Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's Tell the World: 2014 Slideshow

This year has been amazing, surprising, and life changing. There are not words to do it justice. In my best and biggest dreams, I couldn't envision it this way. It was a joy and a great privilege to call Brooklyn, New York "home" in 2014.

I've you've been here awhile, you know that I spend the first couple of weeks in January doing "recap" posts, but I had to go ahead and share some of our best memories! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What I'm Into: December

December was busy and fun! 

On the Nightstand:

I didn't read a lot this month, honestly.

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
I've been doing this in the mornings and I've been more consistent with it that way. I loved this one about an unconventional Christmas, knowing ours surely would be: 

Finished this up. It's been a good, enjoyable read. I love how Nish ended each chapter with a post from a different writer from A Deeper Story that related to the chapter. It gave me a lot to think about and it shows that the idea of "story" is a lot broader than we oftentimes think.

This was my favorite sentence in the whole book- "Simply put, we Christians live a great story when we are being faithful. And the kingdom is made visible in the mundane when we forgo what's attractive for what is obedient". So good. I know I will carry that with me for awhile. 

Immersion Bible Study: Mathew- J. Ellsworth Kalas
I've got to be honest. I'm not the most consistnt with doing individual Bible studies anyway and I started this one this Summer and then when we went back to Mississippi in October, I put it on the back burner. I'm just now picking it back up, but I'm really enjoying it.

On Their Nightstand: 

Wow. We got this at the library last month and we're still reading through this one (it's a big volume- three hundred and something pages. The selections are fantastic and there hasn't been a story yet I haven't enjoyed. Lots of old favorites, some classics that I haven't thought about since my college days in Children's Lit as an Education major, and some new ones that I already adore. Peyton and I both considered buying it to add to the children's personal library. 

This was a little above Annie's level (and a lot above Graves's), but we plowed through it and I do think some of it resonated with her. It's beautifully written and I enjoyed it so much myself. I know it will be a treasure for many Christmases to come! And they LOVED the Jesse Tree, which was a first this year!

On the Shelf:
Peyton and I are going to read a book this month (we have it narrowed down to three and have to chose) and then next month I'm reading something with my friend Mallory! 

At the Theater (or from the couch):
We watched more movies than usual (although they were mostly with the kids).
The Fault In Our Stars
Obviously, we are about the last to watch this. If you don't know, though, it's a romantic plot line where both of the main characters have a terminal illness. So...I cried. And I wasn't even that invested in it. I really didn't think I would, but I did.  Peyton wasn't a fan. I did think parts were really corny and it certainly wasn't my favorite movie, but overall I enjoyed it. 
This was the kids' first non animated/computer generated movie to see. They LOVED it! And I enjoyed rewatching an old classic that was favorite of mine as a child.

We watch this several times every December. We all love it. And the music! Peyton and I are both so obsessed with Charlie Brown Christmas music! 

We watched this with the kids and it's SOMETHING, y'all. The visual effects are stunning, the music is great, and the story is captivating. It's very fanciful and creative and unique. The basic plot line has to do with "Jack Skellington" opening a portal from "Halloween Town" (where he lives) to "Christmas Town" and trying to bring the Christmas magic back with him. 

The kids didn't actually get that into this one, but Peyton and I enjoyed what we watched of it with them. Ha! It had some more grown up humor that was funny not in a raunchy way, but in a witty way. Anyway, it was a fun retelling of the story 

On the Small Screen:
I've been watching some more of The West Wing. And Peyton and I started watching this ridiculous show, Doomsday Preppers. It's obviously about people preparing for the end of civilization or an extreme financial collapse or some kind of awful natural disaster. It's comical on one level and also sort of fascinating. I do feel sort of bad for the children when the people have kids, though.

In My Ears:

Instead of creating a playlist for this month, I mostly listened to my December 2012 playlist because it has so much Christmas music that I love on it and I don't listen to it any other time. I also just searched "folk Christmas" on Spotify because I love folksy stuff these days and that was a treat. And Peyton found this great tune by Boney M:

Because sometimes, you need a little disco vibe in your Christmas music collection.

Around the House:
We decorated for Christmas in our little space and it was so much fun and so laid back! I shared more pictures here.
I LOVE Christmas sheets so much! 

