Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Granny: Remembering a Life of Love and Labor

I've mentioned it in passing I think, but the Church Triumphant gained a new member this past month.

I began taking trips to visit Granny (albeit not as frequently as we have been in recent weeks/months) with Peyton when we started dating. She made me laugh so hard and made me feel so loved. It was such an honor to know her for the past twelve years and the truest privilege to get to introduce Ann Peyton, Graves, and Sarah Lamar to her.

It's been a source of real heartache over the years that I didn't get to share them with my own very special grandmother who I was so close to. So the significance of the fact that they were known and loved by a great grandmother and, in Annie and Graves's case, knew and loved a great grandmother is not lost on me. It's something I'll never ever take for granted. I am so thankful for her influence in their lives, Peyton's life, and my own life.

Labor Day was the perfect day to celebrate the life of Granny. She and PopPop were the two hardest workers most of us knew. I overheard Aunt Beth sharing that she went into labor with her while picking butter beans. And PopPop used to work on his farm, then do his factory shift, and then come home and rock my father in law.

Their legacy lives on every time Peyton works a twelve hour shift and then comes home and nutures our little ones and in the way my wonderful sister in law pours her heart into mothering my beautiful niece and nephews that are bookending our three in this, my new favorite picture below.

I hope it lives on in these six as they learn to read and cook and garden and rock their own babies one day and more than anything else serve others and serve the Lord.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Letter to (Five Year and Three Month Old) Graves

 Dear Graves,

We've had a fun and eventful Summer. A few "small" things-- you and Annie both had successful weight checks (which is actually no small thing, no pun intended) and papa broke his collar bone. And of course, at long last, your much awaited SISTER BABY joined the family. We didn't have enough going on with our newborn and our broken collar bone, so we decided we'd start math with you. You're in kindergarten, Big Boy!

Graves, I'm going to be honest with you, the bulk of this letter is going to involve you and Sarah Lamar because you were/are just so smitten with her. The novelty still really hasn't worn off, but that first month it was just so all-consuming for you. But first a few things just about you:

Several times you've heard the song You Learn by Alanis Morissette on the radio and now you refer to it as "the naked song" because it contains the lyrics "I recommend walking around naked in your living room". I'm sure you'd recommend it too, if we'd give you the chance to try it!

Another funny thing was when I took you guys to the library at the eleventh hour and you were dressed as Batman and got offended when someone driving by complimented your "costume". Because that was clearly just your clothes. Otherwise why would you be wearing them on walking errands when it's four billion degrees on a cloudy day this Summer?

Papa came home super late one night (past midnight) and said he heard a loud and hearty (and somewhat villainous) HA.HA.HA! This was followed up by a back and forth between various action figures. You and Annie were still up and were waiting for him to come home from work and went to bed within two minutes of him tucking y'all in. So sweet! 

You and Annie (I call you guys the big kids all the time now and Papa heard me refer to ya'll as such and thought it was so cute and funny- it's interesting what will provoke a reaction from him) are so funny and when your sister is a tiny legalist and has anxiety about RULES, I guess that you play games with a bathroom door between you (I found y'all playing Guess Who with you outside the bathroom and her inside). And with a giant catnip rat in your arms....General went missing, and even though we aren't really pet people, I was pretty broken up about it :-/ Gratefully (and a bit surprisingly) you didn't take it too hard. With Sallie here, you really don't need a pet =)

Another day I found some plastic peas and a plastic turkey frozen in a tupperware container in the freezer. You guys are such weirdos. But y'all are weirdos who are becoming increasingly adept at getting your own food from the fridge and freezer. You win some, you loose some. I also found y'all pretending to freeze their action figures in "carbonite" Sometimes I worry I don't interact with y'all enough, but I love that you guys still don't know the word "bored" (perks of homeschooling) and are so creative when I give y'all space to be.

 NOW, onto you and Sal. Everyone, I mean everyone, tells me how much you two look alike. I sort of see it, but not like everybody else. I will say, the more I get to know her the more I wonder if she'll have your personality. She LOVES being around people and is very social and doesn't seem to want to be left alone for a minutes. Which is you made over. You two kind of drain me (physically, mentally, emotionally- in every sense) but if there's anything worth my energy being depleted, it's my babies =)

That said, she's a lot (a LOT) more chill than you were as a baby. You are absolutely my best buddy and you were a sweet, sweet baby but between your dairy intolerance, your caffeine intolerance, your high needs tendencies, your desire to be attached to us all the time and yet do EVERYTHING (nursing, the paci, potty training, ect.) YOUR way, your babyhood wore me out.
Papa and I were talking about how funny it would be if we had two really laid back babies who morphed into super intense, tightly wound (though incredibly amazing) bigger people (as Annie did) and one very high needs (though also amazing) baby who morphed into one of the most easy going people I know (as you did). I have absolutely no confidence in what James Dobson says about how you can tell their personalities at like six months.

 The day after she was born, as y'all were leaving the hospital you told Papa that you "missed da baby". Then when Papa offered y'all unlimited screen time because he was so tired and really hadn't had a chance to recover from the night before you said said "well, you know what's funnner than lots of TV? That baby!". You also wanted to know if you could PLEASE take her home that day and Mickey asked the same thing. Between you and Mick, I could already tell Sister Baby was going to be ROTTEN.

Speaking of Mickey, he took a picture of you and Sarah Lamar (one of the first of a few million of y'all I'm well on the way to having) and told me "this might be the best picture I've ever taken". It just might have been.

 You are such a sweet, sweet big brother. Awhile back, I was changing Sallie's diaper and you were stroking her cheeks and rubbing your hair across her face and telling her "shhh, it won't be much longer" (as you do every time I change it) and I had to go grab something. You apparently had to leave for a minute too but got back before me and when I got back I heard you saying "it's okay, Sweetie, I'm right here". You also have a few nicknames for her to add to the ever growing list (I feel like that's such a third child thing to have a billion nicknames)-- "Scooter" and "Babes". She is loved beyond what my mind can comprehend.

