Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekly Happenings Post #304 (January 19-25)-- A First Goodbye, A Hard Week, and a Better Place

This has been a sort of scary week. I've really looked ahead toward May and it's been a bit frightening. Letting go of this place is not going to be easy at all and it's begin to prove much more difficult than I expected. I was so emotional over that, plus some other things and it was just a hard week. Fortunately, by the weekend things started to improve and I felt better.

Peyton worked the early shift on Monday. The kids slept even later than they have been (past ten). We got up and they watched their shows and ate breakfast and then I did my morning chores, got on the computer, planned for the day and for school, and took my bath. We did their morning school stuff and read and then they had lunch and then cleaned up their room.
I gave the kids the felt I had used for our Jesse tree and they've been using it for dress up costumes for a couple of weeks. Today I walked in and Annie had made some "vines" for MonkMonk.

Graves rested and I got on the computer. Peyton got home and I did school with Annie. She was SO distracted because she wanted to play with Peyton.
Whoops. Somebody went to the Russian barber again. Nobody with a snoz that size needs a graduated hipster haircut. Fortunately I still love him and he'll be back in the capable hands of sweet hairdresser at home in just a few months.

We finished up and I cooked a couple of new dishes for supper while Peyton played with the children and gave them baths. We all ate and then got the kids ready for bed. We talked and I got on the computer for awhile and then read some.

We all got up a bit earlier on Tuesday. We ate breakfast and I got my bath and did a few things around the apartment. I did math with Annie and emailed a friend and we got ready to go to a new museum. Then we realized we needed to register for the event we had planned to go to and that it was a bit pricey. We talked about different options and ended up taking a bus to the pirate ship playground. We looked at the weather and it actually didn't seem TOO cold (40s). Ugh, it ended up feeling REALLY cold down by the piers. We walked around, but we didn't make it long. We caught a bus home and Peyton fixed pancakes for supper. He was going out with friends and he got ready and left. The kids and I played a memory game a couple of times and then I got their teeth brushed and read to them and put them to bed. I got on the computer and just wasted a bunch of time. Peyton got home and we talked and I ate the take-out he had gotten me. I finished up a post and went to bed. I had the hardest time going to sleep and then Graves woke up once and I woke up again and then Peyton woke up early and we chatted and I went back to sleep.

I woke up around nine on Wednesday because a repair man came to the door (or I would have slept later). Peyton was off and the guy was here to fix our tub. He could tell none of us were dressed or anything and said he'd be back in twenty minutes. I quickly hoped in the tub. He got here and I dried my hair and then started laundry and folded a load that I had washed days earlier. Peyton cleaned up the kitchen. I did math with Annie and worked on the laundry until it was time for Peyton to go to work. I folded another load and fixed the kids lunch. I replied to a Facebook message and then got Graves settled. Annie wanted to know if she could stay and play with him "for a special treat" since they didn't have their regular morning play time together. I said sure and I went and ate some lunch and took a nap. I didn't even get on the computer much. I got up and then Annie and I did school while Graves practiced tracing and cutting. I did English and critical thinking with Annie. They played a bit and we did memory work and then took toys to their room and I fixed them supper. They ate and I read to them and got their teeth brush. I told them a story and put them to bed. I got on the computer and Peyton got home. We watched the news and ate and then he watched a movie and I finished a post.

Thursday was difficult all around. We all slept late and then I had a really hard time getting things together and getting out the door. We did go to a really fun playground and enjoyed ourselves a good bit. Then we headed to ballet for Annie's last class and observation day.
Observation day (and last day) at Brooklyn Ballet. I'm trying to figure out why it was so emotional for me. Maybe because I loved her (Southern transplant) teacher. Maybe because she's adored it so much. Maybe because it was our first goodbye. Maybe because I'm hormonal. Whatever it is, it's been a special place. 

I have every intention of keeping this up (and starting her brother) once we get home. Hopefully we can find a wonderful place with a precious teacher in Mississippi, too. 

So focused, as always. 

It was bittersweet. I'm more and more ready to be home, but more and more sad to leave. For some reason, the goodbye to Brooklyn Ballet was much harder than I anticipated. We came home and fed the children and talked and I cried a bunch. We put the kids to bed and I blogged a bit and watched the news and went to bed. I just felt so drained.

