Friday, July 30, 2010

safer family biking

In case you were wondering, we all have helmets now. I've loved being able to go on family bike rides around the park across the street and our residential area with plenty of sidewalks. While pedaling, I often reminisce of my childhood, when countless days were spent riding my pink and black 10-speed through Mockingbird Valley.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ben @ 8 months

Pardon the delay. Ben was officially 8 months old on Friday, but I was on the road enjoying some much-needed time with my dear friend before playing more with my family. Hey, I'm only six days late.

Just as Ben was turning 8 months old last week, he decided he was going to ...

* crawl.
* clap.
* say "momma" while crawling after me, like he knew what he was saying.

And, more generally, Ben ...

* is working another tooth. Maybe teeth.
* can go from sitting to crawling to rolling with little effort.
* laughs often, especially at his sister, who still calls him her "new brother."
* can put Cheerios in his own mouth.

That picture up there is totally is personality, which is why I posted it despite the brightness of his forehead and cheeks. He's a happy boy who loves that he can move on his own. He smiles often, unless, of course, he's hungry, and then he's mad. And he loves to hear himself babble, make clicking sounds with his tongue and scream. Just for the record, he has both a playful, mostly pleasantly scream and a mad scream.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


In addition to Holiday World, I went to HullabaLOU on Sunday night. HullabaLOU, in case you're wondering, is a new music festival that was successful enough over its three days that Louisville plans to host it again. And, you know me and words, I have to say ... I love the name. Hullabaloo is a great word for the atmosphere, and then to localize it is brilliant.

Anyway ...

I was mostly excited about Zac Brown Band, who played between the new-to-me Avett Brothers and Dave Matthews Band, who always takes me back to 1997-2000, even with his "new" songs. Turns out, Zac Brown Band ended up being my favorite. I wished they had played longer than the 1 1/2 hours.

That's my brother and me. Yes, it was hot out, even in the shade of Churchill Down's grandstand.

And speaking of hot, Zac Brown wore his trademark wool hat. Not exactly appropriate for the heat and humidity. But, hey, at least he's consistent.

The almost 2 1/2 hours from Dave Matthews and his band was typical DMB, which by no means disappointed me. But I like "classic" DMB songs because those are the ones I can sing along with as a I reminisce. Thankfully, Dave threw in some classics for me. And I enjoyed his "new" stuff live.

In fact, both Zac Brown and Dave Matthews [and their talented bands!] are fabulous live. So fabulous that when Dave invited Zac onto stage, I was thrilled. "All Along the Watchtower," a Jimi Hendrix song, isn't my favorite, but listening to those two sing and all those musicians play was quite a treat. Zac Brown even donned a second wool hat that appeared thicker. I think it had cooled off like 5 degrees, maybe to the high 80s, so maybe he was chilly.

Anyway, a friend wanted me to tell her what songs Dave Matthews Band played, so I thought I'd share the list with you ...

Funny the Way It Is
You Might Die Trying
Stay or Leave
Don't Drink the Water
Why I Am
Spaceman [I think ...]
#41 [Followed by a 20-minute jam ...]
Lie on our Graves [with much jamming before finishing the song]
You & Me
Shake Me Like a Monkey

Funny How Time Slips Away
All Along the Watchtower

Ants Marching

Worth Repeating Wednesday

I can't get enough of this song ...

Dancing in the Minefields
Well I was 19 you were 21
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much to young
But we did it anyway
We got the rings for 40 each from a pawnshop down the road
We said our vows and took the leap now 15 years ago

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise was for

Well ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise was for
That’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith
to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

Cause we bear the light of the son of man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear
Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of this chaos baby
I can dance with you

So lets go dancing in the minefields
Lets go sailing in the storms
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And kicking down the doors
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And sailing in the storms
Oh this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise if for
That’s what the promise is for

In fact, if you're looking for new music, Andrew Peterson's entire "Counting Stars" album is worth having.

hot, hot Holiday World

I had been itchin' to go to Holiday World. So we incorporated Holiday World into our Louisville road trip this past weekend. The four of us plus my mom and niece went with us. [Reason #46 I am thankful for our mini van: We can just take one vehicle on a day trip like this.]

