Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ordinary Days and Adventure Days

I've been wanting to share more of our stories over here on this blog. I'm keeping up with my Weekly Happenings on my main blog, but I want to really write about some of our experiences here. Anyway, last week I actually went to a writer's group at the library and I just wrote for an hour. It was hard and it's NOT my best writing- I was scared at first I'd just leave with blank pages- but it seems to work for an introductory post and a recap of one of my favorite days.


Peyton works thirteen hour shifts here. For myself and the kids these are our "school days". We practice basic math, study things that interest Annie, and read book after book. We've only just begun this part, but now Annie is learning how sounds fit together to form words. One day she'll read the books for herself. And I'll get to take the credit for that achievement. I'll only claim it victory, though, if what I also teach her is a love for learning, an appreciation of words. 

A man on the train struck up a conversation with me the other day- asked me "what I did". I told him that I stay at home with my children, that I'm homeschooling my eldest. He looked confused and replied how boring that must be. First I hard laughed and told him that it is anything but. Then I told him that sometimes it does feel like a job, but I adore it. "A job you don't get paid for", he retorted with a funny smile. "Oh, of course not. But the reward comes in full when she makes a connections and something clicks. And I know I was the one who helped her get to that place. There's no feeling in the world like that one, I tell him. 

So those are our home days. They're spent teaching her and guiding and nurturing and loving her and her little brother. They're spent meeting the basic needs still very young children have. They are beautiful, but they are somewhat ordinary in a peaceful sort of way. Which is a good thing. Because the days that Peyton doesn't go to work are our "adventure days". 

On those days, we skip naps, pack lunches, and embark to discover a city we could never conquer. There are too many nooks, too many cobbled streets and green patches and spires and treasures, to ever say "we are finished". 

But our time here is limited. We do know we won't be here forever. Our goal can't be to do/see/feel/hear all of New York City. But it weights heavy on my heart the responsibility to make much of our time here. 

I wish I could say we rise with the rooster (such a silly idiom in a city that never sleeps). We just aren't that kind of people, though. So, we get up, shuffle around and Peyton usually makes pancakes. We get going mid-morning most days. 

The other day we took a family adventure to "the island". Such fun to spend the day in a bustling metropolis, but I never get on the G train on a return trip without a little silent thanksgiving for the wisdom in choosing Brooklyn. I breathe better here. It's miles away, literally and figuratively, from the suburbs in the 'Sip. But there's a hint of normalcy and a hint of home. 

All that said, our day in the city was one of our best adventures yet. We took the subway of course and Peyton insisted I navigate so I could familiarize myself with it. So many colorful lines covering the boroughs. It's kind overwhelming for a chick who is more used to Kudzo as a covering. But we made it! In one station (Penn maybe?) there were some beautiful tile mosaics that intrigued Annie. We talked about each one- a circus scene and a woman with a baby carriage were favorites. 

The weather was perfect and so was our stroll through Central Park. There was a fabulous little musical group and the children danced together to "My Girl". It's a forever memory in my mind (and being the millenial mom I am, it's a forever iPhone video clip, too). 

We snacked on treats from home and explored the castle in the park, which has been on Annie's "must-do" list, I think since she fully understood the concept of moving up here. 

We ate pretzels and hotdogs on the steps of the Met and I felt more like a tourist than a local, which is mostly the case. Obviously, I waver between these poles every day, but every day- every single day!- it feels more like home. 

We signed up for a membership and headed to the library inside the museum. Graves, who for some reason I haven't made mention of yet, surprised us quite a bit. He is the sweetest, most affectionate, most even tempered little soul there ever was, but he offsets all that a bit by just not having much self-control at all. I think a lot of that has to do with being a two year old boy. But he sat still and listed to multiple books and wasn't disruptive in the slightest. 

We actually only toured one gallery- one filled with musical instruments from foreign lands and centuries past. 

Graves latched onto a keyboard type instrument in the shape of a dragon. Every time I'd try to move away, he'd fuss and fret. He's so awfully inattentive (again, being two and all) and I was so pleased to see him captivated by something. 

Annie absorbs information like a sponge and regurgitates it like a cow. I don't think she's a prodigy or anything, but I do think she's a bright child. More importantly, I think she eagerly hungers for knowledge. May she always desire it so!

Peyton discussed each instrument with her and they analyzed and figured out its classification. Towards the end I saw a kettle drum with two little figures holding it and one was writing a book and one was nursing an infant. 

I intentionally picked Annie up and told her "I love this one because it makes me think of two things that are very important to me- writing my thoughts and feelings and taking care of my babies". When I said "taking care of my babies" she flung her arms around me and squeezed my neck so tight. It was a stand out moment in a busy day that I'll always treasure. 

That night they fell asleep quickly, as they almost always do on our adventure days and I couldn't stop thinking about how many treasures we've already found here and how many more are awaiting our discovery of them. 

Adventures in Being Uncomfortable

Peyton and I found out about, and felt this huge tug, toward a ministry in the South Bronx. By many standards, it's the most impoverished area in the United States and I've got to be real here- I was terrified. Mostly for my children's safety, because I've heard it described as " a third world country", a war zone", and worse. We went for the first time yesterday and y'all. It was amazing. It reminded me so much of MDO days- something I've longed for since the day I quit. But different, because mommas weren't doing much needed grocery shopping or going to doctor's appointments sans little ones; they were in a nearby room attending a parenting class on positive discipline. One little boy spent a good chunk of the time in my lap. He was missing his momma so bad. Peyton kept trying to distract him and at first I did, too. But then I started just pulling him closer and promising him over and over again that his momma would be back for him. I'm wary of telling other people's stories, but I found out later that he's had some major disruptions in his tiny life. I knew my words had been perfect for him. I'm serious when I say I've never really had a moment like that. I just felt the Spirit moving in such a powerful way. I would have been more than content to never leave my vanilla life of suburbia in the 'sip, even for a temporary adventure. I'm so thankful God gave me someone who never could be. And I'm so proud of him when I saw the way the little boys gravitated toward him when they saw a man in the room and then stuck like glue to him while he read stories and played with animal figures. Maybe the best day yet! Peyton, thank you for forcing us into hard places, powerful cities, and forgotten neighborhoods. So glad to be living your our dream together.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Six Weeks In (A Version of "Home")

I honestly cannot believe that we are SIX weeks into this incredible journey. Sometimes it's hard and some days I'm really, really lonely. But I love it way more than I thought I would. And it feels more and more like an (albeit temporary) version of home every day. I'm shocked because I never expected to love this place like I do.

I've been chronicling our days over on the main blog, but in the next few weeks I'm going to try to do a couple of posts just about what we've been up to and the exciting things we've found. For now, here's a quick slideshow filled with some of those adventures, as well as some very ordinary moments. When I watch it I feel so blessed that we have this opportunity.

Our First Month in NYC!!! from Sarah Herrington on Vimeo.