Thursday, November 28, 2013

Letter to (Thirty One Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves,

This has been another delightful month with you. You are so full of energy and happiness and it's contagious.

I will say that you've gotten a bit of an argumentative streak lately, but I think that's pretty common for two year olds! You will argue with us if we say the sky is blue.

You are still taking nice long naps and it's really good for you and momma. You fall asleep in the craziest places- halfway under your crib, in a box of stuffed animals, right beside the gate.

At night, you and sister have "night parties". It's a magical time for the two of you when the lights go out and you dance together toward dreamland. Sometimes, though, she likes to build a little fortress with blankets and not let you in. And we'v said that's okay- sharing a room isn't always easy (though I have been known to say it's one of our best parenting decisions to date). You begrudgingly obey and give her some space. But almost without fail, you, sweet Brother Bear, position yourself right next to one of the blanket barriers. You get as close as possible and in some ways I think of it as you standing guard over one of God's most precious gifts to you.

One thing that has been interesting to see this month is that you are very sensitive to the cold and oh so dramatic about it. New York shall be interesting, to say the least.

You love to dress up so much. We got you and Annie some little Wizard of Oz figurines and she always wants to dress up as Glenda and you always dress up as the Wicked Witch. You wear a green shirt, a black hat, and a black ballet skirt. Haha, we think it's hysterical. Annie is always careful to remind us that "Bud is not really wicked".

You have started wanting to go to church with us more, instead of to the nursery. One week you made it through the entire service. You told Papa that you wanted to stay with us and I guess you must have REALLY wanted it. It was unreal to see my loud, busy boy have such self-control. As an aside, you ADORE our pastor. Annie was saying something about him and you said "Love that pastor". You call him "Broder Mitchell" and it melts everyone, including him. He basically has a little mini pep rally every time you say his name. Something you may not every really understand is that when your kid took the long route to come by his words, people that celebrate them with you = special people. [And I'm pretty sure Brother Mitchell didn't even know about the long route, he's just that kinda guy.]

One of the most hilarious (and thankfully not terribly dramatic) incidents this month was when you cut Annie's hair with a pair of preschool scissors. We laughed and laughed and thankfully, you didn't do much damage. 

We've been naming our "thankfuls" this month and some of my favorites of yours were "Pop Ice" (which you haven't had in months) and "my pacis" (you didn't even call it a 'baa' you are so grown up; and I had to thank God for grace for a momma of a boy who is closer to three than to two and still *loves* his baa). 

One of my thankfuls this month was hearing you tell Papa  "I love you so much" when you  got up from your nap. I realized that you are truly conversational at this point. You may have taken longer to get there than some and you still has some frustrating moments (you can see that your brain still works faster than your mouth a lot of the time) but he's come so far, so fast. You've gone from stringing words together to form sentences to weaving sentences together to share BIG! THOUGHTS! And my, you've got some big thoughts! 

Graves, I love you so very much and I can't tell you how much it means to me to watch you learn to share your thoughts and feelings and to watch you grow up in general. You are such an amazing little boy!

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your turkey longall is a 2T. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weekly Smorgasbord

This is a short list, obviously. But, I'm trying to get back in the swing again. Also, I think I've said this before, but I generally link to thing I (at least somewhat) agree with or find though provoking. I try not to be combative and link to bunch of stuff that riles me up. That said, sometimes this is the place where I share what I DON'T agree with or believe. And that happened in this post. 

On Children with Special Needs:
Posted: 26 Nov 2013 07:55 PM PST
On Child Prostitution: 
Posted: 26 Nov 2013 07:55 PM PST

On Emotional Modesty:
I know a LOT of people disagree with me, but I just can't get on board with this type post. First of all, it seems pretty legalistic (how about my husband and I (guided by God's word and the Holy Spirit) get to decide what is good and right for our marriage? Secondly, it's one thing to be relying on someone else to meet the needs your spouse should be meeting, but I think these hard and fast rules set us up for a fear of being vulnerable and transparent in all our relationships. Thirdly, I'm just kind of tired of feeling shamed for a nonromantic relationship that has been (and will always be) very central to my life. 
Posted: 26 Nov 2013 07:54 PM PST
On Theology I Strongly Disagree With:
David Barton & Kenneth Copeland: Soldiers should not suffer from PTSD, according to the Bible | Religion News Service
Posted: 13 Nov 2013 11:15 AM PST
It's been awhile since I've read something on the Internet that made me want to throw up and scream obscenities. This is such complete and utter horse crap.

Enjoy...or eh, get informed, I guess. Most of this isn't all that enjoyable to me. Hopefully a more positive link list next week!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekly Happenings #243 (November 18-24)-- Terrible Weather and Processing

Last week felt rainy and dim. It was a good week in some ways, but I just got down about NYC more frequently than usual. It's like some days it just hits me like a ton of bricks and I'm terrified I can't do it. I also had a weird week, sleep-wise. I either went to bed WAY earlier than my usual or stayed up ridiculously late. Anyway....

Carrie and I left Ashley's to come home on Monday. We ended up leaving around nine on Monday. We had a good trip home. We stopped a few times and ate lunch at Wendy's. We made good time! Carrie dropped me off and I came in and regrouped and then left to pick up the kids at my parents' house. We ended up eating spaghetti and Graves fell asleep on the way home. I read Annie a book and put her to bed and then got on the computer. I went to bed early, but when Peyton got home, we talked some. It was sort of a restless night for me.

I got up on Tuesday to go to the Children's Museum. There was a field trip, but they were late, so it was a slow morning. Peyton met me with the kids and then we came home and I started dishes and laundry. I put them down for naps and got on the computer and ate my lunch and then took a short nap myself. When we got up, I got us all ready and packed the kids supper and then we ran by the grocery store and picked up some cookies and then headed to Ultreya. It was a good meeting and I teared up thinking about leaving. When we got home, I fixed the kids a little more supper and read them a story and put them to bed. I uploaded pictures and blogged and when Peyton got home, we talked for awhile.