In case you don't live anywhere near me or the South in general, you should know ... It's been hot. Like really hot. Like sweat constantly running down the spine of your back into your shorts hot. Like sweat running from your forehead into your eye hot. Yeah, hot. And, really, I should say humid. So, anyway ...

It was hot. But we had a great day.

The girls -- meaning my 3-year-old Cate and my 6-year-old niece Milla -- rode some kiddie rides. Everyone but Ben and me rode the carousel. [More on that to come ...] Greg took the girls on the train through fairy tale land and then played with them in the sprinkler area. Then all us girls -- meaning my mom, Cate, Milla and I -- rode the Tilt-a-Whirl-type ride.

Our only real mistake came when we decided to eat lunch at the water park. We had hoped for indoor dining for a break from the heat and we thought we found one in the Thanksgiving section of the park. Mom and I saw turkey and ham on the map description, and we thought about sandwiches. Turns out, Holiday World serves Thanksgiving dinner every day ... outside under umbrellas. Um, no. A tad heavy on a day that was as hot as ... well, as hot as I described earlier.

Because we were so close to the water park, we went on in ... and joined everyone else who was eating a late lunch in their bathing suits. We ended up with a table, thankfully. Greg got in line for food. I got in line for drinks [FREE DRINKS!!!]. And Grandmom kept her granddaughters from completely breaking down and tried to distract Ben, who wanted a bottle.

All ended well. We ate. And then we found rest in a wave pool [I say "a" because Holiday World ... well, rather, Splashin' Safari ... has two. Yep. This water park is equipped, I tell you.] and the kid-friendly playground.

So back to Ben and I not being on the carousel, or the fairy tale land train, for that matter. The women [Note: By "women" I mean females that are old enough to be my mother who should be able to apply common sense to rules. Keep that in mind.] who were working as attendants at both these low-key, seemingly baby-friendly rides told me separately as I was getting ready to step onto the carousel/into the train that Ben couldn't ride because he wasn't wearing shoes.


Yes, he's 8 months old.

No, he doesn't stand up, much less walk, on his own.

Yes, he would be sitting in my lap.

And, yes, I'm wearing shoes.

Why? At least that's what I asked ...

Because the rules say everyone must wear shorts/pants, shirt and shoes. Um, yeah, OK. One -- at least this momma -- would think that some common sense would do. Apparently the rules need an asterisk.

* The shoes only apply to people who can walk and whose feet will be touching the amusement ride.

Even without train or carousel rides, Ben was a trooper ...

ah, friendship ...

Part of motherhood I never thought about before I had kids was how my kids would interact with my long-time friends' kids. And I know this part is only beginning. I loved, loved, loved watching Cate play with Charley, who is 16 months younger than her. Charley's mom is Katie, who has been my friend for almost 20 years.

It's the sweetest friendship I have because it spans so many seasons of life ... We sat on her front porch, which was next door to my front porch, and wished we were older and had drivers' licenses. I drove her places before she could drive me. Then she drove me places sometimes, and I usually had to give her directions. We went to separate colleges but remained connected. We lived in the same town again, briefly. Then we lived farther apart than we had since we befriended each other in October 1990, yet we got even closer as we learned how to be adults, and more specifically, wives. Now we're sharing motherhood.

Our time together is never long enough or often enough. But we'll take what we can get. Last week that was an afternoon and evening followed by one morning together. We sat close on the couch and talked, often pausing to assist one of the three children in the room. The visit was overdue because I hadn't seen Katie since December and it has been more than nine months since we were all together, but refreshing and comfortable, as always.