Around the time she was about two or three weeks old you told me that Graves said the week before it was "very rare" for her to open her eyes but that it wasn't anymore and you were exactly right. It's so interesting to me how perceptive you are about things like that! You also told me that her hair feels like velvet and I cried because it totally does but it won't always. We LOVE babies so much, me and you. 

You call nursing "sips" (e.g. "Sallie is fussing, Momma. I think she's hungry and needs some sips."). [Sidenote: You are such an empath and so attentive to the needs of others.] I think it's such a sweet, innocent, and cute way to describe it. You're also very fascinated by how it's both her food and beverage. I was actually a little nervous about this with you- you notice body parts and things like that a LOT more than Annie (on the subway for example) and Papa even asked me when I was pregnant if I would want to put a blanket over her or nurse in a different room. That is SO unlike Papa, who is not very modest and who is quick to talk about modesty being a cultural thing and how different people have differing levels of comfort/ideas of what's appropriate. And it seemed SO dumb to me to hide it from a five year old member of our immediate family, regardless of gender or personality. I made every effort to normalize it and !shocker! you seem to find it totally normal. But I did wonder if you'd be all up in my space. Actually, you often are, but just to pat and kiss his sister like every other moment of the day.

You also started carrying Sarah Lamar across the house (with a spotter) when she was about five days old. You told us "Look, I can support her neck."

That said, your number one girl hasn't changed. The other day you were ranking who you loved the most. You said you loved Mickey but not as much as Baby Sallie. And then you said you loved her but not as much as Annie. I hope you never struggle with being the middle child or the only boy. You sisters are EVERYTHING to you and you serve them so often and so well.

I told Annie this is a recent letter and I want to tell you, too. A friend mentioned to me recently how the physical work of motherhood gets easier as small people get bigger but the emotional work is ever often ever more difficult. That's been so true to my experience. I always, always say the most exhausting part of parenting is the emotional resources it requires. And (barring this nutso post partum period) that burden doesn't seem to get any lighter. 

I love, love, love tiny babies. But this part is beautiful too, I have to keep reminding myself how much I enjoy you and Annie so I won't be sad about Sallie growing up. And when Sarah Lamar is five and like you, washing her own fruit I'll be thirty eight and maybe I won't even have any desire to be up in the middle of the night providing meals to a tiny nursing person. I'm very grateful for all the physical things you and Annie are able to accomplish on your own and how big and strong ya'll are becoming.

But more than that, I'm grateful for the ways I get to watch your mind and heart grow. 

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your shorts are a 3T and your Star Wars t-shirt is a 5, I think.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Weekly Happenings Post #377 (June 20-26)

 [This picture is from the following week after Peyton broke his collarbone.]

It's fun reading back over these and realizing I accomplished something (anything!) besides nursing Sallie. I know at the time I felt like that was all I did (and still feels that way sometimes). As a side note, I realized when she was born that if I tried to remember to record and document every time I fed her, it would be like trying to record every time I breathed (or more accurately something like going to the bathroom). At first it sort of bothered me because I think with Graves I made sure to include it as part of each day's happenings, but it just wasn't realistic and these things are absurd enough as it is. That said, I include it when I remember. Just thought I'd share yet another side of compulsivity.

I also think it's funny how many "bad" diapers she seemed to be having this second week of life. She did have quite a few blow outs and (we're still dealing with this) I don't really feel like she potties often enough so the dirty diapers tend to be...intense. I'm actually planning to call Dr. Denney about it this week.

Final thing: this was also the week we apparently decided to be really good about using our big camera. Wish we'd do better more often!

Sarah Lamar did really well Sunday night and slept better than she ever has. She really didn't even fuss that much and then she slept a really good stretch from about two to six. She ate again at eight on Monday when Peyton and the big kids left for swim team practice and then we both slept until they got home around nine thirty.
My two girls. Such dear, unique, amazing little bookends they are.
I got up and took my bath and ate breakfast and fed her. I hopped on the computer and then made our bed. Peyton helped me with going through a huge pile in our room and we made a lot of headway. He fixed the kids lunch and then went swimming. I worked on putting up some of the stuff we had organized from the pile and then made Sallie's first doctor's appointment and had my lunch.

Peyton got home and we talked some and he and the big kids got ready for the swim meet. I changed an awful dirty diaper and fed the baby and they left. I just snuggled with Sallie some and it rained a little bit. I changed over laundry laundry, organized some stuff I was putting in the filing cabinet, and Peyton and the kids got home. They ate supper and I did dishes. Annie made it a whole lap in the water without a coach and Graves did really well, too. Peyton got them settled and I messaged a few friends on Facebook and then read some blogs and uploaded pictures for a post. I fed the baby and Peyton and Annie had tea and I ate something and went to bed.

 Asleep in a towel. Bless her heart- girlfriend was worn out!

I was glad I went to bed earlier than usual because it seemed like Sallie was up SO much. I don't even have any idea what times or how many times. Anyway, Peyton took the big kids to swim practice on Tuesday and we slept late. Tuesdays are a free swim day after the meets and they had tons of fun. Well, Annie did. Apparently Graves said it was too cold. Anyway, they got home and Peyton made me a strawberry smoothie for breakfast and did dishes. I got up and made our bed and helped the kids clean up their room and then I took a shower when Peyton left to work an extra shift he'd picked up. Sarah Lamar was hungry so I fed her and was going to dry my hair after that.
A sweet neighbor with three girls stopped by with brownies and we visited a bit and then I dried my hair. Sallie was a bit fussy and I got her settled down and then I collected laundry from around the house and straightened a bit and made the kids beds. I also made a little bit of progress on The Big Pile.

 I fixed the big kids and myself grilled cheeses and they ate and then had rest time.

The big kids washed a bag of bing cherries and sat on a towel in their skivvies spitting the seeds. I topped off the brownies from our neighbor with the cool whip Morgan included in her picnic basket smorgasbord of chicken salad and pimento cheese (my favorite thing to take to new mommas because you can snack on it ALL THE TIME- day or night...or 3 am).Lunch was an effort two hours and eight courses (including two nursing sessions) in the making. I'm very grateful for all the physical things Annie and Graves are able to accomplish on their own and for my sweet village- encouraging and feeding us well.

