Monday, April 27, 2015

Baby Names, Book Stacks, and BFFs

We have been to see our lovely pediatric cardiologist twice in the last four days. I really do mean it when I say lovely, he's seriously just the best. Caden's six-month check-up went just about as well as we could hope for, and he was cleared for another six months until his next appointment. Then today, we had another appointment to take a peek at the heart of the littlest Stanley. And the verdict was that his heart looks magnificent, which was more than a relief. I'm not sure I realized how deeply I was holding my breath.

For those of you who have asked, no we dont have a name for our newest little bundle yet. So far, our naming has consisted of Adam throwing out names and me rejecting them. Dont worry, eventually he'll stumble upon one I actually like.

We are already two games into our 2015 Five8Football season (our community-based football league). I already told you about how, for us, football is about far more than just football. I continue to be thankful for the people who help make Tuesday night games a possibility. From all the boys, to the coaches, to the cute little cheerleaders (Blueprint 58 mentees), and all the churches and neighborhoods who are playing a part. If you're in Atlanta and want to join us for a Tuesday night game, we would love to have you!
I am currently breezing through All 3 books by Atlanta author Tayari Jones, which fascinate me because they are all based right around where we live here in Southwest Atlanta. Leaving Atlanta was my favorite of the three, because somehow I had never even heard of the Atlanta Child Murders of 1979.

Other books I finished reading lately (starred ones = I loved them).
-The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate
*Freeman by Leonard Pitts
-The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber
-Before I Forget by Leonard Pitts
*A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

Normally, while I read through my fiction quickly, I am also reading some non-fiction books more slowly. Typically, these are the kind of things I feel like need time to sink into my heart. Currently, that book is Brene Brown's I Thought It Was Just Me. When I'm finished with that one, I'm excited to start Where the Cross Meets the Street by Noel Castellanos.

And I haven't had much time for reading online lately, but here's a few articles that caught my eye this week.
1.5 Million Missing Black Men - The NY Times
Gentrification Stories - You are Here

Gentleness: the Surprise Peacemaker - Sally Clarkson
Tools for the Highly Sensitive Mother - the Runamuck

These two posts, from two of my favorite folks are the kind of "me too" pieces that make me feel not alone.
When Jesus Asks You to Bite off More than You Can Chew - Lori Harris
Grow, Baby - Flowerpatch Farmgirl

That's all for now. I'm hoping I might have a minute to write a little bit this week, but I wouldn't hold my breath because you know, life be crazy around here. I'll leave you with the cutest little best friends in all the land. Seriously.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Snapshots and Misteaks

If we're totally honest, the last few (ok five+) months have been rough-going around here. Between pregnancy/nausea/headaches, work stuff, Caden's night terrors, ministry discouragement, and just general sad-stuff-everywhere-around-us kind of discouragement, I just feel done

I have been scarce around here because I don't want to be the person who complains all the time. No one likes that person: you avoid their phone calls, and you certainly don't want to read their whiny-blog posts. 
I literally just spend the last hour scrolling through every single instagram picture I have ever taken. Don't ask me why, because I had a million and twelve other things I needed to be doing, but I couldn't stop once I saw Jayci's tiny face and side-swept bangs staring into Zack's early-teenager eyes. I was done in, and it simply couldn't be helped. An hour later I am left slightly melancholy and more than a little nostalgic. I cannot grasp the number of days and years that have slipped by as toddlers tumble into childhood and awkward middle schoolers leap into late teenage angst. And my heart grapples somewhere between gratitude we are still here, still practicing the ministry of presence, and disappointment in where so many things have ended up so quickly. I watch my own children grow, and they are sand slipping through my fingers. 
Trust more, worry less. I know the remedy, know I desperately need space if I have any hope at patience and gentleness with my children. Time alone, and even more than that: time with Jesus. But the problem is that the daily grind keeps grinding and life swells full and I'm not sure how to do it all while I bend low over the toilet and beg the doctor for something to help with the gripping headaches which are apparently this pregnancy's newest side-effect.
I can write about it all abstractly, and concretely even, with stories and metaphors that spin circles around the heart. But I am weary and discouraged, and when we lose supporters or people tell us no, Adam and I both have a tendency to beat ourselves up and doubt everything we are doing. In fact, when we went to counseling a while ago, our counselor told us we fought so strangely because both of us turn against ourselves instead of each other. This practice remains our habit, beating ourselves up, turning inward and holding our breath taut until things get too dark and heavy to bear alone.

