Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days to Write True: In the Garden of a Thousand Sighs

A day behind, but I've almost written all thirty one of these posts. Tonight I thought I'd talk about September. I titled this draft and started it before our trip home but each night I'd sit down to write and I just wouldn't feel up to this one.

September was hard. Hard. HARD.

The whole month just felt very suffocating to me. It was by far the most unhappy I've been since we've lived here. In fact, with a couple of exceptions, it was the most unhappy I've been in years.

It's hard to describe the feeling exactly. It wasn't the most intense sadness I've felt, but it was pretty encompassing and it felt like it was taking forever to pass. Usually when I struggle with BIG EMOTIONS the grief or fear or anxiety or whatever passes after a few days, or at least the intense part does. This seemed so prolonged.

As I said, it wasn't intense. I sobbed my eyes out a few days, but not every day. I mostly just felt uncharacteristically tired; not motivated to do anything, even things I love like writing and teaching Annie; and like a heaviness was surrounding me. Those things did lead to anxiety, though, because I know a bit about mental health and I know those things can all be symptoms of depression.

One day, I did break hard. I just cried and cried to Peyton. And I got scared. I wanted some time by myself, but I really didn't want to be alone with my thoughts. He said he wasn't going to leave me alone and I asked him if he was scared to. He said he wasn't and that made me feel better. We ended up going to something that evening and I felt better once I got around friends.

In the days that followed, I asked Peyton who I was. Why I was hurting so much. What the Hell was even wrong with me. I told him over and over that I was hurting and couldn't figure out why. I searched for the meaning in it all. Shit got existential, y'all.

I think I was partly just really, really lonely. In a city full of eight million people, I was so incredibly lonely. I haven't felt that way much here, really. We've found amazing friends and I've been so supported and encouraged. I had no idea what it was.

And I still can't put my finger on it, but I think I know a lot of the reason on this side of the hurt.

I think I was agonizing over the many decisions we've finally made (or are close to making). I'm a planner and it's hard for me when things don't go as I planned, but it's almost more unbearable to not have a plan. Having so much up in the air about our future- when to move home, when to start our next adventure, when to add another child (and how we'd add our next child), what schooling would look like for our children, and a few other smaller things were all weighing heavy on me.

In of my favorite songs, The Rising, which I happen to always listen to a little bit extra in September each year due to it being written about 9/11, Bruce sings about this garden of a thousand sighs. That's exactly what the month felt like. It wasn't full of shed tears, but they were right under the surface the whole time. I couldn't keep those heavy sighs in, though. Living just seemed to take so much effort.

But here am on the other side of the garden. I feel like I can breath again. Without effort.

Living feels good and easy again. I'm looking forward to moving home, but also to all that's in store for us here for the next six months.

And I'm just happy to have made my way through that difficult, thorny garden that overwhelmed me so.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 Days to Write True: Here and There

I'm going to print this picture out and put it somewhere special for Annie as a reminder of the year that she called two places home. I get sort of emotional every time I look at it. I guess realizing that there will be a point somewhat soon when I don't get to call both places home. 


A friend sent me a link to this post early yesterday morning and I read it and got a bit choked up then, too. There are differences, but so much of it resonated. I had already thought some over the Summer about how much of my identity has become tied up in this adventure. The post came at the right time, though, for sure.

Today was great in that we slipped back into our routine pretty effortlessly and while Graves had a rough day, I think that was mostly due to just being exhausted. Annie has (so far!) transitioned back to Brooklyn pretty easily. 

But it was hard at some points. It's getting dark around five thirty and tonight I almost cried over it. I just thought about our long evenings in the park and how I'll really never have those Summer days again and it sort of broke my heart. 

I think that's the hardest thing right now. Realizing that there are certain things- certain seasons (my FAVORITE season!) that we won't experience again. All the things we did last Winter and Spring, I knew we'd do again. And in my heart, most of the Summer, I thought we'd do those things again, too. We were both leaning toward another Summer here. Leaning hard, I'd say. 

That's the one thing that made the decision to move back in May particularly agonizing. I hadn't prepared myself for doing all the fun Summer things for the last time. I just assumed I'd have those experiences again. I know that's part of life sometimes, but for my particular personality, I just really like to know when I'm doing something for the last time. It helps me have closure I think and I'm able to prepare my heart for what is next. 

I wish I had known the last time we went to the playground with the sprinklers on, or the last time we went to a street fair, or the last time we watched the fireworks at Coney Island...that it'd be the last time. 

Still, I think I enjoyed these things with a tenacity I've enjoyed few things in my life. I enjoyed the overall feeling of Summer in the city in a different way than how I typically experience things. I really immersed myself in it and it was a very sensory, very tangible, very beautiful season. I hope I can teach myself how to enjoy more things that way. 

So that is for there

There is a lot calling us home. Being back in Mississippi showed me that. The children (especially Annie) have very real friendships with other small people that somehow, with very little attending to, have been preserved over the past months. They have incredible relationships with their grandparents that are...something to behold. It stops me in tracks to see that kind of love. There are places Peyton and I are incredibly tied to that we want to share with the children. 