I woke up feeling awful on Wednesday. I got sick, but I knew it was sinus stuff. UGH. Peyton got Annie ready and I got myself ready and we all dropped her off at school and then came home so I could cook some corn for the Thanksgiving feast that day. I did a few things around the house and took Graves's monthly picture and then cooked the corn. Peyton left for work and Graves and I left for the feast. There was a little program and it was adorable and then we all ate. Peyton had to work and my mom came for the program, but couldn't stay for lunch. Graves was a little rowdy during the show (Annie told me that she heard him crying) and lunch was a bit stressful. It was hot and wrangling them both by myself was frustrating at times. But we did have fun. We ate with Elizabeth and her family.

We came home and I loaded dishes and then got the kids settled. It was the best naptime they've had in awhile. They were fighting like cats and dogs before I put Graves down, so I was SO glad he fell asleep. He took a long nap and Annie played quietly for awhile. I had a terrible headache. I got on the computer and then laid down myself. I didn't have time for a real nap if we were going to church, so I just dozed off for a bit. I felt a little better. We all got ready after I woke up Graves. I was glad we went because it was our last Wednesday night until after Christmas. I was sort of sad and when we got home, my head was throbbing and my chest was hurting. I fed the kids supper (we got stuck in traffic on the way and Annie didn't get to eat any of hers) and then did nighttime routines. I really wanted to do a short one, but I've missed doing the real thing with being gone and I know they really benefit from it. I decided to try doing it all in their room, instead of putting Graves down after doing his and doing part with just Annie. It worked well. I hate to lose that time with her, but he gets so upset and it's just easier to put them down together now. Anyway, I got on Twitter for a little bit and then went to bed supper early. They were still playing when I fell asleep at 9:30. Peyton got home and I woke up and we chatted and then I went back to sleep. I didn't sleep great and was just tossing and turning a lot.

Peyton went in early to train someone at work and the kids woke up, but played in their room for about an hour. He got home close to nine and they were just ready to get up. What a gift! I got up and we all had breakfast and then I took my bath. We worked on getting ready for New York. I packed a few boxes of books and decorations (to take and to store) and then went through some stuff on the floor of my closet. The kids and Peyton ate lunch and I picked up the kids' room and hung up laundry. I started a load and did dishes. Peyton left for work late and I put the kids down. I got on the computer and then did my Bible study and watched The West Wing and folded laundry. The kids got up and I decided I should really cook something. I got us all ready and we ran to the grocery store and got ingredients for chicken pot pie. I started it and then bathed the kids. When they got out we ate and did nighttime routines and went to bed. I read some blogs and Peyton got home and we went to sleep.

I volunteered at the Children's Museum on Friday. It was a shorter shift than usual and I didn't have to get Peyton to meet me. I got to work at a "program cart" and we made reindeer food. Anyway, Peyton left and I started dishes and laundry. The kids traced and then I fixed them lunch and we did memory work. I got them settled and we had another good naptime. I read blogs and then did my Bible study and read A Million Little Ways and folded laundry. The kids got up and we got ready to go to my parents'. We had a wonderful time and got home late.
Ignore (or try to) the gross factor (it's from my parents' house and isn't used all that much). He kept telling use he's a "big scary dinosaur".

I'm so proud- she's starting to come up with solutions herself during difficult times. I told her Minnie wasn't reading another book to her, but she could look at one until I finished getting stuff together to leave. She got out this bear, sat in his lap, squeezed his cheeks and told him "Look me in the eyes. I need you to read me this book. Don't just look at it, READ."

Peyton got home and we visited and then I stayed up late blogging and playing on the computer.

We got up before the kids on Saturday and got ready and then got them up. We headed to Granny's. We had a great time there and got home around five.
I can't get over Peyton's senior picture. In one way I think he looks um...beyond dorky and in another I think he seems so startlingly gorgeous. Weird, right?

We bathed and fed the kids and all played some and I worked on getting my calendar up to date for December and doing Mint. We got the kids to bed and I worked on on my lesson for Children's Church and finished Mint. I read some blogs and went to bed way too late.

We got up on Sunday and got ready and headed to church. Sunday school was really interesting (our associate pastor is teaching) and Children's Church went really well. After church, we headed to my parents' so my dad could take some pictures for our Christmas cards. It was (of course) very stressful and Peyton and I fussed a bunch and the kids melted down. I fed them lunch there and we came home and everyone but AP took a nap. Haha!

We got up and headed to church and then I went to my small group. It was really good just to talk and be honest and stuff. I got home and chatted with Peyton and then uploaded pictures and worked on the Christmas cards. I went to bed supper late.

Peyton was off today and that was great. He's also off on Thanksgiving and my sister is coming to town. SO excited to see Cookie's sweet face!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Daily Thankfuls (November 15-22)

{Some of us are more dedicated than others. Today Graves said "my pacis" (he didn't even call it a "baa"). Then Annie told him God didn't make pacis. I told them He made the person who invented pacis. And then I silently thanked Him myself. And I also thanked Him that there's grace for mommas of toddler boys who are closer to three than to two and who still love their baa.}

148. staying up until two in the am with precious heart friends
149. a papa who feeds tiny people canned pineapples, peppermint ice cream & tomato soup through a straw while momma's away
150.  late night laughter and brownies
151. coming home to my little loves...their precious voices and soft hair and sweet smells
152. being in a room primarily composed of people sixty five or older and feeling such a true sense of solidarity and friendship
153. when someone does something nice or helps without asking if you need it first (I.E. Peyton's sister's mother in law moving seats so Annie could sit beside her cousin without making me play the "Oh, you don't have to do that" game. It was done before I could protest. It was a little thing, but it made solo parenting at the school wide Thanksgiving feast about a million times easier.)
154. the so often elusive productive day where you feel like you accomplished approximately eighty five percent of your to-dos
155. that thing where I complain about not having a back windshield wiper on my Buick and my dad disappears and thirty seconds later is wiping every window of my car with a rag. I want to always serve my children like he has/does.

