Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What I'm Into: September

September has been a weird month in some ways. I'm going to blog about that more later, but I just haven't felt like myself- certainly not like myself since we've been here. We've enjoyed some fun stuff this month, but I can't say it's been one of my favorites. I think part of that is that I haven't been doing the things that I enjoy and that fill me with energy- reading good words and listening to good tunes and that sort of thing. But it's a cycle, because the desire hasn't really been there.  

On the Nightstand:
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 

This is a perfect example. These words speak to me literally every time I pick the book up, often in profound ways. But this month it was neglected. 

Immersion Bible Study: Mathew- J. Ellsworth Kallas
I finished this one and it was really great. Full of so many good thoughts on being true peace makers and serving and truly loving those with disabilities and not fearing death. It was deep, but incredibly easy (and quick!) to read. 

I actually haven't gotten very far into this one at all, but I think it's going to be a great one. 

On Their Nightstand: 

We're almost at the end of our first set of Five In a Row books (which I've had for years and have been consistent with for seasons, but would take lots of breaks). The two most recent ones were really delightful:

Storm in the Night- Mary Stolz
The pictures in this book were amazing. I loved the art and the way the storm was portrayed visually. The story itself was really interesting and clever, but so simple. It's about a little boy and his grandfather and the conversation they have during a storm (which includes a story from the grandfather's childhood). The dialogue leads the grandfather to share some poignant truths like "how fear does strange things to people" and how his grandson's fears are "perfectly natural". What I love most is that these big ideas aren't presented in an overbearing way that would seem awkward to a young reader. It's just a natural part of the story. Which is full of good writing and beautiful imagery, incidentally. 

Again, the illustrations in this one were gorgeous. I just love a children's book with beautiful pictures. This is a story about a little boy who finds some "moonjellies" (tiny sea creatures) and how his grandmother takes him on a short voyage to return them to the sea. These are the bookends of the story. There is a lot of action in the middle that takes place at the family's restaurant. It seems like the restaurant is sort of a Coney Island type venue, except we don't see any rides. At least that's what it brought to mind for me and the kids. It's located in New England, though, and the restaurant is clearly a beach front establishment with onion rings and hot dogs, but also clam chowder and lobster rolls. It was the kind of book where, between the amazing illustrations and beautiful writing, you felt like you were right there is the story. 

Giant Steps for Little People- Kenneth N. Taylor
We love these sweet devotional books that I had as a child. We were reading this page and I got to question three ("If you get married when you grow up, will you always love your husband or wife?") and Annie sighed and said "Yes, even if it isn't Graves".

On the Shelf:
I'm actually not adding one thing. We're going to be in Mississippi for the better part of the month and I'm looking at a full calendar and a tender heart. I'll actually feel like it'l be quite an achievement for me if I finish Speak because I know we'll be so busy and tired.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
 One of my 2014 Hopeful Ambitions (goals) is to watch ten documentaries. Peyton and I watched more movies than usual this month (four) and and of the four all but one of them was a docu.

Brooklyn Boheme

I've had this on my list to watch since before we moved because more than being about Brooklyn, it's about our specific neighborhood in Brooklyn. Which I think is a really fascinating place with a rich history. Well, right after we moved they took it off streaming and then I realized we couldn't even get a disc from Netflix. So we ended up paying to stream it from Amazon. It was really fascinating and insightful. It's basically about the black and Hispanic artistic community (mostly performing arts- musicians, actors, and spoken word artists) that evolved in Fort Greene during the last decade of the previous century. The film compares the 80s and 90s in Fort Greene to the Harlem Ressesiance in terms of a huge emergence of art in the African American community. I felt like Spike Lee was pretty incoherent, rambly, and aggressive I mean, I can't blame him for his gentrification rants but he just wasn't even as clear and articulate as I wished he had been. I loved hearing the perspectives of Chris Rock and Rosie Perez and most of all I loved the way Nelson George (who wrote and narrated the film) tied it all together. I was unfamiliar with him, but he has a beautiful way with words. I bought his memoir to read later.

Terms and Conditions May Apply
This wasn't my typical style documentary but Peyton started watching it and was fascinated. Esespeciallyiven the amount of time we spent online (we just do that a lot more than watch TV and such), it was interesting. The general topic of the documentary is how corporations and the government are able to use the personal information that we sign away without thought when we agree to the terms and conditions of a website. It was slightly disturbing and really interesting.

