Tuesday, December 28, 2010

sharing this giveaway

Sharing is good. It's a lesson my 3-year-old girl is trying to learn. And it's something she thinks she needs to tell her 1-year-old brother when she wants to play with one of his toys. Even as adults, it's important to share -- our time, our money, our hearts.

So guess what? I have something to share with you.

I ordered several copies of "Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies" by Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame to give to kids for their birthdays this year. I'm down to one. And I thought it would be fun to give it away.

Yep, for free.

To one of you.

It's my favorite children's music CD. And that fact means my girl is fond of it too. The first track -- "Stop" -- is one of our favorites. But the whole thing is good. And funny. "God Made Me" is a fun, honest song. "Bears" and "Tractor Tractors" make us laugh. We often sang "Chicken, Wiggle" to Ben while he drank his bottles. [Just listen and you'll know why.]

So all you have to do is tell me a song you like from your childhood or a song your kids are totally into right now. You have until the new year. Then sometime on Saturday -- the first day of the new year -- I'll randomly select a winner from the comments section.

Everyone is eligible, but you need to include your e-mail address [unless you're certain I have it!] so I can contact you, should you win. If you win and would rather share the CD with a kid you know who doesn't live with you, I'll happily mail it to the kid and not you.

Ah, sharing.


This year got away from me. It seems like just yesterday was summer. I have no idea what happened to fall. Yes, my kids keep me busy. We like to have friends over and go to basketball games. And take road trips. And vacations. Yes, more than one.

But somehow 2010 is nearly gone.

While driving my mini van or sweeping my floors, I often think, even when I try not to. I've been thinking about how God is slowly changing me. I've been thinking about the dreams I have for my family. I've been thinking about how my husband is good for me and how we balance each other. I've been thinking about how my life is better than the plan I had that didn't turn out. I've been thinking about my kids and remembering that God has adopted me into His kingdom.

I've been thinking.

And now I thought I'd share 10 places I go online that often prompt me to think. Even has life rushes by and another years [almost] comes to an end, these places help me slow down and take in what's going on around me.

So, in no particular order ...

1. Stuff Christians Like. This is witty and wise.

2. Holly. She's my friend. I wish she lived closer. But her honest words always bring her closer.

3. Ali Edwards. She helps inspire the creative side of me.

4. Ann Voskamp. I've recently discovered her, but God used her words to prepare my heart for Christmas.

5. Amanda Moore Jones. I don't know her, but her blog makes me think I do. Plus one of her recent posts inspired this post of mine.

6. Donald Miller. He's one of my favorite writers. If you haven't read "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life," you should. Now.

7. Proverbs 31 Ministries. I love these devotions. They're so practical for busy moms.

8. Max Lucado. Another of my favorite writers. He tells beautiful stories that are rooted in God's word.

9. Bible Gateway. It's a great place to compare translations of the Bible. Yes, I'm a nerd, and I like to do that sometimes.

10. Pandora. You can make your own online radio stations here. Brilliant.

May 2011 bring you peace and joy. And much inspiration along the way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

good tidings

I started with an empty wreath. The clothespins on it where quickly filled. Then the card wreath exploded on my kitchen wall. And I love it. I love it so much that I just finished taking down the rest of my Christmas decorations. I'm thinking the card explosion needs to stay for awhile.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas here

We simplified Christmas at home this year. It seemed to help keep joy in the season.

I have a son who likes to put things in his mouth and try to climb, so I put up a 4-foot tree on a table in our living room. It worked well this year. I still have my taller artificial tree that will make an appearance in future years.

We buy each of the kids one main present and then some stocking stuffers. We're blessed with extended families that love our kids, and part of how they show that is buying them gifts. They do such a good job that we just pick out something we know the kids will love and give them that. Ben had a few things we brought home from Louisville still to open because he went to sleep before we finished opening gifts there.

Ben got a Jump-o-Lene, which he discovered at a friend's house several weeks ago. When I saw him in it there, I knew what I wanted to get him for Christmas.

See, he really loves it, despite what it does to his hair, which, yes, needs to be cut.

We gave Cate a Tiana dress [and shoes, of course!] so she can dress up like a princess.

Christmas there

There are all sorts of things and people to see and hear at the Hill family Christmas.

Just look at those handsome boys. It's my brother holding my son and my nephew. Jax was into interacting with Ben while we were having our Christmas there Thursday night.

Milla read this story to Cate. I loved, loved, loved listening to her read the entire book. I can't believe she's going to be 7 in less than two weeks!

Aunt Cassie struck gold with this gift. Yep, a 10-color pen. Remember those? Cate sure takes after her momma, who would be equally excited about a new pen ... or pens. In fact, I got some of my favorite pens from my husband.

