Monday, April 30, 2012

Learning as I go

I was a kid once. And I have a great mom. Bonus: I genuinely like my mother-in-law too. Still, nothing quite prepared me to be a mom. 

Sure, there were things from my childhood I want to make sure my kids experience, and, certainly, there are others I hope they don't. I have goals and dreams and desires. I learn about this season of mothering small kids from moms who have gone before me and those friends of mine here with me. I've even read some books.

But, really, I just have to do it to figure it out.

And sometimes that alone is challenging for me.

I want to be a good mom. But then I think, what's a good mom anyway? So I've been thinking about what I want to mean about by "good mom."

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got! Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. ...

When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you're going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn't build, well-furnished houses you didn't buy, come upon wells you didn't dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn't plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don't forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.

Deeply respect God, your God. Serve and worship him exclusively. Back up your promises with his name only. ... Do what is right; do what is good in God's sight so you'll live a good life and be able to march in and take this pleasant land that God so solemnly promised through your ancestors, throwing out your enemies left and right—exactly as God said.

The next time your child asks you, "What do these requirements and regulations and rules that God, our God, has commanded mean?" tell your child, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and God powerfully intervened and got us out of that country. We stood there and watched as God delivered miracle-signs, great wonders, and evil-visitations on Egypt, on Pharaoh and his household. He pulled us out of there so he could bring us here and give us the land he so solemnly promised to our ancestors. That's why God commanded us to follow all these rules, so that we would live reverently before God, our God, as he gives us this good life, keeping us alive for a long time to come.

"It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment in the Presence of God, our God, just as he commanded us to do."
--Deuteronomy 6:5-25 {The Message}
Don't miss it. I don't want my kids to keep God's rules because they're rules. I want them to love God with their whole hearts. And I want to serve them and show them Jesus so that they can know God brought me to where I am, really, where we are. I want to teach them with my words, and, more importantly, my actions. And I want them to have the put-together life only following God brings.

Sometimes getting there -- and staying there -- is easier said than done. My emotions cloud my perspective on the days that wear me down. That's what happened yesterday when I learned Ben bit and hit our friend who keeps the church nursery. Sadly, it's not an isolated incident. He's been hitting and biting people, sometimes out of frustration, sometimes out of excitement, and usually people we love. Although there was the random boy swinging at the park who wasn't paying attention to Ben like Ben wanted, so Ben got his attention with a stick.

I don't say this to talk ill of my boy, who is king of adventure yet can melt your heart. I say this because such behavior baffles me. Sure, I understand frustration. And I was the big sister who bit my brother once, probably twice. But I don't understand biting those you love.

Or maybe I do. I bit my husband with my words yesterday. He wasn't sympathizing with my broken momma-heart like I wanted him to. I ended up snapping later because of that frustration and others that were mounting as I lost perspective of the kind of mom, and person, really, I desire to be, the kind of mom/wife/person I can be because God made, and is making me, new.

Today is a new day, thankfully. Ben ended yesterday with the highest fever he's ever had. 102.7. After checking it every four hours overnight and into the morning and giving him Tylenol each time, I didn't get below 101. My boy was lethargic, hadn't eaten since lunch yesterday, and barely drank anything. I know my boy, and he wasn't himself. So I took him to the pediatrician this morning.

Strep throat.

That kind of sums up the adventure of motherhood. Yesterday I was struggling with not knowing how to discipline and train my son not to bite. I prayed about it. I cried about it. I texted some friends about it. Last night and today I've been caring for my sick, feverish boy.

Between thermometer readings, Tylenol and Motrin doses, and a second trip to the pediatrician to make sure my preschool daughter who has had a snotty nose for weeks, even months, didn't have strep throat too, I've been thinking about how God wants me to mother my son in the best ways I know. He wants to me to stand firm in His truth and teach Ben those truths. And my boy needs me. He doesn't need a mom who is better at mothering boys. He doesn't need a parenting professional. He needs me. God made me to be his mom. And Cate's mom. And Greg's wife.