Friday was better. Peyton was working and the kids slept super late. They had breakfast and watched their shows and then I did my chores around the apartment and planned school and the day. I got on the computer, ate breakfast, and took a bath. We did their morning school routine and cleaned up their room. It was an epic mess and it took over an hour with me helping. They ate lunch and Graves rested. I got on the computer and did math and critical thinking with AP. We got Graves up and I did English with her and some tracing practice with him. It took longer than I expected. They ate supper and then we read a good bit. I got them to bed and it was late. I got on the computer and worked on a post. Peyton got home and we talked and ate dinner and I went to bed early by my current standards.

The kids slept late on Saturday and then had breakfast and watched their shows and I realized how much I had slept. We got up LATE. They played and I took a shower and did some things and then we just played (no school- or not much- on Saturday!).
Annie has long maintained that her little Babar is a girl elephant, but now she's taken to fixing her up in baby doll panties and dress up box headbands.

I fixed them lunch and then got Graves settled. I got on the computer, ate something, and did math with Annie. Then we all got ready and headed into the city. I dropped the kids off at the rectory with a babysitter and headed to Saint George's for the Olmstead Salon. Peyton met me there.
Solo parenting my little HSP at Union Square station on a Saturday night. Urban stress, yo.

Graves saw this ad on the train and asked "why there not a Papa?". I figured this question would somehow come up living here (although, I Googled the show and if think they are actually just friends). The interesting thing to me is that I would have bet a hundred dollars it would be him to notice that other families look different from ours and not his sister.

DZ rockin' the Olmsted Salon tonight. I've been in a huge funk all week. Tonight was like a Mockingbird Preview Party- so good for my soul. Thank you, Olmstead Salon for such a wonderful night. Thank you, Melina for free childcare. And thank you, Lord, for David Zahl.

We picked up the kids afterward and headed home. It was around ten by the time we got home. We fed them a bit and got them to bed. I stayed up super late- I sent an email, cleaned up the kitchen, worked on my 2015 goals list, and read some blogs.

I got up on Sunday as Peyton was leaving. Surprisingly, the kids got up, too. I let them watch their shows and eat breakfast while I got ready. They went to Sunday school and I went to the 11:00 service. Afterwards, I stayed for The Forum and the kids played some in the nursery with a babysitter. We got home around four and they had a snack and Graves took a real nap. I did, too! I go him up finally (and Annie told me he had been sleeping with a rubberband in his mouth- OMG). They watched a Charlie Brown movie while I folded a bunch of laundry. I fixed them eggs and grits for supper and Peyton got home. We talked and then got the kids to bed. We started listening to serial and I got on the computer. I also finished my goals list.

Like I said, I felt better by the weekend and last week was much better, thankfully!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What I'm Into: January

January! The start of something new! 

On the Nightstand:

I upped my reading game (a bit) this month. 

Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
I'm planning to add in another devotion (or maybe two?), but I want to keep this around another year. Maybe forever. 

Immersion Bible Study: Mathew- J. Ellsworth Kalas
I was a bit more consistent it this month.

Whose Bible Is It?: A Short History of the Scriptures- Jaroslav Pelikan
Peyton's been wanting to reading this book about how the Bible came to be. It explores it's history from oral tradition up through through the Reformation and focuses on the differences between Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant versions of the text.

A Family of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature- Roger Sutton
I've shared before that I ADORED my Children's Lit class in college. It was absolutely one of my favorite classes in the Education Block. I saw this at the library and thought it would be fun to check out. I started it a few days ago and I'm on like page thirty and I love it. It's just an interesting topic to me and I love the writer's voice and how it proclaims up front that it's not a buyer's guide.

On Their Nightstand: 

 My sister in law started giving Annie a subscription to some really well done children's magazines several years back. We LOVED them and I swear it's one of the best ideas for a gift, especially for children who really just don't need another toy (which is the vast majority of children in America). Anyway, this year she subscribed the kids to Click. It's a nonfiction, science based periodical that is so fun and engaging and very developmentally appropriate for both the kiddos. 