So this one follows a group of teenagers in a small town in Mississippi as they prepare for their first racially integrated prom in 2008(!!!). I have lived in Mississippi for all my life until the last seven months and this still blows my mind. It was really interesting to see the students' perspectives and their ideas about the previous segregated proms they'd been having for years. 

Perks of Being a Wallflower
So, I'm a sucker for a coming of age story. And boy was this a beautiful one. The story opens with Charlie entering into high school with no friends, as his best friend recently committed suicide. Two seniors befriend him and the rest of the movie details his new friendships, his past pains, his first love, and a host of other painfully beautiful moments. I adored it, but it took me several days to even process my feelings. Also, Emma Watson is gorg and I plan to get her haircut from this movie. Pretty dramatic, but now's the time, ya know? 

On the Small Screen:
We tried a few new shows and enjoyed some old ones. 

The Boondocks
This is an adult animated sitcom" (so not my thing, so Peyton's) about a black family in a mostly white suburban neighborhood and the different family members respective ideas and interactions with each other and the community. So, this is a tough one. It's really strong satire and it's thought provoking on a lot of levels. But it's controversial, mainly in the way it portrays race. There are some episodes I thought were funny and also enlightening and some that were more difficult to get through. 

Bob's Burgers
This was another grown up cartoon suggested by guess who? Peyton. It was mildly hysterical but super raunchy and it wasn't worth the crudeness without some interesting message, a la The Boondocks.  

Law and Order: SVU
So they're pulling this (and the original) from streaming and I'm so devastated. Which makes me feel sort of gross saying that. It's just such an interesting show to me and much more so now that we're familiar with the city. 

Peyton put the Hippo in time out on top of his armoire because someone was misbehaving. 

The West Wing
I didn't spend too much time with it and now my fear is that it'll get yanked, too.

In My Ears:

My September playlist...

which has a special emphasis on this guy:

in particular The Rising because I just can't go through a September 11th without hearing Bruce sing about it. It touches me in a very deep place.

Around the House:
So, the other night I was up late looking for a sex book I had bought for Annie because she had asked exactly how mommas and papas who love each other make a baby and I had defered to a better time when her brother wasn't running laps around the room YELLING about crocodiles and dinosaurs. Anyway, I broke the Ikea bookcase looking for it. There are still a few functional shelves, but a good many of our books now live in the kitchen cabinet. (Thankfully, we ended up with way more kitchen storage than I had anticipated when I packed our house in MS.)

In the Kitchen:
Minnie's corn on the cob hack involves wrapping it with damp paper towels and microwaving. Of course, paper towels equals are frowned upon EnviroSweetie's house. So we used those flushable diaper liners we had left over from when we cloth diapered (which, for anyone who thinks that might defeat the purpose for EnviroSweetie, it was the only way he got me to do it- still so much better than disposables in landfills for decades). 
Um, it's Fall and I've made my dad's chili recipe twice in the last two weeks. Yum! So obsessed. 

In My Closet:

I'd never wear a long sleeve t-shirt and flats to church in Mississippi. But I can't do buses and trains (and much walking) in heels and dressy dresses. And I do LOVE this skirt. 

Another Fallish Sunday (too late for sundresses) another t-shirt to church. This time it's one from a pajama set I got at my lingerie shower. (Yes, I had the kind of lingerie shower where people gave me t-shirt and boxer sets.) but it matches the skirt to well not to. Whatever. I thought the outfit was very functional and still cute. 

In Their Closets:

I got her this dress off eBay. It's a 5 (not even a 5T) and it's SO short. Not inappropriate but bizarre for a smocked dress. I love it so much, though, and nobody here even knows they're supposed to be long. I ended up loving it, though, because it looks so retro and like a Eloise Wilkin character or something. Also, when your momma tries to get a picture of you in your smocked dress with better lighting and a street shrub and she inadvertently places you right next to the graffiti. That's a city girl prob for sure.

Annie wearing legit vintage. Any guesses who this chambray cow dress belonged to? Bitty SD! Super special because Minnie did the smocking and her momma (who was not just my grandmother but one of my best friends while she was alive) put it together. Annie was SO proud to wear it.

Brooklyn tough. I can't decide why I think this outfit looks so grown. I think it's partly the overall look is just funkier than what I usually put her in with the stripes and then the denim shoes that are sort of quirky. But I also think it's how the leggings fit. They aren't as tight as her typical ones and just have a different look to me. Enough analyzing, right? I had a goal to buy most of their clothes fair trade this Fall and this is one example. 

Another fair trade Fall outfit (well, the top the pants are from last Winter). I think the top is adorable but Peyton said it's so different than my usual. 