Katie is getting ready to have a newborn baby boy and a 2-year-old boy on her hands, so painting Cate's nails pink was something she was delighted to do. This nail painting and drying is serious business ...

Did I mention how sweet this friendship is? And, look, it seems a new friendship is developing ...

And the winner really is .. .

So ... I thought I had a winner to the giveaway I posted about vacation. But it turns out the Rebekah I thought won isn't the Rebekah who commented and I don't have contact information for the Rebekah who commented. So I'm choosing a new winner.

Still with me?

Anyway ...

The new winner is Courtney, who said ... My favorite vacation memory is going to Florida a couple of years ago and watching the kids experience their first time on the beach and in the ocean. :) And although her comment was chosen with a random number generator, it's appropriate because she's actually in Florida now.

So, congratulations, Courtney. You'll have an e-mail with the details.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Worth Repeating Wednesday

Stop chasing perfection and let God make your way perfect, as the psalm says (Psalm 18:32). His definition of perfect will probably not look the way yours does. God cares about your heart and the heart of your children. He understands that you can never be perfect and he loves you anyway.

--Lisa TerKeurst in her book "Am I Messing Up My Kids? ... and Other Questions Every Mom Asks" *

* I haven't actually read this book, but I loved this quote Teaque [who used to blog ...] shared with me. Now the book is on my to-read list. Lisa TerKeurst is one of several authors who write devotions that appear in my inbox.

Monday, July 19, 2010

family biking & exercising

I'm on the move. And now they can go with me.

Greg and I have been talking about going on family bike rides for some time now. We got all the pieces in place, finally, tonight, just in time to ride a few blocks near our house. We're looking forward to more [and longer!] outings. As you can see, the kids seemed to enjoy it too.

That bike trailer Cate can ride in was my anniversary gift from Greg. We ordered our gifts together the other night. I requested this trailer that Greg can pull when we go on family bike rides. He wanted some new golf clubs after a mishap with his driver in Hilton Head. Romantic gifts, I know. And the UPS guy delivered them today, which happens to be two weeks and a day before our actual anniversary.

Hey, at least we're already putting one of the gifts to good use!

Also, while I'm thinking about exercising, I realized I hadn't shared about my the stroller fitness class I'm loving. I've posted about walking and exercising before, so here's an update: In mid-June, Jaclyn and I were walking like we often do at Chestnut Park when another lady ran up to tell us about the class she was starting. Right there. Across the street from my house. I could bring my kids while I exercise.

Totally a solution to something I had gone over and over in my mind.

I've been doing it two days a week for about a month now and I'm loving the motivation and accountability being part of a class gives me. Plus, I enjoy being around the other moms. In fact, I am thinking about adding a third day in August. Here is a recent article about the New York version of the class, which Cassandra started locally after going to some training in New York.

We walk and jog with the stroller. Today I thought my thighs were going to explode when we did lunges down Eighth Street. We use benches for all sorts of arm and leg exercises. And, really, my kids fit in quite well.

Ben, meet Ben ...

My friends Katie and Aaron have a 9-month-old son named Ben. We both knew we were going to name our sons Benjamin before they were born, but we both also had a short list of boy names our husbands also liked. Just add it to the list of other things Katie [Yes, I know, I know several Katies ...] and I have in common. We share a birthday, loves of butterflies and traveling, an addiction to "Survivor" and taste in food. We aren't surprised when we both like something, even though we don't get to hang out very often.

Anyway, back to our Bens ...

Ben on the left was born almost seven weeks before our Ben on the right.

As you can see, my Ben is ready to crawl. In fact, these pictures were taken Sunday morning, and later that evening, he ended up crawling a small distance at a slow pace. He's gotten better at going from crawling position to sitting, and vice versa. He's on the verge of being very mobile.

Back on track ... Bens. We were happy to get to see our Bens together and spend some time with Katie and Aaron, even though our weekend didn't go as planned.