Christmas chalk that I think is a good word for any time of the year!

In the Kitchen:

We enjoyed two more soups for Winter Soup Challenge! 
 I was unsure about this soup: 1) I prefer bisques and chowders to stews and broths (in the same way I prefer cheese, butter, and half and half to vegetables 2) though my spicy tolerance has changed a lot since before my second pregnancy I still can't handle super hot things well (we substituted Andouille for the called for sausage because it was what we could find) 3) I'm about six years old and weird (read: interesting) combinations (of which sweet potatoes, spinach- which is not my favorite green veggie, and sausage apply) freak me. But it looked like something P would LOVE. So I gave it a shot. It is pretty hot and I can't eat a honking bowl like I could some more bland soups. But it's got a great, interesting taste. And it's PERFECT for a chilly night. And truthfully? It feels good to feed my people (at least the two grown ones) something that has a bag of spinach instead of half a block of Velveeta in it. (recipe via It got four stars. 

 Not the first time I've made it (by a long shot!), but this stuff is SO! INCREDIBLY! GOOD! I shared the recipe in the picture because it's from a Junior League if Jackson cookbook that they don't publish anymore. It got five stars

In My Closet:
Sigh. Winter is not my favorite. But I'm trying to make the most of it!
 I will say that my friend Ashley revolutionized my church wardrobe. I loved these boots last year, but it never occured to me to wear them with dresses and tunics! 

Reindeer trouser socks + really old, super comfy textured tights under my cords = how I survive the Yankee Winter 

In Their Closets:
Back in my day as a Consignment Sale Queen, a dear friend of mine bought this jon jon on the chance she'd one day have a boy. She turned right around and handed it to me and told him she wanted Graves to use it first since he was well...already here (though tiny at the time). I've had it tucked away all this time and now he's finally wearing it. And we're keeping the polar bears safe for sweet John Stuart :)


In My Mailbox:
best time of the year!

In My Cart:
We're slashing the budget big time when we move home and so I made a list of a several things I'd like to get before I put myself on a three year spending freeze. One big thing on the list was new boots. I got a pair when they were marked down after Thanksgiving and I wore them for the first time today. They weren't super pricey but more than what I'm used to spending on shoes. I really like them and I feel like they're pretty low profile and not terribly trendy and will stand the test of time! 

Around the City:
We had so much fun around the city...

enjoying the decorations...

a little train show...

people watching at Grand Central...

seeing the tree at Rockefellar Center...

and several great church services...

On My Heart:
- Christmas was so beautiful and amazing here. I got all I wanted from it, really. We didn't exhaust ourselves trying to see or do everything, but we made forever memories. I'll always be grateful for the one Christmas season we had in the city.
- We are all four sick. Nothing terrible, but awful colds/sore throats/coughs. While I KNOW there are people here who would drop everything and love us well because that is the kind of communities we're apart of, that's very different from living fifteen minutes away from both our parents. It's also very different from being ten minutes away from our beloved pediatrician.
- There are so many ways I've watched God provide for us this year, but I probably have taken our health for granted, if I'm being honest. I'm so thankful none of us have been sick enough to even require a doctor's visit!

In My Prayers:
- I'm thanking the Lord for this beautiful season. So often Decembers wear me down and stress me out. I'm hoping we can incorporate a simpler Christmas into lives back home.
- I'm praying for a joyful new year and a Winter filled with peace (in our lives, in the city, around the world).
- I'm praying that once decisions are made, they were be peace in our hearts and we will trust the Lord with them.
- I'm praying God will show us the ways he wants to use us here for the next few months and in Mississippi for as long as He has us there.
On the Calendar: 

We actually sat down and plugged in activities for basically EVERY day Peyton has off from now through the end of February. We want to make the most of our time here and I'm glad we have a plan! 

What I'm Into

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Brooklyn: Flapjack Jams, Potato Penguins, and an Unconventional Christmas

Christmas here was good and special. The actual day was really great. Of course I missed my family and friends in Mississippi, but it wasn't the deep homesickness that Thanksgiving brought. Peyton had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off and we had a wonderful time celebrating, albeit in unconventional ways. 

I read this page in my Brennan Manning devotional a week or so before Christmas and I reread it every day leading up to it. 

