Sunday, October 31, 2010

leaves & pumpkins

Despite their strep throat diagnosis, Cate and Ben had a fun weekend that started with a day at home while the antibiotics worked. But they still got to play in leaves ...

Then Cate decorated pumpkins ...


And then on Sunday, we were barely at home. And the kids seemed fine with that.

After church and a quick nap, we celebrated Davey and Eva's first birthday. They are 3 1/2 weeks older than Ben. You may remember their early friendship. And their many photos together, including Ben and Davey's matching outfits, more than once.

The sports-themed party was really fun and, as you'll see, Davey really loved his cake. Oh, and, Ben loved his first-ever cheese puff. He then stole someone else's cupcake, but we snatched it before he got much more than a couple of bites. I can only imagine what he's going to do when we actually give him a piece of birthday cake.


And, although I don't have pictures, we really loved the fall festival at Westside Baptist Church, where Cate goes to preschool. There was trunk-or-treating, games, free food and farm animals. We're hoping this is a new Halloween tradition for our family because it was more fun that old-fashioned trick-or-treating.

Ben also had a second helping of cheese puffs at the fall festival. It was quite a day for our boy who loves to eat.

Friday, October 29, 2010

a piece of my story

Her words helped change my story.

Just because I didn't physically birth my daughter doesn't mean I didn't deal with typical new-mom emotions. I was so excited to cuddle with seven-hour-old baby that I chose her over sleep. It was surreal pulling away from the hospital with this little, tiny baby girl in our back seat. I wanted to show her off the world and tell our story. And when it came time to go back to work, I didn't want to go.

But I did. Mostly because I told my boss I would be back when Cate was six weeks old.

It didn't take me long to realize that I could be a reporter and a mom. For three months, I managed to do OK at both, but I knew when Cate started walking and talking, managing to get by wouldn't be enough.

I depended on my job for insurance and our family's predictable every-other-week income. I knew getting on another insurance plan wouldn't be easy because of pre-existing condition of Type 1 Diabetes. And my husband work. In fact, he worked hard. But he was and is self-employed. I may not have made tons of money, but I knew exactly what my check would be.

These two things weighed heavily on my heart.

But I'd look into my daughter's gorgeous brown eyes and know she needed me more than I needed the comforts of security.

Yet, still, making the decision to quit my job as a busy small-town reporter was hard. Mostly because I really loved it.

I talked to many, many people about it. Pretty much everyone encouraged me to stay home with Cate. Nothing my friends and family members said was new: Your kids are only small once. This season of life will fly by. The early years of life are the most formative. If you can do it financially, do it. You can always go back to work when the kids are in school.

But one conversation brought clarity.

I was in Louisville, where my family lives, for my sister's wedding the first weekend of August 2007, making Cate just 3 months old. After my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandpa and cousins had [mostly finished] dinner at Outback Steakhouse, my crying baby and I were outside the restaurant. I'm sure I was willing the breath of fresh air to calm Cate, but, truthfully, I don't remember how I was feeling or what I was thinking.

But I do know this quit-or-not-to-quit question was weighing heavily on my heart and mind. My aunt Kim ended up outside with me and we talked about motherhood and jobs and decisions and purpose.

I don't remember her words, but I remember her sentiment. Life goes fast. This baby won't be a baby for long. She'll grow up fast. You don't want to miss any of it.

Something inside of me clicked. What was in my heart made it to my head. And I had clarity, with much thanks to my aunt who happens to also be the same woman who gave me my first Bible as a Christmas present when I was in high school.

In my heart I knew I wanted to be really good at one important thing and not settle for being decent and two things. God put my family together like he saw fit. And I needed to care for my family with everything I had.

Soon after I came to this decision, I told my boss I'd be quitting the job I loved and studied to do because I had another job to do. This new job required me stepping out in faith, giving up some security and dependence on things of this world, and trusting the promises of God. For myself. For my husband. And for Cate.

