Saturday, December 31, 2016

SD Is Thankful 2016

Every year, I document my Thankfuls for the month of November. I used to post them weekly, then I think I did batches of ten, and this year it's coming in just under the wire before the calendar turns to 2017. Ha! It's one of the posts I've had in the hopper for awhile and it takes almost nothing to do now that I don't really caption them anymore, so I decided it would be a good night to dust it off, upload the graphics, and hit publish! The only thing I must note is that I have two "23rds". There was a time in my life where I would have redone the thing but this is not that time. I won't say I didn't think about it and it was honestly super hard not to, but letting go of little things like that is what is making this hobby sustainable for me right now. I spotted another typo as well and I'm just publishing it as is, as a metaphor for the imperfections that an authentic life includes.



There is so much goodness to dwell on even in the midst of some of the difficulties 2016 brought.

What I Learned in 2016

 Last year instead of doing my monthly "What I Learned" post for December, I did a bigger, more thorough "What I Learned in 2015" post. I really liked doing it that way so I decided to do it again! Some of the stuff on here is things I realized this month, but a lot of it has been brewing for awhile and even the things I realized this month seem to really apply to the whole year. I jotted down thoughts and had decided to organize them into categories (because I liked that last year, too). I was going to create new categories and group them into those but when I looked back at my three main ones from 2015, they worked this year, too! Here are some of the things I learned in 2016...


1. There are small things I can do to make my life more efficient and when I figure one out it feels like I've won a gigantic prize. Some of it is better time management. Some of it, I think, is that I've gotten faster at certain things over the years (churning out a post for example) and have figured out ways to make it faster (sometimes writing things in pieces is easier- uploading pictures at one point and writing the bulk of the post at a different time and that kind of thing, sometimes it works better to spend a big chunk of time and just knock it out). Some of it is the kids' ages. Some of it is little life hacks. Life is easier when the dish soap and hand soap just share a dispenser or when I hang the recyling bag by the sink while I'm doing dishes so I can just pop things in when I rinse them out.

2. Simplifying and purging in regards to baby clothes hasn't been as hard as I predicted.
 [Took all this stuff to consign- yay!]

 I've had a hard time at points as Sallie's outgrown things but overall, I haven't been AS heartbroken as I expected to be. I remember when we had our last night in the sweetest "storybook" jams. Fortunately, even Annie's bedtime collection was extensive and well curated so it'll be exciting to move on to new pieces. It was something I took very seriously as a new mother. And a couple of months ago when I was sorting through things and getting stuff together to consign and donate and separating out some stuff into a bin that was going to my parents' storage unit to wait in a climate controlled environment for (still down the road) Baby Reynaud and (very very hypothetical and also adopted) Babykins #4. I thought about what it meant that just like that, for the first time in over seven years, my house would have no itty bitty baby clothes in it. 
Like I said, I wasn't as torn up as I had envisioned myself. And I finally came up with a good purge plan. I was having a hard time picking out what to save for Cookie down the road. I decided to just keep what I love and what I'd personally want to hang on to in the case we end up fostering/adopting- a very simple, paired down wardrobe with just my favorite pjs, play clothes, and dressy things. It feels good living in the present and feeling happy hopeful about the future.

3. I don't like bribing my kids but awhile back it occurred to me that I reward myself a lot for doing things that I just simply should do. That's just sort of how a lot of people live life and I don't think it's a horrible thing.

4. Mindless activities are really good for you and I need to find a couple of positive ones. Peyton and I were talking recently about how we (we: millennials in North America and we: him and I) spend so much time mindlessly scrolling through our phones and he said something about how he likes to cook because it's something he can do with his hands while he's listening to a podcast or something and it doesn't take a ton of mental energy. I have a few friends who love to knit for exactly the same reason and my grandmother, Peyton's grandmother, and my momma all love gardening because of this. I mean, people used to whittle wood into things. I'd like to cultivate a few useful skills (or at the very least, relaxing habits) that don't necessitate a lot of actual thought but also don't involve a screen.