There's a new project on the horizon and we need to get ourselves home to really go hard at it. 

And there's more than just project on the horizon, too. There is a person. A hypothetical person, albeit, at this point (nobody freak out!). But still a person.

Our family doesn't feel complete and for a long time, God has given me such a peace about putting things on hold. I think it's ONLY for that reason that I've been able to enjoy this time fully. As one of my friends says, I was able to gear my heart in another direction for a temporary amount of time. It's actually been a LONG time, though. When Graves was less that a year old, I really, really wanted another baby. But I truly think the Lord worked and showed me that in that season, our family was perfect. The desire never went away, but it was something I was able to hold onto at a distance. But now I'm getting to pull it back in a little closer

I know that if we had chosen to stay longer- if the Lord had led us to that- we could make it work in Brooklyn with another child. We know families who do it and are happy and sane and functional. But it would be really difficult. Frankly, the thought terrifies me a little. I know the physical and mental energy it takes to do this with just my two small people. In that post I linked to, the parts about the city taking its toll on the family unit made a lot of sense to me. Not because my particular kids aren't thriving (they are!), but because I don't think living here is really conducive to what we want down the road. Again, I KNOW it would be possible if the Lord led us that way, but we couldn't stay where are (definitely not in our apartment, almost certainly not in Clinton Hill, probably not in North Brooklyn) and it would inevitably be a very different situation that we might not really enjoy as much. 

I've also come to terms with the fact that being pregnant here would be a nightmare. I'm just not the best pregnant person. I don't want to sound like I'm bragging OR throwing a pity party, but I just think it's hard to be as small as I am and carry another human around inside your body. I know it's exhausting for everyone, but I think being so small makes it even more physically taxing. Idon't know how I'd do it and walk as much as we (want to!) walk. Or how I'd keep up with Graves here. 

But now I've been able to let go and let my heart reorient itself and gear itself a new direction. In my notebook I take everywhere, I allowed myself to jot out some favorite names. Peyton participated and added a few. We've been (very!) casually mentioning to the kids the idea of having more siblings and I've been thinking of how we'll organize room arrangements in our old house in the suburbs. 

So a huge part of my excitement about our return isn't just the people we already know and love (although that would be more than enough to make me thrilled and happily anxious!), but in the (no longer) secret parts of my heart there's huge excitement for the person we've yet to meet. 

And create ;) 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days to Write True: Good to be Back

It feels good be to back.

We could see that the leaves had changed from the plane and Annie told me that she thought the trees talked to each other and decided to change colors while we were away.

There was an oil spill on the BQE which made for a ridiculously long and fairly pricey cab ride. It gave me extra moments to sit and look at my beautiful city and some time to just be alone with my thoughts (Peyton took the kids on public transit and I took the luggage in the cab).

It's nice to be back in my space, back in our routine, and back with Peyton.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Weekly Happenings #290 (October 13-19)-- Week One of Mississippi Fun

Clearly, I am WAY behind. Also, the family pic was taken a day late. We're headed back to BK tomorrow and I'll be glad to get there, but sad to leave here. I think there will always be that.

Monday was great, but exhausting. We got up and got ready and met a friend at Chick Fil A at nine thirty for breakfast. It was great- the kids got to play and we enjoyed talking to Owen, our associate pastor at BFUMC. Around noon, we left and stopped for groceries for the kids' lunch (we weren't hungry) and went to Darlene's house to visit. We stayed a long while and walked around in her yard and just visited while the kids played. We came back to Peyton's parents and got ready so we could meet Patrick and Haley for dinner. Hank's been sick so they had to leave him with grandparents, so we left ours.

We had a great dinner at Julep and then dropped by my parents' for a bit. We got back to the Herringtons' around elven and I blogged some.
a love so deep...

On Tuesday, we got up, got ready, and headed to Granny's. I took a nap on the way. We had a blast and stayed from a little before noon until about five. We had lunch, watched the kids play, and visited. Peyton's two brothers- one who lives near Granny and one who works off shore and was on his way home- stopped by. I also got to see my sister in law. We left and headed to Hattiesburg to eat with Ellis and Minda. Dinner was great and we got on the road. We got home around nine and put the kids to bed. I spent a little while folding laundry and organizing stuff. Then I got on the computer for a bit and did a little blogging.
I had no idea Timehop went back EIGHT years! So very thankful for sixteen beautiful years of friendship. 

Wednesday was busy! We slept a little late and then got ready and had breakfast. I talked to Ellis on the phone and then we had check ups for the kids at the pediatrician's office. We had a little picnic in our backyard (Michel's living there now, so we couldn't stay at our old house).

Discovering city parks and playgrounds had been so much fun, but there's nothing like having your very own green patch. And it was the perfect day to enjoy it! 

