Wednesday, October 30, 2013

31 Days of Mississippi Goodbyes: Being Near My Parents

I seriously don't even know how to write this post. I legit want to throw up.

I watched a Bruce Springsteen video as a coping mechanism and then dissolved into a puddle of tears because MY DAD INTRODUCED ME to the man who's music has had such a powerful influence on my life.

And so then I sat with it. And I made myself write it out. Because that's what I do when things hurt in the deepest places...I write it out.


Daddy is wonderful in a million and one ways. He's super smart. And very humble. He's a deep thinker. He's an introvert. He gets me. He sends the best texts. He uses emoticons and in this incredibly weird way, he communicates emotion through them that he, a self-described graduate of the John Wayne School of Manhood, hasn't really ever been able to before.

He is Graves Herrington's biggest fan. He literally loves that little boy like no one else (besides me and his papa and sister, of course) ever could. They have such a special bond. Because Mickey never had a son, he's all but claimed Graves. I remember when he was tiny, just old enough to sit and really play, he and Mickey rolled a ball back and forth for ten minutes. It was the happiest I had seen Graves ever. And it was maybe the happiest I had seen my dad. At some point during this little game, Cookie as Daddy if he wished he had had his own little boy. He looked at her, perplexed, and said "What? I've got one right here".

So many of his little nicknames originated with Mick. He's the one who originally said (when he was a few months old)-- "he's my Bud" and talked about how they'd be fishing buddies. Of course, that stuck. Then he started calling him "The Budinator", probably because he breaks every damn thing. He also calls Graves his "happy little guy" and it's such a perfect description of his infectious little personality.

The other week we went over to my parents' house. We had gone longer than usual without seeing them (a week and a half) and Minnie just ran to the kids and started hugging them and asking them a million questions. Daddy, in his quiet way, came over and put his arm around me and said "And how's my girl?".

The move is finally hitting him and I hate watching that. He's really been in a place of denial, to be frank, and it sucks to see him come to terms with it.

I am going to miss him terribly.


Momma is an amazing care-taker. She's an extremely hard worker. She's gracious and she's kind and she is the epitome of what a Southern woman should be. She's an excellent cook, seamstress, and gardener. She's dealt with loss and she's done so with unimaginable eloquence.

She is more than a grandmother to my children. I don't know what she is, but she's more. The day she told me that she loved them as much as she loved me and Cookie was one of my favorite days ever. She constantly lines herself up with my grandmother (her mother) Bump, who was in a very real way one of my best friends when she was here on Earth. And she gets scared she's not enough. But, I can't fathom our babies not growing into the same honest, beautiful, like-no-other relationship God gifted Cookie and I with in Bump. Except when I get scared. Scared that this move will ruin all that for them and the chance at that will be gone. I'm terrified and guilt-ridden thinking that I would deny three people such a blessing.

From a very young age, she's been a true confidante to me and Cookie. A lot of people don't have that with their parents, or don't have it until later in life. But we have that sort of unique relationship with her where we really can tell her anything. And it's been that way, really, since our teenage years.

Which brings me to this. She is, among other things, my mothering model. I've never said and I never will say she did everything right (she wouldn't want me to!), but she parented us in a way I cannot describe how much I admire and appreciate. She was the first one to sit and process things with me and I credit her so much with how well-managed my anxiety was. It could have been so, so much worse. She was also the kind of mother who embodied grace. You knew that what you told her might shock her, but there was never any concern about the status of the relationship or about her unconditional love and acceptance.

She's my biggest cheerleader, my sounding board, my main cookbook, my children's personal seamstress, my parenting helpline, and my safe place when I'm exhausted, defeated, and scared.

I am going to miss her terribly.

Trying to see the good-- there are phones, there are phones with VIDEO CHAT features, there are computers, and there are airplanes. I'm thankful to live in the time we do where living with the barrier, though excruciating, won't be impossible. But some days, that doesn't feel like enough.

And we're coming back. I have to remind myself that this is temporary. A year or two or three seems like a lot when every day my children are changing and growing (and making me more and more tired). But in the context of a lifetime, it appears more manageable.

To see a list of previous posts in the series, click here.

