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.  


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: Joy of Heav'n, to Earth Come Down

Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav'n, to earth come down,
fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
all Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion;
pure, unbounded love Thou art;
visit us with Thy salvation;
enter ev'ry trembling heart.

Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heav'n, to earth come down,
fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
all Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion;
pure, unbounded love Thou art;
visit us with Thy salvation;
enter ev'ry trembling heart.

I delighted in the children's sweet chatter all the way to church and really paid attention to their words. I shared some happy news with Graves's Sunday school teacher and she hugged me so hard and encouraged me so intensively. I felt such joy when he behaved better than he ever has during church, just knowing he has the capacity to do it. I listened intently when Annie shared what she had learned in her class. It was such a geniunely nice morning.

All our Sundays aren't like this of course, and like anything just because they aren't peaceful and joyous and pleasant, it doesn't take away their worth but when they are this way, I sure feel the need to acknowledge it. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Letter to (Fourteen Month Old) Sarah Lamar

 Dear Sarah Lamar,

I'm still behind on these, so this is several months old, but it won't matter by the time you read it. So...what were you up to at a year and two months old?

This is when you really started walking. You would take three or four steps on your own or would lap the couch with Glamour (Annie's Beanie Boo) in the stroller.

As a newborn and an infant, I never felt like you were the most draining of my children. Of course you were, but I never (or rarely) *felt* that way. But this toddler stage is sumthun different. You wear me out. You are very happy but very social and really hate being left alone for any length of time. Of course, the other side of the coin is that you THRIVE in social settings, even right in the middle of your naptime. You're definitely trying to catch up to your brother in the most exhausting small person category.

As far as naptime, you very consistently take one now and it's typically a pretty good one. But it is ONE. If you falls asleep in the car, you got to hope you're heading toward home and can execute a transfer. You better believe that a five minute catnap is gonna count in your mind. 

Papa was saying the other day that it was interesting the way we protect your naptime in a way we didn't with Annie and Graves. I still try *really* hard not to let it dictate our schedules (that's something I've just always felt was important for our family) but when we're home we're much more cognizant of noise and stuff than we were when then big kids were babies. That said, they wake you up nearly every night when they go in y'alls room and you go right back to sleep and I go in there and tickle your toes and stroke your hair cause that's just what I do and you wouldn't be a Herrington baby if you didn't adjust to that. I guess partly, I make (and I always have made) a bigger deal of naptime than nighttime sleep. 

You had four teeth, started walking across the room competently, and started really enjoying making messes. 

You are starting to get little girl hair. It's still so soft and fine and smells so good after a bath. In this moment in time, it's probably the tangible thing I love most in all the earth. I try to spend at least few minutes each day with my nose and mouth buried in it. There is surely no better self care that exists.

You had a couple of bouts with some sickness. Bless your heart; you had 103 temperature one night. Even the inside of your little mouth felt so hot when you were nursing, which is mostly what you wanted to do all night long. I was kind of glad because I wasn't worried about you getting dehydrated, but whew that was a long night.

(Speaking of sleeping, I love it when you sleep so hard that your blanket makes an imprint on her cheek. And I love your little profile. And your eyelashes. I want to remember all that and how special it was to me at this moment.) 

You had an infection in both ears and (probably) strep throat. The doctor was sweet enough not to swab it since the antibiotics for your ears would work on it, too. Also, you went  back to nursing like a newborn basically, instead of eating table food. Which, exactly like with a newborn, is just incredibly sweet and endearing and also damn exhausting.

It really helped once you had been fever free for twenty four hours so Annie wasn't refusing to touch or be near you (Graves, alternatively, put your paci in his own mouth but we were clear). But you stared doing this- coming over and resting your head on me- every few minutes. And you were still pretty clingy and wanting to nurse more than usual. It brought back so many memories of when you were tiny and needed so much of me. And just like when you were tiny, I've done my best to lean in to it and enjoy it and push other tasks aside. It was an exhausting but precious time for us, Sarah Lamar. 

Actually, there are a few distinct differences between you as a newborn and you as a sick toddler and in some ways, the latter has had its own unique gifts. We played with blocks and I had (made) time for things I, regrettably, often don't prioritize. Like reading poetry aloud to you. The Land of Counterpane, a selection from the board book version of a Child's Garden of Verses seemed especially apropos of a sick small person. 

