Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Big Ben?

At his 9-month check-up appointment today, Ben weighed 18 lbs. 9 oz. (25th percentile) and measured 28 3/4 inches (75th percentile). So now when strangers say, "Isn't he big?" to me in line at the grocery store or post office, I can say, "Well, actually ..."

Kidding. I don't think I'd really say that.

I mean, he's growing bigger. But he's not actually big, comparatively.

I did feel bad when the nurse practitioner said he has some fluid in his ear from congestion draining. He's cutting two teeth, so I thought the runny nose was associated with that, as it was the other two times he worked on two teeth. Apparently he may have had an ear infection. But he never had a fever, so I didn't suspect anything other than teething.

Did I mention he puts everything in his mouth? Today's toy of choice at the doctor's office was the wooden tongue suppressor. She even let him bring it home with him.

Cate was the same height, putting my girl in the 95th percentile, and weighed almost 5 ounces less when she was nine months.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Taylors & Tompkinses

Since February 2007, we've gather with the Tompkins family on a regular basis to eat dinner and play Settlers of Catan. Our kids haven't stopped the tradition, which began when there was just one child between us, but they have prompted us to play earlier and perfected our multi-tasking. Now, more than three years later, there are five kids in the Taylor & Tompkins crew.

And that fact alone makes my heart full.

As many of you know, Greg and I struggled to have a family. We tried to get pregnant for a couple years before God led us to adoption and fulfilled the desires of my heart in this unexpected way. I had prayed and prayed to be pregnant, but really God knew more than the words I was saying. He knew I wanted a family. He was faithful. Twice. I was amazed, even though I shouldn't be surprised God does what he says he'll do.

He did the same thing for the Tompkinses, who experienced an emotional miscarriage before the birth of Luke, who is a year older than Cate. Then God went beyond worldly expectations ... two more times. Between us, we have children born in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Just look at those faces above. They are the sweetest reminders that God has a plan that is grander than anything we can construct ourselves. Life is definitely worth the sometimes rocky ride.

Ben certainly likes the newest addition ...

He may also be thinking about how to get back into the swing that used to be his. But he is quite smitten with sweet Caroline. And, you know, we figured out that in 2015, Ben and Caroline could be in kindergarten together. I'm guessing by then Ben won't seem so gigantic compared to his new friend.

Friday, August 27, 2010

many roads to 31

... If you'll step inside this great glass elevator/It'll take us up above the city lights/To where the planet curves away to the equator/I want to show you something fine/You can see the roads that we all traveled just to get here/A million minuscule decisions in a line/Why they brought us to this moment isn't clear/But that's all right, we've got all night

Could it be that the many roads/You took to get here/Were just for me to tell this story/And for you to hear this song/And your many hopes/And your many fears/Were meant to bring you here all along ...

From "Many Roads" by Andrew Peterson

This song is from an album I can't get enough of these days. I drive around my small town, thankful I can listen to the songs on my iPhone in my car. This is one of a few songs I keep playing.

And I keep thinking ...

I drive a mini van, and love doing so,

schedule some of my days around dropping off and picking up my daughter from preschool,

keep tabs on my 9-month-old son who is curious,

enjoy stocking my freezer with homemade meals my family likes to eat,

exchange recipes and talk about coupons with my friends,

scrapbook the memories we make so I don't forget,

think about how to deal with naptime so I don't have to deal with my preschooler procrastinating about her nighttime sleep,

stock a diaper bag quicker than I ever thought possible,

keep a list of people to whom I want to send birthday cards because days get away from me,

find times to play Settlers of Catan with my best friend based on the ever-changing schedules of our combined five kids,

have too-short but much-loved phone conversation with my other best friend that doesn't live close enough to be my neighbor anymore like she did when we were kids,

realize working at a small-town newspaper was the best lesson I've ever had in what community means,

am thankful that I get the chance to be at home with my kids, a decision I've not once regretted,

gave my job to a girl who quickly became my dear friend who reminds me of me but encourages [usually through our ongoing-conversation e-mails] me to be a better version of me,

cherish my community of friends who share the big moments and ordinary details of my life,

am thankful for Facebooking, texting and emailing so I can still share my life with people who don't live in my small town,

remember how when I was 16 I thought people who were in their 30s were old,

think about how people who are 16 have so much to learn and people in their 30s have much life to live,

surprise myself with loving this life that is absolutely nothing like I planned,

have 12 years of history with my husband, who was my college boyfriend first,

love reminiscing about who walked those many roads with me and helped me end up here,

and want to live in the moment because I know tomorrow is a new day.

