Monday, March 31, 2014

What I'm Into: March

On the Nightstand:
I'm finally, FINALLY getting back in a good reading habit after our big move. 

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 

I'm loving readings that seem to be perfect for Lent. 

Immersion Bible Study: Psalms- J. Clinton McCann
I've said before, but this one has been harder to get into than some of the New Testament ones from the same series. I do feel like the Psalms are so beautiful and so inspiring, though. Peyton actually found this great resource for sing the Psalms, and even though it feels sort of awkward and uncomfortable, I've enjoyed it. 

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live- Emily Freeman

I finished it this month! It was slightly repetitive at times and I also found myself yearning for her to be more concrete, but I love Emily's writing and it really does motivate and inspire. It made me feel a little more brave and less scared to unleash my creativity.  

I picked this back up and have almost finished it. It's so full of wisdom. 

I'm hoping to finish this one this week, too. It's been really helpful. I feel like it takes a way that I naturally want to parent and sort of breaks down and explains how to do it effectively. It's really, really important to my that my children are able to process their emotions well and so I find this sort of thing very interesting. One big take away is that not all behavior is permissible, but all feelings are. I know some would argue that anger might not be, but I think the point is to help a child walk through those hard emotions rather than saying "good boys and girls don't feel this way".

On the Shelf:Real Sex- Lauren Winner
This is another one I started back in the Fall and I can't wait to pick back up. It comes with the strong recommendation of a dear friend so I'm excited. 

Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit- Henri Nouwen 
Peyton read this really quickly and loved it and said I would, too. So that's on the list for this month, too. 

At the Theater (or from the couch):
I have a documentary goal this year and I've been working on that a bit. I'm not planning on counting the first two because honestly, they are twenty year old tabloid stories. But it's the stuff of (Olympic) legends and like most of American (clearly), there's a part of me that's fascinated by the scandal:

Nancy and Tonya- this aired on NBC right before the closing ceremonies. 
The Price of Gold- this was made earlier in the year as part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series. Nancy Kerrigan was actually not interviewed in it. 
This Slate article discusses some of the differences in the film and in how the former skaters are portrayed. Both films were interesting character portrayals and it was fascinating to see how Tonya's background may have contributed. It was also interesting to see the dynamic of how most of America perceived Kerrigan as an ice princess and Harding as well, trashy. I was too young to pick up on all that at the time, so it's fascinating to see the story from that perspective. 

In more serious viewing, I actually got the opportunity to attend a free(!!) screening here in Brooklyn. 
The Loving Story- the tagline was "love in the time of Jim Crow" and it's about the Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple living in rural Virginia in the late '50s and their fight for the legality of their marriage which brought them all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Ultimately, it would be the ruling in this case that ended anti-miscegenation laws in this country. The icing on the cake was a discussion after the screening with one of the filmmakers and a political science teacher at a college here in the city. It was incredibly interesting and I really would love to explore this sort of thing more. 

On the Small Screen:
We've also actually been watching more than we have in a long while.

The West Wing- I took some time off during the craziness and it's fun to have that little indulgence of "me time" with Josh and Toby and Sam and President Bartlet. It's harder to work in, though in some ways because Peyton's already seen it and Annie spends most of naptime in the den, which is our only room with a TV now. So I'm pretty much limited to the time between when the kids go to bed and when Peyton gets home. And usually I'm tempted to do computer stuff then instead.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit- I've always liked this show and it's my favorite of the L&O franchise by far. I feel like that makes me sound sort of pervy? I guess I just hooked onto the characters and for some reason the crimes, while more disturbing, are often more intriguing. Not sure? Anyway, I had to stop for awhile because my anxiety got out of control and I was *terrified* that I was (or worse yet, the kids were) going to become a rape victim. It was like a pedophile or a sodomizer was around every corner. Anyway, it seems those fears have been conquered a bit and we've gotten back into it. It's especially fun when they give street names or neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx because we're often familiar with them.

How I Met Your Mother- We just started this last night, per the recommendation of a good friend. I'm a huge sucker for "nostalgia" type shows (e.g. The Wonder Years) and it's fun to find one about young adulthood, rather than childhood or adolescence. It's not at all our usual type show (we're just not big sitcom people), but we laughed so hard a few times during the pilot and honestly, we both commented how we were in such a jovial mood when it was over. 

