Sunday, January 31, 2010

Celebrating Ben!

We had a party with our friends and a few family members on Saturday evening to celebrate Ben's adoption. God has blessed us with such an encouraging support system and we wanted them to write blessings for Ben's adoption story book. That picture above is Ben with Davey and Eva. Ben is 3 1/2 weeks younger than Davey and Eva, who were born a day apart at the end of October. The mommas decided we needed to have pictures taken regularly of them together. [The first one is here.]

Here are my girlfriends [including one sister-in-law] who were at the party. Below is one of my favorite moments of the night. Sarah is a [relatively] new friend to our family. We've loved getting to know her, Nathan and now Davey. Apparently, Cate enjoys her too because she requested her company for some foot tracing and coloring.


On another Ben-related note: He's slept "through the night" three consecutive times. I told you about the first one. That was six hours. Then the next night it was 7. [Just needing a pacifier to tide him over for the last couple hours of that stretch.] And last night it was 7 1/2 hours with no pacifier insertion necessary. Gradually, we're hoping to move the 11:30 p.m. feeding to an earlier time, all the while stretching out his nights.

We really got snow.

Like 6 inches. Enough that Cate was able to play in it two consecutive days. She wasn't completely sold on the idea of being cold and slightly wet [really, who could blame her?!], but she liked talking about the snow. When it was coming down Friday afternoon and evening, she would say, "I check on snow," and then look out the window.

I actually went out twice with her. If you know how I feel about being cold and wet, then you'll know that I really love my daughter. Really, honestly, though, having a child makes snow much, much more enjoyable. Greg really wanted to make a snowman ...

... He's small, but he's still standing. It wasn't the best snowman-packing snow.

This photo was taken with my iPhone when we played in the snow at the park across the street from our house earlier today. Not bad. I can't remember the last time we had enough snow that playing in it on two consecutive days was possible.

There are more pictures on Facebook, if you want to go look.

Friday, January 29, 2010

6 hours

Before Ben was born, I'd usually sleep 8-10 hours a night. It's crazy how now I'm getting excited over a six-hour stretch that doesn't involving a bottle. But he's done it several times this past week, with last night's timeline being the most preferred by Mom and Dad.

Ben slept from 12:30 to 6:30 a.m. with the only interrupting coming at 4:30 a.m., when Daddy satisfied his son with a pacifier and postponed the feeding another two hours.

This is how it went for us last night ...

6:45 p.m. -- Ate 7 oz.
7:30 to 8:40 p.m. -- Slept
8:45 -- Ate 1.5 oz.
9:30 to 11:45 p.m. -- Slept until I woke him up to eat
11:50 p.m. -- 4.5oz.
12:30 a.m. -- Down for the "night"

Yesterday I was inspired [after reading what we did to help Cate sleep through the night when she was two months old ...] to stay up late and get the six consecutive hours of sleep for my little man to be in hours that jive better with our schedule. And it worked. Much better than the 9:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. stretch we had the night before.

The other inspiration was Ben himself. He ate 35 1/2 oz. yesterday, which was more than the 25-30 oz. he had been eating in previous days. So has he gulped down bigger helpings earlier in the day, I knew we were primed for a decent night.

Here's to hoping to more sleeping stretches that gradually extend themselves. Meanwhile, I'm thankful I have a 2 1/2-year-old who sleeps 11-12 hours each night and takes at least a two-hour nap.

When people learn how obsessive I am about getting my kids to sleep through the night, they ask for tips. And, really, the best advice I can offer parents is to read "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer," which had a corny title but it packed with valuable information on developing an eating and sleeping routine that fosters independent sleepers. I can summarize the book all day long, but reading will be worth the time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ben @ 2 months

Smiling and cooing at Daddy

* Weighs 11 pounds 3.2 ounces
* Is 23 1/4 inches long
* Recently discovered his hand and likes to hold it in a fist in front of his face
* Is teething, seriously
* Smiles sometimes
* Sleeps 5-6 hours at night, usually
* Spits up less than he used to

Apparently he had things to say to his sister, too.