The kids had so much fun playing. After that, we headed to the dentist. Sadly, it was not the best visit.
 Despite extremely compulsive brushing and flossing and not a ton of sweet treats, Annie had another cavity. Dr. Toler flossed a filling out of my mouth (SO thankful it didn't come out in BK). And Graves has perfect teeth, but some "orthodontic issues" (the kind that cone from 3.5 years of paci usage, most likely). Peyton was great. Also from the well child check ups that were also that day: Graves is in the FORTIETH percentile for height and Annie's around the twentieth. They're well within the range of normal for weight, too. 

We dropped off my car at the repair place (it needed a new battery) and came back to Peyton's parents' house and had supper with them. Peyton went for a walk with Michel and I bathed the kids and got them ready for bed after playing a new board game his mom had bought. After they went to bed, I talked to Peyton and then tried to blog. I couldn't upload pictures on my phone and I got sort of frustrated and went to bed.

We had another really busy day on Thursday. We got up and got ready early and left the kids with Peyton's parents.
It ain't Brooklyn!

We headed to a school interview first and then met with our financial adviser. I got my cavity re-filled and then we dropped off Annie's x-rays with the pediatric dentist and scheduled her an appointment. We dropped off my glasses and ate at Newks and then picked up my car. We ran by my in laws, grabbed the kids, and headed over to Peyton's sister's house. We had the best time talking and Annie and Graves were delighted to see their cousins. We got to see their new chicks and tour their new house as well.
Being back with the cousins was magical!

The kids fell asleep really quickly and I actually did, too.

We got up early again on Friday and met one of Peyton's friends, Erika at Primos for breakfast. We had a good visit, but Graves was super cranky. We had planned all go over to some friends' house who had an appointment that day and help out by keeping their kids, but Graves seemed a little sick. Annie and I went ahead and headed over there and we had just a wonderful time playing. We went through the car wash on the way home then went on to Mickey and Minnie's. We visited and Peyton came over for a bit (Graves was asleep at his parents') and then left. Annie and I stuck around until late and she fell asleep while I got caught up on blogging. I loaded us up (she was asleep) and drove over the Herrington's. I couldn't get Peyton on the phone and I literally banged on the window of the room he's been sleeping in. No luck. Ugh. So AP and I headed home...bad attitude in tow.
Wearing a Jerry Garcia shirt of Cookie's and I mentioned to Minnie I was going to get a glass of milk and she came back with it in my favorite cup and some oatmeal cookies with peanut butter on them. At one in the morning. I'm the most babied gal to ever move twelve hundred miles from her momma. 

Saturday was nice. Peyton brought Graves over and helped me get into my car (I had locked it without a key that would work) and then hung out a bit before his dad took him to catch his flight. My parents watched Graves and Annie and I slept late. Then I headed over to Peyton's parents to pack up while Mick watched the kids.
 I thought it would take about twenty minutes, as I had it somewhat organized. It took the better part of an hour and to be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed. Alternately titled: Sweetie's Secret Plan to Make Me a Minimalist

We had a very low key day. We had lunch and played with tons of toys and watched football. Minnie had to work, but she got home at four. Around five, I got the kids to clean up and then fed them dinner and bathed them. I got them to bed and sent an email and ate my dinner and blogged.

Annie loves to turn over a storage cube and set up a "nightstand" so she was thrilled to have a real table here. She said the cow kitchen timer is her "alarm clock". A little aside: we've been talking about the possibility of a two day school when we move back. We discussed with Annie and she was adamant she wanted to do her naptime "activities" like coloring before school. Peyton said he'd wake her up early but not like fight her to get up. I think it's so funny because I know what will happen. Peyton will gently wake her up. She'll run to get her coloring done and probably fix her breakfast and then Bud and I will get up. Peyton said he as going to get her a little alarm clock, so I know that's where she got the idea! 

We got up and got ready for church on Sunday. That included a LOT of tears from Annie about not being able to wear her beloved bird pajamas. What??
This is super casual for me for (Mississippi) church. And honestly pretty hard. Ironic because Annie wailed for half an hour because she wanted to wear those bird pajamas. We are a people for whom balance is a struggle. 

Anyway, we made it and it was a great service. We had a nice time visiting with some old friends, too.
Why (among many reasons) I could never drive in Brooklyn. I had like two car lengths on either end and I was still three feet from the curb. I used to do OKAY parallel parking on the loop at MC, but that was six years ago. 

We came home and played a bit and changed clothes and had lunch. I started some laundry and we headed to the park to meet a friend and her little boy. We hung out awhile and then came home.
PSA: there is no park that I've found in Brooklyn or Manhattan where it is as difficult to supervise small people as Winners Circle Park, even the one Peyton and I find particularly challenging. But the suburbs in the Sip ain't all bad. Because even if you live well below your means, in mostly modest housing and relatively close-ish quarters, it's extremely probable you'll HAVE YOUR OWN BACKYARD. So, really a densely packed, low visibility playground that looks like an anthill on the most perfectly beautiful Sunday afternoon doesn't concern me in the slightest. 