“Gratitude doesn't change the scenery.  It merely washes clean the glass you look through so you can clearly see the colors.” -Richelle E. Goodrich

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thoughts on 31 Days of Blogging

I feel like I have so many posts I want to write and I just haven't gotten to them. For some reason, November has been a slow month on the blog. I didn't feel like I was blogging as much and I went and looked- sure enough, I'm a bit below my normal "output".

I'm thinking that some of it has to do with the business that has been November, but I think some of it is the slump that followed (almost) thirty one consecutive days of blogging. Thinking on this made me realize that I never did a sort of wrap-up post on it. In typical SD fashion, I wanted to blog about my thoughts about blogging for thirty one straight days.

Here they are:

1. I don't blog as much as I think I do. The fact that blogging thirty one days straight was as hard as it was made this clear to me. I went back and looked at the past year or so and how much I blogged monthly and it wasn't as much as I thought. I think it's a good, healthy amount for me in this season, but it was interesting to me to realize that I'm not averaging as many posts a week as I thought I was. Additionally, a good chunk of my posts are "easy" in the sense that they are predictable and, in some ways, don't require much thought. For example, two out of four to five posts a week are my Weekly Happenings and Weekly Smorgasbord posts. The former is time consuming, but it's content that's pretty easy to generate.  I also write my letters to the kids each month and do a "monthly happenings" post and write about What I'm Into. There isn't typically the huge burden for creativity that I felt in October. Honestly, I want to push myself for more of this.

2. Writing my thirty one days posts was very different from my usual writing routine. Typically, with more expressive, "feely" posts, I really let them sit. I'll write the bulk, let them hibernate in drafts for a week or so, and then reawaken them and add my final thoughts. It was challenging to do the whole process in one day- especially with posts that were really close to my heart.

3. It definitely built discipline. My friend Ashley told me that was one of the main reasons she wanted to do it. And I totally agreed that it would be good for me in that way. But again, I don't think I realized how different blogging seven days a week is from blogging four to five. Also, I'm used to being able to say "If I don't feel like writing tonight, I won't". With few exceptions, I didn't give myself that freedom in October. It was much more challenging than I thought it would be and it definitely helped me build more of a sense of discipline into my writing.

4. Writing on a specific topic forced me to be more organized and also more creative. I'd say I have certain things I focus on a good bit (faith, family, feelings), but my blog is, in some ways, a broad space. Last month I had a pretty narrow scope to work with. It was a good challenge for me to have to write on one topic for a month and really delve into it.

5. I have to say that I chose the perfect topic. It was so cathartic for me and it came at just the right time. I honestly felt like this month has been easier than I thought it would be and I think a lot of that is due to the MEGA PROCESSING that this series forced me to do in October. I know I would have written a lot of that anyway and I think it was good to sort of put parameters to it and get it (mostly) out in October. I'm sure they'll be more of it in the weeks and months to come, but it was good for me to at least start the process of working through my emotions concerning the move and all that we're leaving behind.

I've wanted to do the Thirty One Days thing for a couple of years and this year, it just felt right. I was nervous, but once I chose my topic, I knew it would be a good thing. I loved it so much and I hope I'll be able to make the time for it in Octobers to come!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weekly Happenings Post #242 (November 11-17)-- A Shot of the Best Medicine

This past week was great. Carrie and I drove up to Missouri on Friday and spent the weekend with Ashley and it was so, so much fun. I can tell this Winter isn't going to be easy and it was like a little shot to keep me going- just what I needed!

Monday started out good, got bad, and then turned good again. We all woke up in our bed (the kids had joined around five am) and got going at about seven thirty. Both the children needed baths, so Peyton started that and I finished while he took his. He got breakfast ready and I took my bath while he packed AP's lunch. Ellis called and I got Annie ready after I finished with myself. We all took Annie to school and then came home and got to work. I vacuumed in the laundry room and sunroom and then mopped the sunroom and moved the kitchen chairs into it to do the floor in there. We finished boxing some more books and I just had a breakdown over what a mess everything was and why we started all that. I had really wanted to vacuum the floors. Peyton took care of Graves and I finished working on the books (or rather, go to a stopping point). We labeled and took some of my closet changeover boxes and some Halloween decorations to the attic. I picked up around the house super fast and then vacuumed the kitchen and both bedrooms and the study. Peyton got ready to leave and I fixed Graves lunch and vacuumed the den. I rocked him and got him down for his nap and then sent a few emails and Facebook messages I needed to. I read a few blogs and then watched The West Wing and folded laundry until it was time to get AP from school.

We ended up visiting with Carrie in the parking lot for a while and by the time we left, it was time to go over to my parents' house. We were delivering Minnie's birthday card and she had said to stop by around 3:30. I was glad not to worry about having to go home for a few minutes. We got there and showed her the card and visited and played. Mickey got home and we ended up leaving around 5:30. We got home and I fixed the kids supper and we played some more while I put up laundry and then it was time to start getting ready for bed. I put them down early since it had been a school day and Graves had taken an early nap. It took awhile, but they finally fell asleep. I blogged and read blogs and then Peyton got home. We ate and I ended up going to bed early, but it was sort of a restless night.

I got up before everyone else on Tuesday and got ready for my Junior League meeting. It wasn't long and the food was great. Win-win, right?
This happened while i was gone- so glad it wasn't way worse! 