On the Shelf:
One Writer's Beginnings- Eudora Welty
I'm planning to start this with my friend Mal later in the month and I'm super excited. 

At the Theater (or from the couch):
We really didn't watch anything but kid stuff and not very much of that at all.
The Land Before Time
We watched the original because both of the children are massively obsessed with dinos.  It was interesting to see both the children's reactions (of course, I was fighting back tears just like every single time I suffered through it in elementary school).  When Little Foot's momma dies she tells him she'll be with him even thought he can't see her. Graves said "will we always be able to see?" And seemed worried. Annie, who was totally zoned in, goes "we can't always see the movie; we have to send it back to Netflix". And Graves said "No, see each other". She has some Big Feelings, but in certain ways he's MUCH more sensitive. 

On the Small Screen:
Not a ton there either, this month.

In My Ears:

My January playlist is a really great one, in my humble opinion =)
Additionally, Peyton and I have been listening to more podcasts. We've caught several This American Life episodes together and he started Serial and I really want to catch up and listen together. 

Around the House:
We finally took down Christmas, but that's about all I can say. 

In the Kitchen:
We sort of fell off the wagon with Winter Soup Challenge (and with cooking in general this last week). I have tried some new recipes, the best of which being this ridiculously simple orange marmalade glazed chicken (orange marmalade- vom! but it was so good). I also made chili and some old favorites.

In My Closet:
I got these cords last year after Christmas at Old Navy for literally $7 and I wear them ALL THE TIME. Denim just isn't warm enough. The only problem is they're a pretty snug skinny jean and I can only get one pair of leggings/long underwear under them. Ha!

In Their Closets:
I'm just having to laugh at what this Winter has made of us:

Really, I do love this fishy t-shirt of Graves's from Winter Water Factory. I love the pattern as opposed to an applique or something. It feels unique and different and also a little more casual without being like a t-shirt t-shirt. Winter Water Factory is absolutely one of my favorite places to buy their stuff. It's a local business here in BK and all their stuff is fair trade. Of course, it's PRICEY. But I loved hitting up the Brooklyn Flea last Summer and buying stuff basically on clearance. 

 I think it's so funny that he's been featured more in the category the last two months because I think finding cute things for a girl is SO much easier. 

In My Mailbox:
I'm going to miss Amazon Prime so much (we got it for groceries, but never used it for that). Anyway- new four subject notebook (I like them color coded for to-dos, other lists, ect.), feelings game cards for Annie, and a new ice bag because mine Cookie gave me a few Christmases back (best present ever for a headache sufferer!) got a leak.

In My Cart:
I've used so much lotion and even straight Vasaline and nothing was working on my split thumbs and pointer finger. And poor Peyton's knuckles were cracked and bleeding. Apparently what works for boobs ravaged by an infant works for hands ravaged by the Northeast. Which does make perfect sense. 

Around the City:

Annie had her last class at Brooklyn Ballet and we got to come for Observation Day. It was a little emotional, to be honest.

Peyton and I also saw a show!!! A (very generous) co-worker gave us Broadway tickets and I was searching for a babysitter until the LAST MINUTE. But we worked it out and we have a good time seeing On the Town!  

We also got to go see David Zahl speak about his new book and that was super exciting (like I had several "moments"). Dave is the creative genius behind Mockingbird, which is just an amazing blog/conference that has done so much for my faith. 

And while we didn't get the projected "historic blizzard", we got a good six inches of snow and that was a blast (for half an hour).

On My Heart:
- It's been a heavy month. And somehow I wonder if they won't all be until we get home and get settled. It's a tension I know won't leave, even though there are so many joyful moments. Because there are so many joyful moments, really.
- I've watched someone I love struggle with something and that's depleting, especially when there's really no end in sight.
- I'm really, really thankful the communities we have here and in Mississippi. We had a scary forecast with literal blizzards projected to come our way and so many friends were checking in on us. I have several friends that have really walked beside me in other big ways this month and that fills my heart to the brim.

In My Prayers:
- I'm trying to pray for more faith in the midst of difficulties and trust God in his providence.
- I'm trying to pray that we will be able to fully immerse ourselves these last few months here.
- I'm trying to pray for patience during these long Winter months.
[I say trying because too often, this is a spiritual discipline that I don't prioritize.]
On the Calendar: 

We have lots of little fun things to explore in February and I'm excited! 