I left the kids with my parents and went to the Herringtons to return a key and get my driver's license (Peyton ALMOST got on the plane with it). When I got home, my dad had picked up Newks. We played a bit more and ate. And then Cookie and Con stopped by for a bit on their way back to Nashville.
Cookie and Con brought the kids some shells from their honeymoon. Graves said the one on the bottom looked like "bery long shredded wheat".

We hugged them and teared up a little and Bud took a leak in the middle of the dinning room. Haha. They left and the kids played in the bathtub a bit and then I got them to bed. I blogged and got on Facebook.
Graves was scared of the half naked Jim Morrison poster in Cookie's room. Annie said "Bud it's just art. He can't talk or anything. Just try not to look at him anymore".

Whew. This week has been great as well. I'm so worn out from it all, but in the best way! 

31 Days to Write True: Missing Folks (Already!)

We're flying back to NYC tomorrow morning and I'm pretty ready. I really am sad about it. But I also just need my space, my routine, and my husband. 

Annie and Graves are having a hard time. Graves just had one particular sad little moment. The other day he LOST it in the car, full on scream sobs. I truly thought he was hurt. I quickly got off the phone with Peyton and asked him what was wrong. "I don't want to live at our home in New York. I want to be with Mickey. You know the house with stairs? I just stay in his Mickey house." Wow. It just hurt so much to hear him so sad. 

Annie's had an even harder go of it. On several occasions she's teared up about leaving. She says she wants to go back to New York, but she wants a few more days here or she wants to take her "Jackson friends" with her. Her reaction to getting to see, and having to leave, her best friend was "I don't want it to be the time we come home for a visit, I want it to be the time we move home to stay." While also bawling her eyes out. 

It's so hard, but it blesses me to see them value these relationships so much. 

Also, I have super emotional kids. Wonder where they get it?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days to Write True: On Affirmation and Being a Thoughtful Mother

Ellis called earlier this week. We had spent time together recently and he wanted to tell me some of the things he valued in me. He said really kind things about how he could tell me anything and not fear judgement, how I hold strong opinions but am willing to listen to others, how I'm warm and funny, how I'm still ridiculously gullible and that's really endearing.

It was sweet and I appreciated it so much. Being affirmed and encouraged is really, really meaningful to me. I'm confident it's my love language. And one thing that's been great about being home is that I've been so surrounded by people who love me and want to encourage me. Of course, we have friends in New York who do the same, but it's kind of different when it comes from people who've know you for ten and twenty and thirty years, rather than eight months.

Several people have told me that I'm a great mother these past few weeks. And that means so much. It really does.

But I don't really think so. I think I'm a good mother. Sometimes. Probably not great and not even always good.

I do think I'm a thoughtful mother, though. And I'd rather be a thoughtful mother than a fun mother, or a crafty mother, or an exciting mother.

That doesn't meant my thoughts on mothering are always right. And it doesn't mean that my thoughts on mothering always line up with the ways I actually mother. But I'm trying.

And I think I'm producing thoughtful kids. Which is something.

31 Days to Write True: Classmates and Community

 I have loved homeschooling this year. LOVED it. It's been one of the coolest experiences of my life. But, while we've been home one of the things on our to do list was to talk to an administrator (who also happens to be a friend) at a two day a week school we are considering. When I asked her what she thought the benefits of it over homeschooling were, the first she listed had to do with community. 

This seems obvious. But I had been thinking of it from a perspective of wanting my kids to be in a big group of peers on the regular so they could actually learn to function socially. 

She was talking about something that is a whole lot more than that. And I knew it that morning. 

But I know it much more deeply tonight. I wrapped my arms around people and enjoyed long embraces that had to make up for ten years of not seeing each other, I listened intently to other people's stories, I laughed until I nearly cried quite a few times. 

I want Annie and Graves to know the intimate love of our little family, but I want them to know love in the big broad sense of having classmates that are invested in them and whom they care a great deal about.

 Happy reunion, class of 2004 Prep family!

Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days to Write True: Home

It's been really neat spending a week and a half in the home I spent my high school days in. With my two little kids! 

It's also been a bit stressful. Because two little kids. 

But I've loved being here. I've been getting in lots of quality time with Momma and Daddy. I've been watching the kids love every single second with their grandparents. I've been listening to Minnie share strong opinions on my life and future (it's actually something I love about her- that she is so honest with me). I've been enjoying my dad's quirks that seem to be intensified with age- how he tell me that shelties, schnauzers, and malti-poos are far and away the most intelligent breads of dogs (the man is nothing if not his bias) and how he'd practicing kaizen, which is the Japenese word for continual betterment, in chili making (and it involves adding beer to the recipe). I've been relishing in all of that. 

And I've also been enjoying significantly less important things. I've been drinking out of my favorite cup that was in my beloved grandmother, Bump's, house. I've been making much of their ice maker. I've been stretching out on a couch that I've stretched out on for almost thirty years. In fact, it's a couch I slept on for months when my junior high boyfriend broke up with me, a couch Peyton and I spent endless hours snuggled up on, and a couch I cuddled and nursed both babies on. I've been loving those small things as well. 

