Monday, November 30, 2015

What I'm Into: November


On the Nightstand:
Well, this was the worst reading month I've had in a WHILE. I hardly picked up a book. I knew all along this would be a full month, though, so I'm not really beating myself up over it. Anyway, here's what I'm still working through and hoping to pick back up in December:

Telling God's Story: A Parent's Guide to Teaching the Bible- Peter Enns
Okay, I actually did read a bit of this one at one point. I've finished the first two sections and just have the third left. More on this next month!

Tender Hooks- Beth Ann Fennelly
Not the full report promised, obviously. But it's a quick read so maybe I'll get through it too, this month

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms How We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead- Brene Brown
Stuck at the same spot and I'm ready to pick it back up, too!

As always:
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day)- Ethan Richardson, Sean Norris


On Their Nightstand: 

Honestly, not as much here, either. We've gotten some library books and at this point, Annie reads a lot on her own. I've been reading to them nightly but not near the amount I like to during the day. We did start two new chapter books (we took a break from the first to start a Christmas one) and I'll update on that too, in December.

On the Shelf:

Um, just the three books I made hardly any headway on in November.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Slingshot
This was such a fascinating (and inspiring!) documentary. It's about the man who is famous for inventing the Segway, but the movie really focuses on him and his characters and aspirations as well as his latest project (which has been about twenty years in the making)- a filtration system that could purify any sort of water and basically be the solution to the world's water crisis.

Also, if you're going to let them have way too much screen time, at least it's a BBC bird doc, right? I was in and out for it, but it really is fascinating. Annie loves it and Graves tolerates it (especially if he gets to watch the previews of the prehistoric creature BBC documentary eache time).

On the Small Screen:
I had actually PLANNED to be really intentional about watching The West Wing (I even made it a goal, for crying out loud) but that didn't happen either. We've watched a few SVU episodes here and there when folding laundry but that's about the extent of it.

In My Ears:
I haven't really been listening to that much new music (mainly just classic rock radio), but I did enjoy exactly one podcast this month.
PZ's Podcast- I listened to the episode "Is Paris Burning?" and it was really interesting to hear the opinion and ideas of one of my favorites!

Around the House:
 UGH. Not near as cute as last month. We've been purging in the attic and the house is basically a train wreck. I'm hoping at least the majority of December will look ALOT different.


In the Kitchen:
Not a lot worth sharing. As with everything, I've dropped the ball (even by my standards). Last week, I did fix homemade spaghetti sauce for everyone and we devoured it. Oh, and I mentioned in another post, but potatoes in any form are my go-to right now with the pregnancy:
 Oh, and Peyton finally had a few days off in a row (he's been working a bunch of extra shifts) and he sweetly prepared all my meals. I loved the grilled cheeses, but this had me feeling like I was the hospital or maybe a school cafeteria. 

I've had some BAD headaches and I've been trying this sometimes. I'm not sure how much it really helps, but it is nice and soothing when it's rainy and cold out.
 

In My Closet:

Well, since I started taking weekly pictures, this catagory is actually not especially bare! 
I wore this to sub one day.

 
This was a comfy outfit I threw on to go meet with the pastor at Northside since I've kind of decided it's our place for now.

And this was my choice for Thanksgiving. These cords are making it longer than I anticipated!

Oh, and Peyton likes to keep the house chilly (which I mean, I would rather have him here more/have more money to spend on other things) and everyone else still seems comfy basically in their underwear but I'm wearing a PUFFY COAT. 
In Their Closets:
We're transitioning out of jon jons and while it's breaking my heart a little bit, I don't think Graves could be much cuter in his suspenders and sweater vests!

Annie wore this little dress (which is also cute by itself!) with a little pinafore for Thanksgiving and it might be my favorite thing in her closet this year! Hysterically, it's a 4T.
 
In My Mailbox:
We got our first Christmas card, so that was exciting! December is my favorite mail month for sure!

In My Cart:
I ordered a few things online during the sale weekend, but I'll wait to share until they come in. Otherwise, nothing really this month.

Around the Town (and At Home):
 
Peyton and I had a fun little date to the Friday night party at Mistletoe. It's way more low key that the Preview Gala and had an 80s theme which was really fun. We ran into several friends and had a nice time!


