Friday, June 30, 2017

Weekly Happenings #421 (April 24-30)-- Coney Island and MBird

[Not staged at all. We were getting ready to go somewhere and I told Peyton to get the camera set up and we could take the family picture after I finished nursing Sallie and he was like "you've done it all over the city, let's just take the picture while you're feeding her. Of course I agreed and it was fun to document for posterity's sake.]

This week was full of some really, really bad days and some really, really good days. Overall, it was very special but it 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've 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 last night. I didn't see it coming, but I knew by the end of the week I would be sad to leave. Which felt comforting and familiar and would have broken my heart more if I didn't. 

I also realized, and it made me so sentimental, that right before we moved home two years ago we went to Coney Island one last time on the same weekend as Mockingbird.  So exhausting but so amazing!

Monday started our last full week in New York. We had planned to go to a museum, but it was one of the few non-rainy days that week, so we hit up the Pier playgrounds. We got a slow start and we didn't end up staying that long. Both big kids seemed sort of tired and actually, Annie seemed a little sick. Her head was hurting and she seemed so sleepy. We stayed a bit and then headed home to rest. Peyton grabbed a few groceries and we came home and relaxed. The big kid had media time and we all had a snack and then I talked to Peyton some. I did a short grammar lesson and a math lesson with Annie and left her with some work to do and got ready to go meet a friend. I fed Sallie and got her to sleep and Peyton did some schoolwork with Graves.

I had the best time visiting with my friend, Anna. We got coffee and just caught up for a couple of hours. When I got home, the kids were eating supper. I ate something, too, and got Sallie to bed. P was one the phone with the airline and Annie had the hardest time going to sleep. Graves had already fallen asleep and I read to her a bit and then she went to bed finally. I worked on a post and went to bed just after midnight.

We had a fun day on Tuesday. We all woke up and got ready and ate breakfast. I got the beds made and then we headed to the Natural History Museum. We packed snacks and stayed for several hours.

 These two chicks were, believe it or not, actually not the craziest people on the C train. (The guy screaming the F word and slinging a can beat us- this time.)

Family picture with conservationist and twenty sixth president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, at our favorite museum.

She spotted something beautiful in the "birds native to New York" area..

This day brought us 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'd 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. Today, I sat back and asked her to report to me the things she found interesting and we discussed it. 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."

Everyone had a great time in the Discovery Room, even Sissy. She spent a little while doing these puzzle things where you can feel the animal's fur under the pieces. Annie spent a good chunk of time doing a classification activity and Graves loved looking at a snake specimen and his own fingers under a microscope that projected on a screen.

 Monkey see, monkey do. 

Annie Owlet, Sammy, and the owls of the American Museum of Natural History

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.

When we got home, Sallie took a short nap and we all relaxed a bit. Then Peyton did some school with Graves and cooked supper and I did math, grammar, and vocabulary with Annie. We ate and I got Sallie to bed and we got Annie and Graves settled. Annie had the hardest time going to sleep. She finally fell asleep and I sent an email and a Facebook messanger, read a few blogs, and talked to Peyton. We went to bed after midnight.

Wednesday was a really low key day and we needed it. It was pouring rain all day and we got up and ate breakfast. I got my bath and made the beds and we headed over to the park across the street in the rain. We stayed for awhile and Sallie fell asleep. We transferred her and she took a long nap.

We all HAD to get out. I've posted so many bright, fun pictures. And there was nothing forced or fake about them; they were very true to our experience. But this trip (as I've mentioned a ton at this point) really, really hard. Moreso than I was prepared for. It felt like every behavior issue, every mental health struggle, every source of contention was been right at the surface. And it had me feeling a little bruised and raw. 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.

Peyton and I relaxed and the big kids alternated taking baths and having lunch. Peyton left to go see some of his old co-workers and I did math and grammar with Annie. I worked on two blog posts and Sallie woke up. Everyone had a snack and Peyton got home. He did some school with Graves and then I did his math and P took Sallie to the grocery store. They got home and we got the big kids settled and got Sallie to sleep. I finished my blog posts and talked to Minnie on the phone and we watched a Law and Order marathon. I fell asleep around eleven and Peyton stayed up late. Sallie was up for over two hours at one point. It was a long night.

I traded off with Peyton on Thursday and slept until about nine. I got up and had breakfast and went ahead and started school with Annie. We did math and spelling and Sallie took a long nap. She woke up and I got my bath and ate lunch and then sorted laundry and headed to the laundry mat. I was there for a couple of hours and got some folded and some reading done.