What I'm Into

Tunes for the Month: January

My January list is really short. I actually kind of love them that way. And it's usually my intention, but then I get carried away. Anyway, this list is perfect for me right now. I love so much secular music and it's RARE I create a playlist with nothing but Christian songs, but these all spoke to me and honestly, they are what I need right now. Good, good words. 

1. Before the Throne of God Above- Sojourn
Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea:

A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me...

Because the sinless Savior died,

My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

To look on Him and pardon me...
Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb

My perfect, spotless righteousness,

The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!

I heard this one for the first time at Calvary a few weeks ago and I loved it so much. "A great High Priest, whose name is Love"? Isn't that a perfect description. It's one I'm clinging to right now, for sure. 

2. Come and Sing- Sojourn
I will sing with the voice that is placed in my soul 
so the world will hear what He has done. 
We must sing if our hearts have been changed by our God
let the whole world know that He has come.
Come and sing with the angels to the king.
Come and bring him your song.
Come and sing with the angels to the king
Come and bring Him your own song.
I will walk through the valley but I still hear His voice
for the words of the Lord are in my heart.
I will rise in the morn with the joy that is my strength
remembering the sound of His voice.

So, I looked up this group and found a few others I loved, too. I love the part about still hearing His voice in the valley. 

3. There is a Peace- Sojourn
Come weary and tired worn out from life
Step out of the shadows and walk into the light
Come sinner or saint, slave man or free
Bring blessings and offerings then you shall see
There is a peace to settle your soul
There is a peace that is calling you home
You've been tempted and shaken tested and failed
You've been so far from Jesus and too close to hell
Your vision's been clouded by this world's delight
But I tell you you're not of this world so stand up and fight!
There is a peace to settle your soul
There is a peace that is calling you home
There is a peace perfect and true
The Prince of Peace is calling for you

I love this one about peace for the weary and tired, worn out from life. I love the image of the Prince of Peace calling. And I love the reality that there IS a peace to settle my soul.

4. Beautiful Scandalous Night- Smalltown Poets
Go on up to the mountain of mercy 
To the crimson perpetual tide 
Kneel down on the shore 
Be thirsty no more 
Go under and be purified
Follow Christ to the holy mountain 
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall 
Cleanse your heart and your soul 
In the fountain that flowed 
For you and for me and for all
At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree 
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me 
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white 
On that beautiful, scandalous night
On the hillside, you will be delivered 
At the foot of the cross justified 
And your spirit restored 
By the river that poured 
From our blessed Savior's side

I had this one on a list a few months ago, but I couldn't help but add it because it's one of my favorites. It's just one of the most beautiful pictures of the Gospel I've ever heard in music and it's good to really sit and think about it all sometimes.

5. The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life- Smalltown Poets
Well I see something and
I want it, bam, right now, no questions asked
Don't worry how much it cost me
Now or later I want it want it, babe, and I want it now
I'll go to any length
Sacrifice all I already have, and all that I might get
Just to get something more that I don't need
And Lord please don't ask me what for
The lust, 
the flesh, 
the eyes, 
and the pride of life
Drain the life right out of me

Again, I decided to look up more songs since I loved the previous one so. This was an interesting find. It's interesting for me to think on. Mainly I'm trying to think about training myself to be a different type of consumer. This may not seem spiritual, but it so is. Materialism is one of the sins I struggle most with (and one of the easiest to justify). I need more practice with this and I'm glad these next few years will bring it. 

6. No Kinder Savior- Smalltown Poets 
It's best to meet these things head on, she said
Before too much gets on your mind
Thoughts like books are piling up
Sometimes the lessons don't seem kind
The fighting feelings will get easier
The ones that make your mood stay blue
You have believed the lie for long enough
No kinder Savior comes for you
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Sing the blessings, sing them down
For the one who's ready to give up
No kinder Savior will be found
Sing a song about a higher love
That we would know it at first sight
Sing it loud and long enough
He could make it real tonight
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Sing the blessings, sing them down
For the one who's ready to give up
No kinder Savior will be found
There are few who want this narrow door
Most seekers seek a broader pass
Hoping somehow they are living up
To what any god would ask
And longing for a kinder Savior
From the tyranny of days
There already is a Savior
Yeah, He already leads the way
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Sing the blessings, sing them down
For the one who's ready to give up
No kinder Savior will be found

Oh man, this was just beautiful. The blood mood and all that, it resonated. And I love the lines about singing it loud and long enough and He could make it real. Sometimes we have to sing loud...and long...even when it doesn't feel real. 

