Monday, July 31, 2017

Monthly Mental Health Check In: July 2017

So this is my new monthly reflection thing in lieu of the "postpartum check in". Obviously it feels a little silly to update on my "postpartum" progress indefinitely, but it will basically be the same thing or very similar. Just a monthly time to reflect on where I am in my own head.

- Strangely, I've felt something really similar to how I was feeling this time last summer (though, praise God, not the same level of intensity). It's that feeling of loving things and people so much it hurts. I've been so happy and it sort of...terrifies me. I guess I'm scared of when it goes away. When summer comes to an end and we don't have a place like the pool anchoring our days and a sweet community that consists of dear friends and close acquaintances who feel like more than what they are. When it's cold inside my own house and I feel isolated and lonely. When the nights, and the dark, come earlier. It feels really, really similar to how terrified I was watching Sallie's first weeks slip through my fingers.

- I also had a couple of come aparts over various things- posts by other people that seemed instructive on the managing of emotions in a different way than the way I do and some poorly used time Facebook stalking that made me sad and nervous and then sort of grateful that I was expanding my bubble a bit.

- My biggest breakdown had to do with that ugly joy-stealer, comparison, as it so often does. I heard a story about a woman who went through a tonpost-partum and still decided to have another baby. I have long comforted myself that my pregnancy with Sallie and the PP experience I had (though really, the pregnancy moreso) were such gifts in their intense difficulty because they placed me resolutely on the same page with P, re: growing our family with any more biological children. But after I heard about this woman, I felt different. I totally convinced myself that I was lazy and that I overblew the whole thing and it really wasn't that bad and I was just super melodramatic. It obviously wouldn't and doesn't make any difference, considering Peyton's emphatic doneness, but it upset me no less. I sat at the pool and told my best friend and she smiled at me and said "God used that in your life and you are not those things and it's okay to let yourself feel a peace about being done, weather somebody else had a hard experience and came to a different conclusion or not". And I felt better.

Postpartum Check In: One Year Out

[pool bathroom selfie with both my little girls]

I realized that, yet again, it's been over a month and I forgot to share this. And it's the final installment of "postpartum check ins" (SOB). No worries, something similar is coming (today, ha!).

I typically try to write Sallie's letter before I write these but Peyton has still not written hers yet (he promised this was the week). Anyway, here's my last postpartum update from right around when Sallie turned one in June:

- I had a big sob because for a few days, SL didn't really want to snuggle after she nursed at five in the morning and I just had to put her back in her crib for her to go back to sleep. It's REALLY good having her in her own room but I wanted to have the best of both worlds and have her cuddle between five and eight. I didn't give up, though, and she's back at it some (although before she got sick she was sleeping 8-8 straight).

- Overall it's been REALLY good lately. I had forgotten how terribly adorable and charming the tiny toddler stage is. It's so full of preciousness it almost hurts. Minnie describes a time in my own childhood when I called all strawberries "yum yums" and that seems the epitome of this sweet stage. Even Peyton and AP are particularly charmed by Sallie these days.

- I was incredibly surprised but for the first three quarters of this year, life happened at a comfortable pace. And then around eight or nine months, I really started to grieve the fact that I was watching her babyhood vanish before my eyes. Minnie told me once that Bump had told her that it was okay to be sad about us getting older but to remember that the fact that we were healthy and able to move onto the next stage was a blessing many parents didn't have. That said, I grieved it hard (I learned from a wonderful post ages ago on Sorta Crunchy that it's completely acceptable to grieve a good thing and babies growing is, of course, a very good thing).

- But here we are now and I'm having less and less of those sad feelings. Maybe it's because we are beyond the infant stage and while I miss it, we are on the cusp of something that is just delightful. I often forget how good the next stage is when I'm anticipating its arrival because I'm mourning what we are leaving behind. And that's okay. I appreciate the new developments even more.