It's good to be home, and in one sense this will always be home. 

31 Days to Write True: How Convicting the Priorities of a Child

A couple of days ago I sent Peyton this text:

Back when we were discussing the idea of doing this thing (budget slashing/early retirement and whatever else that ends up becoming) one particularly eye opening moment came in discussing it with Annie. 

So background: she LOVES eating out. It's a big thing to her right now. Just recently, it's become one of her favorite things. Which is fun because it's one of my favorites. I'm not big on going to the movies or much else, but I love going out for a meal at a restaurant

Anyway, we asked her if she would wound rather not eat out much and have more time with her papa or go to restaurants a good bit but not have any more time with him. She didn't even blink- she chose more time with Peyton.

And it was convicting. Real convicting.

Because I wasn't ready to say the same thing, as awful as that it. 

It was actually probably one of the things that really changed my perspective the most. 

I love how children's minds work. Sometimes I think they value the things we SHOULD value more. I love that sometimes they have a better grasp on reality than we do. I love how they teach me things and how they expose my flaws (well, I don't love that while it's happening, but you know, after the fact).

One thing we're trying to do more of lately is involve the children in these big conversations. Obviously, we're going to make the final decisions on big things, but it's great to see their perspectives and hear about their feelings on topics that will affect them. 

31 Days to Write True: Something to Do, Something to Hope For, and Somebody to Love

Mickey's toast at the rehearsal dinner:

I've heard him tell this story before and I love it. It actually makes me a little teary. Sweet daddy. Thank you for sharing with us what happiness means.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days to Write True: Our Next Big Adventure!

So, our next big adventure that I alluded to is a bit different from this current one. Actually, VERY different.

We've talked about several things- traveling the country in a Winnebago and hiking the Appalachian Trial, among other things. In the case of the AT it's not something I've really wanted to do or something I feel anywhere near capable of doing. In the case of the Winnebago, I really, seriously, so hope it happens some day. But with both of those, we knew (if we did them as a family) they were a good ways down the road.

So we were kicking around ideas and also just speaking with excitement in our voices about small things we wanted to do when we got back to Mississippi- joining the pool, being more intentional in our relationships with specific friends, minimizing a lot.

And then Peyton discovered a blog and our life was immediately threatened to be turned upside down by this Mr. Money Mustache.

Peyton has enjoyed retail pharmacy to varying degrees over the years. He's good at it and I think he's been able to figure out how to find contentment and fulfillment in it as much as is possible for him. He's had amazing co-workers, wonderful bosses, and incredibly sweet patients. But he's also tossed around ideas quite frequently of doing something different.

Well, we realized when he started reading this blog that if he could "retire" early a whole world of options would be open to him.

He could teach third grade in the inner city.

We could do some type of full time ministry, without worrying about funding for our own living expenses.

He could help me with homeschooling in a much deeper way.

He could work one day a week as a pharmacist and have the other four weekdays to do meaningful work that we wouldn't be compensated for.

We'd have the freedom to have more kids (or rather I'd have the courage) than if he was working in a traditional setting. We'd have the freedom to adopt a child (or children) that might be more than I thought I could handle on my own.

He could have an even more daily presence in our family, and our family (the four of us now) could serve others, in a very different way than we'd be able to do with him working full time as a pharmacist.

We'd have more flexibility for other adventures and more fluidity in our roles. *I* could teach third grade in the inner city. I could do some freelance writing. I could spend more time volunteering at places I believe in. And someone would still be at home with our children.

We wouldn't be dependent on Peyton's pharmacy salary. Actually, we wouldn't be dependent on any salary.

But all this will require some sacrifice. We talked to our financial guy while we've been home and turns out, it is actually possible. It's entirely doable. But...the big adventure is living on a TINY FRACTION OF PEYTON'S INCOME for the next three or four years.

That's going to be hard. I don't think of myself as a frivolous gal, but it's going to be HARD.

I kept telling Peyton initially that we already live on a pretty modest budget (we do), but he kept saying I was comparing us to the rest of America and I didn't need to let that be my measuring stick. And he was right.

We have a lot of expenses that aren't truly necessary. Luxuries. I actually do engage is more frivolous spending than I'd like to tell myself. It turns out nobody owes me a dinner at a restaurant once a week. It turns out that I don't just deserve to get my hair highlighted every few months. It turns out that, even though I've made big strides, I'm not entitled to spend what I do on clothes for the children.

That was a big word that occurred to me in all this. I had this sense of pride because we HAVE made good decisions and are already living in a way many folks our age aren't- we have literally no debt. Our school debt is paid off. Our cars are paid off. Our whole damn house is paid off. And we've made sacrifices. I drive a '94 Buick and our house is basically tiny for what most people in our income bracket live in.

And I had convinced myself that it was okay to drop five hundred dollars on the children's clothes for one season. That there was no amount of eating out that could offseat our good behavior in those other areas. That spending huge chunks of change at Target on the regular was an acceptable activity.