Not once have I regretted that decision. But I have come back to that blurry conversation with my aunt. Cate may only be 3 1/2 years old, but I have seen enough to know Kim and everyone else was right. I don't want to miss this because it's certainly not going to be like this for long.

Compassion International wants to hear stories of someone's words changing your life. I'm sharing mine, even though I was 28 years old. This moment not only changed my life, but my daughter's and now my son's too. Feel free to share yours too.

Where's the manual?

I went to school to become a writer.

While at Murray State, I worked at the college newspaper, learned about AP Style, realized there are preferred mechanics to best tell someone's story, learned about governments and how to request public records, wrote stories I loved and stories I hated, realized communication didn't always fit in a box but was necessary for every professional and personal relationship I had, took both creative and technical writing classes that were considered electives for my print journalism major, and left there wanting to be a writer, for real.

Since then, I have worked as an intern at one of my favorite daily newspapers, as a temporary editorial assistant at a major news agency, as an education reporter at a small-town daily, and as a reporter who covered police, courts, my alma mater, city government, the public hospital and whatever else came across my desk in this town that I have called home for seven years. Those seven years don't count my four college years that I enjoyed but was ready to move on from, swearing to myself and others that I'd never live here.

Never say never. I married my college sweetheart who is from this town. And now it's our town.

And I have no complaints about that.

But there are days I wish I had a manual for my new profession. Motherhood.

My 3-year-old daughter has had a sore beside her mouth all week. I wondered about it, sometimes even aloud to my husband: "I wonder what this is on her mouth." But I just assumed it was some sore she picked at. But it wasn't going away.

So I asked my mother-in-law at dinner last night what she thought it was. "Impetigo," she said. Thanks to my iPhone, I was only clueless for a few moments. I read about it, and then I felt bad I sent her to preschool as usual three days this week and I hadn't taken her to the doctor.

We went on about our evening, which included the annual kick-off to Murray State basketball season. The enthusiasm was Fan Jam was lessened with my mom guilt about my daughter possibly having an infectious sore. My friend Courtney, who happens to have a nursing degree, also said impetigo after a quick look. Then my own doctor happened to be sitting behind us at the basketball party, so I asked her. "I think it looks like impetigo," the internist said.

Three of the same diagnosis with no prompting from me about what the others said. So I called our pediatrician's office this morning. So much for our orchard/pumpkin patch trip we had planned. Instead this mini van headed to the pediatrician, where I learned that strep throat can cause impetigo. Yep. The story continues ... Cate and Ben both tested positive for strep throat. [Ben, who is 11 months, was only with me because we made the appointment on short notice this morning and I didn't really have any easy, quick childcare alternatives.] Other than her sore, neither of them have exhibited any symptoms of anything being wrong.

So we left the doctor's office armed with popsicles, stickers and Amoxicillin prescriptions. And after 24 hours of the pink medicine my kids seem to enjoy, my family will stop unintentionally infecting people.

My husband reminded me that I have a bachelor's degree in journalism. Not any medical degree. Heck, the only science I took in college was "Chemistry for Non-Science Majors," my choice because I liked math and figured I could plug numbers into formulas and survive. Yet I still find myself feeling bad that I hadn't taken Cate to the doctor sooner.

I'm still a writer. But I'm a mom first, and not much is black and white in parenthood, even with a college degree. So I guess I'll just write about it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Boys will be boys ...

Both my boys, both the 11-month-old and 32-year-old, liked bouncing ...

Jaclyn and I decided that maybe we should have our husbands' April birthday party at this bouncing place, just like our 4-year-old friend Malaika did on Saturday.


Cate wrote her own name by herself on Saturday after I said, "Here's Malaika's birthday card, do you want to write your name?"

Full disclosure: I expected her to make a sideways C and then make some other lines. That's how she usually writes her name.

Not this time.

She made the C. And then most of the A. I reminded her to make the horizontal line on the A. And then she went on to make the T and E without any help.

