Saturday, May 30, 2015

Weekly Happenings #318 (April 27-May 3)-- Farewell, Brooklyn / Hello, Mississippi

Well, I'm finally back at it. I think I have four of these to catch up on. Whew! It took a long time to get the floors in and get settled, my dad took my computer to work to fix it, then our WiFi stopped working for awhile.

Also, I don't think I had the mental energy to do it even if that all hadn't been the case. And honestly, I'm kind of glad I'm just now doing this one in particular. It was hard looking at the pictures of Brooklyn as I uploaded them, but I know it would have been much harder a week or so ago. I'm at a much better place.

Reading back over this, I can't believe it's been a month since we drove back from Brooklyn. It seems like it was just yesterday, but also like it was a really long time ago. I have a bunch of pictures I took with our good camera, mostly on our last day there, and I'm going to post them separately later.

Anyway, our last half week in Brooklyn and our first few days back here (which of course was almost a month ago):

I had been so emotional on Sunday and had had a restless night and Peyton let me sleep late on Monday. He actually got up and started getting some things together for the trip home. When I did get up I cooked some chicken spaghetti and took my bath. We all had lunch and then got ready and headed to the Museum of Natural History one last time. We had a wonderful last visit and stayed almost until it closed.
last time to visit the condors

last time to visit the Native Americans

last time to visit the steggie 

Bonus: we got to see "Tiny Giants", an awesome 3D movie about mice and chipmunks and their adventures in the wild

After that, we headed to a new park I had on my list to check out. It turned out that it closes at five thirty. We picked up a snack and headed to the Piers to the "pirate ship playground". It was pretty late at that point but I looked online and it didn't list hours for that playground. I was pretty sure it was probably open until dark. The kids played for a bit and we had our snacks and then some guy came to clean up and lock the park (it was close to dusk). He told us he was actually forty five minutes late. So we had lucked out getting to play at all. We headed home and ate a little more and got the kids to bed. I did a load of laundry and got on the computer a bit and also straightened some.

On Tuesday we had a laid back day. We got up and got ready and headed to Cousin John's for our last brunch there. After that, we went back to the piers and played at some of our faovrite playgrounds- the one that's a huge sandbox, the swing playground, and the ones with the gigantic slides. We stayed a LONG time and I actually read a bunch while we were there. We came back home and bathed and fed the kids and Peyton met some friends for dinner. I got some stuff ready to pack and got the kids to bed and got on the computer. The kids were really restless and would not settle. Peyton actually got home before they fell asleep. I started more laundry and got on the computer and went to bed.

Wednesday was our last day. Peyton had some errands to run and the kids slept late. I  got up around ten and took my bath and then got the kids to pick up toys and trash in the living room and fold laundry with me. I packed some and Peyton got home and we did more packing. We all got ready and headed to Underwood Park for a bit and then to Fort Greene Park. It was a BEAUTIFUL day and spending it in our neighborhood ended up being the perfect decision.
We didn't do anything we planned our last day in Brooklyn- instead we hung around the neighborhood and mostly pent it at Fort Greene Park. I took lots of pictures. It was the PERFECT day there- the weather was fabulous; a park ranger had recently been hired to share historical facts and give tours; there were people shooting yoga/acrobatics videos, a guy drumming, and some people walking on a low tight rope they had constructed between trees; and in the background someone was playing the bagpipes beautifully (I mean, really?). It was the epitome of our amazing, eclectic neighborhood. I'm so grateful we got to call it home for a bit. (And of course Annie found an eagle statue and talked to it and hugged it multiple times). 

We picked up cupcakes and Peyton made the kids french toast for dinner. He left for a last Olmstead Salon and I played with the kids and got them ready for bed. I packed up a bit more and got on my phone (we had already taken back our wireless router). Peyton got home and we spent a couple of hours getting everything ready for the next day.
Our last night of all this. I was so excited for the janky motel the next night (Peyton had already told me that it had mixed reviews and a Waffle House attached to it) and an actual mattress. Also, it's hysterical to me (especially given all the stuff I crammed into it) how Peyton's sleeping bag took up like 85 percent of the room). 

