Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What I Learned in September

Linking up with Emily and sharing what I learned this month:

1. The key to a good bowl of tuna salad is about 3/4 of a whole kosher dill pickle. 

The key to a good kosher dill is that it needs to be one of the Claussen ones from the refrigerated section. I've been obsessed with these pickles since I discovered them which was probably circa 1996. I recently started making myself turkey sandwiches with good bread, cheese, Duke's mayo, and these pickles sliced really thin after Peyton made an excellent one for me. Well, then I remembered having tuna salad at a friend's house and how she had dill pickles in it. I usually don't like pickles in my tuna salad (actually, I usually just like tuna, mayo, and a little salt) but I think that's because people typically use sweet pickles and I HATE sweet pickles about as much as I love dill pickles. Well, I tried dicing up the Claussens and y'all-- whole new level of tuna.

2.Sometimes, nothing in the world feels better than the work of your own hands.

 Since we've been home (well, since the house has been functional), this had been the longest I've gone without cleaning the floors (vacuuming everywhere, mopping the kitchen and bathroom, and polishing the wood floors)-- about ten days. Before we moved, I probably did it every two weeks if that. Usually more like three. Sometimes a full month. Living in a tiny space made cleaning more manageable and if I'm being honest, having it sparkly also helped me be content with what I had. And it made me appreciate the heavy vacuum I complained so much about- we had our Shark part of the time but it broke and the we just used a broom and a mop (sidenote: I *finally gave in to Peyton's request for the past seven years to use an updated version of an old school string mop rather than those sponge mops that kept breaking every three months and became gross way before that). 

3. Most words in English won't have more than three consonants in a row, because otherwise it gets to be too difficult for English-speakers to say it...In other languages, like Polish, long strings of consonants are more common. 

4. GroupMe has transformed my long distant/friend group communications. I have this one specific group of friends (me Carrie, and Ashley) and we used to love to group text. When I got my new (crappy, but very affordable) phone/phone plan, group texting hardly ever worked well. Most of the time, I couldn't see Ashley's response, for some reason. Carrie was SO sweet about sending screen shot after screen shot, but it got to where we didn't text as much. My sister was talking about how her and her friends (who all have the latest iPhone, I'm sure) use GroupMe and it occurred to me that it was worth a shot. Y'all, it solved all my problems in this area! And I feel like we've been visiting so much more. Plus, it's super easy to make fun memes:

5. People with soothing voices are so calming to me. I mean, duh. But like if I pay attention, it can change my mood. Someone mentioned in the Sorta Awesome Hangout group on Facebook how amazing Megan's voice is and I one hundred percent agree. Later, a friend used the voice recording feature on the messanger app and I was struck by how soothing her voice was. I've been noticing voices more after those two instances.

6. So many ordinary things saved my Summer (and my life).

7. My husband can throw an amazing surprise party. I shouldn't be surprised at all by this one (pun intended).

8. With our simplicity journey, the biggest thing hasn't been any specific decisions or intentional choices to make sacrifices. The most important thing, by far, has been realigning my priorities. And sometimes the smallest things seem like the most meaningful. I was pretty excited at first about the preview sale of my absolute favorite consignment sale last week. I've been so sad to miss it for two years now. I'm still went to the regular sale the first morning but I skipped the preview sale (an early chance to shop for those who consign and something I used to NEVER would have missed). If I hadn't I would have missed walking with a friend that night and lunch with another friend the next day. I probably could have shuffled things around and rescheduled both, but it felt good to just give those things priority. I want to say that I value relationships over things and I want to live my values. I don't say this to brag, but because it really does feel better to live this way.

9. You have to feed your mantis every one to four day, depending on the species, the type of food you give it, the size of the mantis, the body condition of the mantis (well-fed or skinny) and its life-stage (adult females need more food than adult males). Guys, it's body condition and life stage! We recently became owners of a mantis and Peyton determined its species, gender, and approximate age and thus how to feed it. Who knew?

10. Graves really enjoys using double names for his pets. Before Green Snap (the mantis), we had a very short lived relationship with a bug named Hard Catch, before setting him free (that was prior to acquiring the mantis, otherwise it might have been her dinner).

11. For people with anxiety (especially the kind where you are consumed with stress over what will get done) immersing yourself in the moment, focusing on concrete, physical sensations (e.g. "what do my hands feel like in this warm, soapy water?"), and physically slowing yourself down (e.g. walking or brushing your hair very slowly) can be really beneficial. I heard this on the Anxiety Episode of the Sorta Awesome podcast and I thought it was brilliant (and brave- because I don't even have things that are THAT important to get done and still the idea sort of terrified me).

I'd love to hear what you learned this month!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ordinary Graces: Summer is For

I changed over the kids closet last week, flipped the calendars to their Fall pages a few weeks ago, and have mostly stopped wearing flip flops and sandals. We're slowly dipping our toes into Autumn and one thing I do love about Mississippi is just how slow and gradual the transition is.

I haven't pulled out my boots and I haven't had any pumpkin spiced drinks (I really don't love those anyway and I don't get excited until the peppermint red cups come out). I'm sort of baffled by the people here, in the South, that do. I'm thinking "it's ninety two degrees...just indulge in another month of sno-cones and flats, Girl!". But you do you and embrace what thrills your heart. Dress and drink not for the season it feels like, but the season it is!