You seemed to be getting all better and then you took another sick turn. You threw up a banana and mostly had refused to nurse that day and Papa kinda freaked me out saying he hoped you didn't get so dehydrated you needed an IV). He said "Be completely honest with me: are you making this baby sick so she'll keep snuggling with you all day?" No, but I didn't hate it.

When we went back to the doctor, you were SO sweet and patient that morning. We had to wait over an hour (it was a weird, very justifiable situation) and you were pretty irritated that I wouldn't let you crawl around on the floor (which of course you had no desire to do at home). You were a squirm worm, per usual, but you let me read to you a lot and also we just visited. Like more than I ever have with you. I think you really loved all that special time but your introverted momma who is NOT used to not having some assistants to entertain the social butterfly ended uplaying on the couch after we got home. Both ears were still infected. but the good news is that you didn't have pneumonia, just a tough upper respiratory infection. The other good news is that you kept down some pretzels. We got a new antibiotic and you finally got to feeling better.

One Sunday while you were sick and we were home from church, I put you in a onsie with shorts. Obviously, I never dress you in stuff like this (it's just not my taste), but curiosity got the best of me.. I just wanted to see what you even looked like in this and shocker, you were darling (I mean, I'm biased and think you'd look adorable in a trash bag). I bought the shorts for Annie for like $3.99 on clearance at the Gymboree outlet at the beach. At that point in my life, I bought things I didn't really care for because I "found a good deal" (which is actually not a good deal if nobody ever wears them). For some reason, I did hang on to them (because one year olds need grungy clothes they can paint in or something? what is wrong with me? yeah no). Anyway, as a pair of shorts, they are really cute. But my philosophy has always been "don't dress them in things now that they can wear later" (e.g. don't buy a bubble when a day gown is appropriate, don't buy a jon jon when a sunsuit or diaper set is will still work, don't start separates until you've phased out the jon jons, and don't buy belts and ties until kindergarten at the earliest). 

I also got down the 12-18 mo. summer stuff from the attic cause I knew it was now or never and Annie saw this mermaid sunsuit and said "you aren't planning on Sallie wearing that, are you? It looks huge!" and said she though she or Graves could wear it. Haha. To be fair, it does look big on the hanger. I HATE when bubbles and sunsuits look like they're causing wedgies and really even when they're so snug they don't poof out and look like a tight swimsuit. Then Annie said she thought it was a bathing suit. 

I sing "I Love You, Gravesy" (really "I Love you, Conrad" from Bye Bye, Birdie) almost every night and he was singing it to you recently but instead of singing "oh yes, I do" he said "and you have a great style". He loves it soooo much when you're wearing pjs or a t-shirt

Speaking of Graves, one day I looked over at lunch and you were just eating some bean salad while being embraced and serenaded by your brother. You have not a moment's peace- good thing you are an extrovert or we'd be in trouble. Actually, I'm not sure you really even had a choice. 

And your sister! Annie comes up with the most creative ways to bring you to me in the morning. One morning she arrived by my bed with you in an empty diapers box. She's gotten to where she plays with you in your crib for a bit in the morning and then gets her out and brings her to my bed. Best helper!!! And I sure needed one because once you were finally well, Papa got the flu! 

What a month! But I'm so grateful for your cheerful little self.

We love you, Little Sallie Sunshine  

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your pjs are 12-18 mo.!


Monday, November 13, 2017

November Goals and Happenings

I love the header; the design isn't my favorite. But it'll do! I really like the golden/mustard yellow and the turquoise green and I love the picture of all three kids by the pumpkin guy. I thought the bookends of Bud and Sallie and Sallie in her cast were perfect and the pictures with me in my new dress and Annie in new pjs seemed to fit well and have a fall vibe. I wanted a quote on thankfulness and I always love Ann Voskamp's words on the subject, so I found one I really liked. Overall, I think it's a good one.

Here we are again, halfway through the month. Honestly, though, I'm going to try not to apologize at all in this post. I haven't even looked at my goals recently, but I'm sure I did terrible. And that's okay. This one of the busiest months we've had in years. And some of it was unpredictably busy, which is really hard for me. So I'm giving myself some grace.

