Monday, September 18, 2017

Letter to (Six Year and One Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves,

I'm way, way behind on these things and this one is particularly long. As is our tradition, Papa writes the letters on your  birthday month and the next month I end up recapping two months. So this is that! 

First of all the biggest thing that happened during these couple of months was our month long trip to New York in April. 

We had the hardest time getting there. There was bad weather in Atlanta and our flights got cancelled two days in a row. For as exhausting as it was, it could have been much worse, honestly. The first day, we had the SWEETEST pilots and flight attendants who let you and Annie up in the cockpit for a tour. And you were SO sweet to Sallie. If you have be stuck on a grounded airplane for four hours, at least it's nice when you can be stuck with someone who adores you. You also told me at the airport "You may have a gummy worm. Even though you didn't share your M&Ms with me."  You are the sweetest little soul.

I love flying in theory- it's cool and fun and as a bad a driver as I am, it's never scared me at all- but it does a number on me physically every time and this time I realized that it has the same horrible effect on you (you and I are so similar in our sensitivity to pressure changes). You were squeezing your eyes so hard in so much pain on the descent and trying not to cry because your ears hurt so bad. 

Once we got there, you and Annie were so excited to set up your shared room. It was so tidy because y'all each brought like six toys.

We hit up our favorite places to eat and bought a year's pass to the Museum of Natural History so we could go several times. We also spent a day at Coney Island and you and Annie had so much fun riding the carousel, playing in the sand, eating junk, and strolling on the boardwalk. You road one ride by yourself. It was just a kiddie ride buy you were real serious the whole time and would do a tiny, nervous smile each time you went by us. On the carousel with Annie you kept looking at all the other kids and looking down to try to figure out how it worked. 

But, for the most part, we didn't do anything especially exciting but I loved being back so much. I just love the vibe and it clicked into place so much faster then it did on mine and Papa's trip last year. I'm not sure if it's the weather or having you guys with us or what. That said, there was a week in there where it was really, really hard and I cried at least a couple of times a day. 

Our stroller broke on the plane on the way up but we just put Sallie in the Tula a bunch. We did realize it made a good highchair for her. And a good toy! When we'd have some down time in the apartment, you liked  to get in the bottom and manually turn the wheels like a wheelchair and drive Sallie around. Besides the cracked handle, it also malfunctioned any time it bumped something and folded up on itself. Predictably, this happened quite a few times while y'all were doing this. Our absurd party girl just laughed. I know it's a nature/nurture thing and partly we've conditioned her to be this way, but God could not have created a more perfect baby sister for you. I do see some T-R-O-U-B-L-E in my future. 

One day you ran I to a bodega and tried to hide from me when we were already running late and Papa  had run back to get my phone. You also ran directly into the street without looking (you were following Papaand Annie but they were pretty far ahead of you AND instead of crossing and then turning and crossing left you ran through the intersection at a diagonal). This is why, when we lived there, you were in a Tula at three anytime when I had you and Annie by myself. Anyway, big discussion (directly following discussion on where people who smoke cigarettes go when they die-- (likely) in the ground but that's not the end of the story because of the cross and the empty tomb) and you were back to holding a hand for awhile. Annie volunteered and I was ever so grateful. I had been holding your wrist because you were FILTHY. I actually had to move away from you on the train. Along with self control, personal space is not your strength. I do love to cuddle with you when you're nice and fresh but unfortunately these days that lasts about five minutes. Funny little quirk- I used to joke that "lack of physical touch" was my love language. Actually, Annie and I are just alike- we love to snuggle but it has to be on our terms. You love to snuggle no matter what, on any and all terms. 

Speaking of, Papa put you in the (standard- ha!) Tula for fun and it was so sweet and reminded me of the old days. Another time, he jokingly gave you a paci and when we took it back you got so upset and said, basically through tears, "but it still tastes so good").You AND Sallie are both always gonna be the baby. 

I told Papa that I really wanted a fourth and that you would be ever bit as good of a co-parent as any of these twelve year old Jewish girls. The things you hear yourself say when discussing family planning in Brooklyn. That said, in New York another child felt like an exponential increase rather than an additional one.  At home adjusting to three kids was a transition but it was it was not like this was. We know a couple of families here that have three or more children so I know it's possible. But for us, I don't think it would have been sustainable. And honestly, I had the foresight to anticipate this would be the case. Even if we controlled all the other factors (grandparents, our yard, ect.), this was significant in and of itself. A large part of my motivation to move home was the desire for the baby who would be Sarah Lamar.

One of my most favorite things about Brooklyn is the murals. They are everywhere and when we lived here I loved finding new ones. I just think they're amazing and add so much color to an already beautifully vibrant place. I think ones depicting famous people are interesting but I'm often more drawn to the murals that represent the ordinary humans who together make a community. And I love that you and Annie got to be part of it again for a month.

The homeschool group we are a part of does these little presentation days from time to time. Annie's done it a couple of times and recently you wanted to do one. You did your first one on two of your favorite toys: Wolfie and the Ice Monster. You had very few hiccups and we were so proud of you. (Since you're not reading fluently yet, you told Papa what you wanted to say and he drew some pictures on notecards to cue you.).

For your birthday, we got you this big storm trooper that's nearly as tall as you are. When Annie got her huge Darth Vader, Papa went back to the store and got you a storm trooper and we put it in the attic until your birthday. We took you up there and surprised you and you loved him!

You asked us awhile back if Sallie's hair will still be soft after Papa told you that he was going to move yours and Sallie's seats next to each other in the back of the van and Annie's to the middle once Sal is a bit bigger. I'm hopeful, Bud. It's a wonder she has any hair and it hasn't all been rubbed off given how much time you and I spend kissing, petting, and sniffing her little head!

I was so excited because I got you your first bow tie for Easter Sunday. I also bought you a few belts too because you're six and it's time (SOB). You showed me your favorite belt and told me that you loved it best "because it's in the style of Papa's".

I was also so excited for spring and summer just because I LOVE you in bright, pretty colors (your sisters, too, of course, but boys are harder!)

Our sweet friend who works at the library told me she had never seen a little boy with as many patterned pants as you have. It made me laugh so hard. Your momma does love a pattern and he have your whole life to wear khakis and denim. That said, and I never thought I'd see the day I said this, but I think you are SO cute in your little Levi's.

I have a picture of you outside, behind the trellis reading a Tasha Tudor book. You couldn't be more beautiful if ypu tried. But this is the story of my life. And yours. Because not ten minutes earlier, you hoisted and dangled your little sister over the baby gate, Micheal Jackson style. Fortunately, she was just unscathed as her balcony predecessor (and probably as unphased- normal is so relative when you're Little Sallie Sunshine/Blanket Jackson).

Awhile back you mentioned that "girls are bad drivers". I was shocked but you explained that you came to this conclusion because *I* am a bad driver and you overheard a conversation Papa and I were having where I asked him if a dent in the van was something I had done or Granny had done (you imitated our voices perfectly). Annie asked "How does that even relate to girls being bad drivers?" You couldn't really explain the connection, but you made it and she didn't and that's always so interesting to me when it happens (though it happens often these days).

What else?

You've been working really hard on chores and awhile back, at Mickey and Minnie's you even suggested that you  load THEIR dishwasher. So sweet. I've really gotta give Papa some credit for this one. He got y'all doing this stuff and he's way more consistent than I am.

You refer to the hall bathroom as "the women's bathroom". You and Papa primarily use the one that's off the yours and Annie's room and that's more than fine by me, but we never discussed it and I thought it was so funny that you picked up on it. As a related aside, I didn't think much of it until our recent airport craziness, when I did it while holding her several times, but you ALWAYS hold Sallie now while I go to the bathroom at church. At first, I wouldn't let you do it when I was in a "compromised" situation, but I've started trusting you more and more.

You use "breast" as a verb. It's your shorthand way of saying "breastfeeding" (e.g. "After you're done breasting Sallie, can you fix me a sandwich?" or "that baby knows the one who's got her now is the one who's able to breast her"). I think it's hysterical and love it so much. 