I told myself I was going to be okay with an unconventional Christmas.

I was really worried that I was going to see people's celebrations on social media and either compare or judge. [Of course, the obvious answer here is just to turn it off for the day, but I wanted to see everyone else's updates and pictures and such.]

I should probably back up a bit. Peyton and I decided awhile back that since we were already in a situation where we didn't have to risk hurting feelings or looking like religious zealots, we'd seize the opportunity and not do presents this year. And then when I tested the water on this idea, Wise Sage Annie determined that their room is too messy to accommodate more toys anyway (which again, the obvious answer is to give stuff away, but who's going to argue with such a contented kids. Um, well, Sarah Denley Herrington almost. Yeah, really. I was just sad to pull the final plug on the magical Christmases of my youth (we've gradually scaled back each year since probably AP's second Christmas). But when she flipped through a toy catalog in a vain attempt for ideas and explained to me and Graves that each was either a) too big for our apartment b) strikingly similar to something she already owned or c) for a child much younger/older than them, it became clear presents weren't really instrumental in making her Christmas magical. 

Anyway, the day wasn't the emotional battle I had prepared for. I missed home, but not to the point of tears. I got on Facebook several times and had no alarming feelings of jealously or malice toward the Santa Folks, even the ones whose living room floor you literally could not see and whose children got tiny motorized vehicles much nicer than the Buick. 

It was also nice to have a low key day, because Christmas Eve was so bangin'. Melina (the priest at CSG's wife) basically had an open house from like seven until well past midnight where choir members, people who were serving in some way, and other friends popped in and out for tamales (a Mexican tradition) and some soup (another Mexican tradition). She is SO laid back and is basically the antithesis of everything I am. She probably has less anxiety about a house full of fifty-ish come and go guests than I do about serving one or two people dinner. Anyway, I was still floored because obviously Jake wasn't even there a ton of the time. Her parents and sisters were, but still. I'd be losing my mind. The dinner was lovely and perfect and very relaxed and enjoyable. 

After that, Peyton and I were ushers at the eleven o'clock service which involved (unknown to us at the time) a heck of a lot more than what we usually do at the six o'clock. Peyton was, no kidding, polishing the communion chalice before we left around one AM. We were also instructed about the proper procedures regarding drunks stumbling in. I really, really appreciate the policy- let them in (because THE GOSPEL, for crying out loud), but if they wander up to the front or pull out a shiv it's good to redirect them/call the cops, respectively. We also had quite a few visitors drop in and just take a short stroll around the church and then pop out- during the service. Part of being a historical church in Manhattan that happens to be celebrating Christ's birth into the morning, I guess. 

Anyway, the service was beautiful and the sermon perfect (about identity and Christmas cards and other junk that is all so very important until we think about what Christmas really means, which (SPOILER!) is NOT about moving from vice to virtue or "being good for goodness sake"). The music was wonderful and Jake told us at the end to really focus on the last stanzas of "Once in Royal David's City", which happen to be some of my favorite lesser known lines in a favorite less popular carol.

We got on our train back to Brooklyn around 1:20. 
Ain't no party like the high church party, cause the high church party don't stop. 

Then we came home. And Annie probably ate second supper. I can't remember, but she always does.

Poor Peyton was ushering again in the morning (being a transient in a city full of transients ain't easy, folks). The kids and I slept absurdly late and then watched the Charlie Brown Christmas movie. [As an aside, Annie likes to find stools for Graves to stand on and tells him to "say it just like Linus" as a way of encouraging him to say his memory verse.] 

Then we started our day. Around noon. Which has, of late, not been uncommon. I know, I know. But: PERKS OF HOMESCHOOLING. 

We did try to make it special in a few different ways. One previous Christmas we had sprinkle pancakes, but P and I both neglected to think about sprinkles until we were on our way to the epic church service/tamale party at the Smiths. So Peyton improvised with chocolate chips, which were, of course delicious (because I didn't make them). 

Then I created a little scavenger hunt for the kids to find the baby Jesus from their Advent calendar/nativity set. The scavenger hunt was a big hit and after they found the Baby Jesus, Annie wanted to create her own. She hid a stuffed bear and was giving really obvious clues. When Peyton pointed out that it's more fun maybe to be a little vague, she snapped at him a bit and told him she was trying to make it easy enough for Graves. 