October was FULL:
- We went to Huntsville with the Howies and had so much fun.
- We sent the big kids down to the farm and Carrie kept Sallie and the Reynauds snuck into town and we took Mickey out to dinner for his 70th birthday!
- Graves and "Coach P" finished up the soccer season. It was really a blast- Graves enjoyed it so much more than he did blastball. I think just being older helped.
- We did meet some homeschool goals. Graves finished kindergarten math and Annie finished the fable unit in her writing curriculum. I'm really proud of both of those things.
- This is where the unexpected craziness came in- we had a bunch (like twenty eight hours) of adoption training classes over several days that we found out about like a week in advance. She we hustled and lined up childcare and we got them all in!
- Then Peyton and I both got the flu. Ugh. Thankfully, it was pretty mild for both of us.
- I missed both my Mistletoe shifts, for the first time since I've been in the League, due to the flu. People were so understanding. P and I also missed the Friday night party we had planned to go to. Honestly, I was glad for a night at home.
- We had a fun Halloween! Sallie was a strawberry, Annie was a kitty, Graves was Ironman, and P was the Hulk. I didn't dress up and sweet Annie suggested I could be a "homeschool momma". Sounded perfect to me!  

On the agenda for November:
- Thanksgiving is obviously the main event. I'm looking forward to spending lots of time with family. That's my favorite part of any holiday. Minnie sent some Waldorf salad over last week and it almost made me cry because it reminds me of Thanksgiving and Christmas and I just missed my sister and brother in law so badly. Needless to say, I'll be so happy to see them at the end of the month.
- And I'm planning lots of school catch up since October was so crazy!
- Graves started Cub Scouts tonight and he had so much fun and I had group at the Grief Center. There's only two more times before Christmas!
- 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. As far as the children, I've done thankful boards and trees and all different stuff but this year, I'm keeping it very simple and just discussing it each night.

Here were my October Goals. My focus was on prioritizing my own health- physical, emotional, and spiritual and carving out routines to make that happen. As I said, a lot of these really didn't happen but I made it through the month feeling healthy in so many senses, so I'm grateful for that.

1. Prioritize Bible study and figure out a consistent time when I can commit to doing it. Yeah, no. I did it some for sure and really tried to squeeze it in when I could. In fact, I may have made more of a concerted effort than I have in awhile, but getting in an actual routine? Nope. (Faith)

2. Spend quality time with both mine and Peyton's extended families. We did do this with my family. We need to get down to the farm to see P's parents. They've both had some health issues lately and they need to rest and heal a bit first but I really want to see them soon. (Family)

3. Have some friends over for dinner. No. Definitely did not happen. (Relationships)

4. Try very hard to run three times a week, unless there are extenuating circumstances (being out of town, ect.). Well, I guess I did okay since I caveated for "extenuating circumstances". We just had way more of those than I meant to. Haha. (Health)

5. Work on another piece to submit to Mbird. I sure didn't. (Creativity/Passion)

6. Read and figure out how to make it routine. Same as with the Bible reading. I did it some but defintly did not make it into a routine. (Education/Edification)

7. Do my closet changeover. Okay, actually I *did* do this one. As in completed it entirely. WHOO WHOO!  (Orginization)

8. Enjoy a fun, low key vacation with our dear friends. And I also did this one! (Travel)

9. Work on planning next year's budget. Y'all...guess what? I mostly did this! (Finances)

10. Spend some time filling my quote book with inspiring words. Well, no. (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Burn fall candles. I did this some but not as much as I meant to! (Fun Goal)

And here are my November Goals. Guys, I'm cheating so hard this month and literally copying and pasting the entire thing except for 7, 8, and 9 (and I tweaked number 3). I want to give them another go and frankly with the month being half over and Thanksgiving next week, I'm really not motivated to attempt anything more than this. It's just what I need to do so I'm doing it. 

1. Prioritize Bible study and figure out a consistent time when I can commit to doing it. (Faith)

2. Spend quality time with both mine and Peyton's extended families. (Family)

3. Bring dinner to friends who had a baby.  (Relationships)

4. Try very hard to run three times a week, unless there are extenuating circumstances (being out of town, ect.). (Health)

5. Work on another piece to submit to Mbird.  (Creativity/Passion)

6. Read and figure out how to make it routine. (Education/Edification)

7. Get stuff ready to switch up and move bedrooms around (we are moving back into the master where all three kids are now and putting the girls in a room and Graves in a room with bunk beds for when we adopt/foster). (Orginization)

8. Make a trip down to the farm. (Travel)

9. Make lists of needs and wants for myself, the house, and the kids for next year. (Finances)

10. Spend some time filling my quote book with inspiring words. (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Burn fall candles. (Fun Goal)

Here's to October, a month of gratitude, family, and feasts. Let my thanksgivings be focused authentic and my celebrations be joyful and meaningful.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: The Golden Evening Brightens in the West

For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Graves told me recently 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 motherhood (as well as the mirror and magnifying glass it presents me with) seems to confirm this as much as anything in life could. 