You love to try to "mind trick" me. You do tell me, very encouragingly, that you can't because I'm not weak minded. What a compliment =)

You told me awhile back that you thought Papa was a better cook than I was and explained that it shouldn't hurt my feelings; I just wasn't as "skilled". When I asked if I was more skilled at anything, you replied, very earnestly, that I had the squishiest tummy of anybody in our family. When you realized maybe that wasn't the response I was hoping for, you tried to redeem yourself by saying I had the most "glittery eyes" (you know, because none of the other four people in our family wear eye shadow). I kind of let it go at that point.

Motherhood in general, but specifically homeschooling, will never stop being full of surprises. In an English activity awhile back, I read one of   two words that were next to each other and you picked the correct one. You told me another halfway down the page that you didn't need to actually read both words because you just knew that "a or whatever says it's long sound when there's an 'e' on the end". I really, really thought you would more or less internalize all the rules and understand them but not be able to explain them whereas Annie would be the one who could describe why a word works the way it does. Honestly, I'm confident that when she was at this point, she could not have articulated this so well and certainly it wouldn't have occurred to her to save herself the trouble of actually reading the words by just listening for the vowel sound and looking for the silent e. Getting such a great look into how y'alls little minds work is such a delight.

Awhile back, you put a crown of thorns on Luke Skywalker and crucified him and we had lots of good (and exhausting) conversations. I really felt like you had a better grasp on this stuff when we lived in New Yorl. Lots of factors- you had this reality whispered in your own tiny ear every Sunday when you took communion, I was better at getting you to focus during services (which were shorter), and to be honest the theology was more cross heavy at Calvary than at Northside (hopefully it goes without saying we LOVE Northside, it is what it is, and honestly it's my working assumption that the theology at Calvary is more cross heavy than just about anywhere and while that was, and is, deeply important to me, I've had to keep my expectations within the realms of reality and I've found myself deeply grateful for what we HAVE found at Northside). When you did that, Annie asked how Jesus really defeated death if Granny had died and I explained that death just meant her life here was over and I'm as certain that Granny is in heaven as I've ever been of anything in my life. 

If I'm honest, I often struggle with if I'm doing enough in this area. You love to tell me that Heaven will be "awfully fun" but you also told me awhile back that you thought the pagan gods ancient people believed in were real; so it's REAL touch and go with you sometimes. Annie will say frequently (often when *I* need to hear it the most) that she knows that God will never stop loving her no matter what she does and that she knows Papa and I will never stop loving her either. There's a lot more I hope you understand one day but y'all feeling secure in that love is what I most care about right now.

You are such a cuddle bug and I think probably always will be (you also told me that he'll ALWAYS be "Baby Graves" even when you are a papa and I just about cried; you used to say five was the cut off but maybe you  realized that, even with another baby, it would just be too much for your momma to bear). You've started calling all your stuffed animals "snuggle buddies" and I think it's so sweet. You getting so grown but I'm glad you're still little in some ways.
I've been saying this for years, but Papa and I talk about it at least once or twice a week-- you are truly of the most selfless people I know. Sometimes I worry you will get taken advantage of, but overall it's something I'm so thankful for.

We love you, (Baby) Graves, and are so grateful for you!

Momma (and Papa)

P.S.  I have no idea what you were wearing on the bottom under PigPig (it was something!) but you're generally around a 5T/6T, size wise. You're getting so big!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Letter to (Eight Year and One Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton,

Well, I have a TON to catch you up on! Papa, of course, writes your letters when you have a birthday, so this is two months worth of stuff about Annie! And, of course, it's four months late. Ha!

First of all the biggest thing that happened during these couple of months was our month long trip to New York in April. 

We had the hardest time getting there. There was bad weather in Atlanta and our flights got cancelled two days in a row. The second day you told me "I just wish we could get on the plane. Then I'd be more comfortable." I said "oh, is your seat not comfortable?" and you said "I mean I won't be worried about the plane leaving us." I love how you expressed yourself.

Papa (and multiple strangers) said " third time's the charm" on our third morning at the airport and you replied  "You don't know that. It's not like you can tell the future. You just hope that's the case."Thankfully, it was!

Once we got there, you and Graves were so excited to set up your shared room. It was so tidy because y'all each brought like six toys.There were also some leopard sheets on the bed and you adored them. 

I overheard you tell Graves. "That's MY's the one with the dried blood under the pillowcase."Eek. Airbnb probs.

You also asked during our stay "Hey guys, where's some laundry to wipe myself with?"You papa was creative enough to instruct you and Graves to just use an unimportant article of clothing (panties, a sick, a sports bra) in lieu of a wash cloth (which weren't provided at the Airbnb) to bathe yourselves.

For the most part, we didn't do anything especially exciting but I loved being back so much. I just love the vibe and it clicked into place so much faster then it did on mine and Papa's trip last year. I'm not sure if it's the weather or having you guys with us or what. That said, there was a week in there where it was really, really hard and I cried at least a couple of times a day.

In some ways, I think you had the hardest time of all five of us that month. You are a creature of habit and a lover of routine. Many of my biggest flaws are your weaknesses- you can be inflexible and rigid and stubborn and entitled and you want so desperately to be in control. But you are also really special and one of the most fascinating people I know. Quirks abound and I will always be grateful I get to know the intriguing little person you are. 

I realized something- in New York another child felt like an exponential increase rather than an additional one.  At home adjusting to three kids was a transition but it was it was not like this was. We know a couple of families here that have three or more children so I know it's possible. But for us, I don't think it would have been sustainable. And honestly, I had the foresight to anticipate this would be the case. Even if we controlled all the other factors (grandparents, our yard, ect.), this was significant in and of itself. A large part of my motivation to move home was the desire for the baby who would be Sarah Lamar. I realized that for me, and for you, Mississippi is a better environment right now.

We did have some special adventures. You climbed an inflatable rock wall at an Easter festival and LOVED it. 

We also made several trips to the Museum of Natural History. When we lived here, you were OBSESSED with Native Americans. Like wore your hair in braids and hopefully didn't appropriate too much. One of your absolute favorites in the city was visiting the displays at the museum. But you always gravitated towards the Southeastern/plains exhibits. This time we encouraged you to check out the Northwestern Indians. It's a little more intense and has less of a "storybook" vibe. You were never scared of this area but I think it was just a bit over your head or something. This time you loved it and soaked up information like a sponge!

We also (of course) spent a lot of time looking at the animal exhibits. You saw a peregrine falcon and immediately said "Look! Like Frightful!" (from My Side of the Mountain- probably one of your very favorite books you've read this year). 

And for your "special day" to celebrate your birthday you wanted to go to Coney Island!  You often remind me what it is to be delighted by small, ordinary wonder.You told us that your special day was better than you expected because you didn't know how fun the roller coaster would be, you didn't think we would let you take your shoes off and play in the sand, and you didn't realize that the F train would go above ground. I was so glad you had such a special day in a place so very special to us. 

One of my most favorite things about Brooklyn is the murals. They are everywhere and when we lived here I loved finding new ones. I just think they're amazing and add so much color to an already beautifully vibrant place. I think ones depicting famous people are interesting but I'm often more drawn to the murals that represent the ordinary humans who together make a community. And I love that you and Graves got to be part of that again for a whole month.

What else? 

I'm realizing more and more that you are a very serious child and a very intense child. Papa loves this about you, but it's hard for me. I think some of it is projecting- I was both those things and while I had a very happy childhood, some things were hard. I want you to be more carefree and childish like your brother and sister. But just because you're not as cheerful doesn't mean that you're not HAPPY and that's the main reason for my concern. I love the person that you are and I don't want you to change just because it's not as comfortable for me.

You also still have plans to never marry or have children and be a single zoo keeper with lots of pets. While babies are pretty much my favorite thing on earth and I value family so much, there's nothing wrong with your current future aspirations and I try to make sure and reinforce that.

Almost any time you are addressing me and Papa together you say "Hey, guys?"

Your favorite foods right now are grilled cheese sandwiches, noodles, and mashed potatoes. We are culinary kindreds.

When you and Graves started party planning for your joint birthday in May, initially, y'all thought you wanted a Star Wars theme but you reminded him that they "had already experienced that" at your cousin's birthday party and so y'all decided to work on a bird/large cat (as in: lions/tigers/ect.) theme.