- As with everything, I'm sure it will come in waves, as does most everything. Hardly anything is linear and this certainly is a prime example.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies:

  Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee,
swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee,
filled with messages from thee. 

(From last weekend, because I'm that behind on things.)

I had decided last that even though Sallie wasn't contagious, it would be best to miss church. It turned out to be a good decision. First of all, I had a bit of a scratchy throat myself and was just exhausted. But the bigger issue is that Sallie didn't even wake up until a little after eight and would have slept even later, I think, if Graves hadn't woken her up. Then she took a nap at ten and another one that afternoon. She was pretty happy at first when she got up but things went downhill fast and she was really clingy.

I didn't want to take her to church because I knew it would be miserable for her and anyone else in the nursery but I also didn't want to slow down her recovery process. It typically sucks all the energy out of her and she takes especially long naps on Sundays when she's healthy. And the day before she had slept until nine and then took a four hour nap.

I took everyone to my parents' house on Saturday, knowing it would be a long day without Peyton here and that the big kids would be antsy and sad we weren't leaving the house. They were both very disappointed to miss church, which made me especially happy because sometimes (real life) it isn't their favorite. But overall, they were very understanding and gone the extra mile to be kind to their sister.

I hope that the moments and days- those that feel so long and those that seem to whisk by me much more quickly than I'd like- are filled with showing these little people what God's love is like and how worthy of our praise He is. In my exhaustion, I'm often most aware of my need for Him and I hope I can help them understand that in their tiredest, angriest, darkest moments, He is there.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July Goals and Happenings

This is my very first July ever to not do a patriotic background/header, but that just seemed incredibly stupid at this point in the game. Anyway, this one is one of my least favorites of late. I didn't realize how poorly the off white would look on the white background (um, duh) and it's just not my favorite design in general. The quote and the pictures are predictably special to me, though =)

Well, this is ABSURD. But I'm doing it anyway. It's two thirds way through the month and I'm just now sharing this. My goals for this month are going to be minimal, but I couldn't not update on last month and I couldn't not share about our "happenings. it all is.

June felt very crazy to me, but was super fun.
- We had VBS at Northside and it was just delightful.
- The big kids had swim team practice every morning and we went to several swim meets. It was an incredible experience and I need to write a full post about swim team and the pool in general.
- Peyton went to his pharmacy convention in Florida. I really missed him but holding down the fort was easier than I expected.
- We had Sallie and Evan's joint birthday party. It was super laid back but really sweet.

July has been really fun! We've had a lot going on and it hasn't slowed down as much as I expected.
- We spent ALL day on the Fourth at the pool. Peyton was actually in charge of the celebration and it was really fun but super exhausting.
- We've all had dental appointments, Graves had to go to the after hours clinic for a toe infection, and now Sallie has been running a high fever.
- I took dinner to a friend who had surgery, helped another friend with a project, and attended a launch party for a friend's new business venture.
- We also had City Meet, which Peyton was also in charge of (he's on the board at Briarwood and is president of Jackson Swim Association). He was gone a lot for about three days and that was kind of tiring for all of us. Plus he worked an extra day to make up for the Saturday he took off.
- We also had dinner with some church friends to visit with our interim pastor and we celebrated a little friend's birthday.
- My book club met over here again and that was really fun.
- I think the rest of the month is pretty low key actually and as much fun as all this was, I'm looking forward to it.

Here were my goals for June:

1. Read both my devotions daily. This didn't happen at all like I meant for it to. So that was a fail. (Faith)

2. Have a joint birthday party for Sallie and Evan that's mostly family. We totally did this and like I said it was really fun and sweet. (Family)

3. Continue to prioritize relationships. I actually think I did a really good job with this- bringing food to a friend, supporting another friend's buissness, helping another friend with a project, cooking to the church dinner thing, hosting bookclub, and handling most of the childcare responsibilities to free up P on the Fourth and spending all day at the pool with a baby. (Relationships) 

4. Drink more water and determine a few other healthy habits to work on. I did okay with this but I could have done better. (Health)