I can say truthfully that I'm not as sad to see this Summer go as I have been with the previous two. I was in a funk year before last when it ended and this previous year I honestly mourned it. Both of those previous Summers I considered some of the best days of my adult life. Two years ago, Summer just really slowed us down and, for the first time in a long while, our life didn't feel crowded and overwhelming to me. In a way, I think it was a foreshadowing of the things we'd learn in New York. Then last Summer, we were in Brooklyn, and it was absolutely my favorite time there. There was so much going on and it was just one of the most fun things I've ever experienced. I tried several times, but I never felt I could successfully articulate the sensations of it.

This Summer, as we've purged our possessions and been very protective of our calendars, I've simultaneously felt a lot of crowding in my mental and emotional space. I was completely and totally unprepared for how difficult readjusting to being home would be. I cried every single day for awhile. And Peyton's issues of uncertainty knocked my feet right out from under me. Especially in the beginning, I had a really hard time coping with it. It was a difficult Summer, in many ways.

That said, while I wouldn't count them among my best days and I wouldn't say it was an ideal season, it was joyful in many ways. I wrote here about trust and thankfulness, and I meant every word of it. There have been big things that I've been learning. But, I've also been learning about finding joy in tiny, ordinary things.

This post was really supposed to be about just that-- finding joy and ordinary grace in the little things these past few months. But I had to give the backstory (i.e. share reality).

I was thinking a lot about how I wanted to share those little things- what I would describe and try to convey. And then I realized that I could just share from my IG series- Summer is For.

Most all of these pictures have shown up on the blog before, but I wanted to share them as a collective and it actually seems like the perfect way to share the essence of our first Summer back in Mississippi. So often, these ordinary things were what got me through the long days when the sun refused to sink into the night.

Barbara Brown Taylor asks "What is saving your life right now?" In most every season as far back as I can remember, there has been something big and also a vast array of common graces. In some ways, these things saved my life this Summer.

Summer is for...

...grating Zote outside your back door

...watering your vegetable garden and your blueberry bushes in your pineapple romper (I'm fairly confident this is what Six is for, too) in your grandparents' backyard

...toenail polish. For whoever wants it. I had planned to take it off Graves before the pool and certainly before church. But I decided if I'm going to make this work and going to have any real sense of happiness here, I'm going to have to live like I did there. And I'm almost positive I wouldn't have taken it off in Brooklyn. Not because I thought people would think it was some grand statement on gender identity that they agreed with. Actually, precisely because I don't think most people would see it that way. I think most- strangers and our friends alike- would see a little boy who loves vivid colors, who adores his sister and shares everything with her, and who lives unaware of a world plagued by artificial gender expectations. And that's all. They wouldn't make assumptions about what it says about my opinions or values regarding anything else. And maybe that's the case here. I'm going to try to live fearlessly like I would there and when confronted by differences of opinion engage gracefully. But that's scary. 

...eating tomato sandwiches and corn in the cob at ten at night

...tomato tart on repeat. Minnie suggested I find it in one of my Junior League cookbooks and try it out. It's about as easy as scrambling an egg, it'a a store bought pie crust but it tastes so fresh, and it almost feels a little fancy. Peyton and the kids are obsessed with it too so it's a win by every imaginable standard. 


...veggie dinners.

...squitos that seem to agree with me about who the sweetest little boy in all of the South is

...not the faint of heart. Awhile back, a slug crawled on my foot when I went in the laundry room without turning on the light and today a wasp got in the house (honestly, the slug induced a lot more screeching and wailing). I got the wasp with the counter cleaner and Back to Mississippi hardback. The hardest part was distracting this overly brave fella who really wanted in on the action.

...sweating our tails off. Peyton had been working loooong days at this point and we still hadn't  figured out the car sitch. I told Annie we'd "have" to walk to the park if we went and she said "Of COURSE that's no big deal, Momma. We don't have a car to use but really there are two others reasons to walk: one- it's healthy for our legs and two- the park is so close to our house. She's right of course, but geez it was hot! Anything for that goofy, care-free grin, though!

...milking the jon jons for all they're worth. Anytime I let him choose his own outfit, he picks this whale number that belonged to his cousin. I'll probably call it quits after this Summer (or maybe we'll still do them for church from time to time at five, we'll see ) but I'm grateful Peyton has NEVER given me grief about what I put him in. And that he still looks like such a baby so I get away with a ton (people always guess he's two and AP's four and I'm sure it's partly this get up). And that he's never asked to stop wearing "baby clothes" (perks of homeschooling but it probably also has to do with a solid half of the priests/pastors at churches we've visited and attended telling him they'd like his outfit for themselves; gotta love a good-humored clergyman).

...bubbles, plastic pitchers, Ice Pops, chalk, and birdseed.

...short hair. Kitty cat dress and a fresh bob is my favorite

...homemade pimento cheese and groovy flower plates

...squinty, squeezed goggle faces; Mississippi days so insufferably hot the pool water feels warm; and the way the scorching sun wears you flat out even if you really didn't do much of anything while you were under it 

...sherbert-y Chucks (and organizing shoes)

...Mickey's chicken salad. So glad he figured out how much he loves the kitchen.