7. Fishers of Men- Rhonda Vincent

Peter, John, and James
Could never be the same
After they heard him say
I'll make you fishers of men.
He said, Rise and follow me
I'll make you worthy
Rise and follow me
I'll make you fishers of men.
He said, Rise and follow me
I'll make you worthy
Rise and follow me
I'll make you fishers of men.
Jesus bore the cross
To gather in the lost
Oh what a mighty cost
To set us free from sin.
He said, Rise and follow me
I'll make you worthy
Rise and follow me
I'll make you fishers of men.
He said, Rise and follow me
I'll make you worthy
Rise and follow me
I'll make you fishers of men.

Heard this one last week at Calvary last week and had to rush home to look it up. I LOVE the tune. It's a new favorite. There's something very simple about it, but it almost brings me to tears. I'LL MAKE YOUR WORTHY. Not better. Not without guilt. WORTHY. Wow. And then He makes us fishers of men. Which is an image I've always loved.

8. 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)- Matt Redman
 The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

An old favorite that felt perfect here. 

So that's it! Only eight, but it's the perfect eight, I think. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Focused Ambitions: 2015 Goals

I finally sketched out my goals for 2015-- seven focus areas that include fifty two goals when taken together. In a way, it seems like a lot. But I think many of these goals will be organic things that won't be too difficult and I want here mostly for the reminder to keep striving toward them. Some are repeats from last year- because I need more work or because they were just good things to focus on. One thing I love about this list is that I feel like it's very cohesive. I feel like all these goals point toward my big theme this year which is, of course, FOCUS. I know it's inevitable that I'll fall short and I know there is abundant grace for when I do. This is not meant to a chain that weighs me (or us) down, but a set of goals that will hopefully help propel our family into a  year where our actions, our commitments, our bank accounts, and our time reflect our priorities.

Target Goal Areas:
1. faith
2. family
3. relationships
4. health
5. education/edification
6. finances
7. simplicity
8. joy/gratitude 

I want to grow in my knowledge and love of the Lord and I want to reflect His love and grace to my family and community.
1. start my day with a devotion
2. establish patterns of prayer and keep a prayer list
3. engage in Bible study consistently
4. prioritize books and blogs that nourish my faith
5. once back in Mississippi, establish ourselves in a faithful church community
6. serve our city in some way

I want to nurture and encourage those closest to me and serve them joyfully.
7. pray for Peyton and the children daily- with boldness, authenticity, and faith
8. pray for our extended family
9. set specific goals for each of the children
10. get out with Peyton alone once a month
11. read three books together with Peyton

I want to be a loyal and faithful friend, daughter, and sister. I want to prioritize people above activities and high above things.
12. spent time with people in ways that are meaningful and that make sense
13. establish and execute a tangible system for keeping connected
14. prioritize people over "accomplishing things" and never let a dirty house hinder issuing an invitation
15. continue to make space to communicate over email
16. have our parents over to dinner at least twice
17. prioritize our children's friendships
18. write a handwritten note once a month
19. write our sponsored child monthly
20. make every effort possible to attend each and every wedding we're invited to

I want to work toward healthier habits in all areas- physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
21. continue taking weekly food challenges
22. plan meals and cook regularly
23. exercise three times a week
24. establish patterns of silence and stillness in my day
25. daily practice some form of self-care
26. explore the things that "center" and relax me
27. continue to create monthly playlists
28. search for, and surround myself with, inspiration
29. practice patience

