Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What I Learned in February


I did have quite as many realizations this month as I did in January. I think it was kind of a down month in a lot of ways. But I definitely learned a thing or two and I'm excited to share!

1. I approach projects differently than I used to and I trust God to put the right things in my lap. P and I recently had a conversation and we discussed how he used to really struggle with "doing enough" re: his faith and still would if that was part of his life. It's interesting that in that area we have such stark differences (and it's still a REALLY hard part of my life) but (I think) God provided for me (us) in a big way by bringing me to a place where I'm less hung up on a lot of things so, while we come at it from vastly different places, we end up agreeing on certain things. I feel like I've grown a lot in that I've stopped striving to be and do everything in an effort to be a super Christian.  I've also just taken a different approach- I remember years ago bring part of a wonderful group that read a lot of books and worked so hard with really good intentions. At that point, I really wanted to come up with some great idea about how to serve people. I spent a lot of mental energy and it left me exhausted on so many levels- spiritual ones, even. These days, I trust God to put things in my path more and I've found places and organizations and ministries (Northside, Mockingbird, the Junior League, the grief center) where I don't feel like I need to reinvent any wheels but can just come alongside and help do some leg work or contribute financially. I also feel less compelled to need a Jesus stamp on everything. He's certainly my truest motivation and I still believe He's ultimately the only hope for humanity's redemption. But I also don't think every project has to be an overtly evangelical one.

Body and Body Image

2. It's possible to make peace with a different body than the one I'm used to. 
I've never felt beautiful. That's okay. It took a minute in high school when boys literally asked me for Cookie's number but I really made my peace with being "cute". But my cuteness was sort of contingent on my tininess. And I struggle because Peyton likes tiny girls. He just likes little women (which is great because the only time I'm not as flat chested as a 9 year old boy is when I'm nursing an infant and the only time I have any sort of hips or backside is when I've just birthed a baby). He hasn't said one negative word and goes out of his way to affirm me but it's still in the back of my head.  Awhile back someone on the breast feeding group I'm in was saying how she's pregnant with her first and is just sure if she eats healthy while breast feeding the pounds will disappear but right now she just "wants to eat the damn brownie". I was a little exhausted that night and was like "um, postpartum hormones are no joke (nor is the stress of raising children) so you may be wanting to eat the damn brownie for the duration". To be fair, P used to tell everyone he wished he could lactate because the pounds flew off me so fast. But as I've said, I've tried to be healthier for me and our girl this time. I'm not sure it's correlated but she's the only baby I've had so far that hasn't been in an alarmingly low percentile weight wise. I've tried to be careful what I say, around Annie especially. I've seen some meme floating around about never commenting on their appearance and I'm just not that much of a purist. I tell my girls they are beautiful but I hope I praise their character and creativity and intelligence at least twice as much. And I hope they know I use the term to encompass a lot more than their deep brown and clear blue eyes or their soft pretty smiles. I'm working on seeing myself the way I hope they see themselves at thirty. And I'm working on responding to Graves about my squishy tummy the way I hope his future wife would- with laughter and with deep gratitude and with a knowledge that her body brought her some of the best gifts God had given her. 

3. I love being able to squeeze in tiny spaces and that ability, along with my flexibility, took a lot longer to return this time! I can finally shimmy under the toddler beds comfortably again when I'm vacuuming!

Mental Health  

4. When I'm struggling mentally I tend to really beat myself up over not being successful with the things I value/things I usually prioritize. It's very hard to feel like I'm good at ANYTHING.

Baby Gear and Kid Clothes 

5. Our travel swing literally takes up about a foot of space. 
 I was so excited when I realized I could wedge it between the wall and PnP, in the space already needed for the tray. (We have a travel playmat and a Boppy pillow stored under it- I moved them when I realized the swing might fit.) I'm not a minimalist, but the huge plug in swing drove me crazy with Annie. It absolutely sucked my mental energy. I know some people love the Mamaroo and all- and it totally depends on your family and your lifestyle and your space- but if I had it to do over I'd probably still get a bouncy seat and travel swing but not a full size one (we had two without other babies- one I bought at a consignment store for super cheap and ended up hating and one someone let us borrow). Anyway, I wanted to share because we're about to pass this one along ourselves (SOB- my baby is getting SO big!) Also, the Twizzle (the adorable name Annie made up for that star noise maker that projects things on the ceiling) is definitely one of my top ten baby items.  