I took a little nap and read some blogs. After rest time, the kids played some more in the den and I nursed Sarah Lamar and then folded a bunch of laundry. She had a big diaper incident and I had to take the cover off the bouncy seat and wash it after I got her changed and fresh. I was feeding her again and was about to get the big kids supper and Minnie dropped by unexpectedly. Graves was kind of rude and grumpy. We visited and she played with them a bit and held Sallie while I fixed Annie and Graves's supper. I think that was her longest awake stretch yet! She was pretty cranky when Minnie left and I got her settled and had a snack and the kids finished supper. I helped them get their teeth brushed and read to them and got the situated for the night and then worked on the pile a little more and headed back to the kitchen to do some dishes and such. Peyton got home and we finished in the kitchen and talked some and then I ate something, read some blogs and worked on a post, and went to bed. Sarah Lamar's fussy stretch ended up being later (or earlier?) than usual and Peyton did help me out with it some.

We had a lot going on on Wednesday. We all got up and headed to swim team. I was excited to watch the kids because they had improved a LOT since the baby was born. After that, we came home and I got on the computer a bit and then took a short nap and had lunch. Peyton went to visit his parents (his mom had knee replacement surgery) and the big kids and I worked really hard on cleaning up their room. I fed Sallie and she had a horrible diaper which I got taken care of. I collected laundry and started a load. I read a few blog posts and Peyton got home and we packed up and all headed to Sallie's first appointment with Dr. Denney and to get the big kids' weight checked. We were there a good while because they had squeezed us in before Dr. Denney's week off the next week. But it was a great visit!
Annie and Graves are doing SO good and both gained some. Sallie is up five ounces from her birth weight and in the SIXTIETH percentile for weight. And the high-tops/shorts pairing is on point.

On the way home we stopped at Sonic and got a big drink to share. We relaxed some and Peyton left to go walk with our friend Rob. I finished cleaning up some stuff in the kids' bathroom and closet and started more laundry and did dishes while the kids ate supper. I got that cleaned up and swept and took out the recycling and then read to them and played with them. Peyton got home and I fed the baby and we talked and had a snack. I got on the computer and read some blogs and ordered some necessary stuff from Amazon, placed a hold on a library book, and messaged a friend. I ate something and started going through this big pile of magazines to skim and trash and then went to bed.

Sarah Lamar had a pretty good night. She woke up and nursed several times and once was for a LONG time but she didn't have her fussy time at all.

Peyton took the big kids to swim practice on Thursday and then he swam and put them in Kids Gym at the Y.

 Swim team pics! Graves is in the front row toward the middle dangling his blue owl that used to be attached to a harness in New York. Annie is on the second row, far left.

Sallie and I slept late. I woke up and fed her and got up for the day and had breakfast around ten. I got on the computer and straightened some and made our bed and Peyton and the big kids got home. They had media time, he left to get a haircut and I took my shower. Sarah Lamar started fussing but I wanted to finish drying my hair. When I went and checked on her she was full on screaming and had a leaky poop diaper. Also, Annie was whining a bunch about being hungry. I was so frustrated. I changed the baby and cleaned up the Pack n Play and Annie fixed herself some dry cereal. Peyton got home and we sort of pressed reset. He put some fresh clothes on Sallie and held her while I made some sauce to marinate our fish for lunch with. I nursed her and then changed over laundry and did dishes. I made the slaw for the fish and we cooked it and ate. The kids had rest time and I got on the computer a bit. I picked up the house a bit more and got some stuff together and we headed to Mickey and Minnie's.

Mick grilled hamburgers and we had corn on the cob and potatoes and a strawberry pie. It was so good! The kids played and I visited with Minnie and Peyton bathed them. We headed home around nine and Graves fell asleep in the car. I nursed the baby, gave her her vitamins, and cleaned her little umbilical cord area and put fresh sheets on the Pack n Play. I got on the computer for awhile and worked on a blog post and then fed Sallie again and had a snack and went to bed.

Feels like the fog is finally staring to lift...

Sarah Lamar had an AMAZING night. We swaddled her, which I didn't think she'd be a fan of- and she wasn't at first!- and she did great. I fed her at two and then she woke up at five and nursed for literally an hour. But then she went another stretch until about nine. And no screaming uncontrollably.

I got up on Friday and didn't feel as great as the day before, despite my great night's sleep. Peyton had taken the big kids to swim team and when they got home, I got up. I got on the computer and Peyton made me a milkshake. I took a shower and made our bed and visited with him some and then he headed in to work. The kids had eaten a late breakfast and I had gotten the baby back down, so they had rest time before lunch that day.

This was one of my favorite little outfits/sleepers (I never knew which it was but they're so interchangeable in the early days) that Graves wore. As a somewhat unrelated, but hysterical aside, remember Graves's swim team coach (Josaline) that he previously referred to as "Coach Vasaline"? He startedcalling her "Coach Duckling". Names are hard. It took him about three days to get Sarah Lamar's down and sometimes he still doesn't fool with it and calls her random things like "wheat"?!?

 I ate my lunch, read some blogs, and texted with a friend. Towards the end of rest time Graves and Annie got to fighting over a feather. They were both so rude and aggressive and mean to each other (and to me). I talked to them and they got better...and then started fighting over a bottle of baby powder. I was really at my wit's end and I needed to fix them lunch before Sarah Lamar got up. We worked the problem out and I made them lunch and fed the baby. I started straightening a bit and our neighbor came over to leave some money for the yard guy since she was going to China for six weeks. The kids got super wild while she was here. Grrr...

She left, I pushed the kids out the door to pick blueberries, and I swept the kitchen and folded a bunch of laundry. I got a good bit put up, picked up the house a bit, and did a bunch of dishes. I made the kids' beds and they came in an cleaned up their room. I finished the dishes and collected trash and recycling from both bathrooms and the study and then I got ready and fixed us a picnic supper. I collected what we needed and changed Sallie and fed her and we headed to the park.