 Besides the party in May, you each, as I mentioned, had a special day that you got to plan in NYC (which is what we did in lieu of a party both years we lived there on y'alls birthdays) but when we discussed the actual day, I told you I had planned for us to go visit my Mickey and Minnie. You said "Oh, that sounds like a nice treat".

We were talking about something some of your friends had done (getting their ears pierced) that you hadn't and you told me that you didn't really care about it, which didn't surprise me. You walked off and then returned a few minutes later and said "You know, Momma? I like being different."

One of your favorite things about spring and summer is that we have so many toads and lizards in our yard. You and Graves just love catching them.   

Speaking of animals, awhile back, I heard you tell your sister "Oh Sallie, I love your tortoises." When I asked for clarification (because I certainly referred I to them as turtles when you wore the outfit she had on) you said "Well, they seem to be on land." 

You are the quirkiest person. I adore that about you. For example, recently you fell asleep reading the dictionary.

 I don't think I've mentioned it, but your favorite stuffed owl, Midnight got lost awhile back. You handled it so well but it was clear that you missed her so badly. So we got you three new owls for your birthday. YouLOVE them and named the orange and black one "Midday" (we know Midnight is somewhere at DeeDee and Grandpa Randy's and that she'll turn up some day). 

You are obsessed with note writing. You are CONSTANTLY writing/crafting/list making these days. I found some little notes you had written about Darth one day that said "You're such a nice kitty." and "You're one of the best cats." I found another note that you wrote Papa that said "Please put this dime in my bank account." sitting (obviously) under a dime.

You also wrote a note to put on our bedroom door that said. "Shhh: Momma and Papa's room (and Sallie's room right now). I love how you labeled our room as Sallie's "right now").

We rarely butt heads on clothes anymore but we did have a really hard time on Easter morning in New York. You cried because the dress I had tried on you a month before was too snug and uncomfortable. I was particularly frustrated because I DID try everything on because I knew I wouldn't have a closet full of backups, because I don't buy you and Sallie a ton of matching stuff, and because you and I had made a very clear agreement that you'd wear the Easter dress I picked and could wear your bird and bunny dresses the other Sundays we were in NYC. I know you and I know you just wouldn't even think to tell me something was uncomfortable when you just wanted to wear something else. You are blunt and you tells things like they are. You literally told someone at church that day "sometimes I do; sometimes a I don't" when asked if she liked having a sister. You don't care. And yet...I raised my voice and asked if you were lying to get out of wearing the dress that I wanted you to wear. And then I cried more because I decided I didn't blame you and Graves if y'all didn't didn't like me much. But the day turned out fine and I reminded myself that God is making all things new and you wound up in your beloved bird dress for the second Easter in a row, this time with pink Chuck's instead of Saltwaters because I had no idea it'd be 82 degrees in New York in April. Truth be told it's more age appropriate and certainly more "Annie" than what I picked and it actually looked cuter on you. 

I'm still working on getting you mostly animal clothes. I got you the cutest knit bunny dress around Easter and you loved wearing it.

I'm still mostly buying you boy pjs, because again: animals.

I did get you and Sallie these cute little knit dresses when they went in major sale and you love the floral print (I get away with ALOT with her because "plants" are second only to animals) and pockets. Papa said it looked too "young" but since you truly don't care and even prefer certain stuff as long as it fits your model, I'm gonna enjoy it just a little while longer.

Sallie has this purple dress with flowers on it and you told me you loved it. You do have a thing for florals (as I said, botanicals are a close second behind animals) but when I asked you what you loved about it you said. "The purple color reminds me of evening- it's like a sunset on a field of flowers". What?!? I adore your weird, sweet self.

I made a joke about how if the cat got dehydrated it was on you and you started crying. I've started talking to you  in a much more grown up way lately and I forget that your sense of humor isn't that of an adult's. You were just holding Darth's little water bowl in your hands, kneeling on the floor, waiting for Darth to come near and tears were running down your face. I loved you more than I ever have, maybe. And I felt so, so awful.

Sometimes I look at you and think "Could she be any dorkier?", but it's so endearing.  The other day you were wearing an old t-shirt of Papa's that said"Give a hoot, don't pollute!". You had it tucked in and causing a bubble butt so that she can ride her bike with less risk of injury.

As an aside, it's so interesting to see how you perceive yourself. One day you said "hey y'all, I know I'm awkward but..." and asked a question I don't even remember because I was so intrigued by this introduction to it. (Upon further investigation, you said that meant "weird and funny" and is "sometimes good, sometimes bad" and then informed us that you loved the way s's sound in 'sometimes'.)

You've gotten so stocky! You're still itty bitty for your age, but you are SOLID. And I love it. So surprising, though, to see what almost eight years did to my scrawny, chicken legged baby.

You crack me up with some of the things you say.

A friend and I were texting about how a neighborhood kid told her children about sex and I asked you real casually "Hey- should you discuss sex/mating with a friend? Good idea or bad idea?. "Bad idea, Momma." Then a few minutes later you said "Why are you asking me that? Did I accidentally discuss that with a friend?". You crack me up.

Awhile back you were being a bit of an obnoxious Know-It-All, mostly unintentionally, and so typically and asked me" Can you brush his teeth again? With the mint one. His breath still smells like throw up. And he *did* have a lot of sugar at that party.And you know when he has SUGAR, that's when he throws up in his mouth. And maybe he just doesn't realize that he did it."

Things are going so well with homeschooling. I think I love Essentials (Logic of English's program for older elementary students) even more than I did Foundations. It's such a perfect fit for you and me because we're so analytical and like knowing the "why" of words- both with sounds (spelling) and with meanings (vocabulary). I always recommend Logic of English so strongly, but I do so with a disclaimer. It's time intensive- for the student and the teacher. Case in point: the ten step spelling analysis we do for EVERY spelling word. We've streamlined it a good a bit at this point, but it's still a lot. The point is to help you learn skills for when you need to spell an unfamiliar word, not to memorize a list of then. And once we do this, you misspell very few of them when we review over the next two days and have almost never missed one on the assessment at the end of the week. You and I are neither one naturally good spellers, so this is no small thing. It has helped us both tremendously!

Recently, you couldn't understand my adverse reaction to your dictation sentence which was "The hawk devoured the kitten" and told me "I mean you could say it's gross. But I wouldn't ever say it's weird .It's very natural, actually." 

It's​ so interesting to me how your mind works. Awhile back we had some time with just me and you and were doing school. I didn't rush you as much as I often, regrettably, do. Anyway, you had a bunch of words that were spelled with different "ers" and you came up with this elaborate spiritual story thing about them. You said that the "ers" have different personalities. "Ur" is mean and burns things, cuts fur off animals, and turns away when people are talking to him. Really the only nice thing he does is going to church. "Ear" is kind and searches for his lost sheep even though he has ninety nine more. He loves the earth and yearns for it to be better and everything is heard by him. "Ir" is more ambiguous and can be good or bad. As I mentioned often, you are not near as vocal as Graves (Goodnight, who is?!?) so I love it when I really get some time to hear your imaginative, delightful thoughts.   

We decided to give you an old Android we had, mostly to use as a camera and we put a few apps on it. I told Peyton I thought it was inappropriate to call it a phone since it doesn't function as such (and also because I didn't want you to tell people that you had your your own phone). So you started calling it your LC for "little computer". Then Papa asked me if I thought it was a bad idea to set you up an Instagram account. I was hesitant at first, but I really couldn't think of a good reason not to as long as it was closely monitored and we established good boundaries. We're keeping the circle REALLY small and only letting grandparents, godparents, very close friends, and our own siblings follow you and you have to check if she has a request or want to follow someone. You have had so much fun with it. You love scrolling through (you follow lots of zoos and national parks and look at accounts I used to let you check on my phone) and often send us messages of your favorites that you find during your hour of media time. We respond and tell you our thoughts. And of course I let you follow me. It's already made me think more carefully about what I post about you and your siblings, which is a great thing. I told you that I already tried to think about that but to tell me if something bothered you that I had shared and you said " Is this kind of like when you ask my permission before you tell Minnie something bad I've done?". You are pretty unphased by most of that kind of thing, though. (I asked Papa what we'd do if we did have a very private child and he said he didn't that someone could grow up with me as their mother and turn into a private person just because I talk about EVERYTHING and I've made him and them that way, too.) I love seeing what you think is worth photographing and then of your pictures what is worth sharing. And (predictably) I most of all love reading your captions. It's all happening so fast and (this time unsurprisingly) I don't hate it.

