Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May, you were marvelous ...

Um, May, where did you go?

My favorite month of the year flew by. At least we have much fun to show for it. Cate turned 4. And we had a fun party. We spent a long weekend in Louisville, celebrating my brother's wedding. We also went to Churchill Downs and visited with family. And then we spent Memorial Day weekend at Kentucky Lake for the second year in a row. Consider it a new tradition.

And those are just the Hill family highlights. One of my favorite parts was having my sister and brother-in-law in the country for much of that! In fact, I spent three of the four weekends in May with some portion of my family. I consider that a blessing.

Other May activities included a date for my 32nd birthday, a baby shower for a dear friend and another friend's birthday party. Plus we picked strawberries and finished out Cate's first year of preschool. Add to all those celebrations the ordinary life with a 4-year-old girl and 18-month-old boy, and I found myself rather busy.

So busy, I haven't even gotten to share some of it with you, blog readers. So, here I go ...

We had a good time socializing at L&N Wine Bar for the rehearsal dinner. My dinner -- grilled salmon served on top of grits and with asparagus -- was delicious.

We got our nails done. It was Cate's first nail salon experience. She was quiet while we were there, but has talked about it many times since.

Laine was a beautiful, beautiful bride. We're happy she's officially a Hill after already being part of the family for years. And below you can see the two colors of bridesmaid dresses mixed together. It looked lovely. My 4-year-old Cate took that picture below too. Good eye, sweet girl!

And there's the attempt at the family photo while we're all dressed up. Could be better, but it certainly could be worse.

The thing I loved about Laine and Kevin planning a Friday night wedding was it left Saturday and Sunday to spend with family in a less busy setting. Greg and my brother-in-law Zac had never been to Churchill Downs, so we spent the afternoon watching some horse races.


And then there was Memorial Day weekend at Kentucky Lake, which included ...

... jet ski rides. Cate told me, "I went super-duper fast when Daddy drove. It made my belly tickle." Clearly, he's the better jet ski driver!

... messy boys. Ben and Jax have a couple things in common. They both have sensitive skin and messy, messy boys. Aunt Cassie didn't care about their messes and posted with them. The unintentional coordinating outfits were too cute -- and messy! -- to pass up.

... s'mores. Cate preferred her s'more to be in eaten in pieces, which proved messy.

... more cuddling and playing.

... facing one's fear and letting go. Cate was nervous about swimming in the lake, even though she's done it before. She just had to work up her confidence here at the beginning of summer.

... pep talks from Aunt Cassie. Really, wearing a pink life jacket isn't the worst thing in the world, even for a handsome boy.

I can't say I'm sad to look at clearer June and July calendars, but, May, you were fun, while you lasted. And so I don't forget you, I took plenty of pictures throughout the month, especially at the wedding.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ben @ 18 months

... often has something to say. I have 27 words on the list I'm keeping of words he says. He notices dogs and cats, and usually meows, regardless of which animal he actually sees. Instead of saying "please" when asking for something, usually his "cup," he says, "thank you." It's sweet and is so much better than any screaming tactic.

... imitates anything Cate is doing. Here he's trying to talk on his invisible CB radio while Cate talks on hers while they drive in front of Grandmom's house.

... weighs 22 lbs. 10 oz., which is a slight gain in the last three months but puts him in the 10th-25th percentile. He's 32 3/4 inches {75th perecentile}.

... walks like a pro, and even runs. At 15 months, he was barely walking.

... has 16 teeth, meaning he's only missing his 2-year-old molars.

... still drinks soy milk. And water and juice. The boy likes his cup. He's also recently discovered, thanks to his sister's seemingly cooler drinks, Sprite isn't so bad after the initial surprise of the carbonation.

... wants to have a fork near at meal time, even if he doesn't actually eat with it.

... likes to watch Diego, which he refers to as "movie," although it sounds more like "poopy." He'll move his shoulders to the theme music and seems to like all the animals. Plus, he likes sitting on the couch next to his sister. Yes, that's about the only sitting he does, other than eating, and, yes, it's usually short-lived.