It was SUPER hot and I got a little worried about Sarah Lamar. She was sweating and then got screamy. A lady came up to us and talked to me about her grandchild that was born two weeks before and touched her feet. It's always weird when strangers touch your baby but really what I was worried about was that she was distracting me and had someone else with her who was going to abduct Annie or Graves. I know, WAY too much FBI Files/SVU. Anyway, I told her I thought the baby was getting hungry and I made sure to find Annie and Graves quickly. Sarah Lamar was so hot and I ended up nursing her most of the rest of the time. The kids took a break from playing and we all ate supper (while I kept feeding Sallie) and then we moved to a different part of the playground where it was easier to keep an eye on the big kids. We played a bit longer, swung by the bathroom, and headed home. It was a nice walk! We got home and the big kids brushed their teeth and took supper quick showers.

Lots of firsts. First shift for Peyton to work with no help/visitors. First solo outing with three kids. First time to wear this sunsuit. First time nurse at the park (or really anywhere that public). First time post partum to "exercise" by walking the half a mile in ninety five degree heat. Fryin' our faces off- but having lots of fun doing it!

Right then Sallie had an awful blow out diaper. Peyton got home just as I finished up with that. We talked and I fell asleep for a bit.

I got up and read some blogs, had something to eat, and worked on a post. I went to bed pretty late.

The good news is that Sarah Lamar slept SIX hours. I fed her at two and she didn't wake up until eight on Saturday when Peyton was leaving and then went back to sleep until maybe tenish when the big kids got up. I fixed them breakfast and fed her and was just LAZY. I finally got on the computer a bit and jumped in the tub around eleven. Sallie started fussing and so I fed her and then dried my hair while the big kids had media time. They played some and I changed Sarah Lamar, gave her some vitamins and cleaned her umbilical area, and got her in fresh clothes. I got the big kids lunch and then they had rest time. I read some blogs and a magazine, texted and FB messaged a few people, and rested a bit. Sallie slept the whole time!

After that, I fed her and then held her and helped the kids sort Legos. They had a snack that turned into supper and I straightened around the house, collected laundry and folded some, and got a lot of the kids' clothes hung up. I picked up in their room a bit and dusted in both bedrooms and the study. They finished and played some and I cleaned up supper, swept in the kitchen, and took out the trash and recycling. I vacuumed in the kids' room and then got them ready for bed and read to them. Sallie had a terrible diaper and Peyton got home and helped me with that and with settling the big kids down. He had brought me CFA and I ate and then fed Sarah Lamar, who then had ANOTHER bad diaper. I had gotten frustrated with Annie and Graves about something and was just having a hard time. Peyton and I watched a couple of SVU's and then he went to bed and I read a few more blogs and had a snack and went to bed myself.

It's took some time, thoughtfulness, and creativity but I finally figured out a system that allowed me and Sarah Lamar to be comfortable in our room at night. And thus, we also figured out the nighttime fussiness. I will say that, despite the exhaustion and weepiness, I was so chill about this and didn't let myself fret when I couldn't figure it out. I hopeful that's a third-child-seven-years-of -parenting-brings-perspective thing that continues.
It was because I turn the air down about ten degrees to go to sleep. We figured it out because Sallie loves being outside or in the car because it's like a sauna. So now sleeping here feels like sleeping on the surface of the sun. If Central Mississippi gets ANY hotter, I'm planning to use one of my favorite lightweight quilts because the actual bedding is too hot and I have to have something covering me and just a flat sheet skeeves me out. I sort of wish one of those muslin blankets was big enough for me. I also busted out all the (super not risqué) cotton gowns my friends indulged me by stretching the definition of "lingerie" at my shower eight years ago and am wearing them instead of t-shirts and shorts. I wish my hair would go in a ponytail.
Of course the obvious answer is to bundle HER up. Peyton was really gracious about the air when
I was pregnant but this was the perfect excuse to jump back on the eighty degree crazy train. I did tell him what an EXCELLENT catch I am to sleep in a sleeping bag in the Winter and do this in the Summer. So we compromised and it's on 77-78 at night.Also, I didn't think she was the type of chick who likes to be swaddled. She loves playing with her fingers and sucking them and stretching and kicking her legs. Basically, she already seemed too big for it. Peyton and I were laughing because we swaddled AP until she was like ten months old and I took Graves's little Velcro swaddlers with me EVERYWHERE. I think she might be more of a free spirit, this one. We finally tried it and she DID hate it at first- it was like a baby straight jacket- but it worked. Funny aside: I wore the Purple hearts on our WEDDING NIGHT
Sallie slept pretty well. I fed her at midnight and she was up around four for quite awhile but she nursed the whole time. Annie got up and did her media time around eight thirty on Sunday and I fed Sallie again. Then Graves got up at nine something and Sarah Lamar had a dirty diaper. I changed her diaper, her clothes, and the bed. I put the dirty stuff in the laundry room, fed the cat, and fixed Annie breakfast. I started a movie for Graves and fed Sallie and then got on the computer with her in my lap. I went through my email and reader and then put her down and took my shower. She was fussing so she hung out on the sofa with my while I dried my hair. She fell asleep and I put her in her swing and did some things around the house. I made the bed, fixed the kids something to eat, took out the trash, and collected laundry and started a load. I put up a bunch of dishes and then washed some and changed over the laundry. I got a good bit folded and put up and flipped through some more magazines.