Papa has been really pushing you and Graves with chores. Sweeping was one of your chores and you HATED it but we wanted you to know sometimes we all have to do chores we dislike so you did it for awhile and then we rotated you and let her take charge of a good bit of laundry (Bud collects it and loads/unloads the dishwasher- this chore scheme was largely what convinced P to get one again). Anyway, I'm sure the novelty will wear off but you said that you loveseeing all the designs on everyone's clothes. It's one of my favorite chores, but I'm happy to pass a bit of it off.

Awhile back, Papa took y'all on a big bike ride. You and Graves kept wanting to go further- "MORE HILLS!". And y'all both held up well on the trip back. He said he was anxious to plug the trip into google maps to see if you guys hit around two miles. BUT y'all did a little over......6 MILES!!!! Papa is so thrilled that y'all love camping, biking, and hiking - and really can't get enough of any of them. 

Some days I feel like you have made huge strides emotionally. And some days I feel like you are more inflexible and intense than ever. I'm genuinely mentally preparing for when the hormones hit. Graves mentioned the (HYPOTHETICAL, DISTANT FUTURE) plan for him and Sallie to move to the back of the van together and you came undone. You wanted me to promise there would never be another child back there and when I said I couldn't commit to that she said "you can you just don't want to". Which, true, but I told you that I wasn't determining our family planning on you having an entire row in the van and that I take a lot of your opinions into consideration, but that wasn't going to even be a small factor.
Gratefully, the conversation changed to what kind of car you wanted one day. Answer: none; it's too dangerous- you will walk or ride her bike. I then asked you, partly because I think it's hysterical to engage you in this stuff, if you would be willing to ride in other people's cars. You said you wouldn't ride with Graves because she doesn't even trust him to split a piece of candy fairly. You said you might trust her friends Aubrey and Mary Milton but you'd want them to take you on a practice trip around the block first. I asked you if you would be comfortable telling them if their driving didn't meet your safety standards. You said that you would try to be nice and say "This might hurt your feelings, but I don't feel safe riding with you". I hope THAT sticks.

Speaking of Papa, you told me awhile back that "Momma's rules are best, but Papa is my favorite". We discussed why this was (the former is because I don't make y'all get up as early as task-master Papa does and the latter has a lot to do with his knowledge of Star Wars and how he plays rough with you guys). And Papa later talked about how he loved how honest you are and it wasn't a big deal in this case but it could hurt other people (e.g. grandparents, friends, ect.) if you talked about who was her favorite.

Awhile back, you asked how Jesus really defeated death if Granny had died and I explained that death just meant her life here was over and I'm as certain that Granny is in heaven as I've ever been of anything in my life. 

If I'm honest, I often struggle with if I'm doing enough in this area. You love to tell me that Heaven will be "awfully fun" but you also told me awhile back that you thought the pagan gods ancient people believed in were real; so it's REAL touch and go with you sometimes. Annie will say frequently (often when *I* need to hear it the most) that you know that God will never stop loving her no matter what she does and that she knows Papa and I will never stop loving her either. There's a lot more I hope you understand one day but y'all feeling secure in that love is what I most care about right now.

On Women's Day, I thought a lot about you and Sallie- my two feisty, STRONG little ladies. In my best and brightest dreams, I couldn't have imagined daughters this incredible. You both already exceed my expectations. You and Sarah Lamar are both so loved and so valuable.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your ice cream dress is a 6 and the swimsuit top under it is a 4. Hahaha! For the most part you're wearing things that are closer to the size most kids your age are in, but you're still pretty little! Also, you wanted to do a goofy face and I love how it showcases your missing teeth!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: For the Beauty of the Earth


For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies... For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light... For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind's delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight... For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

I'm loving all these nature hymns and the sensory language. A friend was analyzing my personality recently (favorite!) and said I'm very drawn to sensory and aesthetic details. Which is so true! I always love day and night imagery, mentions of birth, and the joy and delight found through our bodies.

Graves's red Converse were too small this Sunday (which I totally should have anticipated) so I got Annie's blue pair for him.They seemed fine but he said they hurt too. There was all sorts of drama being leaving, on the way, and once we got there.

Praise God for patient Sunday school teachers who are kind  beyond measure. Praise God for little boys who rally and make it through big church without further hysterics. Praise God for friends who hedge us in, in pews and in life. Praise God for two little girls who were much easier on me than is often the case. Praise God for ears and eyes and sun and moon and trees and flowers.

And praise God for sermons about how much of life is lived in the shadowland, in circumstances less than ideal, and how God isn't threatened by our questions. Praise God for a pastor who reminds us how God desires a relationship with us more than our good behavior- especially relevant for the one who writes these absurd little snippets; who wanted to turn around and drive home but was rebuked by her eight year old; and who did not go late to her own Sunday school or even have a moment of solitude with the Lord, but played on her phone instead and told herself she deserved that break.

Praise God for His grace and Himself- best gifts divine.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Letter to (Thirteen Month Old) Sarah Lamar

Dear Sarah Lamar,

Well, this letter is FULL, Sister because it includes two months of happenings since Papa writes your yearly one but I didn't want to miss out on sharing anything with you. Of course, I'm two months behind, just like I get with your brother and sister, but by the time you read these, it won't matter.

Let's see-- what are you up to?

Some people have told me that "three kids in one bedroom will not work". Well guess what? it's working!!!

On a friend date awhile back, Miss Carrie was like "look, nobody is saying you need to full out stop nursing Sallie anytime soon and nobody is saying you gotta CIO but maybe just TRY night weaning her?" I talked Papa and Minnie and they both acted like it was ENTIRELY NORMAL that you were almost a year and waking up every four hours. I guess because I trained them to think this and they've only ever known you doing this and it's been five years since the last baby. I mean I told the pediatrician you were rotten and he was like "I can tell you how to fix that" I was like "eh, nope, like her that way". Annnnyway, back to the friend date- it was a good word from a good friend. The month before it had been TOUGH. It was totally fine until it wasn't. And somehow it got really hard. I still contend that the first nine-ish months, you seemed equally pleasant when she slept terribly and slept well. And I handled it okay. But then one day I realized my delightful little person had become so cranky and I was floundering myself. And Papa, who had been totally chill about it all was suddenly REAL READY to have some couple space in our room (FYI, cosleeping/roomsharing doesn't have to hinder...romance, but it does complicate things just a bit). And I was getting there myself.

Papa started getting up with you some and not giving you to me to nurse until a certain time. The first night was tough and then you transitioned to waking up to nurse around five or six and then sleeping until eight thirty. And then you got to where you pretty consistently woke up just once in the night (which is FINE by me). AND, we got you taking two (way too short, but whatever) naps or one decent one and IT WAS EVERY KIND OF AMAZING.

I told Miss Carrie she was knocking it out of the park between this and helping me pick your name and she said we were basically co-parenting at this point. I'll take it. I need all the help I can get. It takes a village.

When we transitioned you into the room with the big kids getting you to sleep in the crib wasn't super easy (partly because I'm so short- I have no idea how I did it with Annie and Graves. Papa did  it a lot after I would nurse you the last time each night and that was tough for me. One night awhile back, I used some of his tips (standing up and holding you while swaying, patting you once we lay you down- in some ways you are super low maintenance; in some ways you are rotten). I did that for awhile and after a bit, after I thought you were totally asleep, you stood fully up. Girl. I gave you a hug and told you I loved you and walked out and you didn't cry once. I was astounded. You've also adjusted  well and we can turn on a lamp, whisper, or snap a picture of her just like the other two Herrington babies. Those things are key, FYI, if you're bunking three to a room.

You have four teeth now. You started cutting the bottom two in New York and the top two came in this past month. You are even more of a voracious eater these days.