 Annie got invited to one of her soccer teammates birthday parties. It was her first birthday to go to that wasn't for a child of a friend of mine AND it was her first time to skate. We had so much fun!

 
We've had some rainy days, but we've still been trying to get outside when we can!  This guy LOVES riding his bike and climibing on things (inside or outside) is a close second.

 
The tornado sirens went off the other night and it completely tterrified Annie. She came around but still ended up spending the rest of the night in the bathtub. 
 
Thanksgiving was so much fun and I was so glad to be back close to family. Look at how much these cousins have changed in the past two years. And a picture of the little cousins, too! 
  
At the Schoolhouse:
 [I decided to add a new feature here. I call our house "The Schoolhouse in the Suburbs" and often there's at least one or two things I want to share. They mostly have been finding their way into the "Around Town" heading, but I thought it would be fun to give that it's own space.]

 
We took a nice long break this month, but we did finish our English for the semester. We have several more math lessons but we've started back on those, too. This first one, I had been particularly dreading. I think the spontaneous break was great for me and AP, though. She only finished three of the six problems- the first took who knows how long, I timed the second and it took her twenty five minutes, and the third went a little more quickly. BUT she didn't get frustrated and discouraged until the very end and I think that was largely because her wild brother, her disruptive papa, and her uncle that she adores playing with returned from their walk and inadvertently reminded her there are much more exciting things in life than base ten cards.

 
Peyton is doing a maps unit with them and our little geogrpahy buff told me "this is North America".  

 I've mentioned this too, but I took my planning outside one day and it was so good for my soul.  
On the Blog:
I didn't really write any meaningful, significant things this month (which always sort of bothers me) but I did document my Thankfuls (one more edition left- tomorrow!) and started weekly baby updates.

On My Heart:
- I'm really trying to get in an Advent mindset. Our weeks are finally significantly slowing down and I'm so very thankful.
- I've really started thinking ahead to this Summer and what life will look like with a fifth person. We've been a family of four for so long, so it's sort of surreal (I will probably say that for the next few years).

In My Prayers:
- I'm still praying a lot for patience. And honestly, I should pray for it more.
- I'm THANKING the Lord that He's really helped me feel so grateful and content lately. I've been stressed and felt bad, but overall I think I've managed my anxiety pretty well all things considered, and I feel a lot of peace.
- I'm praying that Advent will be exactly what it needs to be- for me and for the kids- no more and no less.
 
On the Calendar: 

We don't have a lot of official stuff going on. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, we're doing some stuff with the homeschool group we're a part of, and we'll hopefully just get to spend a lot of time together as a family!

What I'm Into

Sunday, November 29, 2015

What I Learned in November




Here's a couple (or ten) things that I learned this month:

1. Very, very few things are more important than slowing my pace and enjoying the fresh air when I can. The other day, I was getting sort of stressed again because it was so late and we hadn't even started school (because I hadn't even planned school). [Sidenote: I know lots of people with kids my kids' age don't really plan but I try to incorporate a lot of different things, I recently realized how much more I gave Annie at his age than I am giving Graves and I want to work on that, my personality sort of necessitates it, and I spent several years in the School of Ed and well, old habits die hard.] So I kicked the kids outside (well, I kicked AP out; Graves was begging). And then I kicked myself out. And then Minnie came over for a (lovely) spontaneous visit and I realized it was time to throw in the towel and reassess our plans for the day. I decided to let them continue to just free play and I leisurely planned school/our week (something I rarely attempt when they're up/around me). They were more content than they've been in a long time and I've was more at peace and WAY less snappy when they were difficult than I have been in awhile, probably the better part of a month. The tree outside was without a single leaf (Annie pointed out to me that it was "ready for Winter") and I realized I hadn't even looked at it in weeks. 


2. For the first time ever, Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year isn't, well, a word. Y'all, it's the crying smiley face Emoji! What is the world coming to?!? Apparently, it beat out "on fleek", "lumbersexual", and "refugee". Um, what? No really, I think it's kind of neat. The president of Oxford Dictionaries said that this Emoji "embodies the 'playfulness and intimacy that characterizes emoji-using culture". I've said this before, but my dad has become able to communicate his emotions in an entirely different way since the evolution of Emojis. He's a proud graduate of the "John Wayne School of Manhood" but he'll blow you a smiley kiss or do a tear face like it ain't no thang.