I want to learn new skills and strengthen my mind. I want to contribute to society and I want to teach my children well. 
30. Ready twelve books on varying and diverse topics
31. watch twelve documentaries
32. learn some form of hand sewing
33. use my sewing machine
34. use my big camera weekly (in addition to weekly family pictures)
35. set educational goals for each child
36. decided what I want our homeschooling curriculum to include, in addition to math and English, and execute
37. be specific in my read aloud goals
38. teach the children a hymn each month
39. sign Annie and Graves up for one extra curricular activity each

I want to practice good stewardship and save like never before with an end goal in mind.
40. spend money on necessities, with a few exceptions
41. discuss even small purchases with Peyton
42. make the most of opportunities that are free or low cost
43. appreciate the ways the Lord will use this sort of discipline to sanctify me

I want our lives to be marked by simplicity and I want to be satisfied by a life that is distinctively simple
44. do a complete purge of our house in Mississippi shortly after moving back
45. be very discriminating in the activities we commit to and the purchases we make
46. challenge myself to hold things loosely
47. examine ways to better manage my time

I want to cultivate a more thankful spirit and live with joyful abandon.
48. make thankful lists at times other than the month of November
49. find other specific ways to express thankfulness
50. learn how to be content without buying things
51.  be vulnerable in telling others how thankful I am for them
52. surround myself with words, music, and people that bring joy

So, there they are! I'm really excited about working toward them and also in general about our year of FOCUS. I think it's going to be a good one!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hopeful Ambitions: 2014 Goals Recap

So, before I share my goals for the current year, I thought I'd revisit the 2014 goal list and see how I did. Here they are:


1. Cook dinner three times a week at a minimum and start meal planning. Hmm. Well, we got better at cooking and I'd say we averaged three times a week. We didn't really commit to meal planning until actually right here recently. I still think we have a LONG way to go, but I've seen some improvement.

2. Read 30 books between now and January 1, 2015. This is probably the biggest joke on the whole list. That would be a hard nope. I read exactly nine books this year:
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions-  Brennan Manning 
Immersion Bible Study: Psalms- J. Clinton McCann
A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live- Emily Freeman
Many Ways to Say I Love You: Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rodgers- Fred Rogers
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child- Jonh Gottman
Real Sex- Lauren Winner
Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit- Henri Nouwen 
On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 - Gerhard O. Forde
To be honest, I find this pretty disappointing. Seeing how I started in April, I basically averaged one a month. I'm not going to be so ambitious this coming year, but I want to do better.

3. Start a goodreads account for myself (and one for the kids). I did do this (I actually just have a kids "shelf" on my account) and it's been fun to keep up with.

4. Watch 10 new documentaries between now and January 1, 2015. I watched seven (including one made for kids)
The Loving Story
Slavery By Another Name
Brooklyn Boheme
Terms and Conditions May Apply
Prom Night In Mississippi 

And also these, which are documentaries in a sense:
Nancy and Tonya
The Price of Gold 

5. Practice some form of self-care daily. I (probably) did this daily. I wish I was a little more intentional with it and noticed the time and grace I was giving myself. I also wish that this looked healthier (coming in the form of a bubble bath instead of a dessert).

6. Learn to navigate the subway by myself. Well, I knocked this one out of the park. No, not really. Some days it's still hard. Really hard. But I've made it (and the buses, which honestly can be more complicated, but are really more desirable or necessary for some trips) work for us and it's really given me a lot of confidence in myself.

7. Get my nose pierced. Yep, and I've LOVED it.

I feel pretty good about my personal goals. And in some areas (like transit) I feel stellar. The only one that really bothers me is the reading goal. 


8. Have weekly planning/budget meetings with Peyton. This didn't happen really at all. Our budget up here was intentionally the loosest it's been in our marriage and so I don't really think that it necessitated weekly meetings. The weeks we did plan out together were far and above our most successful, happy ones in the city.

9. Have a designated lesson planning time each week. I started out really strong with this and then just naturally it sort of evolved into something different. Right now, I spend about twenty minutes, give or take, looking over the days lessons and listening what I want to accomplish. I really think it works better that way right now. At some point, I'll probably need to move to something different, but I've loved that part of my routine over the last six months or so.

10. Back up blog(s) monthly. Well, no. I back them up somewhat frequently (every few months when I think about it), but I wish I was more consistent about it.