(A decidedly bizarre edition of Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies- I forgot to take a picture earlier and it annoyed me more than it should have. Oh, well. I realized last week, as we anticipate a placement one day, these things will have to change up at least for a little bit anyway)

Monday, November 6, 2017

What I'm Into: October

Wow, October was kind of insane. I'm going to share more, of course, in my Goals and Happenings post when I do a little recap, but gosh. Anyway, for now, here's what I was into this past month!

On the Nightstand:
As I Lay Dying- William Faulkner
So, at the begining of the month I started this and read a good chunk but then put it down. It was really good and I'm looking forward to getting back on it now that things are slowing down a bit. I'm hopeful that I'll do a full review next month, but two things:
- It was sort of...disturbing? in some ways. It just felt really raw and almost visceral, which I wasn't necessarily expecting. But it is part of that "Southern gothic" genre, so I probably should have been.
- It's also confusing as heck in some places. Not just the stream of consciousness, run on sentence stuff Faulkner is famous for, but all the characters who are never really introduced. In our FB group, someone in my book club confessed that she had peaked at the Cliff Notes and I felt pretty validated because I had, too!

So I just started the Esther series in She Reads Truth. It's been a long time since I've read this book in its entirety and it's been interesting to revisit it.

On Their Nightstand: 

We went to visit Minnie at Batte one day a couple of weeks ago and to attend a book signing by a sweet friend, Terre Harris. She taught Peyton preschool and then was super involved at the pool when we lifeguarded there. As Peyton told the children, she has a "big personality" and I think maybe that's why he loves her so- she wasn't put off by little boys with big personalities, which I have no doubt Preschool Peyton had. Embracing that in all it's messy glory is a special gift. We didn't get any pictures there (because bulls in a literal china shop), but I'm excited about adding this to our collection of Herrington read alouds and it was a special, fun afternoon for everyone
On the Shelf:
I'm not sure what's next. I want to finish As I Lay Dying and also add in some nonfiction.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
No movies this month!

On the Small Screen:
The West Wing
I'm back at it again. P and I haven't been watching much of anything together so I'm enjoying this by myself!

In My Ears:

I mean, obviously. Tom Petty was on repeat for quite awhile following his death. I just love him.

Around the House:

Quickest closet change-over to date! And I'm so pleased I have it down to just these seven (not huge) totes and am purging more every season. It could be better and honestly, I'd love to not even do a seasonal c/o but this is progress. I know I CAN minimize more because I did in NYC, but it's still hard to let go. This year, time wise I worked on it four separate times. I spent about an hour on half my closet, another hour doing the other half, thirty minutes maybe on shoes, and probably about twenty on my dresser. Years ago, it probably took me three times this long, which I'm embarrassed to admit and justified by saying we lived in a house below our means with inadequate closet space (no, we just had (have) too much crap). Always room to improve, but I'm feeling good about it!

In the Kitchen:

Um, nothing real to report! Actually, we did try one new recipe- it was sheet garlic chicken with potatoes and it was delicious and easy! We've also enjoyed some fall favorites- soups, chili, and spaghetti!

I mentioned this too but I ran our of Oreos (and milk!!!) and Peyton hadn't had time to do any of his fancy baking, so I got desperate.As I shared, I'm basically a five year old when it comes to food, so I threw a bunch of marshmallows, Cheerios, and a spoonful of butter in a cup and microwaved it and it was like a warm rice krispie treat. I realize that I could have made a whole batch the exact same way because that's how you do it, but I was limited by the quantity of marshmallows I had on hand. It was delicious.I also recently came up with another tasty treat. We didn't have Cool Wip or instant pudding for my strawberry thing but we did have Kroger angelfood cake. So I put a big hunk of it in a bowl, sliced up some peaches, and poured a little milk on it. So good. I'm not sure if I'm proud of my creativity or ashamed to admit all this.

First Oreo for Hungry Little Sallie and it's a Halloween one at that. Also, this is now the face she makes any time someone points a camera at her. Love her little cheese face!