Graves was ranking who he loved the most. He said he loved Mickey but not as much as Baby Sallie. And he said he loved her but not as much as Annie. I hope he never struggles with being the middle child or the only boy. His sisters are EVERYTHING to him and he serves them so often and so well.
I fed Sallie and got her settled and then fixed the big kids lunch. I cut up a massive watermelon which took about half an hour by the time I cleaned up the mess and composted the rind. I composted some other stuff and washed out the dishes. I started a load of laundry and the kids had rest time. Sarah Lamar slept the whole time again and I ate my lunch, worked on a post, and read some blogs and magazines. I read my devotion and then Sallie woke up and I fed her and visited with the big kids.
It's been so interesting to see their reactions to what constitutes a large part of my vocation these days. Annie mentioned to me that animal babies get milk from their mommas, too and I said "oh yes, that's true! Mammals do!" And she said "You do know thar pigeons nurse their young, right?"Well no, actually I didn't. I need to stop Goggling and just know in these cases, she's right. As far as Graves, he calls nursing "sips" (e.g. "Sallie is fussing, Momma. I think she's hungry and needs some sips.") I think it's such a sweet, innocent, and cute way to describe it. He's also very fascinated by how it's both her food and beverage. I was actually a little nervous about this with him- he notices body parts and things like that a LOT more than Annie (on the subway for example) and Peyton even asked me when I was pregnant if I would want to put a blanket over her or nurse in a different room. That is SO unlike Peyton, who is not very modest and who is quick to talk about modesty being a cultural thing and how different people have differing levels of comfort/ideas of what's appropriate. And it seemed SO dumb to me to hide it from a five year old member of our immediate family, regardless of gender or personality. I made every effort to normalize it and !shocker! he seems to find it totally normal. But I did wonder if he'd be all up in my space. Actually, he often is, but just to pat and kiss his sister like every other moment of the day. Having a seven year old academic, a five year old empath, and a precious newborn who eats ALL THE TIME is so much fun. 
I changed over laundry and started washing Graves's bedding because he had had a nosebleed the night before. I folded some more of the laundry and then started cooking some asparagus. I went ahead and read to the kids and played with them and did their Bible story while it was cooking. I got them eating supper and folded some more laundry. Peyton got home and he helped me finish getting them settled.

We talked and I fed the baby and then I ate something and got on the computer. I read blogs, worked on a post, and made a to-do list for the next day. I skimmed some more magazines, fed the baby, soaked some dishes, and went to bed.

Closing out June with the next post (hopefully tomorrow)!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Letter to (Seven Year and Three Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Annie,

Summer was really fun with you this year. You and Graves did swim team and made almost every practice. We didn't really stress much about the meets, especially since this was right around when Sister Baby was born, but we made a couple of those, too. I was so proud of you guys- my own little Briarwood Dolphins! 

At the first meet, you were on a relay and some of the other little girls could make it across the pool by themselves but, at that point, you couldn't. At the last minute I heard "Coach Brady" say "someone needs to be in the pool with her!" He was on the other end of the pool and I watched him run toward your end, throw down the crutch he was using for some injury I had yet to figure out, discard the removable brace thing on his leg that he takes off to coach in the pool, and jump in to catch you and help you make it the length of the pool. Y'all were both pretty out of breath by the end of the lap! It was a truly precious moment made infinitely more so because of what a full circle moment it was. Back when I thought Papa was super old (I mean I was fifteen and he was in college!) and a total nerd, Brady was three and his older brother Charlie (who is the Dolphin's head coach now!) was five and they were literally the cutest little boys I'd ever seen in my life. Because I'm no good at keeping things to myself, I'll even admit that they made me want my own little boy one day and I even toyed with the idea of naming him Charlie. Now they are wonderfully kind college aged grown men who still say "yes ma'am" to me and who are jumping in the pool in a heartbeat to take care of my babies. I'm married to that huge nerd who I always saw enjoying playing with the tiny people at the pool and suspected would be an amazing father and I have my own little Dolphins who (in my biased opinion) rival the King boys in cuteness. There are no words to articulate what a special place Briarwood is. I hope you and Graves (and Sister Baby) love it as much as we did!

 By the end of the Summer, you were swimming so well. One morning you swam with a friend who is much more proficient and the peer pressure was SO good for you and graves. You swam in the twelve foot deep end- two weeks before that you wouldn't let Papa take his hands off of you in the four foot area.

Funny aside: You slept in your swimsuit most nights because you are NOT a morning person and you like to take care of as much as possible the night before (I took a hilarious picture of you asleep in the loveseat in our room with your swimsuit on.)

One of the biggest undertaking I wanted to accomplish before the baby got here was finishing up your math curriculum for the year. It had been a bit of a labor of love for awhile. We switched curriculums for second grade and it's been a better fit for you. Finishing up our first grade lessons was a grit your teeth thing for both of us, though. And you favorite time to do it was late at night after Graves fell asleep. Which, I really don't blame you. And it IS easier. But I had gotten to where I was either ready to go straight to sleep or just so touched out and in need of a break. BUT, we did it! You told Minnie how you had finished this curriculum and helped us pick (from among predetermined choices) the one for next year. Papa asked me at the beginning of the pregnancy when I was having a really hard time what I'd do if I had a full time job outside the home. It really hurt my feelings but it also made me think. And now I have my answer. I'd show up in exactly the same way I showed up for you at ten and eleven at night, sometimes pushing ourselves to fit in two lessons, not putting it off except on the very hardest days. And I'd try to have the same patience with my students that I've struggled to find for you this past year in this area. Praise God another year of math is in the books! (Another side note: you are SUCH a night owl. A friend who lives in your neighborhood messaged me to say she saw you and Papa taking a walk at ten pm.)

One thing I love about having you at home is that I get to see how you think so often. It's interesting to me to watch your mind work. You say things you don't realize are funny like "I wonder if Minnie has opened my surprise yet. I think surely she's home by now (she had left five hours earlier and they live in an adjacent county less than ten miles away).

Recently Papa was reading you a story and he asked you to connect the proverb at the end to the actual fable and you weren't able to link them fully-and required a good deal of leading to understand any connection. We often give you so much credit for your ability to read and walk through facts (nonfiction connections), but less literal thinking seems a challenge for you. I think it's very natural at your age but I also think it's partly your personality.

Another thing I've been thinking about is how relationships are SO important to me but people deplete mine and your energy. Awhile back, I overheard Papa talking to you about self-care. You had enjoyed a visit from your grandparents and a long walk AND swim with your brother and your papa and somehow you missed "rest time", which you told us might have been why you were so cranky. I love how self-aware you are. (Papa and I were recently talking about how you're usually willing to try new foods even though you have a good idea of if you'll like it or not.) Now we've just got to work on helping you create your own boundaries (like telling Graves you need time by yourself to read- something you can do whenever you want to).