When I first heard about "silly bands," I had no idea why people would care about shaped, rubber bracelets. Of course, who knows why slap bracelets were ever cool. But then I realized if you [the general you, not you, specific reader ...] had a green silly band in the shape of a duck that no longer looked like a duck when it was on your wrist, then it would look like a duck once again when you took it off your wrist.

Somehow that's neat to me.

Apparently my 3-year-old girl think it's cool too. Of course, she thinks my hairbands make good bracelets too. Or even just rubber bands. She's been into accessories for quite some time now.

But sometimes she doesn't wear all 30-something silly bands she owns. Somehow, apparently, it can be entertaining to just play with them and sort them and jumble them together in a fist.

Right now they are all -- animals, farm animals and sea creatures that came in packages of 12 for $1 at Walmart -- sitting in the cup holder of the double stroller because that's where she put them when she decided wearing 32 [Yes, she should have 36, but a couple snapped and I saw those two green ducks sitting on the kitchen table recently ...] bracelets was a bit much in 96-degree weather.

Thing is, she'll remember exactly where they are. Both the pile and the two green ducks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

loosening my grip

OK, God, I get it. Seriously. I am not in control.

Take last weekend. College friend Jeff, his wife Cherisse and their 4-week-old baby girl stayed with us while they were away from their Louisville home on a work-related road trip. We decided on Chinese for lunch Saturday and headed toward the restaurant. We were in our mini van and they were behind us in their car. We turned left onto the access road near the restaurant and they turned left too ... only there wasn't enough room for them to make it without getting hit in the backside by a pick-up truck. Everybody was OK, and the 4-week-old baby went on back to sleep. Jeff's car's bumper was thrown across the field.

Momma and baby were sitting in my van while the guys talked to the guy who was driving the truck. Along comes a bike rider on the sidewalk, and he just fell off. Like he had a heart attack or something. He just fell over. And laid there, moaning. So the guys went to help, and quickly noticed [rather, smelled ...] the problem. The bicyclist was drunk. And he even puked to prove it.

The police car and ambulance showed up soon after. We assured them the bicyclist's accident was unrelated to Jeff's back bumper being thrown across the field. The ambulance took the drunk biker to the hospital and we took Cherisse to the ER while Jeff finished dealing with the accident report and the uninsured driver who hit him.

So much for Chinese food.

Cherisse checked out fine and just had some soreness. They changed their road trip plans and headed back to Louisville. Meanwhile, we canceled some plans with friends because we weren't going to be able to leave as early as we had originally planned. But then we ended up meeting up with the same friends and doing the same thing we had planned, just later than we planned.

Yes, I know You have plans for me. Plans to prosper. And not to harm me. You know, sometimes I just think I'm a really great planner. I think about lots of details. But, thing is, You think about even more details. You see an even bigger picture.

So I organized my friend Sarah [you know, Davey's mom ...] a birthday lunch Thursday at a local restaurant that is known for its delicious bread, fabulous desserts [free for the birthday girl!] and lunch-time crowds. But I made a reservation: 12 chairs, plus three highchairs. Apparently, I was confusing because when I got there I only saw nine chairs and three highchairs. And not much room to add any more.

My eight other friends and the few kids that were joining us [some were home with sitters] started showing up, and I was stressing out that not everyone was going to have a place to sit. Courtney's kids were the ones that didn't really have a seat until we squeezed in extra chairs to our already too-tight table arrangement.

Meanwhile, I was noticing that Ben in his high chair was sitting awfully close to the glass table top. So I moved him back a little. The waitress told me when the ladies at the neighboring table finished eating, she would move their table to the end of ours so we could spread out. Good deal.

Then Cate needed to go the bathroom. Someone was already occupying the single-stall bathroom, so we stood there for a minute before I decided to go back and re-arrange the chairs so the three kids could sit at the table that was going to be added so us adults could talk during our lunch. The waitress recruited table-moving help from a bus boy, who was carrying a tub of dirty dishes, which he ended up dropping. So then he had to sweep up the broken dishes while the waitress attempted to get us situated.