I think it's funny Ben's expression resembles that of the baby on the box.

You want to see more pictures? You can.

old friends

Not old in age, but old as in we've been friends for 16 years. That would be slightly more than half my life. We don't see each other as often as I'd like, but getting together with Bekah and Shelley [and our families!] is always fun. And we've made it a holiday tradition.

Hopefully, one of these years Katie will make it. She had planned to come this year, and as much as we missed her, we're thankful she didn't share her puking germs with us.

That's us old friends above. And here are our kids ...

From left, that's Lizzy (3), Ben (1), Case (2), Cate (3), Rhett (11 months), Ila (4), Evan (7) and Nate (5).

Case totally has Ben in a head lock. Cate is still crying because she's sad she's not sitting in the middle [the crack!] of the couch.

It was fun looking back to previous years. We didn't get together last year. But we did in 2008 ...

And 2007 ...

I swear ...

Greg is officially a Murray city councilman. He [and the 11 other council members and the city's new mayor] were sworn in last week. And, no, he hasn't fought or initiated a duel with deadly weapons.

Monday, December 20, 2010

germs, germs, germs

You may recall in October both my kids had strep throat with no symptoms other than Cate's sore by her mouth.

And then a couple weeks later, I was under the weather. Although there was no official diagnosis.

Then there was a week not too long ago that included an ear infection for Cate, diarrhea for Ben and pink eye for me.

A week later [making that last week] I took Ben to the doctor because his diarrhea wasn't ceasing. His diapers have since improved, thankfully. He did have much drainage and puss in his ears, but they thought putting him on an antibiotic would irritate his bottom more than help his ears, which apparently weren't bothering him.

And today Cate started complaining that her eyes hurt while we were eating lunch. I knew that meant she had a fever. You know, eyes sting when temperatures rise, and my 3 1/2-year-old girl does a pretty good job of describing how she feels. Fever, indeed. When we got home, her temperature was 101.7. I gave her a dose of Tylenol and then re-evaluated it after her nap. Still 100.5.

Her eyes still hurt.

So I made her a doctor's appointment for later in the afternoon, thinking they'd just prescribe a second round of an antibiotic. Maybe her ear infection hadn't cleared up.

I couldn't find a sitter for Ben on such short notice, so I just took him [in a stroller, so he couldn't touch anything in the germy "Sickville" sick of the pediatrician's waiting room.]. Turns out having Ben with me was a good thing.

Cate tested positive for strep. Then Ben did too.

So now they're both on antibiotics for their second nearly symptom-free cases of strep throat in two months. I see some positive, though: I'd rather them have strep than flu, which was the nurse's other initial though. And they won't be contagious after being on the antibiotic for 24 hours, which will be tomorrow afternoon. Just enough time for me to wash their sheets, dispose of toothbrushes and finish packing what we'll need for three nights in Louisville, celebrating Christmas with family and friends there.

Admittedly, I don't like all this sickness. And despite the past month, I'm not used to this part of motherhood. Probably because Cate hadn't had a fever for the first 3 years and 3 months of her life. At this point, I'd be OK if I didn't have to make my $20 co-pay at the pediatrician's office, get prescriptions filled at Rite-Aid and wait for another sickness to pass.

Here's to a germ-free Christmas, hopefully.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

glory to God

I like to look at this, which was added to my mantel after a recent Christmas party, and then think about the Christmas story:

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

I had an idea to have a birthday party for Jesus. I was thinking we'd do it on Christmas Eve. Just our family of four. You know, start a new tradition.

And any tradition that involves cake is likely to be a good one.

Then I started thinking about how friends come to birthday parties. Even my 3 1/2-year-old girl knows that.

So we had a birthday party last night for Jesus with friends.

Six adults.

Seven kids.

One delicious cake.

One Christmas story.

A new tradition born.

Greg read the Christmas story.

Courtney made a delicious cake.

There was typical party noise.

And there were gifts.
For people we care about.
From the people who love us.
All because Jesus is love.

There are some more pictures here, if you're interested.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Courtney invited us over to decorate cookies. I wasn't sure how the activity would go, but I'm happy to report it was smooth, not ridiculously messy, and fun. Cate told me she was going to be a princess while she decorated. The crown didn't seem to interfere. The cookies are cute .. and tasty!

Monday, December 13, 2010

shutterfly deal

Classic Without Edge Basic Borders
Modern greeting cards and party invitations by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Freebies 4 Mom shared about how to get a $25 gift certificate to Shutterfly for sharing a project created there. I use Shutterfly often and was happy to earn some credit to promote its website. If you're interested too,
Freebies 4 Mom has step-by-step instructions for the simple process.