5. I love a little comparison study and I also love curating some quotes. 
These have been two of my favorite things to share on IG this year. The first is comparing pictures of the kids (mostly the girls, for obvious reasons) in the same outfit or doing the same thing. The second is just making little speech bubbles out of funny or sweet things the kids or Peyton (or our friends) say that I want to remember.

Struggles and Joys

6. There's a lot I don't remember from Sallie's birth. Oh hey, remember that time I had a baby and she came out blue?!? Yeah, me either. And apparently, Peyton didn't think to tell me anything about it until like seven weeks later. To be fair, it didn't sound extremely emergent. But still. Wonder what else I don't remember from that crazy night that he's keeping to himself.

7. Related to that, Sallie's birth was beautiful and the important thing about my story is that it's mine

I'm still processing and coming to terms with it and I'm working on a post that I'm hoping to actually hit publish on in the next couple of weeks, but there's a lot I need to get out. Back during those first few weeks after she was born, I had been looking at some beautiful birth photography and birth stories in a group I'm part of on Facebook and then someone on Instagram shared a beautiful story. It's been a while since I've played the comparison game with houses and cars and clothes but oddly- and I feel so absurd admitting this- I got swept up in it. It was the fifth time in a few weeks that I had seen an amazing birth story or pictures. I reread my own post. about Sarah Lamar's birth. The broken car and bright lights and novice nurse and bedpan episodes seemed nearly totally devoid of any tenderness and had nothing in common with these soft, serene accounts. The photographs that had become one of my greatest treasures weeks earlier seemed garish and too raw. And I got sad it was my last chance at it. I put Sallie in one of my favorite sleepers of AP's that night and I thought about how it's my last chance at everything. And I kind of lost it. I talked to a friend who gets this part of me- both the creative part and the compulsivity I often struggle with (wanting to do a thing over and over until it's perfect, which is not sustainable with, you know, giving birth). She told me she knew how important it is to me to capture a beautiful story and that she knew Sallie's birth was beautiful to me even if I lost sight of that for a bit. She reminded me that the important thing about my story is that it's mine. She was so right and it was one of the deepest, most important things I learned this year. I can't wait to explore it more in the coming weeks. 

8. Sometimes a stranger's vulnerability or a stranger's encouragement can be a real gift. That birth group I'm in on FB? The one I mentioned where I kind of got upset reading stories and seeing pictures? A few weeks later another momma expressed how hard this exact thing is sometimes. And y'all. So many women came out of the woodwork to encourage her and validate her feelings. Her vulnerability was a gift to me and I felt so much healing (to be very clear, I wouldn't call Sallie's birth traumatic at all, but it was a deep grief to me that it wasn't at all how I pictured it and especially so with it being my last). Such a gentle grace.

9. I need to prioritize self-care and giving myself some space to be something other than a mother. Recently, Peyton made this great soup and a friend of mine got a book published. I was literally sobbing and saying "Why is everyone else so successful and not me?" And then I was like "Well, I'm pretty damn successful at being Sallie's mom. It sure is nice that NOBODY else can take care of her and make her happy like I can EVEN HER DAMN GRANDPARENTS". It was the night we were going to that pharmacy party and honestly I wasn't mad at all about taking her- I knew it would be fun and give me an out to leave a bit early- but it sort of annoyed me that I didn't feel like I even had the option. Then I was like "I mean besides Tequila in the church nursery. She does a damn fine job and that's a REAL BLESSING to me. Because I'm ABSOLUTELYFREAKINGOBSESSED with this baby but in case you didn't notice occasionally I need her to not be attached to me". [That was actually edited because the real language was way worse. Eeek.]
It terrifies me when I get so tired- physically and emotionally- that I'm unmotivated to write or interact with other people. It's just lonely but I have no energy to really change it. I'm determined to do better about not lett myself get to that point. 

10. "I can live sad." A friend said this to me recently and not to be dramatic, but it was like a life-altering realization. I've been thinking so much (especially after listening to the Sorta Awesome podcast on dealing with grief during the holidays) about how hard I culture works to avoid lament. We are absolutely terrified to sit in the sadness with others and to sit in our own sadness. I certainly don't want to convey that sadness is the whole of my life, but it's a part- a natural and healthy part- and I want to make space for it better.

