Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

And then the lady bug tried to fly away ...

Here's more of her trick-or-treating at Trail of Treats last night. For those of you who don't live in Murray: Trail of Treats has different organizations + people set up around a trail at the park so the kids to trick-or-treat.

It was Cate's first time, and she eventually got the hang out of it. Although instead of saying "trick or treat," she just said "please" and "thank you." Works for me.

There she is (above) checking out the candy someone tossed in her pumpkin. Cate can thank Grandmom for that pumpkin, which came in the mail the other day filled with 100 gummy candies from Sam's Club. It worked well for trick-or-treating.

Doesn't Malaika make a cute bumble bee? And, no, Kayla and I didn't plan to coordinate our girls' costumes. They looked cute together though!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Family Photos

Our friend Josh Sharp took these great family photos of us at the park last weekend. I'm happy with how they turned out. Plus I have some new cute photos of my girl. My favorites are here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where's Cate? ... Sleeping!

This is how Cate fell asleep in the car this morning ...

Sometimes she plays Peek-A-Boo under her blanket in the car, so at first I thought that is what she was doing. But I said "Where's Cate?" and the usual prompt to get her to uncover herself wasn't working. Because she was sleeping. Soundly. Soon after her sweet sleeping-breathing sounds were in full force.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Celebrating ... in a ball pit!

This is Malaika. She turned 2 yesterday, and Cate enjoyed the party. As you can see, Malaika wasn't so sure about having the crowd sing "Happy Birthday."

First there was pizza. Then a ball pit. Oh, and don't forget the party hat worn throughout.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zoo Trip

Cate + I took a road trip to visit Grandmom last Tuesday. I guess I never got around to blogging about it ... probably because there's a story about my pictures. First, I forgot my camera. I know, weird, huh? I hardly leave the room without my camera, and I was well on my way to Louisville before I realized I forgot it. Truthfully, I realized when Cate was doing something funny (hiding her entire self under her security blanket) when I realized I couldn't take a picture. Anyway, I just used Mom's camera when we were at the Louisville Zoo.

I had taken Cate to the St. Louis Zoo, but we hadn't been to the Louisville Zoo yet. It had been YEARS since I'd been there, so it was fun for me too.

So, anyway, later that evening, I took Mom's camera card to Rite-Aid so I could take a CD of pictures from our fun day back to Murray with me the next day. All went well, and I even printed a few.

I got back home and later decided to transfer the pictures from the CD to my computer so I could upload them to my blog + Facebook. When I browsed through the pictures I realized I didn't recognize anyone + they were from a construction site, not the zoo.

Apparently Rite-Aid gave me the wrong CD. Mom ended up getting me the right CD back and I got it in the mail yesterday. (Poor other family doesn't have their pictures, but I guess that's not my problem to solve.)

So, all of that to say ... Here is Cate at the Louisville Zoo last Tuesday:

I guess she was thinking about calling the turtles. Funny story about that plastic phone: When we walked into Mom's house before going to zoo Tuesday, Cate went straight for the toy box. She pulled some toys out, but the first one she paid any attention to was that phone (which, for the sake of details, had a picture of Hannah Montana on it ...). It's funny to me that she finds a toy phone (or something somewhat similar to a toy phone ... like a remote or anything else with buttons) regardless of where we are.

Cate was into the monkeys (including gorillas ...) .

But not so much the statue animals ...

Yes, that's Grandmom hiding behind the one on the left. She's trying to woo Cate so I can take a picture. It only sort of worked!

Earlier we tried the statue elephant ...

She's looking to Grandmom and non-verbally saying, "Can't you help me off of this thing?" Then she said to me, "Come on, Mom, seriously, I'm not wanting to be up here." That's her hand motion (below) for "Pick me up."

OK, one more statute animal ...

We went to the petting zoo, which I didn't realize was even part of the zoo. The rules included: Do not touch the animals' heads or horns. Cate was tempted by the horns, but we managed to keep her from touching them.

Funny story: The day before the zoo, Greg + I were going through animals Cate might see, and then she would make the appropriate noise. Greg said, "Sheep." And Cate said "Baaa." Then I said, "I don't think so. What kind of zoos have sheep?" Well, Greg was right, Cate saw a sheep at the zoo's petting zoo.

That's Cate waving to Grandmom. In addition to many waves, there were many "nays" because she was riding a horse.