But there was a lot going on, and my plan got confused with my friend's plan and I ended up at the far end of the newly added table, feeling very removed from my friends. At least I was sitting next to birthday girl Sarah, so I wasn't completely lacking adult interaction.

Remember I moved Ben away from the table so he wouldn't hit his head or attempt to chew on the glass table top? Yeah, well, in the the shuffling of people and tables, he ended up closer to the edge ... a fact I didn't realize until he was screaming after apparently hitting his face, more specifically his eye, on the edge of the table. I can't remember when my food came, but I remember sitting there with a screaming baby -- whose eye was swollen and red, thankfully, only on the outside -- and a salad in front of me. But no fork.

Cate was talking to me about how her yogurt was green and pink mixed [She often talks about flavors in terms of colors. This, for instance, was watermelon.] but how she loved just pink yogurt, all while spooning the green in her mouth. She wanted my full attention while she shared her thoughts on yogurt. Yet her brother was still screaming. Different waitresses asked if Ben needed ice. I really just wanted one of them to bring me a fork.

Apparently two of my friends tried to offer assistance, but they seemed so far away at one of our original tables that I couldn't here them. But instead of saying that nicely, I said, "I can't hear you. I'm stuck down here with the kids." I'm sure my tone was frustrated and smart aleck. But it was the truth. Not communicated with any love.

I couldn't hear anything but Ben crying.

So I decided to just pack up my kids and untouched salad. I could eat at home after giving my son some Tylenol for his probably throbbing head. Tylenol might have been good for me at this point too.

A couple friends had already slipped out because they had to get back to work or relieve the husband watching the kids. Apparently when I started packing up, I killed the party and everyone else started gathering their belongings. I paid for my food, reminded Sarah to get her free dessert to go, and headed to my car, holding my crying son, carrying my diaper bag on my shoulder, holding the Styrofoam box of my untouched salad and a smaller version containing Cate's partially eaten lunch, and nudging Cate forward through the crowded restaurant. I just wanted to get to my car.

I loaded the kids in the car, turned on the air, and cried. Jaclyn came to my window and we talked. She understood how I was feeling and reminded me that every moment of our lives is not like this, something I should know because, well, I hadn't been that stressed out since my friends and I decided last month that taking our combined six children to the public pool was a good idea. Although that was more personal stress and not so much me feeling bad I had organized chaos for my friend's birthday! I had planned to run errands, but I ended up accepting Jaclyn's invitation to swim [thankfully, not at the public pool, but at a friend's house] with her. Cate liked that idea better too.

So we went home, where I soothed the banged-up Ben and then ate my lunch while the kids laughed on the safety of the carpeted nursery. I then gathered floats and towels, changed people into their swimwear, and drowned my stress in a pool filled with water slightly cooler than bath water.

I soaked up some sun while Ben napped and Cate swam. I texted with my friend, who absorbed my harsh tone, reminded me that friendship is more valuable than a moment of insensitivity, and even left flowers on my doorstep in hopes my afternoon would improve. I also thought about how next time I'm planning a lunchtime birthday party, I'll to order carry-out food and invite my friends over to my house.

You comfort me. I know this. You always have room for anyone at your table. And You give me everything I need. There will be bumps and bruises along the way, but You sustain us so we can live and learn that You are indeed the ultimate planner and care-giver.

Knowing we had plans to spend Saturday at Kentucky Lake with out-of-town friends Katie and Aaron and their 9-month-old Ben, finding two infant life jackets was on my to-do list. After my chaotic lunch on Thursday, I ended up waiting until Friday to venture into Walmart to evaluate the life jacket situation.

The situation: One infant life jacket in stock. And it happened to be hot pink.

