitter. I did my Bible study and watched The West Wing and folded laundry. The kids got up and we picked up toys and then left for Mickey and Minnie's.
This is what Mickey did to my baby while we were in NYC-- instilling HIS weather fear in her. Pretty sure this was his internal state every time there was a tornado watch/warning growing up. OMG, I told her we just had to get in the car. "BUT THE LIGHTENING MAY GET US". 

We had a fun time and got home late. I put the kids to bed and read blogs a bit until Peyton got home. We talked and went to bed. I had terrible headaches and congestion during the night.

Peyton had to work on Saturday. The kids slept a little late again and we had a nice morning. I felt really good again- I immediately got to work putting up clean laundry in their room and then we went through some of their books to decide what to take to NYC. We've got a lot of purging to do, but it's nice to take some baby steps. We cleaned up toys and then ate a late breakfast. I folded more laundry and did dishes and then I took my bath and we got ready and went to Hobby Lobby. The kids had a late lunch and I got them settled for rest time. Graves never fell asleep and I didn't get a lot done. I ate something and got on the computer and read a bit. They got up and we played until Peyton got home. We grilled chicken and I made these roasted tomatoes. I had told AP she could jump in puddles when Peyton got home, but they had dried up. I ended up dumping their wagon that was full of water over for the kids to play in. It felt good to do a little thing that made them so happy.
[Graves was next to naked in most of the pictures, so that's why Annie is the prominent one in these!]

We came in and ate and bathed the kids. I got on the computer and Peyton and I chatted and went to bed.

We got up and headed to Sunday school and church. Peyton took attendance during Sunday school and ushered. It was a good morning. We got home and I fed the kids lunch and got them down. Peyton left to go study for his test and I read some blogs and ate my lunch. I read a lot on the internet :) Peyton got home and I got the kids ready and packed them supper and we headed back to night church. It was a great sermon.

I have to say, it's interesting when you realize that you've never felt so spiritually supported in your chosen vocation as when your senior pastor leads a time of offering praise and it culminates with him sharing that his granddaughter sat through all of church this morning and teeteed in the potty. My children's small successes? I think it's good and right to offer up praise to Him who created their tiny selves. And conversely, the also seemingly inconsequential difficulties of a day with them? I've decided it's not so silly to petition the Lord in those moments, too. Even more stirring, was that the sermon was about "success". So often I struggle with the fact that I'm not a "successful" person by most people's standards. But that doesn't really matter in the end, because what I am doing matters. I had the kind of headache that comes from crying a little too hard at the altar. I got home and we got the kids settled. It took awhile and I was sort of tired. Anyway, I got on the computer a bit, but went to bed early because of the headache thing. 

Peyton took his test today and I'm so glad it's over with. We have to wait a week to find out if he passed, but at least it's done. This is a pretty busy week, but I think we're ready for it. And towards the end, Cookie's coming home for a visit! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Skillz Set: Two Word Phrases [June 2013]

I've meantioned a few times that Graves's language has really exploded lately. He's saying lots and lots of words, a good many phrases, and ever so often a complete or near complete sentence. I'm so proud of him and like I keep saying it's been really good for me to watch him achieve these milestones a bit more slowly than his sister did. First of all, I think it's so important that we encourage their different strengths and support them in their different challenges. Secondly, it's just been sort of fun to have different eyes than I know I would have otherwise had. Peyton and I have been able to experience something akin to "first child excitement" wherein you do backflips when your baby rolls over or babbles a sound that somewhat resembles "Mama" or takes a first step. We've just appreciated his little words more and that's been special. Anyway, I wanted to share a few videos of him from the Summer when he was first learning to string words together.

What a special, wonderful guy. I just adore the little boy he is becoming.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Letter to (Twenty Nine Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves,

What a great month it's been with my great little guy! I forgot to mention it in my last letter, and we actually weren't back yet on your "monthly birthday", but we left you with the grandparents overnight for the first time EVER last month. It was kind of a big deal. We had left Annie by herself overnight with grandparents a few times when she was a little younger than you, but it just hadn't been necessary yet and two kids is a lot more to put on somebody than one. And plus you're BUSY- you wear people out. Also, if I'm honest, we like to baby you a bit. Anyway, you'd had a few nights without me and a few without Papa, but never without us both at once. Well, you did fabulously. You were pretty easy going and I think you had all your grandparents chasing you at some point, but overall you could not have done better. You did have one little incident where you got scared of some thunder at Minnie's and you smeared peanut butter in a your hair a few times, but that's all to be expected. Minnie also did un-potty train you. Haha, I think it was just a bit much with everything else.