Interestingly, I only had one thing under "Personality" and I had four under both "Struggles and Joys" and "Lifestyle". That seems really fitting- I've certainly learned a lot about myself and others but a really big part of this year has been that our day to day life has changed with the addition of another child and more so than many years, I feel like it's been one of intense struggle and joy. I'm thankful for all 2016 has brought us, not the least of which was some great things I learned about myself and those I love!

Friday, December 30, 2016

One Word 2017: Well

For 2015 and 2016, I chose one word- focus and slow, respectively- to guide my goaling and be a focal point for the year. It's always interesting the process that brings me to the word and then it's interesting to look back over the year and see how it influenced me and what became of it.

I know some people pray for the Lord to give them a word or guide them to a word and there's nothing wrong with that but after years of trying to pray like that I've discovered that, for me, it's more stressful than anything else. I'm not saying it's not possible that God draws me to a word and I certainly ask Him to help me in these endeavors once they're established, but I just struggle to hear God in this way and I've finally made my peace with that.

Last year, a song drew me to my word and this year it was a quote that helped me land on it. Over the last six months, I've thought about this quote by Julian of Norwich quite a bit:

Her words, reminding me that all shall be well, have brought comfort to me, particularly when I felt anything but.

Over these past few months, I feel like I've begun the hard work of becoming more well-- mentally and physically. But I know there is plenty more works to be done. Plenty of room for growth. I also know that these things are often not linear and that there is plenty of Grace when I feel paralyzed and stagnant, even when I stumble backwards. 

I haven't figured out all of my specific goals for 2017 yet but I'm excited to focus this year on taking steps toward a more healthy life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Weekly Happenings Post #386 (August 22-28)-- Meeting Jill the Bird


We had a good, relatively normal week for the last full week of August. We took another trip to see Granny and Annie got to meet a friend of Minnie's new bird! And I loved listening to my own little "Baby Bird" figuring out how to make new sounds!

Monday was a good, busy day. We all got up and had breakfast and the kids cleaned up their room and Peyton and I straightened around the house some, too. I got on the computer and got ready for the day and then had lunch and Peyton did some school with Graves.

We all got ready and headed to the science day with the homeschool group and then left there and headed to Granny's. We had a great visit and after changing an awful blow out diaper right as we were leaving, got on the road back home.
 He can't get enough snuggles with Babes 

Y'all. This little gal has some loooong legs. Doesn't get that from me!
We ate in the car and when we got home we let the kids have some media time and then got them to bed. Peyton and I did a few things around the house and I got on the computer. I wrote a quick post read some blogs and tried to decide on a Tula to buy and then went to bed.

Tuesday was pretty good. We stayed home most of the day and got a lot of school stuff done. Peyton and the kids got up and had breakfast and I got up at nine and took my bath and got on the computer. I changed, dressed, and fed Sallie and then dried my hair. I ate breakfast and the kids finished cleaning up their room and had media time. I started some laundry and put up dishes and Peyton did Five in a Row with the kids. I fed Sallie again and did math and English with Annie and Peyton did math and English with Graves. Then they had free time and I uploaded pictures, read some blogs, and sent an email and Facebook message.

Peyton mowed the yard and I went through a big pile of stuff in our room, did a bunch of dishes, put fresh sheets on our bed, and scrubbed the tubs, toilets, and sinks and then cleaned the bathroom floors and emptied trash. The kids ate supper and Peyton took a shower. We all got ready to go to Toys R Us to use a gift card we had. We ended up going to two different Targets after that and got home late. We got the kids settled and visited some and then I got on the computer for awhile.