[Side note: This is a palindrome post on my blog. It's #2,112. I've loved finding and seeing palindromes since 1991, when Mrs. Upchurch taught us sixth-graders about them.]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


With an ink pad in her hand the other day, Cate had a plan for her afternoon: "Momma, I want to scrapbook, just like you."

I've been slowly working [You know, between loads of laundry, planning and cooking meals, making sure Ben doesn't chew on anything dangerous, playing with our friends ...] on a craft space for her because she does like to color, cut and stamp. There is even a magnetic chalkboard, a project that was recently finished even though I had it in my head since before we actually moved in. Apparently she appreciates my idea because she uses both a desk and table in a nook of our playroom and was excited about the plastic drawers I got her today at Walmart.

When she woke up from her nap this afternoon and realized I hadn't organized her crayons, stickers, colored pencils, scissors, stamps, coloring books and paper like I mentioned I might, she wanted me to help her with that project ... now. I didn't bother explaining how her 9-month-old brother didn't nap as long as I expected/hoped. I don't think she'd understand the translation about my lack of productivity.

So we organized. And then she returned to her nook, with ideas in her head.

"Momma, Ben is in my area."

"Honey, he's not bothering anything," I say, realizing he's far more interested in the pink princess wand.

Apparently ignoring my assessment of the situation, she takes the matter into her own hands: "Ben, go chew on your toys."

He continued investigating the pink princess wand. And she went back to using the scissors I found for her in a box of craft supplies I don't really use these days. You thought I'd given her quite a treasure when I showed her how they cut in fancy ways, like waves and zig-zags.

All is well in the creative nook.


Today is laundry day. I have a curious helper.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ben @ 9 months

I started thinking about Ben's first birthday party the other day, and then I started sweating and decided I'd wait until fall (and cooler weather!) before I really started making plans. His birthday is the week of Thanksgiving, which means the holiday season will be upon us in three months.

But, for now, Ben is 9 months old. And he keeps me on my toes, that's for sure. Mostly because he puts EVERYTHING, seriously, in his mouth. He also ...

* has four teeth, will likely have his fifth soon, and is working on plenty more.
* drinks three to four 8 oz. bottles a day and eats baby food and other mushy food, like yogurt, applesauce, pieces of fries and pieces of bread.
* likes to pull hair. Especially Cate's.
* pays more attention to the TV than Cate ever did at this age. Probably because his sister has on some Veggie Tales or Disney movie that is more entertaining than anything I'd turn on [you know, like "Dawson's Creek," "Grey's Anatomy" or "Family Feud" ...] when it was just me and one baby.
* makes much noise and likes to be on the move, whether it's in the car, in the stroller or on his knees.
* pulls up some, usually stopping at his knees. No rush.

Want to read about his growth? You can ... 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months and 8 months.

Life is like a parade ...

You know your child has lived her whole little life in Murray when she sees two police cars go through an intersection with their lights and sirens on and says, "There's a parade?"

"No, honey, they are going to help someone." I say. It's silly of me to think the conversation will end here.

And, so, the 3-year-old concludes, "They go throw them candy."


But, you know, not all parade experiences with Cate have been pleasant. I say "experiences" [plural] because Murray seriously loves its parades. Most any holiday is cause of celebration with a parade. Fourth of July. MSU Homecoming. Veterans' Day. Christmas. So, really, Murray gives us plenty of chances to redeem the one parade horror.

From last year's parades alone ...

Then there was 2008 ...

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Like I mentioned in a post yesterday, we [meaning adult children and spouses ...] took Peggy out to celebrate her marriage to Gary, my father-in-law who passed away suddenly in April. They married 34 years ago yesterday and had the kind of marriage that defined partnership.

They loved each other, their children, their extended family and their community with a love I hope to one day understand and give the people I care about. They raised their boys to be respectable, family-focused men. Of course, I dearly love the oldest of the three.

We miss Gary. But I'm so thankful I witnessed their marriage and continue to be blessed by the fruits it has produced so beautifully.