I was seriously proud. Like nerdy writer proud. And like momma proud.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ben @ 11 months

Ben seems to have grown up so much this past month. He's quicker, more observant and more expressive. At 11 months, Ben ...

* has eight teeth [four on top, four on bottom] and he's working on more.
* crawls quickly. Everywhere.
* wants to climb the stairs.
* high fives when he's in the mood.
* shakes his head "no" and seems to know what it means and what he's doing.
* waves and says "bye." He only does this when he wants, which is more often not on cue.
* loves fruit cocktail, beans of any kind, and pizza.
* is a messy, messy eater, which you can see above in the photo I snapped with my iPhone during dinner earlier this week.
* tolerates a sippy cup and really loves his bottle.
* drinks whole milk sometimes. I'm nearing the end of $26 cans of formula.
* still takes two naps and likes to go to bed for the night sometime in the 7 o'clock hour.

Want to read about his growth? You can ... 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months,9 months and 10 months.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

friends, fun, fire, fall

A bonfire with our friends was fairly close to perfection. There was much laughter, campfire food and pleasantly chilly temperatures.

My boy liked the hay. He didn't even eat it.

My [almost] 11-month-old son liked whatever his 4-year-old friend, Luke, was saying.

The girls loved these flashlights. And the kids and their daddies loved the mock hayride with blankets in the bed of an electric truck.

And I loved my boy in his hat. Seriously.

Monday, October 18, 2010

in the town of parades

I had sworn off walking in parades with babies. I had a bad experience once. Yet I did it again earlier this month anyway, mostly because I love my husband and he's running for city council.

But, you know, it was a much better experience.

Really, I should have known that living in Murray means there would be plenty of parade walking and watching experiences. Parades happy here for the Fourth of July, Veterans' Day, Homecoming and Christmas.

For the Homecoming parade, everyone was happy.

My baby was happy to be pushed along in his first parade.

And my big girl loved handing out candy. One piece at at time. And she talked to everyone before she let go of the Smarties in her hand. When she got tired, there weren't tears this time. Instead she rode between her cousins in the back seat of the electric car.

And, yes, the candidate walked too.

catching up ...

I've had some blog posts brewing my head, but then I got sick, so I haven't done much of anything for the last 36 hours. And the 18 hours before that I tried to pretend I felt good, even though I didn't. I ached. I had a sore throat. I had absolutely no energy. But I did have a husband who basically let me use a sick day and take some time off from motherhood yesterday. Gradually, I feeling better, I think.

Now, if only my throat would stop hurting each time I swallow.

So, before I got sick, I made a 37-hour trip to the Louisville area late last week to celebrate my parents' 60th birthdays and meet Simon.

The kids were glad to see Granddad Hill sample some of the white chocolate flakes from the top of the cake ...

Jax was tired. But he was awfully sweet cuddled up with Poppy while they read a book.

And then I got to meet Simon, who is three days shy of being exactly nine months younger than Ben.

While I wished I got to meet him sooner, I was glad to have seven hours Friday with my long-time best friend Katie. Our visits are never long enough and they certainly aren't frequent enough. Of course, our friendship started when she was 10 years old and I was 11 years old and we were neighbors. That was 20 years ago, this month. Now, we're 30 and 31, each with two children, each stay-at-home moms who challenged daily but in love with our families. And we love being together whenever we can. We even managed to have 45 minutes just talking while sitting on the couch while all four of our kids slept.

The night the kids and I got home from our quick road trip, I woke up feeling achy and sickly. I tried to press through Saturday like nothing was wrong, and I probably did too much. Although I'm glad got some family pictures taken. And I'm pleased with how they turned out.

And now I have chores awaiting me while I have a little energy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

friends by choice

If you've been around Cate for any length of time recently, you've heard her talk about Talley. In her class of seven 3 year olds at preschool, Talley is the one Cate comes home talking about most. That alone speaks volumes because sometimes when I ask Cate about her day, she kindly tells me we can talk about it later. But most every six-minute drive home involves at least one mention of Talley.

