Monday, May 29, 2017

Postpartum Check In: Eleven Months Out

 

SD at Eleven Months Postpartum:

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

- I also had one of those bad spin outs. I was thinking about seeing my sister and how much I miss her living here (I've been thinking about this a lot lately) and how exponentially harder it will be when I have nieces or nephews involved. I just cried. And then I realized I hadn't taken my medicine in two days. And I thought about how I may never got off of it. And then I thought about how many women I know on it. And I thought about how in every time and place but here, people have had to just pull themselves together. And I thought about going legit nuts and about Peyton running away and taking the kids. I thought about what if something happened and I couldn't get it. What if he screwed up so epically in some way that he lost his license and we were poor? And the whole thing with the ACA. And then I remembered Voluntary Simplicity and how we have a shit ton saved and we could afford Zoloft for six hundred on the edge moms even if he did get his license revoked (and he also told me that it's like super cheap anyway) . And then I felt convicted about how "rich" we are, by so many standards and legitimately became a socialist for twenty minutes. I looked at my puffy eyes and hoped my Chinese neighbor didn't stop by because she's so very blunt and always tells me when my eyes are swollen and is like "Sarah, you not resting?" 


- BUT, as is almost always the case, I've learned a lot. A friend and I have been talking about taking better care of ourselves and each night I report a few items of self-care and a couple of thankfuls from the day. It's been an AMAZING discipline and I feel happier and healthier than last summer.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekly Happenings #417 (March 27-April 2)-- Annie Turns Eight



This was a generally laid back week right before our big trip. It was the week of Annie's birthday, but we were doing a "special day" in New York and a party when we got home, so that was pretty low key too.

Monday was a pretty rough morning. I slept a little late and then got my bath and straightened a bit. I was so emotional for some reason and just had a big breakdown. Right after that Sallie fell off the bed. I nursed her and put her in the Tula and she seemed fine but we decided to keep her up a bit to watch her. Annie did her school work and Graves did chores and then they played with Sallie some and had media time. I dried my hair and went through my reader and email and sent a couple of texts and FB messages. I decided Sallie could have her nap and put her down and made a list for the day and for the week.

I talked to Peyton some and ate my lunch and then did some vocabulary and spelling with Annie. We reviewed some other stuff and I did a few other things and then got ready to go to the grief center. Sallie didn't sleep long.

 Noway would a little rain keep these two inside!

It was a good night there- we did a relaxation exercise and the kids seemed to enjoy it. I got home and P had the big kids settled. I got Sallie to sleep and we talked and watched a show and I read some blogs.

We got up around eight thirty on Tuesday and I made the bed and started a couple of posts after I fed Sallie. I took my bath and dried my hair and Morgan stopped by to pick up a lunchbox they had left the week before at piano. I picked out some clothes for the kids and grabbed some stuff and finished getting ready and we headed over to P's parents' house for a visit. We had a great time and when we got home, Sallie had fallen asleep in the car. We had all had lunch there so after we transferred her, I started school with Annie and Peyton did school with Graves. Annie and I did some math, an English assessment and some phonics/spelling. We finished up and Peyton took the big kids to the grocery store.

I worked on a couple of blog posts and then straightened in the kitchen and kids' room, collected laundry, and picked up Sallie's toys in the den. I put up school stuff in the study and scrubbed down the tubs, toilets, and bathroom sinks. I dusted in the den, study, and kids' room and scrubbed the kitchen counters and table. I vacuumed in the den and Peyton and the big kids got home and Sallie woke up.

I changed and nursed her and then she played while I consolidated some piles and vacuumed in the bedrooms and study. Peyton did a bunch of dishes, cooked brownies, and vacuumed and mopped in the kitchen and I took a shower and got dressed. Peyton left to go get a couple of pizzas and the Harkins got here.

We had the best time visiting and they left around eight thirty.


 Annie and Hank have really similar personalities- they're both pretty serious and pretty low energy. They always have a great time together and now Gus and Graves are getting to be good friends. We always love our time together!

The big kids had their media time and I got Sallie to bed. We got the big kids settled and I read some blogs and did a few things and then went to bed myself.

Sallie slept really well but I woke up with a headache on Wednesday. I slept later than P and the kids and then got my bath. I got Sallie down for a nap and worked on a blog post and went through my email and reader while Peyton took the big kids to P.E. When they got home, Sallie was still sleeping and Annie and I did a bunch of English. We finished up day two (which was most of it), did day three, and started day four. It was mostly spelling, grammar, and dictation. Sallie woke up shortly after that and I put her in her exersaucer outside.

We came in and I worked on a blog post and Annie ate lunch. Peyton took the big kids for a bike ride and Sallie took another nap. Peyton and the big kids got back and Sallie woke up and I went to the attic to grab something and then took a bath and got ready to go meet Carrie for dinner.

We got sushi and had so much fun visiting and then went and got a frosty. It was SO hard to find somewhere open after nine. We visited a long time and I got home around midnight. I got on the computer briefly and washed my face and went to bed.

I nursed Sallie around midnight and then at five in the morning and she got up for the day around eight on Thursday. That's great for her! I got up and talked to both my parents on the phone and then took my bath and visited with Peyton some. I ate breakfast and dried my hair and then gave Sallie a bath and got her down for a nap. I sent an email and a Facebook message and cleared out my reader. Annie did her math and P did school with Graves and then took the big kids on a bike ride. I worked on a blog post and when they got back, I did some vocabulary and dictation with Annie and then we got ready to go to my parents' house.