That's Peggy and her boys. They'd do anything for her.

Us ladies are lucky to have the Taylor men in our lives. And we missed sister-in-law Christine, who actually planned the dinner but had a rough week with her 2-month-old girl and didn't think traveling three hours was the best idea.

Contrary to what it appears, Greg and I did not intentionally coordinate our outfits. We do both like to wear blue, though.

Even though we're eight years into our marriage, we're definitely still learning what it means to love sacrificially. Today we're better at it than yesterday, so there's hope. Looking at his parents reminds me that it's worth figuring out. For us. For our kids. For our community.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


We've had a good Saturday so far. And it's far from over.

Ben helped the day get off to an especially good start until sleeping until the 7 o'clock hour. We (along with two brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law, two nieces and a nephew) went to my mother-in-law's house for breakfast. It was a delicious, of course.

Then our family of four stayed there visiting with Peggy and John for several hours. We played Rook ...

... and look at my partner's lay-down hand? We didn't win either game, but we kept things interesting.

Cate enjoyed having John to entertain ...

... with a tea party! Apparently make-believe sausage, cookies and soup were involved.

Peggy and Gary, who we miss, were married 34 years ago today. Us grown-up kids and spouses are taking her to celebrate that marriage that is so worth admiring. I'm thankful for the ways they raised three boys, one of whom I love dearly, and the ways they loved each other and everyone around them.

meeting Caroline

My two dearest friends had babies ... 19 hours apart. Unfortunately, only one of them lives in my town. So I got to meet one of my two newest friends. In fact, my whole family is fond of Caroline Mae Tompkins. Well, OK, Ben wasn't really interested. But only because he couldn't chew on her.

But, as you can see, Cate and Greg each took their turn snuggling up with her ...

That's Cate being sweet with Caroline when she wasn't yet 24 hours old.

I love how my husband loves babies! He was happy to [finally!] get a chance to meet Caroline on third day of life.

Oh, you want details? Sure ... Caroline Mae was born at 1:34 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, weighing 8 lbs. 4 oz. and measuring 21 inches long. This baby sister also belongs to Luke and Norah, who have often appeared in pictures with my kids.

My other new friend, who is bound to be just as sweet, is a boy who is close to having a name. Katie and Brad were happy to welcome him into their new family of four on Friday, Aug. 20. He weighed 8 lbs. 2 oz. and was 20 inches long.

Hooray for new life! And life-long friends!

Friday, August 20, 2010

eating & grinning

Hey, momma, I can feed myself ...


Eating is fun.

in the morning ...

I'm not naturally a morning person. But since 6:30 a.m. has become my normal time to rise in the mornings, thanks to my almost 9-month-old son, I have come to appreciate the quietness that sometimes follows when Ben decides going back to bed is better than crawling around playing with assorted toys that all end up in his mouth. Cate, who is 3, knows the beauty of sleeping until 7:30 or 8 on a regular basis.

I would prefer sleeping until 7:30, no doubt, but I think back to when I used to get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for my day as a newspaper reporter. Between that job and my current job as a mother of two, God is trying to make me into a morning person.

Even so, I still don't drink coffee. Just Diet Dr Pepper.

I was laying in bed last night thinking about how I'm not much of a late-night person either. The clock strikes 10 and I wonder why I'm not at least in bed reading a book. But I guess it's hard to be a late-night person when I'm anticipating 6:30 a.m. and not too willing to sacrifice sleep. And every now and then, my son surprises me and sleeps until the 7 o'clock hour.

I know I'm a mother when these are among the delights of my day.

But there are many delights, regardless of when my day starts ...

Cate's unsolicited "I love you" always makes my heart melt. The way Ben smiles makes me forget I wish he'd sleep later. And listening to them giggle together is the sweetest sound.

And then we all get in the mini van and I remember that I didn't predict this life, but I wouldn't change a thing. Especially our new-to-us transportation. Or even the way God pushes me to be a morning person.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

playing, playing ... sleeping

Wanting to rinse off the coating of sweat from stroller exercise class, I put Ben and some musical toys in his crib so I could shower. He had just eaten some baby food and drank a bottle, so I felt confident I could steal those few minutes.

The bathroom is next to his room, so I can hear him if he's screaming. And when that happens, I just have to wash the conditioner out of my hair faster and forget about shaving. But this time I didn't hear him.