I don't do everything right. But I'm where I am supposed to be with the people I'm supposed to serve. And I'll learn as we go because God got us here and he'll get us there.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

'Thank you making pizza'

Sometimes Ben's bedtime prayer is him repeating things I say. You can imagine the precious words said from his 2 1/2-year-old lips. Other times, he's quite funny. Like last night:
ME: Thank you, God, for making us.
BEN: Thank you making pizza.
ME: Thank you for our food.
BEN: Thank you pizza.

Ben must have liked helping me {and his sister} make homemade pizzas last night. You can see, he's ready to dig in and has lingering evidence beside his mouth that he's already tried. All this before it was even cooked. That pretty much sums up Ben, who is eager, willing, curious, and quick.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Our friends are fun. Can't you tell?

We gathered at our lake house this past weekend. And we broke it in with 16 kids, the oldest of whom is 8 years old. The Gathering Place lived up to its name, even if the sunshine and warm weather I invited to come out to play didn't show up.

There was fishing. Ben always wants to pet the fish.

There was sitting with friends.

There was rocking throwing.

There was a miscommunication about the names on the cake.

There was some {mostly} boy-girl segregation.

And there will be more gathering here, hopefully sooner rather than later. I came home with a full heart and a list of how to make The Gathering Place an even better place to gather.


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Here & now ... together

Having friends is good. Apparently Adeline and Ben agree.

I've been thinking about how sometimes I make friends because our kids befriend each other. Then there are the friends I have because we have a history that includes pre-kid life. I've made friends with other moms who parent like me. One of my dearest friends is single, doesn't have kids yet, and lives too far away. Another another lives too far away but we still just pick up where we left off, like we have for 21 1/2years. My friends encourage me in this challenging but rewarding phase of motherhood. They help me become a better version of myself. And we share our lives.

However and whenever each friendship was born and grown, I'm blessed by my friends. I certainly couldn't do life without them. Thankfully, we laugh more than we cry. Their kids become part of my kids' stories. And my friend that doesn't have kids adores mine and helps me stay rooted in myself as a whole person.

Chloe and Cate were ready to tie-dye ...

... and they just kept adding the colors.

Did I mention we laugh?

As we were leaving those friends' house, Cate stuffed her dress pockets with pitachios and grapes. And then Chloe handed her and Ben packages of string cheese. You would have thought Cate was a poor, homeless girl who wasn't sure if she'd have enough food for her next meal. {This is certainly not the case.} And all I could do is look and Jenn, admit I had no idea what my daughter was thinking, and thank her for sharing.

She shared her snacks. But she also shared her tie-dying kit, which left some colorful marks on her backyard patio. More importantly, Jenn and I have forged a relatively new friendship. And friendship is the best kind of sharing there is.

Jaclyn and I share almost 14 years of memories, which include being in college, planning weddings for the same summer, starting careers, wanting to have babies but not being able to, quitting our jobs once we had the babies in different ways, adjusting how we spend time together as our kids' seasons change, and watching our kids love each other much like siblings.

So sometimes it's good to load up the mini van with Jaclyn and her two kids that aren't in school with me and my two kids and go do something fun. Like pick strawberries. 

He was repeating my directions: "All red."

Caroline (20 months), Cate (almost 5), Norah (4), and Ben (2 1/2).


It's good to be with those you love. Like when another friend let me crash her house for lunch this week when the weather wasn't cooperating for the park, where our boys like to ... well ... be boys. Like when a texting conversation resolves a small issue with a friend who doesn't share my normal schedule and we realize we need to make adjustments to hang out like we want to. Or when the too-far-away friend hasn't email in awhile {and it goes both ways, yes ...} and I suddenly sit at a computer missing her. Then there is the other too-far-away friend {this one of 22 years} who painted my nails last weekend when I got to see her, so I've thought of her all week as I've lived life, which gradually chips away the sparkly paint.

This is life. It's worth sharing, all the snacks and strawberries and memories and seasonal adjustments and the little people who come along with me. This is how I'm blessed. Here. Now. In this community.