I chose this specific card to show because I liked the option to have a really simple card that emphasizes the picture itself. Angela took this photo and it's still my favorite from Cate's 3rd birthday.

Snow Day!

I've never loved snow. Maybe if I liked hot drinks, I'd like to enjoy the wetness and coldness and then come in and enjoy hot coffee, tea or chocolate. But, really, I'd prefer not to get wet and cold in the first place.

But that's just me.

And I certainly don't want to deprive my 3 1/2-year-old daughter of playing in the snow, especially on a snow day from school. Thankfully, her daddy thinks it's his job to take her out.

So he took an extended lunch break [ah, the joys of working for yourself!] and took Cate and her friends Norah and Luke out to play in the snow.

Cate has been asking to make snowballs since the snow started falling yesterday morning. Yesterday was busy and windy, so we told her she could make snowballs today.

And she wanted to bring Norah into her plan.

"Hey, Norah, make snowballs with me."

"Throw them over there."

Apparently, Norah had her own plan.

Then, like most girls, they had to talk about it.


"Joy to the World" has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols. And the above version makes it even better. You probably know I don't like to dance. This is another version of another Christmas song that makes me want to like to dance.

And sing loudly.

Repeat the sounding joy. Hallelujah, for the Lord is come. Hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord is come. ... He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found. ... Hallelujah, for the Lord is come. Hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord is come.

more Taylor celebrating

After our small but ever-growing Taylor Christmas party, we went to the big Taylor Christmas party, where there were 51 people of all ages and an inflatable bouncy house with a slide that my kids loved.

We ate. We told stories. We caught up with each other. We laughed.

And we took various group pictures ...

First, the first cousins, ranging in age from almost 7 to 6 months.

Then there's our part of the larger Taylor clan. Those kids love their Gran-Gran.

And then there are the 2009 babies, who really aren't babies anymore. It's amazing how much difference a year makes. Or even six months.

And my kids bounced and went down the slide. Over and over again. And again. And again.


This was Cate's fourth Taylor Christmas party. It's fun to look back. 2007. 2008. 2009. Need to see more of this year? You can.


We had Christmas with Greg's mom and his brothers and their families on Saturday. It was a fun, busy day. I really like the black-and-white version of this photo, but the day certainly was filled with color and cheer.

There was much togetherness ...

The girls wanted to be princesses. And they had a disagreement about the single crown in the house.

Evelyn and Cate wanted to help Mae Rose play with her new drum.

This is Gran-Gran and her grandsons.

Ben and Evelyn both love this toy at Gran-Gran's house. And then Ben noticed I had the camera.


Of course, there are more photos from the day. Want to see?


Courtney and I can't really remember when we started hanging out regularly.

We met in October 2007, when I showed up at a mom's group she hosted. It was a couple weeks after I quit my job at the Ledger & Times and I wanted to make sure I found some fellow stay-at-home moms to befriend. My friendship with Courtney was without question the best thing to come out of that group for me. Sure, I was encouraged in smaller ways the times we met. Sure, God showed me how I could trust him when I take a step out of my comfort zone.

But I made a dear friend.

And then our kids and husbands became friends with each other too.

I remember hanging out on Courtney's back porch while the kids played in the yard. It must have been appropriate weather to be outside, even though I can't remember when this was. Thanks to pictures, I know we went to YaYa's Island together on Oct. 31, 2008.

And since then ...

We've had countless lunches together at the park.

We've freezer cooked together several times.

And Courtney has even become a football and basketball fan.

Sure, we socialize together, but, more importantly, we share our lives, talking about ordinary things and heart matters.

Our families have plans in the coming weeks to celebrate birthdays, both Jesus' birth and her husband Andy's birthday. And there are sure to be many more times of playing, talking, cooking, cheering, celebrating and living.

Friday, December 10, 2010

He is here. Always.

Before I closed my gunky, swollen eye last night, I read a devotion that spoke to my heart. The timing, of course, was perfect.

Genesis 28:10-22 talks about Jacob leaving Beersheba for Haran and having a good night's sleep with his head resting upon a rock. There he dreamed of a ladder going from earth to heaven. In the dream, God made promises to bless him, protect him and be with him always.

When Jacob awoke, he made a promise to God. He wanted to trust God's protection and provision. So he built the foundation of a city on the rock that was his pillow. And he promised to give God one-tenth of all he has.

Ann Voskamp tied this Old Testament story to the Christmas season beautifully.