Annie treated herself to a two plus hour bath (which Graves partook in part of the time) and we belly laughed over this hilarious Ecard Cookie made with her and Con and Mickey and Minnie dressed as elves and rocking around a Christmas tree. We also tried to make our own (and got a good ways into the process) before finding out that you have to pay a yearly subscription of $18. I later found out Mick and Min footed the bill on the other end (no surprise, but what??). 

Graves went to bed early- like around seven- which we later found out was a nap in his mind. I had told Annie she could pick any craft from her Christmas craft book and of course she skipped over the ones involving markers and construction paper and went right to the craft that includes paint and sliced potatoes to make penguin prints. I actually think it turned out super cute, despite us having to use White Out for the bellies. 
Just as she was finishing and eating supper, Graves woke up. Since we had been so late the night before, I had neglected to make sure we wore our matching pjs, bought specifically for the occasion. So we busted them out and had a short photo shoot and wore them to bed that night. 

Annie did have a moment of mild panic when she realized that our bottoms did not all say the same things (which, props to me for finding flapjack pajamas with sayings on the back that are not entirely crass. Do you know how hard it is to find one piece pjs for a man, let alone flap jacks, let alone ones that don't have sayings that are too crude for my (ha!) delicate sensibilities?). Anyway, she was momentarily undone by it and I can't remember what calmed her down. Probably some silly antics from Bear Bottom there. I did get a little chuckle, because it was major deja vu. While Minnie never had a propensity for acquiring matching family pjs, there were so many things just like this where things didn't match that SENT ME INTO ORBIT because of my compulsions. I had to laugh (because what else can you do?) seeing how Tail End reacted in that situation. 

I mostly stayed behind the camera, because how I could miss shots like this one? 

but Peyton did snap a couple with me included. Moose Caboose was grumpy from waking up from his "nap" (ughhhhh), so he didn't appear in as many as his sister. 

After the pictures and the goofiness and probably another supper for both small people, we put them to bed. Peyton and I talked some, played around on various devices, watched Doomsday Preppers and went to bed. 

And just like that- Christmas 2014 is in the books! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

January Joy

[Parts of this post were modified and used in our Christmas letter. I actually started writing this post first, but some of it seemed to make its way nicely into the body of the letter.]

Last December was particularly excruciating. There was just a lot of fear and I was incredibly overwhelmed thinking about our new life. We were so close we could almost touch it and a lot of days I was paralyzed by fear thinking about it.

On December 31st we dropped Peyton off at the airport, knowing we wouldn't see him again until he found our new home, I loaded up all our shit, and I flew twelve hundred miles with both kids and away from everything I had ever known to be home. Graves was super sick and it was a really hard day.

But the rest of January was such a special time. I didn't really share much because I didn't blog a lot during those weeks. I did miss Peyton a lot, but it was also a really wonderful time.

Bruce Springsteen released a new album that month and it was perfectly timed. Peyton and I spent a weepy (on my part) night live streaming it pre-release across the country from one another. That CD became the soundtrack of my life and one particular song, which talked about a "kingdom of love waiting to be reclaimed" became the anthem of my of my heart. I was so inspired and something in me knew that this adventure would be a true turning point in our marriage and in some ways, our lives. It has been, and truth be told, I'm still a little shocked at how much it has been.

My relationship with the children changed immediately, in a way it's continued to change since we moved. Without Peyton then, and without outside support from my family now, the children became more and more my little buddies. Of course there's still a dynamic of authority and of course I'm not actively trying to be my children's best friend. But more and more, as I have them with me almost constantly and as I have more grown up conversations with them (especially Annie), they feel like such sweet buddies. I felt this start while we were still at home. They were with me more than ever and I didn't have the breaks I was used to. But we adjusted.

One sweet memory involves how I was sleeping on the couch every night, partly because I felt safer and partly because the TV in that room was still connected and I couldn't go to sleep without it on. Anyway, both the kids were waking up a good bit more than usual at night and I chalked it up mostly to Peyton's absence and the tension of transition. They'd typically both join me on the sofa at some point and we'd all snuggle in. I loved it so much and I felt like I was providing them with myself through the night in a way I wasn't able to during the day with all the packing and things I had to be doing by myself. They both slept late (not the ridiculous way that screws your whole day over, but the perfect amount where I woke up well rested) almost every morning. I attribute that mostly to God's grace during that particular season.