6. The supplier for Mini Boden is selling stuff on Amazon for next to nothing.

7. This time around I've found that I really prefer florals and stripes and rosebuds and things rather than footies with bigger, busier pictures and animals (which Graves had TONS of and I think if I did boy clothes again I'd do mostly pastels and lots of stripes and tiny polka dots). If it does have animals I like them small, very patterned instead of scattered, and traditional (like ducks).

8. Fisher Price Little People are like magnets for little hands.  
At least with my kids- at this point all three of them have loved them so much. The big kids played with them daily for YEARS and now Sallie is fascinated with them! Bonus is that I personally think they're cute and they're easy to throw in one big plastic box. 

Sleep and Energy

9. We are a family of strange sleepers. 
All three children and myself sleeping in this absurd position (I forgot to mention last time that another thing that drove me crazy when I was pregnant was not being able to do these sleep gymnastics). SD- 21 years old; Ann Peyton- 10 months old; Graves- 9 months old; and Sarah Lamar- 7 months old.

10. Systems are so life giving to me in many cases, but with infants (and really with kids' sleep) it's nice to release myself from it. I don't want to knock sleep training too hard and I'm sure I'd resort to it if it was the price of my sanity, but I'm so grateful that with her and Graves I've been able to just give them the space to figure it out (we did some low key "getting on a routine" type stuff with Annie but she was an excellent sleeper). Partly CIO just makes my anxiety out of control but I also just have loved letting them do their own thing and not worrying about a schedule. It's one more thing I don't have to micromanage and worry I'm doing "wrong". 

11. The way people "wind down" can vary so much. Annie and I take a while to settle down. Sissy is like her brother and papa. She has two settings: !ON! and asleep. She's a snuggle bug (also like her brother) but it's hard to get her to relax in my arms now unless I'm nursing her. The carrier is amazing for that- it helps her settle and stop flailing about. I'm SO hoping that once she stops nursing (which I'm sure is a long ways off) she'll automatically transition to loving to be rocked like Graves did (he had nothing for it until he was a toddler/not nursing) and then cuddling when she's too big to be rocked. (P rocked Graves the other night.)

12. Not all work is visible work and using mental energy can tax your system just as using physical energy can. It occurred to me while thinking about Annie and another relative that often creative and/or analytical types seem low energy but a lot is going on behind the scenes and you can see the output at the end of a project but it's not as obvious how much energy is used when it's not physical tasks. It's hard to quantify but it does help me feel validated. For example-- I think a lot about my kids' personalities and learning styles and it hugely effects how I parent and teach them but I don't expect that to drain me in any way. So when I'm exhausted , I shouldn't feel guilty. And I wouldn't if I had just mopped the floor and folded laundry. I'm admittedly a low energy individual, but thinking about how much mental energy I expend has been so helpful. I'm going to give myself more credit for the work I do that's not visible. 

Wildlife and Weed

13. If you see a raccoon making movements that look like he has Parkinson's he may actually have something called distemper.

We were taking a family walk the other day and ran across this guy, who was clearly sick or hurt and a friend told me about distemper.
14. Aside: people keep raccoons as pets. We learned this from a lady who also happened upon the poor fella.

15. Giraffes (and I assume lots of wild animals) have very quick births (like an hour-ish?). This is of course because they don't want themselves or their new baby to be vulnerable to predators. They are also really good at hiding their labors. I learned this while watching an old video of a giraffe giving birth after the whole April thing got so hyped up.

16. The #BudAndBabes hashtag feed is full of...hash (amongst other things). Hahaha. I had been using it for Graves and Sallie, but I decided to go with #BudAndBabesHerrington instead. 

So that's my list this month! I'm linking up with Emily, as usual!

Monday, February 27, 2017

When Despair for the World Grows in Me...

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weekly Happenings #398 (November 14-20)-- Heat, Headaches, and a Low Key Week

 {Again, no family picture. Boo.}

This was a pretty low key week without anything unusual. I had started out the week with another awful headache and ended it with a little breakdown, but there were lots of good moments, too! It was also weirdly warm for November (as has been the case a lot this Winter!).