5. Get back in a writing habit. Kinda. Again, I could have done a lot better but I could have done a lot worse. (Creativity/Passion) 

6. Finish my bookclub book and host bookclub. I actually finished the book this time. And I did a low key meal of chicken salad and pasta salad and a dessert. It was really fun. (Education/Edification) 

7. Continue to work on organizing the attic. Nope. Not at all. It's just been way too hot and I haven't had the time. (Organization)

8. Stay positive and don't allow myself to get overwhelmed while Peyton is at the convention. I think I did pretty good with this and preparing myself mentally really helped. So did really responsible big kids who generally had good attitudes. (Travel)

9. Don't spend any money on impulse buys this month. YES. I was really proud of myself. (Finances)

10.  Surround myself with music that bring joy. Yes again. Lots of Dire Straights and Bruce. (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)

11. Go on a date with Peyton. Nope. Again, just too busy. We'll get to it one day ;) (Fun Goal) 

And here are my July Goals. I'm keeping the list itty bitty again and setting the bar pretty low since I'm not working with a whole month here.

1. Read both my devotions daily. I feel like it's been on here for six months but since it's just a couple more weeks, here's to another try. (Faith)

2. Go over to my parents' house by myself. I did this tonight and I enjoyed it so much. My parents love seeing the kids and vice versa but it was SO nice to be able to visit with them uninterrupted.  (Family)

3. Call Ellis. It's been awhile since we've really talked. He did so good about calling when I was the one with new babies and I need to do better now. (Relationships) 

4. Try to cut back on how much OTC medicine I take for headaches. Whew. This is going to be tough. (Health)

5. Keep working on catching up on the blog. Probably forever. (Creativity/Passion)

6. Pick and start a new read-aloud book for Annie and Graves. (Education/Edification)

7. Organize Sallie's pj drawer and sort stuff she's outgrown. (Organization)  

8. Start planning a couple of tentative trips for the fall. (Travel)

9. Spend very little on going out to eat. We said we were on a spending freeze but really we're just not getting take out once a week. We're still going out with friends occasionally and last night I got myself dinner from CFA after a hard day. (Finances)
10. Surround myself with music that bring joy. One more month of this because I love it. (Joy/Gratitude/Perspective)
11. Have a few more Wonder Years marathons with P. We had one the other night and it was such a blast. (Fun Goal)
Here's to July, a month nearly gone. Let me savor summer and enjoy the feeling hot pavement under my feet, the taste of cool water on my lips, the sound of crickets that each evening brings.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sunday Hymns and Herrington Babies: How Great Is He Who Has Made All Things Well

I've been including these as part of my Weekly Happenings but I decided I wanted to think about making them into their own posts.

I'd be lying if I said I don't really enjoy sharing a picture of the kids from the one predictable time each week when I know they'll be clean and all have their hair brushed and be wearing things I chose for them.

And I love giving my favorite hymns a little more of the attention they deserve.

But mostly, I love that it's a time I reflect on things- on our daily lives and on the children's personalities and growth and weaknesses and, maybe most importantly, on my own life of faith.  When we get home from church (most weeks), I spent a little chunk of time thinking and writing these into rather long Instagram posts. 

All three things- the spiffy babies, the beautiful hymns, and the reflections- feel like they merit a little bit more of a place of prominence in this space so I'm planning to make this a (mostly) weekly feature.


Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

On Saturday, Graves got some kind of infection in his toe and I ended up taking him to the after hours clinic (something we hardly ever do because Peyton- the medical person- is real "meh" unless it's an outright emergency). This was pretty emergent. The doctor said it looked like it was starting to streak a bit and these things move FAST and if he started running fever we might need to put him on IV antibiotics. They drained it and sent it for a culture and put him on some strong oral antibiotics. He was SO brave when the doctor drained it.