11. Consistently upload pictures to the external and Flikr. Again, NO. Like I'm way behind. There are things I prioritized high above that this year, and that's fine (best, really), but I'd like to do better. I did keep up pretty consistently with my blog and I've kept up to date with adding monthly Facebook albums.

12. Work through Storyline and figure out if I could benefit from using a tool like these Power Sheets. I didn't do it. And I really have no excuse.

I'm a little disappointed in my organizational goals, to be honest. I like to make these things a priority because it makes me feel less stressed, but if there's an area to fail in, this would probably be my preferred one. 


13. Email Darlene (my close friend/mentor) weekly. I looked back over our emails and it averaged closer to monthly than weekly. Honestly, I'm okay with that, though, because they were meaningful and I felt like they kept us connected to the extent I NEEDED to be. Also, I've ended up emailing with two other close friends from home. One is a more recent thing, the other has been going on for awhile. One of these is a multiple times a week thing and the other is an almost daily thing.

14. Call/text a friend from home weekly. I didn't do this and I wish I had made more time for it, but as I said I've connected really deeply with some Mississippi friends through email and honestly, that's really a better platform for conversations at this point in my life.

15. Call Minnie on most weeknights that Peyton works. I didn't do this at all and it's been surprisingly okay. I talk to my mom a lot less than I thought I would (once or twice a week sometimes, sometimes more). I'm usually just kind of peopled out by the end of the day and I know that if I call we'll end up talking a long time. Which is great. I love it. But it can't be an almost every night thing for me. I do want to try to do better in these last few months here.

16. Write a hand written note twice a month. I didn't do this at all. It would have been really nice and I had plenty of opportunities to do it.

17. Write our sponsored child monthly, at a minimum. Not even close. Ugh. One of my most disappointing items on the list, especially because I had big plans to get the kids involved.

Again, I feel pretty good about these. Though I changed them up a bit, I think the spirit of the goals was met. I do feel really horrible about no writing to our sweet little World Vision girl more, though. 


18. Pray for Peyton and the children daily- in specific, passionate, and authentic ways. This is an area I think I could improve in, but the truth is I could always find room to improve in this area. I think I saw improvement this year and that's what matters to me.

19. Read to the children daily. I didn't really have to make this a goal, I don't guess, but I wanted to the reminder to prioritize it. As other schoolwork takes up more and more space in our lives, I want this to remain a priority. And I think it has.

20. Have a "date" (take-out) twice a month with Peyton. We didn't do this, but I'm okay with it. We honestly haven't found as many places we love as we did in Jackson (yes, I realize the irony that we prefered restaurants in Central Mississippi to New York City, but it is what it is).

21. Read five books together with Peyton. We read one book together and I read one book shortly after Peyton finished it. That is actually more than I realized until I started thinking about it. I would have liked to have read more together, and I'm sure that will be a goal for this year.

22. Prayerfully consider the next steps in family planning and decide in what direction we will move in that regard once we arrive home. We did this and as well as considering schooling, financial stuff, and where (in the Jackson area) we'd live. I feel like we're at a really good place and a place of peace. We are trying to figure out where (as in which Walgreens) Peyton will be working and also his schedule, but those things will fall into place.

23. (***See NYC Family Goals)


24. Daily pray, read Reflections for Ragamuffins and do some form of Bible study. I feel like my prayer live has developed a good bit, I've been reading my devotional regularly and loving it (though, I haven't always this year) and I have been doing a Bible study, but not as consistently as I'd like.

25. Find a temporary church home in BK- one that is manageable when I'm on my own with the children. Again, we knocked this one out of the park. No, in all honesty, though, the Lord did. We found not one, but two communities that we adore, and that I've been able to manage getting to with the kids when Peyton works.

26. Privately journal prayers and thoughts more often. I didn't really do this and actually Peyton mentioned just the other day that he thought it would be helpful for me. I think he's right and I should work on that.

27. Find some form of missional service to be regularly involved in around Brooklyn, or in the surrounding boroughs. We did! We became pretty enamored with the raw, genuine, earnest way we saw others serving at A House on Beekman and it was our great privilege to join alongside these new friends in ministry.