In My Closet:
I really love this burgundy, retro feeling Modcloth dress that I got via Zulily for a huge steal. I mentioned it, but I've gotten to where I really like belted dresses because i can blouse them (it's an XS and still too long and I was wishing I had gotten the XXS but then realized I could workaround it). My pet peeve is when a dress is an awkward length where I feel like it's obvious it should be shorter or longer and usually this manifests in EXTREME frumpiness on me and I look like it's wearing me. I usually can't stand dark colors but I love it. I think because it feels like some 70s number from my grandmother's attic (my favorite to play dress up in and I still have a few that are staples in my closet). Anyway, it's my new go-to for meetings and subbing and other places I like to look "professional" but with a little bit of quirk. And obs, it's also works well for church. (Cute extroverted photo bomber had already been apart from people for like a whole twenty minutes while I showered and dried my hair and she was having reverse social anxiety from not being paid any attention by a doting family member or friend. THE HORROR.)

Million year old Old Navy top and hand me down cullotes from Cookie for the it's totally really fall now but I haven't done my closet change over and who even cares really because it's still hot and humid and sorry not sorry your punkin pics are making me gag when it's this sticky win. 
 This lightweight stretchy knit dress is one of my favorites. The fabric feels somewhat nice but it's so easy to wear! 

Pretty sure I hit a new all time low. I actually put on a cute top and jeans one morning but by the afternoon I was so hot and uncomfortable. I would have just changed entirely but we were having friends over that night(my SIL and her kids who legit wouldn't care) so I just put in these ANCIENT (like crunchy elastic ancient but I just can't part with them ) shorts with my same top and same trouser socks  so I could just change back right before they got here. Luckily I didn't do this the day before when I got the times mixed up and other friends got here half an hour earlier than I expected. (Aside: was sobbing to P about something with Graves and then got started on how flustered I was about being in yoga pants with no makeup and a sink full of dishes and he was like "can you really call someone your best friend if the only time you're willing to let them see that side of you is when you have like a three day old baby?") (Further aside: I was real tired and real hormonal because I also cried because I really wanted another three day old baby, which NO)
In Their Closets:

Graves, Sallie, and Annie wearing a mouse, ducks, and a bunny, respectively; all some of my favorites. When I looked at this picture, it occurred to me how grown (and how beautiful!) Annie looks!

Graves and I are cut from the same cloth. We went out of town for a few days and he and I both brought four pairs of shoes. He only has five that fit and I insisted he not bring his church boots.

When it gets chilly enough, #AnnieGetsDressed in the sweetest, softest, most delicate little pjs passed down from a friend. She's getting so big so glimpses of her as my little babydoll are extra special.

When it finally feels like fall, Sallie gets dressed in her turtlenecks and floral flannel overalls!

When Momma spends an hour trying to figure out what you should wear to church and the only above the knee option is a dress you've worn two of the last three times you've been to church and all your bishops are gonna trip you and you already have a broke leg, she finally decides on a bubble that was already put up for summer and a (probably much too warm for the day) sweater.

And then attempt number two- I was thinking it was going to be too big (why didn't things have sizes on them thirty years ago?) and the perwinkle rosebud bugs me way more than it should with the aqua but this one is more lightweight (the other one literally felt like it was wool- again, no tags, I think maybe Minnie *made* it). I was pretty confident she'd just end up in the bubble, but I knew I'd rest easier that night knowing that I somehow pulled together a somewhat appropriate makeship fall outfit for the Peg Leg Pirate as Mickey calls her.

I thought it did turn out pretty cute! And I love it when the big kids wear their rainboots with church clothes!

I love this sweet little floral aqua dress I'm confident that comes up full inch higher than it did two weeks ago. As an aside, Annie patted the little loose ringlets on her neck and said "I love her twirls" and she started spinning around in circles, twirling for us.

For some reason, this time around, I'm obsessed with these thin, cheap little Gerber pjs. I think I've mentioned it before, but they just feel so...fresh? to me. So sweet and simple, I guess. And these without the bottoms work perfectly since Sallie ovbiously couldn't wear footies with her cast.

 matching girls in their sweet little heart knits and this guy with his love of accessories!
(It's crazy how much more I love summer clothes than winter ones- I usually have twice this many pictures to share!)

