Friday, December 15, 2017

What I'm Into: November

November was fun and it went by so quickly! Even though this is way late, I'm excited to share this month. I did a little photo challenge about books on IG so I documented more of what we read than I usually do (and just happened to actually read more, at least as far as personal reading, too). So it's more heavy than usual in those categories!

On the Nightstand:

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
I read this pick from Diverse Book Club in a few days. I loved it more than any fiction I've read in ages. Maybe the foster care/adoption theme feels really timely, but I think it's mostly just excellent writing and a big focus on characters (which I say all the time, but people are my favorite literary element, followed closely by place, hands down). It's been a LONG time since I've immersed myself in fiction like I did with this one. I was on page forty one night and I stayed up and read two hundred pages and then spent the majority of nap time  the next day finishing it. I became deeply invested in Ginny, I cried twice, I HAD to look at the last page ahead of time, and I felt a strong sadness when the book ended even though it ended just the way I wanted it to.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia 
As I've mentioned multiple times, I was at one point, an avid reader. And it's really a source of great shame that I'm now...not. *But* I've also realized that reading looks different now, too. I'm actually not sure I don't put in just as many hours as I once did, but I'm reading very different things (i.e. a lot of juvenile literature). I actually told Annie recently that in college one of my very favorite classes was Children's Lit. We basically just read a crap ton of really excellent children's books (lots of Newberrys, ect.) and wrote little book reports or did presentations and projects. I learned so much in that class and enjoyed it as much as anything in my college experience.

She's started showing me excerpts of books she thinks I'd be interested in or often, reading them aloud to me herself. She loves to do this when she runs across something she finds really funny. She and Peyton are reading this one together but I had some huge FOMO, so I just started reading it myself and guys, it is so good. It's hysterical and heartwarming and heartbreaking and poignant and true. I always say that I care about characters and settings more than the actual plot and a book about three precious sisters who are so uniquely different dealing with the inherent struggles facing black and brown people in Civil Rights era America along with the additional struggle of reuniting with their estranged mother couldn't be a more perfect fit, even if it is written on a fourth grade level.

On Their Nightstand: 

Here are some of our recent reads (bottom to top)

1. You Wouldn't Want to Be a Viking Explorer by Andrew Langley- coordinates with our history and is comical and entry level and perfect for a first grader.

2. A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer- one of our three spines; we're settling in with the Battle of Hastings this week.

3. Falling Up by Shel Silverstein- Annie and Graves are both obsessed; they each pick a poem every night.

4. ESV Easy to Read Children's Bible- this is a super readable translation; we're doing something different and not using a Bible curriculum right now and are just going through the Gospels. It's convicting and challenging to try to explain Jesus's words to them. 

5. East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon by G.W. Dasent this also coordinates with history. It's a ton of Norwegian folktales. The language is pretty archaic and I was shocked but they both LOVE it. It's also really...graphic? Like as in, people gauge other people's eyes out and there are really grotesque monsters and such. There's even an author's note where he says his friends asked him to edit out some of that. Anyway, it's interesting. (Graves did tell me that if he accidentally poked Sallie's eye out with a stick, she could just "go to the lemon tree". Yeah, no.) 

6. Can a Bee Sting a Bee? by Gemma Harris- Annie loves informational books and on nights when we need to streamline and they each just pick one, she ALWAYS reaches for this one. It's full of questions about psychology and nature and technology and a ton of other stuff. The answers are only about two pages but come from an expert in that field.

7. Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary- again, this one is mostly for Graves (Annie's read it before). I LOVE Beverly Clearly. I prefer Ramona, but they both love Ralph. 

8. Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones- an excellent resource, as is anything by SLJ.

9. Tiger Handbook- Graves is working on the Scout Oath as part of his memory work and this is just a good time to practice.

All this plus praying, talking about the day, listing thankfuls, ect. takes about an hour on the nights we do this. Sometimes it feels like too much and often it feels like not enough.

And here are a few more:

1. Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
As I mentioned, brought lots of feels.

2. Winter's Coming: A Story of Seasonal Change by Jan Thornhill
Graves still really likes picture books and I could tell he really enjoyed this book. And I did, too. It's about a snowshoe hare who doesn't understand what (or who!) winter is and how she should prepare for its coming. All the while, she's gradually changing from solid brown to solid white. The illustrations are somewhat realistic but still have a whimsical element. Graves had looked at it prior to my reading it and he kept reminding me to notice Lily's changing appearance in each page.

3. Ralph S. Mouse- by Beverly Cleary
As I said, this pick for Graves, too. He lovvvves mice stories for some reason. I think some of it went over his head but overall, he enjoyed it. Beverly Cleary books seem like a good fit for read aloud with him right now.

4. The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli
Peyton loves to just grab interesting looking books at the library and last week, I tried my hand at it. I picked The Dancing Pancake for a read aloud for Annie, not knowing what a winner it'd be. We are both enjoying it so much. I'm a really big fan of realistic fiction and up until now she's much preferred books with talking animals to books about other children but this has been a big hit. It's written in little vignettes which makes it unique and extra engaging and I think she just likes the main character's voice.