'Tis the season to be going! Banquets and reunions, concerts and plays, caroling and parties. The calendar squares nearly bulge with dates and times, people and places and we read of a man headed home who slept on a stone on the way and had the best sleep of his life.

Because Jacob saw the ladder, and Jesus, that Christmas child coming to us. He alone is our ladder and we have no way to heave but by the rungs of Christ.

And God, He whispers to us the best gift of all: "I am with you and will protect you everywhere you go ... I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised."

God is with us in this season of coming and going and God is with us in these places through we knew it not, at our tables and in our cars and down our street and in the unlikeliest, unexpected places, even in a place like the manger of a barn and we meet God today in a thousand places. ...

God is with me every morning when I'm getting three of us ready to get out the door.

God is with me when I'm making a Christmas mix to listen to in my car so I can think about that not-so silent night thousands of years ago.

God is with me when I'm waiting in line at the Post Office to mail three packages, two bills and a Netflix DVD.

God is with me when I return the "Merry Christmas" greeting to the slouched-over Santa Claus, who was lounging in his seat next to a table of juice boxes waiting for kids to visit him in front of the hospital pharmacy.

God is with me when I'm packing my purse and gathering what we'll need for this party and then that party.

God is with me in the relationships that will be celebrated at these parties that my family loves this time of the year.

And God is with me when it's no longer the Christmas season. He's with you too. Here's to noticing the Creator, the Ultimate Planner, the Ladder, who came to earth as a baby boy, in our life.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

this week

What a strange week it's been, and, really, it's far from over. Let's just start at the beginning ...

I accidentally broke my iPhone on Sunday night when it fell out of my hand and crashed screen-down in the Kroger parking lot.

I spent a couple hours Monday dealing with my phone drama. First, the sales guy at the local AT&T store frustrated me, then my sweet mother-in-law let me borrow a used Blackberry she had at her house so I had to figure out to clear off my late father-in-law's information so I could load my contacts. Then, of course, I had to figure out how to make calls, receive calls and texts.

Between not having a phone and borrowing a phone, I took Cate to get a flu shot. The experience actually wasn't near as bad as I figured it would be. I promised a treat if all went well with the shot. She wanted a "big Tootsie Roll" but had to settle for gummy worms because the store didn't have anything other than an enormous bag of miniature Tootsie Rolls.

Cate ended up not feeling well at preschool on Tuesday, so I picked her up early.

The time-consuming phone drama carried over to Tuesday afternoon, when I talked to some nice people at the national AT&T customer service, who talked to me about my contract and when I can upgrade to a new iPhone and then how to get my father-in-law's e-mail account off the phone and mine on the phone.

Then later Tuesday afternoon I took my sickly daughter to the pediatrician's office, where her ear infection and hay fever were confirmed. At least she wasn't contagious, right?

Sometime at the beginning of the week, I got congested. Both my kids have had runny noses for several days too. So Wednesday when we woke up, Cate, Ben and I were pretty puny. Cate was recovering from her ear infection. Ben had a stomach bug that was producing some nasty diapers. And I had a really heavy, congested head.

I ended up calling the pediatrician's office about Ben, but you all have already heard about that. I had to keep a list of medications and when I was giving them to my children because I didn't want to forget who or what or when or how much.

Today I woke up ready to conquer the day ... and the presents I have left to wrap for Christmas with my mother-in-law, brothers-in-laws, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephew. I got Cate to preschool, and then I went to walk. Walking also included talking on the phone with Katie, who I'm missing more than usual these days. I needed that conversation, and I'm thinking she did too. While making my last couple laps around the walking track at the basketball arena, I noticed my contact being out of placed, so I kept pushing it around and messing with my eye.

Next, I carried three packages, two letters, a Netflix DVD and my 1-year-old son into the Post Office. I managed to scratch my eye when I was in there, although thinking back, I have no idea how I even reached it with all of that in my arms. Even so, when I did, there was some eye gunk on my finger.

That's when I first realized it probably wasn't my contact that was irritating my eye. So as soon as I got back in the van, I looked in the mirror. Yep. Pink eye. The white parts of my right eye were entirely pink. And more gunk was forming in the corner of my eye.


Long story short: I called the doctor I was going to start using since my regular doctor who I've seen every three months since she diagnosed me with Type 1 diabetes in January 2004 closed her practice last month to become a hospitalist in another town. But he or anyone else in his practice couldn't see me today. Tomorrow morning was an option though. I kindly informed the receptionist that I have two small kids and waiting for eye drops didn't seem like a good idea for me. I also was thinking about how my eye needs to be clear by Saturday when we have our Taylor Christmas parties. Yes, parties. Plural.