Like I said, Cate enjoyed the monkeys, so Grandmom bought her a monkey. Conveniently, its hands can be velcroed around her neck, like a necklace. She likes that.

Fall Party

Yesterday our church had its Fall Party. It was complete with great weather, chili, a hayride and leaves for the kids to play in.

I added more photos to an album on Facebook.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More scrapping ...

I told you I was working on some more pages ...

The first two are 12-by-12 layouts and the page about Pete is an 8 1/2-by-11 page. I'm liking the variety.

Fish face!

Cate's favorite things these days include ...

... drinking out of straws. (See picture below.)
... making animal sounds, and, as in the case above, faces.
... giving fish kisses on the lips.
... dancing, of course.
... saying "night-night" when it's time for her to go to sleep or she sees someone else (like Norah on our walk this morning) sleeping.
... turning on/off the light switches when we come in/leave rooms.
... walking into stores (and other places) by herself.
... sitting in chairs. And she likes to say "chair" whenever she sees a couch, chair or bench.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

falling for family

This is an 8 1/2-by-11 page I finished earlier this week. I hope to finish another one I started this afternoon.

For the first time ... Pigtails!

I dedicate this post to Jodi. And now I ask you, readers of mine, do you consider these pigtails "necessary"? I'm anxious to hear what Jodi (and the rest of you) have to say.

Yes, yes, she's cheesing. It's her new reaction whenever she sees the camera.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

a process, indeed

I think about Cate's story, which Greg + I whole-heartedly embrace as our story, every day. Different days I think about different aspects. And generally I always end up thanking God for her, her birth mother and the way God was weaving all these details together.

But there were a lot of lessons learned in the adoption process, from the moment we began pursuing this way to have a family to the first nights we spent together in a hotel room off Exit 2 in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Really, there are lessons every day, but I've especially been thinking about the ones God taught me through the adoption.

I remember one time I told Greg me he didn't understand what I meant when I said I had a "good conversation" with someone. "Good conversation" probably doesn't do the exchange justice most of the time. But, sticking with the vague description, I had a good conversation with an old friend Monday evening. It was encouraging + real. He and his wife are considering adoption + he wanted to hear our story.

Yeah, you know me, no hesitation to share Cate's story. Our story.

And it got me thinking.

Cate is only 1 1/2 years old. But I enjoyed reminiscing about the details of the process I consider a blessing. The outcome is obvious, but there's a reason people refer to "adoption processes." It's a process. And for me, it was a journey of faith.

We're hoping to have a second process underway ... at some point. We're waiting to be led to a birth mother.

But until then, I thought I'd share a few of the lessons learned along the way.

I don't memorize much. But some of Paul's words to the Philippians have remained pretty clear in my heart: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

I thought I got it. But it wasn't until I traded our desire to "get pregnant" to pursue adoption that I really got it. I experienced that peace, the one that transcends all understanding. I felt free. I wasn't questioning why my body didn't make enough of the right horomones. I wasn't wondering if this was the month. I felt at peace at a time people were surprised I was so OK with the realization that I probably wouldn't have a biological child.

I've never been pregnant, obviously, but I don't feel like we settled for something less. I believe with all my heart and mind that our daughter is our daughter and she's the daughter God meant for us to take care of. That may be a simplistic view, but to me that's God's peace in my heart because I don't have any doubts, hesitations or worries when it comes to raising this beautiful girl.

If you know me, you know I'm naturally a worrier of details and plans. This peace, that transcends all understanding, is much more comfortable. Even if it did take me awhile to get here.

Greg + I (and our friends) prayed for a long time to "get pregnant." I cried about it. I got mad about it. I was frustrated about it. Looking back, I see that God heard our prayers. Even if we weren't praying the "right" words. He heard the meaning of our prayers. He heard me cry out because I wanted to be a mother. He heard Greg's longing to have a baby in our house. He knew we wanted a family.

So while I was wondering when + how we'd get pregnant, God was orchestrating an even better plan. He answered my prayers by leading us to adoption, then to Cate's birth mother, and finally to Cate. And I learned like never before that God does care about the desires of heart. And he does hear us. Just don't be surprised when he works because it may not be like you expect.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

kid moments

Below are some of things happenings among the kids while we played Settlers of Catan this afternoon/evening at the Tompkinses' house.