On the Shelf:

Christmas Stories from Mississippi edited by Judy H. Tucker and Charline R. McCord
I just grabbed this book at the library because it looked beautiful and felt timely. Also, it's about time to evaluate how November went at the #SchoolhouseInTheSuburbs. The months seem to being going by faster and faster lately.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Again, no movies this month. They really aren't my thing and I should probably just combine it with the next category.

On the Small Screen:
One Mississippi
So this was an interesting show we tried this month. It's about a radio comedian (think like NPR storyteller, not goofy slapstick or shock jock) who moves back to Mississippi after her mother's death. She's a lesbian and is dealing with chronic illness and is working out some tough family dynamics so it's really serious in some parts but is also funny. One thing I read said that the humor is "dark" and I wouldn't really say that; I'd just say that the show has serious elements. It's not like my new favorite show, but I enjoyed the couple of episodes that I watched.

In My Ears:
Really, the same old same old. Hamilton and Springsteen, mostly. 

Around the House:

I did a little Instagram photo challenge (more about that in another post) and this was one of the pictures. This book case is pretty sentimental. The top two shelves we're my great grandmother's Harvard Classics from a time when higher education was not a reality for many women. The bottom shelf is board books and a bin of Sallie's toys. The metal wind up trains on the top shelf belonged to my uncle as a little boy and my little boy (and both my girls have adored them, too). The picture on top is of my parents on their wedding day and the one on the third shelf is a from the back picture (I lovvvve those) of my dad and Graves fishing on my parents' pier when Graves was two. The little cottage picture on the second shelf is made of fabric and is one of my favorite things ever, especially hanging inside the bookcase like that; I got it on a visit to my grandmother's and it makes me think of her- one of my favorite people ever. I love how this part of our home represents so many generations and so many of the things I value. 

And this is one of my favorite spots to sneak away to during naptime (I scroll on my phone more than I'd like to admit). On cold, but sunny days it's maybe the warmest spot in the house. And now Graves and I read together in this chair a lot. I make him sit at the table when he needs to write and often we do math on the floor, but I love to put him in my lap when he reads to me. (On and under the little table is where the kids keep their library books that aren't curriculum related).

In the Kitchen:

Peyton prefers to cook lunch and have like sandwiches for dinner. I prefer a more, uh, traditional routine. So when I cook it's dinner. And when he cooks...I try not to complain.

I love this blackberry cobbler hack (butter, frozen berries, and cake mix) and and also this ugly Corningware WITH A TOP that I wanted so desperately to get rid of when we got married but P was determined to keep. It's held up better than my fancy everyday china casserole dishes and I don't lose my mind scrubbing it with steel wool keeping it pretty (aside: the other day, Annie goes "I lost my mind and forgot Graves had a headache and screamed at him" and it was about the funniest thing I've heard her say). 

Deconstructed salads for friends with new babies make me feel more put together than I actually am. 

In My Closet:

Um, I guess I didn't get dressed much this month =)

In Their Closets:

Sallie in her first pair of OshKosh overalls!!!

I love both the girls in their floral PJs (and alliteration, obs). Annie has these sweet Hannas via Zulily (broken record, but I LOVE when I can find soft sweet things for her) and Sallie has these sweet Gymboree via a consignment sale jams. The aren't one of my very favorites from the 12-18 mo. batch, but they're at the top of the second tier and I do love the lady bugs 

More jams! I put Sallie in her first ever two piece jams (with the exception of a onsie/pants set that was Graves's and she wore as a newborn and last year's Christmas pjs that she wore exactly twice because the janky polyester gave me HSP nightmares). Strangely, I don't remember this being a big milestone with Annie. I do remember thinking the stripes and ballet slippers were about the cutest thing ever. It came with a coordinating tutu that I've just got to find because I'm sure Sallie would love it every bit as much as Annie did, if not more (and honestly, I want to hear Graves squeal when he sees her in it).

Okay, last jammie pic but I really love my little reader in her book pjs! 

Sweet Sallie in her Little Bo Peep corduroy romper for story time at the library with her papa (P picked out her outfit himself!). I love how puffy it is.

Annie wore this dress for definitely the last time (she's getting so tall...for her) and another pair of my footless tights. I decided to pass these in to her permanently. The last time I wore them I was (super early) pregnant with Sallie. I mean they are VERY stretchy but how was that remotely comfortable?!?

Sallie in her first Christmas outfit of the year. Too bad she's the biggest (literal and figurative) mess and the pants were already in the laundry at this point. I do like how her diaper cover coordinate with the trees, though. 

It's that time now so expect lots of these ridiculous posts. Annie in her plaid and scallops (and kitty shoes and my leggings, obs), Bud in his very versatile (4th of July/Memorial Day/Valentine's Day/all December) red check. And Sallie in red and green Kissy Kissy and t-strap Angel shoes with the rubber sole-- melt my heart. 