Hmmm ... Maybe I could just borrow something from my well-equipped sister-in-law? So I finished shopping at Walmart and then moved on to Kroger, where I prefer to buy my groceries. In the Kroger parking lot, I realize I should call Angela to discuss the life jacket situation. Turns out, she has one, which she didn't mind letting me borrow. I decide that I'll have to drag my kids back into Walmart so I can buy the pink one. I mean, the babies have to life jackets on the boat. And a boat ride is worth putting my son in a hot pink life jacket.

Grocery shop. Take ice cream, milk and other refrigerated items home so they don't melt in the sweltering, humid Kentucky air. Go back to Walmart. Go to Angela's.

Two life jackets. Check.

You provide, I know. Sometimes it just involves two trips to Walmart.

Later that day, Greg texted me: "Pontoon boat has bad gas leak and is in the shop til next week. Jet skis will still be there tomorrow thought."

Oh, OK. I can deal with jet skis. Although I guess now I may not need to pink life jacket for my son.

Katie and Aaron get here later than expected Friday night. We decide Saturday morning to go on to the lake, nobody thinking that Katie probably can't ride jet skis because she's 13 weeks pregnant. We got there and I couldn't find the key ... until I realized many minutes later that I overlooked where I was supposed to be looking. We had lunch and got the jet skis in the water. While the babies were napping, Greg drove the jet ski and pulled me on a tube. It was some of the best tubing I've experienced, despite the choppy water.

Later we all decided to get in the water and I was going to take Cate on a jet ski ride after convincing her it was like riding a go-cart on the water. She wanted to help me drive. So while everyone else was swimming off the neighbors' dock, I went to fetch the jet ski. I noticed the floating dock that secures the jet ski and is attached to the main dock wasn't attached like I expected, but I figured it was attached another way. I got the jet ski unhooked and was trying to push its back end into the water, when I noticed I was floating away ... on the dock, with the jet ski.

I waved my hands and yelled that I needed help. Greg waved back. Then they realized I wasn't just being friendly. Leaving Katie and her baby Ben, Aaron and Greg [toting Cate and Ben] came to my rescue. Greg asked what to do with Ben, and I said strap him in the infant carrier and sit him somewhere level. So while he was taking care of our children, I decided to get off the floating dock that was floating farther away, and I pulled it [using the string of the jet ski] back to the dock to which it was supposed to attached. I started investigating the problem and saw that three of the four metal poles that were supposed to hold the additional docks were broken from the pull of the floating docks with the lake's current. Not good.

Greg and Aaron worked on securing the docks while I rode over to help Katie, who was tired of treading water and walking on rocks with her baby in a float. I didn't realize the water was as shallow as it was near her until it was too late ... and I'd driven the jet ski too close. I killed the motor, so I couldn't go farther into the rocks and so I wouldn't create lots of waves near my 9-month-old friend. Turns out, I really killed the motor. Like it wouldn't start. So I hopped of that, and pulled it to the neighboring dock [not the one at the house we were using] by the rope that I had already used to rescue the escaping dock. I tied it up, and Aaron ended up diagnosing the troubling rocks stuck in the jet ski and helping Greg get both the working and non-working jet skis back to the trailer. We were calling it a day on the lake.

We played cards inside the lake house while kids slept, talked about dinner, decided to treat ourselves to Mexican on the way home, enjoyed said Mexican food, played Settlers of Catan and enjoyed fresh blackberry cobbler. The lake day that wasn't meant to be ended on a better note. And I only could laugh thinking back on our day.

Thank you, God, for laughter. Your joy comes even when we don't expect it. Your mercy keeps us afloat when we're drifting away. Your grace reminds us that we're human. You alone can all your plans. And I'm happy to be along for the ride.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'Yes, she looks like you ...'

People often tell me my kids looks like me. Or they'll tell me how they look like Greg. Seems normal, right? Except both our kids are adopted. I've never struggled with not sharing my DNA with my kids. I'm certain it's no coincidence God gave us two kids who fit perfectly in our family.

