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!

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