I check Timehop on my phone most days to see what I was doing on this particular date over the past few years. It's coming up on the point where things are going to get really bittersweet and my guess is, it will be that way for awhile. I'm about to start seeing the flashbacks of the days and weeks leading up to our move and the days and weeks that follow. Again, if I had to guess, these little snippets of life will bring a lot of tears. Because the move was one of the most frightening but most amazing things I've ever done.

We had an AMAZING November and December has been mostly wonderful, but pretty much every day I either struggle with being homesick for Mississippi or being heartsick about only having a few more months. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that living in this tension will probably get harder and harder as we count down towards May.

But I'm thankful for the past year and I'm also hopeful for some January Joy...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

You've Got Mail: 2014 Herrington Christmas Card and Letter

Happy Holidays from the Big Apple!!!

Oh friends, this year has been a powerful one. It’s been a transformative year for our family and we’ve seen God’s provision like never before. We’ve seen beauty in places we were afraid of, we’ve seen growth in areas where we were weak, and we’ve seen love in a degree we never could have imagined.

Truly it’s next to impossible for me to write our letter this year. Even if I had the space of an entire memoir (which I’d love to write one day) to share my experiences and emotions from this past year, my words could never do it justice, I‘m afraid. And of course, this being a Christmas letter, I’m only giving myself a small amount of space to share our joys and struggles from the year. It’s a daunting task and one I feel ill-equipped for, but I’m determined to try.  

We started 2014 rather abruptly. On December 31st of last year, in the very early morning, the children and I dropped Peyton off at the airport, knowing we wouldn't see him again until he found our new home, I loaded up all our junk, and I flew twelve hundred miles with both kids and away from everything I had ever known to be home. Graves was super sick and it was a really hard day. To be honest, last December was particularly excruciating. There was just a lot of fear and I was incredibly overwhelmed thinking about our new life. We were so close we could almost touch it and a lot of days I was paralyzed by fear thinking about it.

January actually ended up being a very special time for the children and me. I missed Peyton deeply, but I bonded so much with them and it was a beautiful time of growth when I did a lot of things I didn’t know I could do as I parented by myself for a month and ran the house as best I could. I think it prepared me a lot for what was in store.

Peyton spent the better part of a month looking for the cute, quintessential brownstone with a stoop on a sunny, tree-lined block. Ultimately, we gave it our best. We basically tried every listing for a brownstone in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene and even allowed ourselves to expand our search outside of the neighborhoods we had loved and been devoted to since our visit the previous August. And we were met with resistance at every turn. Finally, Peyton signed a lease at the Clinton Hill Co-Ops, a huge brick complex that peaks above the rest of the skyline in our neighborhood. I was convinced it was an eyesore. As I look out my window tonight, I see the first snow of the season lightly frosting the ground and I see a beautiful Candy Land rainbow maze of lights stretching the entire large courtyard of our complex that my husband and I had no part in stringing. And I feel such happiness. Shortly after we moved,  I realized God’s provision and how significantly more manageable our lives were living in an elevator building with extra storage and a laundry room on the premises (NOT common in Brooklyn) even if it wasn’t what I’d envisioned.

Exactly a month after Peyton moved up, on January 31st, the children and I boarded a plane and flew to meet Peyton in Brooklyn. Again, that flight gave me a lot of courage for what was to come.