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Thursday, April 19, 2012


  That's adventurous Ben with wet hair from playing 
in the toilet, which is unrelated to the following story.

I'm certain my boy will end up in the ER at some point with some kind of injury. And, really, I thought last night was the night.

Greg and I were hanging curtains in our lake house. Cate was in the other room watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." And Ben was going back and forth, occasionally mischievously walking on the back porch, which was in our line of sight from the door over which we were hanging curtains.

I heard my 2 1/2-year-old boy crying and I immediately assumed a sibling dispute was happening in the other room. Thinking it was just another one of those moments, I mumbled, "What happened?" Cate, being the typical first-born child, updated me: "Ben poked himself."

Um, poked himself? That seems like too many tears for a self-induced poking.

And then I saw him. He had his new Cars fishing rod hanging from his mouth. And ... the fish hook was in his mouth. Let me repeat: THE FISH HOOK WAS IN HIS MOUTH. So, yeah, I screamed. And then I held the fishing rod up so it wouldn't pull down on his lip. I really, seriously, genuinely thought the fish hook was getting ready to poke through my son's lip.

I couldn't watch. But, in hindsight, I should have taken a picture.

When Greg took a breath from laughing at me, I suggested he come take care of removing the fishing hook from Ben's mouth. Yes, seriously, my husband was laughing. At me. Apparently at first glance my fisherman husband knew it wasn't a big deal. Um, yeah, OK ...

Turns out, the fishing hook wasn't actually piercing skin. Rather it was poking him in the gums right under a tooth. There was a little blood. But no gaping holes. Or ripped lip. Or danging fish hook unable to be removed without medical assistance.

Yes, these are the scenarios that went through my mind as soon as I saw the fishing rod attached to my boy. Well, I thought these things after I screamed.

I rinsed his mouth out. I mean, it was a metal hook that had been used for catching fish. And he seemed fine, other than a little shaken up. And, really, it should be noted Ben doesn't get shaken up easily from physical accidents. {The emotional distress can be a whole different story.}

After Greg and I finished hanging curtains, Ben went with his daddy and sister fishing. And the hook caught some crappie and blue gill. Much better than a little boy's mouth.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And they're off ...

I have memories in a grassy area next to the Keeneland grandstand. Or as my mom told my husband on Saturday, "Kristin grew up next to the that tree," pointing to the grassy area nearby. I have memories at Louisville Downs and Churchill Downs too.

One of the most vivid is climbing over and under the bars of the general admission boxes at Louisville Downs, a now-defunct harness racing track, while my brother, sister and I would collect losing tickets. Yeah, looking back, I have no idea why.

But horse racing is part of my Kentucky-born-and-bred childhood. One of my first best friends loved horses, was destined to be a vet, and continues to follow horse racing even though she moved to the West Coast a decade and a half ago. I was born two days before Spectacular Bid won the Kentucky Derby. I cleaned up after the Oaks and Derby {those are two consecutive big race days, for you non-Kentucky folks} to earn some service hours for my high school Beta Club. Best moment of that weekend in 1997 was watching my friend Dustin sell hats made from newspapers to drunk people for $1 each. Oh, and I met Mitchell Anderson and Jerry O'Connell  and saw Melissa Joan Hart trip up some stairs at the 2002 Kentucky Derby, where I covered parts of the day that had nothing to do with horses when I worked at The Associated Press.

I watch about two minutes of horse racing a year and that happens on the first Saturday of May. I might watch two other races in May and June if there is a Triple Crown threat.

But I like going to race tracks occasionally. And turns out I married a guy who wrote a book about horse racing for an elementary school project and can dominate any trivia quiz involving Derby winners.

I'm sure those trees where I grew up grew up themselves in the years that have past since I last was at Keeneland. My brother-in-law {who does follow horse racing} organized a family trip to Keeneland on the day of the Bluegrass Stakes. That's what prompted our road trip this past weekend that included other adventures.