3. Sixty seven degrees (inside the house) is too cold for me. This is the other side of being so cold-natured.  I can tolerate Peyton setting the thermostat at 80-82 degrees in the Summer-- but this is what Winter looks like. Y'all, this was INSIDE my own house! The kids and P walk around in their skivvies, basically, and I'm in this pouffy down jacket Cookie gave me for Brooklyn! 

Actually, this is funny but Brooklyn sort of spoiled me. Yes, it was FRIGID outside, but the co-op was SUPER warm (probably much too hot for most people- Peyton would open windows some days). They have heat control laws in NYC and the building was full of old people and I used to joke about it being a stuffy geriatric ward. But I'd prefer that any day to a cold, dark house

4. Winter is really hard for me. I thought it was mostly living in a really cold climate and of course living in the Northeast did come with its own set of problems, but it hasn't been super easy this year for me either. It just makes me twitchy. I was telling a friend that I can feel my back tightening up and I feel like my brain is tightening as well. Not really, but I do feel like I don't have as much headspace. I guess I use a lot of energy just fighting the cold and dealing with the the early nights and all. I'm pretty sure if I lived in like Minnesota or somewhere I'd need to be on something or at least have one of those fake sun lamps.


5. (Seemingly) big things nearly paralyze me with anxiety. I was talking to my mom about a somewhat daunting situation they're facing and it made me think of my own life and how big (or more accurately, seemingly big) things can really paralyze me. I'm just NOT a big picture person. I have to focus on details or I get so overwhelmed. I think Peyton is a lot more of a big picture person, so that helps. We were talking about cleaning out the attic, and honestly if it was up to me, I'd leave it for months, years. But he's got a plan for how to do it. He made the plan about how to move back, too. I'm sure it would have taken way longer and there would have been a lot more tears if I had to figure it out myself.

6. Related: we have way too much stuff. We actually did start on the attic, finally, and it's been just absurd. [This is the kids' clothes just from their first two years.]


7. Emotional labor is a thing and if you lean introverted, the holidays may require quite a bit of it. Interestingly enough, like the day before I read this post I heard someone on the radio talking about idea of emotional labor, which I had never heard until then. The person on the radio was using in (what I think is) it's more traditional sense (i.e. actual jobs that require one to put up a facade- and labor emotionally- as part of the vocation; this is probably found in many professions but we see it alot in the service industry, such as baristas at Starbucks who have to keep smiling NO MATTER WHAT).


8. Big boy church clothes are actually quite fun. We're transistioning out of jon jons and I got Graves some suspenders because I just did not have it in me to buy a belt for him yet. And I love the little sweater vests much more than I anticipated.




9. Potatoes are pretty much my go-to pregnancy food. I've been basically living off baked potatoes, french fries, tater tots, and mashed potatoes. Give me a break, it's what I can tolerate at this point! Oh and expect a full post on pregnancy eats soon.

10. Black Friday just isn't as crazy anymore thanks to the ease online shopping. I actually also heard an interview on our public radio station and the woman was saying that it's been years since a mall, in the traditional sense, has opened in the United States. That baffled me but we had to make a trip to our local mall awhile back and it was near deserted. It made me think of those creepy (but sort of amazing) urban decay photos of like shopping malls in Detroit.





Saturday, November 28, 2015

Letter to (Four Year and Six Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves,

I'll start this letter the same way I started Annie's most recent one- I'm way behind so most of this stuff is from mid September to mid October. Anyway...

You started blastball and that was really fun. You were mostly distracted and at one point in a game stopped to eat some grass. Overall, though I think you enjoyed it and it was a good first team sport experience.

You also dressed up as Cugu and won the costume contest at the special Saturday Halloween story time at the library that Annie desperately wanted to go to (and I desperately did not). I actually feel a little bad because I overheard a mom who seemed upset her niece didn't win and was saying they didn't understand the rules. And here we were in our Old Navy clearance costume from four years ago and I had to make myself take you guys and Annie had to push you forward to claim your prize. And it was actually a really good one, not just more candy and stickers- you got several new books, one of those magna doodle things attached to a book, and a $10 gift card to Subway! 