Peyton woke up on Thursday and got ready and then woke me up and went to get the van. I got ready and consolidated everything and then cleaned the fridge when I realized I had never gotten to it and Peyton was going to be later than we had guessed. I helped the kids get breakfast and then Peyton got back. It took us several trips to load the van and but we finally got on the road.
Farewell, Brooklyn! We loved you so. 

We made it out of Brooklyn and out of New York and through New Jersey. We had lunch and got stuck in a lot of traffic in Pennsylvania. We got back on the road and drove and drove.
Lots of talking to this guy about keeping his straps on and buckle buckled after being really out of practice. He asked us "Can Momma or Papa unstrap you at your stop?" We told him yes, we could when we stopped the car. He said "but I mean at OUR STOP". We finally figured ot that he thought that the van would make regular, predetermined stops like the subway train. 

The rental van was amazing, but I could have done without the underwear someone left in the backseat. Graves thought it was the funniest thing in the world, though. I love living with a four year old boy. 

Steggie at the helm (always Steggie)

 We left at ten that morning and stopped at a motel at two in the morning on Friday. I think we stopped for gas and potties about four times plus once for dinner (we had lots of snacks and produce in the car). It was a long day, but overall it went great!
I sobbed in Peyton's arms the night before we left and to my mom on the phone that morning. I had a terrible headache for the better part of the day and we hit some rain (predictable in regards to the headache) and were stuck in a bunch of awful traffic that really slowed us down. It might as well have been prom night all over again from the looks of my chin. I had no idea when we moved that saying goodbe would be so hard and take so much out of me. BUT these two angels were FANTASTIC. They spent fifteen(!!!) hours in the car and without any movies (because dumb momma was dumb and shipped them all ahead to Mississippi), limited snacks when we were actually driving (because we were in a rental), a a pretty small amount of toys (because we purposely didn't keep much in BK when we shipped our other stuff). Very little fussing and compliaing and shockingly we didn't hear much from the kitties either. These children are so much more flexible than I was as a little girl. Honestly, they're often more flexible than I am at thirty. Id'd love to take credit for parenting practices that encourage this, but more than that I think it's their sweet spirits and God's good grace. 

We got up and got ready pretty quickly just in time to be out of the hotel and on the road by eleven on Friday. We stopped and got gas and a Coke and got moving. We didn't hit any road work, it was a beautiful day, and we only stopped ONCE (unbelievable since it was a seven hour trip with two little kids).

She squishes her long legs up and all of a sudden I see a little bitty girl again. Also: I never thought I'd think seven hours in the car with two kids seemed like a fast trip, but after the day before it totally did. 

And this guy was a joy again!

Perfect first picture back in the Sip. Brooklyn Boy morphed into Huck Finn at some point after crossing the Mason-Dixon line. 

So far, we had heard "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow" and "Might Be a Little Dust on the Bottle" and apparently Brooklyn Dad morphed into David Lee Murphy. 

The trip went by quickly (again, blows my mind that I would ever say that about a seven hour trip with two kids, but after the day before it seemed short). We ate lots of snacks and listened to music and the kids did get a little restless, but not bad. We finally made it!
Hello, Mississippi! We missed you so. 

We got home around six and unpacked the van, visited with a few neighbors, and tried to drop off the van. Neither car would crank, so Peyton's dad came and picked us up and helped us get the van returned. He dropped us off at my parents' house and we had red beans and rice.
Friday night beans and rice!

We spent the night there so we wouldn't have to make my parents cart us back and forth and they were keeping the kids the next day. We all went to bed pretty early (well, eleven for the me and the kids and about nine for Peyton).

Saturday was a busy day. Peyton got up early and then got me up and we got ready and left before the kids even woke up.
Peyton snapped these beautiful shots. I was most assuredly NOT up to see the sun come up. 

My dad took us by Chick Fil A and dropped us off at home. Peyton called a locksmith because I only have an automatic clicker to open my car doors so we couldn't get them open and his car was blocked by the moving cubes. I took a quick bath and then Peyton's dad came over and helped us unload.
Tip of the iceberg

The guy came over to unlock the car and we got that taken care of. I sorted boxes while Peyton and his dad unloaded. We took a break for snacks and to visit some and then worked some more on the big stuff. Peyton's dad left and we got a lot of the kitchen stuff unpacked. We took the car to air up the tires, dropped by Walgreens to pick up some papers, and then headed to my parents. We ate supper with them again and then loaded up the kids to come home. Graves fell asleep in the car and we tranferred him and got Annie to bed. We did a little more work on the house and went to bed.
HBD to this adventurer. Glad I get to do it all with him. (Oh, I didn't mention it was his birthday? Ha!)