In My Ears:
No playlist this month. But it's HUGE on my April to-do list. I actually haven't been listening to that much music because I used to always listen in the car. Peyton listens on his iPod on the subway, but when I'm on it it's almost always with him and the kids and/or I'm kind of freaking out waiting for my stop. Anyway, I watched some Springsteen videos the other night on YouTube and it was a great little treat.

High Hopes- Bruce Springsteen
 I did by his newest album before we moved. I have a few favorites and I'm sure they'll appear on the April playlist. 

Around the House:
Well, the whole "house" is different, so there's that. We JUST got access to the storage unit that's part of our lease and Peyton's been hoarding boxes to save for when we move home, so it's not totally how I want it yet, but it's all coming together nicely.

In the Kitchen:
I'm also finally starting to get in a routine here, too. I've cooked spaghetti and chili and and made BBQ and poppyseed chicken. Oh, and I've cooked Tilapia once. 

One really neat thing up here is the grocery options. We thought we'd be super limited and that the prices would be horrible. We are so fortuate! There's a little grocery store right across the street from us and the produce is less (like way less!) than in Mississippi. We can get blackberries for a dollar! I think it has to do with stocking and how they just can't keep as much in stock as like Kroger could and they have to get it to move fast. Anyway, we're also OBSESSED with Trader Joe's. Pretty sure there will be a Trader Joe's snack featured monthly as part of this thing. And we have a Target for staples. Shockingly, our grocery bill hasn't really shot up. 

We've also found a pizza place we love and a great restuarant for Southern favorites (grits and mac and cheese). Since we have literally no childcare options yet, we're enjoying date nights in the apartment :)

In My Closet:
I decided that over the next little bit (like several years) I want to do a complete closet overhaul simply by stalking the petites at Anthropologie online and waiting until they go on sale. 

In Their Closets:
Graves is wearing JEANS. He'll be three in two weeks, but I wouldn't have been brave enough to take the plunge except that I had a couple of cute pairs my sister in law passed down and I actually think they look really adorable on him. They're also warmer than most of his jonjons, so that's nice on a practical level. 

I LOVE this raincoat. I got it at Target awhile back and I'm just obsessed. Wish they had had one in my size. Her boots were also a hand me down from the same boy cousin (who is actually younger). I think they're so precious, though, and I was determined to get two more kids' use out of them. 

In My Mailbox:
I ordered our Kindergarten homeschool curriculum an it's arrived. I posted more about it here, but we're using Logic of English for reading/writing and RightStart Math for math. I'm so excited (and nervous). Eek! 

In My Cart:
I actually started my "overhaul" and got a handful of things from the Anthro. They're all (like everything there) really unique and fun and they just feel so good on. 

On My Heart:
This city. And home in Mississippi. It's amazing how I've already grown to love this place so much. But it's also incredible how much there is to miss back home. Coming up on the kids birthdays really makes me a little homesick. 

And these sweet little people themselves. I cannot believe I'm about to have a five year old and a three year old. Both seem like "milestone" ages (five more than three, but still three is a big deal). 

In My Prayers:
I've been praying that I'll be able to enjoy this adventure fully and just immerse myself in the city and not stress and try to obsessively plan the next chapter of our lives. This is sort of a theme for me, struggling to be present in the right now and it's become so much more apparent since having children how important that really is. 

On the Calendar: 
We've sort of made a weekly commitment to volunteer at an awesome ministry in the South Bronx, so we're doing that. In addition, we have some fun stuff coming up- I'm taking a free photography class at the library and going to what seems like will be an AWESOME conference and then on Saturday we're getting out of the city and going to visit some friends on Long Island. And that's just this week! 

As always, I'm linking up with Leigh. Go check out some other What I'm Into posts!

What I'm Into  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Letter to (Thirty Five Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves, 

You've made the adjustment to life in New York just wonderfully. You do have moments of missing home (the one where you cried when you saw a picture of you and Mickey together nearly destroyed me), but overall it's been relatively seamless. I'm so thankful for that. You are, as always, a ball of energy and a ray of sunshine. You drive me nuts and make me laugh all at the same time. 