I'm loving this outfit from his aunt Christine. The pants that came
with it are still a little big, but they have a tail on the butt
and that horse wraps around to the back of the shirt. So cute.

On a completely weird note, Ben's weight and length are exactly the same as what Cate's were at her two-month appointment. Strange.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Informally formally, it's final.

This last official step of the adoption process came sooner than we expected, which was a nice surprise. Our adoption hearing was in front of the same judge who finalized Cate's adoption when she was four months old. Like I described it 2 1/2 years ago, the hearing was just an informal formality.

I also was reminded that there's nothing like a toddler to keep family pictures interesting ...

I do like this picture of Ben and I waiting for the hearing ...

We've been happy to have you for the past two months, Ben, and we're looking forward to watching you grow and be part of our family.

Worth Repeating Wednesday

I definitely gained new perspective on one of my favorite Scriptures while reading this passage from "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan ...

... “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). You’ll notice that it doesn’t end with “... unless you’re doing something extremely important.” No, it’s a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, “Do not be anxious about anything” (v. 6).

That came as a pretty staggering realization. But what I realized next was even more staggering

When I am consumed by my problems -- stressed out about my life, my family, and my job -- I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a “right” to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities. ...

Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it’s okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we’ve been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won’t be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God’s strength, our problems are small, indeed.

So I read those verses again.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 4:4-7

Then I think about it again. And I feel my shoulders relax and my heart rejoice because, really, I can and SHOULD loosen my grip on life.

Monday, January 25, 2010

... gathered around the table

It's finally actually on my wall, and I love it. Jaclyn gave it to me for Christmas and it's a perfect saying for us because when people come to our house, we often gather in the kitchen area.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A busy, busy week ...

... of course, I should have thought about that when I scheduled all these appointments. Just so happens that Ben's two-month shots and check-up appointments fall the same time as my three-month diabetes check-up with my doctor. Of course, I have to get blood work done a few days before my appointment. So that's two visits. And our insurance doesn't fully cover Ben's immunizations, so it's more economical to go to the health department, dividing up his two-month appointments. Good thing my friend Courtney and I made some freezer meals last week. That helps with the meal planning. Now, if I just remember to thaw out everything at the appropriate times.

The highlight, obviously, is Wednesday morning when we have our final adoption hearing!

Friday, January 22, 2010

similiarly swinging

Ben has been noticing the mirror and birds above him when he swings. He gazes for a few minutes before he decides to go to sleep. [He's five days shy of two months in this picture from earlier this week.] I forgot how much newborns sleep their first few months. On another sleepy note, I'm happy with the six-hour stretch last night [10:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.] and that he followed the feeding up with a few more hours [5:30 to 8:45 a.m.].

As soon as I snapped this picture, it reminded me of a picture of Cate. Here she is when she was two months and two days ...

Monday, January 18, 2010

These Days

Having two kids younger than 3 can be draining. Pretty much someone always needs something. A cup of juice. A bottle. A diaper change. A trip to the bathroom. A snack. A nap. People told me having two was much, much different than one. And I thought I had prepared. I organized my grocery list better. I planned when I would run errands around baby feeding times and clustered stops together so I could be more efficient.

But I didn't really know to prepare for the emotional drain.

I'm not complaining. I wouldn't trade my life for anything. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else with anyone else.

Every day is not easy though.

Yet every day I am reminded that I'm making a long-term investment in two people. These little people are going to become teen-agers and then adults. And I (along with my husband) will have been responsible for shaping their childhood. We're responsible for making decisions that will affect their futures, both where they are and who they are.

No wonder it's not easy.

And every day when I'm filling sippy cups and bottles I get to hear a sweet 2 1/2-year-old voice initiate "I love you" and give me unsolicited kisses. She even thanks me for washing her clothes and her favorite blanket.

We've taught her to say "please" and "thank you," to hold my hand when we're walking through a parking lot and to be gentle with her brother. And lately I've been noticing all the things I taught her that I didn't realize I was teaching her: She likes cabinet doors to be closed. She puts things back where they belong. And she likes to be covered with a blanket while she sits on the couch to watch a movie.