One day she was "working" with alphabet stickers and noticed a pink T. "That's a T for Talley. She's a girl like me. Girls like pink."

Well, yes.

So out of curiosity, I asked Cate if she knew what letter started her name. "Big C." Check.

Then this past weekend I was wearing a yellow T-shirt that had M-U-R-R-A-Y S-T-A-T-E in glittery letters. Cate's observation was "There's two Ts. One for Talley. One for Cate."

One for Cate? I know what you're thinking. We just went over how her name starts with a big C. But, you know, there's still a T in the middle of her name.

Anyway ...

My point is Cate made her first friend without my help. All her other friends, who are dear to our family, came by way of my adult friendships. And nothing will replace those family friendships because they are precious to us and important to our little community.

But it's important she makes friends too. I'm not sure what criteria 3 year-old girls use to choose friends. But Talley and Cate found something in each other in that preschool classroom. And from what I've gathered during pick-up and drop-off times three days a week and our playdate at the park yesterday, I think they did a good job in choosing each other.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Worth Repeating Wednesday

Never got anywhere
By running away
Never learned anything
Without anything
without a mistake
Never loved anyone
By playing it safe
It's a long way down, but
I'm here right now, so

Here goes nothing,
Here goes everything
Gotta reach for something
or you'll fall for anything
Take a breath
Take a step
What comes next
God only knows
But here goes

I don't wanna turn around
and wonder what happened
Never lost and never found
Are one and the same
I wanna run across the battle line
And take my chances
Not the long way 'round
When I'm here right now

Here goes nothing
Here goes everything
Gotta reach for something
or you'll fall for anything
Take a breath
Take a step
What comes next
God only knows
But here goes

What good is chance not taken?
What good is life not living?
What good is love not given?

Here goes nothing
Here goes everything
Gotta reach for something
or you'll fall for anything ...

--"Here Goes" by Bebo Norman

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We went on vacation last week with Greg's mom, his two brothers and their families. That means there were six kids ranging in age from 6 1/2 years old to not quite 4 months old. [All but the smallest are pictured above.] It was a fun week and a great time of the year to get away from everyday life. This is the second time in two years we've been to Branson. Consider it a tradition.

The weather gorgeous. It was cool at the beginning of the week and heated up as the week went on. But it was sunny the whole time.

We did really well getting family photos ...


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park was a pretty, pretty area. It's on the Missouri-Arkansas border and has trout-filled streams, a scenic walking/biking trail and a tram ride that goes through a prairie that is home to deer, elk, bison and longhorns.


Ride the Ducks showed us around the entertainment district and Table Rock Lake ... and provided noisemakers!


The Branson Scenic Railway wasn't what I thought it was going to be. But it was still the first train ride for Cate, Ben and me.

Silver Dollar City was the place to be in the middle of the week. The kids could ride rides [that sounds funny ...] continuously, sometimes without even getting back in line, because the majority of the people were there were more into crafts than the rides. I like crafts, but I love amusement park rides.

Cate got to ride her first roller coaster ...

... and plenty of other rides.

Greg and I loved this ride ...


I also was happy to eat at a restaurant we discovered two years ago when we were there.

While waiting for our table, Cate said, "The geese are calling me." Of course.

There are many, many more photos here, if you want to look.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Chapmans

The night before we left for vacation, we went to see Steven Curtis Chapman (and his sons and wife!) in concert at Murray State. I just had a feeling going to this show was going to be good for me. And I was right!

The music was encouraging. Mary Beth Chapman's words were a blessing. And I'm thankful that such an event was right here in my small town.

[Thanks to Courtney for the video. She was sitting in the front row and didn't bring her camera. So I lent her mine because I didn't need to use it while sitting in the balcony!]

falling away ...

Apologies for falling away from blogging. But we've been seeing and doing fun things. Be patient as I settle back in from a week away in Branson. More pictures and stories are coming ... soon.