Minnie was out of town, so I left both girls with Mickey, who is now heralding Annie as his hero. I think she essentially babysat Sallie and Mickey supervised. She told me that she ate her cereal at two different times so Mickey wouldn't have to "deal with Sallie" by himself for long without a break. She also tried to cut a wipe into thirds when they could only find one and he said he couldn't change a dirty diaper unless they had three (I think he's changed exactly one in his life and it was Graves's, who is the baby boy he never had). And I came home to find her sweeping the kitchen without being asked.

She is memorizing this hymn as part of her English studies. Predictably, her favorite lines are the ones about birds and wings and flowers and mountains. I too love the imagery, particularly that of the seasons and ripe fruits in gardens, but my favorite stanza is the final one and the reminder that "He has made all things well".

My understanding is that He calls the birds and mountains 'good' but he calls Annie- and her brother and her sister- 'very good'. They, like their momma, are deeply flawed in countless ways but they are also simultaneously 'very good'. How great is He who made them so incredibly unique and who made them so well.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What I'm Into: June

Well, I'm way late on this, but better late than never. My mouse broke and this kind of post is just so frustrating to try to write on my Chromebook. Anyway, here it is now!

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

I thought this was absolutely fascinating. I really enjoyed the author's voice, though it wasn't especially unique, and the story was compelling. I've said it several times, but characters are probably my favorite element in a story, so memoirs really appeal to me. We had some great book club discussion on it, too. One friend thought the tone was a little preachy and condescending and I can totally see that in some places. I think Vance really tried not to let his ideology effect his writing, but there were places where it peeked through. Overall, I totally recommend it.

On Their Nightstand: 

Stuart Little- E.B White

We decided to read this one since we loved Trumpet of the Swan so much. I'll be honest- so far I haven't loved it as much as Trumpet of the Swan or Charlotte's Web. The writing is still simple, yet delightful, but the story just isn't as interesting to me and doesn't seem to flow the same way the other two did.

On the Shelf:
Our bookclub picked a Faulkner novel for our next book and I'm excited about that.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
Another month without any movies!

On the Small Screen:
As I mentioned last month, I watched far too much TV in New York and this month, I did watch more than usual, but I was much more disciplined about it.

The West Wing
I got back on a kick and until this recent busy week hit, I was watching it about every other night. It's SO good! 

Master of None
We finished this one up and I was so sad when the season was over. It definitely had a different vibe (more serious?) than last season, but it was still so funny and is definitely a current favorite.

The Carmichael Show
Okay, this is hilarious. It's a lot more "haha" funny than Master of None, actually. It still has a good bit of social commentary and brings up a lot of contemporary issues, though. It's about a black family and I think watching that dynamic and the things that are unique to that culture is really interesting, too.

In My Ears:
Lots of Bruce Springsteen and Dire Straights, currently.

I guess unsurprisingly for my little empath, Graves loves the sad Springsteen songs the best. His current fave:

Around the House:

Minnie found this bedding that used to be in my room when I was a bit older than Annie. It kinda reminds me of vintage patio furniture cushions and I couldn't wait to try it in the sunroom. It's pretty groovy, but I adore it.

In the Kitchen:
When your sister decides she's unafraid of baby drool enough to actually be willing to feed you her extra refried beans herself but you're too grown to be spoon fed and you gonna fight her on it.

I had to go scavenging for Sallie's supper at my parents' one night and it led her to her first ever vanilla wafer. The Summer of Abundant Blessings continues on for Sis. Sarah Lamar is totes living her best life now.

Since bananas and Nila wafers are pretty much her favorite foods, Mickey decided to make Little Sallie Sunshine a banana pudding in lieu of a first birthday cake. I think she's as big of a fan as her momma is!

In My Closet:
Babes and I both wore our swim dresses/skirts one day.