It's so funny to watch you take in the city. You are just so impressed by it. We saw a small (I mean, it was the size of an average adult) Statue of Liberty replica outside a store and you were enamored. Pretty sure you thought it was the real deal. You LOVE going to the Brooklyn Children's Museum and to little music "shows" at the library. I'm realizing more and more what a music lover you are. We've taken you and Annie to The Met twice, as well, and you've done great. You are also obsessed with going to the playground. Makes sense given we don't have a yard to play in anymore. 

Your room here is actually a good bit bigger than y'alls in Mississippi (it's the master bedroom; we sleep on a pull out couch). Anyway, y'all still fall asleep all over the place. Some nights it's like playing "Where's Waldo"" trying to find you- in the closet, curled up in a box, behind the rocking chair and the list goes on! 

You've been wear JEANS. Gasp. I kind of thought the day would never come. But we had a few hand-me-down pairs from your cousin and I actually think you look so incredibly adorable in them. 

Y'all love pretending to be parents to your stuffed animals. One night you told me that you were a grown up. I told you that he certainly were not. Annie said "But, he's a daddy to George". (Curious George, obviously).

 But she also still likes to mother you. Awhile back, you got sad about eating a grape tomato that you were pretending was a person. AP went into mom mode and told you to "just pretend your tummy is his house". She's also been practicing names with you. You told me that Papa's name was Peyton Herrington, her name was Ann Peyton Herrington, your name was Baby Graves Herrington, and my name was Momma Herrington. She's actually started calling you "little one" ("Come over here with me, Little One") lately. It's about as precious as it sounds. Additionally, she now snaps your jams after I change your diaper. You're so much more still and sweet for her

You love dressing up. Sadly, we don't have a lot of boy dress up clothes. You wear tutus and cheerleader dresses a lot. May need to invest in some boy things soon. Ha! The other night you did put on these big sneaker looking shoes that are in your dress up clothes box, an oversized t-shirt, and this funny little hat and said you were "'tending (pretending) to be a granpa". I thought you looked like a little cartoon version of a hipster. Which is sort of the same thing. 

You are such a snuggle bug and that's my favorite. I love when you wake up early in the morning and you snuggle in mine or Papa's arms and fall back asleep. 

You are such a sweet, precious, amazing little boy and I'm so thankful for life with you. 

Momma (and Papa) 

P.S. You t-shirt is actually from the Brooklyn Flea when Papa and I came in August. It's a 2T, as are your gingham pants. Also, in this picture I can't tell if you're play "possum", being goofy, or giving PigPig the side-eye. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

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

Dear Ann Peyton, 

We made it through our first full month in New York City. You've had a few rough patches, but overall I'm so happy to say that you love it here. 

The hard stuff first: you had a really rough night one night after we had been here for about a week and a half. Honestly, it's been your ONE really hard night as far as missing home. You cried and cried and said you wanted to go back to Mississippi and it was hard not to cry with you, honestly. 

You were so worked up and then you started crying over being hungry still and you threw Graves's paci over the gate because he was falling asleep and you wanted him to watch you do acrobatics in your bed instead. I sent you to time out and when I finally got you calmed down you told me this elaborate story about how the (imaginary) princesses thought an owl was a bug, but you explained it was a type of bird. What a night. I couldn't stop thinking "HOLY HELL, NO BROWNSTONE IN THE WORLD IS WORTH THESE CONCRETE CO-OP WALLS" because damn, it was a loud evening. 

That same week you also decided you were really frightened by the subway. You busted out your favorite coping mechanism (total denial of reality). You would say "This is a bus. We are ON A BUS." At one point Graves finally goes "This a subway, Silly". I understood your fear, but it was hilarious. And when Papa discussed the subway later with you, you kept nodding and everything and then you said "But Papa, I just need to tell you one thing: I rode TWO buses today" (you rode one bus and the subway). We ended up conquering the subway fear by simultaneously helping a pretend princess conquer the same fear. 

Okay, now the fun, sweet stuff. 

We made out first family trip to Manhattan several weeks back and you and I got to go to "Family Saturdays" at the ballet. We both had SO much fun!