Last night I was sitting on the couch feeding Ben (who is 8 weeks old today!) when Cate sat close to me feeding her baby. I asked Greg to take a picture because I wanted to remember the moment. I want to remember because I know they aren't going to be this little very long. I want to remember because I realize the importance of parenting when my daughter wants to be like me. I want to remember these days.

Even though they aren't always easy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Story Called Life

We all have roles to play in a story.







These are the roles in which I'm regularly cast in my story. I remember -- back in the days when my friends I listened to Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots and Spin Doctors -- realizing I didn't have to be a teacher like my dad, my mom and my aunt. I began embracing the journalism world, first by writing for then editing my high school newspaper then on into college and eventually the real world. I figured that's where I'd say.

Before a little girl gave me new perspective. We are shaped by the other people in our story, regardless of how small in size they are.

My story doesn't have be predictable and, I've learned, probably isn't going to turn out just as I expect. But that's part of the thrill of turning the pages. Reading "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life" by Donald Miller has me thinking about life, and how we write our stories moment by moment.

I'm glad I'm not the same person as I was when I listened to "Interestate Love Song." The soundtrack to my life would certainly be different now. I'm certainly different now. At least in some ways. And that's how it is supposed to be.

If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation.

It used to frustrate me I didn't know what was coming next, but I've learned that getting to What's Next is life. We meet people along the way. And then those people help shape us. We might even get lost along the way. And that's OK too because in finding our way back might mean we discover something beautiful. We hear songs, read books, laugh, cry and see the sights as we travel to What's Next.

And maybe What's Next even changes as we work our way there. I learned when I traded my notebook and pen for a baby wipes and sippy cups that something good can become something great if we just take a chance. Sometimes change is scary, but without it our story would be boring, and we might just miss something Someone is trying to show us.

I believe there is a writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness.

Thankfully, we aren't alone in our stories. The main characters in my story right now are my husband, my daughter and my son. We have friends and family who often show up in the pages of our lives. And through it all, we have roles to embrace. I have realized lately that being a mom means I teach my children about their roles in our family, in our community and in the world. They're going to learn regardless of whether I intentionally teach them.

In the absence of a family story, she’d chosen a story in which there was risk and adventure, rebellion and independence. “She’s not a bad girl,” my friend said. “She was just choosing the best story available to her.” I pictured his daughter flipping through the channels of life, as it were, stopping on a story that seemed most compelling at the moment, a story that offered her something, anything, because people can’t live without a story, without a role to play.

It's eye-opening to watch Cate play her role. She's a big sister now. (See, her brother's role is clearly defined on his shirt pictured above.) And she takes that seriously, not wanting Ben to cry and often checking on him. Her independence has exploded as her script often includes "I try myself" before a multitude of tasks. She knows which way we turn to go to Luke's house or Kroger or church or Daddy's office.

Having a toddler and newborn who constantly need me can be tiring. But I'm not in this story alone. I really do love my story. I've always loved it, but there are peaks and valleys, and right now I feel myself rising to a peak surrounded by exactly the right people. I can't see very far on the other side, but I'm certain it will be beautiful and worth turning the page to get to.

Maybe it will even look like this ...

Mitre Peak at Milford Sound in New Zealand

I wondered at all this exposition God had created, as though it were an invitation to an epic so grand it might match the scenery. The mountains themselves call us into greater stories, I thought.

[All quotes from "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life" by Donald Miller.]

Milk Chocolate

The equivalent of a glass and a half of pure full cream milk in every 200g of Cadbury Dairy Milk Milk Chocolate.

Does this mean this chocolate was good for me? (Yes, WAS. It's gone. Although I enjoyed, I especially loved the one with caramel. Like a Cadbury's version of a Caramello. Thanks, Cassie!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Worth Repeating Wednesday

We get robbed of the glory of life because we aren’t capable of remembering how we got here. When you are born, you wake slowly to everything. Your brain doesn’t stop growing until you turn twenty-six, so from birth to twenty-six, God is slowly turning the lights on, and you’re groggy and pointing at things saying circle and blue and car and then sex and job and health care. The experience is so slow you could easily come to believe life isn’t that big of a deal, that life isn’t staggering. What I’m saying is I think life is staggering and we’re just used to it.