To be fair, you still needed lots of reminders and we really only did it because you initiated. That said, I hated to throw in the towel, so we're back at it. You've had quite a few "accidents" and a few that um, weren't so much accidents. I walked in morning from a shower and you were sitting on the floor saying "taste poo-poo?" and pointing to a pile. Luckily, from what I could tell you hadn't truly sampled anything yet. Another time, Annie told me that you didn't potty in your underwear and dump, you took off your underwear, squatted and did your business. NOT OKAY. Anyway, we had a talk and you've done better when we put you on the potty and have even told me a couple of times that you needed to. It's a process, I know.

You are such a goofy little boy. You love dressing up and being silly and OF COURSE making a mess. The bigger the better. The other day you and Annie tore into a box of "special things" I thought was pretty inaccessible. Luckily, we (Annie) found your baby locks from your first hair cut.

But you have an almost heartbreakingly sweet side, too. You are the most affectionate little child- physically and now verbally. I told you before bed tonight that I loved you and you said "I love you, Graves?" I asked you if he wanted me to tell you again and you said "uh huh" and nodded. I said "Oh Graves, I love you so much". You grinned, sighed so big, buried his head in my neck and said "I love you, Momma". I love that you wanted me to say it twice. Another time we were riding in the car and we heard you say to the stuffed animal you were holding "Okay? Check on you?" and then you started softly singing Edelweiss. It just melted me.  

The other morning I put you in bed with me when Papa left for work, hoping you'd sleep a bit more. You did and when I woke up your sweet hand was resting on my head. It was so sweet.  

You have had a wonderful Summer- playing in the backyard pool, feeding the ducks, going for walks. You love being outside. You've especially taken an interest in Papa's hammock and love to pretend anything (a blanket, a cardboard box, anything) is a hammock. 

With having started, I wanted to do something specifically for you. So before his nap each day, instead if grabbing the shortest board book I can find, we're making our way through Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever, a few pages at a time, as your attention span allows. 

You also have these little cards we've been playing with all Summer. They just have common words on them and we show you the picture and you practice. They're really made for babies with ambitious parents, but I think they've been pretty helpful and really fun. Up until about a month ago, you were still probably at the point with your language that Annie was when she was almost a year younger than you. But I really didn't let it bother me and these days you string words together like crazy and have even said a few SENTENCES. It's been neat to experience this in a different way this time, because I appreciate your little words and little voice so much more than I would otherwise. I feel like, in this regard, it's almost like I've gotten to do the first child thing twice. We get excited over achievements in this area the way most new parents would. I hope I can always be your biggest cheerleader!

Actually, your biggest cheerleader is (and I hope will always be) your sister. She gets so excited when she teaches you new things...and anything she's learning she wants to teach your (for example the presidents of the United States). She is just so smitten with you, Graves. The other day Grandpa Randy kept y'all and you fell asleep in his lap. I was so happy when you transferred easily into my own arms. I held you for a bit, but it didn't last long because Annie asked me "Can I just hold him too, please?". You're about as big as her, but she loved it. She kept rubbing your back and tracing your features and then she touched your feet and said "sweet little toes" so softly. It was such a beautiful moment. 

You miss her a lot when she's at school (you keep saying "Miss Annie. Love Annie"). But I think the time just the two of us (or three of us when Papa is home) is really wonderful. It's special to be able to give my attention to just you. 

The other day when it was just us, I put you in one of Papa's old grimey undershirts because the chalk we have stains y'alls clothes (I know, it's CHALK, weird right?). Anyway, you told me it was "pretty". I'm fairly confident you thought it was a dress. The joys of being a little brother- we're working on "handsome" :)

Graves, every day with you is a day that I can't help but smile and laugh. You are such a bright, funny little boy. Your energy is almost always coupled with your charm and sweet disposition. You are such a darling boy and I'm so thankful you're mine!

I love you,
Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your little truck shortall is an 18 mo. but it runs really big :)