In My Mailbox:
Nothing of note. Haha, I'm so punny, right? 

In My Cart:
Hmm, well, I did order some Black Friday stuff but I'll share that next month =)

Around Town and At Home 

I seem to have way less to report than usual, but it sure felt busy?!? 

Peyton got sick with the flu and then I got it. Ugggh. At least it was a pretty mild case.  

A little pre bedtime duet. It's so blurry, but the way Annie was looking at Sallie just melted me. 

At the Schoolhouse:

Recently, Graves drew a slug and its "goo path" in the pew attendance pad at church but Y'ALL, he now has the ability and attentiveness to write each letter of his name without any assistance. (And yes, I realize a lot of kids do this when they are like four. His sister did and she had much more involved name to write at that point. It didn't feel like near the kind of victory that this does.)  

This is a new writing curriculum (IEW) that we've been experimenting with for Annie. This lesson took about forty five minutes and then she retold the story to me using her outline she created (NOT using the source text) and then we did the accompanying read aloud (her favorite part). So about an hour total. I chose the level for 3rd-5th grade and it's been challenging for her (and me!) but she's doing great with it. 

We have a pretty extensive before bed routine that I do with the big kids (not every night). I've started calling it "night school" because it is a significant part of our school day and it's similar to the Charlotte Mason concept of a "morning basket". I am SO not a morning person, so this works well most of the time. Basically, it's big picture stuff I want to hit with book big kids- Bible reading, a short devotion, read alouds, some history, and our "ethics" lesson. Right now I read them a Bible story (from a children's bible), do a short devotion from Sally Loyd Jones's devotional book, and pray. Then, I have our read aloud time. Sometimes, I read history from one of our spines but mostly I try to read them some classic children's literature that coordinates with the history and is developmentally appropriate for both of them. We usually have an unrelated chapter book going too. And I read this really interesting Turn of the Century book when we get to a new century in history (or whenever I feel it's appropriate). I also try to incorporate some informational/nonfiction stuff that's just fun (e.g. Can a Bee Sting a Bee?). We just finished up our "ethical dilemmas" book so I'm going to start something new soon and that's when we do our world religion studies some nights when P is around.
We sometimes play the high/low game and talk about how their day went and sometimes we do a variation of that and they pick one person in the family that they would like to give a compliment to as well as something they think that person should work on. It helps them learn to offer (and receive) encouragement and constructive criticism. It's kind of hard to prioritize this at the end of the day, but for now it's where it fits best and I usually have an hour of down time between when Sallie goes to sleep and when I start. It's one thing that's working really well at our house. As it changes up, I think I'll share more of what I include because I love seeing other people's ideas. 

On the Blog:
Same old, same old- my Sunday posts, mental check ins, and a handful of letters to Sal. Each year towards the end of it, I think about what I want the blog to look like next year so I've been doing that a good bit lately. 

On My Heart and Mind:
- I say this every winter, but the cold seriously makes me twitchy. And it's not even that cold, really. It just wears me out so bad. 
- Peyton and Sallie have been getting closer lately and it makes me so happy but also a little sad that I'm not the overarching favorite so much anymore. 

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying for friends who are lonely, hurt, or grieving during this season.
- I'm praying as our church continues to search for a pastor.
- I'm praying for each of the children in different ways.

On the Calendar:

Well, Christmas, obviously. And some other fun Christmas-ish activities!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What I Learned in November

Whew, I always feel crazy around the holidays but this year I think I'm feeling it even more than usual. We've just got a lot going on. Anyway, I did want to share what I learned in November!

Personality and Temperament 
1. Even really indecisive people can occasionally take swift, firm action when the situation calls for it and people they love need them to. I rarely just put my foot down about things. Really, neither does Peyton but I know that basically every single one of our friends and family think Peyton has a much more dominant personality and that lots of our decisions are ultimately made by him (which I think is kind of an exaggerated view of both of us). Anyway, last month he was pretty sick one morning and I strongly suggested he get a flu test so that he could get on Tamiflu if he needed to (it's super cheap on our insurance  since he works for a a drug store). He didn't want to but we were already going to MEA to get our TB skin tests read. And then I decided all by myself that I needed to not do my Mistletoe shift that day. This seems like nothing but it is a really big deal- it's a commitment that I take (and the Junior League takes) really seriously and I've never missed one. P was like "I can wear gloves and a mask to deal with Sallie and Annie can help me", but after the last bout he had, I just couldn't risk her getting that sick. And honestly? we had  asked ALOT of our big kids lately and I know we're about to ask a lot more and I knew they needed a fully functional parent who could interact with them at home with them today.

2. I love a hard hug. A friend gave me the tightest squeeze a couple of weeks ago and it meant so much to me. I did not realize being hugged aggressively was something I enjoyed.