Admit it. You'd love a pair of these. 

I've gotten a little more funky with his style- mixing patterns and going for clothes that aren't as traditional. I think he rocks it =)

Graves wore his Chucks with a smocked bubble to church. And not in an ironic hipster/Southern baby way, in a mom is still ill prepared for the Yankee Fall way. But it did look surprisingly cute to me.

I may just let him wear his sneakers to church all Fall. I think they look so darlin' in a rough little boy way.

Peyton's mom sent him these pjs awhile back and I was so excited when I unpacked his Fall stuff and found them. He's OBSESSED with "Crocodila" from the Wild Kratts. They each get to pick a show in the morning and I finally had to say we're only watching the "Mom of a Croc" episode every other day. Oh, and he likes to go in the closet to "lay eggs". Not having any talks with him anytime soon. I love how soft and thin these are. They're like those vintage t-shirts. Who knows if they'll hold up to his rowdiness, but I love to snuggle him in them. 

And I couldn't not include this outfit. 
In My Mailbox:
Annie finished the first level of her English curriculum so I ordered the next two. I also ordered a new critical thinking book for Graves. I always love getting those new resources in the mail. 

In My Cart:
This is the bulk of the fair trade stuff I ordered. It was a little pricey (obviously), but I felt so good about it. And I was so pleased I was able to find things I loved. I'm actually REALLY excited about these reversible trousers with detachable suspenders for play. Gravey Train is going to be such a hipster.

Around the City:

Clown Parade in Union Square Park

This was fun and different. Lots of whacky outfits and fun music. It was a little more offbeat than I expected, but such a cool experience.

Parks and Playgrounds:

We rediscovered this great playground in a neighborhood a couple of miles from us. We had found it when we were visiting this time last year and I told Peyton I knew Graves would love the animals. A year later and he still did! 

Peyton and the kids found this great playground in Central Park. Lots of tunnels and passageways and secret hiding places. And of course water! 

We also finally checked out this really neat area of Prospect Park. It's a playground, but there is no metal and no jungle gyms. It's all natural. So cool and different! 

Educational Opportunities: 

We visited an urban farm on the rooftop of a building in Queens. The kids learned about bees and composting, visited a hen house, and tasted raw veggies they picked themselves! 

And I finally did a writing workshop at Gotham. It was really chill. It's called a "write in"- you go for a couple of hours and there are two sessions. You get a prompt and write for fifteen minutes and then there's a chance to read your work if you want to. People offer positive feedback and the work is treated as fiction (even if it seems memoir-ish). There's a break between sessions with light snacks and wine and time to mingle. It was super fun. And it's $20. So awesome. 

Dance Classes: 

We signed Annie up at Brooklyn Ballet. She took "creative dance" at a different school this Summer and loved it. This is more formal and a bit more serious (but still really fun) and I think she's enjoying learning more about actual ballet techniques. 

And Graves and Peyton are taking a class at Cumbe, which is an African and Diaspora Dance center. I think it's so cool to watch. I love the strong, powerful movements and the songs they sing are so uplifting and empowering ("I love myself. I will excel. I stand with pride. I grow each day.")

Around the Nabe:

I just love our beautiful, quirky neighborhood so much. 

On My Heart:
- As I mentioned, September has just been hard. It's going to take a blog post in itself to even try to process it, but I've been in a weird state. 
- One thing that is positive- I mentioned last month that we'd been discussing a lot about the future (if/when we'll have more children, schooling for the two we do have, career possibilities for Peyton, the prospect of moving out of the suburbs and into the city once we get back in Mississippi, and a few other things). I feel like we've gotten some direction in those areas. 
- Peyton's come up with a new adventure. More on that later, too, but I think it's going to be great (and also really tough). 

In My Prayers:
- I'm still  praying about our time in Mississippi. That we won't over extend ourselves, but also that it'll be a full time of seeing so many people we love. 
- I'm praying for the children in Mississippi. I know it's going to be a LOT going on and they will be totally out of their routine. Thankfully, they'll be surrounded by people who love them and are anxious to give them lots of Grace, but I'm praying that they are able to adjust easily for those few weeks. 
- I'm praying for a friend who has a HUGE upcoming transition and just that it will be as smooth as it can be. I'm also praying that the Lord will show me ways I can support her while not being in the same town :-/
- I'm praying for discernment on how we use our time here. We've come to a conclusion as far as about how long we want to stay and now I feel a real burden to make use of that time as much as we can. 
On the Calendar: 

We're headed home to Mississippi for a nice, long trip! 

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

What I'm Into

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