 When I got home, Peyton and I talked and then Mickey came over and dropped of some stuff we had left the day before. I folded laundry and Peyton left for work. I fed the kids tomato soup and unloaded and reloaded dishes. I also sorted some of the kids' cousin's clothes so I could wash them and decide what to take to NYC. I started our own laundry and then cleaned up the kids and the table. They loved the tomato soup, but it was a bit of a mess. We read and I put Graves down for his nap. He fell asleep easily and Annie played well. I read blogs for a good while and got on Twitter. Then I did my Bible study and read some in A Million Little Ways. I took a nap myself. When the kids got up, I started thawing meat, folded a bit of laundry, cleaned up Annie's craft mess, and collected library books to return.

We swung by the library and dropped the books off in the book drop. I was a little frustrated I hadn't remembered to do it and had to get us all out in the cold, but SUPER thankful for the drop. We came home and I started dicing onions and browning meat for chili I was making for Annie's teachers and a family at our church who just welcomed a little one. The kids ate supper and I finished the chili and then they traced some. We did their nighttime routines and I put them to bed a little early. I got on the computer and wrote a post and backed up pictures and ate oatmeal for supper. Peyton got home and we talked and went to bed.

I had to hustle on Wednesday. I knew Peyton had a meeting, but I forgot how early and I really depend on him in the mornings! It was also the morning I needed to heat up the chili on the stove and get it in the crock pot and get my chips and stuff together. [We had a little "soup bar" for the teachers at Annie's school to show our apprecation for them.] Anyway, SOMEHOW I got myself ready, got the kids ready (okay Graves was still in his jams), got the food ready, and got Annie's stuff ready and us out the door mostly on time. Elizabeth watched Graves while I took everything in and got it set up. Graves and I came home and had a chill morning. I was talking to Morgan on the phone and texting some other friends and Graves just snuggled in my lap. He told me that he "felt bad" and I got a little concerned he felt like he had to tell me that so I'd stay and hold him longer. I told him I'd snuggle with him for awhile and we did. I got up and started dishes and laundry and then we had lunch. I put him down for his nap and was excited that I wouldn't have to wake him up since Peyton was going to pick up Annie.

He would not fall asleep. I was so annoyed. I had had big plans for that naptime- those hours by myself. Especially since I wouldn't have to wake him up. It wasn't that he never fell asleep and it wasn't even that he needed me constantly for things-- water and trips to the potty and to rock him. It was that he kept getting into mischief. He took pictures off the wall, pulled off his diaper, got into a box of wet wipes. It was just so frustrating.

I sent a few emails, got on Facebook and read a couple of blogs, and then wrote most of Annie's letter. I felt so discouraged about that being all I had gotten done in over two hours and I read some in A Million Little Ways. I was a bit frustrated with the content and was wrestling with it and wishing Peyton was reading it with me after all.

Graves was STILL not resting and Peyton called around then and asked if we wanted to meet him and Annie to get donuts. I said yes and we met them and had a fun treat. Graves and I came home and folded laundry and Peyton and AP ran by the library for something Peyton wanted.
Stop the world. Buddy's got his blue jeans on. [Nobody worry, just a little experiment in trying on still too big cousin hand-me-downs.]

They got home and we got ready for church. We dropped off the chili I had made for the family with a baby and headed on to church. It was great and made me feel much better.
Convicting like whoa. 

We got home and I got on the computer for a bit. Peyton and I had a small argument, but we made up and went to bed.

We all got up and got ready on Thursday and headed to breakfast at Primos. We ran into one of my professors (my absolute favorite professor, actually) and that was so much fun. We ate and then headed to The Children's Museum. It was fun to go and play!

We came home and Peyton got ready and left for work and I, of course, straightened, did dishes and started laundry. We ate lunch and worked on memory work and then I put Graves down and got AP settled coloring and cutting. I got on the computer and then worked on making some stuff for AP's memory work binder. Graves got up and I folded more laundry and cleaned the bathrooms. I was excited to check the memory work and the bathrooms off my list- I really wanted to knock them out before leaving town. Annie had a rough evening- she ended up spending a good bit of time in time out. I put sheets on AP's bed and then fed the kids supper and bathed them. I put the kids down and they both fell asleep really fast. I got on the computer and then Peyton got home. We visited and I folded laundry and packed. I wrote a blog post and went to bed.

I got up on Friday and got ready and finished packing and Carrie got to our house around nine thirty. We got on the road and it was a fun trip. We stopped a few times and ate at a Chili's around Memphis.

We got to Ashley's new house(!!!) around five thirty, I think. We were so excited to see each other. We went out to eat to a Japanese place and then came home and stayed up late talking. We actually started to get ready for bed around midnight, but then we ended up staying up until two!

We slept late on Saturday and then got Mexican for lunch. After that, we headed to this cute place, the Yule Lodge. It's a couple of little cabins filled with every kind of Christmas ornament you could imagine. I got the kids a couple of happies and we had a great time looking around at everything. The weather was so nice and it was BEAUTIFUL.

We got dessert and then came back to Ashley's house and her mom and sister were there and we got to catch up with them. After they left, we got ready for dinner.

We ate at sort of steakhouse place and I got catfish. Yum!

Peyton was feeding the kids tomato soup with straws- he's smarter than me!

We went to bed a bit earlier since we needed to get up for church the next morning. The weather was rough that night, but I didn't even notice.

We got up and headed to church on Sunday. Ashley had to be there early because she was singing, so Carrie and I met her there. It was a great sermon and I enjoyed the service. We went to lunch with Ashley's family afterward at a little Chinese place and then we came home and sat on the couch and talked for literally about five hours. We got ready for dinner and I got to met my friend Kodi! We had supper at Olive Garden with her and then came home and stayed up late talking again.