Norah + Cate

Yes, Cate was brushing Norah's hair with a basting brush.

Cate + Luke

Cate wanted to sit in the chair. (She's very into chairs right now.) But when Luke heard her say that, he decided he wanted to sit in the chair. His words: "Sit in chair too." So he beat her to it, so Cate just sat on his lap. He liked it, as you can tell. Then they both wanted to cheese for the camera.

Riding the Cow

I told you she liked riding the pony yesterday. So much so that not only did she cry when it was over, but she also decided to ride the stuffed Texas Longhorn on the couch this morning.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall on the Farm

We had a good time at Murray State's Fall on the Farm. The pony rides were the biggest hit for Cate, evident by her crying when the ride was over. There was also a corn maze, barn slide, corn pit (like a sand box of corn ...) and petting zoo.

You can see all my pictures here.


Luke has some competition. This is Pierson, more often called Pete. He's a year old than Cate.

Friday, October 17, 2008

7 Things ...

Bethany tagged me ... I'm supposed to share seven random facts about myself and then tag seven people to do the same.

1. I don't like mushrooms.

2. I have been to Greece + Italy (only Rome).

3. My sister + her husband are moving to New Zealand. (I realize that's not about me ... but it's cool.)

4. I started a list yesterday of Christmas present ideas for family + friends.

5. I record "The Hills" and watch it later, usually while I fold laundry, usually on Tuesday mornings. (Yes, this is more like a confession than anything else.)

6. I'm a volunteer on a political campaign for the first time in my life.

7. My grandpa (mom's dad) is half Scottish + half Irish. That makes me an eighth Scottish + an eighth Irish, right?

I tag ... Holly, Jaclyn, Jodi, Katy, Ryan, Cate and Catherine.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tortellini-Corn Chowder

My house was chilly this morning, so I decided it was a good day for soup. A friend came over for lunch, so we ate this soup + corn bread. Yum.

1 tablespoon oil or butter
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
3 cups water
1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
2 medium unpeeled potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup cooked bacon
1 can (15 ounces) cream-style corn
1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn with red + green peppers, undrained
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Heat oil in 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in water; heat to boiling. Stir in tortellini + potatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover + simmer 13-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes. (Although, I usually simmer a little longer ...)

Makes 8 servings.

SERVING SIZE = 1/8 recipe
EACH SERVING = 270 calories; 35g carbohydrate (9g fiber); 15g protein; 9g fat
EXCHANGES = 2 starch; 1 lean meat; 1 vegetable; 1 fat
From Betty Crocker's Diabetes Cookbook

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All dressed up!

This was Cate yesterday morning. She decided she needed to wear her shoes + googles with her pajamas ...

But I wanted to assure that I changed her clothes before we ran some errands + met Greg for lunch ...

Oh, the necklaces (which she calls "nicks" were her choice!

So Big

People often say, "She's getting so big." Yeah, I think so too. It's not so much that her hair curls up in the back as it's getting longer. Or that all her 12-month pants suddenly made her look like she was waiting for a flood.

To me, I notice her getting so big when she remembers things, like new words + the places we go. And I realize she's growing up when she can understand things I say better than she could even a few days ago. Oh, and the ways she mimics us (well, really anyone ...) amazes me.

Some examples ...

Almost every afternoon, we walk down the driveway to get the newspaper. I'll say, "Cate, let's go get the paper." She repeats, "Paper." Then heads to the side door that we really only ever use to get the paper or the mail. We walk down the driveway, holding hands. Then she bends down + picks up the paper when we get to the end. Then she carries the paper as we walk back. She still needs my hand to go up the few stairs. Then I open the door, and she says "Push" as she closes the door.

About an hour after dinner last night, Cate realized she could reach my insulin pen that was sitting on the kitchen table. When I noticed she had it (cap fully in tact), she was lifting up her shirt + poking her belly with the pen. Just like I do before every meal. I never have noticed her watching me do this, and she's never acted like she's noticed. But obviously she has.

When we pull into Greg's office driveway, she always says, "Da-ee."