So I called my husband crying. I didn't know where to go. I just wanted to feel better. This has been a long week. Blah. Blah. Blah. He took charge of the situation and called our ob/gyn friend who has practiced medicine for a long time in this small-town community for a recommendation. My sweet husband even picked Cate up from preschool because I didn't think walking into a building filled with 3- and 4-year-old kids was really a good idea with my eye looking like it did, and, well, still does.

I took our friend's recommendation. And long story that was supposed to be short: I got an appointment today, liked the nurse practitioner so much that I scheduled my next diabetes check-up appointment with her, and have since started using the eye drops I'm thankful to have.

While looking at my calendar this afternoon and chatting with a friend, I realized we have one free night between tomorrow and Christmas Eve. I need to be well. I want my kids to be well. So here's to hoping that our week ends a little different from how it started.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I put clean pajamas [read: sweatpants, T-shirt and sweatshirt] on after I showered this afternoon.

And I wasn't even going to shower today, but I thought the hot water would feel good on my congested head. Plus Greg was home for lunch, so I took advantage of having a second adult to supervise our two sickly children.

Cate hadn't had a fever in her first three years of life, and now she's had her second one just four months after her first. And she had symptom-free strep throat between the two fevers. Welcome to preschool, I know. And, yes, that probably applies to at least the latter two.

This second fever reared its head Sunday and then again Tuesday afternoon, after Cate told her teacher, "I just don't feel great." The school director ended up calling me for the first time. And I picked her up early. She's been congested, and then her eye started looking a little pink. The doctor said she had an ear infection and hay fever [who lives in Kentucky and doesn't have annoying allergies at some point?]. So some antihistamine and antibiotic are working to make my girl feel better.

Ben has a little stomach bug that has manifested itself in his diapers. The pediatrician called into the pharmacy the prescription for a cream for his extremely rashy bottom. I'm thankful for that and that I didn't have to make my second trip to the pediatrician's office in two days. And, really, counting Ben's year-old check-up appointment last week, it would have been the third time in a week. The nice nurse also gave me the proper dosage for Benadryl, which is helping relieve some of Ben's congestion.

Speaking of Benadryl, I have a funny story for you: Ben fell asleep on me this morning while we were resting on one couch while Cate watched "Merry Madagascar" from the other couch. I laid my blanket-wrapped boy down gently so I could get up for a few minutes. He was still sleeping when Greg came home for lunch, bearing gifts of orange juice, Pedialyte and Ben's prescription cream. I heard a little sound while the three of us were eating in the kitchen. Like Ben had scooted his way off the couch. Not a plop, at least. Well, when I walked in the room, my blanket-wrapped boy was still asleep ... only he was on the floor now! He totally rolled off and didn't even wake up! I supposed Benadryl had that kind of effect on him.

This afternoon has proved more energetic for all three of us.

Ben took his regular afternoon nap even though he had two cat naps this morning.

Cate also took her regular nap, although she wanted to change out of her pajamas before getting in her bed. I told her about today being a day of rest in our pajamas all day. She said, "No, we have to change our clothes every day."

She has a point.

So she changed into sweatpants and a T-shirt. Then she went to sleep.

They both woke up with more energy, and I wrapped some Christmas presents for our early Christmas celebration with Greg's brothers and their families this weekend. I also finished "Choosing to See," a book that helped me pause to think about how to better treasure motherhood and reminded that God is indeed in control. He's really the best choice for the throne, even though I try to steal his seat sometimes.

Here's to the King, who was born in a manger thousands of years ago yet still orchestrates the beautiful details of my life now. Even on days that are spent in my pajamas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

not quite half

visited 21 states (42%)

I want to go to New England. Maine and Massachusetts top my list. Looks like I need to spend some time in Middle America too. [The red-colored states are the ones I've visited.]

Create your own map here

Where in the United States would you most like to go?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

another parade

With Christmastime comes, yep, another parade. And this year it's the second Christmas parade we've seen in two weeks in two different towns. But no town loves parades like Murray does. Cate waved and collected enough candy to fill an entire gallon-size Zip-loc bag. Literally.

Ben eyed his cousin's sucker long enough that he ended up with his own.

big boy

I'm certain my 1-year-old boy knows he's big. I'm also sure he knows he's funny and cute, but that's another blog post. This one is about how he's big.

He faces forward when we're in the van now. He didn't to mind facing backward, but turning around expanded his views.

And he likes to drink from a straw, which is total entertainment when we're in a restaurant.

He eyed his cousin's sucker long enough at the parade yesterday that I decided to give him his own. It was five months earlier than the 17-month-old Cate had hers.