I was so discouraged on Sunday morning. I had gotten out the kids' clothes for church but I couldn't find some of mine (I coudln't find a bra that wasn't a sports bra and I was so flustered). I was also just really sad missing our churches in NYC. And I was SO tired. We decided to just stay home and I was somewhat better by lunch. We worked on going through stuff we had left in the kids' old room when we moved and they played really well. We fixed them lunch and then took them to drop them off with Peyton's dad. Peyton visited with his brothers for a good bit and then we headed out.
More grandparent time! I'm excited for shorts and no socks and he was exited to wear his John Deere shirt and play with his granddaddy and his papa's old toys. I'd be lying if I said this transition was easy (and I"m so thankful for friends who fill my ears with Gospel truth when I'm too weak and sad and anxious to go anywhere and hear it) but we are where we are supposed to be. And this feels right and true. For right now anyway. 

Peyton and I had a nice afternoon- we had lunch at Newks and chatted and worked on the house. I got a bunch of the kids' clothes hung up and then we picked them up. We brought them home and they played in the yard for awhile and then we got them to bed. I sent an email after Peyton finally got our Internet set up and went to bed around midnight.

I'm looking forward to sharing more of our last month's adventures and I'm glad to be back in my blogging routine!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Learning to Live (Here) Again

I've told several people that I'm finally feeling a *small* sense of normalcy. It's like a taste of what life could be like not in a state of emotional overwhelm. I'll probably write more about it, but coming home has been so much more difficult than I thought. Some of that is circumstances totally unrelated to the move, some of that is "reverse culture shock", and some of it is deeply missing a place I loved more than I even knew.

But some of it was just living in a chaotic state for a month. Over the last week, I've had the energy and desire to finally put back into place some good habits and to ease us back into a routine, even as I try to pour many of my energies into purging and consolidating and finding spots for displaced items. Doing this has brought its own sense of peace.

I've gone to the grocery store a couple of times and I've marveled at the ease of it all. Urban living was never truly easy for me and I knew in this season, with small children, being here is going to help me maintain my sanity. I found my CDs in a box and I moved them into my car and I remembered the simple joy of turning up the music every time I got in my car.

I cooked dinner last night and I'm thinking I may actually cook a meal again tonight. This is a really good post about how to make times of stress less stressful and heck, you don't have to tell me twice to just make sandwiches for dinner until I can keep my head above water for more than two minutes. So I feel like the preparing of some lame creamy chicken casserole with like five ingredients and the cooking of exactly two vegetables meant something about my mental state.

There have been a handful of things I've been so anxious about finding as we unboxed things and they didn't seem to appear. I've found most everything I was worried about and the few things I haven't are things that have been lost since before the move and are relatively easily to replace.

I'm also making peace with the fact that the house isn't likely going to look just how I want it to until like the end of Summer (or like ever). This is difficult because when we moved to Brooklyn, we set up everything immediately and got to work just living. Here we're trying to sort through things and do major purging in a way that's wise, we got new floors put in, we switched rooms with the kids, and we just have more space to work with (clearly). I've come to terms that it's going to be a process and it's going to be a messy one. I can't put my life on pause completely and now that the house is mostly functional we're just going to have to do what we can as we can without sacrificing really important things like playing with the children and getting together with people we love.

Speaking of, we've seen almost all our close friends by now and despite having SO much left undone with the house, we spent huge chunks of Memorial Day weekend with our families. We have so much history here and so much of that is relational. That's been by far the most important thing about coming home and I'm determined to give people priority in our life.

Routine and ritual are huge for me and I don't know why I didn't realize HOW much of the pain and fear and grief I was feeling upon our return had to do with just being totally distanced from those things. I picked my two favorite devotional books (pictured above) for the first time in nearly a month and when I read them a calm washed over me. It was just what I needed to hear and I was so reassured.