This is actually from the week before but I forgot to include it in the last WH post. The kids don't really have time to do their morning chores in Sundays, but when I called them in from outside and told them they were going to help me get the house in order before we went to my parents they were so helpful and surprisingly efficient. And I made them do things that weren't their regular chores and there really wasn't much "fitting" as Annie calls it (which surprised me with her especially because girlfriend hates a change in her routine). Then at my parents' Bud suggested he help load THEIR dishwasher. So sweet. I've really gotta give Peyton some credit for this one. He got them doing this stuff and he's way more consistent than I am. I told him that having Annie's help was really making a difference in me staying on top of laundry and he was like "um, duh, that's kinda the point". I just didn't realize it would be ACTUALLY HELPFUL so quickly. I thought we were doing it to instill responsibility/teach a skill and those are still my main goals but this is so nice.

 Girl on a mission-- she spied Annie's cup of mint tea.




We had a really nice visit and ate supper and got home before nine. Annie had her media time (Graves had done his) and Sallie fell asleep in the car so we transferred her. I did a few computer things and mostly talked to P and went to bed before midnight.

Sallie was up several times during the night but I put her back down when I got up around eight on Friday. I got my bath and dried my hair, made several lists for the day, and went through my reader and email. I texted with Cookie, Minnie, and Mickey and the big kids woke up. I packed lunch, got my make up on and got dressed, ran to attic for something, and then dressed and fed Sallie after she woke up. We headed to piano and had just a wonderful time. I got to visit with Morgan a lot and we stayed for lunch. We missed the Howies but they had dentist appointments.

Twinkies

Sallie fell asleep in the car and I transferred her. The big kids had media time and I read some blogs and then laid down because I had a headache. I got Graves to read a little reader and it was pretty painstaking. Sallie woke up and had a snack. I changed over laundry and got some stuff together for Peyton's co-worker who is pregnant. I organized it all and he got home. We took it to his car and talked some and then decided to all go on a walk/bike ride. We had a really nice time and when we got home, I worked on getting Sallie to sleep and P fed the big kids and got them to bed. It took me awhile to get Sallie settled. I talked to Minnie on the phone and then ran to Kroger and Target. I got home and everyone was asleep. P and I chatted and then I finished a blog post and went to bed.

Sallie woke up a couple of times but overall it was a good night. I got up when she did around eight something on Saturday. I put her in the crib in the big kids' room and then started going through stuff to consign. I had decided it would be a good time for a project, I guess. I got it all out, dried my hair, and then organized it. I put Sallie in her high chair and the big kids had breakfast and I made the bed and straightened a little in the den and study. I cleaned off a couple of kitchen counters and scrubbed them down and then went to the attic for something. I called the consignment place to see if I needed to make an appointment for the next week and the big kids went outside to ride bikes in the driveway. I got Sallie down for a nap and it took so long and then thirty minutes later the tornado siren went off and she woke up terrified. It was the first of the month and everything was fine but grrr...I worked on my blog design for the month while she rested and just picking the background took longer than I meant for it to. I did finally pick one and get started on it.

When Sallie woke up, I nursed her to calm her down and then she had a snack since the big kids were doing Play Dough at the table. I bathed her and then she played some and I did a couple of things with Graves- counting, working on initial sounds in words, and writing. Annie and I started her assessment and she and Graves had lunch. I ate my lunch and then got Sallie down for a nap and the big kids had media time. I worked on my header and then backed up some pictures on the second hard drive. I put all the clothes to consign on hangers and wrote a thank you note. Annie and Graves went outside for a bit and Sallie woke up. I folded some laundry and put fresh sheets on the pack n play.

I heard Annie say "Oh Sallie, I love your tortoises." When I asked for clarification (because I certainly referred I to them as turtles when she wore them) she said"Well, they seem to be on land." And Annie may have to just be disappointed because she looks WAY too big in shorts and I don't think I can take it.


There's a reason she's feisty. 
I got the big kids to come in and Graves did some more school work and Annie took a bath. Then they switched and Graves took his bath. I went back up to the attic and while I was up there Sallie got stuck under a chair in the den. Bless her heart. I rescued her and played with her a bit and then did some dictation with Annie. I fixed supper and we all four ate and then I helped the big kids brush their teeth and get ready for bed. I tried to get Sallie settled but she wasn't ready for bed so I put her in the crib and played with the big kids for ten minutes. Annie had reminded me that it had been forever since I'd done that. Sallie was enjoying her crib and they wanted to play a bit more before I read to them so I worked on backing up some more pictures and on my monthly goals and happenings post. Peyton got home later than usual and we talked and watched a few shows. I read some blogs and then got some stuff ready for church and went to bed.

Sunday was a good day. It was Annie's birthday! Peyton woke up the kids before he left and we got a good start and made it to church earlier than usual. Sallie fell asleep on the way there. It was a really nice service and the big kids decided to sit up front and did great. Sallie took a nap on the way home, too, and didn't transfer. I did some dishes and straightened a bit and got some pictures uploading and then we headed to my parents' to celebrate Annie's bday a bit.

All three grandkids! I think Sallie looks so much like Cookie here. She's not nearly as mellow, though. I don't think she could be in this house! 

We had a good visit but Graves was SUPER energetic and kept irritating Annie. We had to leave earlier than I meant to because of the weather and that made Annie sad. We got home, though, and Sallie took a long nap and the big kids had media time. I gave them some extra time and I cleared my reader and wrote two blog posts and did a few other things. I finished backing up all my pictures. WHEW. Finally.

I fixed them supper and Sallie got up and then I got the big kids settled. Sallie had a snack and Peyton got home and we talked and watched TV and I put Sallie to bed after awhile.


 When your baby sister lasts longer than you do at the Night Party...

I fell asleep on the couch. 