What I'm Into: October

On the Nightstand:
Sadly, I didn't finish anything this month. But I am reading and I did start two new books. Maybe this is not the best reading strategy because I think things are just going to be sort of crazy over the next few months until the move. 

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 

Obviously this is going to be on the list all year (and part of next because I didn't start it in January). But y'all, I don't lie when I say EVERY DAY IS A BLESSING. 

Just snippets here and there. I love it and when I finish I'm buying another one of his books. 

I've read some more in this and I said this last month, but it came at the perfect time because I'm so in need of some wisdom on her to parent patiently and with empathy.

Real Sex- Lauren Winner
I started it, but I haven't gotten far. 

Immersion Bible Study: Psalms- J. Clinton McCann
I'm trying. It's more "academic" than the others I've done in this series (each book is written by someone different). Anyway, it's good, but I've struggled because I'm not sure than an intellectual Bible study is really what I need right now. 

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live- Emily Freeman
I'm actually following along with the Bloom book club over at (In)Courage. It's my first time doing it and I'm enjoying it. It's also good because it forces me to keep up. I love the book and I'll share more thoughts after I read more, but it's also really timely and I'm getting a lot from it. 

Giant Steps for Little People- Kenneth N. Taylor
We're still reading this and it's provoked some hard (but good) questions.

Something Beautiful- Sharon Dennis Wyeth
This is one of AP's recent library books.  It included scary graffiti and a homeless lady. But throughout the book, the little girl finds beauty in her life and her city. It was a difficult read but I adored it. [Incidentally, we had our first Annie-initiated conversation about homelessness that same day. She asked if truckers had homes and then if everyone had homes. The most beautiful thing I saw today were the wheels in her mind turning and the strings of her heart being pulled. It's such a privilege to hold her hand as she begins to see, really see, the world.]

On the Shelf:
Great with Child- Beth Anne Fennelly 

I'm tabling this one for now, but SOON! 

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Nothing at all. 

On the Small Screen:
Hardly anything. I watched a few episodes of  The West Wing. It's great, but right now I'm just not making TV a priority. Especially with the 31 Days thing, screen time pretty much means computer time.  Oh and Saturday Night Live. That is a fun Saturday night indulgence. 

In My Ears:
Peyton's new hard drive finally came in and he successfully installed it after MONTHS. So I'm planning on making an awesome playlist for November. But THIS month, I've enjoyed some old favorites.

Live in Dublin- Bruce Springsteen
I'm loving it. Big spiritual themes, lots on growing up and parenting, and a huge focus on Common Man/Immigrant life. Bruce at his best, singing all the good and hard things. 

Wildflowers- Tom Petty
I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the whole album really. But the title track? One of my favorites ever. 

The Wonder Years Soundtrack
Such feel good music. 

Around the House:
Well, I decorated for Fall/Halloween a tiny bit. I mean it's fun to pretend, I guess. 

In the Kitchen:
It's embarrassing really. I mean I've cooked her and there, but I've tried nothing new and haven't done a whole lot period. I need to step it up with Winter Soup Challenge. It still feels like Summer here, though. So UGH. 

In My Closet:

This is how you dress when it's Autumn, but it's like eighty five degrees. I know, I'm a broken record. Aside: Annie told me "that looks kind of short. It doesn't very look like a dress. It looks like a top. When you wear it to church, just put some pants on, okay?"

I got this dress on major sale awhile back but hadn't had a chance to wear it. I wore it to the wedding AP was a flower girl in and I LOVED it. It's comfy, but is unique. I feel like it's different, but still sort of classic and pretty. 

Mainly, I love this, though. There was like a COOLISH day and I embraced it and got cozy. These shoes make me feel like I'm channeling Joey Potter every time I wear them. 

Even better. Favorite tee. Favorite shorts. Favorite inside the house shoes. I love days where I don't leave the house and don't get dressed until six o'clock! 

In Their Closets:
This is the second bubble I made him. It's not as well constructed as the first, but I did it by myself! I picked the darker colors so he could wear it into Fall and he got a lot of use out of it even in October! Also, he's pretty good at picking his own accessories. (See the shoes...and see the strut.)

