Friday, April 21, 2017

Belles and Beaux Back in Brooklyn: Reflections on the First Half of the Month

Well, I haven't stayed on top of this the way I had planned to. I guess we've been too busy having fun to document the fun. I'm teasing, but really, even though I'm trying to keep writing because I've worked SO hard to get as up to date as I am it's hard being so out of my element and so nights it's sort of the last thing I want to do.

I have been documenting a lot on Instagram and Facebook per usual and (per usual) a lot of this is just a rehash if you follow me in those places with a few extra details added in here and there. And of course, I'll be documenting more details of our actual days in my Weekly Happenings posts which I do type up each evening or morning; this is more about my thoughts and feelings on being here again.

Anyway, I left off last time with us getting settled in. A lot has happened since then!

I jumped back in pretty quickly. This was my first time to do the subway without Peyton in nearly two years and my first time ever to worship with just this girl. Such a special treat! 

A beautiful day in Bed-Stuy. I've loved the area we're staying in. It is a little "gritty" by some people's standards, I know, but it's also beautiful and it's a really neat community. That said, I walked back from the train by myself one night after a Holy Week service and I did feel a little uncomfortable. I haven't felt scared at all staying here or walking around at night with P or in the day by myself, though. 

We took a family stroll to the library. A man on his stoop said to Graves: "Hey, Shorty!"....I'm loving the everyday street things here so very much.

We met a little friend at the library. Sallie is such a magnet (not surprising to me but I'm super biased) and even more so here. My hypothesis is that it's a because people don't have as many kids and therefore babies are less common. I love that she's number three and I know (or Graves has proven to me) that she's not super fragile. She's already licked the subway pole a la three year old Graves, so I'm letting go of germ worries, too. The cute little girl's momma was on a library computer and as best I could tell, searching for housing. They rushed out when she found a great deal. One of my favorite parts of being here is getting little glimpses into other people's stories. 

Laundry day in BK. Pretty sure we were the only ones in the laundry mat doing Singapore math and have the only machine with Peter Rabbit jams in it. 

This one ain't scared of much. We dropped by one of our old church's Easter celebration on Saturday and had the best time visiting and letting the kids play! 

Brooklyn's blooming. I really think this is the most beautiful time to be in the city, especially in Brooklyn. It's just gorgeous with all the colors popping up. 

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 those two folks at the front of the truck are getting to be part of it again for a month. 

I had a plethora of "not my finest" moments on Easter morning but I realized this was my first Easter ever spent at Calvary-St. George's (the first year we lived here I had JUST discovered it and the second year I had sick babies and P was working). Reminiscent of those days, it took just about everything in me to get there and equally reminiscent of them, it was worth it ten times over to gather with friends, come to the Table, and hear the Gospel boldly proclaimed.

Graves demonstrating pretty much the way I felt most of the morning. I woke up in tears for reasons I can't even articulate. I think I was tired and it also partly had to do with Peyton mentioning that it's been almost a year since Sallie was born and it might be time to think about getting off anti-depressants, which sort of terrified me. (Aside: I'm a big fan of an SSRI when necessary. A BIG fan. But I'm also just as convinced as I've ever been that we are a culture that pathologizes and medicates way too much- normal, low risk births; neuro-typical little boys who function absolutely appropriately for their ages and developmental level; and so much more. And I would like to push back against it when and where I can.) Then Annie cried because the dress I tried on her a month ago 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 the girls a ton of matching stuff, and because Annie and I had made a very clear agreement that she'd wear the Easter dress I picked and could wear her bird and bunny dresses the other Sundays we're here. I know this kid and I know she just wouldn't even think to tell me something was uncomfortable when she just wanted to wear something else. She's blunt and she tells things like they are. She literally told someone at church today "sometimes I do; sometimes a I don't" who asked if she liked having a sister. She don't care. And yet...I raised my voice and asked if she was lying to get out of wearing the dress I wanted her to. And then I cried more because I decided I didn't blame them if they didn't like me much (more on that below). And then Graves ran I to a bodega and tried to hide from me when we were already running late and Peyton had ran back to get my phone. And then a bird popped on my dress I was wearing for the first time. But God WILL wipe away every tear and everything sad and terrifying is becoming undone and He's making all things new and this day and everyday I will remind myself of that. 

Last week, Annie said, without realizing at all that it could bother me "well, I like Momma's rules the best, but Papa is my favorite". We discussed why this was (the former is because I don't make them get up as early as task-master school like he does and the latter has a lot to do with his knowledge of Star Wars and how he plays rough with them) and Peyton later talked to her about how we love how honest she is and it wasn't a big deal in this case but it could hurt other people's (e.g. grandparents, friends, ect.) if she talked about who was her favorite. And then Graves told me how he thought Peyton 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, he replied, very earnestly, that I had the squishiest tummy of anybody in our family. When he realized maybe that wasn't the response I was hoping for, he tried to redeem himself 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. None of it devastated me, which I'm really proud of, but both interactions did sting a little. And Sallie is becoming more and more of a papa's girl by the day. Peyton reminded me that their preferences will change a lot over the years and Minnie did the same- I think there were plenty of phases where Cookie and I preferred one of them and also many phases where they preferred one of us and I'm so glad that was a normal thing and not something any of us obsessed about. But Sallie is SUCH a momma's girl and if I'm honest, she's kind of my security blanket in some ways, too. So I'm gonna be real sad when she discovers that I'm not the fun parent. I'm just holding out hope for when the hormones hit and they need a sweet, sensitive parent more than a fun parent again. Cause I'm that one.