One day awhile back I had subbed and when I got home you and Annie were in a cooler full of water in the front yard. Also, while I was gone you booby trapped the house and AP ate an obscene amount of boiled peanuts.

Obviously, on September 11th I'm always going to think about how special New York is to us. Reflecting on it this year, I thought about how often I tell people that if you don't retain a single memory, I have absolute confidence it irrevocably changed your worldview for the better. And it will be with us forever!

You've been trying so hard to ride a bike (with training wheels). You and Annie are the cutest and the sweetest. Somebody else's kids be the most athletic and the most coordinated. But it's been so much fun to see you really concentrate and devote yourself to something.

One afternoon we found you lying beside your bike on the ground in the driveway. "Are you tired bud?" Papa asked you " NO! I'm just doing that thing you said when you're frustrated." The day before Papa had totally botched repurposing our play kitchen. He says it was an easy job that he didn't think through enough. So at the point where he really tore a part of the kitchen up, he had just laid on the floor to chill out and think. He later explained to you why he didn't want to talk then. It stuck with you! 

One night after a long day, I found you asleep with a toothbrush in your mouth. Record ridiculousness even for our crazies!

It's actually hysterical to watch you sleep. One night you got in our bed and feel asleep. I cam in there and you had your hand over papa's mouth and your foot in his armpit. Neither of you cared (or was aware).

You hardly ever take naps anymore, but lots of Sundays on the way home from church you take a car nap. t don't matter how loud The Boss is singing you through your Sunday, six thirty in the morning is too damn early.

The other day, after about the millionth time of you constructing an enlarged version of a particular part of the male anatomy, Annie said "Who knows what Graves will make with play dough next? He's *such* a creator". Our resident sculptor maybe spent too much time at The Met. Haha! 

You love bugs and awhile back you kept trying to catch this bug flying around the house for hours. I couldn't catch him either. Papa finally got home and caught him and you named him "hard catch". Mickey also found a praying mantis for you and you brought her home and we kept him for a week or so before releasing her. You named her (we think it was a female) Green Snap. 

You actually got a new insect book awhile back and Annie was reading it to you one night and you started arguing about something. She goes "Ugh, GRAVES. These people know more about it than you do".

Y'alls relationship is so sweet and also so funny. Lately, she's been spending lots of time reading to you in bed at night and she's usually happy to read your favorite books over and over. 

However, it's not ALL sunshine and rainbows. Awhile when you were already getting to be too much at ten AM on a Saturday she made a sign for you that said "naptime is starting graves go".

I love the humorous parts, but also the sweet and protective parts of y'alls relationship- and it's gotten to be very reciprocal. One afternoon you were doing a trick on the swingset and I was inside cleaning. Annie called me and when I said "Oh I think he's fine" she said "Taking care of the house is not NEAR as important as taking care of Graves" and then put her arms around you tightly and snatched you back into the playhouse herself. Later that same day you told me "please don't speak to my friend in such a rude voice". Your friend was Annie and the voice was more stern than rude, in my opinion.

Before it got cool (and hot again) you were a little pair of gingham shorts for the last time for the season. You've had them FOREVER. You wore them a bit towards the end of the Summer you were two (rolled once at the waist)- that Summer you had one other pair and otherwise wore jon jons. Then You wore them again last Summer when your closet was about half and half. And they were a staple again this Summer, in a closet mostly full of separates. Shockingly, they don't look crazy short and we may get another Summer in them. But we may not. So, when I found them during the changeover, I insisted he wear them one last time. The weirdest things make me sentimental. (Also: I love that they look cute with Saltwaters, Crocs, "mountain climbing shoes" (knock of Keens), Converse, New Balances, and now some three sizes too big light up Star Wars shoes we discovered in the attic).

This seems like sort of an abrupt place to end, talking about gingham shorts. Just know we love you more than we could every begin to explain and that you are such a little lightbulb in our family. 

Love,
Momma and Papa

P.S. Your little raglan shirt is a 3T and your cargo shorts are a 2T. You're wearing "big boy" clothes, but I'm thankful you're still my little boy (although, you have started being able to wear quite a few 4T things!). 
