3. I've known for awhile that being validated and affirmed is really important to me but I'm realizing that the first step in that is just feeling recognized. I love it when a friend finds a deal or something that just looks like my style and tells me about it. A couple of months ago a friend knew that our trashcan had busted and she saw someone giving away a really nice one and texted me. It meant so much. And I think it particularly means a lot when it's unexpected. I love giving people little happies for no occasion and this year I've started a new thing. When Sallie was born, a few people ended up bringing us supper when she was like six weeks old. It was actually SO helpful because that's when the food stopped. So now I intentionally do that- I wait until the baby is a month or two old or with a couple of friends who were going back to work, I did it when their maternity leave ended. It feels good to think about what will actually benefit a person most.

4. Phones are great for watching TV shows. Okay, obviously a personal opinion but I love to watch TV on my phone. I know that's so strange. I just discovered this. I also love watching them with closed captioning on (I've known that for awhile) and I hate wearing my glasses (known that for awhile, too) so it works well.

5. Physical and mental health are so entwined. When I was sick, I kept thinking about how I felt and the words that popped in my head were depressed, fearful, anxious, and hopeless. It was so strange- I mean this isn't cholera and we don't like in 1840. It wasn't that I was afraid of dying but every insecurity I had seemed larger than life and I became increasingly overwhelmed. I remembered something one of my closet friends told me- the definition of stress is when you don't feel like your competency to handle life matches with what life is requiring. And that's how I felt. This same sage told me "some days you will accomplish a lot and some days you'll accomplish next to nothing and you will do things that screw up your kids, but before you lay your head down you have to say "what's done is done and what's undone is undone but blessed be the Lord anyway". I needed to bring that to the forfront of my mind.

6. I fight the same fight to take care of myself over and over. Recently, I realized that when I a) enjoyed a rushed through Kroger to get four things before Peyton had to leave for work fifteen minutes later because there were no small voices in my ears and b) was truly looking forward to really long, potentially emotionally draining sessions simply because I'd be around only adults, I had probably isolated myself too much. I realized this to an even greater degree when I got the flu and had the privilege of holing up by myself. And yet, Peyton STILL had to twist my arm to go to my parents' alone for a visit. I have no idea why it's so hard for me to prioritize self care sometimes (and that's not a humble brag; I don't think there's a thing noble about not tending your own mental space, especially when people are bending over backwards begging you to do it). I think I feel guilty about it, which is dumb because he's telling, me to go, pushing me out the door. I think I feel like it's too much effort, which is silly because this beautiful place is fifteen minutes away and I have it at my disposal any time I want it. And I think I feel scared about what I'm leaving undone at home, which is insane because if I drop all the balls I'm juggling be because I left home for three hours, they were probably not all ones I was supposed to be holding anyway.

7. Sometimes it surprises me the things I'm sensitive about. I've said it before, but I feel like one of my strengths is that I'm really good at laughing at my self. Really good. This month, some friends sort of laughed at me over something completely trivial and it really hurt my feelings. I think because it was about something I thought was fun and special and they seemed to think it was hokey and I was a dork. It was so not a big deal and these are people I know adore me and I talked it over with P and he said just the right things. It's just interesting to think about what hurts us and why that is. 

Parenting and Caregiving 
8. Motherhood (as well as the mirror and magnifying glass it presents me with) seems to confirm my thoughts on the goodness and badness of humans as much as anything in life could. 

Recently, Graves told me that "his whole life he had been bad". It broke my heart. But of course, that statement is not without truth. It's also very, very incomplete. It reminded me of the first sermon I ever heard at Northside- one of my favorite sermons I've heard ever- it was about heart hurt parents who had named their sons Atticus and then read Go Set a Watchman and discovered the true nature of their beloved hero. The pastor at the time, wonderful Stan Wilson, was a little confounded at the total dismay and reminded us how all humans are deeply wonderful and deeply flawed. More and more, I realize how we are all both sinners and saints, made in the image of the Creator and marred by the fall, reflecting the broken and beautiful world we live in. And

9. "The capacity to care competently often doesn't look like we think it will."
A friend said this recently when I shared hared something about how surprised I was about Annie being so helpful with Sallie. She articulated that so well. Annie wouldn't really want to hold a baby just for the sheer pleasure of holding one but she's happy to pick a baby up to better observe something interesting. She is learning to enjoy the part of caregiving where you think through the "why" behind things (like if it's safe to put Sallie on the piano bench and what danger could occur and how she could prevent it) and she really loves to have conversations with me about her thoughts. I think her favorite, though, is actually teaching Sallie things and that's really fun for me to watch, as a parent and as an educator. I'm so glad these precious sisters have one another. And I'm glad I get to watch Annie Annie caring so competently, even when, especially when, it takes me by surprise.


10. It's a good idea to do things that make your life a tiny bit harder (e.g. cloth diapers)- I mean that have some additional merit; of course- and then when life feels insane, don't do it and it will feel like a big break and a huge grace. For about a week, I used disposable diapers exclusively, I cleaned the entire bathroom with baby wipes multiple times, I made good use of the roll of Star Wars paper towels Minnie gifted the big kids, and I did not rinse out the first can of beans or corn to recycle when I made chili (I did, however, manage to slice my finger on one, which I do probably fifty percent of the time when I use food in cans and which is the main reason I hate washing them). 