...blues and yellows. One of my favorite little side table setups yet. I'll be a little sad to see it go in a few weeks. It's hard to imagine little pumpkins there, but it won't be long. Time moves so fast and I can't believe we've been back exactly four months. I'm sure I'll say this for years, but Brooklyn seems like yesterday and another lifetime all at the same time.

I wrote that "few weeks" part several weeks ago and I've yet to get any little pumpkins out of storage. But it is about time, I'm well aware. As it draws it's last breaths, I'm thankful for this Summer and all it's small graces. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Weekly Smorgasbord

Here's your weekly list:

On Faith:
Posted: 04 Sep 2015 01:21 PM PDT
"Because of the way love operates--dying for rather than killing, serving rather than ruling, giving rather than taking--love cannot create a "steady state" in the moral order. Love will not be consistently "in charge" of an evil world because love will not use violence to forcibly keep dissenting others in line."

Dream House. — Coffee Crumbs
Posted: 05 Sep 2015 02:38 PM PDT
"This is not my dream house. Never will be. But for all its faults this place has seen a lot of dreams come true. So a few years from now, when we pull out of the driveway for the very last time, I'll have tears in my eyes. Tears for all the dreams brought to life here. Tears for all the dreams waiting ahead. But mostly, tears for the God that never abandons this fixer upper, no matter what kind of laminate she's living on."

Posted: 12 Sep 2015 07:36 AM PDT
"Now, I am not an agnostic. I am a Trinitarian theist who worships a resurrected God-man who is, in my opinion, quite a Guy. But I spend a lot of my time doubting what I believe, sometimes holding onto my faith by my nervously trimmed-down fingernails. This is no embarrassment to me, even as a Christian pastor. Faith is hard, and I refuse to pretend otherwise. Pretending that we don't have doubts leads people to overconfidence, arrogance and presumption. It does not challenge us to go any deeper in our intellectual understanding of faith. And it is a terrible apologetic for skeptics who have questions about religion they would never ask us because we are so damn certain they're going to hell and we're not." 

I really appreciate this guy's honesty and vulnerability. Recently, I read a book by a woman who is a pastor's daughter and is married to a pastor and she was begging pastors to be more vulnerable- for themselves and for their communities. But honestly, it's not just in the pulpit. I've been thinking about this alot- how often I am afraid to admit my own doubts and fears and dark places. I also commend him on the way he engages the atheists and agnostics in his comment section and doesn't seem to be threatened by them at all.
Posted: 08 Sep 2015 01:56 PM PDT
"Um, sorry, I know it sounds terrible and some will get their hackles up when I say it, but I firmly believe this—God's not always enough. Sometimes we need people. In the flesh. A living, breathing person...As followers of Jesus and cultivators of the kingdom here on earth, I think "being held" should be offered for free. People shouldn't have to pay for it. People shouldn't have to be starved for it. People shouldn't have to feel guilty for wanting it. People shouldn't question their spiritual dedication for needing it."
Posted: 06 Sep 2015 01:48 PM PDT
"The next thing he said I wrote on a slip of paper in his office and have carried it around with me since. It's our choice, whether to hate something in our lives or to love every moment of them, even the parts that bring us pain. "At every moment, we are volunteers."" 

Beautiful, beautiful piece on Stephen Cobert. His faith is very inspiring to me.

Posted: 06 Sep 2015 01:43 PM PDT
"But Scout is outraged and we, through her eyes, are as well. Atticus Finch is a hero to all of us who grew up on the bleachers with a book in hand—a kind of "Rudy" for the burgeoning literati. He was the first character many readers like myself found who could be admired uncritically. When Atticus shoots dead with one shot a rabid dog trolling toward his children, the idea that power is greatest when demonstrated as restraint became a mantra for my life. I worshipped this man."

On Marriage:
Posted: 06 Sep 2015 01:49 PM PDT
"We were married in the traditional way. Our two families knew each other, so a meeting was arranged. We'd never met. He came to my house with his mother, and we went to a room for two hours and talked. We talked about our expectations, our idea of love, and our plans for the future. I thought about it for two days, then I sent him a text message, saying: 'Let's do it.' And he wrote back: 'Alright, my dear.'"
Posted: 06 Sep 2015 01:10 PM PDT
"Shortly after we were married, I got tuberculosis and rashes broke out all over my body. They smelled so bad that I had to be cleaned three times a day. She always made me fresh food and made sure I had clean clothes every time I bathed. One morning, during this time, she asked me: 'Would you do the same if I got sick?' I promised her: 'I'll do even more.' She died a few years ago from a brain tumor. She was in bed for the last three years of her life. Toward the end, she couldn't identify people. Water from her brain would drain from her eyes. I ran home from the shop three times a day to help her go to the bathroom. I was always sure to turn her. She never had a single bedsore. In the end, the doctor told me: 'It would not have been possible to take better care of her.'" 

And I so often grumble about doing such little things for Peyton.

On Syria:
Posted: 16 Sep 2015 01:58 PM PDT
""Black Sunday" is what Douma residents call Aug. 16. At least 122 people died in one of the war's deadliest air attacks, on a vegetable market, according to rescue officials, the Syrian Network for Human Rights and other monitoring groups." A heartbreaking look at daily life.