Horses are entertaining for people of all ages. My kids like animals, whether they are in a zoo or running around a track. In fact, they even like statues of extinct animals. My kids aren't the only ones who cheered for the "Racers" racin' around the track. We were part of the largest crowd {40,600, give or take ...} in Keeneland history.

And, yes, Ben made the Racers connection and chanted the R-A-C-E-R-S cheer, complete with some bom-ba-bas that are supposed to sound like the pep band. He certainly had the right idea, even if he always starts it T-R- ... who knows what he's actually spelling. Even so, back to racing ...

My mom and husband discuss wagering. Math whizzes they are.

Napping on Gran-Gran ...

Brothers. The one in the Cardinals jersey organized the trip.

The day wouldn't have been complete without this ...

Dullahan beats Hansen in the Bluegrass Stakes.
What about you? What do you think of watching beautiful animals race around a track? Have you even been to Kentucky? If not, Keeneland is a good place to start.


You can see more pictures in my Facebook album from the weekend. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Adventure welcome here

I love road trips, especially the ones that aren't just about the destination.

Heading for Dinosaur World on Friday morning, my sister-in-law in the vehicle following our mini van needed a bathroom pit stop. We couldn't find a gas station or fast food restaurant on the Todd County stretch of U.S. 68/80, so we pulled into the Jefferson Davis Monument

Most unique bathroom break of my road-tripping life. Well, there was this one time I had to use a tennis ball container while stick in traffic on I-65 between Louisville and Elizabethtown. Anyway, so there we were at this obelisk in the middle-of-nowhere western Kentucky. And we took the elevator up to the top, after the restroom stop, of course.

My husband, his brother, his mom and our sister-in-law had been there, both on family road trips and school field trips. But growing up in central Kentucky, my childhood included more trips to the Capitol and Mammoth Cave.

I'm glad to have seen the Jefferson Davis Memorial. And our bladders were ready to continue east. 

Lunch time neared as we approached Bowling Green, so we ended up eating at Red Lobster there. This after my husband thought a Rafferty's was just off I-65 on Scottsville Road. We went through a few stoplights without seeing it, so we detoured, made a U-turn, and arrived at Red Lobster, which certainly isn't a bad second-choice restaurant. Just as Greg, who ate 6 3/4 cheese biscuits. Yeah, I know, that three-fourths is strange. I don't know why he left a measly bite on his plate. 

Evelyn wasn't thrilled with the "Happy Birthday" moment. I can't blame her.
Then it was back on the road toward Dinosaur World, our destination to celebrate Evelyn's third birthday.



Six of the seven Taylor cousins were together at Dinosaur World. Their ages: Almost 10 months, 2 years 5 months, 3 years, almost 5 years, 6 1/2 years, and 8 years 3 months. 



While posting Instagram photos {I'm not sure why I just recently learned of this iPhone app ...} throughout the day, a friend mentioned my sense of adventure. I've never considered myself adventurous, although I did jump off a bridge once. But I was thinking about her comment and realized parenting is really an adventure in itself, so I might as well make the most of it and enjoy the ride. At least that's my philosophy. And that's why I load up the mini van and take off. 

That night we headed to the Lexington area so we could be part of what turned out to be a record crowd at Keeneland the next day. That installment of the story to come soon.


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Thursday, April 12, 2012

969.42 miles and counting ...

It's been a busy week.

The kids and I went shopping in Paducah {47.1 miles one way} on Monday for some wall art for the lake house. We were successful and had a good time. And I discovered the spicy chicken sandwich {with pepper jack cheese!} at Chick-fil-A. I can't believe I've been missing out on this. We ended up solving our grill problems at the lake house that night {14.1 miles each way}, Cate befriended the neighbor there, and some evening fishing happened.

She fishes with some sass.
Ben wanted to fish kiss this fish.
Tuesday was just busyness here. I worked at Greg's office like I do once a week. Cate at t-ball practice. And then we took Cate to the Murray State Basketball Banquet. I've never been before, but this was a good year to try something new in support of this team. I'm glad we went, although had I known we'd get to interact with some of our favorite players last week at Cate's school, we may not have gone. Either way, listening to coaches, players and Neal Bradley, the awesome radio voice of the Racers, recap the season made me want it to happen all over again. Right now.