You love veggies. You've tried squash, zucchini, and broccoli  loved it all. Actually, I'm not sure you have met a food hat you don't love. Sweet potatoes are your absolute favorite, though. 

You love eating blueberries straight off the backyard bushes and you love playing with the toads Bud and Annie catch. Bud also introduced you to roly polies and you thought they were so fun! 

I feel like you spend about eighty percent of your waking hours eating or nursing. I also feel like you've gotten SO BIG. I tell Papa every morning that you look bigger than when I put you to bed. And I feel like you just keep getting cuter and more charming, also by the day.

Annie decided that she was unafraid of baby drool enough to actually be willing to feed you her extra refried beans herself but you thought you were to grown to be spoon fed and attempted to fight her on it.

Awhile back I had to go scavenging for your supper at Mickey and Minnie's and it lead you to your first ever vanilla wafer. The Summer of Abundant Blessings continues on for you and you are totes living her best life now. Since bananas and Nila wafers are pretty much your favorite foods, Mickey decided to make you a banana pudding in lieu of a first birthday cake. I think you were as big of a fan as your momma is! 

You also drank cows' milk for the first time! I really hadn't even thought about it (you still nurse about five times a day- I only know that because a friend asked me recently and I tallied it up) but Minnie wanted to put tea with caffeine in your sippy

You mostly have two baths a day- one after lunch and one after supper (I try to feed things you that aren't messy at breakfast because three baths seems excessive). You take after your sister and sweat like a pig. You can get stinky from it (SO crazy that a baby can have body odor?!?) and between that and being a messy eater, the copious baths are inevitable. I just inhale your right when you get out and use baby lotion in between. There's something so sweet about a fresh, clean baby and I'm willing to invest some time in having one (and also willing to admit that you're going to get way dirtier way earlier than my big kids). It is funny that I don't remember them getting stinky and gross this early but I think it has to do with your eating and how active you are and how much you are outside. Annie was just a total lardass (as Mickey eloquently describes lazy people) and didn't walk until she was seventeen months and I told her Dr. Denney was going to send her to physical therapy if she didn't do it and Graves was a comparatively busy baby but he's not near as hot natured as you and Annie. They neither one seemed to love the outdoors quite as early or quite as much as you do and neither ate like you do.

You've been wearing bubbles to church which is something I NEVER did with Annie and honestly, ismuch more casual than what Graves wore when he was a baby. I had all these rigid rules- no bright colors or playful motifs and only dresses for Annie. Not all smocking is created equal and I broke another one of my rules and bought stuff that just wasn't even cute (to me) just because it fit what I was trying to do. I talked to a friend awhile back to troubleshoot it and she was like "yeah, putting Sallie in those dresses doesn't really fit your model of 'Sallie only wears what SD loves' *and* she would fit better with the big kids' vibe in more casual stuff. Whew. Praise God for friends who analyze meaningless stuff with me. So...I got rid of all that and just put you in what I want to.You aren't wearing  footies to church, but there's now a huge continuum with tatted dresses on one end and seersucker bubbles on the other (okay, that *feels* like a huge spectrum to me). 

I got you  three bonnets this year, fingers crossed our beloved Briarwood would live to see another year, and we'd be able to make good use of them. It did and we have (already). All Etsy purchases, hand made and without the price tag of some of the fancy brands, it was a perfect little splurge on our sweet sunshine girl, the tag along baby who spends quite many of her days among the elements.
(Aside regarding the bonnet splurge of 2017: part of me said "be pragmatic and get her a white (or heavens, at least a solid) one". The other part said "mint polka dots/pink gingham, Kelly green seersucker/reversible rosebuds and pink, and red polka dots are indescribably more charming". Clearly, the latter part won and I haven't wished for that white bonnet once.)

We haven't gone for your one year check up yet, but I'll be interested to see where you are growth wise. You are wearing nearly all of Annie's stuff from when she was one very comfortably so I'm thinking, despite looking much rounder, you may now be on the tiny person trajectory with your sister and brother.  

I hate admitting this, but last month was the first time I really got mad at you. I've been stressed before but I always felt like that was on me; I just wasn't being patient with you. But recently I felt about you ike I do about the big kids. It was such a "toddler" moment and it kind of tore me apart. You had a runny nose and had been screaming and you needed me as much as you did when you were a newborn. I closed my eyes and nursed and cuddled you and my feelings changed in just a few minutes but it was a tough moment.  

 You are such a fun girl! Papa said awhile back that he thinks you might be his AT hiking partner because you are a nature chick like Annie but are high energy like Bud. You gotta love nature on the AT and you can't be lazy on the AT. 

And you're such a sweet girl.  You love to lay your little head on mine and Papa's legs when we're sitting on the couch or right in my lap if I'm on the floor playing with you. I'm pretty sure you initially did it when you were sleepy, but I squealed about it so much, I think you just do it now to be sweet. 

Minnie recently said that she think you are "Bump made over". Bump, of course, was my beloved grandmother and one of my best friends, and is the Sarah that you is named for. She was spunky but also very, very laid back and knew how to "go with the flow" better than anyone I've ever known. I told Minnie that's exactly the vibe I need around my house. 

You've spent a ton of time at the pool this summer and you just adore it. Every time we are there, I keep thinking about doing this same thing last summer and those last few weeks with you on the inside. I've been reminiscing alot about it lately. I'm really thankful, deep down, that it's something I'll never do again, but a tiny part of me misses it. That said,  sure did enjoy the first part of the summer more than I did last year when I was pregnant! As an aside, I'm pretty sure I heard you say "Lila" fairly clearly the other day. You know you've been spending a lot of time at the pool if one of your baby's first ten words is the name of the swimteam coach.

We spent ALL day at the pool on the Fourth- we got there before nine that morning and got home around six that night. You  literally had ONE meltdown at the very end and I don't think you cried or fussed otherwise. Best baby ever. Who also has the best village ever. I was thinking that I'm not sure how much of this is nature and how much is nurture. I remember posting something one year on the Fourth about how it was weird to me how parents complained about fireworks but then I realized they probably thought it was weird we took our kids to Coney Island for fireworks every Friday and got home at one in the morning and had a great discussion with some friends about how their kids probably couldn't tolerate that. Honestly, we pay for this stuff with Annie, but the trade off is usually worth it. Graves rolls with the punches mostly and has for the longest time. But you are a whole nother level of flexible and continueto blow my mind with your easy going nature. I initially set the PnP up in the back of the concession stand (perks of being on the board and always being one to help Save the Briarwood Pool and mostly being friends with the manager and the lifeguards) but Papa thought it was a little inconsiderate and you really didn't want me to leave you in there and honestly it wasn't super convenient to have to either sit in there or go check on you a bunch. So I set it up in the shade and you just used it as a playpen two different times for about twenty minutes and then Lila got you to sleep and our friend Callie held you for probably an hour and then transfered her exhausted self. I nursed you four times and you got in the pool on three different occasions and were so happy to enjoy being carried around on various hips. Nine hours is a long day at the pool at any age but for sure at twelve months old and you were such a champ!

You are such an angel. I took you and Annie and Graves to the pool while Papa had a meeting awhile back and you were so content to hang out on a lounge chair and snack and watch her brother and sister swim while P had a board meeting at the pool. Cheerios, sunshine, and momma snuggles are all you need.

Your siblings are so smitten with you. We went to a birthday party at Pump it up a couple of months ago. Graves played for awhile and then kept asking me to let you play on this riding toy. You were totally content in your stroller, but I finally relented.You got your foot stuck under it and cried a bit and before the party you got a busted lip at the hands of an overly excited brother who was jumping in your crib with you in it. You're as tough as nails, though, and cried less than a minute both times.

At the pool one day, Graves smacked Annie hard. Totally inexcusable but when I asked him why I found out he was upset because she had pushed the stroller "near the pool". We were all probably thirty feet from the water's edge but he said "Sallie's my baby sister and I do not want her to die". One of my greatest comforts in you growing up (something that's been even harder than usual as you got close to a year) is that you and Graves seem love each other more by the day. Y'alls precious relationship is one of the purest loves I've ever seen.