Thursday, November 26, 2015

Babykins #3- Twelve Weeks



Pregnancy Highlights
How Far Along: 12 Weeks
Size of baby: (via BabyCenter) Babykins #3 is about two inches long, about the size of a lime. He or she is developing reflexes, like being able to curl his or her toes and starting to make a sucking motion!
Total Weight Gain/Loss: Peyton told me this morning that he was kind of worried I had lost some weight. I definitely have little bump at this point, but overall I guess I may have lost some. He said he was a little concerned because I've been SO cold lately (even for me) and I've been really, really tired (but I think that's just this stage of pregnancy). Anyway, I'm going to the doctor on Tuesday and I'll see for sure then.
Maternity Clothes: My FAVORITE stretchy cords still fit (see picture). They're skinny jeans so I thought they wouldn't have made it this far but they have a LOT of stretch. I am really, really hoping not to buy a single maternity item this go round, but I was pregnant at the exact same time the previous two times and this time it's a little later in the year. Mostly, I'm thinking about the Summer. Honestly, the ONE thing I may allow myself to buy is a swimsuit because I do want to be able to enjoy the pool with my people. That's a LONG way off, though.
Gender: Well, we've been going through old baby clothes and purging and Peyton decided he thought maybe it would be worth it to find out the gender just so we could mostly be done with half of them. Annie agreed; Graves (sort of surprisingly) did not. And I know I have at least one best friend who is on Peyton's and AP's side of things :) I told Peyton that I really didn't think I could hold out if he genuinely wanted to find out even if he ended up letting it go. I just feel like I need him to be COMMITTED on this. Obviously, finding out has its benefits and it was fun the past two times, I just really want to do something different!
Movement: not yet
Sleep: It's been better. We've been doing a lot around the house and I've been staying up too late blogging and such. So I do need to do better with that! 
What I miss: my emotions not being SO overwhelming. I'm such an emotional person anyway and sometimes this just feels almost debilitating. I cried so hard tonight when I read a really sad library book (that I've read before actually, so dumb).
Cravings: Well, right now I'm craving some Waldorf salad. Minnie made some for Thanksgiving and I had two servings, but apparently that wasn't enough.
Symptoms: I told Peyton this morning (after throwing up two mornings in a row) that I thought now was about when people turned a corner. He preceded to tell me about a woman from the pharmacy who literally puked every day until her baby was born. Gee thanks, Dude. [I did read in Graves's 12 Week post that it was one of my sickest weeks and so that gives me some hope.]
Best Moment This Week: I'd like to say going through the baby clothes, but actually that's been so overwhelming. It's really organized but it's just TOO MUCH. I did force myself to purge some, but probably not as much as I should have. My best moment was honestly spending time with our families. And a really funny one was when Graves started telling Minnie tonight that "his baby" really likes Coke and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups but what his baby likes isn't always what is good for his baby. Really anytime Graves talks about "his baby" is a good moment.
What I Am Looking Forward To: my doctor's appointment this week! Nothing exciting is happening, but I had to reschedule it and so I'm a couple of weeks late. That's really no big deal right now, but I will be glad to hear the heartbeat and just check in with the doctor.
Comparison to Graves:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Letter to (Six Year and Six Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton, 

As usual, I'm way behind, so the bulk of this letter is things that happened in September. Let's see, what was going on then?


You started soccer! The first week, your coach realized she wasn't able to coach anymore. There were only five of y'all on the team so they just put y'all on other Y teams. But for the first night, Papa coached the team. Y'all both had a blast.


Oh and you had a blast at your BFF's birthday party,  but you ate half a cupcake and told me "I think that's about enough of that...gotta save room for sausage" (at Mickey and Minnie's where we were headed next). You're my little hardcore carnivore. 


I subbed one day and I came home and you and Graves were in a cooler in the front yard with water in it. Also, while I was gone, y'all booby trapped the house with some string and forks and you ate an incredible amount of boiled peanuts. 


And as I watched the last back to school pictures roll in, I was so excited that we met my goal and had 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 you guys 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 felt great to start September with a full "term" under our belts. We also had a meeting with the attendance officer so you'd be first grade official. It went very smoothly!