Obviously, this would be a category where it would be deeply important for my goals to reflect my heart and I think they did and I think I was mostly successful and that feels good. However, it also feels good to be at a place where I know, more than ever, that my worth is not tied to accomplishing anything and especially in this area, it has been accomplished. 


28. Take advantage of writing workshops, classes, ect. in the city.
Eh, I did this once. Well, really twice. One of much more beneficial than the other, though. I did do a lot of learning, though, I think (programs at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Mockingbird, and a photography class, for example). This is only relevant because I was just simply only willing to be away from my family so much this year. So, I feel really good about this.

29. Blog 4-5 times a week. Mostly, yes.

30. Write "creatively" at least weekly. Probably not even half the time. This will always be a goal (or at least it seems like it will be for the foreseeable future) because even though it's can be labor intensive, it's such an important part of me.

31. Become intentional about commenting on others' blogs. Eeek. I went in waves. And never very strong ones. I wish I had done better.

32. Read three books about writing/creativity. Not really. I read some good writers and I read Nish Wiseth's book about Story, but that was less about writing and more about just sharing your story.

33. Take pictures with my real camera at least once a week (in addition to the family picture). I failed miserably at this one. Actually, the failure could only be surpassed by...

34. Teach myself some form of hand sewing (probably cross-stitching). There was really no reason to add this to any list during the one year of my life when I live away from Minnie: picture smocking extraordinaire, crochet queen, crossstich boss. I mean WHY?

So, yeah, my blogging/creative goals was another area I could have done a good bit better in. 

***Now for the asterisks on number 23....we have some goals specifically for this year in the city. We have a few for "days off", but they're sort of included above (reading a certain amount, cooking a meal, and Peyton and I do our Bible studies together), so I'm just sharing the monthly and weekly goals. Anyway, here they are: 


- Meet up with new friends (i.e. we have several "friend of a friends" and shallow connections and we'd love to make those relationships more meaningful). Ideally, this will turn into more than once a month. We did this at least once a month, I'd say. And that has been really amazing.

- Do two "city walks". Not really. We've just found so many other interesting, exciting things to do. I don't have any regrets about not getting these in.

- Get outside our borough. What? This one is so funny in retrospect. We get into the city at least weekly, I'd say and we venture up to the Bronx a good bit to help out with A House on Beekman. We've been to Queens exactly once and never to Staten Island and that seems just about right.

- Be involved in some sort of missional activity at least twice a month. It was really weekly in 2014 and serving in the South Bronx is one of the things I'll forever remember about NYC.


- Go on at least one educational outing. I think we did really well with this one. We joined three museums (The Met, the Museum of Natural History, and the Children's Museum here in Brooklyn). We went to those a good bit (well, really not as much The Met) and we've done alot of other random things that popped up.

- Make a trip to either the (a) library or the Brooklyn Children's Museum. We didn't do this weekly all year. During some stretches, I'd say for sure we did. But when we didn't, I think it was because we were busy with other good stuff.

- Go on at least one "long" walk (two miles or more). Being married to Peyton made this a reality =) We walk two miles to church and back on the weekends he's with us. So that's four miles. It's nothing for us to walk a mile somewhere and a mile back. That probably sounds like no big deal to most people, but I'm in much better shape than I've been in a good long while.

- Try one new restaurant/eatery. Again, no. That has been one of the few struggles with kids here. Spaces are just small and we have this big stroller a lot of the time and it's much more difficult to pop in a place than in Mississippi. We probably averaged two new places a month at first and now probably one a month. Also because it just gets easier to go back to your favorite places you know work well. 

- Attend church. Definitely. Both places on most Sundays. I'm not going to lie, especially when Peyton is working, but really in general, Sunday is our hardest day. And I know for some people that wouldn't sit right. But it's been beautiful for us, really. We've gained so much from our two communities and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

So, I think we did REALLY well on our goals specific to the city. And quite honestly, it's partly because of that that some other things fell by the wayside. That's okay. We only have a year here and I feel like we prioritized things very close to the best way we could. Obviously, there are a few things I'd change if I could go back, but that's what this year is for =)

It's been a great year and as far as this kind of thing is concerned, one of my best (if not the best) yet. We (mostly) lived our priorities and we loved well and that is a lot to say for a year!