On Swimming Pools:
Posted: 29 Aug 2015 01:51 PM PDT
"Today, that complicated legacy persists across the United States. The public pools of mid-century—with their sandy beaches, manicured lawns, and well-tended facilities—are vanishingly rare. Those sorts of amenities are now generally found behind closed gates, funded by club fees or homeowners' dues, and not by tax dollars. And they are open to those who can afford to live in such subdivisions, but not to their neighbors just down the road." Just some interesting thoughts. I get that government can grow too large and certainly I don't think a pool is a basic human right or anything, but one thing I did LOVE about NYC was the availability of the public pools and how it leveled things out a lot (guess what? you can hardly have a backyard, so no you can't have a private pool and guess what? private SCHOOL costs half your paycheck so no you're probably not joining a country club). I liked for our neighbors' kids in "Section 8 Housing" to get to enjoy Summer just as much as my small people did and I liked that this was one of the many instances (public transit, public playgrounds, ect. being others) that forced us to interact with people that weren't just like us.

On Processing:
Posted: 17 Aug 2015 10:46 PM PDT
"Let's take the long way home. Let's embrace the silence to consider. Let's give ourselves permission to think, to listen, to be sure."

On Creativity:
Posted: 28 Aug 2015 12:47 PM PDT
"If you feel empty, just know there's plenty of beauty and truth out there for you to find and present with your unique voice. Everybody polishes the pottery differently. Find it, clean it up and show it to the world and they'll likely think you're a genius."

On Wounds:
Posted: 28 Aug 2015 12:22 PM PDT
"Maybe "Time heals all wounds" is true. I don't know. Or maybe we should be less concerned about the wound and more concerned about the kinds of people that this mixture of "time" and "wound" is transforming us into."

On (Poking a Little Fun at) Literature, Music, Art, and Fashion:
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Required Reading Essay Questions Written By a First-Year Adjunct Who Does Not Have the Time or Wherewithal to Do the Required Reading.
Posted: 29 Aug 2015 01:25 PM PDT
"In The Sun Also Rises what, in addition to the sun, also rises? Is it the rent? I bet it's the rent. Why is the rent so high?"
Posted: 18 Aug 2015 10:20 AM PDT
Posted: 07 Sep 2015 02:08 PM PDT
So funny.
Posted: 28 Aug 2015 01:17 PM PDT
Funny spoof on fashion trends.

On Brooklyn Ridiculousness:
Posted: 29 Aug 2015 02:02 PM PDT
Oh, Brooklyn. I miss you so much, in spite of how utterly absurd you are.

On Phonics:
Posted: 16 Sep 2015 02:07 PM PDT
"There are strings of consonants that are sometimes written like full words, like "hmm." However, these are just sounds rather than actual words. You will also find that most words in English won't have more than three consonants in a row, because otherwise it gets to be too difficult for English-speakers to say it. There are exceptions, of course—take the word "strengths" for example, which has a string of five consonants (though it only has three consonant sounds in a row: ng, th, and s). In other languages, like Polish, long strings of consonants are more common." Phonics is nuts, y'all.

On Fun Experiments:
Posted: 07 Sep 2015 02:15 PM PDT
I pinned this, but it looks so fun I wanted to share it here, too!

Noteworthy Quotes from the Week (or Month):

"I like a friend who asks a hard question and does not predicate the continuation of friendship upon receiving an agreeable answer." -Seth Haines 

"The world teaches us daily that we get what we deserve. That's why, daily, we need to hear the Gospel: God gives us what Christ deserved." -Nick Lannon

"Popular morality does not equal Christian—America has never been a Christian nation, but a popularly moral one. Popular morality changes. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes toward more Christian views. If you keep that in perspective, it's a lot easier to not get in Facebook fights. I'm sure it helps with digestion, too." -Preston Yancey

"There is a myth flourishing in the church today that has caused incalculable harm: once converted, fully converted. In other words, once I accept Jesus Christas my Lord and Savior, an irreversible, sinless future beckons. Discipleship will be an untarnished success story; life will be an unbroken upward spiral toward holiness. Tell that to poor Peter who, after three times professing his love for Jesus on the beach and after receiving the fullness of the Spirit at Pentecost, was still jealous of Paul's apostolic success. Often I have been asked, 'Brennan, how is it possible that you became an alcoholic after you got saved?' It is possible because I got battered and bruised by loneliness and failure; because I got discouraged, uncertain, guilt-ridden, and took my eyes off Jesus. Because the Christ-encounter did not transfigure me into an angel. Because justification by grace through faith means I have been set in right relationship with God, not made the equivalent of a patient etherized on a table." - Brennan Manning 

"Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned. Because when I sat down in my room for one hot minute and my daughter kept calling my name, I hid in the closet and crouched down. I did this, Lord. You saw it. Please forgive this trespass as I forgive those who trespass against me by saying my name too many times." -Jen Hatmaker 

Noteworthy Images from the Week (or Month):

Noteworthy Videos from the Week (or Month):

Not only is Rain for Roots really talented in regards to singing/songwriting, these videos are great! 