I had a headache again pretty much all day on Monday. I got up and took some medicine, got my bath and dried my hair, and did a couple of quick things on the computer and then I ran by Sonic for a gift card and to Target to shop for some happies to mail a friend. After that I met Carrie (and Francie!) for lunch at Broadstreet. We had a great time talking and I felt some better. I ran by Batte to get a box to mail my package in because P had forgotten to bring one home from Walgreens for me.

Target by myself and lunch with a friend today. Whoo hoo!

I got home and just sort of relaxed and visited with Peyton and the kids. I fed Sallie and then did some school with Annie. I wrote a couple of notes to friends and Peyton cooked chili and took all three kids to the library and I just rested some. I felt a lot better when they got home. They all ate and got to bed pretty early and I straightened around the house, started some laundry, and ate my supper. I worked on a post, uploaded and edited pictures from the big camera, and sent a couple of emails. Sallie was up and down a lot before I went to sleep. I went to bed pretty late but Sallie slept well for the most part.

Tuesday was a nice day. I felt much better. Peyton got up with the kids and I slept until nine and then got my bath and had breakfast. I helped him get the big kids ready for book club after that ate, cleaned their room, and had media time.

She and Peyton are so proud of this single azeala bloom. I told a friend awhile back that I think she's the weirdest kid. I just adore her so much.
They left and I fed Sallie. She took a short nap and I finished getting some stuff ready to mail and sent a few Facebook messages. Sallie woke up and the big kids got home and we all talked some and I did some things around the house.

Sallie tried her first MumMum! We've since discovered she loves Saltines and Ritz much better and being that she's the third and it's WAY more of an economical option, I gust go with it. 

I did a good bit of school with Annie- all of her math for the day and Sallie took another nap and Peyton and the big kids headed to the Children's Museum. I straightened a ton, boiled some bottles, folded a bunch of laundry, and watched The West Wing.

Self-care...Bartlet for America

They got home and we all ate supper and then Annie and I ran to the library to get a book I had on hold. I had lost my library card and had some fines and it was quite the process. We got home and did some English- grammar, reading, spelling, and copy work and then she went to bed. Sallie was super fussy and I ended up snuggling with her and watching another episode. We all went to sleep super early.

The big kids and Peyton got up before me and Sallie on Wednesday and then we all ate breakfast and got ready.

Peyton thought it would be so funny to put her in Annie's fox muscle tee. It does coordinate well with her "woodland animals" swing.

I took my bath and both big kids had baths. Peyton mailed a package for me and I did some writing work with Annie and she did her mental math and BrainQuest. I made a list, sent a Facebook message, and looked over my reader. Peyton got back and I worked on some stuff around the house. I picked up some in the kids' room and swept in there and did a quick scrub down of the guest bathroom. Our friends got here for piano (we were having it at our house that week) and we had the greatest time. Aubrey, Mary Milton and Annie had their lesson and Carrie and I sat outside with Sallie and John Stuart (Francie was at school). Peyton and the four middle kids cooked cupcakes! After they left, I helped P clean up the kitchen and then did a good bit of math with Annie. We did a few other things around the house and then Peyton and I folded a bunch of laundry. He took the big kids swimming and I straightened some. Sallie was having a hard time, so I mostly just held her and put up the clothes. They got home and ate supper and went to bed and P and I worked really hard on straightening some piles in the study. He went through some books to donate and then I worked on a post and went to bed.
Such a great day of homeschooling. This is Annie's BrainQuest page from that day (she basically does this book for fun/practice while I prep other stuff). Thursday is her favorite day because we've switched things up and started having beans and rice at my parents' that day. But my favorite is that Christmas is her favorite holiday....because she gets to see Cookie and Conrad and they make a Santa Clause cookie cake. Not the first word about presents, which has been the goal for the past seven years. Graves read his first book and Peyton was teaching them about preserving food and Graves kept trying to figure out a way to preserve his supper for later and eat a cupcake instead.

We all got up on Thursday and Peyton got ready for a meeting. I had a sore throat and felt terrible but I got on up. I changed Sallie and she really needed a bath. I bathed and dressed her and fed her. Annie hung up some clothes and had media time and then Graves had his. I got my bath and did some computer stuff and Sallie fell asleep on her playmat. The big kids and I had breakfast and they got dressed for Little Gym. We all hustled and got out the door and made it there just a few minutes late and then I hit a car in the parking lot. UGGGGH.