Another rare, Fall-ish day! 

This is her "New York City dress" that we got at the Brooklyn Flea. I love how she names her clothes. She also has an "Ikea dress" because she wore it ONE day to Ikea on a trip this month. 

This outfit takes the cake, though, right?  

In My Mailbox:
Not much of anything. I did buy a couple of jeans off eBay. Ordinarily,  I wear dresses (with leggings) even in the dead of Winter. But I know that's not gonna fly in New York. Plus I wanted to try something different, so I got a couple of straight leg/skinny pairs. 

In My Cart:
New glasses! I was way overdue. I had to have some hipster flair (because BROOKLYN). The huge ones looked absurd and fell off my face so I picked these from what is basically the "juniors" section (they're from a preteen line). Also, you can't tell but they're brown not black which I thought was subtle, unique, and very me. Next up: getting my nose pierced.

On My Heart:
This is going be it for the next few months and onward. I'm just trying to process the leaving of this place and the future that waits for us in the big city. I'm learning about letting go of being in control and needing a predictable life and being in my comfort zone or as my friend Annie calls it unfurling.

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying that God will open my eyes to all he wants to show me during this time.
- I'm praying about silly things like finding childcare and finding a Babar shirt and finding some PEACE OF MIND. I'll say this, praying about small, inconsequential things brings greater faith because it brings intimacy with the Father. It's been awhile since I've done it and it's so good.
- I'm praying for friendships yet to be made and for increased strength that will go the distance in the ones we have here.

On the Calendar: 
SO much! I'm taking a trip for a few days, Peyton's going hiking for a few days, Mistletoe is happening as are my three four hours shifts, I'm trying to put in a good many hours at the Children's Museum and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Fun stuff. Also, I really need to prioritize the purge and get the house cleaned out before we move.

Linking up with Leigh again as usual!
What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 Days of Mississippi Goodbyes: Amazing Friendships

I told y'all that the last three were going to be really hard. The things I'll miss most, are, understandably, all relational.

We have so many good friends here and have been so blessed by the support and encouragement of having the kind of close friendships that nourish one's soul. I wrote about Carrie already, but there's a handful of other guys and gals who we are going to miss dearly. There's a lot of people we'll miss-- a LOT. But I can think of probably ten people, outside our families, who, when I think about being across the country from, it brings me to tears. People that get me, people that see me at my lowest and are okay with sitting with me there for a bit. People who accept me as I am but who encourage me to become better. People who represent Christ, the incarnational Lord....who are his hands and feet and moreover who have His heart and see through His eyes, as incredibly trite as it sounds.

This picture at the top is the text of my absolute favorite songs. Honestly, if we were to get married again, the one thing I'd change is including this song in the ceremony (and hanging out the linen hand towels at the reception because that stressed Minnie out a ton). It always brings to mind that handful of people who love us and serve us so well.

I intend to write a whole post on this song at some point, but the line "I will hold the Christ light for you in the night time of your fear..." always and without fail brings me to tears. Even now, just typing it. I think of the fears that I've struggled with, days that truly felt as dark as night and nights that seemed unbearable and the incredible support and love of friends who held the Christ light in all the beautiful and hard ways. Mainly, they listened. They validated. They empathized. And they prayed.

This is a gift I am so appreciative of. I know not everyone has this. And I'm scared of leaving it. Really damn scared.

I started to click publish, leaving this one without the tidy ribbons. But then I remembered something. I think, really, the Holy Spirit brought it to mind. Two of these servant friends aren't even in Jackson themselves now. My conversations with them happen largely, almost entirely, by the God given gift of modern technology.

I'm praying that the Lord will use this time to guide us into new relationships but also that these connections with people "back home" will remain solid and unchanged, in so much is possible.

To see a list of previous posts in the series, click here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Happenings #239 (October 21-27)-- Inching Toward October's End

Last week was a fun one! It wasn't too busy, but we had some fun stuff going on. And Peyton was off several days!