Because I'm not yet thirty and MY WHOLE DAMN HOUSE IS PAID OFF.

I realized this is totally an attitude of entitlement.

And I was fighting against something that not only did Peyton deeply desire, but something I knew would probably provide a better life for our family and something I knew would help us all contribute to our communities in more meaningful ways.

I also realized that this is not an indefinite time of downward mobility. This is less than five years. Surely I can do anything for a few years with my best people by my side?

So we're doing it. When we move back, we're slashing the budget in a major way.

I'm hoping in the process we'll learn a lot about ourselves, become closer to one another, appreciate the intangibles more, and grow in humility and Christian love.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days to Write True: Decided

September was a difficult, draining month for me. Honestly, probably the hardest one I've had since we moved in February. Literally almost every day was a struggle and I felt more anxious, sad, and lonely than I had in a long time. I think there were probably several factors that came into play, but one big one is that Peyton and I just spent a lot of time talking about what is next and trying to make decisions for the future. 

I may have said this before, but one reason I think I've enjoyed our time in Brooklyn so is because we have been able to press pause for a minute and just live in the moment. I think Peyton and I both struggle to do this. Peyton because he like to search and adventure and always wants to be scheming up the next idea. Myself because I'm a planner and I like to know (and truthfully control) what is coming next. I know I've said this before, but I spent too much time wanting get engaged, and then married, and...well, I didn't have much time to wish away our newlywed days for babies, but I'm sure I would have. I learned to slow it down a bit when the children came because I realized how beautiful our days were and they've truly been the best days of my life. I hope we'll have plenty just as precious, but I can't imagine anything being better than this season. So I had gotten away from wishing away time and wanting the next phase to come, but there was still a pull. I just wanted to know (and again, really decide) what was coming next. Somehow, in Brooklyn, I just feel like I broke through from all that for a bit. 

I didn't stress about school options because I hadn't really given myself any besides homeschooling. We didn't plan any new adventures, because it was a huge adventure. I didn't fixate on having another child, because I knew I didn't want to be pregnant or have an infant in Brooklyn. And we weren't worried about when to leave because we wanted to just experience it first. 

Well, for some reason a lot came to the forefront in September. And I sort of HATED going over it all. Over and over. It was exhausting. Peyton and I are both talkers. We think too hard often and we talk too much often. It wore me out. 

Thankfully, we were able to make a lot of decisions before the trip home, so it's been a lot more relaxed than if we still had things up in the air. 

Here is why I feel settled:

- We're moving back to Mississippi in May, most likely the beginning of May. The trip home has given me a real peace about it. I know I will leave a part of me in New York and that I will carry pieces of Brooklyn in my heart until the day I die. But being home has been wonderful and I've felt so right here. That doesn't mean there won't be days I don't cry because I miss the city so much or that there won't be things about the South that frustrate me to no end. But it does mean that I know this is our place. For now, anyway. 

- We're down to two options for schooling- straight homeschooling or doing a two day a week school (which is different than the program Annie did for a year and a half when we lived here). I feel really good about either and now it's just weighing the pros and cons and deciding what is a better fit for our family for the next school year. Sometimes deciding between two great options is really difficult for me, but it's a good predicament to be in! 

- We've discussed this a lot and really thought about what we want our family to look like (obviously the Lord has veto/overriding power on that-- HEEEEELLO, Annie Banani!) and we have an idea of what we're hoping for going forward. Spoiler- it includes more kiddos! I'm reminding myself that it's important to keep it one kid at a time, one year at a time. But at the same time, I think it helps to have a gameplan so we can plan for things like housing and such. 

- Speaking of, we had really talked about moving into Jackson, but I think we're going to stay in the suburbs for the next two or three years. That could totally change, but it feels good to at least have the intention determined. 

- Which leads to this....we've decided on our next adventure/project! I'm going to blog about it in more detail because it really deserves it's own post.

It was interesting typing this all up because I realized more why it had been so stressful. That's a lot of really big things we put upon ourselves to decide. I'm glad we can move forward and enjoy the rest of our New York adventure with a sense of peace and that we can relax and enjoy the ride! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Days to Write True: For the Rest of His Life

I have to share a really special memory from the wedding. One of the most special moments of the night was seeing the groom sitting at a table visiting and motioning for his mom to sit on his lap. They snuggled a little and it was such a precious moment between the two of them. 

A couple of years ago when my little guy was still a baby, I had a conversation with some friends about that stupid saying "a son is a son until he takes a wife; a daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life. Honestly, I felt sick at my stomach. It devastated me to think that one day Graves and I might not be particularly close, but I knew that wasn't uncommon. So often I think little boys love their mommas with this amazing, unique, different kind of love but as they grow up things change, particularly when important new women appear on the scene. So I grieved a bit thinking about the future.

I'm so thankful I got to witness that sweet moment with Conrad and his momma. It showed me that such distance wasn't an inevitable fate. 