In My Mailbox:
Nothing special!
In My Cart:

Annie got new Sunday shoes this month! Literally, these and Graves's are the only thing I've broken my spending freeze for over the last couple of months. I got them off Zulily for about $20 including shipping, which is not the $7 I spent on two pairs (including leather boots) for Graves but is also not the $40-$60 I've spent on dress shoes in the past. Anyway, I can't even handle it- it's Annie's first pair of flats! I know lots of people put them on like four year olds and I think they can be really cute, but I've just preferred other things until now. They feel super grown up (even with the kitty faces). Speaking of, I probably could have found something I loved more but I knew Annie would be obsessed with them and she is. They're so easy to get on and I think they'll coordinate with pretty much everything and she can wear them with all her church clothes but also more casually when we need something just a step above tennis shoes. They seem pretty versatile and I feel like they're sufficiently tasteful and she adores them so I'm calling it a huge win.
Around Town and At Home (and in Huntsville):
 We headed to Huntsville early in the month. Night one of a fun couple of days. We had such a fun little trip with these sweet buddies!

A great day to learn about space exploration!!!

Sallie and her little friend Francie were neither one feeling the stroller much at the Space Museum. Thankfully, this trick still works but she also really enjoyed just running all over the space center. And she didn't so much want to he caught. Glad papa (and Aubrey!) were up for the challenge.

So blurry, but Bud woke up early one morning and fell back asleep on the sofa. His baby sister woke him back up and you can imagine how thrilled he was.

We had an intruder recenlty! I walked in the laundry room and saw a racoon. He was huge and has the fluffiest tail. He was super cute but he terrifed me. He scurried off and I turned on the outside light but he wasn't scared. He just waited and came right back in. I woke up Peyton and when I went back to close the cat door he was back. That time he just stared at me. I ran off and forgot to even close the door behind me. Glad he didn't run in the house. Peyton finally got up and chased him off and fixed the door so he couldn't get back in. Like my girls, those things have a "strong determination of purpose". They don't play. Hope this set up keeps him out.

Sallie got acquainted with her little friend Tobias, I had a chance to rub his sweet head and visit with his sweet momma, and the big kids had a literal play date with my best friend. Not a bad way to break up the school day!

My sweet in laws took the big kids down to the farm for a couple of days. Pictured: Annie has her suitcase, a book, and her booster ready to go. Also pictured: Graves's collection of his two bags, booster, two large stuffed animals, bag of fancy cookies Peyton bought me, toys he had Peyton go get from his parents' old house in Ridgeland, and the whole canteloup he insisted on bringing. 

Y'all, I know I'm biased but I just don't think a patient better than Happy Little Sallie exists. It worked out so well that the big kids were already going at my in laws today since Peyton was working and I needed to take Sallie to her follow up appointment for her broken leg myself. Well, it turned out they needed to cast it. It was a perfect day for this Sweetie to get to pretend she was an only child.

These two busted out the Magna Tiles and then DeeDee and Grandpa Randy took them to Mitchell Farms for hey rides and other fun!

Soooo much fun settling the little people in with other people, sneaking the Reynauds into town, and surprising that guy in the middle!!! Bless Minnie's heart, she's a lot like me and keeping the secret took just about everything in her! I think 70 suits him!

Peyton asked me as he was leaving for work if we were going to Graves's soccer game one weekend (P coaches his team but misses most Saturday games). Um?!? We needed to leave in like forty five minutes and I was barely awake. Graves lovvvves it this year but was super grumpy. I told him I didn't really want to go either and of he wanted to stay home that was fine but he'd lose ALL his media time and if that's what he decided he couldn't change his mind like ten minutes later. He got dressed really quickly and turned things around and I was proud of both of us. He had a great game! And I was kind of worried she'd be mad because I didn't want to let her play in the grass (her cast was already so dirty but I was trying my best to keep it from being over the top disgusting), but Sal had a great time in her stroller and in my lap!

After visiting Batte for the Doodle the Deer signing. When I asked him his favorite part, highlights for Graves included: meeting "Grumpy" (Mr. Batte's grandparent name), seeing his new friends (Minnie's co-workers, who he did introduce himself to as "Baby Graves" even thought he's decided not to do that with "big kids-- like ten year olds", getting this new book, finding a dead cockroach in the parking lot for his bug collection, and eating THE TREATS. When I asked Annie, she said "exploring" and went right back to reading her book but she did say she wished we could visit more often. I think to her, Batte seemed like a museum. Which honestly, it does kind of feel that way.