I got up on Monday and got Annie ready and took my bath and got ready. I took her to school and then did some errands while Peyton was at home with Graves. I bought some tea that I had signed up to bring for a couple of things at the church and then dropped it off. I also picked up my new glasses. I came home and talked to Peyton and he left for work. I did laundry and dishes and straightened some piles and then Graves and I ate lunch and left to pick up Ann Peyton.

I got them settled and during naptime I had a snack and visited with Annie and then folded some laundry and uploaded pictures. I sent a few emails and then read some and did my Bible study. Pretty productive nap time! When the kids got up, we headed to my parents' for dinner since we hadn't seen them on Friday (they had been out of town). We ate and visited and then I bathed them both. We came home and I put them right to bed. I blogged and then Peyton got home. We chatted and went to bed late.

Tuesday was a nice day at home. Peyton got a bunch done in the yard (he had the day off) and I got a good bit done in the house. I actually got up sort of late and made a quick trip to the attic for a few things. I took my bath and had breakfast and then loaded and unloaded dishes and scrubbed the counters in the kitchen. I started laundry and cooked some chicken for that night. I organized and went through several really daunting piles of junk and then the kids and I had lunch and we did school.

During naptime, I cleaned up the den and shredded chicken and then got on the computer a bit. I made a salad and cleaned the bathrooms and Graves got up. I vacuumed the rug in the den and then got ready because we were having company that night. I started the poppyseed chicken and some green beans and our friends, the Rambos, got here. They're missionaries in Africa and are home raising support. They are THE sweetest people and so easy to visit with. I loved catching up with Meg. And they have three adorable boys- Annie and Graves had so much fun, too! They left around nine and we got the kids to bed and cleaned up the kitchen and picked up toys. I wrote a quick post and went to bed feeling kind of yucky.

I woke up before seven with an AWFUL headache. It was one of the worst ever and I could barely get to the bathroom I was so dizzy and lightheaded. I thought I was going to throw up but I never did. I told Peyton he needed to cancel his meeting and he wasn't happy. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I decided to see if a bath would help. I decided to try to pull myself together and Peyton helped me a ton with getting the kids ready. I took Annie to school and Peyton went ahead to his meeting.
Oh goodness. He said it ws "freezing cold". Dude is in for a rude awakening come January.

Graves and I had a very low key morning. We just snuggled and played on the couch and it was really so sweet. I did manage to unload the dishes while he ate lunch and then I put him down for a nap. I got on Facebook for a bit and then laid down myself. I got him up and we went and got Annie. We came home, had snacks, repacked bags and got ready for church. We're discussing community/authenticity/relationships in our Wednesday night groups and I *love* it. When we got home, I put the kids to bed and got on the computer until Peyton got home. We visited and went to bed.

I volunteered on Thursday at the CPC. They were having their yearly banquet that night and Mrs. Barbara (the director) had asked me if I'd come help that morning. Anyway, I got up and got ready and left. I helped around the office and ran a quick errand to Office Depot. I got home and talked to Peyton and played with the kids and then started dishes and laundry.
The bedspread is a "stage" and the chairs are for the "audience". She got herself dressed and then told Graves "you can wear some bloomers". She tried pink ruffled ones first but decided they looked "too girly". So she dressed him (literally dressed him like he was her baby doll) in these blue ones. They are such a riot. {Nutcracker in the background.}

They had lunch and took naps and I got on the computer and ate my lunch. When they got up, we spent the evening just playing and doing laundry. I fixed them supper and then bathed them and put them to bed. I read blogs until Peyton got home and we went to bed.

We all got up and had breakfast together and did school on Friday. I got ready and got the kids ready and Carrie and her crew came over for lunch and to play. We had so much fun! When they left, I picked up toys while the kids played outside with Peyton. It was such a nice day for him to be off! We put the kids down for naps and I got on the computer and played around and then filled in some stuff on my calendar. I got ready and went to volunteer at a Halloween event at the Children's Museum. Peyton took the kids to visit both sets of grandparents. I got home shortly before them and they went right to bed. Peyton ran to Walmart and I finished putting stuff in my planner for November. We chatted and I wrote a blog post and went to bed.