Life continues, and seasons shift. Spring showers fall unabated, day after day of rain and gray mist only adds to it all. My feet sink deep into the mud, and I wonder if the ground will ever dry up. Life mostly just feels relentless. Everything and everybody need so many things from me. Jayci and Caden are constantly needing to be fed, refereed in their fighting, paid attention, disciplined. It turns out small children are quite needy. The laundry needs folding, the dishwasher needs emptying, the dog needs to go outside, the knock on the door needs answering. Work needs to be done and pictures need to be edited. The boys need rides to football, and Jayci needs to be dragged out of bed for school. The neighbor needs a few dollars, and the kid down the street needs a place to stay.

For just a few days, I would like to not be needed. To sleep the entire time through, perhaps. Or read a good book without absently responding to demands and requests and tucking children back into bed. To pray without falling immediately asleep.
Again with all the whining. Please feel free to click away today, find somewhere more sun-shiny. Like outside, finally, but only for a single day before the forecasters again call for rain. The grass grows knee-high and we cross our fingers that the park will get mowed in time for tonight's football game. I try to remind myself again that it's ok to make mistakes. Try to find peace and rest even in the midst of chaos. Try to figure out a way to wrap this all up in a bow with a neat little lesson and perhaps even a tweetable saying to go along with it. But the truth is I'm tired, and I am still stuck in the mud. My only hope is that the sun is shining, and God promises new mercies every morning.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Wedding Weekend

We spent the weekend in Athens, home of the University of Georgia, for Adam's little sister's wedding. It was a fun, busy weekend, complete with 11pm bedtimes for the kids two nights in a row. We are still dealing with the repercussions of that, even today with grouchy kids (and arguably grouchy momma too). I didn't take too many pictures, since there was an actual photographer and I had to wrangle the kids and also enjoy seeing my sister get married. But for now, here's a few from the rehearsal dinner, pre-wedding festivities/prep, and the big day! 
 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Tidings and My New Favorite Pictures

Easter falls behind us, the left-over ham and macaroni and cheese disappearing quickly from our fridge. We go to spring fling and both children collect easter eggs until I tell them we cannot possibly carry anymore. The boys help DJ, and we stop for Easter-dinner-groceries on the way home. 
Easter Sunday the sun shines bright and the cool shade breaks up when it pale spring light falls on our shoulders. The kids get seeds and gardening tools in their Easter buckets, and they dig in their Easter finery to plant cilantro and spinach under the dirt. We walk across the street where wisteria drips so I can take their "Easter pictures," which they only consent to under bribery involving candy. 
Here's the truth about these pictures: to our left, a pitbull sits patiently growling behind his chain-link fence, while two more bark at us from their pen a short distance past the purple blooms. Behind us, the boys laugh while another pitbull pulls at his chain. But if we dont know all that, this certainly looks like a lovely field somewhere in the country. Proof, again, that beauty finds a way in all the most unexpected places. 

As a side note, all hair skills pictured here can only be attributed to my friend Danielle. I feel certain I need a third hand if I am to be expected to braid hair. 

Now it's spring break, and we find ourselves without big plans, no matter how desperately I want to slip away to the beach with just our little family for a few days. Adam normally leads a small discipleship group early Monday morning before school for a few boys we've known for years. They are on spring break too; I assume that means sleeping past noon, but they insist on 6:45am, and who are we to argue? Their departure wakes both my own children, despite my grand visions of them sleeping in until at least 7:30.  
Also, my kids are the cutest in all-the-land, let's just not argue about that ok?

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