 
 What wondrous love is this,
O my soul! O my soul!
What wondrous love is this!
O my soul!
What wondrous love is this!
That caused the Lord of bliss!
To bear the dreadful curse
For my soup, for my soul!
To bear the dreadful curse
For my soul! 
I've been letting them pick where we sit during the service on Sunday morning and Graves literally picked the front row. A lady came up afterwards and said "we love it when y'all sit up front; we are so glad they are here." It means the world to me to be in a community that, despite (or because of???) being filled mostly with people my parents' age and older affirms and welcomed and adores my children.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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

I'm really wanting to get back at my Weekly Happenings posts, but before I do that, I wanted to share my last little reflection post. Some of it I've already shared (mostly in my What I Learned post). Typically when I share something in those WIL posts, if it's going to occur elsewhere besides a Weekly Happenings post, I try to do those first and link to them. That totally makes more sense to me since the WIL is like a round up but it feels weird to blog about something if I've already listed it there. BUT, I wanted to have this post separate and so here it is....


 
One particular day, it was raining again but we had to get out.

I took, and shared so many bright, fun pictures on the trip. And there was nothing forced or fake about them; they were very true to our experience. But this trip was also been really, really hard. Moreso than I was prepared for. It felt like every behavior issue, every mental health struggle, every source of contention has been right at the surface. And it left me feeling a little bruised and raw. 

A friend I met up with that I haven't seen in a decade really affirmed me in acknowledging how hard something like this might be for a highly sensitive person with anxiety- to push myself so far out of my comfort zone. Her words meant so, so much and I've held them in my heart and returned to them over and over during the trip.

I know I beat this (these?) drums a lot, but people's lives aren't always what they appear- there's brokenness under the surface just about everywhere. There will be a time when that's not true and I have great hope for it, but it's not this time and it's imperative we acknowledge it. There is beauty and there is pain and often they are intertwined right in the same moment. This trip was certainly a microcosim of that.

And there are people who are firstly doing the work of paying attention and secondly taking the time to acknowledge the tension and encouraging the leaning in.

I'm glad we've had this time and I'm glad we have those friends.

And I'm glad there's sunshine and glad there's rain. They are both necessary for growth and we are the type creatures who don't notice the sunshine without the rain.

Third (and, most likely final) laundry day. As overwhelming as it was, there was so much good. In some ways, it felt eally similar to when we lived here. I was telling Minnie that some things feel a lot easier, some that I didn't expect. Like laundry. I was REALLY dreading it but it's actually been easier doing it at the laundry mat. The second week there, I did a week's worth of five people's clothes plus the sheets from both beds. I was there for a couple of hours but I got to read and be by myself and I folded a bunch while I was there. So it was two hours plus thirty minutes of folding and putting it up and making up the beds when I got back. I spend WAY more than two and a half hours a week on laundry at home. All three times I've fit everything I needed to take in our medium size suitcase. 

Another thing I was a bit terrified about was the housing. I didn't know what to expect. But I LOVED that we didn't have much stuff. I just didn't feel like I was constantly cleaning and picking up like at home. Our apartment felt small but the park across the street felt provisional. 


But other stuff was exhausting and anxiety inducing. Mainly transit, I guess. It still stresses me and taxes me mentally. Peyton actually apologized to me because one day he was wearing Sallie and was way ahead of us and started to get on a train and I had the two big kids. I was holding onto Graves but Annie was just beside me. If I hadn't basically pushed her on the train, I'm not sure she would have gotten on it. Those situations are easy to replay in my mind over and over and it's a hard won victory when I can get my mind to rest.

But weirdly,  in some senses I feel happier and healthier in NYC. I think it's that I get out(side) more and exercise more and that our stuff and our commitments are VERY streamlined.


 
P was like "you look cute this morning...you look kinda exhausted, too." We had some really, really good days but it still wasn't easy (more with logistical stuff and with the kids crashing and burning fifteen times each than with my own emotional state). Peyton and I somehow didn't read the fine print and the conference that was a big part of the reason we're in town now didn't have childcare like in years past. It's really more my thing and Peyton was SO generous to take care of the kids solo alot these past couple of days and I enjoyed enjoyed it more by myself that I thought I'd be able to. And all five of us got to go to the dinner/dancing/visiting portion the last night. I could tell I'd be a little sad to leave. Which felt comforting and familiar and would have broken my heart more if I didn't. 

Clearly MBird has been a huge tool God has used to help me "trace the rainbow through the rain" and at the conference weekend I've felt that so strongly. I know I'm in good company- I saw grown men I respect greatly weep over what God has done.

I had decided not to go back Saturday morning. But I realized Nicole Cliffe, co-founder of The Toast, was speaking. A friend and I used to message each other links and when I found out it was ending I felt pretty emotional about that, actually.

Another relevant factor is that Nicole was not a Christian until recently when "God messed up her happy atheist life", which, for obvious reasons, interests me. 

It was extremely comforting. She shared how people email her asking "how to convert atheists" and how she tells them that God's going to do it or it won't happen and how one sweet, sincere young man told her he had been debating atheists on Reddit and that wasn't working. She said she doesn't argue with unbelievers because frankly, the story IS nuts.

She said that what she did tell people is that she knew where to go when God began prompting her. She knew people who loved Jesus and loved her dearly and would be happy to talk. She said that when people tell you their deepest fears and doubts, work on your face and don't make this horrified expression like when Indiana Jones grabs the wrong chalice. I have no idea what that reference means but it resonated. Sometimes I get the impression that people- kind, well intentioned people- literally seem more distraught over Peyton's disbelief than if he had died. Which I GET and don't fault them for (it can actually an indication of how central faith is to them) but it's also...isolating.