We're also back to having a mandatory rest time for the kids on most days. The first day, Graves really struggled. Let me tell you, reprogramming your super attached second child after a month being not being unconnected from at least one family member is actually Hell. But we did it and we're gradually readjusting. It's getting better every day. I'm also forcing myself to use that time FOR myself. At least for right now, I'm not using it to work on the house or anything that's not beneficial for helping me maintain an inner sense of calm.

I finally got all our pictures uploaded and organized and I hope this post will be the one that marks a true return to blogging. I've missed it probably more than I even know and it's definitely one of the most important ways I process things. I'm going to catch up on a month of Weekly Happenings posts and then in June probably get back to normal blogging (and write both of kids' last two monthly letters). I'm also getting back into my routine of reading blogs and I'm planning to start listening to a few podcasts weekly.

I'm brave enough now to think about my goals and while a lot of those for the near future have to do with just organizing and reestablishing our lives here, there are other things I'm dipping my toes into. I'm planning to make a Summer Reading List for myself and possibly for the kids and I've already set up a weekly time to walk with a friend. We're going to plan specific times to go teach the kids to swim and I'm really looking forward to hopefully lots of time at the pool (which was one of our incentives to spend Summer here rather than one more in Brooklyn).

I'm learning more and more who my safe people are. Not that most people aren't helpful and encouraging, but I'm learning who I truly feel comfortable sharing ANYTHING with (and often it's not who I'd expect at first) and maybe for the first time, I'm really drawing boundaries and protecting them better.

It feels really good to be at a place of peace and contentment. I'm ready to start living life again. Just in time for a beautiful (if not excruciatingly, painfully hot) Mississippi Summer!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Learning to Rest Even When You Are Awake

I took this picture today and shared on Instagram: 
Just came in for a lickity split bath and bedtime. This is a record, even for thes folks. We shoved them outside around ten when the floor guys got here and there was really nowhere for them to be and thy've been out there, without complaint, since then. Then or so consecutive hours with only potty breaks for AP (Graves used a tree because otherwise what's the point of having a backyard?). I don't ask God for signs much but I also do try to seek Him in the every day. It may seem trivial or like I'm reaching, but ten consecutive hours seemed like the magic number confirmation I needed that this is home from right now. I don't know that there's a better thirtieth birthday present to be had. (And that doesn't mean I won't still have hard days or miss Brooklyn so y'all be patient with me.)


Yesterday, I got this post typed out but felt uneasy hitting publish:

SD: "It seems like it was forever eternity."
Peyton: "Yeah. It seems like it was a long time ago."
SD: "It feels like it was all a dream."
SD: {grumbles about my dad}
Peyton: "Well, it was nice of your parents to keep the kids on such short notice."
SD: "Well, it was nice of us to move home from a place we loved a lot so they could be near their grandchildren."

Both of these conversations involved me devolving quickly into tears. The second also involved some guilt and shame. 

Several people have told me that it will be fine and I'll adjust back and that Brooklyn was an adjustment. But the truth is, while Brooklyn was an adjustment and I never fully adjusted I don't think, it was a much easier adjustment than I expected. So far this has proven to be much harder than expected. So the comparision doesn't totally line up.

I found one that feels better. The other day I was talking to Carrie and we were talking about how moving is just hard- weather it's across the country or across town. How unsettled you feel in your own space and how you crave routine so much your emotions get all out of sorts. 

Then I was reminded of something. I remembered another really hard time. Harder than any move. I remembered when Graves was a tiny baby and I just felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. Annie had morphed into a totally different child and he was a very different baby than her. Every emotion I had felt raw and too intense to take. It was a challenging time...even a scary time.

The beautiful thing was a hard thing and it came at a cost. I had to give up what I had with just Annie. Honestly, I had to sort of give up the kind of child she was before she had a sibling. I had to give up being really inflexible and being really in control. I was telling a friend just today how even though Annie fights to be in control a lot more these days, as a baby he is the one who caused me let go of a lot of my assumptions and preferences and opinions on the "right" way to do things weather that had to do with sleeping or breastfeeding or potty training. 

I remember back in those earliest days with him really questinioning myself. Questioning if our timing had been off. If maybe we should have waited until Annie was a bit older.