At the Post Office, she walks over the automated mail machine and says, "Watch." (INTERPRETATION: "Watch" means "I'd like to do something but I can't quite do it myself. Can you help?" In this case, push the buttons.) So she helps me push the buttons to mail whatever box or envelope I have for someone who doesn't live here, and then she hears the sound of the label/stamp printing. And her attention goes to the slot that dispenses the label/stamp. She gets it + hands it to me. I remove the label/stamp I need, then give her the trash back. She says, "Trash" + puts it in the trash can that is conveniently located right next the machine. Then she usually wants to do it all over, but I usually don't have that much to mail!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jump, jump ... cheese!

I heard Cate jumping on her bed when she woke up from her nap yesterday, so I took the video camera with me. At first she just kept jumping, but then she realized I was holding a camera ... so she appropriately said "Cheese!"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

R-A-C-E-R-S ...

There was much to cheer* about this weekend. We enjoyed visiting with some college friends who were back in town for Murray State's Homecoming. You can see the rest of my pictures here.

* Cate specifically is attempting to participate in the "R-A-C-E-R-S, Racers, Racers, Go Racers!" cheer with her Aunt Angela.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Adoption: Putting It Out There

Yesterday I took the first step toward adopting a baby. Well, maybe I should say, I took the first step outside my own mind. I mailed a book I made about our family to a friend who is going to give it to her midwife who has referred pregnant women who want to give their baby up for adoption to people like us.

Interestingly enough, it was right at two years ago that Greg + I decided to adopt. We decided that channeling our energy, emotions and money into adoption was better than wondering if something like in-vetro fertilization would work. We haven't looked back. God has showed us again + again how his plan is so much better than ours. He has showed us that he has more than one way to make families.

We're thankful for our family. Cate -- who was born about seven months after we decided to adopt, less than five months after we first learned about her specific situation, and 15 weeks after we first met her birth mother -- has changed us in so many amazing ways. I have no doubt she was created to be in our family.

So we've been praying about our next baby. We have no timeline because we learned long ago how pointless that is. But we're waiting on God. Mailing the book to a friend of a friend was my way of getting started. It was my way of putting out there that we're ready to adopt again.

Last time my sister + brother-in-law told us about a baby. Just last night I was telling Cassie that I still owed them. We had told doctors + attorneys that we wanted to adopt, thinking they'd put us in touch with someone. Turns out the referral came at my family Christmas. Really, you can never predict how God will work.

We're at that putting-it-out-there stage now. So that's what I'm doing it: Putting it out there. We're hoping to adopt again, and we want people to know it just in case they know of a baby who needs a home. I have no doubt that God will be faithful to lead us to the baby he is creating for our family.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

scrappin' September

This is what I've been doing this afternoon ...

Above: That's a two-page layout of my favorite part of Branson.

Above: Another single 12-by-12 layout.

Above: I decided to make an 8 1/2-by-11 layout for this because I just had the two pictures and they pretty much told the story.

I think now that I'm into September, I'm going to take a break from my own stuff and work on a project ...

Monday, October 6, 2008

More pumpkins

I told you I was obsessed with getting pictures of Cate with pumpkins, which epitomize fall to me. So here's another try. Cate wasn't so sure about sitting on the straw with her bare legs, so her great-uncle Rick sat down with her. I'm not sure what's she's showing him, but I know she was ignoring my requests to "cheese." These pumpkins were at Patti's, a delicious restaurant that sits between Lake Barkley + Kentucky Lake in Grand Rivers. We met my mom and Rick there yesterday and then showed him around the lakes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Welcome, October!

I'm so glad it's October! I love so many things about October ...

... leaving changing colors.
... roasting marshmallows for s'mores.
... bonfires.
... T-shirts during the day; sweaters in the evening.
... watching football.
... transitioning from summer to fall.
... anticipating the coming holiday season.
... sleeping with enough windows open that it's chilly outside the covers.
... new TV shows.

We kicked off October with Hazel Day, an annual community celebration in this little town south of Murray, on the Tennessee border, but still in Kentucky. It's your typical small-town festival: a parade with lots of tractors, fried food (including Twinkees and pies), barbecue, random booths, a little political speaking and lots of socializing.

Not counting the Christmas parade that I keep trying to forget, this was Cate's first parade. She also enjoyed her first sucker.

Even after the sucker was gone -- not because she actually finished it all, but because she stuck it in her hair and I wasn't about to pick off every strand of hair that was then stuck to the sucker -- she was into the parade!

And she liked the socializing and meandering part too ...

We also celebrated October with a bonfire with some friends. There are more pictures of our weekend here.