It's hard for me to feel like people can/do understand. That is NOT anyone's fault. I was telling a friend that sometimes I feel more comfortable talking to my friends who have (for example) addiction issues or spouses with them because it's easier to relate. But as I've​ said, we all have areas of our lives where there is pain and brokeness.

This trip c ertainly had it's dark moments, but it also had an abundance of rainbows and while it's so counterintuitive in some ways there is where I feel safest.

 
Warm, breezy Saturday in Coney Island! This was Annie's special day in the city. In some ways, I think she's had the hardest time of all five of us on the trip. She's a creature of habit and a lover of routine. Many of my biggest flaws are her weaknesses- she can be inflexible and rigid and stubborn and entitled and she wants so desperately to be in control. But she's 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 she is. And ironically she also often reminds me what it is to be delighted by small, ordinary wonder. She told us today that her special day was better than she expected because she didn't know how fun the roller coaster would be, she didn't think we would let her take her shoes off and play in the sand, and she didn't realize that the F train would go above ground. I'm so glad our special girl had such a special day in a place so very special to us.  

One big component of the difficulty of this trip was that at home adjusting to three kids was a transition but it was it was not like this. In New York, one more child feels like an exponential increase rather than an additional one. 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 forsight 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. This trip was a lot of things. My friend Lauren said it so sweetly "you guys will always have a place here and can move in and out of this community freely, but it's great this trip solidified what you knew- that home is in Mississippi right now". Several other friends have shared similar sentiments an P and I talked about it alot. I'm glad of two things: that there's room in my heart to *deeply* love two places and that it's very clear where our family will thrive the most right now. When we moved here, I had no idea that intense love was possible and when we moved home I had no idea that intense clarity was. Probably the biggest take away from the whole trip.

 
Saying goodbye to this old thing. I'm actually really glad the stroller broke. I've liked having Sallie in the carrier. It's just less to keep up with and I wasn't constantly going over "what could happen" if I like left her unattended in it for a split second in a museum. She was on one of us unless we were somewhere where she could crawl around and play. As I've mentioned, human trafficking is one of my biggest anxiety trigger currently and it was just so much better for my mental health to have her attached to myself or Peyton. I remember how much peace the Tula brought with Graves when we lived here and this had been very similar.

You win some, you lose some. I think we're losing on the minimalist front. We checked five items and are carrying on four backpacks (including Sallie's) and my purse.i was actually really glad it was an even ten to keep up with.
****
Just on the outside of her backpack, Annie has attached a regular sized Beanie Boo, a solar powered charger, a untensil set, a boxing glove keychain, a stuffed tooth from Coney Island, a braided bracelet, an Easter basket, and a purse. That's not even including things like the orange juice bottle full of peanuts and toothbrush in the outer mesh pockets. We are absurd.

AGAIN. Y'all know I kinda acted it was like a Corvette or something when Peyton bought me a minivan and I didn't think I could love the thing more, but if I never ride in an airplane again, it will be too soon.

Whew. We made it home. Thirteen hours from when we got to JFK that morning. I thought about it and with the time it took us to fly, we literally could have driven there andd back. Not to mention that it was way better overall this time but Atl to Jax was ROUGH. I literally feel so much worse ten minutes after getting off a plane than ten minutes after giving birth. The kids did REALLY well. I was way too hard on Graves, though. I was so patient with him when he cried twice about a hot dog and then his hands being sticky before we ever left New York but he threw Sallie's top to her sippy cup on the plane and I raised my voice. I felt terrible and told Peyton I might as well be these verbally abusive parents we saw on a video the other day. I was so flustered because I was taking him and Annie to the potty and he took forever and the light came on to get back to your seats and then the top and I just got overwhelmed. But overall, he was such a sport. Sallie didn't fuss at all until the last bit of the second flight (which was amazing because she didn't nap on either). But she was LOUD and spunky. That little bird can't stop chirping. All day, every day. She's a Herrington, alright. And Annie was SO sweet and wiped Sallie's "drooly" hands off herself with a wipey so she could play with her penguin. It was right when Sallie needed some help, too, at the end of the second flight.

 
I tried to let Peyton enjoy the flights since it's something I detest anyway. He watched a movie and I had all three kids on the row across from him and he visited a TON with his neighbors on both flights (so Peyton). This guy from some country I can't pronounce that's holding Friendly Little Sallie spoke several different languages but said he wished he lived somewhere like here where you only needed to learn one. He also had one two year old child but gave P a ton of parenting advice in a sort of paternalistic way but Peyton didn't mind at all (again so Peyton). I think some cultures just find this more acceptable. I don't want to generalize, but it reminds me of of super blunt Asian neighbor who ain't shy about telling me when I look like hell or the elderly black women at the co-op who were convinced I was dressing my children inappropriately for the weather and I was like "nah, I think the ankle length down coat you wearing when it's fifty degrees is what's inappropriate". It's actually refreshing, in one sense, for people to be so blunt and I really respect my friends here that are that way. The South is too often full of "sweet" people (especially women) who aren't actually kind.  

 
One of my favorite shots from the whole trip. Lots that I love, but this is near the top. I don't usually like pictures of myself and especially not candid ones, but this is one of my favorite pictures of myself ever. In one of my favorite cities on the planet, after one of my favorite events each year, with the head of my absolute favorite little boy in the world in my lap. New York, Mockingbird, and my snuggle buddy. It's what happiness looks like.  


 
I thought about it a lot and I think there's a lot we'll do differently next time:
1. drive
2. plan ahead more, especially with meeting other people
3. position ourselves where we can homeschool on the trip but do so in a low key way and not have to bring so much stuff/spend so much time on it (I'm at the point where I doubt we will ever just totally stop schooling for​ a month- Graves would forget ninety percent of what he's learned and Annie would be a monster trying to get her back adjusted after that long off). 