What a fun week! I loved seeing Ashley so much and I'd be lying if I said my heart wasn't hurting a little (a lot) over the fact that the next time the three of us are together it'll be in the Big Apple. Annie has her Thanksgiving program/feast at school tomorrow and then it's going to really just be a good start to a relaxing holiday week!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Daily Thankfuls (November 9th-14th)

{Yes, I'm wordy.}

138. a big pot of chili 
139. all four of us at the kitchen table to enjoy it.
140. the blessing of being able to watch Sunday morning's televised service from my childhood church since my kiddos were sick 
141. an additional blessing of telling Annie that "Dr. Will" who did the children's sermon is married to my beloved junior high science teacher who I had introduced her to the day before (There are hard things about it, but I truly love living in a place that is so "small".)
142. my wonderful momma (Sometimes when I say bye to her now I think about our January bye and I can't stop the tears.)
143. twenty three library books turned in via the book drop at the eleventh hour
144. warm oatmeal for supper
145.  the thankfully unnoticeable haircut Graves gave Ann Peyton
146. dragging myself, kicking and cussing, basically, to church, feeling so defeated by the day and being refreshed much goodness in community
147. going out for breakfast and seeing, hands down, my favorite professor (Excepting a handful of friends and my immediate family, my teachers (elementary school, junior high, high school, and college) have been by far the greatest influencers in my life.)

“To witness miracles unfold in your experience, count your blessings and be thankful. Perceived small blessings accumulate to be the most powerful.”  -T.F. Hodge

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Letter to (Four Year and Seven Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton,

You've had such a fun month. It started out with you being the flower girl in one of our friend's weddings. Papa, you, and I drove to Chicago and it was such a wonderful little trip. We left Graves at home with Mickey and Minnie and it was such a fun time to just enjoy you. The trip took (around) twelve hours and by the time we pulled into the hotel you had napped a bit, but were delirious and excited.

You were an AMAZING little flower girl. You just adore the bride and it was so much fun to watch you soak up the magic of her special day. You "threw" more than "tossed" your petals (overhanded and with great force), but it was adorable. Equally adorable was the fact that you felt compelled to pick up all the petals after the service ended. We stayed at the reception late into the night and you danced yourself silly. I cherish the pictures and memories of that special weekend so much.  You did tell us, upon returning home that you were "so glad to be back with your prince". You said "I had fun, but I missed him". If that's not the sweetest.

Actually, the sweetest is all the pretend wedding you orchestrated in the weeks following the trip, where the two of you would link arms and process off Graves crib, pretending to be a newly married couple. You even went so far as to ask me one night if you and Graves could REALLY get married when you grew up.  "Well no," I told you, "you can't marry Bud for real when y'all grow up. But I do think that if you get married it will be to someone just as sweet and amazing as Graves is" and then "What? Oh, yes sweetheart, I'm certain Bud will want to come visit you at your house after you get married". It was literally one of my favorite moments ever. 

You also have been dancing a good bit together. You take the quilt off your bed and set up the chairs around it and make a "stage" with an "audience" and y'all do ballet to The Nutcracker. Bud isn't so graceful and I heard you call out "Ugh. He hit me in the abdomen!".

You and Graves have been having a fun time doing school together, too and I loved it when you told him "No, Bud. George WASHINGTON is a president. CURIOUS George is a monkey. They are *not* the same." Preschooler/toddler convos are the best. 

Sometimes when we go places, he pulls you along now. It's interesting to see your little personalities develop and how y'all interact as siblings. 

We've seen a bit more of your stubborn side lately and when we tell you something you don't like you've started saying "I get to make the choices". I've told you that you sure do, but I get to decide the consequences of what you choose. The first time I said this, you told me "You'll put me in time out, then we'll talk about it, then in the morning a REAL prince and princess will come and I'll have them instead of a momma and daddy and they'll let me make ALL the choices." "Oh, where will we be?" "Maybe on a little trip or something." You exhaust me mentally about as much as Graves exhausts me physically.

It's so funny what you pick up on because the other day I heard you say, "Well, you lost the privilege of dropping things". 

We had another rough library book this month, but I think this one was appropriate. It included scary graffiti and a homeless lady. But throughout the book, the little girl who is the main character 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. You asked if truckers had homes and then if everyone had homes. The most beautiful thing I saw that day were the wheels in your mind turning and the strings of your heart being pulled. It's such a privilege to hold your hand as you begin to see, really see, the world.]

You've been asking more hard questions. Mickey and Minnie's kitty cat that they've had since Cookie and I were tiny passed away and you wanted to know a lot about that. At first you wanted to know about why she was "tired and weak" (I had explained she had just gotten really old) and then you started asking about people. I heard myself tell you "Actually, we are made to live forever. Just not here on Earth." Later that day we listened to Bruce Springsteen's version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" and I got teary because it talks about "when the new world is revealed" and it's just so beautiful and sometimes we just long for heaven, you know?

You asked me if everyone "has" God and I asked what you meant and you said "Does everyone have him in their heart?" and, as hard as it was, I had to tell you that no, not everyone has Him in their hearts in the sense that they know Him and want to obey Him. I decided to give it another year and then I'll teach you r about Prevenient, Justifying, and Sanctifying Grace. 

You are such a sweet, beautiful girl. I'm so proud of you and love you so much. I'll never be able to tell  you how much.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your turkey dress is a 4T. 

Weekly Smorgasbord

I'm trying to get back to regular blogging (whew, 31 days straight wore me out) and I hope I can get my links post back to being a weekly thing. Anyway, here are some recent links I've enjoyed:

On Faith:

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 07:01 PM PDT
"The best thing that we can do for one another is to create safe spaces for questions – not just from those who haven't embraced the Christian faith, but also – especially – from those who have been in the faith for as long as they can remember."

I grew up in a mainline denomination that is considered liberal/progressive by many (and sort of is on a national scale). I err to the conservative side and my local church is way different from the national one, but I'm immensely thankful for the "Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors." that I often found in my community of faith.