So I completed my shower at a normal pace.

While drying off, I heard him laughing and bouncing and having a grand time. Even minutes later, when I walked in his room -- sure that he'd make his desire to be picked up from behind the black wooden bars once he saw me -- he was smiling and giggling and enjoying the slightly annoying music coming from at least two different toys.

Yep, happy baby. So I went back into the bathroom to dry my hair and finish getting ready for the rest of our day. Once put together as much as I put myself together, I went back to rescue Ben, who still hadn't expressed any dissatisfaction.

No wonder I hadn't heard him. Apparently, he partied himself right to sleep ... face down in his blankets.

Monday, August 16, 2010

And the winner is ...

Congratulations, Ava! You are the winner of the $60 CSN Stores gift certificate.
Spring is my favorite season. Maybe it's because I don't like cold weather and I can feel warmer and longer days ahead with springtime. It's when Mother Earth seems to awaken signaling a new beginning with flowers erupting with their bright colors and tantalizing aromas. People seem to scurry about with new-found energy and raise their eyes to God to give thanks for bringing them through the darkness of winter into the light of spring once again. It's a busy time, but a very happy time as people get out and enjoy nature and children play in the sunshine.
Happy spending!

confident & comfortable

We'd been talking about preschool. And practicing her teachers' names after meeting them last week at an open house. (She has one teacher two days and another teacher one day -- a fact she seems to strangely grasp.) She certainly isn't shy, even if it takes a few minutes for her to warm up. She's independent.

But I still didn't know how dropping Cate off at preschool for the first time would go. Other than a few outings with Gran-Gran and Grandmom and one Saturday VBS with Aunt Angela, Cate hasn't really gone anywhere without either Momma or Daddy with her.

I didn't expect drama, but I wasn't sure what to expect.

She held me hand as I also carried Ben and the three of us walked into the preschool a few minutes early. I signed her in, and then we started down the hallway to her class. Miss Amber was walking toward the classroom too, so we walked alongside her. She asked Cate if she was ready for today. Cate told her teacher that she brought carrots and broccoli for lunch. I suppose that meant she was ready.

We walked in the classroom. After putting her lunch in the fridge, her extra change of clothes in the cubbie and her backpack on the hook, she spotted some blocks toward the front of the classroom. "Miss Amber, I play with those blocks?" After permission to proceed, she was off.

I chatted with another mom I had met before and then decided all was well. I had to walk up to Cate to give her a good-bye kiss. She kissed me, then Ben, and told us she'd see us later. The clock in my van said 9:04 when I got back in, only four minutes into the official preschool day.

I almost cried. Not from sadness. But because I saw my 3-year-old girl with pigtail braids being confident, comfortable and grown-up this morning. And I was proud of who she is becoming.

Vote for me!

This photo is part of a summer photo contest at Parents.com. The winning prize is $500, so I'm soliciting your help to get my photo the most votes! Voting is open until 11:59 p.m. CDT Sunday, Aug. 22, according to the official contest rules.

Oh, and, you should know ... you can vote daily.

VOTE HERE today and tomorrow and the days after that.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Have patience ...

Greg and I prayed together yesterday morning. He said something about me having patience. I guess he knew something I didn't know. But I should have known how my day would have gone as soon as I heard those words.

I spilled my own Diet Dr Pepper in the first hour of my morning. It got all over the laptop cord, but thankfully the spill somehow avoided the actual laptop. Then later in the morning, I thought it was a good idea to let Ben attempt a sippy cup, so I poured some formula from a bottle to the cup ... and all over the counter and my foot.

We met Greg at Quizno's, the lunch place I chose because a free kids meal comes with an entree purchase. I was holding Ben, the Floppy Seat that I put in the high chair because my son chews on everything and the diaper bag while making sure Cate stayed close and didn't walk off with the chips we hadn't paid for. All was well, I managed to pay for our food. All before Greg walked in the door because I was a few minutes early because I was hungry. I think running in 100-degree weather makes a girl hungry.

Anyway, I realize when I'm finished my Honey Bourbon Chicken sandwich that I paid too much for our food. I looked at my receipt and, sure enough, the lady charged me for my free kids meal. I went up and they corrected it, no problem. Just an extra step in my day.