--Donald Miller
in "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life"

This also happens to be, for the record, the first book I'm reading on my Kindle, which was a Christmas surprise from my mom that I'm loving. One of my favorite features is the way you can "highlight" passages, which are then saved in a document that can be transferred to the computer. Seriously, what better way to keep a list of quotes? It even notes the book, author, location and time of the quote. Similarly, you can type notes about what you're reading.

Really, just cutting and pasting a quote to share with you. Because it's that easy, here is another one ...

The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is “Do not fear.” It’s in there over two hundred times. That means a couple of things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn’t let fear boss us around. Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated. And I guess it serves that purpose. But fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Around here ...

... Ben is making friends with a stuffed lady bug. [And this is one of my favorite pictures of him in his seven weeks of life. I've been trying to learn about some of the manual settings on my camera. Hopefully I can learn more soon.]

... the snow from last week is long gone. Yes, this is as close as I got to it and, yes, this is as much as we had.

... we've learned sometimes Ben needs a little prompting to wake up and finish his bottle. Nakedness seems to work.

... we might have a second thumb-sucker on our hands. [No pun intended.]

Friday, January 8, 2010

Worth Repeating ... some more ...

I quoted "Same Kind of Different as Me" on Wednesday, but I have more quotes from this book that I'd recommend, especially to someone open to a reminder that while our lives may look different from one another on the outside, we all are people wandering through life, wondering about God's plan for this and that. This true story by Ron Hall and Denver Moore shows God has a plan and He uses the people in our lives to get us to where he wants us.

"I heard that when white folks go fishin they do somethin called 'catch and release.'"

Catch and release? I nodded solemnly, suddenly nervous and curious at the same time.

"That really bothers me," Denver went on. "I just can't figure it out. 'Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that'll look. Then we eat what we catch ... in other words, we use it to sustain us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water."

... "So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend."

The world seemed to halt in midstride and fall silent around us like one of those freeze-frame scenes on TV. I could hear my heart pounding and imagined Denver could see it popping my breast pocket up and down. I returned Denver's gaze with what I hoped was a receptive expression and hung on.

Suddenly his eyes gentled and he spoke more softly than before: "But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one. Forever."

Aside from the story itself, I loved how these two men -- one a modern-day black slave turned homeless man and the other a rich, white art dealer -- told their story together. They both had much to teach each other.

And I told Him I didn't like it. That's the good thing 'bout God. Since He can see right through your heart anyway, you can go on and tell Him what you really think."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You Are My Sunshine II

I love this. I love how Cate wants a kiss in the middle of the song. She likes the song to be sung every day at naptime and every night at bedtime.

And this isn't the first time I've posted a video of Cate helping her daddy play her favorite song on his guitar.

Cornbread for Grandmom

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Worth Repeating Wednesday

All I can do is tell the jagged tale of my own spiritual journey and declare that my life has been the better for having followed Christ.

--From "Same Kind of Different as Me"
by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I like sports.

As I was feeding my 6-week-old last night at his fourth Murray State game, I was thinking about why I like sports. My own athletic ability, which has been limited to basketball and cheerleading in elementary school, one not-so-fun track season in middle school and four years of being a mediocre swimmer as a high schooler, certainly didn't make me a fan.

My dad played collegiate football. My brother chose baseball and basketball from all the possibilities. My sister played soccer in college after choosing it over basketball in high school and met her husband, who played basketball at the same college, in an athletes study hall. My husband went to a small high school so he played all sorts of sports there and he continues to play pick-up basketball games on Sunday nights. Maybe loving these people made me a fan.

I like the atmosphere of sporting events. Well, don't take me to a NASCAR race and hockey would only ocassionally be entertainment. But give me Major League Baseball game, college basketball, college football or even professional football game any day. I'll watch those live or on TV. I like to watch the Olympics, mostly summer, on TV.

I like watching the athletes compete with intensity and then read and hear stories about them -- mostly the good guys -- before and after games. I like the enthusiasm, sounds and foods that go with sporting events. [Apparently the food part has rubbed off my 2 1/2-year-old daughter because she associates popcorn with both Murray State football and basketball games.] We're thankful for Murray State's games especially because it's a fun way to be out in the community and support our alma mater.