Posted: 07 Nov 2013 11:15 AM PST
"If there's anything I could say to you, reader, if I were looking into your beautiful, holy, loved-by-God eyes, I would say that in those buried places where griefs and doubts and questions lie, packed and boxed up nicely, God is there too. He wants to open the boxes that contain the feelings we are afraid to touch with a ten-foot pole for fear of losing control or losing face or even losing our minds...We were taught to distrust ourselves, distrust our feelings, distrust our experiences. As a product of this era, I seem to have internalized the message that we must first deny our feelings and "get in line with Scripture," which sounds like a lot like a power play and clashes in its tenor with Jesus' invitation to come to Him with our heavy loads.". 

I love this post by my friend, Mallory. It's probably my favorite thing she's written and she writes good things, ya'll

This is something I'm so passionate about. It's part of a lot of people's stories and it's part of my story. In this story mostly well-meaning friends advise you to "claim victory" and "trust Jesus" and if you do that then your anxiety/depression will be cured and if it's not it's because of a lack of faith or wrong priorities. Guys, it doesn't work this way for some (most?) people. This kind of teaching makes me uncomfortable. To be honest, it feels like just another spin on a "health and wealth" gospel, which, in my opinion, is no Gospel at all. If we believe in a big enough God, I think we can acknowledge that He can be glorified in our sadness/sickness. 

Think about it, we often see Him glorified by victims of cancer, even when they aren't cured. Why do we have a double standard for those with a different affliction...those who straddle the line between between emotional health and mental illness and those who have, for a season, or for a lifetime, crossed it entirely?

Posted: 11 Nov 2013 08:01 PM PST
"Whether it's sickness or divorce or job loss, a crisis calls for some sound Biblical exhortation. I have a number of issues with this. First, it assumes that the hurting person does not believe the right things or believe with enough fervency. They may end up receiving the message that their faith is not strong enough for them to see their situation rightly, or that something is wrong with them because they are struggling. Second, preaching to people in pain preys on the vulnerable. It's stabbing the sword of truth into their wound, or doing surgery without anesthesia. Unwelcome truth is never healing. Third, "speaking truth" into situations of pain is distancing. You get to stand behind your pulpit, or your intercessory prayer that sounds strangely like a sermon, and the other person is a captive audience, trapped in the pew of your anxious truth. Suffering inevitably makes a person feel small and isolated, and preaching to them only makes them feel smaller and more alone."
Posted: 11 Nov 2013 07:57 PM PST
"How we worship reveals what we prioritize. The American church avoids lament. Consequently the underlying narrative of suffering that requires lament is lost in lieu of a triumphalistic, victorious narrative. We forget the necessity of lament over suffering and pain. Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder. Absence makes the heart forget. The absence of lament in the liturgy of the American church results in the loss of memory."
Posted: 11 Nov 2013 07:53 PM PST
"Gather together a few people who you know hold different theological convictions from you for coffee or a beer. Make it clear that the purpose of the gathering is not to debate theology, but to share our stories. Each person commits to practicing active listening and modeling vulnerability. Clarifying questions germane to the story are permitted, but no question can begin with "Don't you think that…" or "Wouldn't you say…" or "But the Bible makes it clear that…" The only acceptable imperative remark is, "Say more about that." At the end of each story, each listener must share the one thing that struck them most about the person's story, something with which they personally resonate. Perhaps through conversations like this, we can move beyond objectification of the theological other and into dynamic relationship with them."
Posted: 11 Nov 2013 07:44 PM PST
"Inherent in this phrase is the undertone that if life has become "more than you can handle," then your faith must not be strong enough. We millennials may be a bit narcissistic, but we also know the weight of too much. We understand that we need help. Connections. Friendship. Sometimes therapy."
Posted: 11 Nov 2013 07:25 PM PST
"I'm interested in having people have significant relationships around Jesus. And if it turns out to be craft beer, fine."

On Parenting:
Posted: 29 Oct 2013 08:02 PM PDT
"We do this, you know. We have great plans, grand ideas of mothering and care-taking and preparing a child for life, and at the end of many days we just feel like we've left it in pieces. What's here for them to take is not near enough, we say. And we cry because we wish we had done it better. We wish our fingers always zipped and buttoned the completed gown instead of staring at the remainders of our dreams for them."

Posted: 01 Nov 2013 08:23 PM PDT
Oh so relatable.

Posted: 11 Nov 2013 10:42 AM PST
Liz Gomez explained how she initially decided to co-sleep with the first of her three children: "My son was six months old and I had been back to work for a month. I was so exhausted from getting up to go to the crib that I nearly drove into a tree on my way to work. I was so sleep-deprived that it was dangerous for me to operate a motor vehicle. Once we started co-sleeping, we all slept better."

On Mental Illness:
Posted: 11 Nov 2013 07:21 PM PST
"Friends talk about cancer and other physical maladies more easily than about psychological afflictions. Breasts might draw blushes, but brains are unmentionable. These questions are rarely heard: "How's your depression these days?" "What improvements do you notice now that you have treatment for your ADD?" "Do you find your manic episodes are less intense now that you are on medication?" "What does depression feel like?" "Is the counseling helpful?" A much smaller circle of friends than those who'd fed us during cancer now asked guarded questions. No one ever showed up at our door with a meal."

I know I'm a broken record, but this is on my heart so much lately. Be the friend that fights the double standard.

On Beauty Captured:
Posted: 29 Oct 2013 07:20 PM PDT
"Most photographers capture life as it, but in these strangers, Richard Renaldi has captured something much more ethereal and elusive. He shows us humanity as it could be, as most of us wish it would be, and as it was, at least for this one fleeting moment in time."

Posted: 07 Nov 2013 12:39 PM PST
Whoa. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

On Answering with Grace:
Posted: 07 Nov 2013 12:39 PM PST
This is great.

On Schooling: 
Posted: 29 Oct 2013 08:03 PM PDT
I mean it's satire. But like all good satire, it has a very relevant point.