By far, the biggest thing that happened this Summer was welcoming Sarah Lamar. I will admit you've been a bit ambivilant but also so helpful. I may have already mentioned it in another letter, but you told us that you like babies when they get to be "about two or three years old" which incidently is also exactly when Papa starts to like them, too ;)

That said, I've loved seeing your reactions and hearing your thoughts. When you visited her in the hospital the day after she was born you told us that you read in a book that newborns can only see about twelve inches in front of them so we should probably get close to her when we talk to her. You also said "My name is Ann Peyton but I like it when people call me Annie. But you probably won't be able to call me anything for awhile." And you told me that Sallie's hair feels like a kitty cat's fur. I'm pretty sure the more ways we can find that she's analogous to an animal, the more you'll love her!

The day we came home she was crying really hard and you immedietly picked up a book and started reading to her. Papa said you were "comforting an upset baby the way you knew best". You picked a potty book because she had just had a "potty accident", aka a dirty diaper. Haha!

It's also been so interesting to see y'alls reactions to my nursing the baby, something that constitutes a large part of my vocation these days.You mentioned to me  that animal babies get milk from their mommas, too and I said "oh yes, that's true! Mammals do!" And you said "You do know thar pigeons nurse their young, right?". Well no, actually I didn't. I need to stop Goggling and just know in these cases, you're right.

You also did mention to me at one point that you too wanted "a hundred thousand babies" (something Graves has been saying for over a year). And one day you did go put on your watermelon dress to match a bubble Sallie was wearing.

You and Sallie are such unique, amazing little bookends. I'm so thankful for both of you and of course for Graves.

Speaking of Graves- the other day he was ranking who he loved the most. He said he loved Mickey but not as much as Baby Sallie. And he said he loved her but not as much as you. His sisters are EVERYTHING to him and he serves y'all so often and so well. 

A friend mentioned to me recently how the physical work of motherhood gets easier as small people get bigger but the emotional work is ever often ever more difficult. That's been so true to my experience. I always, always say the most exhausting part of parenting is the emotional resources it requires. And (barring this nutso post partum period) that burden doesn't seem to get any lighter. 

I love, love, love tiny babies. But this part is beautiful too, I have to keep reminding myself how much I enjoy you and Graves so I won't be sad about Sallie growing up. And when Sarah Lamar is seven and like you, washing her own fruit I'll be thirty eight and maybe I won't even have any desire to be up in the middle of the night providing meals to a tiny nursing person. I'm very grateful for all the physical things you and Graves are able to accomplish on your own and how big and strong ya'll are becoming.

But more than that, I'm grateful for the ways I get to watch your mind and heart grow. 
Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your shorts are a 5/6 and your Snoopy tee is a 5. You are showing off your missing tooth, which I'll tell you more about in your next letter =)


Monday, September 19, 2016

Weekly Happenings Post #376 (June 13-19)-- First Week with Three

Our first week with Sarah Lamar! Peyton was so sweet and helpful and I was really tired at first but it proved (and has continued to prove) to be a relatively easy adjustment. Monday and Monday night we were still in the hospital but we got to go home on Tuesday morning!

Monday was an exhausting day but a great one. Sarah Lamar and I got up around seven when a nurse came in and I feed her and ate my breakfast around eight. I got her settled and took my shower.

 sweet Sallie Girl

Before I could get my hair dry, a nurse and lactation consultant came in. We discussed how she was having a hard time latching and decided it might have been the paci I had given her that night when a nurse offered it. UGH. Apparently now they don't even call it "nipple confusion" they call it "nipple preference" because babies start to prefer the paci, which is easier to suck than the breast. I was so frustrated with myself. I tried to show the lactation consultant how she nursed but she wasn't really into it. They all left and Peyton got to the hospital and I finally got my hair dry. He had dropped the car keys off at the car shop (remember the car had broken on the way to the hospital while I was in labor?) and the big kids off with my parents. We visited and the baby fussed a good bit and I had lunch. I was SO emotional.

The day before had been so effortless and nice. I was so happy. Honestly, it was a rare day for me emotionally- I was so lighthearted and everything just seemed pleasant and easy without me working for it. It was maybe the most carefree I'd ever been in my life. But already by the second full day, the post partum hormones and exhaustion hit. I got so upset thinking about this being the last time. It was like the moment she was born the clock started ticking. I just love it so much and even though I KNOW the joy just multiplies as they get bigger, I wished this stage would last forever. I talked to a friend and wondered if I'd be envious every time someone had a new baby. I felt guilty about that. I told myself I needed to be sure to enjoy this. I felt so much pressure to do that. I had such a sense of closure with pregnancy and childbirth and I think I will with nursing when the time comes. All the reasons I really wanted another biological child. (We really thought for a while that Graves would be our last newborn and honestly until I saw her face I kept thinking this was a dream I'd wake up from.) Peyton reminded that Cookie will have babies and by then he'll be pretty much totally early retired and I can just go move to Nashville for a bit. And that one day Graves will attempt to convince his wife to go along with his plan of having "a hundred thousand babies" and they'll probably need some help. I started sobbing and said "What if his wife hates me?". It's so comical in retrospect. P said "you are not going to hate your mother in law if she's offering to move in and help with your hundred thousand babies". We were getting way ahead of ourselves. But HORMONES. Baby Sallie had some harder moments, too. I told Peyton it was so hot in the hospital room and he said "Probably the way you two cry it is." 

Peyton held Sallie a lot and then went and bought me some snacks and then he got ready to leave.

I heard some horror stories about delivering at UMC. And it was NOT as posh as the Baby Suites (see: styrofoam pitcher). But nothing gross has happened and we were been extremely well cared for. And also, honestly, maybe it's just my experience but people aren't as anal and let you do yo thing (see: I didn't have to wear a janky hospital gown  and birthed a baby in a t-shirt). For some reason, we  also found the view of the water tower and Murrah High School kinda cool. Low maintenance, except that gown, ha!

I nursed her and was going to take a nap but Susan, our sweet pastor from Northside, arrived. We had a lovely visit and Mallory got there just as she was about to pray and leave. The prayer she prayed was so beautiful-  she thanked God for the life we are making together. And thanked God for the beautiful world. And said something about Sallie experiencing all its delights. I got teary.