11. I really love November. It feels fun and festive without the anxiety and overwhelm that sometimes accompanies December. I always feel truly ready for fall at this point, and often Mississippi finally decides it is too. One of my favorite things is how people focus on being grateful. I love browsing FB or seeing a blog post where people are focusing on important, though often ordinary things, they are thankful for. I've mixed up how I do it over the years, but it's something that always brings me to a better place emotionally and spiritually. 

12. I hate the pressure trying to get school done early puts on me and on the kids and also I hate finishing up and having like eight hours until bedtime where I have tasks I need to do but they are unoccupied. 
So...I usually spend the first half of SL's nap on things that I enjoy/that relax me (catching up with a friend, blogging, planning something, having an uninterrupted conversation with Peyton when he's here, scrolling Pinterest/IG mindlessly, ect.) and then the second half I prioritize school that's hard to do when she's awake. When P is here, I do usually try to have Graves day finished by the time Sallie gets up.

13. I'm actually not sure I don't put in just as many hours reading as I once did, but I'm reading very different things (i.e. a lot of juvenile literature). I told Annie recently that in college one of my very favorite classes was Children's Lit. We basically just read a crap ton of really excellent children's books (lots of Newberrys, ect.) and wrote little book reports or did presentations and projects. I learned so much in that class and enjoyed it as much as anything in my college experience. She's started showing me excerpts of books she thinks I'd be interested in or often, reading them aloud to me herself. She loves to do this when she runs across something she finds really funny. 

14. Cutesy tape and deconstructed salads make me feel more put together than I actually am. 

15. More and more I'm seeing my role as a homemaker fulfilled as a home manager and a home maintainer, rather than a housekeeper. I still spend a LOT of time tidying and doing dishes and laundry but rare is the week I scrub floors or vacuum the house or truly clean a bathroom. Peyton does all that now- usually in the very early hours of some weekday morning and it's a HUGE grace to me because I dreaded those tasks so much.

It's a pretty short list, considering some of mine but I think there were definitely some good take aways!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Monthly Mental Health Check In: November 2017

Where I am (inside my head) this month:

I've known for awhile that being validated and affirmed is really important to me but I'm realizing that the first step in that is just feeling recognized. I love it when a friend finds a deal or something that just looks like my style and tells me about it. A couple of months ago a friend knew that our trashcan had busted and she saw someone giving away a really nice one and texted me. It meant so much. And I think it particularly means a lot when it's unexpected. I love giving people little happies for no occasion and this year I've started a new thing. When Sallie was born, a few people ended up bringing us supper when she was like six weeks old. It was actually SO helpful because that's when the food stopped. So now I intentionally do that- I wait until the baby is a month or two old or with a couple of friends who were going back to work, I did it when their maternity leave ended. It feels good to think about what will actually benefit a person most.

I love a hard hug. A friend gave me the tightest squeeze a couple of weeks ago and it meant so much to me. I did not realize being hugged aggressively was something I enjoyed

Sometimes it surprises me the things I'm sensitive about. I've said it before, but I feel like one of my strengths is that I'm really good at laughing at my self. Really good. This month, some friends sort of laughed at me over something completely trivial and it really hurt my feelings. I think because it was about something I thought was fun and special and they seemed to think it was hokey and I was a dork. It was so not a big deal and these are people I know adore me and I talked it over with P and he said just the right things. It's just interesting to think about what hurts us and why that is.


Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: All Glory, Laud, and Honor

All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel
and David's royal Son,
now in the Lord's name coming,
the King and Blessed One.
The company of angels
is praising you on high;
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present.
To you before your passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.
As you received their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
for you delight in goodness,
O good and gracious King! 

There is a lady who has been visiting our Sunday school class who has some very real, very obvious cognitive disabilities. Sometimes, I really can't make heads or tails of some of the things she says. But sometimes, she says things that are full of truth and beauty. Last week, she went on and on about asking God for wisdom. It wasn't entirely relevant to the lesson. But I don't think it matters, really.

I've mentioned before but I've stopped asking God to give me clear answers when I face decisions. I prayed like this for a number of years and it led to lots of heartache and anxiety. I certainly pray that He'll guide me and I trust the Holy Spirit to work through me, but I just don't do this thing that increasingly felt like a Magic 8-Ball anymore. It got to where it was more compulsive and superstitious than anything resembling real faith. With homeschooling and adoption and a lot of other important decisions, I just ask Him to guide my thinking and to actively shut the door if it's His will.

But what I haven't done a lot of is ask Him for an increase in actual wisdom. And that's what I'm doing this year. In fact, I'm thinking it may be a real cornerstone of 2018, an anchoring discipline- this seeking of, and more importantly praying for, wisdom. I'm hopeful that it will be anyway.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Letter to (Sixteen Month Old) Sarah Lamar

Dear Sarah Lamar,

Well, the biggest thing this month was your BROKEN LEG. Okay, It was just a hair-line fracture in her tibia. But still. My itty bitty baby.