"You are not straight outa Compton. Straight outa Upstate New York."‪#‎sippinoncokeandrum‬ ‪#‎shimmyshimmycocoawhat‬


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekly Happenings #337 (September 7-13)-- First Grade Official

[He fell asleep in the car!]

I slept pretty late on Monday. I had woken up in the night feeling so terrible and I still had a bad headache and a bit of a sore throat. Peyton took both kids to the grocery store. When they got back, I helped him put up groceries and we all watched a Wild Kratts. I ate breakfast and took my bath and Peyton went for a bike ride and I made the beds, straightened a bit, and collected and started laundry.

I wrote a friend a note to go with a wedding present and did morning school with the kids. Peyton got home and took a bath and ate lunch and I did critical thinking with AP and did the dishes.
Sometimes I fret, thinking about vocation and if I'm doing all I want to with this season of my life. But this particular day, and everyday, I am grateful for the work I have the honor of doing. The work that, as one of my all time favorite storytellers says, sets my hands- my soul- free. Despite not doing anything special, it was a great labor day!

Peyton fixed all us lunch and made cookies with the kids and I read some blogs and did part of my Bible study. I did math with AP and Peyton and Graves made some homemade salsa and cooked sweet potatoes. Peyton took the kids outside and I did some laundry and then he helped me hang some stuff around the house. We all had quesadillas for supper.

Peyton was going to take the kids camping in my parents' yard. I was still feeling so congested and the last time we camped in our yard I didn't sleep well at all. Anyway, Annie teared up thinking about the animals in their yard (my mom had seen a deer and a raccoon) even thought she LOVES wild animals. Then she realized I wasn't going and started sobbing. Everyone ended up staying home and we let the kids watch an extra show in their sleeping bags since Graves was pretty disappointed about not going. I read some blogs, wrote a post, did my Bible study and went to bed.
A fairly large villain (he hits just above my knee) moved into our house recently. It's hysterical because Graves loves him during the day but insists he stay in our room (or better still, the laundry room) at night. He is a little frightening, tbh.

And oh, look! A wild animal did, in fact, join them. Not sure how General snuck in but he sure does love to curl up with his favorite little boy ever. Graves loves that cat so much and I'm so glad because General thinks he's a dog and nobody in this house had any intention of signing up for a dog.

Tuesday was another good day. I got up and got ready for my Bible study. I was still feeling bad, but not as terribly. I took a quick bath, ate something, got dressed, and got ready and left. I had a nice time and when I got back I visited with Peyton and the kids and we all ate lunch. We got ready to go to a meeting with the attendance officer. It was a very quick meeting and we came back home after stopping at the library.
This girl is first grade official (and was quite proud of her cougar paw print sticker from the school office). 

When you're too loud for the library- the monkey grass outside is always a welcoming spot. Sigh.

 The kids had rest time and I read some blogs and started a post. They got up and we walked around outside and made a list of outside projects. We came in and Peyton went to the grocery store. The kids played in the backyard and I did dishes and started supper. He got home and we all ate and then he got the kids to bed. We watched several episodes of Parks and Rec and did the adult coloring book! I read some and got on the computer briefly and went to bed.

Peyton went on a bike ride Wednesday morning and I got up and got on the computer and made beds. The kids really wanted me to watch a Wild Kratts with them so I did and then I took my bath and planned school. Peyton got home and I did morning school with the kids and critical thinking with AP. I ate lunch and got ready and headed out for an interview for a subbing job. It went well and when I got home we ran a few errands- we delivered a wedding present and went to Lemuria to get Aubrey a birthday present. We got home and I did English with AP and Peyton and Graves went to the grocery store. They got home and we finished up and then I cooked supper. We all ate and then played a math game.
Family game of "corners". Peyton won, Annie came in second, I was last, and Graves was in his own world the entirety of the game. Incidentally, this ranking directly correlates with each person's level of competitiveness- Peyton kept strategizing and saying how much fun this was, AP was her typical intense self, I could not have forced myself to care less and still participate, and Graves was not about to give something like this one ounce of his mental energy. Either way, there are worse ways to do first grade than an after dinner game with your whole family. 

Peyton bathed the kids and got them to bed. We chatted and went to bed ourselves.

Peyton got up and got ready and headed to Granny's with his parents on Thursday. I got up, got on the computer quickly, made beds, took my bath and got ready, helped the kids get ready, and packed a lunch. We got ready to head to the Howies to play and I couldn't find where Peyton left the keys. I finally located a spare and we got going. Driving went really smoothly and we had a great visit. We left when Carrie and her big kids went to pick up Francie from school.
Update on driving: I've pretty much got the hang of it, but we did get stuck trying to reverse up a driveway on a slope after a play date with our BFFs. I called Peyton, whose at his grandmother'a today, and told him I was about to call Mickey to come fix the problem, as I was about three feet from a brick wall and getting really anxious. He suggested I just look for a "brick or something heavy" to put in front of the tires. Um, this is Northeast Jackson, not Brooklyn, Dummy and there's not crap laying around everywhere in the Howie's yard. I went out and checked and it turns out we had rolled down to a flat part and the front of the car was sitting on the ground. Peyton said gradually release the parking brake and floor the gas. It made a horrible sound but it worked. This girl is such an encourager and was all "you did it, Momma! We're in the street!"