Speaking of school- you were reading one of your readers and got to a page and said to me "that dog with the towel is not meeting, greeting, OR yakety-yaking. (Which is what the text described her as doing.) She's just off by herself. Why would they make her off by herself like that?!?"

As part of math, we played a family game of "corners" one night. Papa won, you 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- Papa kept strategizing and saying how much fun this was, you were your 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.


We got several $.01 used books off Amazon- three four different informational books (birds, sea animals, insects and spiders, and endangered species). You devoured Sea Creatures and Graves has loved Insects and Spiders. We hid Birds for a surprise present for later. You acted really silly when we told you that they didn't have to be returned to the library and were yours and Graves's to keep. I love how grateful y'all are for little things.


You also loved the part in the endangered species book where it tells what the threats to each species are. One day around that time, y'all talked about creation care in Sunday School. Probably your favorite day ever in the house of the Lord!


Something I have been thinking about in regards to y'alls education-- certainly raising a reader isn't my highest parental goal, but I'd be lying if I said there was just a ton between it and the top of the list (and I'll be honest and say I have mixed feelings on how much importance I give it).


Oh and you met a friend that lives just around the corner, is close to your age, and is homeschooled. I wish I had a picture of the way your face lit up when your new friend mentioned, before you did, that she was homeschooled. You were SO excited to tell her that you are, too. What I do have a picture of is your new friend's name- she ran in to get supplies so she could make a note for you to take home. She said she was going to write her family members' names and leave it in the mailbox and then discussed sleepover plans with you. It's amazing how trusting and innocent children your age are- how easily they will give themselves to another person. Because I am not one to only post sunshine-y things, that night we had a different sort of new friend interaction. You and another little girl who had a sibling playing in Graves's game kicked a ball together for a bit and then, I think, the other little girl just wanted to play by herself. So she told you to just stand in a spot and wait. And wait. We told you later that sometimes people just don't feel like playing, just like you don't always want to play with Graves. You told us that you didn't think the girl didn't want to play with you, that was just part of the game. You weren't embarrassed, you just doesn't get that yet. Soon enough, you will. And while there's a balance, I do hope you will ere on the side of trusting people. I mostly have, and with a few exceptions, I'm grateful I've been able to.


We also finally finished up your side of their room. I think it reflects you 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 your art, and a non overt animal motif. It's very you, right down to the bird sheets on your bed! 


Cookie and Conrad also came to visit. I was looking at two pictures of Cookie and you, side by side, one from that weekend and one from five years ago. You two have added a husband and a brother, respectively. Y'all have become a nurse and learned to read, respectively. And you've left the security of home for Nashville and Brooklyn, respectively. You both inspire me and make me proud. Two of my favorite people in all the world!


Papa was going to take you and Graves to camp in Mickey and Minnie's backyard one night (I was going to stay home because I had a cold and I didn't sleep well at all last time we camped in our backyard). Anyway, you teared up thinking about wild animals (Minnie had told me she had spotted a deer). So weird since you *love* wild animals. Then you realized I wasn't going and full on sobbed. SO unlike you. I think you were exhausted and Papa convinced you guys y'all should just stay here and let y'all watch an extra show to console you (mostly Graves- he was pretty disappointed). I couldn't wait until the next morning to tell you that a "wild animal" did, in fact, join y'all. Not sure how General snuck in but he sure does love to curl up with Graves. I took a picture so you could see. 


Papa and I went out one night and you 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.


You've still been keeping up you habit of communicating through notes. For awhile you and Graves were putting out the "calshin" sign every time someone took a bath so they wouldn't slip. 


One Sunday morning in the pew at Northside, you also penned an affirmation of faith- your first written one- "we believe in God". That was a very special moment for me. [As an aside, Sundays are going alright- we drop Papa off at work, go to church, come home for a relaxing afternoon and then pick him up at eight. Y'all are TROOPERS. Some days after church, though, it don't matter how loud The Boss is singing you through your Sunday, six thirty in the morning is too damn early and y'all both take a car nap. Which is crazy unusual for you.] 


Sort of a different vibe, but when you brother is already getting to be too much at ten AM on a Saturday you leave notes that say "naptime is starting graves go".