On How We Talk:
Posted: 28 Oct 2013 07:40 PM PDT
This is so cool! [I'm not sure how accurate some are and I realize they are caricatures.]

On Creativity:
Posted: 11 Nov 2013 07:09 PM PST
So cool.

On Movie Parodies: 
Posted: 28 Oct 2013 07:42 PM PDT

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekly Happenings #241 (November 4-10)-- Ups and Downs and Just All Over the Place

For some reason, even though she's wearing that silly smirk, I just think Annie looks so beautiful here. And Graves had been gnawing on a black crayon. 

Last week was  a big mix of great and hard. It was so nice after a busy week to sort of have a break. I had my last Mistletoe shift on Monday and I volunteered at the Children's Museum on Friday, but there was a lot more down time in between. Also, I feel like I got a lot on my to-do list accomplished or near accomplished. I finished my closet changeover WAY faster than ever and that included separating out the Summer stuff I wanted to take to NYC. I cooked two pots of soup on different nights and we had some good school days. And I got us almost caught up on Mint (the budgeting site we use). That all felt really good. And it finally feels Fall-ish. That feels REALLY good.

But, it was sort of a down week for me. I felt gross and sort of sick all week (just allergy stuff and girl stuff). And the kids have this random stomach bug. TRUST ME I'm counting my blessings, but it wasn't the typical violent explosive kind of sick. They've just both had some "lower GI" issues. Overall, it hasn't been bad, but it's kept us at home more than usual. Which is partly a good thing, but sort of made me a little stir crazy. Plus, I hate missing things now that I'm realizing we're getting close to being gone. And last of all, I was just sort of down emotionally. I think it's the weather and the move and hormones and just my anxiety, but it was a hard week in that regard. I slept more during the day than I have in awhile and I just felt close to tears a lot. And you know that feeling where your own skin feels uncomfortable, like you need to jump out of it? That's sort of how I felt. Or maybe I just needed to jump outside my mind.

Monday was my last Mistletoe shift. Peyton got the kids ready and he took them to school and I headed to the Trade Mart. It was the hardest shift yet- we literally carried one hundred trees to various locations in the Trade Mart. After that, we strung lights on a bunch of them. I left there at one and stopped at the League House to pick up my tickets and then came home. I ate lunch, changed out of my sappy, sticky clothes, and got ready to pick up Annie. Peyton ran some errands and Graves and I got AP. We came home and I got them settled. Graves fell asleep really quickly. I got on the computer for a short bit and then took a nap myself. We all got up and Peyton got home and the kids played while we worked on stuff around the house. I helped Peyton sort through some of his clothes and then I tackled some CDs and VHS tapes. I hung up some of my own clothes and went through some bags in the study. We fed the kids supper and got them to bed and I boxed some of the kids' too small Summer clothes to go to the attic.

We got the kids to bed and I got on the computer and then went to bed.

I slept a little late on Tuesday and it helped. I was so worn out from those TREES! I got up, took my bath, and then spent the rest of the morning pulling down boxes from the attic and taking stuff up and organizing. Peyton left for work and I did my normal laundry, dishes, straighten routine. I also emailed several brokers about apartments in New York. The kids ate lunch and during naptime, I sent more emails and got on Twitter and Facebook. I read and folded laundry and watched The West Wing. The kids got up and I made chicken tortilla soup for supper. I changed over their pjs and that was the end of their seasonal closet changeover! We had supper and did some memory work and then I did their nighttime routines. I got on the computer until Peyton got home and we visited and went to bed.

On Wednesday, I got up and got ready and took Ann Peyton to school. Peyton was going hiking with his brother all day, so Graves and I ran to Target for groceries and a shower gift. We got home and I straightened, loaded dishes, and started laundry. I put him down for a nap and he took so long to fall asleep. I checked my email, did some stuff for NYC and tried to figure out how to back up my blog using a third party service. I laid down to take a short nap myself because I was really feeling down and had been all morning and sometimes I know a nap helps me feel less anxious and upset. I ended up having a terrible nightmare (the kind where something awful happens to both kids and it's all my fault). We went to get Annie and it was sort of a one foot in front of the other afternoon. We had planned to go to church, but Graves's tummy issue had reappeared in the form of some "diaper issues" and it was clear he was still sick. We had a nice afternoon at home. I worked on rebuilding all my old playlists on Peyton's laptop and that took longer than it should have. I always feel guilty about doing that kind of thing when the kids are up, but they had a blast dancing. We colored with crayons and went outside and played a bit and then had dinner. I realized that my phone was too full to hold the playlists, so I spent awhile deleting OLD pictures. We played some more and did their bedtime routines and I put them to bed. I had a weather headache, but I finished my Weekly Happenings Post and put pictures on Facebook. I ate supper and Peyton got home LATE from his hike. We went to bed.

We had a easy morning on Thursday. Peyton was off and I did a few things around the house- emptying the bathroom trash and vacuuming in the kitchen starting laundry and dishes. He ran a couple of errands and I did school with the kids. Annie did great and we worked on it longer than usual. We added to the "thankful board" in the kitchen and Peyton got home.