I got to share my favorite brunch- the blintzes fro Cousin John's- with my favorite baby girl. She's a real big fan of whipped cream and she's real rotten.It's funny because, for the most part, we're not doing anything especially exciting but I love being back so much. It just love the vibe and it clicked into place so much faster then it did on our trip last year. I'm not sure if it's the weather or having the kids here or what.

This week, Graves ran directly into the street without looking (he was following Peyton and Annie but they were pretty far ahead of him AND instead of crossing and then turning and crossing left he ran through the intersection at a diagonal). This is why he was in a Tula at three anytime when I had him 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 he's back to holding a hand for awhile. Annie volunteered and I was ever so grateful. I had been holding his wrist because he's FILTHY. I actually had to move away from him on the train. Along with self control, personal space is not his strength. I do love to cuddle with him when he's nice and fresh but unfortunately these days that lasts about five minutes. 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. 

It's one thing to use the plates, utensils, bath towels and bed sheets at your Airbnb. I mean, obviously. That's what you do. But it's a whole 'nother level of Voluntary Simplicity when you find unopened steaks in the freezer from the previous guests, double check the date, and then cook them for your fam. Peyton's a freak, y'all. But it was damn delicious. 

In the past couple of weeks I've nursed Sarah Lamar in so many places, many of which I never have before- probably at least six times on an airplane, in multiple airports, sitting on the sidewalk, on playground benches, while riding the train, and in a church service. On Saturday, I figured out how to nurse her in the Tula and Peyton thought she was sleeping when he came out of a store. On Sunday, I nursed her in a crowded train and had to unzip my dress and pull it off one shoulder to do it. She had literally thrown her paci onto the tracks and was screaming so hard and Peyton suggested getting the little applesauce squeeze thing out of the bottom of her backpack which was full of the big kids' Easter eggs. Yeah, no. She was exhausted and hungry and there was a much easier way to take care of that. And one that I knew she'd find a lot more comforting than an applesauce pouch. She needed me and it didn't matter much that I hadn't worn the most accommodating dress or that the train was pretty full. Peyton told me later how proud he was of me (and then said something about there being some "everyday hero in this woman" on Facebook, which just did a lot for my heart). When he says that kind of thing, it always means the world go me. I certainly don't have it all figured out and here with my third baby, I'm more cognizant of that than ever. But it's nice to feel confident about a few things and to be comfortable enough to do things in a way that's easy, and to be honest, very natural; instead of nursing her on a toilet. It's such a joy to be able to serve her this way. And i'm so grateful I get to do it this last time. 

On Wednesday, we had a big day back at the Bronx Zoo. 

We saw this trumpeter swan at the zoo and Annie was so fascinated with him. In fact, he was mostly responsible for a mood shift after we had a thirty minute stand off over using the potty ("Hi, my name is Sarah Denley and the Lord is working on making me more humble because I have three kids and my eldest is eight and we're still having the 'if you see a potty, you go try at places like the zoo' arguments"). I overheard two guys talking and one said "I'm not taking a picture of that" (sidenote: sooo many phones and tablets in front of people's faces; it was kinda convicting). Then the other said to the kid with them "that's just a regular bird". I felt a little defensive, partly because, due to hunting, they ARE rare but also because he made me think of Louis, the "defective" trumpeter swan with no voice that we've been reading about in our current read-aloud, The Trumpet of the Swan.

We decided to give Annie 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 her to tell people she had her own phone). So, she started calling it her LC for "little computer". Then Peyton asked me if I thought it was a bad idea to set her up an IG 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 her and she has to check if she has a request or wants to follow someone. She's had do much fun with it. She loves scrolling through (she follows lots of zoos and national parks and looks at accounts I used to let her check on my phone) and often sends us messages of her favorites that she finds during her hour of media time. We respond and tell her our thoughts. And of course I let her follow me. It's already made me think more carefully about what I post about her and her siblings, which is a great thing. I told her that I already tried to think about that but to tell me if something bothered her that I shared and she said " Is this kind of like when you ask my permission before you tell Minnie something bad I've done?". She's pretty unphased by most of that kind of thing, though. (I asked Peyton 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 she thinks is work photographing and then of her pictures what is worth sharing. And (predictably) I most of all love reading her captions. It's all happening so fast and (this time unsurprisingly) I don't hate it.

Sallie's first time to visit Central Library, Sallie's first time to play at Prospect Park, and Sallie's first time to eat a McNugget in Bed-Stuy. 

Reminds me of the old days (Peyton jokingly gave him a paci the other day and when we took it back he got so upset and said, basically through tears, "but it still tastes so good"). He AND Sallie are both always gonna be the baby. 

Guys...if your janky eight yesterday old stroller breaks at the handle sometime after you've checked it on the airplane, don't call it a total loss, it will still function as a perfectly good high chair for the baby who's been eating off the floor on your Airbnb for two weeks. 

When we lived here, she was OBSESSED with Native Americans. Like wore her hair in braids and hopefully didn't appropriate too much. One of her absolute favorites in the city was visiting the displays at the Museum of Natural History. But she always gravitated towards the Southeastern/plains exhibits. Today we encouraged her to check out the Northwestern Indians. It's a little more intense as you can probably tell and has less of a "storybook" vibe. She was never scared of this area but I think it was just a bit over her head or something (incidentally, Graves had zero interest in it today and he is the she she was then). This afternoon she loved it and soaked up information like a sponge!

So NYC. 

I've loved being back so much. It's been really exhausting in some ways but so fun and exciting and special. I think I'll be ready when it's time to go home, but I'm so grateful we've gotten to have so much time year this year! 

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