We also talked about just coming by ourselves next year but with three kids now I don't really think that's realistic (which prompted me to tell Peyton that if we can't leave them anyway, I think it just makes sense you add one or two more).

But it's been evident the kids really enjoyed being there and more than that, *I* want them to be children who have these experiences even if it costs us something. So, I realized we'd be taking Sallie anyway and dealing with playpens and car services if we flew and it seems dumb to come back without the big kids. Time will tell, but I wouldn't be totally shocked if we're doing this again next year with some little (big) adjustments.

I can only speak for myself, though. It's beyond hysterical to me that Peyton "missed his personal space" and was "ready to get back on a routine", I think on both counts more than his tightly wound wife and it's a touch ironic that I think I kind of ended up to be the one to love New York the most in general. To be fair to him, he's had more solo time with the kids here, which is the opposite of our dynamic at home. (He also suggested, at one point, that we buy the kids a new board game?!? Who are you? Where's my husband? Did we switch personalities?)

It was such a great trip overall, even amongst the hard moments, and such a learning experience for all of us! I'm so deeply grateful for my people and for this place.


Monday, May 22, 2017

More Than Enough

 
Awhile back, I very nearly had a mild heart attack. I brought Sarah Lamar some books to look through and I realized I couldn't remember if I've EVER read to her. It was such a huge component of Annie's infancy- it was one of THE only things I did consistently, I was so paralyzed by so much. I didn't do as well with Graves, but I prioritized it. Annie reads to her a good bit, but....part of me felt like I was being way too dramatic but part of me was devastated (and part of me feels like it's huge that I'm admitting this.) I know it sounds absurd but it was one of those "I can't believe this is me" moments. I realized I had read to her some when I've read to the big kids while bouncing her in my lap or nursing her. But never really for her own sake. In many ways I feel like I've given much more of myself with her than with them, but in others I know the opposite is true. I've taken much better care of myself physically this time- getting enough sleep and eating much better- but with homeschooling and just the incessant, often deep, dialogue that comes with school age children, I'm much more mentally drained than I was when I had an infant and a toddler. I thought about it and I don't sing to her nearly as much as I did to them, either. When I hold her I mostly want to snuggle her, not read her a book and I mostly want the silence when I can have it. 
I whisper over and over that "I love you, Sarah Lamar. You're such a special girl, Sallie." I trace her features and I stroke her soft, thin baby hair and I make little circles in her palm with my thumb and she still often drifts off to sleep with us holding hands. That's enough. That's more than enough. She will know she's loved. I'm sure of it.
But it's time to start reading her some books.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May Goals and Happenings




I love this month's design. It feels a bit juvenile, but so be it. May is mine and Peyton's birthday month and we're having the big kids' party so the cupcakes felt appropriate. I love the color scheme and the checked design. My favorite picture this time, I think is the middle one of all three kids probably followed by Annie doing schoolwork in the yard. I love the quote and think they're so much truth to it. I hope that I'm showing that lovely light in my life.
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Well, I don't think I've ever been this behind on one of these. I mean, the month is half over! It's just taking me some time to really get back in a routine after New York. I worked so hard to stay pretty caught up on my blog, so it's kind of stressed me out, but I think I'm settling back in and getting back on track with that and other stuff.

So...this is obvious from any reading you happened to have done here, but April was super fun...and super hard.
- MBird didn't exactly turn out as planned since Peyton didn't get to go and making it to church was more difficult than I expected, but every time I was there I felt tremendously blessed and thankful. It was so good to be back.
- We made it several times to the Museum of Natural History, once to the Bronx Zoo, once to the Children's Museum, to Central Park a couple of times and to Prospect Park once, to Coney Island, and to lots of our old favorite restaurants and to tons of playgrounds.
- We saw a good many of our friends and that was really wonderful and fun.

As I said, May is halfway over. But...
- We celebrated P's birthday in New York and mine is today along with Mother's Day. We went over to my parents' and had the best time. I'd love to sneak in a date with Peyton at some point before the month is over.
- Next Friday is the big kids' birthday party and we're going to be getting the house/yard in shape for that.
- We're also working on helping get Briarwood looking nice next week. It opens at the end of the month and swim teams starts!
- And I'm hoping we'll get down to the farm sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Here were my goals for April. I wanted it to be a very low key month so we could just enjoy our time in New York. My prayer at the end was that I'd be positive and patient and energetic and unafraid. I certainly failed in all those areas at points, but I do think God gave me joy and patience and energy and courage in a time when all those were hard to muster.

1. Attend MBird and Sunday services (plus hopefully a couple of extra during Holy Week) at Calvary-St. George's. As I said, none of this went exactly as I pictured, but it was everything I needed and more. (Faith)

2. Try to stay patient and joyful in my interactions with the children (and Peyton) during this month where we are a bit out of our element. Again, I think I did mostly (supernaturally) well with this. Of course, there were times I slipped, but overall I think I was pretty patient.  (Family)

3. Schedule and spend time with friends in New York. Yes! We saw friends from both churches we attended, our friends from Long Island came to Brooklyn to visit with us, another friend dropped by our Airbnb on the way to catch a flight, I caught up with a high school friend who lives in BK that I haven't seen in a decade, and we met up with Annie and Graves's swim team coach from last summer who is just a really neat, special person.  (Relationships)

4. Care for myself mentally and emotionally (e.g.- email friends at home, go out for breaks by myself, ect). I think I did pretty well with this. A lot of this was just doing a lot of reflecting on the trip in real time. I think that was super helpful to me. (Health)