After lunch I headed to Kroger because I had forgotten chicken when I was there Monday and I wanted to make General Tso's chicken. Yeah, an important ingredient. I suggest to Cate that she and Ben sit in the two-seater car cart, which she used to want to do when Ben was still in his infant carrier. But now that he's sitting up like a big boy, I thought it might be a good day to try it.

I have to say, grocery shopping was the best part of our day ...

Ben watched Cate "drive," and then figured out that he could too. Ben liked sitting up with his big sister. And Cate liked being close to her little brother. There was no complaining or whining.

We came home for nap time. Earlier in the morning, Ben had followed me around with his ever-improving crawling skills while saying "mamamamama" in baby whine. Cate had been acting tired, but thankfully my 3-year-old girl can express her feelings a little more clearly than my 8-month-old boy. I figured nap time would be a good break in the day ... for everyone.

Well, it didn't last as long as I had hoped and both kids woke up whiny. We tried going on about our day ... them playing in Cate's room while I organized some clothes they had outgrown in recent months. That didn't last very long. I sent Cate back to bed. I fed Ben and then put him back to bed.

Round two of nap time actually happened. Well, Cate would tell you it was "rest time."

Back to General Tso's chicken now that I had chicken. I get out the recipe and realize I'm missing the chicken broth that is listed first. Apparently I didn't really comprehend this recipe when I read it before I went grocery shopping ... either of the two times this week! Alright, regroup. The good thing about having meals planned is I should have the ingredients on hand for multiple meals. Black bean tortilla back and Spanish rice it is.

While preparing dinner, I also was feeding Ben. I started mixing the canned tomatoes, black beans, enchilada sauce and spices to the meat and onion mixture ... and I realized just as I dumped the last of the tomatoes that I doubled the amount that went into the two batches I was making. Like each recipe called for one can, and I used a total of four cans. Twice the total amount for my two casseroles.

Oh, well.

Moving on to Spanish rice. I'm cutting up the green pepper, red pepper and onion to mix with the rice. Then I realize I don't have any diced tomatoes because, well, they are all in the black bean tortilla bake. So I add extra tomato juice hoping that will help the flavor stay the same.

The black bean tortilla bake turned out fine and the Spanish rice was so-so. At least we had dinner on the table. And my husband who had prayed for my patience was home to help me with the rest of the day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Worth Repeating Wednesday

Our problem is not so much that God doesn’t give us what we hope for as it is that we don’t know the right thing for which to hope. ...

Hope is not what you expect; it is what you would never dream. It is a wild, improbable tale with a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming ending. It’s Abraham adjusting his bifocals so he can see not his grandson, but his son. It’s Moses standing in the promised land not with Aaron or Miriam at his side, but with Elijah and the transfigured Christ. It’s Zechariah left speechless at the sight of his wife Elizabeth, gray-headed and pregnant. And it is the two Emmaus-bound pilgrims reaching out to take a piece of bread only to see that the hands from which it is offered are pierced.

Hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed; no, it is far greater than that. It is a zany, unpredictable dependence on a God who loves to surprise us out of our socks and be there in the flesh to see our reaction.

--From "God Came Near" by Max Lucado

Sunday, August 8, 2010

another giveaway
for this season

Thanks to Courtney for the action shot of my girl, on the left, and
her girl cooling off on one of the many hot afternoons this summer.

Even though I don't sense any relief from the hot, humid days, summer does seem to be winding down in some ways. For instance, I added the five Murray State football home games to my calendar and made note of a corn maze at a local church that I want my family to wander through this fall. I was telling my daughter about cooler days [you know, like 80 degrees!] to come when we can use the new picnic basket [complete with kid-friendly dinnerware!] that I bought her at a yard sale yesterday. And probably the most notable change that indicates summer is ending or, rather, perhaps, at least changing, is my calendar that indicates my 3-year-old daughter will start "school" in a week.

If you were to ask me what my favorite season is, I would say, with no hesitation, summer. But then I'd follow that up with how much I like the transitions that are fall and spring. I like the leaves changing colors, all the fall activities and the way cool evenings follow warm days. And I like the anticipation of summer that comes with spring and the way new life abounds in some way or another.

So, no, I won't be sad when the thermometer reads only double digits and when the first number is a couple smaller than the recent constants. I will be OK putting away my tank tops for another year and layering some clothes to accommodate the strange Kentucky seasons.