One rainy morning swim practice was cancelled, so Bud strolled you around inside the house. He took you on a tour of it-- "not sure you remember this room. It's where you sleep now. Pretty big mess in here.") You two are so high energy. At this point y'all both drain my reserves pretty quickly, but on my darkest days, you two are some of the brightest rays of sunshine I could imagine.

After overhearing me telling Papa that I thought you were fussy because you were on the brink of another milestone, he told me "I think she's probably thinking 'Wah...y'all guys can walk and I can't'".

I put you in some Baby Gap banana jams Graves wore at one the other night. He thought you were SO CUTE in them and asked me please not to change you right away in the morning so he could play with you  in them. After you went to be that night he said "I wish I could have a baby just like Sallie- a girl baby would be great- that looked just like Sallie and acted just like Sallie and was named Sallie and had one those banana pjs". Bless his heart, he apparently loves these things. He also told me that you were even "sweeter and kinder" when you wear them them. I think he means "cuter and softer".

And Annie takes such good care of you. I was in the bathroom and Graves had what Annie referred to as a "gumball explosion" in the den (they spilled everywhere). Fearing a choking hazard, Annie picked you up, brought you to their room, moved this stool across the room using her feet while still holding you, and hoisted you  into her crib. Not bad for someone who doesn't even really like to touch drooly babies.  I asked Annie to demonstrate (as I always do with things like this) and she said "I'm sorry you've got to go through this experience again, Sallie". She really did a great job and seemed completely in control of the situation.

Graves and Annie have been coming up with several new nicknames for you- he calls you"Cheeks" (which seems very appropriate given your big grinny round face) and "Banana" (I think it's a reference to those jammies he loves and I also find it special because we used to call Annnie "the little banana"). He and Annie also call you "Comet" when they play Star Wars. I asked them recently how they came up with it and Annie said because it was a "space name". 

Just over a year ago I was chuckling, thinking about how the Sister Baby we had yet to name would fit in with our crazy crew. And lately I'm laughing even harder, thinking about how our Sallie Baby could not have been a more perfect addition. I'm grateful for so many things about them, but close to the top of the list is the laughter you and your brother and sister bring to my life.
It's really really fun for me to see the ways you are similar to both of them (like how Papa said you may be his hiking buddy because you're a nature girl like Annie but have Bud's energy) and ways in which you are like neither of them.  

I know this is unsurprising and I know I say it all the time, but you seem so much older at one than they did.. You mind really well (I'm sure that will be short lived) and are really communicative and seem to understand so much (like I told you the other day that you couldn't go in a room with the big kids and you started fussing).

I love how you've started interacting so much and are clearly really cognizant of your surroundings. If Papa has worked a few days straight, you seem to really crave *his* attention. And one morning you were fussing and then you heard Graves's voice and started laughing and clapping. 

You say a handful of words but you don't really say any of them super consistently. My favorite recent edition is when you call Graves "Bubba" because I refer to him as "Bud Bud" to you a lot.

I also still can't get over how fun it is to have a Cousin Baby and a Sister Baby three weeks apart. You and Evan are both messes and are both perfect tag along, easy natured, third babies who are already trying to keep up with the big kids. Y'all love to pat each other and play together and be silly.

I treasure my days with you, Sal. During City Meet, Papa had Annie and Graves with him, and I brought you home so you could nap. I was so hungry and kind of desperate for some time to myself and had a list of things I needed to do but you so rarely falls asleep nursing these days. Time moves like a freight train these days so I had to just hold my girl for a bit.

When you turned one, my heart didn't break as much as I thought it would be. But my mind was effectively blown. It went really fast but I think I soaked it up as much as a human being is capable of.
This year has been such a delight. I wanted another baby so badly and for so long, but in my best and brightest dreams I couldn't have imagined the joy you would bring me. We adore you, Sarah Lamar.
I speak often of motherhood being full of undignified honors and NOWHERE has that been more true than in your entrance into the world. It's no secret that I struggled with disappointment because your birth was not what I expected, but along with many other lasts I've gotten to fully immerse myself in this year, doing the hard and holy work of bringing you earthside was one of the great accomplishments of my life and I will be forever grateful I got the chance to experience the beauty of birth again. It was my privilege to serve you this way and it has been my privilege to serve you- and your brother and sister- every day since.

We love you, Little Sallie Sunshine

Momma (and Papa)

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


Monday, September 11, 2017

September Goals and Happenings

I used this background on my old homeschool blog, which is why I've never used it here. But since I haven't touched it in ages, I figured why not? I ended up loving the colors- a little bit fall-ish without being too dark just yet. And the school vibe feels just right for September. I really like the little rulers on the side. I'm in love with this Mary Oliver quote I found via my friend Mal. And the pictures? Gosh, those babies are so sweet. Guess I say that every month. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, one full week of the month is over and, like is pretty much the case every month, I'm just now rolling this thing out. Anyway...

August wasn't really what I predicted. I obviously knew we were going out of town, but I never really assess well how much energy that will require. Once Sallie got well (finally!), Peyton came down with the flu. Which, while not life altering, was a bit disheartening. He worked a couple of extra shifts. So nothing huge, but the month felt more full than I expected.
- Honestly, mainly we focused a ton on school and trying to get in a good routine. I still don't feel like we're all the way there, but we're kicking it at about ninety percent most of the time, which may be as good as we ever get. Ha!
- The Nashville trip was SO much fun! More about that in a minute.
- Carrie and I did have dinner and it was such a delight, per always. We really need to do it more (although we joke that we make up for waiting months and months between Girls Nights because we stay out for like six hours).

September is another low key month that I'm hopeful will be our second part of easing into a good school/life routine. We do have a few things going on:
- We actually decided not to do extra-curicullars this season. I'm thinking we'll figure out something for the spring, but I'm looking forward to the break. Annie's finishing up piano with our friend who is teaching her soon and we're thinking about weather to continue with professional lessons (I'm leaning toward saying we're going to).
- We're making a trip down to the farm this week to see my inlaws. Graves JUST asked me about going and he's so excited. We may try to get down there twice.
- I'm hoping to get together with a couple of friends at some. There are several friends we want to have over for dinner, but it may be in October with some.
- I missed my first session at the Grief Center because we were in Nashville and I'm looking forward to getting back to it. I start back next week!
- I also have my first League meeting this week.
- And Sallie has her one year old check up the same day (the day she turns fifteen months- whoops).

Some additional Notes on September (and last month):
1. September is never one of my favorite months because mentally it feels like it should be fall but it's still awfully hot and miserable. I'm always stuck figuring out what to put on the kids- and myself. By October, I've usually said my final farewell to summer and am ready to move forward toward chilly weather and the holidays. But I have a hard time embracing September. This year, I'm excited for it. I'm looking forward to really settling into a good routine and having a low key month without many obligations. I'm exciting about starting back the few things I do outside our home- Junior League meetings and the Grief Center and hopefully subbing a bit at places that are dear to me and that kind of thing. 2.
2.  I had really hoped to get ourselves into some sort of routine in August, and as is often the case around here, that just didn't happen. Peyton was sick and he worked some extra shifts and we took a trip- it was a little ambitious to assume we would. But, I did manage to get in a lot of school here and there and we met or exceeded most of the academic goals I set. I took the week off from exercising while we were out of town and when we got back, I just didn't prioritize it. I'm planning to get back on it soon.
3. I'm hoping this month we really do find a groove. I realized recently that the seasons with babies and small children are short (I don't mean the years; I mean the actual stages where you get in a routine with one thing and "find your normal" and then it abruptly changes the next day), so I hold this kind of ideal loosely, but I'm excited about figuring out a system and a schedule that will work for a bit. 
Here were my August GoalsMy focus was "starting fresh". I actually feel like I did a tiny bit better on these than I had thought. I pretty much thought I had failed on every single one. I did best with the relational goals and I am very proud of that. I realized that several things just fizzled after our trip to Nashville. I'm not sure why, but I had trouble getting back into the swing of things.

1. Do a SheReadsTruth study. I actually did okay with this at the first of the month but I just totally didn't keep up with it when we were gone or once we got back from Nashville (Faith).