5. Prioritize writing and reading. Eh. Yes on the writing, sorta on the reading. (Creativity/Passion)

6. Don't lose momentum with homeschooling but also don't allow it to be a source of stress. I think we did as well as we could here. It was hard to find that balance, though. In the future, if we take a trip like this, I do think we'll keep schooling (it's so hard when Annie gets off her routine and Graves would forget like ninety percent of what he's learned if he took a month off) but I'd like to streamline it ALOT so we wouldn't be taking as much or trying to accomplish as many different things. (Education/Edification)

7. Work on relabeling some blog posts. Well, no. I actually didn't look over the list like I do most months and totally forgot about this one. (Organization)

8. Relax and enjoy our days in NYC!!!! YES (as much as was possible). (Travel)

9. Get caught up on finances. Maybe never? Teasing, but no. Didn't do it. Not one bit. (Finances)

10. Immerse myself in a city that changed my life. Yep. So very special.  (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Go out to eat/get take out from our favorites in NYC and maybe find a couple of new ones. We hit our faves and that was super fun! (Fun Goal)
And here are my May goals:

1. Read both my devotions daily. I do this for awhile and then get out of the habit. I got out of the habit in New York. This is a good one for this month. Since I only have half the month and it's sort of a habit already, it's a good fit because it's more just about becoming disciplined again than truly forming a new habit. Another reason I have varying success with this (and a lot of things) is because our lives seems to change so often and our routine does with them. 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). Anyway, all that to say, I need to figure out what time of day works best for this right now. (Faith)

2. Prioritize my time with Cookie while she's in town. For whatever reason, I've really been missing my sister and wishing she was closer. She'll be in town this coming weekend (mainly for the big kids' birthday party) and I just want to soak up the time with her. (Family)

3. Enjoy the sweet friendships we've been blessed with at the kids' party this week. The way we've always done their parties is to invite our families and the families we are close to, which ends up being a lot of their friends (who are their friends because their parents are our friends) and their families. Anyway, it's just a really fun time for me and Peyton, too, and I want to try to not let stress overtake me and just enjoy it. I did pretty well with it last year but I didn't have three kids and I was probably more organized with it. We do super low key parties, so there's really no reason to get worked up. (Relationships)

4. Be intentional about self-care and document it. I'm actually planning to report to a friend each night. Can't wait to update on how this goes. (Health)

5. Get back in a writing habit. As I mentioned, I worked really hard to get back on the blogging train and these last few weeks I really let it go. It's a hobby I enjoy but it's also a discipline and I want to carve out time for it. (Creativity/Passion)

6. Read for fifteen minutes a day at a minimum. This is another one that's good for this month because it's a daily thing rather than some big project that I only have half a month to tackle. It wouldn't matter if I had three days or thirty with this one. (Education/Edification)

7. Continue to work on organizing the attic. I've actually already gotten a lot done this month, but I want to make a bit more progress. (Organization)

8. Make a trip to the farm. I'm not sure this will happen, but I'm hopeful. (Travel)

9. Get caught up on finances. Again. (Finances)

10. Surround myself with words that bring joy. I need to change up my monthly quote in the kitchen and I want to redo the one on the chalkboard in there. (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Start Annie's new writing curriculum. I'm super excited about this one and she is too. (Additional Goal)

12. Plan my "special day". We do a special day for each of the big kids' birthdays and this year Peyton had one, too. It's nothing big, just going to your favorite restaurants and that kind of thing. I'm thinking it will include a date with P, a day off school, a family walk, and I'm not sure what else. Maybe CFA for lunch so the big kids can play and we can get two uninterrupted conversations in? (Fun Goal)

13. Watch the new season of Master of None with Peyton. We actually started it last night! (Fun Goal)


Here's to May, a month to celebrate life and family and motherhood. Let me think on the small things I have to be grateful for, let me take joy in the monotonous tasks, and remember that neither my vocational failures nor successes define me.

Friday, May 12, 2017

What I'm Into: April




I'm so behind on everything on the blog, but I'm finally sharing what I was into in April. It was obviously a very different month since we were in Brooklyn the whole time!

On the Nightstand:
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis- J.D. Vance

I started this and I'm really enjoying it. It's our bookclub book this time, so I'll share more about it next month.

On Their Nightstand: 

Trumpet of the Swan- E.B White

We're still enjoying this one!

On the Shelf:
I'm not even sure what's next.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
No movies this month, but I watched lots (see below).

On the Small Screen:
One great take away from our trip (there were so many) is that cancelling cable a few years back was a really great decision. I knew that, but this was a good reminder. I actually really, really enjoyed having it for a month. It was a fun "vacation perk". But I also wasted SO much time and it's time I really don't have to spare here where I'm trying to keep on top of more things (cleaning, cooking, obligations away from the house). I watched a handful of things that were really interesting, a few things that I enjoyed but were big time sucks (SVU marathons) and a number of things I didn't even get any pleasure out of. We also had the news on a ton in the background and I think that was more mentally draining for me than I realized.

Anderson Cooper 360
I used to watch Anderson all the time when we had cable news and he was my favorite. Honestly, I don't love it as much as I did, but it's still a good show with less spin than some others.

Lockup
This is just a show on MSNBC about prisons/prisoners. It's documentary style and honestly, I was interested but it was so not well done and I wasted more time on it than I should have.

Law and Order: SVU
Like I said, we caught a couple of marathons. It was fun to see some of the old ones again.

One and Not Done
This is one of those ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries. Y'all I'm SO not even a sports fan but this was fascinating. This one was about basketball coach John Calipari. I think it was just so intriguing because it really analyzed her personality and persona.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
This was another favorite. I just love watching Anthony Bourdain's adventures all over the world and I love the way he narrates them. It's just a beautiful show. It was probably the best use of my time.