I see both of their birth moms in their eyes. And I'm thankful for that sweet reminder of these women who gave us the most precious gifts possible.

Yet, I see myself in them, especially my daughter Cate. She is into doing things they way they were done the time before, doing today what we did yesterday, telling one story after another, and being independent and stubborn. Just like me. She may not have my DNA, but she's been watching me for three years, two months and nine days. She may have brown eyes and the genes to be much taller than her average-height momma, but her actions and words look a lot like me.

Greg and I were talking last night about how even though we didn't physically create them, we are creating them -- with our expectations, our beliefs, our actions and our love. And, really, that's so much more important than deciding whose nose and lips they have.

[Want to read more about their adoptions? You can. Here. And here. And more here. Still more here. Oh, what the heck, you can read every blog post labeled "adoption."]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

family fun, indeed

We found a new place in western Kentucky. It's not actually new, but it is new to us. That's three-fourths of our family taking a mini golf break in the cute chairs under a beachy hut at Kentucky Shores Family Fun Center in Marshall County. And, yes, Ben was with us, cruising around in the stroller while we played mini golf and rode go-carts*.

This would have been Cate's second mini golf game. The first came about a week earlier in Hilton Head.

She scopes out the hole.

Sometimes it's more like she's playing hockey.

And sometimes she just needs to be a little closer to the hole.

* I don't have any photos of us on the go-carts because it was getting dark and the track was a little too far from the viewing area to get any decent dimly lit action shots. Courtney may have one on her camera. But, until then, you should know that Cate loved the go-carts. She rode twice -- once with Greg and once with me -- and loved every minute of both trips. In fact, when my go-cart stalled and died, she insisted we "go faster," which we eventually did after some assistance.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

pickin' blackberries

We picked blackberries yesterday.

It was a good time with friends.
I really liked the view of this barn.

As you can see, pickin' blackberries can be hard work.

We did end up with 4 3/4 pounds. But, hey, we like pickin' berries. This blackberry patch has no thorns. Holly introduced me to it last summer, and we liked it so much we went back this year. So I came home and made cobbler.

Making cobbler is really easy, especially with this recipe ...


3-4 cups berries
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup milk
1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9"x13" pan. Mix first 5 ingredients, place in pan. Mix last 3 ingredients, pour over berries. Bake about 1 hour or until berry mixture is set. Serve with ice cream if you wish.

one tooth, two teeth

In June, Ben finally got two teeth after teething for five months. While feeding him yesterday, I finally was in good position to capture them and had my camera near. [Ignore the milk on his face!] He chews on everything and drools often, so I'm guessing other teeth are on their way ... eventually.

matching boys ... and toys

Ben and Davey are no strangers to matching outfits and the photo shoots that follow. In fact, they've even had a photo shoot in this matching outfit. We didn't plan another one, but when they wore matching outfits and had matching toys at our small group meeting on Wednesday, the camera had to come out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

holiday weekend

I like that celebrating America's birthday on Sunday means the official holiday for the holiday gets carried over to the next weekday. It's like a bonus.

We spent Sunday evening at my mother-in-law's house, where we ate delicious food, including blackberry cobbler, and then watched the guys shoot fireworks. She lives in Tennessee, which means we weren't even breaking any state laws about igniting explosive elements.

Cate wasn't so sure about it all, though. She decided she was better off inside, where she proclaim she "needed" to be to help Gran-Gran clean the kitchen. I was humored by my 3-year-old not wanting to admit she wasn't into the noise (I assume) of the fireworks. It's nice she used helping Gran-Gran as her excuse to stay behind the closed door.

I was happy Serenity and Maya (cousins I inherited when I married Greg!) were in town for the festivities.

Having the holiday bonus means we got to celebrate at Kentucky Lake on Monday ...