I got up late on Saturday. Actually, I had set a few alarms, but I guess I snoozed them because Graves woke us up! I was volunteering at the Children's Museum and the kids had a birthday party Peyton was taking them to and then they were heading to Granny's. I wrapped the present, fixed AP's hair, and got myself ready in rapid speed.
sweet little chickadee

 I was at the museum for about five hours. It was pretty slow, but I had a good day.
Spin Art from the museum-- not a bad way to spend a Saturday!

I got home and relaxed. It was nice to have some time by myself. I got on the computer and then worked on sorting through some things that had been under Annie's bed.
 About twenty pairs of jeans. And I'm SO happy that, while my best fitting bra may have come from the little girl's section at Target, after carrying and birthing two humans, most of these high school/college jeans won't even go over my hips. Related: tell all you tweenage girl friends next week would be a great time for them to hit up Bargain Boutique.

Peyton and the kids got home and he dropped them in bed. We talked and I kept working and then I got on the computer. We talked about New York and went to bed late.

We got up and got going early on Sunday. It was the Children's Sabbath so AP was singing with the Angel Choir at both services.

Graves didn't want to go to the nursery and he actually did GREAT and made it through the whole service.
You know what is super adorable? When Annie told him "Brother Mitchell is our pastor" and he said "LOVE that pastor".

We went to Sunday school- our associate pastor,  Owen, started a new series. After that Peyton taught children's church at the late service and I helped. He had a great dramatic reenactment he had the kids do of Jonah. He brought my sinus spray (saline) and sprayed salt water on them, flickered the lights, and used his leaf blower to create wind. It was great! The kids and I came home and Peyton stayed for a meeting. I fixed them lunch and started dishes and laundry and then got them settled. I got on the computer and then read some and took a nap. I had to wake Graves up and we left for the Fall Festival at church.
The fact that he's pulling her along is sort of indicative of their little personalities.

We had a great time and came home and put the kids to bed. Peyton and I talked about NYC and I blogged and we went to bed.

This week is busy and Peyton is working a good bit, but I think it's going to be a good one. I just wish it would actually get cool since it will be NOVEMBER!

31 Days of Mississippi Goodbyes: Predictability and Control and Being In My Comfort Zone

We are nearing the end of this thing and in a way, I'm glad. It's been so, so good but it's time to finish it out. I've written about things I'll miss about our house, places in Jackson I'll miss, and parts of Southern culture that I'm sad to leave. Starting tomorrow I'm going to spend the three remaining days tackling three of the biggest things.

Today is sort of a catch all, I guess. Most of the things I'm thinking of I've written in specifics about already.

Last night, I reacquainted myself with the fact that a two bedroom apartment just may not happen. I struggle so much with this. I feel awful complaining because I know not everyone (or even most people) can do this sort of thing and this is such a privileged problem. But, at the same time, I'm the kind of person that needs space. And it's not for STUFF. It's for my own breathing room. It's for my mental state. I feel like I do best when I have a little bit of my day carved out where I'm away from people. This includes, but is not limited to, two and four year old people. Additionally, I really want a place for the desktop (Peyton's laptop is a Mac and I really dislike it) and for my sewing machine. Those things can't be accessible to Graves. We put our Christmas tree in the sunroom last year, for goodness sake!

This is just one thing, but that sort of thing throws me for a loop. Here, things are (somewhat) predictable. Here, I'm (more) in my comfort zone. Here, I'm in control (or maintain the illusion of it).

CLEARLY, these aren't great things. They aren't really what we're called to as believers, are they? Living a predictable life, operating in our own comfort zones, and thinking we are (or should be) in control.

I know that God's provision is in this adventure and that if, in order to keep my sanity and make this thing work for our family, a two bedroom apartment is necessary we will find one in our price range. And if we don't, I can only trust that the Lord has a sanctifying purpose behind it and that His ways are greater than mine.

To see a list of previous posts in the series, click here.

31 Days of Mississippi Goodbyes: Trips to See Granny

Peyton took the kids a couple of hours down south to see his grandmother yesterday. It was one of only a handful trips with him down there that I've missed over the years.

This is a Mississippi goodbye that's hard to say because I'm terrified it will be a permanent goodbye. I adore Granny and I just so enjoy visiting with her and being out in the country.