And, maybe most importantly, watching football, baseball and basketball is something my family does together that promotes qualities of life -- enthusiasm, hard work, teamwork, competition, winning and losing, camaraderie -- I hope my kids learn and apply to everyday life. And this is just from watching the games. If they choose to play sports, that will be good with us. But no pressure from this sports fan.

Besides, you'll never know where sweet moments between a big sister and her brother will happen ...

See, it's not always a bad thing to be on the sideline.

waking and sleeping

Ben was wide-eyed at the Murray State game last night.

Honestly, Ben has slept good from the beginning, meaning he'd eat every three hours (or so ...) and then go back to sleep. And, thankfully, I have a husband who takes turns with late-night or early-morning feedings.

Even so, sleeping through the night is my goal for my son. And the sooner the better.

My point of reference is 10 weeks. I know it's possible then because that's when Cate started sleeping "through the night." She was 10 weeks to the day when she slept 10:30 p.m. to 5:50 a.m. I remember she would occasionally not make it through the night, but by 10 weeks she didn't need a middle-of-the-night bottle so we would just urge her back to sleep if she woke up before "morning."

Well, Ben did it. On the day he was six weeks old. He slept from 10:15 p.m. to 5:40 a.m. Here's to hoping to more nights of that, and then gradually longer nights.

Monday, January 4, 2010

sneaky, sneaky ...

All 28 Taylors were gathered in a circle to pray on Christmas Day, when Aunt Jennifer noticed Cate tugging on her pants and asked, "Does Cate need to use the bathroom?" I saw Cate pulling on her pockets and asked what she had in there.

"Chocolate." No hesitation. No shame.

Cate had found Nana's bowl of Hershey kisses. And stored some up for later.

What I didn't know until cousin Alyssa posted some pictures on Facebook was that Cate sampled a few kisses before she collected them in her pockets. Stephen (Alyssa's husband) caught her ...

[Admittedly, I wasn't surprised Cate had sampled some chocolate. I just didn't have proof!]

The start to 2010 ...

... began with our annual Game Night, which included hilariously competitive installments of The Game of Things and the Name Game.


... included another holiday celebration. We gathered with the Taylors as we have in past years for New Year's Day lunch, football watching and game playing. The Name Game was again the friendly competition of choice.

Cate selected Zori has her buddy for the day and "helped" while we played.

Didn't Ben look handsome to celebrate 2010? Thanks to my cousin Mary for the adorable outfit!

... continued on a high note for Wildcat fans with a win over Louisville. Our family of four was dressed in our Kentucky blue.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!

Inspired by Ali Edwards, I chose a word for 2010. Like a resolution.


As in I want to BE PRESENT in the moment. With my husband. With my kids. In my community of friends and family. I want to notice the small things because I don't want to forget them as life races around me. I want to enjoy my home and the moments that happen here. I don't to wish away the PRESENT in anticipation of what's next. [Although I won't be sad when Ben is sleeping through the night ...]

Can you believe it is 2010? I clearly remembering ringing in 2000 with college friends. I wasn't really worried about the world ending, but I suppose some people really were. It's been an entire decade since them. Wow. And to think about all the life changes since 2000 ... I graduated from college, moved from Murray to Louisville, moved to Lexington, got married, moved back to Murray, started working at Ledger & Times, was diagnosed with diabetes, supported my husband as he started his own company after being in law practice with someone else, adopted a daughter, quit my job, moved across town and brought our son home. And that doesn't even include our many trips, including, but not limited to, Hilton Head (twice), Greece and Italy, a road trip through New York State and New Zealand. Those are the headlines. The friendships made, board games played, dinners shared and babies held are equally important.

Much can happen in a year. And a decade. Cherish the moments. Be in the moment. Be PRESENT.

A year ago, I started a project called Thursday's Thought. And, you know, looking back, I kept up with it pretty well. I'm pleased with my project and hope you enjoyed seeing people, places and things that caught my eye and my mind.