And we got to see the "weather star" that day. Let me have this New York City book that you and I both love. As we were getting ready for the move, I made it regular read in a rotation with a few others about the city. For some reason, you quickly fixated on this page with the "weather star". Anytime anyone would ask you what you were looking forward to, you'd saying "building a snow man and seeing that weather star in Manhattan". It's a very old book and we honestly weren't sure the star even existed anymore. It was obviously with great joy that Peyton and I were able to show it to you (Especially as you're our child who is not as easily impressed, doesn't emote as much, ect.)

I also love how quickly your perceive things about life up here. You were playing with a little toy phone and asked me what a certain button was for. I told you I didn't know and you could decide what it was supposed to do. Well, you decided that it was for "calling people far away" and you told me "but not like Papa, he's just at Manhattan" (this was before we ever went to Manhattan). 

You and Graves made up this funny game called "Chick-a-Peyton" Chick-a-Peyton is where you and Graves bring tiny pieces of paper in little coin purses from my mom to the sliding doors in our apartment and order imaginary fries, chicken nuggets, and milkshakes.) Y'all have such great imaginations. 

Speaking of, there were two full weeks where we were here and (due to some unforeseen events) our stuff wasn't. One of the hardest things was being stuck with virtually no toys. But you guys have such great imaginations. We got an Ikea delivery and y'all had so much fun coloring on, and playing with, the cardboard from the boxes. You made a car and then you made a computer. You even drew an apple on the back of the screen like on Papa's laptop. You also drew a picture of you and Bud getting married on once piece. At one point, you guys had four Little People and several different sized pieces of cardboard. You assembled the scenery and are started a production. I was (and am!) so proud of your creativity. 

We did finally get y'alls room set up and you've told me so many times how much you love your new room. It is a bright, cheery place and I'm so glad you enjoy it. I hope it feels like home to you for as long as we're here.

You and Graves are just the sweetest. One day the four of us were walking outside and you wanted to hold Graves's hand. He said your hands were too cold to hold. You told him "I just want to be close to you and hold your hand, Bud." He shook his head. You said "I can put on my mittens" and he obliged. You are such a little problem solver. A few weeks ago,Graves got sad about eating a grape tomato he was pretending was a person. You went into mom mode and told him to "just pretend your tummy is his house".

Graves told me the other day that he's now a grown up. I told him that he certainly was not. And you told me "But, he's a daddy to George". Y'all love pretending to be a momma and a daddy and I love watching y'all. Also, Graves told me one day that he was pretending to be "Coney" and you told him "you be Coney Prince Charming" and he said "Okay, you be Cookie Cinderella". 

You've gotten very into babies lately. You told me that when you grow up you want to be a momma. I asked you why and you said "so I can read books to my little children". I almost cried. 

Oh, I have to tell you this! After almost five years, Darth finally let you pet her. Then you asked me "Why's she such a scared kitty? That just the way God made her?" You are really starting to ask "big" questions and I can tell the wheels are spinning more and more about what faith means. 

Annie, you are such a blessing. I love that you're my little buddy, my best girl, and in so many ways a small version of myself. You are simply the best. I could never ask for more in a daughter.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your outfit is a 4T. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekly Happenings Post #260 (March 17-23)-- And I Will Walk Five Hundred Miles and I Will Walk Five Hundred More...

...just to be the woman who walked one thousand miles to HELP YOU ATTAIN YOUR DAMN EXERCISE GOALS.

No but really, we walked a lot this week. I personally am not terribly physically fit and I feel like we walk a lot every week. But this week was ALOT. Alot alot.

We had a slow morning on Monday. Peyton was working and the kids actually played in their room a bit after they woke up. Then I fixed them breakfast and we snuggled during their shows. They were a little more rowdy during TV time, probably they weren't still waking up. I took my bath and got the couch pushed in and ate my breakfast and then we cleaned up their room. They wanted to do a "craft" so Annie suggested they make decorations for one of her doll's birthday parties. We did that and then I let them watch the Saint Patrick's Day parade in Manhattan on the TV while they ate lunch and I did dishes. I put Graves down for a nap. He took awhile to go to sleep AND dug in his (dirty) diaper. Yuck. I fixed that and ate my lunch, got on the computer, and read some in a couple of different books. We had more time than usual, but AP seemed to need more attention that usual. We did school and I worked on making her a little photo album with pictures of when she was a flower girl in a wedding back in the Fall.