Granny's doing really good for someone her age, but there's...her age. We're really being intentional about trying to get down there more often before the move.

I don't know where the logical close to this post is and, short as it was, it was really difficult to write. I guess I can only end by saying that I know Granny is proud of us for taking this risk, this leap, this adventure. She has so many stories of boldness and I hope that Peyton and I and our children do her and PopPop justice in carrying on such a wonderful legacy.
To see a list of previous posts in the series, click here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Letter to (Thirty Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves,

I say this every month, but you are so cute, so sweet, so funny. Sometimes my heart feels like it could explode just because you are so amazingly wonderful.

You are an absolute mess. You want to constantly be climbing on, hanging on, or standing on something. Usually something you shouldn't be climbing, hanging, or standing on. The other day I took you and Annie outside because she wanted to play in some puddles so badly. Of course, that would have been too easy for you. You wanted to wash your hair in them!

You have the best little disposition. Mickey calls you his "happy little guy". And you really are. You get into trouble, and you don't always mind very well, but you are generally so easy going and good natured it makes up for the hard stuff!

You love to eat! You crack me up with the amount of food you can put away. I made something similar to lasagna awhile back and you devoured it. You were literally licking your plate and had about three servings.

You also love you some comfort items. You like to "relax" in the mornings and sometimes you'll just get your baa (your paci) and a bunch of lovies (the way you say lovies in your sweet Southern voices is almost too much) and just snuggle for a bit.

You are such an affectionate little guy. You got your Elmo slipper the other day and started pretending to make it cry. Then you started rocking it and says "Elmo sweet baby". This is super weird but hardly a day goes by that I don't think about the kind of father you might be one day. Maybe it's not that weird, though, because even when we were just close friends, hardly a day went by of me watching your papa with kids at the pool that I didn't think the same thing. I'm so blessed to live in a house where the men, big and little, are care givers and nurturers.

You are so independent and want to do everything "by myself". Papa and I were talking recently about how self sufficient you are. This is a great thing until you decide to try to change your own diaper!

You are talking a good bit now and the things you say are so sweet. We were in Walmart on September 11th and you pointed at an American flag and said "Pretty flag. See, Momma?". It just brought me to tears. Your aunt Cookie got engaged (!!!) and you heard me keep saying "Oh my gosh!" on the phone. For about the next week you couldn't stop saying "Oh my gosh, Coney!" (Coney is how you refer to Conrad, Cookie's fiance).

You and your sister are, as always, so sweet. The other night I heard "Tickle soft, Bud" followed by gurggly, paci suppressed laughter. I snuck over to the door and you had her foot in your hand. You two are so funny! I also heard Annie tell you "No, Bud. George WASHINGTON is a president. CURIOUS George is a monkey. They are *not* the same." Preschooler/toddler convos are the best.

You are going to be the frog prince for Halloween. It's actually a six month costume that Minnie cut the feet out of it. It's a little snug, but it works. Which is sort of ridiculous. Annie loves when you wear it. She can't stop kissing you! 

You have gotten really jealous of Annie's jewelry lately, so Minnie made you your own little braided leather bracelet. You love it!

Annie was a flower girl in a wedding in Chicago a few weeks ago and we opted to leave you with Mickey and Minnie. You had the best time and got even more attached that you already were. When we got home Annie told me "I'm so happy to be back with my prince. I had fun, but I really missed him". You two are so sweet. And you now call Mickey "Rob". Haha. You and Annie also enjoy pretending to get married now and you have the routine down pat. Y'all walk down an "aisle" holding hands and it's adorable. 

This is very random, but I had to include it. I was enjoying some pimento cheese the other day and it got me thinking about your first year and how I couldn't have ANY dairy because it upset your tummy so. I'm not trying to sound boastful, but when I thought about it, I really think nursing a lactose intolerant child for a year was the greatest non-spiritual accomplishment of my life. It was hard, but it was so, SO worth it to do it for you!

Graves, you are the most wonderful little boy. You are so much. You're so full of life and energy and love and joy. I couldn't have ever asked for more!

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your outfit is a 2T/3T and it's a little small. I think it's a weird thing with the brand, though, because you're still such a peanut!