In Their Closets:

 I love the green check, strawberries, and how much Graves looks like a frat boy.
Sallie in Fancy Hats again (yes, I'm naming her outfits now if you didn't pick up on it) and my favorite piece of summer apparel. I got her three bonnets this year, fingers crossed our beloved Briarwood would live to see another year, and we'd be able to make good use of them. It did and we have (already). All Etsy purchases, hand made and without the price tag of some of the fancy brands, it was a perfect little splurge on our sweet sunshine girl, the tag along baby who spends quite many of her days among the elements.
(Aside regarding the bonnet splurge of 2017: part of me said "be pragmatic and get her a white (or heavens, at least a solid) one". The other part said "mint polka dots/pink gingham, Kelly green seersucker/reversible rosebuds and pink, and red polka dots are indescribably more charming". Clearly, the latter part won and I haven't wished for that white bonnet once.)
This was one of my favorites of Annie's swimsuits from the summer she was one. I just love a nautical motif and I love it even better with the polka dot bonnet.

Teeth, eyelashes, and (another) bonnet.

more swimsuit love- Annie in her retro flamingo suit

and Sallie in the softest, sweetest polka dots

One of my favorites of Annie's from when she was a baby- I love this ruffly linen romper and I think it looks so pretty with Sallie's eyes.

Matchy matchy and wearing what is probably a bit of an excess of bows and polka dots. I mean, if there is such a thing.

One Sunday, Annie and Sallie both wore sailboat bishops that were both purchased approximately seven years ago. Sallie's was one of the very few things I bought Annie from an actual boutique. I loved sailboats so much at the time, however I couldn't stand yellow at that point. But it was the softest, prettiest yellow. And I loved the printed sailboats on the fabric. It has baby blue pinstripe bloomers that go with it, but that week Sallie just wore these bitty polka dots from another diaper set. Anyway, I waited and watched it for a long time and when it finally went on sale I was so excited. A few months later, I found the exact outfit in the size she needed for the next Summer. Annie wore both sets as much as anything she had when she was a baby. I remember thinking it was too casual for church (I was nuts) but she wore it on lots of lunch dates and I specifically remember her wearing it for my birthday dinner with Peyton and my parents and sister at Walker's (again, I was nuts but she was the quietest, easiest baby until she turned two and then had opinions on everything).  

I got Annie's current dress at an overstock sale. I loved the colors and motif so much and they only had it in a size too small for her and in this huge one. I debated it a bunch, and finally took the plunge. At the time I bought lots of stuff and hung it in the "buy ahead" closet but this was the biggest thing I ever bought ahead. Peyton has teased me about it so many times- he says that I could legitimately wear it myself and he's actually right (I tried it on). (I think this may be Annie's last Summer in smocked dresses. She doesn't mind them at all and I've always gotten away with more because of how young she looks for her age. But it's starting to feel a little bit weird. And honestly, I've started finding lots of cute options for her that I like just as much and are still sweet and appropriate for a little girl. And let's be real- Sallie helps. ALOT.)

And Bud wore his signature white Oxford shirt he wears every other Sunday and a pair of 3T shorts we're on our fourth (and definitely last) summer in.
Annie and Sallie had a great time in their Elegant Elephants (Annie named them this time) dress/diaper set. I ordered them from Target last summer. The reviews said they were paper thin, and truthfully they are, but they aren't falling apart in the wash yet and they feel so light and breezy for summer. I'm actually a little jeal of the comfort level (which is a huge determining factor in clothing preferences for Annie, me, and Mick).

I love these footies so much.  

I got way behind on laundry (I had been keeping up so well and then...I have no idea what happened) and bringing footies to change Sallie into at the pool totally skeeves me out when it's a hundred degrees in the shade. So when that happens, Sallie wears Baby Gap BananaRama jams Graves wore at one. He thought she was SO CUTE in them and asked me please not to change her right away in the morning do he could play with her in them. After she went to bed that night, he said "I wish I could have a baby just like Sallie- a girl baby would be great- that looked just like Sallie and acted just like Sallie and was named Sallie and had one those banana pjs". Bless his heart, he apparently loves these things.

Got the Dreft load washing, but in the meantime Sallie sported more bananas (and monkeys).