And then feeling such guilt over those feelings. And feeling such guilt over not enjoying enough what I KNEW was a precious gift. 

But I couldn't force it. And after awhile, the good feelings did come. I felt hope and joy and could really see how beautiful the beautiful thing we had was after the fog lifted. There is not a day that goes by now that I question if Baby Graves didn't come to us at exactly the right time. 

So I'm waiting on those feelings. And in the meantime, I'm letting things carry me. The words of treausured friends, Peyton's embraces, the hours the kids are spending relishing in having in our yard, the dreams we have for the next few years here, beautifully mundane things that make the day perfectly worthwhile. 


I'm trusting in what He's shown me for tomorrow. God showed me something bigger today than that this is home (though, as you can see, that's a really big thing). He showed me that I could rest in this and trust Him to make it right in this situation. Right after I typed out that post about "not forcing the feelings", I felt them. Because I rested and I trusted. But he showed me something bigger and broader, in fact, than even that I can trust Him with where home is (and that's a really, really big thing).

He showed me that I can do that with all the situations in my life that seem frightening and paralyzing and daunting. It feels crazy that it's true, but there are one or two situations right now that are even bigger and more terrifying than this (I think I'll probably blog about them this Summer, but I just haven't been up for it yet).

I think I've mentioned this before but one of my very favorite Rain for Roots songs says:
Come to me 
Walk with me 

Learn the rhythms of my grace 

Come to me 

I have all you need 
Learn to rest even while you are awake

There was a season where I sang it to the children literally every night. For a chronic worrier, for someone crippled by anxiety, this felt like a very beautiful expression of love and comfort. It wasn't another guilt trip, another "get it together and feel better", another "your faith is insufficient". It was just a beautiful thought of how the Lord wanted me to be free of those things.

This is something I am decidely bad at- this learning to rest even while I'm awake. And part of what that comes down to is a fear that His grace is not enough. Otherwise, why wouldn't I just rest in it? 

Because I think I can fix things?
Because if I REST the world (or at the very least, my very small- but very important- peice of the world) will stop spinning?
Because GRACE seems absurd and impractical and too insane to be true?
Because I've spent two weeks away from the people who first taught me these things?

I dunno, maybe. 

But today I rested. And tonight, too. Maybe I'm even learning those rhythms a little better. Or learning how to feel them reverberate here. Even when I'm awake. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015


It's been almost ten days since I've blogged and a full week (yesterday) since we arrived home. Both are hard to wrap my mind around.

So many people have asked me how it feels to be back. I have a hard time answering them. A really hard time.

We've had a lot of fun catching up with people and seeing old friends and family (good greif, it's wonderful to be back with our families!) and we're sort of plugging away at getting the house back into shape, but we're getting new floors in the bedrooms a week from Monday and so we're waiting to truly unpack everything and set up the bedrooms until then.

I've been in this weird state. I've been calling it a funk, but it's really more of a fog that a funk. It's super hard for me I've realized, to deal with my house being in this state but also the lack of routine is driving me nuts. Clearly we're not doing school, but the kids aren't having rest time either, Peyton's been off work (good! but not routine) and we've sort of bounced from place to place a lot and tried to get as much done and help the children function as easily as possible.

It's super draining. And I have a lot of emotions (about the move, but also about other things) that I really need to unpack but I just haven't been able to give myself space to do it.

Like I said, we've had a lot of good days and there have definetly been little moments of confirmation that moving home was the right step, but I also find myself questioning it a lot more than I thought I would. I knew I'd grieve leaving Brooklyn, but I didn't think I'd question it much. I felt a strong sense of clarity when we visited in October that this was the right step and that strong, over arching, ever present sense of peace that was there then isn't there now.

Or not yet. I'm reminding myself that during those days, I had a lot more time to sit and think and  while our routines were off, we weren't trying to set back up a home and reconfigure a life. We were actually sort of pressing pause and just enjoying things. Which I hope we can do in a few weeks.

I've missed blogging (ALOT!) and I'll probably be back with some follow up thoughts and more details about the move home what I'm missing back in the city (and hopefully I can catch up on WH posts, letters to the kids, ect. once my big desktop gets set back up- Mickey has been trying to clean it up as it got really slow and not very functional in NYC).