Last laundry day in BK. Even as overwhelming as it's been, there's been so much good. In some ways, it feels really similar to when we lived here. I mentioned it already, but some things, like laundry were actually much easier than I expected

When I got back, the big kids and Peyton got ready and headed to the park. I folded and put up some of the laundry, straightened, and ate a quick salad. Sallie and I met everyone at the park for awhile. I texted with a couple of friends and then we all came back and I got ready and fed Sallie and got her to sleep. I headed to Mockingbird. I got there and got settled in and the first talk was great. Dinner was wonderful and I got to visit with a friend and met a new one. I had a bad headache and was so tired the whole time, though. I hopped on the train around nine twenty and P and the kids met me at the station in Brooklyn since it was so late. I folded and put up the rest of the laundry, washed my face, and went to bed. Sallie slept great and I was SO thankful because I had a tough night

I got up early on Friday and got ready and got the kids clothes out and headed to Mockingbird. I grabbed a quick breakfast there and the first two talks were fantastic. I went to a morning breakout and loved it, too, and then it was lunch which was SO delicious.


 It's certainly been my experience that it is.

I decided to head back to BK after that. I skipped the afternoon sessions and texted some friends on the train. There were some delays and it took FOREVER to get home. When I got home, I talked to Peyton and decided not to go to the evening talk. We all got ready and headed back for dinner and the EpiscoDisco.

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

Party Girl! 

Bud and Babes having a moment at the Disco while our sweet fried Nia made sure Sissy didn't bust her head open. Sallie loved Nia- she kept giving her her sweet baby hugs and snuggling up to her! I love her little personality!

Warming up for the EpiscoDisco. I love Annie's little dance.

We had so much fun and got to visit with a lot of friends. We got home LATE (like past eleven) and all three kids had fallen asleep on the train. We woke up the big kids and made it home. I got Sallie changed and back to sleep and Peyton got the big kids settled. I did a few things on the computer and went to bed.

One big component of what was so hard about this trip is that at home adjusting to three kids was a transition but it was it was not like this. Here one more child feels like an exponential increase rather than an additional one. The trip made me very 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.
I got up early again on Saturday and got myself ready and headed back to the conference. There were two morning talks and then a closing talk.

 P was like "you look cute this look kinda exhausted, too."

Clearly MBird has been a huge tool God has used to help me "trace the rainbow through the rain" and this year, at the conference, I again felt that so strongly. I know I was in good company- I saw grown men I respect greatly weep over what God has done. I had decided not to go back on Saturday. But I realized Nicole Cliffe, co-founder of The Toast, was speaking. 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. 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 certainly had it's dark moments, but it's also had an abundance of rainbows and while it's so counterintuitive in some ways New York is where I feel safest.

 It was really good and after that, I met Peyton and the kids at Jay Street Staion and we all headed to Coney Island for the afternoon. We had so much fun.

It was a windy Saturday in Coney Island! And it was Annie's special day in the city. In some ways, I think she had the hardest time of all five of us this month. 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 that Saturday 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. 

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. 

 He was real serious the whole time and would do a tiny, nervous smile each time he went by us. On the carousel with Annie he kept looking at all the other kids and looking down to try to figure out how it worked.

 There were Dippin Dots at the zoo the the week before 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.

Annie and I had *the* best time on the dragon mini coaster. Peyton is literally scared of even this kind of ride!

We got home and Peyton fed the big kids supper. They both had baths and we got Sallie to sleep. We watched TV and Peyton fell asleep. I worked on a blog post and did some research on curriculum and then sent an email to some friends I was meeting up here.

We all got up and got ready for church on Sunday. We had breakfast and left. Graves decided he didn't want to go to Sunday school so he sat with us and Sallie slept the whole time almost. After church, we visited a good bit and went to Shake Shack on the way home. When we got home, we straightened the apartment, relaxed, and regrouped. Our friend Adam and his boyfriend came over to say hi for a quick minute on their way to the airport. We had snacks and got ready and then headed to the Brooklyn piers to meet our friends from Long Island, Barb and Kim. We visited and hit up a couple of playgrounds and then walked along the water. We went to Shake Shack for supper. We had a great visit and hugged them goodbye and headed home. The kids all went to bed really quickly and P and I watched TV and I worked on a blog post.

This was our last full week and we were sad to be leaving but also really, really excited to get back home and back to our normal life in Mississippi!

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