Aside: the previous night she had told Peyton that he had taught me to drive the car, he could teach me to make pancakes. This lead to a conversation about all being good at different things and of course, she basically wanted to a list of things I do better than him. There were NOT ALOT and now I'm making my own:
1. I'm better at empathizing with head hurts
2. I'm better at dealing with emotional pain
3. I'm better at gently wiping bottoms until people are competent enough to do it on their own
4. I'm better at documenting childhoods
Pretty stellar skill sets, right here.

We got home and the kids had rest time. I worked on a post and read some blogs and uploaded and backed up phone pictures.
I know it's hard to read but the boy is saying "The squirrel is a rodent." Listen up potential suitors: if Annie says those three magic words, that's your go ahead to start talking about rodents.

When rest time was over, the kids had a snack and I did a bunch of dishes. We did our morning school stuff and almost had English finished when Peyton got home at six. Annie did critical thinking and Peyton took a quick bath and then he finished her English while I got the kids' supper ready. They ate and Peyton got them ready for bed while I did dishes and straightened. I read them their Bible story and then finished my post. I went to bed really early for me.
I've caught him sleeping in some weird positions, but this is a first. How is this possible?? He was snoring like a freight train.

Peyton worked on Friday and Graves had wound up in our bed and slept until nine. We got up and I got on the computer, planned the day, took the trash out and started laundry, talked to Peyton and Minnie, and ate breakfast. The kids watched their shows and ate breakfast and I made the beds took a bath. I wrote a check and put it the mailbox and then we did morning school and AP's critical thinking. We did English and then the kids had lunch. I put up dishes and all our school stuff and changed over the laundry and then they had rest time. I started a blog post and read some and then rested a little and ironed mine and AP's clothes for the night and did dishes.

Peyton got home and Annie and I left for Aubrey's birthday party. I was going to stay and help Carrie and Minnie was going to come pick up the boys for beans. We got over there and honestly, I had a great time at the party, too. Carrie and I even got to visit some! After the party, we joined Peyton and Graves. We visited a bit and then came home.
Annie had a blast at her BFF's birthday party, but she ate half a cupcake and told me "I think that's about enough of that...gotta save room for sausage".

We got the kids to bed and I finished a post and went to bed myself.

The kids got up around nine on Saturday. They played and then watched their shows and I got on the computer, planned the day and planned school, and made beds. We all had breakfast and then I took my bath. We did morning school and I did critical thinking and math with AP. They played a bit and then cleaned up their room.

I emptied all the trash cans and took out the trash, straightened, cleaned the bathrooms, dusted in the bedrooms and study, and Windexed the windows and cleaned the windowsills and blinds in our room. I put up our school stuff and fixed the kids lunch. While they ate I vacuumed in the bedrooms and study and did the suction tools in hard to reach spots. I put up dishes, deep cleaned the counters in the kitchen, and washed more dishes. We read and they had rest time and I ate lunch, rested, started a post, and read a few blogs.

After rest time, we did English. It took longer than I thought it would but I had told AP that she and Graves could eat supper in the backyard. I got it ready and dusted in the den and talked to Mal about some printer issues she was having. The kids ate and I tried to set up our printer so she could come print something. I couldn't find the cord and then it was out of ink. I played with the kids and then read to them and got them in the tub. I vacuumed in the den and kitchen and even did under the couch cushions. Peyton got home and I helped the kids finish their bath and then mopped in the kitchen and did some more dishes. Peyton and I ate supper and watched TV and I folded laundry. I put up laundry, got on the computer briefly, got stuff ready for the next day, and went to bed.

We got up super early on Sunday and chatted and then I went back to bed. Then I got up, well, still early and got ready for church. We got the kids ready and then we headed to Clinton and dropped Peyton off. The kids ate in the car and I did my make up and then  we headed to Northside and spent a little time on the playground before Sunday school. I really enjoyed Sunday school and the kids did GREAT in church.

Flannery quotes/Annie's notes-- not a bad way to start a Sunday. (Aside: that's actually an affirmation of faith- her first written one- "we believe in God".)

We came home and they watched their shows and I sort of straightened a bit (made our bed and hung up our clothes) and ate my lunch. I fixed them lunch and sent an email and a couple of Facebook messages. They had rest time and I mostly read blogs and rested myself. They cleaned up their room and I straightened the house and started laundry. I fixed them supper and they ate outside again. I did dishes and then brushed their teeth. Annie wanted to read something and Graves was being sort of wild and we ended up leaving later than I meant to. We made it and picked up Peyton and Graves was asleep by the time we got there. We came home and got AP to bed and ate supper. Peyton fell asleep really quickly and I read some blogs and did my Bible study.

It was a great week. And y'all, I'm finally ONE week behind. Unbelievable.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


The lady who was supposed to coach Annie's little eight and under soccer team is not able to do it and as a temporary fix, Peyton jumped in and coached the team at their first practice last night. It reminded me of a conversation that I think about at least every few days.

A month or so ago, we were at my parents' house for our usual beans and rice night and Peyton said something to my dad about him being in the king's seat at the head of the table. Daddy chuckled but said "ugh, don't say that". I was intrigued, a bit shocked even, and asked him why. He said he just did not like that kind of stuff. Then he told us about how he used to ask people at his old company not to call him "the boss". He said "Call me "coach" or something. Not the boss. I hate that". 