I gotta take this sweet, pretty girl to supper by myself recently and it was such a joy. I told her that it was almost like going to dinner with Miss Carrie. "Save Tonight" came on and it was almost (but not quite) as powerful as my Tom Petty Briarwood moment two summers ago. I thought about how that used to be my favorite song at one point and how that seemed like a lifetime ago. I was only half a decade older than Annie was in that moment and I was obsessed with Dawson's Creek and in love with my best friend. I rememebered taping it off the radio in my childhood bedroom. I thought about how that was twenty years ago and how in another twenty, when we sit at a restaurant that is both our favorite and eat soup that is both our favorite, it may be JUST like going to dinner with Carrie. Because I could easily see her being my best friend.

So far, I've come home from the grief center in tears twice. This year I'm helping with the adult group (the center's purpose it to help children learn to grieve well but it makes tons of sense to allow their caregivers a space to process emotions so why not provide that, too?). I honestly, think in the end I may come to enjoy this work more. But I also think in the end, it doesn't matter so much. There is a type of person who does the work they enjoy less but are needed for more and I want to be that type person. But boy, is it different. For one thing, there's no play break between two talking sessions, so just logistically it's more time to fill. Secondly, some of these people are my parents' age and older. Thirdly, because it's simply not as necessary, there is less structure it seems, which just kind of makes me antsy. And finally, and most importantly, feelings manifest differently in adults than in children. While these people's children and grandchildren's grief is every bit as valid and often every bit as difficult, if not more so, they don't (and can't) express it the same way. With adults, the pain FEELS much more raw and the conversations understandably go to a much deeper level.One thing I am really grappling with is how unequipped I feel for this. So many people- including women who have spent decades at the Center and my best friend whose life's work focuses on bereavement have reminded me of this time and time again, but I guess it helps to hear it from Henri, too.

I'm such a cliche, but when we got Rocky Frog when Annie was TWO we hovered so bad and didn't let her do it by herself for the longest time. Third baby: "Sallie don't do that; you have a broken leg...eh, I guess if you can saddle up by yourself, just go ahead". Glad he made her happy.

Some neighbor boys invited Annie and Graves to play ball with them in the street and I let them. First time and it felt like such a huge milestone. And very Wonder Years-ish, which of course I loved. I made them stop when it got dark but they ate their supper in the front yard, visiting with their new friends and the next thing I knew, when I peeked outside, they were wrestling in our yard under the street light. Annie ran up to me, out of breath, and told me "this is like Graves's best night ever". She kept coming to inside to tell me "I think Graves is REALLY enjoying this" and "isn't it so great Graves found friends who like to fight and play rough with him?". He can be SO reserved around new people and these boys are like twice as big as him (they're ten) but when I listened from around the corner, he was bossing them. I want to parent this way- not putting a stop to this kind of thing if everyone is having fun because I really think it's the essence of childhood- I'm just hoping I don't end up with another kid with a broken bone

 Halloween!!! This year for Halloween, Sallie wore the $60 (I think?) Chasing Fireflies strawberry from Annie's toddler days (I know), Bud wore an Ironman costume P got at Walgreens last year for $.97 and put in the attic. And Annie wore my leggings (really "footless tights") that are so sheer she needed to wear her own tights under them and a toddler cat mask from Target. Peyton went as the Hulk, which Graves requested approximately four hours before. (And in case you're wondering, I wore gym shorts and a sweatshirt. I wasn't trying to be a stick in the mud, it just hasn't been at the forfront of my mind this year. Annie was sweet and precious and said "I know! Grab a math book- you can go as a homeschooling momma!") A lot can change in seven years and every Halloween, I relinquish a little more control (although, I dunno, last year's theme of pirates/parrots wasn't a bad gig). These people make me laugh so hard and what a gift that is!

And, of course, the biggest news! This is something I've hoped and prayed for, thought and dreamed about for over a decade now. It's something Peyton and I have talked about since before we got engaged and recently P said he though should seriously explore it. So that's what we're doing. I'm trying so very hard to hold this loosely. I know there are no guarantees. I know P and I have got to be honest with ourselves in this process. I know that sometimes (often) God knows what I do not and has a better plan than what I think is best for me and everyone else. In not typical SD fashion, I've kept this a secret for a couple of months. Which has felt so weird and not true to myself and almost fake. I never did this with my pregnancies. I always knew that if something happened, I would end up telling everyone and I would want people to know. But this felt so different, for some reason. I've been trying not to get my hopes up and it's just really scary. But that's the thing- usually when something is really scary I broadcast it everywhere. So this has felt weird and uncomfortable. But here we are. I'm (very) cautiously optimistic that Babykins #4 is an actual one day reality (and by Babykins- we're actually hoping to adopt a little boy right around Graves's age!!!)