First time to wear Converse!

Can't beat easter egg colors with the emphasis on mint green! 

The Herringtons love a theme. These guys dressed up as "Bird Girl", Batman, and Superman, respectively for Superhero Friday at swim team.

In My Mailbox:
Not much exciting, to be honest.

In My Cart:
I kinda put myself on a spending freeze, so really nothing here either!

Around the Town (and At Home): 

Well, we've been spending lots of time at the pool. When I saw her like this I felt like I was was getting a glimpse of my future. Our Annie Girl looks SO big!

Sallie prepping everybody for that night'swim meet. She helped lead the green tent meeting this morning on Coach Lyla's hip. Such a sweet baby Dophin!

And here she is at the actual meet ready to cheer on some Dolphins!

My lips and teeth are a sort of Dolphin blue tint here from sharing a snow cone with my big girl. We had such a fun night. She swam freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke and Mickey and Minnie came to watch her and Graves. And I timed the second half of the meet. The stupidest things intimidate me but I've always been nervous to do it. I had a great time actually getting to focus on the swimming (the big kids are SO much fun to watch!) and I learned some kids' names.
And this precious little droid swam A WHOLE LAP by himself. He had a coach in the water to help him, but he really didn't need any. Swim practice has been a battle most mornings, but it's not only something we committed to, but something we decided they will do until they are very proficient swimmers. He has come so far. Y'all. He swam a full lap. And he worked his tiny tail off to do it.

My first time to take all three by myself and I was super thankful for these tween girl Dolphins who gave me a little break from Sallie (and my BFF's hubs who held her when I basically had to force Graves into the pool for his event). Annie swam her usual freestyle, relay, back, and breast stroke and her BFF congratulated her in remembering to hop out after her lap in the relay instead of turning around and trying to swim another one, which she's done twice. Graves, as I mentioned, whimpered for the ten minutes leading up to his event and then screamed hysterically on the starting block. They were literally waiting to sound the horn while I fixed the goggles he was fitting over (obs, it wasn't really just the goggles and I didn't get him there in time for warm ups, which Peyton warned me might make things tougher). It was a bit mortifying. Finally, Lila told him he didn't have to go off the block, said "swimmer go", and threw him in. Whew. THEN, I sat on the top part of a metal lounge, with Sallie in my arms, and flipped the whole thing on top of us. Thankfully she wasn't hurt. I have a bruised shoulder and my pride continued to plummet. We ended up staying almost to the bitter end so that Annie could see her friend Kimber swim the fly and it felt good to be the "yes mom" I am not nearly enough.

Ribbon day at swim team! One of the few things in life I don't have strong opinions about are participation trophies. Graves said "I think they just gave this to me cause they're proud of me", which is pretty accurate.

VBS at Northside was so incredibly special. There were literally nineteen kids and I was so humbled by ALL that went into it just for them. At the same time, it had this quaint, old fashioned feel. There was nothing flashy about it and the focus was on the important stuff rather than some big production. And I had the opportunity to serve my church- something I don't do often enough. It felt really, really good to give back (there is a particularly sweet (and sadly, I think, uncommon) dynamic at our church where I've gotten the impression that parents of young children aren't really expected to teach Sunday school regularly and I very much plan to pay this forward when my kids are a bit bigger). Anyway, VBS is sort of an anxiety thing for me- it's just a lot of busyness and noise and such and I was, shamefully, dreading it a bit. But I had SO much fun and I loved getting to be around people I usually only see once a week, especially since we don't live in Clinton. I not only got to serve but I got to nurture some sweet friendships. And I feel sure Annie and Graves are going out into the world with a little bit better understanding of what it means to practice compassion.

We had a couple of weekends with birthday parties this month. My niece had a fun swimming party! Not kiddin about this one being a party girl. You can see in her eyes she's exhausted, but she's gonna kick it until it's time to go.