2. Visit Cookie and Conrad in Nashville and visit Peyton's aunt on the way home. We did this and it was SUCH a fun trip. (Family)

3. Go to dinner with Carrie and have a Sunday picnic with Mallory. Did both and both were just wonderful! Time with friends is so precious. (Relationships)

4. Keep working on my Couch to 5K program. Another thing I did great on until the trip, kinda slacked off on once we got back, and then dropped the ball on entirely at beginning of this month. I picked it back up tonight, though! (Health)

5. I decided to set some specific blog goals this month. I want to catch up on my Weekly Happenings posts through May and get Sallie's letters current and write Annie and Graves their eight year and one month old and six year and one month old letter, respectively. Yeah, literally NONE of that happened. I did get the letters drafted and I just need to polish them up and all the pictures and videos are uploaded for the WH posts. So that's something, I guess. (Creativity/Passion)

6. Start all new first and third grade curriculum. We did this. Even with P being sick and with the trip, we had a REALLY good month of school and I'm so pleased about it.  (Education/Edification)

7. Sort stuff and send a bag to Bagsy. Yeah, no. Barely even thought about it. (Organization)

8. Plan our Nashville trip and enjoy the Nashville trip. Again, we did this and loved most every minute of it. (Travel)

9. Don't spend any money on impulse buys. I didn't and I'm very proud of that! (Finances)

10. Think about and write down (at least) one thing I'm grateful for each day. Nope. Didn't do this at all, with the exception of a couple of days.  (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Create an End of Summer Bucket list. We didn't get to this either, sadly. I think we did have a really great end of summer, though. So that's what's important. (Fun Goal)

 12. Prioritize weekly family pictures and the kids' monthly pictures. I did TERRIBLE with this. (Additional Goal)

 And here are my September Goals. My focus this month is going to be on "establishing routine". I have lots of repeats and I'm okay with that.

1. Do a SheReadsTruth study. Putting this one back on the list. (Faith).

2. Take an afternoon and go over to my parents and visit with them by myself and just relax. This will definitely qualify as some good self care and it's just really nice to have them to myself sometimes. (Family)

3. Have some friends over for dinner. I wish I didn't have such a mental block about this. It's always fun and worth the effort. (Relationships)

4. Keep working on my Couch to 5K program. I decided that I'm honestly not really concerned if I have to repeat a week or even go back a week. I just want to keep plugging away at this. (Health)

5. I want to catch up on my Weekly Happenings posts through May and get Sallie's letters current and write Annie and Graves their eight year and one month old and six year and one month old letter, respectively. Trying this one again. (Creativity/Passion)

6. Read my bookclub book. I've been meaning to do it, but I haven't even picked it up. (Education/Edification)

7. Do the kids' closet changeovers (this really seems like a more immediate need than mine- I have things that can transition easily) and sort stuff in the attic a bit. (Organization)

8. Plan a fall family vacation that we're taking with family friends in October. (Travel)

9. Continue to enforce a spending freeze. (Finances)

10. Think about and write down (at least) one thing I'm grateful for each day. I'm adding this one back in, too.  (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Watch some Wonder Years with Peyton, especially on nights that we get take out. (Fun Goal)

Here's to September, a month continued fresh starts, bouquets of sharpened pencils, and occasional chills that promise oranges and yellows are not so far in the distance. Let me be content in these moments not yearning for the past nor fearing the future and holding loosely the good gifts of the present. 

I kept a lot of the same elements from last month on the side table since the calendar art uses pink and gold again. I did get out some of my favorite cloth napkins, switched out the little tin cups holding the candles that kept knocking over, and changed out my quote for the month.

Friday, September 8, 2017

What I'm Into: August

 I'll be honest, I feel like this month is super bare...or at least super lopsided. There's a lot of cute outfit pictures and stuff from our trip I wanted to share and gosh, a LOT more homeschool stuff than I usually post but things are super bare on the reading/entertainment front and on the deliveries/new purchases front (which is great thing because I'm on a spending freeze). 

On the Nightstand:
Um....nothing really.

On Their Nightstand: 

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorist
 My favorite little boy ever with one of my favorite little boy books ever. Somehow, Graves Herrington made it to six years old without ever reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. He thought it was so funny and was so entertained by Alexander's exaggerated facial expressions. He's finally gotten to the stage where he'll just sit and look at books on the swing in the sunroom for more than a few minutes and I'm so excited for him. But I'll snuggle with him on the sofa and read to him until he goes to college if he'll let me. He and P went to the library and grocery store one night and when I asked him if he wanted me to read it right then he said "this is gonna be so fun". And it was.

Rome Antics by David Macaulay
I loved this one. It was beautifully illustrated and told the story of a carrier pigeon who took a scenic route and finally delivered a message with one word "yes" from somewhere in the countryside to anxiously awaiting man in the city (get it, Rome Antics?). 

 I Wonder Why Romans Wore Togas  by Fiona MacDonald
I wasn't sure this would be anything special but it was basic (and interesting!) enough for Graves to enjoy- it talked about how the Romans would purposely gorge themselves at banquets and vomit afterwards and how they visited in the public bathrooms while they pottied; I mean of course he loved it. But it provided some really interesting discussions with Annie about cultural beauty standards and why being pale was popular for women back then or what laws she thought were fair (like no building apartments over a certain height so they wouldn't fall over) and unfair (like not allowing poor people to wear certain colors or embellishments on their clothes) which was a great springboard since we're talking about Justinian's Code and coming up with our own "laws" this week. 

On the Shelf:
I don't even know what I want to read next (I'm not sure when our bookclub will end up meeting, but I'll read the Faulkner novel eventually). Anyway, I'm planning to have some sort of reading goal this month.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Hmm, this is getting redundant. Nothing new.

On the Small Screen:
Okay, a little to add here.

The Carmichael Show
We finished season two and it was hysterical.

The Wonder Years  
We enjoyed a couple of episodes last weekend.

In My Ears:
Mainly Hamilton. The kids love it (yes, we let them listen to it) and Peyton and I are still pretty obsessed. It hasn't gotten old yet.

Around the House:
Weekend mini project: I moved my very favorites of Sallie's to the front of the closet (excepting the things that are sleeveless but still look appropriate for a Mississippi September or even October; so all the gingham, seersucker, nautical motifs- you know EVERYTHING I LOVE IN LIFE). We all say goodbye to things we love in our own way and dammit if putting the blue linen romper and reversible diaper set in heavy rotation for four weeks won't be part of my summer farewell. I think it'll ease the pain just a tiny bit.

I am SO excited over this project the big kids tackled. They've purged their magazines before but we (Peyton) decided that we needed to get them out of the basket in the bin entirely because Sallie was destroying them (and I was using it as an excuse to chunk them pages at a time). They got them VERY streamlined (I was shocked at how much they were willing to part with) and we organized the ones they had consolidated in this bin in their closet. The little turkey tupperwares (🙈) have pictures they cut out in the case they didn't want to keep a whole magazine but just wanted a bit of a page. We'll see how neat they keep them but at least they're inaccessible to Sissy now (who has now moved along to pulling actual books off the shelves).

In the Kitchen:

Nothing says summer like fresh fruit. Nothing says "Peyton had the flu" like me cutting up said fruit.

Packaged up the big kids' lunch and talked to them about how Roman soldiers ate. Full disclosure: you were supposed to actually dig a hole in your backyard and chanel your inner Boy Scout and cook it there. I warmed up some potatoes P cooked previously and microwaved a hotdog. Nobody tell Susan Wise Bauer. Annie did come up with (I think) her best joke yet: "Why don't Romans like ketchup?" "Because it's made by Hun(t)s." Ba dum dum.

Annie had on her bathrobe when she brought Sallie to me one morning and I just couldn't get over what a grown person she is. Then she asked if Sallie could have some of her mini Vanilla Wafers with breakfast and made her these "Nilla hamburgers" with her go-to breakfast fruit- bananas. Slightly more healthy (and certainly more breakfast appropriate) than, but pretty close to, SL's all time favorite-- banana pudding.

Monday mornings are easier with Peyton...