You animal obsession goes on. You said that since there's no papa bird for (Beanie Baby) Early's babies, a (Beanie Baby) squirrel, Nuts, helps her with them when she leaves the nest. They call him "Papa Critter". 

I also found a coloring page with a boy and a girl with little speech bubbles. You had filled them in. The girl said "I love you" and the boy said "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.


Watching you pretend to be a hummingbird is literally one of the most hysterical things I've ever seen in my life. You act SO spastic, hum loudly, and flap your arms really hard. You told me "this is actually good exercise for me". This is followed closely by howling towards the sky when you're outside after dark and quick little licks on the faces of your beanie baby tiger to show him maternal affection.


Your new favorite expression is "What in the creature world?" (I think you got that from Chris and Martin of Wild Kratts fame). Fitting since that's the world you mostly inhabit these days.


You noticed that the great frigate bird is listed as two different sizes in your bird and ocean animals books. Sometimes you're oblivious to the most obvious things, but you're very observant about what YOU cares about.


One night you told Papa 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, you basically wanted to a list of things I do better than him. There were NOT ALOT we could think of at the time so later I made 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.


You have become very emotionally intelligent. You told me that "If I get angry, I can always go to my closet. I think reading books relaxes me". You know, when your six year old is better at self care than you are. It reminded me of when you were about Graves's current age and you told me I could borrow your calm down chair in a moment when it was clear that I needed to do just that. 

Oh, I thought we might have taken Voluntary Simplicity too far when I heard you say "Hey! I have an idea. Maybe on days when we don't have any peanut butter and jelly we can have an extra cup of milk as a special treat". Just kidding, we just really need to go to the grocery store. And list, the majority of supper consisted of these frozen, prepackaged scones y'all had at Minnie's and became obsessed with, so being a grandmother, she buys packages and sends them over here. I do tend to hoard them and then surprise y'all with a "treat" when we have no food.


I told you that you could eat something that fell on the ground in the yard and your response was "Really?!? We've been walking all around in these shoes we wore in NEW YORK." Apparently, urban dirt is more frightening than suburban dirt, even at six.


You have just the right amount of sass and I love it. I told you that I was not negotiating on something and you sighed this exasperated sigh and said "Can you PLEASE use only words that I know?"


Also, you were reading to Graves from his insects book and he started arguing. You go "Ugh, GRAVES. These people know more about it than you do".


Papa was teasing me because I referred to making a grilled cheese as cooking. You asked what we were laughing about and I told you that Papa was being a little mean to me, hoping to get some back up, and did you think that putting bread on the skillet and making a cheese sandwich was cooking. you said "Definitely not. Cooking is like when you make the batter and stuff." Always getting schooled by you, Annie.


The other night, I was at Target with you, and you literally never stopped talking the whole time (normal for your brother, not so much for you). I stopped and looked at some baby bedding on the end of an aisle.
AP: "why are you looking at that?"
SD: "Oh, it's just fun to think about...for later"
AP: "Well, there's not a baby on the way and even if there was, that'd be a LONG time to plan" (at that point, there wasn't a baby on the way!)
SD: "You're right. I was just looking"
[several aisles away, after a full minute or so]
AP: "Either way, we don't have a NEED for that...you have all of mine and Bud's stuff anyway". You're a real delight to shop with =) You do not do things half way and Voluntary Simplicity is not exception. 

Another day, Graves was doing a trick on the swingset and I was inside cleaning. You called me and when I said "Oh I think he's fine" you said "Taking care of the house is not NEAR as important as taking care of Graves" and then put your arms around him tightly and snatched him back into the playhouse yourself. A little later, he told me he told me "please don't speak to my friend in such a rude voice". His friend was you and the voice was more stern than rude, but I love how protective you two are of each other. 


You are also a very supportive sister. One day, after about the millionth time of Graves constructing an enlarged version of a particular part of the male anatomy, you said "Who knows what Graves will make with play dough next? He's *such* a creator". Our resident sculptor maybe spent too much time at The Met.


Finally, you're just very caring and sweet. I've started letting y'all keep your lamps on at night and it's not unusual for you to read to him for an hour in bed before y'all go to sleep. 


You are such a delight and I love getting to know you more every day. 

Love,

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your dress is a 5T and we got it in Brooklyn at the Flea!