We went to another friend's birthday pary Pump It Up. Graves played for awhile and then kept asking me to let Sallie play on this riding toy. She was totally content in her stroller, but I finally relented. She got her foot stuck under it and cried a bit and before the party she got a busted lip at the hands of an overly excited brother who was jumping in her crib with her in it. She's tough as nails, though, and cried less than a minute both times.

We also met some friends at the park one weekend.

Peyton was gone for several days to a pharmacy convention. These girls (and their brother!) were quite excited about his return.

We had a busy (by my standards!) few weeks and for several Saturdays we had activities- playdates with friends and a birthday party. We had a lot of fun and are happy to accommodate our friends' schedules but I really like to lay low on the weekend and get school and house stuff done and organize my life (and also, let's be honest, practice self care and prioritize things I enjoy, like writing and reading for pleasure) so we have more time for going and doing during the week when P is with us. ESPECIALLY on Sundays, I do laundry and dishes but we don't do school and I don't do much else besides going to church and recalibrating myself for the new week. Well, Annie was a little irritated that we weren't "going anywhere" one day. I refuse to be their entertainer and I will not have "bored" kids, but I'm happy to remind them this is a day that we can do things I won't try to squeeze in elsewhere. Annie painted a forest with a waterfall and a salmon jumping and Graves painted a jungle (see the orange lion?). Summer is for...stretching your creative muscles.

Annie's also been creating "recipes" and trying them on Sallie. This one is called "Cheerios in Hiding" and consists of Cheerios slathered in peanut butter. I'm not sure she's ever liked any food better, which is saying ALOT and I finally just had to cut her off, at which point Graves said "Good choice, I do not want to see my first (?!?) baby sister throw up".

Rainy days make make great organizational days. I'm a little compulsive, y'all. One rainy week, I had the kids sort and purge their OOC magazine basket one day and the next day Annie went through the "naptime bin", which she hasn't used as such in years. We sorted everything in it and replaced it with toys that are appropriate for Sallie. I know some people have no qualms about throwing scraps of paper and little trinkets and dumb toys directly in the trash and I don't have any strong feelings about that being a bad way to do things. It is certainly a time-suck and some families simply don't even have the time for it. But somehow, I got them started working on sorting and organizing their drawers and such and it's been a great system and I feel like they'll probably benefit in the long run. I used to have to sit right there and guide the whole process (and Graves does still need some assistance) but now they both do this really well and honestly, I think they enjoy doing it. Annie even went back and organized the bin with Sallie's toys even though I told her I would just wait until Sallie went to sleep. They both tend to be hoarder-ish (I can definitely be that way, too) and I'm hopeful that teaching them this skill instead of doing it myself will pay off.

Sallie had her first roly poly interaction. 

The big kids enjoyed taking advantage of the backyard blueberry bush. I figured out why they were so ambivalent about me telling them the kitchen was about to be closed in my stern voice one night. 

Poor Bud was up sick bunch one night and Sissy, who has grown accustomed to people slipping in to open dresser drawers in search for panties is still not as hard of a sleeper as the other two, and decided the throw up drama was just a party she couldn't miss. Graves is being so responsible and said he would need me to fix his food that so he didn't get any germs on food other people would eat and that he was only going to play with hard plastic toys we could easily disinfect, not stuffed animals. He came up with all that himself and told Sallie "I really can't play with you today, Sal" and then told me, so sincerely, "I'm sorry, if that baby cries, you'll probably just have to deal it yourself, just for today". I don't know if it was just something he ate or a very mild bug but he recovered really quickly. I turned the big kids loose in the back even though it's a mudhole and they found the most adorable baby frog they named "Teeny" (he was so that). They released him after photographing him but recaught him, or a sibling, about five hours later. We busted out the monster game bin and the big kids played Guess Who by themselves (praise the Lord!) and then I played Chutes and Ladders with them.  She also decided that she and Graves should do a "pencil search" around the house to fill up these fancy pencil holders she found in a craft book and they took two days to work on earlier that wee

At the Schoolhouse:

Bud wrote his first thank you note (and several more) for his birthday presents.