I always like looking back at what Cate was doing at the same age. In some ways, her being 18 months old seems like a lifetime ago. And in other ways, I think it was yesterday. For a size comparison, Cate weighed almost 3 pounds more {25 lbs. 6 oz.} and was just about the same height {32 1/2 inches}.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

wanting to be big

This is Ben.

He desperately wants to be part of whatever the big kids are doing. So we let him sit at the picnic table the other night for dinner with Cate, Luke and Norah. Ben, who will be 18 months old in a week, did surprisingly well. He didn't dump the plate of food on the ground, although he did have to be reminded to sit back down. We considered it success for his first time eating alone while not restricted.

He likes to climb too. While this isn't a high destination, he still had to work to get himself into the cabinet shelf. First order of business was removing the toys that are usually stored inside.

Ben was all smiles at the jumpy place. He likes to jump. And he was thrilled his daddy was jumping with him.

Here first-cousin-once-removed Quinnen helped Ben dunk. Any game with a ball is good with Ben.

See what I mean? He's into balls. That makes his daddy proud.

Monday, May 16, 2011

So, summer begins ...

"Mom, is it summer?"

I've lost count of how many times I've heard this question in the last few days. Cate has her reasons, of course, for asking ...

"We learned about Z, and now it's summer."

Or "We don't go to school when it's summer."

And, so, based on my 4-year-old girl's definition, this week is summer. It's her first weekend without school. And she studied the whole alphabet, so it must be summer.

It sure felt like summer last week with temperatures around 90. But it's Kentucky, so no weather lasts too long. It's cooled off and a spring week of weather seems to be in the forecast.

But, really, it's just too complicated to explain to Cate that even though she's taking a break from school, the calendar still says it's spring. It's much like trying to tell her why she had to wear leggings under her long-sleeved dress on a Sunday in May when the temperature wasn't going to reach 60, just days after she got sunburned wearing a tank top while picking strawberries.

I'm certain Cate will miss school.

We ran into Mrs. Amber on Saturday, which was not even a week after Cate's last class with her. Even so, Cate was so excited. I'm not sure Cate realized Mrs. Amber existed outside the preschool walls. They chatted because, of course, Cate had stories to tell her.

I just watched and listened, thankful that Cate's first teacher was someone who helped channel my daughter's bossy, first-child ways into early signs of leadership, who held her hand literally while running through a sprinkler during the year-end water party and figuratively while Cate learned to raise her hand when she had something to say, who taught the kids more about Jesus, and who loved on my son when we had to leave even though he wanted to stay.

Cate decorated a wooden picture from with foam letters to spell "I love my friends" and brought home a class picture, much like the one above. But my favorite part is Mrs. Amber's note to her on the back ...

I'll cherish so many things from this year, especially the way Cate made her own friends, memorized Bible verses, learned to write her name and the rest of the alphabet, enjoyed knowing the next morning was a school day when we tucked her in at night.

Now it's summer for many days to come. Starting now.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Some recent scrap pages have been requested. I used to post what I was working on, but, well, then I had two kids. Lately, meaning the last month, I haven't really scrapped at all. You know, we've been busy with birthdays {Greg celebrated his 33rd birthday, I turned 32 and Cate is 4 now, but only hers made my blog ... twice.} and holidays.

But lately in a broader since, like the last six months, I have scrapped some. I *usually* scrap chronologically, so I'm into May 2010 in that sense. But before I dived into "Life in 2010," I worked on an album about our trip to New Zealand in August 2009. And now I'm starting to work on a "Trips of 2010" album, which will include our road trips to Hilton Head, Chicago and Branson.

I often remind myself that scrapbooking is a hobby. Yes, I want to preserve memories for our family as time flies by too quickly. Yes, I like to have a creative outlet. But it's also a hobby. I don't want to pressure myself to get "caught up."

But, yes, of course, I'd like to have more time to sit and scrapbook, but it's not worth sacrificing the actual making of memories to do so.