The Lord was gracious to us and, despite a lot of delays with movers and being without most of our things for about two weeks, we all adjusted quickly and the transition was as seamless as is possible for a move twelve hundred miles across the country with two small children and two indoor/outdoor now exclusively indoor cats. I discovered that I enjoyed the walking, that the cold (at some points dipping below twenty degrees) was bearable, that I rather loved my eight hundred square foot apartment, and that it was incredibly liberating to be free from the obligations I had committed to at home. I also discovered that my husband seemed much happier and more content in our small home with fewer outside obligations and that our children were thriving. Spring had it’s tearful homesick moments, but it was beautiful and amazing as we took our first trips to Central Park, joined the three museums we are members of, attended fascinating events at the Brooklyn Historical Society, explored our neighborhood, and found our communities of faith. I attended a really powerful Christian conference that I just stumbled upon (if you believe that- I don’t!) and it led us to a church in the city that was like a wellspring of life pointing me to the resurrected Christ and teaching me to experience grace and the Gospel as never before. We also started attending a church plant that launched in a very diverse neighborhood. The church launched on Easter Sunday and because of the big focus on social justice and racial reconciliation and ministering in the city, we felt a huge tug. We are still worshiping at both churches (which makes for busy Sundays!) and these faith communities have grown us in inexplicable ways. We also became involved in a ministry in the South Bronx and have seen such beauty and hope and love in this “forgotten neighborhood”.

Specifically so we could attend church, I gathered the courage to attempt public transit by myself with the children (for the most part, we  stay home and do school on Peyton’s work days and have our “adventure days” on his days off). Transit has probably been the single hardest thing for me in the city (aside from missing home). It’s physically challenging with both children and more than that it gives me a lot of anxiety with Graves who is still very busy and rambunctious and not always great at listening.  It’s actually very comparable to me with Graves’s unmedicated birth. Both involved a lot of fear and now both have given me a new sense of confidence in myself and what I'm capable of. If I gained nothing else from this year, it is a stronger faith in a God who empowers and a deeper sense of what He can do through me if I listen to Him instead of the voices that tell me I'm not strong enough for this.

Summer came finally and was amazing. Winter is beautiful here, but it’s truly draining. Summer was vibrant and easy and by far my favorite time here. We spent nearly every Friday night at Coney Island enjoying the spectacular free firework shows, we went to the flea market a few blocks away, and we enjoyed ferry rides and street fairs and ice cream trucks and new park and al fresco dining. We got cheap fresh produce and on the days Peyton worked I took the kids to our neighborhood playground each afternoon. But more than that, I saw the city come alive. A new fascination of mine is culture- urban culture, specific racial and ethnic cultures, church culture here- all different kinds of culture. And I think in the Summer, we are better able to observe that. A few years ago, I would have been a little surprised if you told me that I'd be living in a very urban, very diverse neighborhood and I would have laughed in your face if you told me that a part of me would smile when Summer came and the rap music (which I mostly have a strong disdain for) got turned up and the cars bump-bumped a little more. As I bee- boped down the street with my tiny people, it gave me a little thrill because it seems so indicative of our new place and I love that there's a soundtrack to our lives even if it's a different soundtrack than the one I’m used to. The children loved Summer because it meant sprinklers at every playground and we indulged in those a lot.

Speaking of the children, they are amazing little humans. Annie is quite sensitive and introspective and although she’s incredibly emotional, I’ve watched her learn to manage her emotions after years of helping coach her. She’s observant and bright and a joy to hold a conversation with. One particularly fun quirk is her fascination with the subway. It will be a delight to tell her one day that she learned to read an MTA map at the exact same time she was learning to read. She came to understand the many colorful lines covering the boroughs about as quickly as I did. It was kind overwhelming for a chick who is more used to kudzu as a covering. Homescholing this year has been an absolute joy and a privilege. She is the kind of student who is eager to learn and anxious to work hard.

Graves is equally special. He is the most affectionate person I’ve met in my life (to be fair, his papa is a close second). He loves to hug, kiss, hold, and snuggle. He also loves to sing and dance and is full of abundant energy. He has the most mischievous smile, which is fitting because while he’s almost never defiant or disrespectful, he’s often “naughty”. He’s not only a huge flirt, but a huge tease. He has a much more mature sense of humor than his sister and has already figured out how to play tricks on her (and his papa and me). He reads emotions well and is very tender. If someone is sad or hurt or angry, he picks up on it, empathizes, and consoles.

Fall brought my sister’s wedding and a three week trip home to Mississippi. The wedding was gorgeous and perfect and will be something I cherish always. And our trip was incredible. It revealed just what I needed it to- how much we miss (our first) home. It confirmed our decision to move back in late Spring and it made other decisions easier to make.