Graves got up and the kids played "dragon and fairy". I told Graves we had to tame him and make him a sweet dragon and he didn't like that. So he had to stay in a "dungeon" (the hall) by himself. He decided quickly to let Annie tame him with her wand! He pretended to be a sweet dragon for at least half an hour. After that, we played a memory game and ate supper and then I got the kids ready for bed. I had a bad headache, so after I read to them I laid down myself. I fell asleep for about an hour. I got up and blogged a bit until Peyton got home and even with my late "nap", I still fell asleep early.

Tuesday was a beautiful, albeit cold, day in Brooklyn. We got up and I started some "necessary" laundry (Graves had gotten poop on his quilt and sheets the day before) and Peyton had to go buy cat food. I folded up the couch and he cooked breakfast and then we all got ready and headed to the children's museum. We had a great time and stayed a good while.
We discovered a whole "tot" (five and under) area we missed last time!

Annie and Peyton ad fun dressing up...

making music...

creating a magnetic airplane for us, Minnie, and Cookie...

building a house for Minnie...

doing some brainstorming...

and demonstrating what conservators do! 

Graves and I stayed at the BLUE! sand table pretty much the whole time =)

Toward the end of our trip, we went to a little program. A lady read a short book about monsters and the kids got to make their own! 

On the way home, we got pizza. Peyton had a message about another pharmacist who had a sick family member and he ended up saying he'd go in. It was crazy since the commute took half an hour there and back and he was there less than two hours, but they still wanted him to come. I bathed the kids and we picked up their room from the night before. I fixed them a snack and then we Facetimed with Cookie. I wasted a bunch of time on the Internet after I got on a huge rabbit trail. Peyton got home and we talked and ate and then went to bed.

Wednesday was sort of long. The kids woke up when Peyton left and I had an awful headache. I fixed the kids breakfast and let them watch TV longer than I typically do. I got my bath and felt better. I sent an email and made up the bed and tidied a bit. We read our Five in a Row book and straightened their room in increments (fixing the bed, then reading, picking up stuffed animals, then doing something else).
Scenes from the schoolhouse in the city this morning. Who thinks my "A" in Classroom Management was a farce? 

I fixed them lunch and washed a TON of dishes. Graves somehow escaped and I caught him in the bathroom COVERED in toothpaste. I cleaned him up and put him down for a nap. He took a short nap. I got on the computer and ate my lunch and got some letters ready to mail. He woke up while Annie and I were doing school stuff. We played in the living room some and then pulled out the gingerbread house.
Rain in Brooklyn, a thirteen hour day for Peyton, and a short nap for Graves means a trip to Gingerbread Land before supper is in order!

Apparently, there were some mean witches who were trying to eat us outside the gingerbread house. Annie had every pillow, stuffed animal, and baby doll from her bed and Graves was outside the house with the saw from his workbench. He cut the mouth off the EIGHTH witchs to keep me and Annie from getting eaten.

 I heated up leftover pizza for supper for them and we did their nighttime routines and I put them to bed. I got on Facebook and worked on a blog post and started cooking some Italian chicken for me and Peyton. I did a few other things on the computer and started the orzo and asparagus and Peyton got home. We talked and then I finished my post and we went to bed.

The kids were up early again on Thursday. They had breakfast and we watched Sesame Street and then they played while I picked up around the place and got my bath. I actually got a good bit done- changed the cat the liter, folded up the bed, wrote a pretty good length email, and ate my breakfast. We did our Five in a Row reading and cleaned up the kids room and then had an early lunch. I put Graves down and he skipped his nap. He did stay in his room for a good while, though. I ate lunch, got on the computer, rested, and did some writing and math practice with Annie. When he got up, we got ready and headed to a park that's pretty close since it was so nice.

So nice when the weather allows this to be an option between nap time and supper. Although, at fifty two degrees, the ice cream truck that stopped by the park seemed a little weird.