Despite swimming in the same lake, multiple pools and the ocean in recent weeks, Cate decided she was afraid of the water. I hope it was just the peer pressure of her cousin's fear and not a lasting issue. She just watched people swim and talked about fish. But, hey, she looks beautiful doing it!

Creating Masterpieces

And the subtitle should read: Who needs to finger paint when you have entire hands to use?

Cate had been wanting to finger paint since it was the craft of the week at story time several weeks ago. Then she forgot about it, so we never bought finger paint. Then, randomly, yesterday I told her we were going to the yellow store (aka "Walmart") before we went to the blue store (aka "Kroger") and she said, "We have to look for paint." Um, sure, I suppose. Mostly I was wondering what prompted the forgotten wish.

After lunch today, we broke out the finger paint, which, really, should be renamed hand paint. Regardless, I highly recommend Crayola's Washable Fingerpaints. They are in tubes and truly easy to wash off little hands and the kitchen table.

When she finished one of the six masterpieces she said, "See, Mom, it's beautiful. Want to take it so someone can buy it?"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

pass the salt, please

The constant rhythm of the ocean calms me. Regardless of the emotions stored up in my heart. Other people are walking and biking and digging and building and reading and burning and sleeping. And I am just sitting and breathing and forgetting and remembering. I can block out those other people, thanks for the ocean's rhythm that comes and goes against the sandy shore with certainty.

My kids are little. But I'm glad they got to [and likely will again ...] experience one of my favorite places. It's different being a mom at the beach. When I was growing up, I'd read and think and walk and nap and rest and read some more while I sat for hours on the beach. Now I don't sit as long, am usually fetching something for someone, can't make it through a whole page because I have to make sure my son isn't eating sand, and answer 3-year-old questions that usually being with "What's that?"

But I wouldn't trade it. Because I want them to enjoy the beach and being to store up fond memories of going places as a family. My family vacationed often in Perdido Key, Florida, when I was growing up. I went on trips to Panama City Beach, Tampa and Naples with friends throughout the years. A hurricane pushed us from our familiar Gulf Coast and to Hilton Head Island in 2005, and I immediately felt at home among that sand and sea.

Now, my kids are learning about the beach.

I love watching Cate experience new things and then listening to her talk about them! She went to the beach for the first [and only other time] when she was 13 months old and not quite walking, so going last week was pretty much a new experience for my 3-year-old girl.

Despite its saltiness and vastness, Cate kept calling the ocean a "lake." She liked walking back and forth from the water to the dry sand, carrying her watering can or pail. [Well, in the case of the pictures below, she's filling a water gun!] She went out farther a few times, but she definitely was more comfortable at the pool in the backyard of the house we rented. In fact, the house was familiar for us adults and my 6-year-old niece because we stayed in the same place two years ago.

Ben, of course, wanted to eat the sand and drink the salt water. Although he did master sitting up independently for long periods of time while we were gone, he didn't spend that much time at the beach because he couldn't keep the sand off his hands or his hands out of his mouth. One morning, I was sitting on the shoreline with him, listening to him giggle as the waves broke on his feet. Then he'd reach down and grab a handful of the wet sand and bring it straight to his mouth. I thought if I let him taste it once, maybe he wouldn't want it near his mouth anymore. Yeah, that didn't work. He did float around the pool like a pro, like the water baby he is!

So, because I am a momma now, I did manage to read more of my books* while the kids played in the pool.

* While on vacation, I read "The Prince of Frogtown" by Rick Bragg, "The Spire" by Richard North Patterson, and "Caught" by Harlan Coben. I started "Whiplash" by Catherine Coulter on the way home.

'Say cheese'

Getting a family pictures is proving more difficult these days, even on vacation. But, hey, we tried ...

... in Charleston.

... while playing mini golf, a vacation staple.

... while on a dolphin-watching cruise.

[Apparently, I wore Ben often! It's easier than carrying around that infant carrier, which he's going to outgrow soon.]