Mal and I had so much fun visiting and then she left and we rested a bit and I changed the baby's clothes because she had spit up and Carrie got to the hospital. We had so much fun and while she was there Peyton and the kids arrived for a visit. Carrie left and then Peyton and the big kids headed home.

 Graves wanted to know please could he take the baby home with him  and Mickey asked the same thing. Between Bud and Mick, I already knew Sister Baby was going to be ROTTEN. Haha!

The visitors helped me feel so much better, but we needed a break.

The afternoon was so good for me. Seeing Susan and two of my dearest friends in the world was pretty good balm. And then this text from my longtime BFF that made me laugh so hard. Grateful for this "beautiful world" as Susan said as she prayed over Sarah Lamar.

I nursed Sallie and she took a little nap and I did a few things.

 I went through the boy boxes picked out some of Graves's stuff since I dressed him in such "sweet" things. I sort of love her in blue and yellow. Also: THOSE CHEEKS.

 I was doing some things on the computer and she woke up. It was kind of a hard night from about ten to two. She was okay as long as I was holding her but she wouldn't let me put her down. Finally, she had a huge diaper and settled down. I had a snack and slept from about two to six. I fed her and we went back to sleep for a couple of hours.

Tuesday was going home day.

I thought on Sunday how much I love the hospital experience and how I'd be sad to leave but NOPE. I definitely had a sense of closure by Monday night. And it felt pretty darn nice that I think I'm a little "needed". On Sunday night, Annie told Peyton (who was already asleep) that she couldn't sleep and he told her to go get a bowl from the kitchen and stare at it?!? And she did it. I'm grateful he'd never tell her to do anything dangerous, even in his sleep, because she trusts every word he says.I was quite ready to blow this popsicle stand!

I had breakfast around eight and Sarah Lamar slept in her little bed some so I was able to do some stuff on the computer. I started typing up the birth story. Peyton got up to the hospital and lots of different nurses and people came by to work on the discharge. We actually could've left around eleven but I needed a shower. I took one and Peyton helped me pack everything up and dress the baby. We checked out and picked up CFA and then headed to Peyton's parents' house.

 Time to get on with the work of finding our new normal. Oh wait, the Herringtons don't know the meaning of that word. Buckle up, Sallie Girl!

On the way, they called and said the car was ready! We weren't expecting it until Wednesday at the earliest. Peyton dropped me and Sarah Lamar off with his mom so we could visit and he and his dad went to get the car. We talked a bit more when they got home and then headed to my parents' house to pick up Annie and Graves. We dropped off some prescriptions at Walgreens and came home and they played some and then we got ready and Peyton's sister and her family came over. They had offered to take our kids out for pizza, but I knew everyone would have more fun playing at our house. We had a great visit and Minnie stopped by in the middle of it.

 Told y'all the Herringtons don't know what normal is. Peyton did such a great job cleaning up the house and having things ready for me and Sallie to come home so we had an impromptu play date with the cousins. And took the baby to visit the in-laws. And picked up the car with the new clutch (did I mention the movie like experience where our ONE CAR literally stopped working on the way to the hospital in the middle of labor?). I finally got Sarah Lamar's birth story mostly typed up and finished another post in drafts. I knew I was living some of the best days of my life.

Everyone left around seven something and we got Annie and Graves settled for the night. I nursed the baby and snuggled with her a bunch and texted a few friends. Peyton ran back to the pharmacy and to Kroger. He got home and I passed off the baby and worked on the post some more. After a bit, I came and got her and nursed her and she fell asleep.

She slept a good stretch and I fed her once at six and then at nine and then Peyton let me sleep in until eleven on Wednesday. He made me breakfast and I took my shower and we had a low key morning.

 Good morning, sunshine! Sarah Lamar was still having a big fussy stretch from about eleven to two in the morning that typically ended with a dirty diaper. But otherwise she was sleeping (and eating!) great for a tiny baby. And Peyton was sweetly making sure her momma wass, too.

The kids cleaned up their room and Peyton cleaned up the kitchen. Annie and Peyton went to the library to see a magician but Graves couldn't go because he told me he knew he was supposed to clean up his room but he wasn't going to obey. He had rest time and I talked to Morgan on the phone and ate my lunch and then Sarah Lamar got fussy again. Peyton and Annie got home and he fixed the kids lunch and we talked and then I worked on a post some.

 As Peyton said "Annie comforting an upset baby the way she knew best- by reading to her" (she picked a potty book because she had just had a "potty accident", aka a dirty diaper).

Peyton helped a friend with a pharmacy question and I fed the baby and and the big kids and I cleaned up the living room. We all got ready and headed to the pool.
 A Dolphin by day four

When we got back, Peyton fixed supper and I nursed Sallie. Peyton played with the big kids and got them settled and Sallie had her fussy time from about nine to eleven.

 "It's my fussy time. Sorry guys, you knew it was coming."
For everyone who thought Sarah Lamar took after her brother...yeppppp.
I worked a bunch on getting our bags unpacked from the hospital and straightening up in our room. I got on the computer and worked some more on the birth story. I collected laundry and made a list for the next day.

Thursday was a really nice day. Peyton got up and took the big kids to swim team. I had been up a few times in the night so I slept late and so did Sallie. I got up and fed her around nine thirty and then took a shower and had breakfast. The kids and Peyton got home and he helped me get ready and we left for Sarah Lamar's weight check at UMC.

Another Papa's girl? Peyton told me "I do love this little baby". He'd been telling everybody for months how he "doesn't get attached to babies". And he IS more of a big kid person. And there are certainly family members who are more obsessed. But I could tell New Girl was already doing a number on him and he was falling in love. I may be biased, but I don't know how anybody could resist her charm. She stirs up so much in my heart.

The weight check (well the wait) ended up taking like an hour and a half. I didn't mind too much, though, because Peyton took the kids to the Children's Museum and that was a fun outing for them. So we knocked some stuff out. Afterwards, we got sno cones and then came home.