They spent the majority of their park time swinging, which surprised me at first. Then Annie said "Momma, it's been so long since I've sat in a swing".

Rockin' it BFUMC MDO style. (The swings in the playground at First Methodist were really high and this was the only way we'd let the toddlers swing!)

We got home and Annie and Graves put on a "magic show" for me (Annie had made Graves a "magician's hat" during her rest time and they pretended to "disappear" stuffed animals. It was so funny! I fixed them supper and then we read a pretty lengthy library book. We brushed teeth and started another library book and then Facetimed with my dad and read their Bible story. I talked to my mom and then got on the computer until Peyton got home. We talked and ate dinner and went to bed.

Peyton let me sleep late on Friday and then I got up and got ready because I was meeting my friend Marianna for lunch. I wrote an email and a quick post before I left. Anyway, I had so much fun meeting Marianna. Her mom and my mom knew each other growing up and one day they ran into each other in TJ Maxx and discovered they both had daughters moving to NYC around the same time. She actually moved several months before us. Anyway, we finally got a chance to meet and it was SO much fun. Peyton took care of the kids and I took the train to Manhattan. We ate at this little place in Chelsea Market. It smelled very fishy and there were people walking around with entire lobsters on their plates. We both got the New England clam chowder and it was so wonderful. The conversation was even better, though. We had so much fun!

Time spent visiting with a precious new friend, lunch in Manhattan for ten dollars, and I dominated the train again. I'd call today a win. 

On the way home, a guy started talking to me a ton on the train. I'm so niave and just thought he was being friendly. He asked me what I did and I said I stayed at home with my kids. He was like "Oh, you're married?" and then asked me WHY I WAS HIDING MY RING (my hands were in my lap). I was so embarrassed. Just the whole situation. I kept talking to him because I *am* friendly. Too friendly probably. Whew.

I got home and did a few things on the computer and then picked up a little and we got ready and headed to the park again.
Easter surprises from Minnie.

We stayed about an hour and then came home and fixed the kids supper.
courtesy of Papa

By then it was bedtime and I took some wash to the laundry room. I changed the laundry and Peyton picked up food for us. I got the laundry and we watched SVU and talked and went to bed.
A man, a boy, and a cat...all in a toddler bed. All three of the guys in our house! 

Graves still had on his filthy park overalls, but like I was going to complain. And guess who was snoring the loudest?

We had a slow morning Saturday, but a busy afternoon. Peyton cooked breakfast and I got up a little later than the rest of the crew. We all got ready and had lunch and then left for the library. I was going to a writers' group for the first time. I actually ended up catching a bus, so I could make it on time, but Peyton and the kids walked. Anyway, the group went well. I wrote for an hour straight. Some people read, some people didn't. (I didn't this time.) After it was over, I met Peyton and the kids and we walked all the way to Brooklyn Bridge Park (a couple of miles).
Him with his eyes squeezed shut, her with her leg bending like that. They are the most fabulous pair. 

We stopped and ate dinner at a Mexican place on the way and when we got there the kids played on a little playground for a bit. It got pretty windy and cold, though, so we headed home. It was pretty late when we got back and we bathed the kids and put them to bed after Facetiming with Cookie and my parents, who were in Nashville for the weekend. Peyton and I talked and I got on the computer for a bit and then we went to bed.

We got up and got ready for church on Sunday morning. The church we've been going to actually is launching a new church plant in another neighborhood. They are about equally close, and to be honest, the one we've been attending is more convenient as far as the public transit, but we really felt drawn to this neighborhood, so we went on Sunday. We actually walked the whole way (Peyton's request, obs) and it takes about an hour. Anyway, church was wonderful and everyone was SO friendly. After that, we headed to the library. We just read for a bit and then there was a program called "Ready, Set, Kindergarten" that's just focused on early literacy skills as well as fun music/math/science activities. Both kids really enjoyed it. After that, we walked home- EXHAUSTED. The kids had a snack and I took a short nap. I got up and picked up around the apartment and started laundry. Peyton cooked dinner and the kids ate and we put them to bed and then ate ourselves. We planned the week ahead- activities, dinner, and I got most of the lesson plans done! We also did a devotional together and went to bed.