You were limping one morning so Papa took you to the pediatrician  and then he referred her to get an x-ray and then Dr. Denney consulted with the pediatric orthopedist. I have no idea how it happened. It could have been Graves. It could have been a fall of one of the chairs in the den. It could have gotten stuck in your crib slats.

NOTHING keeps you down and before I knew it you were walking in your cast, then running, and then climbing. The first day. It was just another exercise in letting go of my illusions of control, which seems to be the lesson I'm learning literally weekly.

The other big thing going on is that we took a trip with the Howies to Huntsville. You did really well.  Thankfully, you still like being in the carrier but you also really enjoyed just running all over the space center. And you didn't so much want to he caught. Glad Papa (and Aubrey!) were up for the challenge.
You love running and climbing and being outside. If you can't be outside, the next best thing is your favorite window in the den.

You had your first Oreo and it was Halloween one at that. 

You love being outside more and more. One day (I think you were cutting a tooth) you were nothing but a fusspot all day except when we took you outside, in which case you were nothing but a sweetheart. 

I don't think you are quite as verbal as Annie was at this age (Graves was super late to talk), but you are way more VOCAL. You love to babble on and on and I just love listening to it.

One thing that you're doing that neither of the big kids did this early is lift-the-flap books. You know exactly what to do! At this age, Annie would just stare at the pages and Graves wouldn't sit still long enough to even look at it.

Minnie was so impressed recently that you were pulling on your diaper because it needed to be changed. I think a lot of babies probably do that much younger, but later Papa didn't change it fast enough for your  liking and you went to the closet, got out your backpack, and started getting out the supplies for him.

Your night time sleeping still isn't the best and I'd say you are up on average maybe twice a night (but once is usually before we go to bed). However, you've been taking some longer naps and that's SO nice. For awhile, you were taking a single one hour nap. Graves did that right around a year and I have no idea why y'all take such short ones and then go back to longer ones. Either way, I'm grateful and hope it lasts!

Your favorite foods are sweet potatoes, bananas, and any kind of beans. You LOVE beans.

You spend the majority of your day at one of the front windows. We pull the blinds all the way up for you and you just love it. If I had to pick one baby toy for you, it'd be the window. You just love looking outside- year another way you remind me of my grandmother, Bump. But recently I found you very conflicted- you ran back and forth, alternating between the window and the chair you had learned to climb into. Well then, she got herself onto the stool by the window and things couldn't be more peachy for you. 

You can climb into the black and white chairs in the den by yourself now. I walked in one day and you were just sitting there looking through an old reader of Annie's. SO BIG. Also, I was telling a friend the other day that I couldn't imagine not being able to leave you for small periods and that that sounded like a miserable life. I'm not dramatic at all. (The den is really the only room that's totally baby proofed and I think we did a pretty okay job and we have a huge honking gate that's so ugly and the big kids really have to jump over using a chair because it's so impractical to open and close between it and the kitchen, so that's basically where you live when you're not asleep or eating.) At least I have a good babysitter-- Annie said to me the other day "momma, I've watched Sallie for awhile, do you think you could take a turn?".

Is there ANYTHING in the world sweeter than a baby with her baby??? You have just gotten into baby dolls and I love it so much. You recently started playing with the thirtyish year old Perry Huggums at Mickey and Minnie's house and then took her home with you.

What else? An update on my favorite outfits this month?

You wore this sweet blue linen ruffle romper for the last time. I love how pretty you look in blue and a powdery gray blue is one I've always loved her and Baby Graves in. I didn't put it on Annie near enough because you have to unbutton it for diaper changes and I really regretted it. But you didn't wear it as much as I thought you would, either. I really think it's beautiful but it feels a little...fussy? for you. I changed over your closet for fall and of course I went to analyzing things and I don't love stuff that's too structured and stiff, but I also don't love things that feel really frufru and trendy. Mainly, I've confirmed yet again that I really like you in more soft, simple, traditional things.

Speaking of Annie, not a day goes by that Annie doesn't entertain you; help me feed you; or teach you a new skill, like stacking blocks.

Once you moved out of the carrier carseat (which was pretty early), I would rush the big kids out of church to use the bathroom (the drive is forty minutes and worth every one of them) before we picked you up from the nursery. When you  got a little bigger, I started letting Graves hold you while I used the bathroom but we still all crowded in there. Recently, for the first time, I got Annie to babysit you in the hall for the ninety seconds it takes (it's an amazing talent- Papa used to time me on road trips when I made him stop every hour). I love having big kids and a baby and I love how you girls have really started bonding with each other. Annie calls you "Cutes" or "Cutels" now and just jumps at the chance to play with you. It took a solid year and while I wouldn't trade Graves and Sallie's immediate bond for anything, maybe the year it took that made you guys' relationship even more special for y'all (and me). I might be projecting, but it took me a long time to get to know Baby Graves and learn his ways and when it did happen it was just incredible and I see that mirrored with you two so much. 