I promise "Write True" hasn't turned into "Big Feelings from Cookie's Wedding", but I had no idea how deeply meaningful it would all be and it's been special to process that fully over the past week. 

Anyway, I think this MAY be the last wedding post. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekly Happenings #289 (October 6-12)-- Flying Home and Getting a Sister Married

Whew! It's been a whirlwind the last week and a half. This is actually the first time I've been able to upload pictures and really work on the blog in a substantive way. We've been at Peyton's parents for a week and he's flying back tomorrow but the kids and I will be here a bit longer! 

Monday was a good last day with just me and the kids. They got up a little late and then we watched their shows and I cooked them oatmeal for breakfast. They ate and I did my morning chores (folding up the couch, the liter box, and straightening a little) really quickly. I did spend too much time on the computer and then planning for school took longer than usual. I played with the kids a little, took a super quick shower, and then we did their devotion and catechism. We did a quick toy pick up and then they ate lunch and I put Graves down for a nap. He played pretty well, but made a LOT of bathroom trips. 

I got on the computer and did part of Annie's school. When Graves got up we did math and did his critical thinking and tracing. I fixed them eggs and grits and then we read and I got them ready for bed. I cleaned up and Peyton got home. We watched TV and talked and then I worked on a couple of posts. I went to bed late.

The kids slept late and we had a lazy morning on Tuesday. Peyton was off and we just did things around the apartment to get ready to leave. I scheduled the car service to the airport and sent an email. I took my bath and had lunch and folded laundry and then Peyton took Graves to Cumbe. Annie played and I got on the computer and had lunch. I started packing and folded more laundry and when the boys got home, we cleaned up the kids' room.
Packing for three people for three weeks in which festivities include a wedding, a rehearsal dinner, a bridesmaids luncheon, a ten year reunion, and a day trip. I asked Minnie about the weather and she advised "dark cottons" since it's in the eighties. She reminded me of the fair and Halloween. I reminded her that in almost thirty years of living there, I could never figure put how to dress appropriately for either. And the rest of the apartment looked like a tornado had hit it. 

Peyton helped me get them fed and showered and ready for bed and I did one last load of laundry. Peyton met with a group of guys he's friends with and I packed some more. I got on the computer and did dishes and Peyton got home. We talked and I folded the last laundry and finished packing. We went to bed late.

Wednesday was the day! I snoozed my alarm a few times and when Ellis texted at eight we talked a bit and then I got in the shower at eight thirty as the kids were getting up. We all got ready and packed the very last things. 
Peyton packed his clothes for a week in a MESSENGER BAG. The rest is mine and the kids'. Originally he was going to take the small black suitcase, but I needed it.

We did a few last minute things before leaving the apartment and went out to meet our car.
We found a car service with multiple car seats (some I called would only send one). The driver was so nice, arrived five minutes early, and drove like a human being. And it was only marginally more expensive than a cab! So much better than getting our seats out of storage and lugging them to Jackson or trying to do transit to LGA. 

We made it to the airport and got checked in with tons of time to spare. 
It makes me emotional. I think about flying into and out of here on the the trip Peyton and I took over a year ago. And I think about flying here by myself with the kids. Both the trip and the experience were transformative for me, so being here leads to big feelings.

The kids were pretty relaxed and did great. 
I was sure I packed his "green blankie" that morning when he woke up. Coulding find it in the carry on and it wasn't under the plane as I'd hoped. He said "I'm just so sleepy. I want my green blanket." And Peyton said "we don't have it, Bud." And he said "then I'm not sleeping". I had a tiny stuffed dino, a WELL loved duck lovey, and no less than five baa's. But I still felt horrible. I know how much that stuff means to him. 

I think LaGuardia got its feelings hurt when Vice President Biden said it was like being in a third world country. There were iPads EVERYWHERE.

We boarded and had a good flight, other than me feeling sick.

leaving the big city!

 The kids did fabulous! 
Graves did GREAT on the flight thanks to this densely packed and incredibly gory book I've bought like a year ago after a friend shared it. I had been saving it for a special occasion and I think his dino obsession may be at its peak. He devoured it. Pun intended :)

And Annie and I went ahead and knocked out some Logic of English since we had a few hours. 

We had a nice layover in Atlanta. We got eat lunch/dinner, but it wasn't too long. 
Back in the South!

We boarded and got to Jackson quickly. Peyton's mom was waiting for us at the airport when we got off the plane. I also saw my high school librarian! We got loaded up and headed to our house to pick up our car. Peyton and I took the kids by my parents' house and picked up my dress to get altered and the kids' stuff. We got back to Peyton's parents' (where we were staying) and ate dinner and got the kids settled. We visited and I blogged a bit.
These two pretty much had Christmas morning. DeeDee and Grandpa Randy had their room set up with adorable new dinosaur and mermaid sleeping bags, a pile of books, their own little suitcases, and a couple of new outfits. Such a fun surprise for our sweet small people who, in this season, don't get to spend birthdays and Christmas with their grandparents.