We still had a good time. Annie went to the class too since she was going with us anyway and her P.E. class is over. Sallie did great and we got home and Peyton was there.

Pro-tip: if you become anxious that your almost eight year old infant seat is a brittle piece of crap but your baby can't sit unassisted, you can still use it as a seat. I mean, Sal is the exact opposite of a container baby and the Tula works in most situations, but SHE COULDN'T SIT UP. And sometimes I'm in situations where I want to sit without her. Cute MilkSnob cover that doubles for discreet nursing c/o of Cookie!

We talked and kind of touched base on the day while the kids ate and played and Sallie took a nap and then I did an English review with Graves and P did math with Annie. I straightened some and Peyton cleaned up in the kitchen and mopped the floor while I worked on a post. We got ready and I took all the kids to the park for our weekly cousin play date and Peyton went to another pharmacy event. After the park, he met us at Minnie's for beans and rice. We had a great visit and came home and got the little ones to bed. Graves had fallen asleep in the car and I got Sallie to sleep. Annie and I did some school and then I finished a post and went to bed.

Friday was nice and relaxing. Peyton had to work early and the kids and I got up a little before nine. The big kids had media time and I fed, changed and dressed Sallie.

I hope you have at least one person in your life who cherishes you this way.
She played and I took a bath and did some computer stuff. We all ate something and Sallie took a nap.

We had a full (fun!) day the day before and Annie was so upset she and Bud didn't have much time to just play together. So that morning they got about fifteen cups and a loaf of bread and took it to their room. The iPad was playing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and they were serving communion. Graves put a tutu around his neck to imitate the robe "Past Staner" wore and they even put their baby dolls in the "nursery" in their closet. I'm glad most of our days allow for such fun pretend play!

 I started another post and realized it was an astoundingly short nap- like fifteen minutes. I tried and tried to get her back to sleep but it didn't happen and I finally let her do Graves's and Annie's math lessons with us. After that, she played some more and the big kids had a snack and made some lists.

 The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Having an excessive amount of free time, Annie spent a good bit of it making lists for next week. On the agenda, among other things: "groshry" store, a meeting, jedi training: reading and quiz, holiday!, eat refried beans, wash dishes, math, "eglish", and plan week.

 I did some purging in their room. I hung up their Sunday school crafts, cleaned off and made up Graves's bed, and went through his two little night stand bins and purged. I also went through books and put them up and returned library books to the den. I returned some other stuff to various homes around the house and went through the dress up clothes. I purged a bit and also just eliminated real clothes, dinosaurs, and that kind of thing. I had planned to make the kids join me but it went so much faster without them and I was able to actually get rid of more. Peyton got home and we talked and I washed a bunch of dishes and had a snack and then put up some of the school stuff.

We got ready and headed to the park to meet some friends.
It was SO warm!

We had a nice visit and did the recycling on the way home but I was just so tired and overwhelmed. Sallie was screaming and Peyton was stressed, too. We came home and decompressed and I went and got CFA for myself after we got the kids settled. I started some laundry and talked to a friend and worked on some posts and changed over the laundry and went to bed. I got up a couple of hours later and got out Peyton's pharmacy coat so it'd be ready in the morning.

The big kids and Sallie got up pretty early on Saturday. I laid around a bit but I got up by eight. I took my bath and responded to some things on Facebook and planned school while Sallie played and the big kids had media time and ate breakfast. I relaxed a bit and updated my address book and thank you list and then straightened some in the study. Sallie took a nap and the big kids packed a picnic themselves and ate in the yard.

I had my seasonal sinus infection and we had a pretty busy (fun!) end of the week by my standards. I was completely peopled out and after having a mild come apart the afternoon before and then one of those scary breakdowns that night, I knew I needed to care for myself better. I gave Peyton the baby and took myself to get take out and unpacked it all with a trusted friend. It rained and the front coming in was like a big exhale. I was a lot better by Saturday and gave myself lots of space. Sallie took the best nap she had taken in a week and the big kids asked me of they could pack their own picnic. I started to object but then agreed and they did so good- salad and carrots from the fridge and raisins and plain tortillas. It was so quiet in the sunroom (see the swing through the window) that I could hear myself think. Relief. So grateful.