And of course, your brother! Bud woke up early one morning and fell back asleep on the sofa. Your woke him back up and you can imagine how thrilled he was. 

 One really neat thing about you that seems (to me) to be pretty unique for a baby your age is how hard you will work on something without "asking for help". You will grunt and struggle with something new for a LONG time (basically until you get it) and never start crying for someone to come help (which is what your siblings did). Mickey always said Annie had "a great determination of purpose", which is, of course, a kind way of saying someone is stubborn as a mule. She (like her momma) will get something in her head and just not stop until it happens. Our boy isn't like that. He's more easy going and also, it's not that he's lazy, but if something takes him this long, his brain is already onto something else. I know it won't last forever and honestly, I don't think it would be healthy if it did. I've had so many "do it myself, dammit" moments in the last thirty two years and sometimes it's been a great asset, sometimes it's been a real character flaw, and sometimes it's gone as far to be sinful because I was too proud to ask for help and it effected people I love.But for right now, I absolutely adore this trait in my feisty little lady baby. I think more than for any other reason because it is yet another way you remind me of your namesake, who was the strongest woman I've ever known, in part because her circumstances necessitated it.

We love you, Little Sallie Sunshine! 

Momma (and Papa) 
P.S. Your reversible Halloween outfit is a 12 mo. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come


Come, ye thankful people, come, 
raise the song of harvest home; 
all is safely gathered in, 
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide 
for our wants to be supplied; 
come to God's own temple, come, 
raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God's own field, 
fruit as praise to God we yield; 
wheat and tares together sown 
are to joy or sorrow grown; 
first the blade and then the ear, 
then the full corn shall appear; 
Lord of harvest, grant that we 
wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home; 
from the field shall in that day 
all offenses purge away, 
giving angels charge at last 
in the fire the tares to cast; 
but the fruitful ears to store 
in the garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home; 
gather thou thy people in, 
free from sorrow, free from sin, 
there, forever purified, 
in thy presence to abide; 
come, with all thine angels, come, 
raise the glorious harvest home

Lat week's edition of Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies with messy hair, Sallie's dress hiked up in the front and Annie's hiked up behind her, a mason jar of applesauce because we were out of the junk I usually feed them on Sundays, a baby who woke up for the day at four am (but is super cute in how she gazes adoringly at her brother), and a sunbeam slicing through the pic.  Poor Baby Graves was on day three of a weather headache and he told me it was really bothering him on the way to church. I told him to try to make it through Sunday school and we'd reassess it before the service. He said he didn't tell his teachers because he was enjoying Sunday school so much but he had a hard time. So we grabbed Sallie and headed home. He cried in the car over (one day) giving his bed to Sallie and having a bunk bed and Annie talked him through it a bit by telling him how she had come to terms with not always having the back of the van to herself. I told him we'd discuss it more when he wasn't feeling so crummy and he became indignant that I "called him a crumb". Thankfully, I somehow managed to get his rowdy, restless little self to practice a real Sabbath and let his body rest and he was much better by Monday and fully himself on Tuesday


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Letter to (Fifteen Month Old) Sarah Lamar

Dear Sarah Lamar,

You are so much fun and so BUSY. I can hardly get a picture that's not blurry of you these days. I noticed recently how fuzzy my phone pictures were compared to even my old point and shoot we had when Annie was a baby and I was kind of bummed because I used to be pretty proud of the content the Moto produced. But I realized here that you looked much blurrier than Graves even though both pictures were from our DSLR. Heaven help me if you turn out to be my busy child!

Like three quarters of our family, you only ever really stop talking when you are asleep. And it's fitting that your favorite words are "momma" and "uh oh" since two of your great loves in life are your momma and making royal messes. You are so much like her brother, it's crazy!

You started riding in the bike trailer. You loved it immediately, but the helmet took some getting used to.

I just die when you cover your mouth when you laugh. Annie does it too but she started doing it when she was like seven years old. With her, it seems like such a "I'm trying to be polite" grown up thing. With you, it seems like you just can't handle whatever is cracking you up. It's funny how the same little mannerism can seem so different with two very different little girls.

You tried bacon for the first time and, unsurprisingly, were a huge fan.

We took you to the Mexican restaurant recently and you ate your weight in food . You lovvve taco night at home, but this was a whole new level of voraciousness. You just would not stop. You had taken two naps that day and were so giggly and fun. The next day you had a huge blowout diaper in her carseat. Guess that was the price you pay for that epic meal

Annie recently made you these "Nilla hamburgers" with your favorite go-to breakfast fruit- bananas and Vanilla Waffers. Slightly more healthy (and certainly more breakfast appropriate) than, but pretty close to, your all time favorite-- banana pudding.