Y'all, I can't make this stuff up. Graves's first practical, real life experience in benefiting from being a literate person: he realized that the word low has one of his newest phonograms in it ("ow", which says "ow" as in cow and a long o as in snow) and was able to use the bidet without help. He's terrified of the thing but, being a messy boy, he really benefits from it and we encourage him to use it. He read "high" to me as well and told me "that's the one where it waters your whole body...well, really the whole room". I'm probably the only woman in Rankin County with a bidet in her master-turned-children's bathroom and certainly the only one who's son gained an appreciation for the importance of reading from one.

Sometimes I think I paint the Schoolhouse in the Suburbs as a much more fun, sweet place that it actually is. Minnie, concerned, asked me recently about a reference on here to "dark days". So often, in my case, the literal ones bring about the figurative ones and we've had a string of literal ones.
A really special friend and I have also been talking about how sometimes you really want to turn away from the work you know you were made to do, born to do. The first analogy that popped into my head were my experiences (particularly with Sallie) in childbirth. "Calling" is still something I have a terrible time wrapping my head around and often I think we try to discern and force what we think is God's will more than we should. At the same time, I do think there are certain vocations and endeavors we are particularly suited for and sometimes they feel very natural and joyful and sometimes they feel very difficult and frightening. It's not a thing of me feeling like God has asked me to do something I can't or don't want to do.
That said, there are days when homeschooling feels like a joy and I feel like a wonderful teacher and there are days where it is very much a labor of love and I feel like an abject failure. This particular day I really wanted to cry. Graves read five out of six of these sentences (I read the other- I  always let him choose one for me to read). This is only half of a small part of a lesson.  And it literally took an hour and me helping him refocus probably (literally) over a hundred times. I don't really think P has it in him to do this well. And I don't know that I do. [To be clear- and this is the sin of pride- it's really rewarding for there to be SOMETHING that I'm much better at than he is.] Anyway, I guess when I'm cognizant of things I momentarily want to run the hell away from, but know I was designed to do, they are all around.

I told Minnie that I know Graves is VERY smart, and certainly I have my own set of biases, but I do feel like the likelihood he would be less successful (and less understood) in a traditional school is high and that, at least right now, we are the best teachers for him.

On the Blog:
 I didn't write just a ton on the blog, but what I did feels very...emotional. God was very gracious and Sarah Lamar turning one hasn't been nearly as tough as I had prepared myself for, but just about everything feels sentimental and bittersweet.
Just a short little post and a slideshow to celebrate Sallie's birthday. 
A Most Undignified HonorI wrote a tiny little post reflecting on Sallie's birth, which was such a profound event in my life.

When Carrying More of the Load Becomes an Extra Gift
I wrote this post about the little bonus gift that mothering Sarah Lamar the way I have has been.

Just a C&P of a poem I adore along with a picture I took of Annie that I fell in love with. 

On My Heart and Mind:
- Mentally, I'm so ready to start (like full on, jump in where I know the water is over my head) first and third grade. Logistically, though, we have several loose ends that need to be tied up first and also I need a stretch of a few "typical" weeks where I can hit the ground running. We haven't had those lately and I'm craving it.
- As I said, Sallie's birthday came and went with much fewer tears than anticipated and I'm very grateful for that. She's at a really charming stage right now and I'm enjoying soaking it up.
- Graves is in a particularly hard stage right now. Not just with school and swim team, like I mentioned, but with most everything. He's typically very good natured but he's started "fitting" a lot and just get MAD about small things. We have had some good days in the past week or so, though, so I'm hopeful this will be pretty short lived.

In My Prayers
- I'm praying for the children a lot and for patience as I start doing more school with both big kids.
- I'm praying that God will help me look at each day and not feel anxiety over what is left undone (because something is *always* left undone).
On the Calendar: 

Well, we're halfway through the month here. July has still been a bit busy, but much more low key that June!