Until then, I have a trip to the nearby water park planned this week with a friend and her kids and will likely continue sweating when I'm not really exerting much energy.

In celebration of an enjoyable summer and memories that go beyond just being hot, I'm happy to have the opportunity to give away another $60 gift certificate from CSN Stores, which has more than 200 online stores that sell everything from dinnerware for those tasty kabobs from the grill to holiday decorations for any season.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me which season is your favorite and why. Be sure to include an e-mail address so the winner can be properly notified. Blogging or tweeting about this giveaway are each worth another contest entry. Just leave the link to your mention of my giveaway in the comments section. [This contest is open to U.S. and Canada residents because that's where CSN Stores ships its goodies.]

You have until Aug. 16 to enter. That afternoon the contest will close and I'll hear what my 3-year-old girl has to say about her first day of pre-school.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This week ...

... we've had a good time being at home. I'm working on not planning all our time away -- something that takes a conscious effort given our culture and my perfectionist, planning ways. Cate has been really great about helping with Ben. She thinks feeding him is fun. And she tells me the instant he puts anything in his mouth during those moments that I turn my head slightly in the other direction for even a moment.

I've swept my floor more than usual this week, thanks to Ben's putting-stuff-in-his-mouth habit I just alluded to. Yep, anything and everything goes in his mouth. Just today I fished out a small hair rubberband, a plastic dime and a raisin from who knows when. Other recent rescues include a tiny, pink wooden bead, a mushy Cheerio that I didn't recognize at first and a carpet thread.

Yeah, so, I just didn't want you to think I sit around a read books, watch TV and take naps. Although, on that note, I did finish "The Help" this week. I highly recommend this fiction book that deals with race relations in Mississippi in the 1960s, but, more generally, it spoke to me about friendship and purpose and doing what's right despite what people think.

... Greg and I celebrated eight years of marriage. We bought ourselves a bike trailer for Cate and to make family bike rides possible. Of course, we had that out of the box and on the road before Aug. 3. But to celebrate our actual anniversary, we went out to eat and to a movie while my mother-in-law hung out with my kids and made me chocolate chip cookies at my husband's request. Yep, Greg had his mom help make my day special. Hey, works for me. He also gave me eight new pens. Nerdy, I know. But I guess I stole a few too many from his office. He claims he didn't make the connection of buying two packages of four and the years we've been married.

We saw "Salt" when we went to the movies for the first time ... since I'm not sure when. I guess "The Blind Side" was the last theater feature for us. Anyway, I'm not a huge Angelina Jolie fan, although I do like her more than Tom Cruise these days, but she was good in her climb-up-walls-and-down-elevator-shaft role. And, really, I liked the CIA story line and admittedly hadn't exactly figured it all out before the credits rolled.

... Ben met the sippy cup. Pardon his applesauce mess. I decided it might be a good time to at least introduce this new, soon-to-be-trusty friend because he is always wanting our drinks ... with straws, in bottles, in regular cups.

Mr. Sippy Cup also is acceptable to chew on, unlike the other items he tried this morning. It was brief, though, when he realized there was a greater purpose ...

Ah, yes. Good job, Ben.

... a third tooth came through. In fact, the top left tooth must have come in overnight because I noticed it this morning when I rescued the yellow hair rubberband. [Yes, this mouth thing is becoming a theme ...] The neighboring top right took is peeking through as well and should be totally through any day.

... has been hot. Unless you live on the other side of the world, like my sister, who I'm missing after knowing she was in the United States that last couple of months even when she wasn't actually with me, then you know it's hot. It's probably hot where you are too. I just don't remember this kind of hot, and I consider myself a lover of summer. When the high is triple digits and the humidity makes it feel like even higher triple digits, then it's hot. Really hot.

We went swimming yesterday and apparently Jennifer added some cold water not too long before because the water was rather pleasant, meaning it was cooler than the bath water-like temperatures I was expecting. Swimming was refreshing, and really the only possible outside entertainment.

I did have my stroller fitness class twice this week. On Monday, we ran more than I've run since I was in seventh-grade and Katie and I thought running track was a good idea. Then on Wednesday, when it was even hotter, we stretched and used exercise bands under a tree. Who knows what my new friend Cassandra has in store for us tomorrow.