Anytime I put you in Saltwaters before a significant car ride, you gnaw on them. We had two pairs that you chewed/picked/clawed apart. And of the millions we had that made it through Annie and GRAVES, before that we only had one causality in which a strap broke. Gosh, you're cute but you're a rough one, I can already tell. You've also started biting and scratching and pinching- initially, I think as a protective mechanism from your brother but now it's an attention thing. And I'm trying so hard to be a good momma and not act like it's cute or even be too easy on her about it. Just because you're rotten doesn't mean you have to be a nightmare. So, when you do it we say "NO, Sarah Lamar" really firmly and make you sit on your bottom for a few seconds wherever she is. You get mad as a hornet, and that's sometimes so funny to me and sometimes so heartbreaking depending on where *I* am emotionally at the moment. Either way, I'm really grateful that I can read you and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it's a mad as hell cry, not a you hurt my feelings cry. Does make disciplining a fourteen month old much, much easier. Anyway, you just gets feistier by the day. Lord help us all.

Speaking of baby attire, we ended the summer with some of my favorites!

I  ran across this little apron dress that was mine and that is one of my favorite things ever in the whole world and that I totally forgot about until last week and legitimately cried (there's no tired like (spousal) flu tired) because of it. I made up for it and put you in it twice a week during August and on into September because rules are made to be broken and babies wear white whenever they (their mommas) damn well please. The "puffy" shadow embroidery is my favorite. The fabric is my favorite. The style is past my favorite. Bud said it was a little snug, but I think that was because he was listening to a story about Mercy Watson and Mrs. Watson was squeezing her pig body into a princess dress and several times it made mention of it being a little snug. Either way, I decided to sausage you into it a la Mrs. Watson until it got cold.

I also almost missed this seersucker bird sunsuit that I loved on Annie but that she didn't wear a ton (too much stuff). It was with the 18 mo. stuff but it runs small (and had a stain that even my skills couldn't touch but Minnie treated to the point of non noticibility), but you got in a few wears.

I put you in this linen bubble with embroidered pale blue teddy bears coming out of the pockets that belonged to Graves, another thing that I meant to put her in all summer, and that I distinctly remember pairing with red Saltwaters when he outgrew his white ones (I love the baby blue and red together now, but at the time it seemed like a really risky and unexpected pairing; I was very, very rigid about baby clothes).

What else is going on with you?

Awhile back, I pointed to a book and asked you to bring it to me and you did and then I pointed and asked for another and then another. It was the first time you cleaned up your own mess! I'm sure that's totally average and you're not amazing, but I was SO impressed. It was crazy to see my TINY BABY understanding so much, nevermind being so obedient. 

That said, the flip side of you understanding more is that you are becoming more of a mess than ever. You will do things like run to the door of an open bedroom you know that you're not supposed to go in and look at me, grin, and wait for my reaction. Then you'll run in it giggling. I've mentioned before that I'm hyper (probably) over aware of this propensity towards being trouble with a capital t. I'm SO happy that you'respunky and feisty and honestly, I've made my peace that you're going to be little baby of the family rotten. But there's a fine line between those things and being downright disobedient and disrespectful and miserable to be around. I can't imagine you becoming that child, but my guess is nobody can.

When I say that you go right back to sleep after you nurse in the middle of the night, I mean that I can sit you up at almost a ninety degree angle and take pictures with the flash. I certainly wasn't happy that you regressed really bad when she were sick for several weeks and honestly I don't think I realize what a toll waking up in the middle of the night takes on me because I go back to sleep super easily too so it doesn't seem like a big deal. And I sort of love the snuggles and how you are just like a limp little baby doll (especially now that you're still and calm so infrequently during the day- as Annie would say she loves it once babies get to the stage where they are "active" and you definitely at that stage). Speaking of Annie, Papa said he was going to "break you" the next week (he's pretty gentle with it, or he was last time- thankfully, cause that crap is HARD for me). Anyway, Annie was pretty alarmed and asked what on earth he meant about breaking the baby. Hahaha. 

You started doing the same thing (just like a full year ahead of when your crazy brother did it) and digging in your (dirty) diaper. You two rascals keep me in my toes.

Diaper changes are HARD (for me- Papa says he has no problem with it so I told him that if it was a week day and he was home to please just take care of it). It's like wrestling an alligator. I realized I could do Peak-A-Boo long enough to get it off and get you clean and then do Patty Cake to get the new one snapped and the cover on. My stern voice is not as effective as Papa's so this is what we got. I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon. Also, you have to catch things FAST or you will deal with the dirty diaper herself. I know Graves did this but I think he was really close to two before it started. 

Minnie calls you Bump Jr. sometimes. I know I say it often, but there's probably nothing I love more about you than that you so embodies your great grandmother and namesakes's nature- so easy going and pleasant and happy to roll with the punches but with as sassy, spitfire streak. 

We love you, Little Sallie Sunshine! 

Momma (and Papa) 
P.S. Your little Humpty Dumpty bubble is an 18 mo.