In My Closet:
Wore real clothes (Cookie's hand me downs, obs) to a birthday party, so I had to document. Clearly, cleaning the mirror hasn't been a priority lately either

No worries guys, I made it quickly back in the Fraggle shirt and pony

polka dots and earrings and bright red lipstick and a big old smile because GIRLS NIGHT

In Their Closets:

Annie in yet another iteration of my favorite color, this time complete with eyelet trim. Think her brother and sister love her just a little bit?

When Sallie wears this little aqua bubble with shadow embroidered zoo animals that she finally grew into and when she perfectly matches Minnie's chair (that she painted, lol) and when her lips look so perfectly pink and when her grandfather who tells me constantly that I'm the best momma in the world (sob) looks at her like this, I have to share the picture, even though the quality is awful.

Annie, no secret, has big opinions on quite a lot and this certainly includes her wardrobe. BUT, at this point, this one is waaaay more interested in his "style". I picked out clothes for him for a birthday party and told him please not to fuss and argue with me about wearing a lit tee instead. I had pulled out the solid white tee. He went and got this button up, which I've never realized perfectly matches the stripes in these shorts, and asked if he could please wear it. I said sure. He went back and forth over whether to wear it buttoned or unbuttoned. I'm glad his face still looks like a little angel and that he still acts like a literal monkey, because that braided bracelet is almost too fratty to bear. 

Lots of matching here when we visited the science museum in Nashville- I was the only one without a twin! Annie and Sallie wore their Elegant Elephants. And Graves and P wore their Harold lit tees (Peyton said it's one of his favorite children's books and Graves loves having a baby on his shirt.)

 I was so excited for Annie to wear this paisley pillowcase dress my mom bought for her like four years ago that finally fits.

I thought Bud looked so cute in his Cat and Jack chambray shorts, one of his four church belts, his Saltwaters that he thinks are so fine, and the white Oxford he wears every other Sunday.

Sweet Sallie wore 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. She wore it a good bit in August, though, and maybe even expect to see it in 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, Imma sausage Sal into it a la Mrs. Watson until it gets cold.

I got out this little 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) so I almost missed it again. So said. Sweet little baby bird with those blue eyes- she melts me.

Sall also wore her pink seersucker espadrilles recently. Y'all, Annie's wardrobe was next level ridiculous.

That girl that's getting out her scarves and dreaming of her PSL already? Found her boyfriend! Crazy Bud in his snowsuit when it was still in the nineties! 

When she stays at the Reynauds, Sallie wears her butterfly thermal pjs. Uncle Conrad likes it chilly.

And finally, wearing next to nothing for the family bike ride.

In My Mailbox:
Nothing too interesting.

In My Cart:
NOTHING. Like I said, I'm on a spending freeze so this is definitely a good thing.

Around the Town and At Home (and in Nashville): 

We had SO much fun celebrating my oldest nephew's birthday today with a wolf themed party.

I mentioned this already, but I started running. Which is so not my thing. But it's good to be exercising again after years and years off. 

Of course, the biggest event last month was our trip to Nashville to see Cookie and the eclipse. See: not minimalist.

We had breakfast at this fun place and then watched some videos to prepare for the eclipse.

Girlfriend loved bacon!

Perfect view for the eclipse!

It felt like a midnight swim in the middle of the day. And the crickets were so loud. It was amazing but I maybe wasn't quite as impressed as the newscaster who was like "there are no Republicans and no Democrats; we are all united as one country under the solar eclipse". Yeah, maybe a bit of a stretch.

Space Dude and "Pizza", the turtle Cookie got for him stay the beach the previous week. He's been asking about a Nashville trip for months. We found out after we had already planned the trip that Cookie had the day off work on the day of the eclipse and I think it paled in comparison to the time he's gotten to spend with her.

We spent a good chunk of the next day at the Adventure Science Center. Dr. Graves had fun working on a patient there!

These two got fresh trims- they were way overdue!

One of my favorite parts of each week- spending time on my parents' deck with this sweet girl! 

And we made it back to the pool a couple of more times before it closed for the summer!
At the Schoolhouse:

Ready or not...time to get back into full swing mode with school!

And then P got the flu! I was determined not to let him being sick slow us down on the second week of first and third grade!

We finished up our first little unit in history/literature/geography and it was as enjoyable as I had imagined. We studied Rome and read the corresponding chapters/pages from Story of the World, A Child's History of the World, and the Usborne Encyclopedia and it turned out that it wasn't extremely repetitive. We did some crafting and map work and ate like a Roman soldier and Annie sketched out and colored a large version of the map she labeled. She took her first ever "official" quiz and we did some narration from SOTW and dictionary copywork and I introduced Roman numerals. We read several books from the library that I mentioned above! Things just keep getting more and more fun at the

Partly to involve this guy more and partly because Annie's still little and sweet and  so homeschooled and just loves this stuff, I decided we'd do a lot of crafts and projects (things that I detest, in other words!) with history this year. I also decided that we'd do crafts and projects on Fridays and Saturdays mostly when Peyton's not here and I wanted a more relaxed vibe. Well, they're definitely mine. It may well have been more painstaking than the academic stuff. It totally reminded me of my days in the School of ED when I was such a ditz I signed up for Chemistry for Majors at the community college and aced it, took upper level history classes so I could teach it through twelfth grade and aced them, and then nearly lost my 4.0 numerous times in classes where we had cutesy project after cutesy project and I just couldn't hang. Some people are crafty and some are not. We are not. But this guy does have a milk jug crown, a mace that "shows he's an important person", and a lady's looking glass because he's surely the one who would care about monitoring his own appearance. And a very (very) basic understanding of life in the Middle Ages.

Initially, I was kind of irritated and stressed that our read aloud/craft time took so long. I had a few other things I really wanted to get in that didn't happen that day. BUT, I gave them some free time and this is what they did. They turned their room into a castle, complete with a moat with an alligator in it right by their door. Annie's throne had the pants of a velour parrot costume on the seat and the back of Graves's is the panties part of the sixty five year old little girl nightie of Minnie's that Annie was wearing as her top layer. He's clearly a very sophisticated ruler, chomping on that carrot Bugs Bunny style on his throne. I know this kind of thing won't last forever and the math problems and grammar will (okay, at least a bit longer).

Sis is like "MOM, I don't care that we're doing this elaborate medieval literature/history/geography thing with three different spines and a gazillion extra books and crafts and map work and actual quizzes for the first time ever and meals revolving around time periods and you fancy yourself a humanities instructor. Can somebody just read to me a little about Reagan?!?"

Recently, Graves had probably (in my opinion) the best day of school ever. We did a story narration and a quick math sheet, learned a new phonogram, played a game of phonogram bingo, practiced memory work, did a reading exercise, and then (this is what I was most proud of, probably) he did his copy work. A whole sentence!!!!! We finished up by comparing and contrasting two books P read to him yesterday. I love his little pictures. It all took about an hour and a half and seemed like the perfect balance of a first grade school day (with some more science and reading and such in the afternoon).

Annie wrote her very own fable this week at the #SchoolhouseInTheSuburbs

And Annie and Graves have been enjoying science and chess with Peyton!

On the Blog:
Honestly between some sickness, getting into a real school routine, and our trip, I didn't blog near as much as I wanted to. Mostly it was the kids' letters that P wrote, some Sunday pics and reflections, and my mental health check in.

On My Heart and Mind:
- I've been thinking a lot about our family and about what adding another child would be like. It's no secret I really want to adopt one more and I'm hopeful that will be a reality one day. 
- I've been missing Cookie a lot since our trip. I've just been trying to text her more and that makes it a bit easier. 
- August didn't really play out exactly like I envisioned it and I'm hoping we can get on a better routine this month.

In My Prayers
- I'm praying a bunch about our family size and structure. That's something I pray about a lot anyway, but it's something that's on my mind even more than usual lately.
- I'm praying for the victims of these hurricanes and for people whose loved ones have been affected.
- I'm praying for a friend who just welcomed a new baby and another friend who is moving.
- I'm praying for our church as we search for a new pastor.
On the Calendar: 

We're starting back with some things in September but nothing big overall and like I said, I'm looking forward to easing into a good school routine.