In My Ears:
Less than usual since I wasn't in my van, which is where I mostly listen to music.

Around the House: 


As I said, this was different since we were in NYC the whole month. Anyway, I loved our Airbnb. Super bare bones and a little tacky in some places but it was really clean and basically baby-proofed. This is the room the big kids shared- it was so tidy because they each brought like six toys. 

We pulled out the sleeper sofa because Sallie was sick and was content in our room one night. It was such a reminder of our old days in BK when we slept on a pull out couch every night!

In the Kitchen:

Peyton did a clean out the fridge/cabinets project before the trip and sometimes those suck so hard but this time he knocked it out of the park.Yum!


As I mentioned, Peyton found some steaks left by the previous guests at our Airbnb and he was not gonna let those babies go to waste.

In My Closet:


Operation wear real clothes, half way. Minnie got me a new top because I wear cookies old Tri Delt t-shirts​ all the time and "they're like ten years old and have been washed two thousand times". I was sort of having an anxiety day and asked her if it was because she thought it was pathetic for people who went to a Christian college and weren't in a sorority to wear them (my ST t-shirts are too little now). She said of course not but then moved on to my gym shorts (which I realize this is a weird look but she was saying in general). She thinks the "tri-color" looks "dated" and that I should just get some "SOLID color cotton ones like Annie's that are SMALLER". LOLOL. I told her then I might as well just wear my khaki/denim ones and that I feel like those give me wedgies and I *am* pathetic because I sort of miss my maternity shorts and maybe I should just wear dresses every day. Baby steps to dressing like a grown woman.
Or not.   Annie tried to tell us she was going to wear these (size 4/5) pjs when she was seventeen and I decided to try them on to illustrate that they wouldn't fit. Except that they kinda did.


I did a terrible job of documenting (too many experiences and reflections!) but Operation Wear Real Clothes went really well in the city. We got out more and I felt weird wearing t-shirts and gym shorts here for some reason (strange, because ANYTHING goes) even to the park or on an errand (exception: the washateria ^^^). Plus, my closet was so much more functional since I only brought things I really love.
 In Their Closets:

 Oh my gosh, I cannot overstate how much I love Spring colors.


 In her bunny duds for the Easter Celebration. This was one of my absolute favorites from Annie's first winter (I haven't loved a lot from this past Winter but the 12 mo. summer stuff that's coming is some of my favorite of Annie's clothes period.)
Sallie in her very own Peter Rabbit jammies. I try not to make it too much of a habit, because Annie's closet was extensive (excessive?) but sometimes I just need to splurge on her. And anything Beatrix Potter is kinda my jam.


Bunny (and turtle) OOTN. These sweet pjs a friend gave me before she was was born are so precious! 


 He didn't really love his bow tie. I hope it grows on him. I had already decided I was going to start getting him one each Christmas and Easter and start him a little collection for weddings and special occasions.


Annie in her 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 her.


I love it when Annie gets dressed in this fancy lady hat one of Minnie's best friends made her and her jams that legit look vintage inspired circa 1987. 


Sallie sporting her heart jams for the last time and it seemed appropriate to match her.

 These little sneakers are on their last leg (no pun intended), but gosh I still love them.


 
 Annie was super excited to wear her new bird dress to the museum!

 Love Sister in baby toile. This was one of my favorite outfits for Annie because it functions like pjs but feels like real clothes. Basically the sweetest loungewear ever. AP wore it a ton. Sallie hasn't as much because she started pulling up so much earlier and it's gross to me when she's actually standing up. And also because she's so busy and two piece things just don't stay on her as well. But it's perfect for days where it's cool and she's in the Tula all day because when she wears normal pants they ride up and there's a big gap between them and her socks.

 Sometimes, Annie still wears the sweetest things. I got her and Sallie this outfit when they went in major sale and she loves the floral print (I get away with ALOT with her because "plants" are second only to animals) and pockets. Peyton said it looked to "young" but since she truly doesn't care and even prefers certain stuff as long as it fits her little model, I'm gonna enjoy it just a little while longer.

And on the other side of that coin, Sarah Lamar looks WAY TOO GROWN here. I heard Annie say "Oh Sallie, I love your tortoises." When I asked for clarification (because I certainly referred I to them as turtles when she wore them) she said "Well, they seem to be on land." And Annie may have to just be disappointed because she looks way too big in shorts and I don't think I can take it.
In My Mailbox:

We weren't here! I had quite a few packages when we got back, but I'll share those next month.

In My Cart:
I really didn't buy anything while we were in NYC, which was nice.


Around the Town (and At Home):  

 Well, one of the most eventful things wer certainly our flights. We literally sat in the plane, on the ground, in Jackson, from seven in the morning until close to noon. The flight kept getting pushed back more and more due to horrible weather in Atlanta and we realized that with all the delays there was no guarantee there would be a flight into JFK and we might end up stuck in Atlanta over night. I'm pretty stubborn, especially with Sallie, about car seats, and it would going to mess up our car service booking, too. So, we called Peyton's parents to come get us, got our millions of bags "unchecked", and came home and set back up the Pack N Play. I was really  exhausted. But, I was SO proud of how well the children and they are not kids who are used to sitting in chairs much of the day. And the crew was incredibly lovely and accommodating.


 We finally made it! Enjoying a family stroll to the neighborhood library one of our first days there!

A bit of "jedi training" in Central Park, per Graves's request.


 This one's not scared of much. We had a blast at the TGC Easter celebration. So much fun getting to visit with old friends!



 Brooklyn blooming.

 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.

 We've hit up SO many parks and gosh, this baby loves a swing.