Summer is for...sno cones to celebrate being five days old and passing your first weight check

The kids had lunch and watched a movie and Sallie and I took a nap. I had lunch and then Peyton took Annie and Graves swimming. I fed Sallie and then worked on a blog post, FB messaged a friend, and uploaded pictures from my phone. I got the pictures from the big camera uploaded and fed her again and the kids and Peyton got home. I folded a load of laundry, made our bed, and straightened some. The kids had supper and Peyton got them settled and went to the grocery store.

I am surrounded by people who love so well.

I went through my reader. I actually went to bed super early and that turned out to be really good. I fell asleep a bit after nine and Sarah Lamar woke up around eleven and had her fussy time from then until one. She did settle down and nurse alot and as long as she was nursing she did okay.

At one we fell asleep and she was up again to eat at three and then at five. At five she had a dirty diaper that got on her pjs and the Pac N Play. I took care of that and fed her again and then we went back to sleep. She woke up at six to eat and again at eight thirty when the kids and Peyton left for swim team.

I slept late on Friday. The kids and Peyton went to swim team and then he took them to the other Y and put them in Kids Gym so he could swim some laps. I woke up around ten thirty and did a few things on the computer and made a list for the day. I ate my breakfast and took a shower. I collected laundry and stripped our bed and started washing the sheets. I picked up some in the kids' room and helped Annie make her bed and then I fed the baby and folded some dish towels. I folded a bit more laundry and Annie's Sunday school teacher dropped by with spaghetti and a book for the big kids. She visited for a little bit and then I changed over the laundry, swept the kitchen, and put up some dry dishes. I texted with some friends and had my lunch. I washed dishes and Peyton took Annie and Graves to the library. I fed Sallie and when they got back we headed to my parents' house. We had a nice visit and Graves fell asleep on the way home.
Mick said "this might be the best picture I've ever taken". It just might be.

Peyton and I visited with Annie and then she went to bed and Peyton watched a movie and I worked on editing pictures and read some blogs. I started some laundry and then Sarah Lamar had her big fussy spell. It was nearly two by the time I went to sleep. Sarah Lamar didn't wake up again until six, though! And after that she slept until after nine.

Peyton worked for the first time since she was born on Saturday and I was a little nervous but it ended up being a nice day. I got up around nine and finished editing the last of the pictures and rehung a frame in the kids' room. I made our bed and then feed the baby and changed her diaper and clothes. She went back to sleep and the big kids had media time. I had breakfast, took out the trash from both bathrooms, fed the cats, and took my shower. The kids had their breakfast and I did some dishes and straightened a bit. I put up some towels and found a place to store the extra packages of baby wipes and then I snuggled with Sallie and fed her. I hung up some of the kids' clothes and I had lunch and got on the computer really briefly.

I cleaned up (and packed up) some toys in the kids' room that I was tired of asking them to put away and hung up some of their clothes and Peyton's t-shirts. I talked to Minnie on the phone, did a few dishes, and put on my make up. I nursed the baby again and Morgan and her girls got here to visit the baby and bring food. They stayed for about an hour and it was so nice to have some company.

After they left, the kids and I picked up the toys they and their friends had played with, I nursed Sarah Lamar, and then I started heating up some spaghetti for supper. The big kids and I all ate the spaghetti and then I laid down and took a nap on the sofa while they finished supper. I gave them a bath and while they played I finished organizing pictures. I nursed Sallie and then read them their Bible story and a couple of other books (while still nursing the baby).

 Peyton got home and the kids visited with him and we got them settled and talked some. I fell asleep for a bit and then had a snack and then Sarah Lamar started her fussy time. It was rough that night. She started fussing at about eleven thirty and didn't totally calm down until about three. She wasn't as upset as usual, though, and nursed through most of it and slept a few little stretches.

 I love that little hand grabbing my dress and those little crossed feet and pretty much everything about her. As I mentioned, I broke down and (against my better judgement) gave her a paci one night in the hospital. It kinda messed with her nursing. We took it away the next day and thankfully she was back to eating as much as she liked.
She was up again around seven and then eight and then nine. But I did get a good stretch between three and seven!

I got up around nine thirty on Sunday and fixed Graves breakfast and got on the computer a bit. I took my bath and made the kids' beds and our bed and Annie got up and the kids had media time. I ate breakfast and collected laundry and did a few dishes. Minnie came over and that was a really nice break. I visited with her some and then also got to talk to Peyton and feed Sallie in the quiet and have lunch by myself while she played with the big kids outside. We visited a little more and she left after a couple of hours of being at our house.

I fixed Annie a grilled cheese and she and Graves had lunch and then had rest time. I folded a big load of laundry and got some of it put up and then got on the computer and talked to Peyton. I was so emotional at that point. It was probably the tenth time I cried that day but the first time I really broke down. While I was on the phone with him, Graves called me and he had had some problems on the potty. Like problems that involve needing a bath. He needed one after the sandbox anyway, so I gave him a super quick one.

I took a nap and had a snack and fixed my face because our neighbor was coming over. I did the lunch dishes and I think all four of those things went a long way to helping me feel better. I fed the baby and our neighbor came over for a visit. She was super sweet and it was good to visit. After she left, I fed Sallie and then fixed supper for Annie and Graves.

Nearing the tail end of Peyton's second twelve hour shift. It wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined. Sarah Lamar was a pretty chill little chick (except for about two to three hours between midnight and three am- I have no idea???) and Annie and Graves were wonderful and adjusting so well. My physical recovery was happening a lot faster than I anticipated. But my emotions were still all over the map and Peyton's always so amazing with helping me navigate all that. I was so grateful that the next day our "weekend" would start and we'd have him with us until the next Friday. I'vd never been more thankful for Voluntary Simplicity =)

They took FOREVER to eat. I texted Minnie, got some spaghetti in smaller containers to freeze, put up dry dishes, washed some more dishes, folded some laundry, and started another load.

They finally finished and I read to them and got them settled. Peyton picked up Newks and a movie. We watched it and ate and snuggled with the baby.

Oh yeah, Happy Fathers Day to this one...

Annie was still awake after the movie so we gave her her bath and got Sallie to sleep.

I stayed up later than I should have but I FINALLY finished the birth story post I had been working on all week.

 It was a good first week with three babies!