But Fall hasn’t been without heartache. At some point, most every day, I either feel homesick for Mississippi or heartsick for the city we will be leaving. Or both. The days I have to navigate both are the hardest. But it’s a good problem to have. To have people- and places- in our lives so incredibly worthy of being loved on this level.

This year in Brooklyn has not always been easy, but it’s brought about great transformation, it’s taught me so much, and it’s given us precious relationships that we will cherish always.. As excited as I am for what the next chapter will bring, I’m so thankful for the many gifts the Lord has given us in this city. I will forever be grateful!

It is with so much love and joy that we wish you a Merry Christmas and happily anticipate 2015 with you all!

the Herringtons

2009 Card and Letter
2010 Card and Letter
2011 Card and Letter 

2012 Card and Letter

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Deck the Halls: In Your Eight Hundred Square Foot Flat

Obviously, Christmas decorating was going to look different here than it did in the 'burbs. Actually, it's fascinating to me to find out how much Christmas stuff people have and how they store it. I brought one large tub that contains our (very minimal) Fall and Easter decorations as well and then a smaller box of ornaments plus our card tree and a large snow globe that I had put up in a very high kitchen cabinet. We aren't HUGE into seasonal decorations, but that was a big downsize from previous years. We actually ended up deciding not to get a tree and I've been surprisingly okay with it. We added a little bits of cheer around and I've enjoyed it so much. 

I set up this little area in the kitchen and it's so special to me. I put up my kitchen quote and the kids' Advent calender/nativity. They've been more obsessed with it this year than ever. I added a few other touches off to the side. 

a good reminder! 

I love my vintage Christmas sign and Minnie sent me this beautiful crown with the holy family inside. I also have our "ornaments" for our Jesse tree (below) here. 

This is a line from "O Holy Night" and I think it's beautiful in general and a good reminder as I move through my day, parent, bump people on the train, and speak with homeless neighbors. But this season it's especially poignant. A lot has happened in the city and in the boroughs since this Summer. An unarmed black man was killed by the police back in the Summer and this past week two police officers were murdered in a crazed sort of retaliation. It's all been heartbreaking and life changing for me to experience. These words have been the cry of my heart for our beloved city. 

Little felt canisters on the window sill- I don't even love chevron, but these were too cute to pass up. 

We don't have a mantle here and it seemed dumb to put more nails in the wall or buy something we wouldn't need with this little time left in the game. So we hung the stocking on the curtain rod! 

We rarely close the curtains except at night, but I've been leaving them closed to enjoy the display more. I actually love how it turned out! 

A holiday pillow along with our regular one (both were placemats from Target!). I forgot to mention bringing it (I store it in our linen closet). 

felt Christmas trees, pine cones, and acorns! 

 sparkly trees and our gingerbread girl! 

one of my very favorite things- our card tree! 

I filled this basket in the den with some holiday books I couldn't resist brining. I'm glad I did- the kids have enjoyed them so much! 

Minnie gave Annie this snow globe and it's pretty special. I put it in the guest room with her music box. It's a good place so Graves won't have access to them. I've taken it down a good bit and sat down on the floor and wound it up for both of them. They love it and each time the moment is so special I get a lump in my throat. 

 One other thing I insisted on bringing was Christmas linens. I have sheets for the fold out couch and I made the kids' beds up with stocking sheets (I have one set, but they neither one use a top sheet, so I just used the top sheet as a fitted sheet on Annie's). I also let them use the Christmas blankets on their beds in lieu of their quilts this year and they've enjoyed that!

 Annie adores this blanket. Really, they both do. It's the softer, by far. But Graves is super flexible. I initially told her we'd switch them after awhile, but he just let it go and has let her have it. I'm kind of glad secretly because I think the green looks more masculine and the white is softer and they just look better on their respective beds.

 I love these stocking sheets so much! I remember when I bought them when Annie was tiny! 

Here's our Jesse tree! We've been reading Ann Voskamp's book and while it's a bit grown up even for Annie, we've all enjoyed it! Also, one of the activities was making a list of how God has provided. Notice that Graves came up with number seven.

They also made a paper chain and a few other little ornaments. It's been fun to let them be creative and not worry so much that everything looks just right. Because it never does anyway, you know? 

 Obviously, we had nothing to do with this decorating, but the view of the courtyard at our complex is so beautiful and I had to snap a few shots to share!