At the Schoolhouse:
 We spent an hour and a half on this (ten page) a couple of weeks ago. An hour and a half. And the thing is- Graves was trying. He wasn't being overly rowdy or having a bad attitude (which can also be problems with him). But focusing was one long exercise in futility. And because I'm stubborn and the idea of sacrificing my plans or not powering through something makes me twitchy, I pushed so hard. I read the last two pages and was so mad. Peyton promised me we'd take him to see someone and try to figure out something I didn't ask if we could but the offer felt very validating, even though I don't really know what a diagnosis would tell me that I don't already know about him. We tried again later and I pushed myself to use a softer touch. We did half one day and half the next and it took close to the same amount of time overall but it went better and we were both much happier. I felt mush less hurried and the pressure lifted. I remembered how I used to get Annie to make her stuffed animals talk when she read and he LOVED that. We discussed lots of comprehension question, which is an area in which he excels (he can pick up a lot of nuance and I'm committed to reading aloud to him for...well, I don't know P loves to be read aloud to so I guess until he finds an amicable wife). I've gone on an on because I really think we are a culture who has pathologized a lot of normal little boys who don't behave the same way their female counterparts do in the classroom. Y''all I'm not John Rosamond, I know damn well ADD/ADHD is a thing, but I do think it's over diagnosed and over medicated when that many little boys turn up with it. But the older he gets the less normal it seems. I have to remind myself that (in different ways) I was a very NOT normal kid and my parents embraced that and validated that at every turn. I want to be that kind of momma. Normal is just a setting on the dryer and so far the two of my three children that I know best are a little odd. But in all the best ways. I'm grateful for their quirks and I think I'm getting better at embracing them and cherishing them.  

I realized recently that sometimes a child who struggles with very basic skills, can understand relatively big ideas. A week or so ago, Graves finished up kindergarten math. He's been doing first grade work with reading and writing and grammar but we switched math curriculums last year halfway through, so we had some catching up to do. He's been working on the concept of even and odd. I thought this would be SO difficult to explain to him but he just picked it up so quickly. It reminded me that while things like counting to a hundred are really, really difficult for him, conceptual things often come more easily. And in a way that's really nice. I know that, at some point, counting and reading and such will click. But understanding themes in a story or more abstract mathematical concepts is a much harder thing to teach someone. He told little stories about these (pictured) worksheets. With the buttons, he REALLY wanted to draw a fifth one since there was space for one but he knew he needed an even number. I told him that he could squeeze in six but he decided to draw one off to the side and say that a rowdy little boy popped one off his shirt. For the marbles, he drew six for himself and eight for Annie and one for Sallie to represent each of their ages. He's also been doing these math sheets on ordering and they're super easy and one of the few things he's been able to do totally independently yet in math. Anyway, he numbers them and then after I check he likes to cut them out and tell a story with them. A couple of weeks ago, there was an whole apple, an apple with a piece bitten off, and an apple core and he told this story about how Graves got an apple from the fridge, took one bite and went to play, but then Papa came in and said (in his best Papa voice) "Graves, you better finish that apple", so Graves ate it all. School isn't always easy with him but I'm SO, so proud of how hard he works and I'm so glad I get to be his teacher!

The big kids made these little "scroll carriers" for a history craft. So often this stuff ends up being junk which is fine- it's really just for fun. But they decided it would be fun to hang them up and leave me and Peyton notes. I finally wrote them back.

On the Blog:
The usual- Sunday posts and a mental health check in. I did write (ONE) additional, interesting (to me) post::
Annie Gets Dressed/Buddie Gets Dressed: Spotlight on Winter Water Factory

On My Heart and Mind:
- I've been realizing more and more that I have to prioritize self care- and this week I did it. I went to my parents' house for some alone time and slept an obscene number of hours last night. It felt good.
- I'm loving watching Annie and Sallie's sweet relationship develop and I get excited thinking about how Graves will relate to a brother.

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying about moving forward with adoption. I want it so badly but, as I said, I'm also trying to hold it loosely, knowing sometime I have no idea what is best for us.
- I'm praying as our church continues to search for a pastor.
- I'm praying for friends who are struggling and who are scared.

On the Calendar:
November is pretty low key, thankfully! I'm looking really forward to Thanksgiving with our family!