Sunday, June 4, 2017

What I Learned in May

 

I had a few more things I learned from our big trip that I didn't share in my April post as well as several other good take-aways from the month!

Travel

1. I realized that in addition to flying, there are several ways we could improve our experiences traveling with the children. Planning ahead and streamlining our school routine would be really helpful next time we go on a long trip. I think we'll try to do a better job of coordinating meeting up with people and I think we need to 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, ha!). But, by the end of the trip it was evident the kids really have 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.

2. My husband has an appreciation for space and routine. It was 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 did. It was 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 on the trip, 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?)

3. When traveling, I love having Sallie in the carrier.
I'm actually really glad the stroller broke. It was 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. I remember how much peace the Tula brought with Graves when we lived here and this had been very similar. That said, we got a lot of hours at the airport tomorrow and we gonna miss having a seat for the baby real bad.

4. The South is too often full of "sweet" people (especially women) who aren't actually kind.  Peyton sat by this guy on the flight home from NYC and he had one two year old child but gave P a ton of parenting advice in a sort of paternalistic way. Peyton didn't mind at all  (so Peyton). I think some cultures just find this more acceptable. I don't want to generalize, but it remined 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. 

Systems and Strategies 

5. I love systems and strategies and some of my favorite blogs are full of them, but for me, it's been really freeing to let go of some of (a lot of) that. Awhile back, I had a hard day with Sallie. I told myself I just needed to comfort her as much as I could, take a break when I needed to, and remind myself that this wouldn't last forever. My anxious side really wants to be in control and get ahead of it in situations like this. The day before she ate a HUGE lunch of bananas and sweet potatoes and applesauce and two different people had told me I looked like I had lost weight and I thought "maybe shes' starving?!?" I remembered Annie and Graves's baby days where I was, not enough and barely enough, respectively and I felt this tremendous guilt and then she was back to fussing again fifteen minutes later and I knew it wasn't that.

6. Tissue paper is great from wrapping presents. 
Like not in bags. Just use it as wrapping paper. I've started doing this for my own people and spontaneous happies for others (which we do/try to with our friends and family more than birthday, ect. presents).

7. Worn thin panties make EXCELLENT dust clothes.
I thought for half a second about sending these to the attic and then decided "Nah, three and a half years is a good run for a pair of Target panties and Sallie may well be our caboose but we're not gonna set her up for a life of ratty panties". Voluntary Simplicity means a lot of things but it don't mean you can't take pride in your undergarments. At least for me, the girls, and Bud. I won't speak to that in regards to P.
 
8. I feel so much better with a plan. 
Don't know why I ever do anything different! 
 
Anxiety

9. Human trafficking is one of my biggest anxiety triggers (actually, it's probably *the* biggest) currently. That's one big reason it was just so much better for my mental health to have her attached to myself or Peyton.

Time

10. 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). I've been thinking about this so much lately. How you just find that groove and then all of a sudden it changes. It's making me more flexible, having a child the age where stages happen at lightning speed again.

11. How nice to actually know in the moment the future good of the present tired. A friend shared this sentiment recently and I thought there was so much wisdom to it and it was such a good reminder on a day when I was incredibly tired.

Fashion

12. Bubbles are acceptable for church.
This marked the second time either of my girls wore a bubble to church and honestly, it was much more casual than what Graves wore when he was a baby. I had all these rigid rules- no bright colors or playful motifs and only dresses for Annie. Not all smocking is created equal and I broke another one of my rules and bought stuff that just wasn't even cute (to me) just because it fit what I was trying to do. I talked to Carrie awhile back to troubleshoot it and she was like "yeah, putting her in those dresses doesn't really fit your model of 'Sallie only wears what SD loves' *and* she would fit better with the big kids' vibe in more casual stuff. Whew. Praise God for friends who analyze meaningless stuff with me. So...I'm getting rid of all that and just putting Sis in what I want to. She probably won't be wearing footies to church, but there's now a huge continuum with tatted dresses on one end and seersucker bubbles on the other (okay, that *feels* like a huge spectrum to me). As a related aside, I've started wearing way more casual things to church myself. Lots of my favorite dresses are not what I used to consider church dresses (I literally felt like if it wasn't wedding/funeral appropriate it wasn't church appropriate), but the days of wearing pumps and dry clean only stuff are gone and I wear sweater dresses, rainboots, my own Saltwater sandals, and sundresses.

13. I adore little boy cut style bathsuits on Annie.  

I didn't even realize it when I ordered them, but I'm so smitten with the style of these. Her little body has changed a lot in the past year and I love the style and feel like it's perfect for her in that regard and in regards to her personality. And I love it because it looks classic and traditional instead of trendy and cheap (which is always how my boy shorts suits ended up looking.  

Marriage

14. I love Peyton more every day.
I saw this picture and I thought about how he's TRULY even more handsome than he was fifteen years ago when I watched him do this on the regular. We're back at it with cleaning the pool and scrubbing the concession stand, only this time we're taking breaks to nurse bonneted babies and teach simultaneously terrified and fearless six year olds to swim instead of to splash around flirtatiously and make out in the water.

15. In innumerable ways P is exactly the father I imagined him to be at eighteen and in innumerable ways he's more than I imagined. Though some would think I shouldn't admit this, there has not been a day that I have wished I hadn't married him, even on the hardest days. And there have been some hard ones. I ran across a video recently where I was filming Annie and he appeared from a bedroom where Graves was howling, presumably mad at life because he was being put to bed. The vast majority of our married years have consisted of Peyton doing just that-- operating in the background, behind the scenes, often helping out a crying baby- something he absolutely detests. I think in most every marriage there are things each spouse wishes they could change, and I try to be pretty transparent (maybe too transparent on occasion) about ours, but there's also a lot about Peyton that I'd never change and that I'm incredibly grateful hasn't.

Can't wait to see what kind of learning and reflecting will happen next month! 



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