It'll still be hot then.

But you know what else is possible when it's hot? Playing in front of the fan. Yes, that's Greg showing his daughter how to talk into the fan, thus distorting his voice.

Why were we in a place that required fans and not our nicely air-conditioned house, you ask? Well, Uncle Dwain wanted a catfish lunch with his family and car dealership employees, so that's what he go. It was in the service area, which is like the indoors with outdoor air. So the fans helped. And we enjoyed celebrating Uncle Dwain with catfish and strawberry cake.

Ben had another idea to pass the time ...


... we learned more about the logistics of Cate's pre-school, which starts in less than two weeks. Yes, pre-school. Crazy, huh? I can still see her newborn picture and now I'm making a list of what I need to get her before she goes to "school." She'll go three half days (meaning 3 1/2 hours) each week to a pre-school program I've heard good things about at a local church. Next week, she'll meet her teachers and see her classroom and then the week after that she gets to go. She's excited about this thing called school I talk about, but she has absolutely no idea what it all means.

And, you know, I don't really either. I think I do, as I think about our new fall routine. [Can it be called "fall" when it's triple-digit temperatures outside and only mid-August when this new routine starts?] But, really, life is beautiful and filled with unexpected moments and seasons. And I have the feeling I'm entering one.

Maybe it will be cooler in this new season. Like in the 80s? I mean, I don't need snow or anything. Just a break in the humidity that makes me sweat when I walk down the driveway to get our afternoon paper.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

102.3 while sippin' on Sprite

Cate had her first fever and stomach virus yesterday. I consider it a blessing she hasn't had a fever until she was 3 years old. The only time sickness she's experienced is some major congestion that kept her (and me!) on the couch one day when she was 9 months old.

She woke up yesterday with a fever, which flunctuated but reached 102.3 later in the day. Even though her belly was empty, she threw up a couple of times. Mostly, she spent the day watching The Little Mermaid, Land Before Time, Curious George and Finding Nemo and sippin' on Sprite. We had plans with Greg's family and wanted more time with our new niece, but I was reminded that I'm not in control. And I thanked God for the down time at home.

Truly, she was such a good sport. The only time she complained was when I wanted to take her temperature. She wasn't sure about the thermometer, which isn't surprising because she was probably 6 months old and teething the last time I used it.

Greg and I ordered carry-out from Cracker Barrel, and when I was unpacking the bag yesterday evening, Cate perked up and requested some of my pancake and bacon. I guess that looked more tempting that the Jell-O I bought her. I hesitated because I wasn't sure that was the best food on her stomach after the day she had. But I decided I'd let her try. We shared Mama's Pancake Breakfast, and my spunky daughter was back. Her fever lingered into the evening, although it was lessening.

She had a good night's sleep and woke up with a low-grade fever that wore off in time for us to go to church and lunch with Greg's family. Hopefully this is the end of Cate's first fever and apparent stomach virus and I can get another few years without having to see my sweet girl so pitiful.

a boy and his toys

Now that Ben is a professional crawler, he's completely on the move, which means he's into things and putting other things in his mouth. See that basket of toys? Yeah, he can drag it across the floor and then empties it one toy at a time, taste testing each one. In the last few days, I have pulled out of his mouth a plastic string from a pom-pom, a pink bead from a bracelet that broke months ago, a plastic hair rubberband and a soggy Cheerio. Then yesterday we were unsuccessful in rescuing something [Greg suspects it was a string.] from his drooling mouth.

Meeting Mae Rose

The Taylor cousin count is up to 7, and if you add their second cousin, the count is at 8. The newest addition -- Mae Rose -- was born June 9, making her 7 1/2 weeks old. We were happy John and Christine were in town for the weekend, although Cate was sick yesterday, so we didn't get to spend as much time with Greg's brothers and their families as we had planned. We spent some time with them Friday afternoon and evening and then again today.

As you can see, Ben isn't the baby of the cousins anymore!

That's the three youngest Taylor cousins -- Evelyn (almost 16 months), Mae Rose (7 1/2 weeks) and Ben (8 months).

And that's the other part of the group, minus the two babies, who must have been busy eating. From left, that's Evelyn (She goes back and forth between the big kids and the babies!), my Cate, Elijah (who is 6 1/2 years old) and Ethne (who will turn 5 in about six weeks).