 I worked on a post and when they came in, I cleaned out Annie's night stand bins and helped her sort some books on her bed. I made both their beds and Sallie woke up so I finally made ours. I fed her and had my lunch and then vacuumed in the den. I got out the legos for the big kids and Sallie was fussing like crazy. I gave her some Tylenol because she was drooling everywhere. She took another nap and I took a twenty minute power nap myself. I did some school with both big kids- Graves did some reading and Annie did spelling and then helped me plan "N day" for the next day. The big kids played Legos some more and I went through my reader and cleared it out. Sarah Lamar woke up and I fixed the big kids supper. Annie didn't really eat well but I finally got Graves in the bath and had her practice piano and do some math. She had a bath in the other tub and I vacuumed in the bedrooms and got our clothes and activity bag ready for church. Sallie had a dirty diaper and I changed it and got her ready for bed. I fed her and helped the big kids finish their bath and then changed over laundry and did dishes. Annie wanted more to eat and I did feel bad since I fed them supper earlier than usual so I got her something. I folded and hung up laundry and called Peyton and then got Sallie back to sleep and the big kids to their room.

When Sallie gets dressed in steggie jams and they coordinate with an old paci of Graves's that she happened to be using, her big sister actually takes an interest in her. (I saved them with the hope of exactly that!)

Peyton got home and we talked and ate supper and then went to sleep pretty soon after that.
Oh look: a lovely little herb garden in my kitchen sink. [Peyton worked two extra hours- so a fourteen hour shift- and then ran by the grocery store for me on the way home and THEN dug up the basil and such and potted it so it wouldn't freeze. I have no idea where he gets his abundance of energy.]

Sunday was a really nice day, overall. I got up a little before seven but we still managed to be running a little late. I fed Sallie and got her back to bed for a bit and then made a list for the day, took my bath, go tready, stripped our bed, and helped the big kids get dressed and fed. Sallie got back up and I fed her and dressed her and then I realized we had to get gas. We made it and I dropped everyone off and changed Sarah Lamar's diaper since she pottied in the car. Sunday school was really nice and church went long. The big kids did great except for one little part and they reeled it back in and did really well. We came home and they were both in pretty good moods. They had media time and lunch and played with Legos. They also cleaned up a mess they made in the bathroom with hardly any prompting. I got Sallie settled and she took a long nap, despite sleeping a good bit in the nursery. I ate my lunch and FB messaged with a friend and took another little cat nap myself. When SL and I got up, the big kids did a lot of crafting. I started laundry, straightened a bit, unpacked church stuff, and fed Sallie. Then we cleaned up and they watched a movie.
I feel only a teensy bit of guilt about Sallie watching her first feature length film. Annie was probably five by the time she saw a real movie because I had some extreme screen convictions at that point in my motherhood. And then God totally took me down a peg because Graves was near about five by the time he could sit still for more than half an hour (despite my ironically basically begging him to do so). Sallie is frightening obsessed with screens, so there's that. Anyway, Gravey Train was learning "n" that week and we made Native American headbands and came up with Native American names. Normally, I lather myself in "Sabbath" on Sundays and do next to nothing and certainly nothing school related so I decided we ALL deserved a little (N)emo thst evening (Annie requested we wait until it got dark because movies are more fun that way.)  As an aside, one of my children has a conviction (or rather compulsion) about doing work on Sunday. One does not. [The one who does is the one who laid down in the dark two hours before bedtime one evening  and said "I'll just pick my boogers and count to one hundred". The one who does not is the one who stopped mid sentence, pointed, and shouted "Look! Squirrel!" like those cartoon dogs. Different strengths, different challenges at the Schoolhouse In the Suburbs.]
Sal took another nap and I worked on a couple of posts and talked to some friends. I fixed the big kids supper and changed over the laundry and washed a bunch of dishes.

Peyton got home and he played with Sallie a bit and then we watched a movie and went to bed.

This is how Peyton parents. She loves it, of course, being up on everyone's level. She is such a weird baby. He is such a weird papa. Love them both to pieces. 

Next up  is Thanksgiving!