We got a good start on Thursday because we had a LOT to do. We got the kids ready and got showers and then left them with DeeDee while we ran errands. We dropped my dress off to be altered; stopped at our house to get some toys for the kids at the hotel, a pair of shoes, and Peyton's suit; and then headed to Target for a few last minute cosemetic purchases. We drove through Canes for lunch and then went back to get the kids. We changed them into clothes for the party that night and Peyton dropped me off to get my hair colored. He picked up my dress and bought a new dress shirt for himself because we had discovered a stain on the one he packed. After they picked me up, we stopped and got snacks and used the bathroom (and visited with our friend Erika!) at Walgreens. We got on the road around five thirty.

Dress altered, hair trimmed and colored, and we were one the way to Baton Rouge! I'm getting it SHORT before we leave, but I didn't want to right before the wedding. Also, this is DARK. But I just can't maintain it any blonder in the city. Or on the crazy budget Peyton's worked up for when we move back.

We left this here (but took the Batman and Joker cars). He really didn't miss it for months and then just in the last couple started asking about his racetrack. He was so excited he kept it on his lap most of the trip. Annie, on the other hand, told us  that she wanted to stay in NYC and not move back for good. I asked her why and she said she didn't like her bedroom in MS as much. We talked more and she said it's because she'll have even MORE toys to put up than in Brooklyn (as I mentioned, we left some things here). We discussed and she said she'd be so happy if we put some of her toys in the attic and rotated them. Needless to say, her papa was PROUD!

We stopped twice (QUICKLY) and made it to Baton Rouge by eight thirty. We had drinks and visited and met all Conrad's family.
{flower girl-ring bearer-flower girl}at a rooftop gathering celebrating the bride and groom

 After that, we went to dinner with Cookie and my parents. 
We walked out of an elevator and and a guy said to Peyton "After you, beau". This ain't a bad place to be. 

The kids did really well, but they were so tired (Annie in paticular, Graves had taken a car nap around seven pm).
Being a goofball at the fancy restaurant. He was actually SO well behaved.

We got back to the hotel room and it was midnight by the time the kids got to bed and one by the time the rest of us did. We actually didn't have a room reserved and were just going to stay in a different hotel, but we ended up staying with Cookie. So fun!

We had a slow morning and slept late on Friday. Peyton and Cookie were up early, but the kids and I slept until ten. We bathed the kids and got showers ourselves and repacked and then checked out. We moved our stuff to my parents room until we could check in and then went to lunch at a po-boy place. Graves had an accident right as were were finishing so we came back to the hotel and changed his clothes and visited with my parents a little. I printed out my toast and worked on a blog post a little.

After that, we all got ready for the rehearsal and then left to go practice. We left the kids and Conrad's niece who was the other flower girl in our hotel room with two babysitters. It was finished quickly and we went to dinner. It was wonderful, with so many friends sharing beautiful toasts.

Peyton and I went out to a bar with the rest of the wedding party and then turned in for the night.

Saturday was the big day! Peyton actually got Graves up early in hopes he'd take a good nap. Annie and I slept in a bit and then I got on Instagram and my mom came to our room to help me decide on Annie's outfit for the bridesmaid's luncheon. I took a quick shower and ironed our clothes and then got the kids dressed while Peyton got our carseat out of the car for Annie. Minnie and my aunt and Annie and I were taking a taxi so we met Peyton downstairs and he got the seat buckled in. Peyton and Graves hung out and we headed to the luncheon. It was beautiful!
lovely flowers! 

The flower girl (and her momma) had so much fun at the bridesmaids luncheon! 

dainty treats! 

The flower girls. Cookie and Conrad are both so lucky to each have gained a precious new niece.

I had a hard time waking Peyton up to get him to answer the door once we got back to the hotel. He finally let us in and Graves was still sleeping. We chilled out a bit and then I joined Cookie to have my hair and make up done.

 I thought we had more time when I got back to the room, but it was almost time to go. Peyton helped me get the kids ready and I did a few last minute things. We hurried down to the buses and got in a van and headed to the property. The kids danced on the dance floor (with no music) and then we did pictures.

 Then it was time! The ceremony was really sweet and special.

After it was over, I had to sign something to witness the marriage. The reception was great- we had such fun dancing and eating and visiting.

Toward the end the band had all the bridesmaids get up on stage and DANCE BY THEMSELVES. I was SO worried and was thinking about how I'm like basically an SNL character with this sort of thing. Peyton saved the day and handed me Annie and so it was much less awkward. The kids were SO tired when we got back to the hotel. We went to bed.

On Sunday we all got up and finished packing and took baths. Some of the fastest baths our kids have ever taken. We got out and on the road and didn't stop at all. We still didn't make church, but we caught some friends after the service. After that we had lunch with the Deckards and another friend at the Mexican restaurant and then we came home and regrouped. We headed over to our friends, the Roberts' house. We stayed super late and had such fun.

We had a great week and this one has been, too!