We had a good day on Wednesday and got a lot done, I felt like. I got up around nine and got my bath, got on the computer, ate breakfast, and started a load of laundry. I made up Graves's bed and then started math with Annie. Peyton did English with Graves and then I did math with him and Sallie woke up. Peyton and Annie cleaned out the car and vacuumed it and I fed, changed, and dressed Sallie and finished math with Graves. We had lunch and they had a bit of rest time and then I got some thank you notes ready to mail, read a few blogs, made our bed, and changed over laundry. We all got ready and went over to P's parents' house to visit. Annie also interviewed them for a project and then we met Elizabeth and her kids at the park. We had a fun time until it started raining. We headed home and picked up a pizza on the way. We had to wait and Sallie was screaming and then Graves started crying he was so thirsty. Peyton went in and bought him a drink and we came home and ate and then he bathed the big kids and took them to the library while Sallie and I hung out.

They got home and Peyton got Graves settled and read to him and I did a bunch of English with AP (grammar, memory work, spelling words, phonics, a game, a worksheet, a lesson on editing, a brainstorming activity, and some typing practice). I read some blogs and had a snack and then worked on some thank you notes and got two packages ready to mail. I wrote a quick post and took a shower and went to bed.

Peyton had a few things going on on Thursday, but we had a good day. I got up later than usual and fed Sallie, took my bath, got on the computer, and ate breakfast. Peyton had already fixed the big kids breakfast and they got their room mostly clean and started their media time. I made our bed and Graves's and put up a few things in their room, collected laundry, and started a load. Peyton left to meet a friend for lunch and run some errands. I bathed Sallie and then fixed the big kids grilled cheeses. I folded a bunch of dish towels and bath towels and then I did Graves's math and tried to start Annie's. She got frustrated and we came to a standstill for a bit. She finally did some mental math and I washed dishes and scrubbed down the kitchen counters.They had a break and Peyton got home. We talked and then Annie did some more math and I had lunch and read some blogs. Peyton worked in the yard and hung out with Graves. I fed Sallie and then Peyton got ready to go to a pharmacy dinner.

The big kids played and I fed, changed, and settled Sallie, straightened some, and fixed them supper. While they ate, I wiped down some gross areas in the fridge and grated soap and made laundry detergent. Sallie was a little cranky off and on. I got the big kids settled (Graves had gotten some fruit juice on his hands and it was stinging them) and then swept in the kitchen and started a load of clothe diapers washing. I organized some stuff I had been meaning to and then Peyton got home. I put up a bunch of groceries he had picked up and we talked and then I finished a post and read some blogs and went to bed.

The kids and I slept pretty late on Friday. I fixed their breakfast and then fed, changed, and dressed Sarah Lamar. I texted with a friend, had my breakfast, got on the computer, and made our bed. I took my bath and the kids straightened their room and had media time.

Y'all know by now that I'm not inherently crafty but I guess back to school has got me feeling the need to pull out my old teacher hat. Worked smashingly with Annie who is a perfectionist and gets totally overwhelmed by the night party carnage (and who was really protesting the most); Bud still gets distracted and just wants to play until you tell him that media time is starting in five minutes and he'll miss Star Wars and then be does the whole thing like the Road Runner.

I did a few things and read some blogs and then Annie did part of a math worksheet and I worked with Graves on his math. I changed Sallie and fixed them grilled cheese sandwiches and I fixed myself one and right then Sallie started crying. I tried to feed and burp her but she wouldn't really settle. I finally put her down in the Pack N Play so I could eat and after I went back several times to put her paci in, she finally fell asleep. I talked to a friend a bit and then did some more school with the big kids.

Saturday ended up being a weird day. The kids got up around nine and I fixed them yogurt and laid back down for a bit. They ate and played a little and then cleaned their room. Minnie called and wanted to take Annie over to a friend of hers house to see her new bird she had just gotten. I had planned a good day of school but I agreed, of course. I collected some laundry, helped the kids in their room, made our bed, and ate something and got on the computer. I also had to figure out about the carseat situation. I didn't think my mom had a booster for Annie and she debated going out to Clinton to get ours from Peyton. Then I texted his parents' to see if she could borrow theirs but they weren't home. She finally went to Target and got one and THEN we realized she had the Herrington's in her car all along from some other time. Oh my gosh! I finally got my bath and then the kids and I did morning school. We read a good bit of history and the Bible lesson. They ate something and Minnie arrived and we visited and then she and Annie left. Graves was disappointed so I let him watch a bit more Star Wars and I fed Sallie and worked on a blog post.