I got Graves down for a nap and made some doctor's appointments and updated my calendar with Peyton's new schedule. I played on the computer for a bit and then worked on changing over my closet. I sorted my Summer tops and dresses and packed up what I wanted to take to NYC and boxed the other stuff for the attic. I got through all that by the time Graves woke up and it was time to get ready for our Circle meeting. We were having a shower that night for one of the girls in the circle who just adopted a baby and I wrapped the present and got ready and left the kids and Peyton playing in the backyard in the dark (AP wanted to go outside AND have a fire- so Peyton built one in the fire pit). It was a great meeting. We had the shower and worked on stringing and labeling angels for our Angel Tree. When I got home, Peyton had the kids bathed and in bed. I started to blog and do computer stuff, but the Internet wasn't working, so I worked more on my closet. I tackled my Sunday dresses, all my skirts, all my shorts, and shoes. I probably spent about five hours on it total that day. I only had two boxes left AND everything I had gone through had been sorted by what to take and what to leave. I've never done a closet changeover that fast. I was pretty pumped. All because of the broken computer :)

Anyway, Friday morning Peyton woke me up super early and we chatted, but I went back to sleep. I had to get up pretty early for the Children's Museum. I was in the art room doing spin art again. It was a good, slow day. Peyton met me with the kids and AP had to go in to go to the bathroom. They neither one really looked presentable, but at least they had on clothes (not pjs) and both had shoes-- sometimes he brings them and neither of those things are true :) On the way home, Graves started saying "stupid dog" and then called ME a stupid dog. I knew it was from Charlie Brown and I told him that was unkind and disrespectful. I told them we never call people or pets "stupid". Annie asked me why Lucy was such a mean girl and we discussed how people say mean things sometimes. I said "nobody is perfect" at one point in the discussion and Graves said "I'm perfect". OMG. I told him "You're a wonderful, kind boy...but no, you're not perfect". Annie said something about how we should all try to be perfect and I told her only Jesus was completely perfect his whole life, but we should try to be just like him. I also told her that once the Holy Spirit lives inside us, it makes it possible to be more like Him. Whew.

We came home and I straightened and started laundry and dishes. I fixed the kids sandwiches and we did school and our thankfuls. AP said she was thankful for the "train" she had made out of blocks and I started telling her how neat it was that God made us in his image and one of the ways he did that was that he made us where we could make amazing, beautiful things because He makes beautiful things Himself. She told me that she wanted to change her thankful to "thankful God tells me I can make beautiful things".

I got them settled and got on the computer. It worked but was having some issues. I tried to figure out a new website for backing up my blog and got kind of frustrated. I did knock out some in Mint and I was about to read some when Graves woke up. We headed to my parents' house for beans and rice.

 Annie was kind of tired, but we had a good night. At one point, I told her she had to eat more beans before she could get another piece of bread. She just started forcefully, dramatically shoveling the beans in really fast. It wasn't deviant and I know she was truly trying to please me. It was just sort of sad and frustrating, though. It was so her- and so me. She's just so damn intense sometimes.
I ran back in to get something and when I got back Mickey had squeezed his tiny hiney into the back of the Buick with them. There were all having fits of hysterics and calling each other "Annie Pannie" "Buddy Puddy" and "Mickey Pickey".

She fell asleep in the car on the way home. I got on the computer until Peyton got home and then we talked. I wrote a post and went to bed.

I was taking Annie to Mistletoe for the special kids' event, "Cookies and Cocoa with Clause" on Saturday. I got us all ready (Peyton had left for work) and dropped Graves of for a "guys' morning" with Mickey. [I knew it would be a handful to take them both by myself and also that Graves wouldn't get near as much out of the experience. Also, truth be told, I met my financial obligation buying the ticket for AP and that was the main reason I bought it.] It was super cute and we had a good time. Annie really enjoyed the decorations. She had her little snack, had her picture made with Santa, and decorated a tree with little poms. We looked around for just a few minutes (mostly I wanted to show her the carousal) and left.

We ran by the grocery store and it occurred to me we needed to really have a Santa discussion. I asked her if she thought he was real and she said she didn't know. I told her that he was pretend and it was really fun to play like he's real. I also explained that other mommas and papas like to keep it a secret for awhile that he's pretend, so we don't really talk about it with other children. I asked her who she should discuss it with if she wanted to talk about how Santa wasn't real and she said "Momma or Papa". Whew, that was easy....for now. We'll see how she does.

We got back to my parents and picked up Bud and came home to start our day. I fixed them lunch and did laundry, finished loading dishes, and started more wash. I put them down for naps and got distracted looking at apartments in NYC. Graves took SO long to fall asleep I was almost hoping he wouldn't. He's been fighting the naps hard this week. And Annie was having a rough time, too. She just kept needing things and wanting me to watch her do stuff. Between that and getting sucked into looking into random neigborhoods in Brooklyn (WHY??), I just sort of blew naptime. Graves finally fell asleep at four thirty and even though I had decided I didn't want to, I took a nap from five to five thirty when I had to wake him up. Annie gave her Little People baths in the bathroom sink.

It was maybe the best thing I did for us that day. I woke up significantly less on edge and wasn't as short with them. I had told AP we needed to go back to the grocery store to get a bell pepper and then decided to just make the soup without it. She really wanted to go SOMEWHERE, though, and it ended up being a great way to get myself and Graves back into gear, too. We got dressed and bought peppers and chips and then came home. Peyton got home right after us and I started the chili while Annie and Graves worked on a "craft" (basically just cutting shapes out of construction paper). We all ate and then I cleaned up the kitchen while Peyton got the kids to bed. We both looked at apartments and I backed up some stuff on the computer. We talked some more and did two more boxes in my closet and went to bed.
When there's only one steering wheel, she always wants Graves to drive. Because Papa always drives when he's with us. Another day I'll have the energy for a discussion about gender and driving (and how I hate to drive and am more inclined to "bumping into" things). Another day even further down the road, Peyton will teach her to change a tire and drive standard , things I shamefully still don't know how to do.

I was still nervous to take the kids to church on Sunday, so we stayed home. Peyton let me sleep and made me eggs before he left for work. So sweet. I got up and loaded dishes and took a bath. We watched Galloway on the TV and I folded laundry. I got a lot done and then I fixed them lunch and got them settled for naps. I got on the computer and then read a bit. They got up and we got ready and I dropped them off at Peyton's parents where he met us. He wanted to visit with them and I headed to my small group. It was a good night and I got home late. Peyton and I talked and went through a ton of books in the study and went to bed.

This week is pretty slow and then this weekend is the girls' trip I'm going on. So exciting!