It brought to mind some recent conversations I've had with a good friend about discipline and authority and power structures in families and what I want that to look like with my crew.

I honestly never felt like Mick was the king of the castle or the boss of our little family enterprise. But he taught us, early and often, to see him as a coach, I think. A life coach before that was a thing, I guess. I certainly think a coach of a team has a sense of authority and commands respect but in an entirely different way than a boss or a king. 

I hope that is how our children come to view us- people who are always rooting for their success and ready to help guide them through their failures, who will help them explore their strengths and weaknesses, and who are more committed to the health and happiness of the team than their own personal sense (and illusion) of power.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Weekly Happenings #336 (August 31- September 6)-- A Family Bike Ride and One Quarter of First Grade Down!

Peyton and the kids got up around eight on Monday and I slept until nine and then we all had breakfast. I straightened, made beds, took my bath, and planned school and the day. Peyton ran to the grocery store and Lowe's and I did morning school, critical thinking, and math with AP and Graves worked on some tracing. Peyton got home and Graves worked on a project with him and then we had lunch. Michal's wife, Sylvie, stopped by and we visited with her for a bit and then I worked on filling out some Junior League forms to reinstate and got some stuff ready to mail. I put up some dishes and the kids had rest time. Peyton and I planned out the week and then I worked on straightening and organizing in the study. Peyton played with the kids and then I uploaded some pictures. We packed some food for the kids and all got ready to head to the park once it got dark. That's a new favorite thing of Peyton and the kids'- going to the park at night. We had fun but were pretty tired on the way home. We gave the kids quick baths and brushed their teeth and got them to bed. I worked on finishing uploading, editing, organizing, and backing up pictures and started a post. I did my Bible study, ate something, and went to bed.

I woke up several times during the night and then was feeling SO awful early Tuesday morning. I had Bible study that morning and I really wanted to go but I didn't think I'd make it. I took some medicine around seven and went back to sleep. I got up around eight, looked for Peyton and took the trash to the street, and got in the tub, the kids started fighting, and I dealt with that. Peyton got home (he had gone to the grocery store on his bike) and I finished getting ready and ate something. The Bible study was great, and I enjoyed seeing a few familiar faces and meeting some new friends. And the driving there and back was pretty easy. I got home and got on the computer a bit, visited with the kids, and made our bed and collected laundry. Peyton and the kids had made brownies and read their Five in a Row book. Peyton went to lunch with a friend and I discovered some rotten potatoes. I tried to eat something but I felt terrible. I started dishes and AP and Graves got in a fight that took forever to sort out. They finally got settled and I did more dishes.
Summer is for...blues and yellows. One of my favorite little side table setups yet. I'll be a little sad to see it go in a few weeks. It's hard to imagine little pumpkins there, but it won't be long. Time moves so fast and I can't believe we've been back exactly four months. I'm sure I'll say this for years, but Brooklyn seems like yesterday and another lifetime all at the same time.

Peyton got home (I had been calling him but he didn't hear his phone) and we talked and then Sylvie stopped by again. We visited and AP still wasn't completely back to normal. She left and I fed the kids lunch and did more dishes. I still felt bad so I took a nap. Peyton got ready to go to a fundraiser for Haydn and the kids and I cleaned up their room. I fixed them supper and started some laundry. I dusted in the den and cleaned the kitchen counters and then we talked to my mom on the phone for a bit. We brushed teeth and read their books and Peyton got home. We played and they went to bed. I cooked a frozen lasagna and vacuumed and mopped in the den. Peyton ran and got me some Cokes and we ate supper. I did dishes and worked on a post for a long time. We chatted and went to bed.

Wednesday was so much fun. We all slept late and then Peyton and the kids got up and started working in the yard. I took a bath, made beds, started laundry, and then headed to meet Mal for lunch. We had Mexican and had some great conversation. After that, I ran by Hobby Lobby for some fabric and then to the post office to mail some things. I got home and Peyton left to hang out with his brother. The kids had rest time and I read blogs and worked on a post and  then I did our morning school stuff with them. Peyton got home and I started more laundry and did math with AP. Then we all rode our bikes to the Y. We swam a bit and rode back. We fed the kids dinner and got them to bed and then I got on the computer for a bit and then went to bed.

Thursday was another fun day. I slept super late. I think that bike ride DID ME IN. Peyton and Graves worked in the yard and AP spent some time by herself crafting. I got up and ran my bath water but Graves was ready to come in and have his. Peyton jumped in first and took a quick one and then Graves took one. I made beds and started laundry and straightened. When I went to run a fresh bath, the tub was GROSS. I washed it out, but I still couldn't deal with it, so I took a shower (who takes a bath when they're that dirty?!?). I scrubbed the shower curtain while I was in there. The kids picked up their room and then I fixed them lunch and did some dishes. Peyton read to them and I got on the computer and started working on my header and read a few blogs. Then we all played some.

As I watched the last back to school pictures roll in, I was so excited we met my goal and have finished a quarter of first grade in math and English. I love the flexibility of being able to start mid Summer- on days when I have a bad headache or when the kids are under the weather, we aren't obligated to anyone to push through or worry about the looming make up work. And if we want to camp or take a trip, we have the built in ability to just skip a week or so. It wasn't always fun in the Summer, but it feels great to start September with a full "term" under our belts.