 Big day back at the Bronx Zoo.

 We came back to our old friends the Southeastern and Woodland Plains Indians. Like many things this month, it felt so familiar and so different. Annie can read herself (and for the most part, understand) the information that's part of the displays. I've read each tiny clothing label and each lengthy explanation of their various abodes to her two or three times at least another lifetime ago when she was five years old and we lived here. This day, I sat back and asked her to report to me the things she found interesting and we discussed them. Here we were talking about how the Indians gradually began incorporating European styles and fabrics into their dress. We were discussing which thing looked original to the Native Americans in style and material and I asked her which ones she liked. She said "I love his hoodie. And I definitely think he used an animal to make it".

Laundry day! We did it three times while we were there and it was MUCH easier than I expected to deal with hauling it all to the laundry mat and such!  


 Grace. The Mockingbird Conference was definitely a highlight from our trip.

 It's certainly been my experience that it is. 


 If you hate sleep anyway, you might as well be at the EpiscoDisco at ten pm. 

I had decided not to go back the last day. But I realized Nicole Cliffe, co-founder of The Toast, was speaking. A friend and I used to message each other links and when I found out it was ending I felt pretty emotional about that, actually. Another relevant factor is that Nicole was not a Christian until recently when "God messed up her happy atheist life", which, for obvious reasons, interests me. It was extremely comforting. She shared how people email her asking "how to convert atheists" and how she tells them that God's going to do it or it won't happen and how one sweet, sincere young man told her he had been debating atheists on Reddit and that wasn't working. She said she doesn't argue with unbelievers because frankly, the story IS nuts. She said that what she did tell people is that she knew where to go when God began prompting her. She knew people who loved Jesus and loved her dearly and would be happy to talk. She said that when people tell you their deepest fears and doubts, work on your face and don't make this horrified expression like when Indiana Jones grabs the wrong chalice. I have no idea what that reference means but it resonated. Sometimes I get the impression that people- kind, well intentioned people- literally seem more distraught over Peyton's disbelief than if he had died. Which I GET and don't fault them for (it can actually an indication of how central faith is to them) but it's also...isolating. It's hard for me to feel like people can/do understand. That is NOT anyone's fault. I was telling a friend that sometimes I feel more comfortable talking to my friends who have (for example) addiction issues or spouses with them because it's easier to relate. But as I've​ said, we all have areas of our lives where there is pain and brokenness. This trip certainly had it's dark moments, but it also had an abundance of rainbows and while it's so counterintuitive in some ways New York is where I feel safest.
 For Annie's special day, she wanted to go to Coney Island. They had so much fun riding the carousel, playing in the sand, eating junk, and strolling on the boardwalk. Annie and I also went on her first little roller coaster ride. It was faster than I expected and she LOVED it. I did, too (Peyton's scared of them!). 


 Babes on the boardwalk. 

 I think we can call it a successful first trip to Coney Island. 

There were Dippin Dots at the zoo the other day but they were $6 for a small and I just couldn't go there. Coney Island has knock off Dippin Dots for $4 and (though absurd) I decided to splurge.

At the Schoolhouse:

 It's​ so interesting to me how Annie's mind works. I FINALLY got Sallie to sleep (Peyton said he thinks she sleeps about ten hours in twenty four on average and I pushed back but I'm starting to think maybe that's not undershooting it) one morning and Graves and Peyton were running errands so I had some time with just Annie while we did school. I didn't rush her as much as I often, regrettably, do. Anyway, she told me 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 mention often, she's not near as vocal as Graves (Goodnight, who is?!?) so I love it when I really get some time to hear her imaginative, delightful thoughts. 

 In this activity, I read one of the the two words that are next to each other and Graves picked the correct one. He told me another halfway down the page that he didn't need to actually read both words he just knew that "a or whatever says it's long sound when there's an 'e' on the end". I really, really thought he'd 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 their little minds work is such a delight.

Annie saw the peregrine falcon and immediately said "Look! Like Frightful!" (from My Side of the Mountain- probably one of her very favorite books she's read this year). I'm not like huge Charlotte Mason aficionado (I just need more structure) but I think there's SO much merit in a "living books" approach. Several recent interactions with Annie have really confirmed this for me.


On the Blog:
Honestly, I mostly just tried to keep plugging away at the Weekly Happenings posts and not get more behind on the kids' letters. I did write a couple of reflections on the trip (and I still have one more I need to write).

Belles and Beaux Back in Brooklyn: Reflections on Getting Here and Getting Settled
I shared our initial (eventful) first few days.

Belles and Beaux Back in Brooklyn: Reflections on the First Half of the Month
And then here I reflected on the first two-ish weeks.

On My Heart and Mind:
- Goodness. I feel like we learned so much. I shared it mostly on my What I Learned post and that's basically most what's been on my heart and mind.
- I'm really in disbelief (denial?) that Sallie will be one next month. I just can hardly wrap my head around it. It's been such a sweet, precious year and I've enjoyed it more than I even knew I could.
- I keep really thinking about first and third grade. I feel like it's going to be a big jump for both kids. I'm nervous but I'm also SUPER excited because I feel like third grade is when I think the content really gets interesting.

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying about school and time management and how we'll make it all work.
- I'm really praying about talking to the kids more about Peyton's unbelief. For a long time, it just felt too hard and I didn't think I could do it without getting emotional and also I wanted to figure out how to navigate it without making it too big of a burden to them. But I think we're at the place where I need to talk to them (and pray with them!) about it more.
 
On the Calendar: 

We have a low key month this month and we needed it sandwiched between our trip and June, which will be full with swim team stuff. We are having the big kids' joint birthday party in a couple of weeks but otherwise