So, now, enough with the words, onto the pictures, which are not the highest quality because the layouts are in the page protectors. Oh, yes, page protectors. I'm finding myself using the divided ones of various sizes often. I just put them all in the same three-ring binder. It helps me organize multiple pictures from the same event and keeps me going once I do get a chance to sit down at that table of mine.

This is a 12-inch-by-12-inch layout with nine 4-inch squares.

I do some one-picture layouts. This one is a 6-inch-by-12-inch layout.

Again, a one-picture layout. This time it's a 8 1/2-inch-by-11-inch page.

And Ben makes plenty of appearance in the album. That's right, there are plenty of pictures of my second born. They just don't get scrapped as quickly as early years Cate's did.

And then the New Zealand album ....

A 12-inch-by-12-inch layout served well as the opening page.

This shows the layered look of using different sized page protectors. That 12-inch-by-12-inch layout leads into the 6-inch-by-12-inch divided layout. Another thing I liked about making the New Zealand album is I used one pack of patterned paper, so it's coordinated all the way through.

The divided page protectors make having a lot of photos much easier to display.

Some pages were just pictures.

I used one-photo layouts to highlight a photo I really loved.

I did make some traditional 12-inch-by-12-inch layouts, especially when I wanted to introduce a new place.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

sweet, sweet berries

The last couple of summers I've discovered berry picking. It's a fun summer activity, and it even lingers with the delicious berries brought home. But, somehow, I kept missing strawberry season.

Not this year.

I learned about The Berry Farm and immediately made plans with Courtney to take our kids. It was in the mid-80s today, but at least the sun was shining. And, yes, I brought home sunburned shoulders along with my box of self-picked strawberries. And I loved nearly every minute of being out there in the heat.

Apparently there was a strawberry pickin' competition going on. At one point I had this most. When I took this picture, Noah and Cate were discussing which of them had the most in their bucket.

The minutes I didn't love involved my 4-year-old girl breaking down because she was hot, hungry and not getting her way. The breakdown followed the picture above. Lunch cured much of her attitude and we enjoyed the rest of our time there.

Ben watched us pick berries, but then he found a swing, a dog and a large field to walk through. That's his version of heaven.

He also waved to the tractor that passed by, as if it was a very brief parade.

The Berry Farm has more than just strawberry patches ...

The kids liked this grain bin and the echo inside. They also got to climb on hay bales inside an old tobacco barn. I would have taken pictures, but I was climbing behind my boy who is fearless about such activities.

The observation honeybee hive provided the opportunity to look for the queen bee, who conveniently had a white spot painted on her back.

Now to wash, cut and freeze those 5 1/2 pounds of strawberries we brought home.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

1, 2, 3, 4!

Celebrating 4-year-old Cate this weekend was fun.

We had a picnic lunch in our backyard on Friday and then walked to Dairy Queen. Ben, of course, was eager to help his sister open her present. It was a fun afternoon on her actual birthday, which included some welcomed sunshine.

We all were excited Grandmom, Kevin, Laine, Milla and Jax were able to spend the weekend with us. Cate, Milla and Jax got some pre-party jumping in before the guests {including the unwelcomed guest, courtesy Mother Nature} arrived.

All six of Cate's cousins from both sides of our family, four school friends and nine other family/church friends were able to come to her party on Saturday.

The rain ended up coming to her party, too, but we didn't let it damper our celebration. The guys moved the tables into our carport and we had an indoor/outdoor party. Eventually, the rain stopped and the kids got to jump in the bouncy houses we borrowed from friends.

The rain did eventually stop, which gave the kids a chance to bounce. Ben was happy to have this smaller of the two borrowed jumpy houses to himself later in the afternoon.

Cate was especially glad her 7-year-old cousin Milla was able to come to party and "sleep here for two nights." One of my favorite conversations I overheard between them went like this:

"Hey, Cate, want to watch me play my game?"

"Sure!" Cate said, with much enthusiasm. I think she may have looked at the scene once before fully concentrating on getting her little Disney princesses dressed.

Whether jumping, laughing, talking or sitting, we all were happy to be together while celebrating Cate and the blessings that come from having each other.