Miss Literal said "that dog with the towel is not meeting, greeting, OR yakety-yaking. She's just off by herself. Why would they make her off by herself like that?!?"

We hung some stuff in the kids' room and then AP had a bath and we all got ready to go run some errands and then we were dropping the kids off with Peyton's parents and going out.
We finally finished AP's side of their room. I think it reflects her well, too- little whimsical prints with quotes that make me feel extra introspective and inspired, lots of storage space for dress up clothes and stuffed animals, magnetic strips for her art, and a non overt animal motif.

Master bedroom transformation is almost done! Peyton still needs to fix a dresser that busted in the move, I'm going to make a curtain for the play kitchen (which Annie has transformed into another home for toy animals/dinosaurs, just like her nightstand), and we have one more thing to hang in their bathroom. I'm really happy with it and they do so well with their shared space. 

We ran by Hobby Lobby again and to Indian Cycle to look for a bike helmet. We dropped the kids off, grabbed a light supper at Broadstreet, and headed to Fondren's First Thursday.
Annie told me "y'all go on too many dates". Girlfriend, this ain't Brookyn, you have grandparents who adore you, and to be honest, I know very few six year olds who get as many hours a day with both their parents as you do. Plus, we are able to love you (and each other!) better when we get a few hours away from you once in awhile.

Peyton Mad Men-ed his hair to go out and this little dude wanted in on the action. I know I'm biased, but I think he's the cutest thing ever.

One more of this handsome guy and HIS date, "Snuggly".

We had a lot of fun and hung out with Patrick and Haley and listening to a bunch of people (including Patrick) cover country songs in Duling Hall. We picked up the kids before ten and ran by the grocery store. We came home and got them to bed and we both went to bed shortly after that.

Peyton overslept and woke up like five minutes before he needed to leave for work on Friday. I helped him grab some clothes and then went back to sleep. Graves woke up a little later but went back to sleep in our bed. We all got up around nine thirty and I fixed the kids breakfast, got on the computer, made beds, and took my bath. I planned the day, texted with a couple of friends, and then we did morning school. The kids picked up their room and then I took out the trash in the study and both bathrooms, cleaned the bathrooms and dusted in the bedrooms, and Windexed all the mirrors. I actually cleaned the windows and windowsills in the den, too. I vacuumed the study, bedrooms and bathrooms and scrubbed the bathroom floors. The kids played outside while I did most of that and I talked to Mickey and Minnie both on the phone. I fixed Annie and Graves their lunch and then did dishes. I ate my lunch and they came in for rest time. I read blogs and worked on my header some more. Peyton got home and we talked and he chilled out a bit and then we headed over for beans really early. He was tired and Mickey had said he'd get them ready early for us. We got there, visited and played, ate, and then got ready to leave. We came home and got the kids to bed and I finished up my header and worked on a post and read a few blogs. I had a snack and went to bed.

The kids slept pretty late on Saturday. They ate breakfast and I got on the computer, planned school, talked to Ellis on the phone and texted with my mom, and straightened a bit. I did morning school with the kids and then math and critical thinking with AP.

Annie said thar since there's no papa bird for Early's babies, this squirel, Nuts, helps her with them when she leaves the nest. They call him "Papa Critter".

I fixed the kids lunch, talked to my dad on the phone, and did dishes. The kids had rest time and I read some blogs, worked on a post, and uploaded videos to YouTube. I ate my lunch and rested a bit and when rest time was over, I put the clean sheets on all the beds and the kids and I cleaned up their room. We read our Five in a Row book and then did English. I fixed them supper and they ate and I did dishes. When they finished, we brushed teeth, read, and played and then I popped them in the bath. I swept in the kitchen, vacuumed the rug in the den, did dishes, and put up some math manipulatives. I worked on a post and then helped them finish their bath and got them out. And it was before nine! Peyton got home and I finished the post and read some blogs. We ate supper and talked and then I got back on the computer, did my Bible study, got our church stuff ready, and went to bed.

We got up early on Sunday and Peyton and I got baths and got ready. He got the kids dressed and they had breakfast. I ate my breakfast and finished getting dressed. We dropped him off at work in Clinton and headed back home. We were visiting St. Peter's by the Lake again and it made sense to just come back home for a bit. I started a load of laundry, picked up around the house, made all our beds, and straightened the kids' room a bit. I did AP's hair and my make up and the kids got their stuff together and I did some dishes and even cut up some new potatoes to cook for lunch. We went to church and the kids did pretty good. We even stayed for the coffee hour after and visited. We came home and they watched their shows. I got on the computer a bit and cooked the potatoes and zucchini. They ate lunch and then had rest time and I ate my lunch, talked to a friend, read blogs, worked on a post, and took a short nap. They got up and we read, played, and read the Bible. I cooked scones and they ate and I folded some laundry, did dishes, and got their teeth brushed and them set for bed. We drove out to Clinton and picked up Peyton and headed home.

We got the kids to bed. Peyton and I ate and watched TV and I folded laundry and then did my Bible study. I finished a post and went to bed.

I'm only two WH posts behind. Woo-hoo!