Whenever I see a picture of her like this I laugh so hard thinking about the receptionist at the OB who predicted Sister Baby would be a linebacker the week before my due date. She probably doesn't seem that big to anyone else, but she feels huge compared to my first two!

We both had a snack and I fed Sallie again and then I did a little math with him. He played and I started washing dishes.

Minnie and Annie got back and Minnie visited for a bit and then Annie and Graves played with kinetic sand and I did more dishes.

What a special visit! She wore her bird dress and asked me all morning when Minnie would get here. She LOVED meeting "Jill" and told us all about how she drank lemonade. She did tell me that she didn't want to stay TOO long because she might miss Graves (who was already missing her before she left and how told me this morning he missed Sallie while she was in the nursery for three hours- they're all a little co-dependent, haha). I told her just to talk to Minnie about it before they got there and I was sure she'd understand. She said "oh, I'm sure she will- Minnie knows how much I like Graves!".

Pretty little things 

 I read a Five in a Row book to them and then we started working on a family tree project.

We didn't get as much school stuff done as I had hoped but Annie did begin what was apparently going to be consuming project involving our family tree. She did these super involved (though not necessarily "pretty" or even neat) pictures of Peyton dispensing and me serving grilled cheese sandwiches (vocational goals, yo). This is one area of homeschooling I've really started to ponder. My kids are so slowwwww. In one sense, it's concerning because the world is not going to slow down for them and the end goal (or one of them) is for them to be able to function in it. But in another sense, I really have no desire for them to adopt the pace most of our society functions at, that many in our culture claim is necessary. Like everything, I'm sure there's a balance to be found somewhere. 

I fed Sallie but had a hard time getting her settled. I changed her and bathed her and finally got her settled down and warmed up some leftovers for supper for the big kids. They ate and then brushed and flossed and bathed. Peyton got home and we talked and I did dishes, ate supper, and folded some laundry. I packed our breakfast, activity bag, and diaper bag for church and got everyone's clothes laid out. Peyton and I chatted and went to bed.

I felt pretty bad on Sunday- physically and emotionally. Just drained and tired and sad. I really had to make myself get up and I seriously contemplated just missing church. I did get myself and Sallie ready, though, and fixed Annie's hair. We dropped Peyton off and the hour in the parking lot seemed really long despite that the big kids were more well behaved than usual and Sallie slept a good bit. We finally got to church and I did feel some better. Sunday school was nice and the kids did SO well during church and I really got to listen to the sermon. We came home and they had media time and I sent an email about some messed up birth announcements (I had to take and upload some pictures, too).

With Annie I was SO strict about TV the first couple of years. With Graves, I had a toddler and was understandably less so. Today I let Babes watch The Empire Strikes back during some brother snuggles. Third child much?

I finished a blog post and started a new one and then had lunch. Sallie woke up and I fed her and then fixed something for the big kids. I collected laundry and changed it over and then folded some.

I heard a crash and then he brought me the shower curtain, rod, and liner. Grrr, GRAVES.

That is a piece of our kitchen table, y'all. The funny/ironic thing is, he had the best morning he's ever had at church. Literally. He was relatively quiet and still during the service- not the way Annie is, but exceptional for him on his best day. And his Sunday school teacher bragged on how sweet and responsible he was helping out a new little girl. AND he left all his action figures in a bag on a hook like I instructed him to- he told me he really wanted to obey me. But when we got home I found him slinging around a jug of chocolate milk and then the shower curtain and then this. Annie said the chocolate milk would have been the worst if it had busted but he said the table was because a nail came out and if you stepped on it "it could bleed you". Honestly, we are realizing on the daily he's a lot more perceptive than her and has loads more common sense. I wouldn't trade either of them.

The kids played awhile and then I fixed them supper, fed Sallie again, and did dishes. We all got ready and picked up Peyton. The kids fell asleep on the way and we picked up Newks. Annie and Graves both woke back up. Peyton and I watched TV and visited and ate. I went to bed a little after midnight.

Finishing up August and on to September next!