She drew circles around Donte while writing on the program.

Wednesday we took a road trip with Courtney and her kids to the Nashville Zoo {122 miles away}. Us two moms shared two meals together with our four kids, saw lots of animals, handed out 15 snacks {no exaggeration}, supervised bathroom stops that never seemed to be in sync with one other, laughed often, and heard few complaints and tears from our kids.

We got to be up close and personal to some animals.

The bamboo makes for a nice photo backdrop.

We watched the flamingos for quite some time ...

... and then Cate pretended to be a flamingo!

"My turn. Flamingo too," says Child #2.

Today I've been in town again. We went out to the lake house to be there while the guy to install the Internet service and then we met Sarah, Davey and Atticus at Pagliai's so we could catch up while the kids played on the indoor playset. Really, there should be more restaurants like this. Later, I'm going back to the lake house to meet the cleaning lady.

Tomorrow we're going back on the road to check out Dinosaur World in Cave City, Ky. {155.1 miles away}, for cousin Evelyn's birthday. Then we'll continue northeast to the Lexington area {123.8 miles} where we'll spend two nights for a day at Keeneland with family and more time with friends.

We'll come home {267.7 miles from my dearest friend's house, where we're staying} Sunday and this week's miles will total more than 969.42 with the driving around town here where I live, there where I shopped, there were we detoured in Nashville because we missed our exit somehow, there where we'll visit people we love and watch horses. This is life. Not every week is like this. But life is good. And I'm grateful for the journey.


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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

{Life Well Lived} So long, Clutter!

I do not like clutter. Piles of paper on the kitchen counter drive me nuts. I don't understand why people won't carry their belonging up the stairs if I put them on the bottom step for them. And I like my email inbox to stay cleaned out.

I do like shelves, closets, filing cabinets, digital folders, the paper recycling bin, and scrapbooks.

So when I saw the prompt: How do you organize paperwork both online and off? Share your tip(s) to managing physical and digital clutter! in my inbox, I had no trouble thinking of a few tips to share. Your counters will thank me.
  • Touch the papers once. Papers may mean the mail, the kids' papers from their backpacks, or anything your husband brings through the door and right to the counter. If it's trash, toss it in the recycling bin. If it needs to go to the office, take it to the desk. If it needs to be signed and returned somewhere, put it by your purse. You get the point. Look at it. Decide where it needs to go. And put it there.
  • Don't try to save every piece of artwork your child brings home. My daughter is only in preschool. And yet saving every ABC practice sheet, counting worksheet, and cute stick people drawing she brings home isn't going to happen. Some pieces of art work make it onto the fridge and then end up in a binder full of 8 1/2-by-11 page protectors that I plan to keep for her. Others just go to the recycling bin. 
  • Recycle. I keep a plastic tub in my laundry room, which is right off the kitchen, that allows easy access for the junk mail and other unnecessary pieces of paper that clutter my counters and my life.
  • Create a photo/documents filing system on your computer. It took me some trial and error to figure out what I liked best, but I file my photos {and I take many photos ...} by month. If I take several photos of one event, I'll create a photo for that event within the monthly folder. All the monthly folders are stored in a folder labeled by year. This entire system is backed up on the external hard drive and also burned onto DVD at the end of the year. I also have a folder called "To Print" where I save copies of any photos I want to print. Then they're all together when I see a good deal from Snapfish or Shutterfly. Likewise, in "My Documents" I have folders for areas of my life that will produce multiple documents. Other documents are saved loose in "My Documents." And when I'm done with them and don't expect to reopen them {say, my daughter's party invitation that has been printed and handed out to friends} I move them to a "USED" folder. 
  • Buy a filing cabinet. Yes, it's a tad nerdy, but it's so practical. You can have folders in there for insurance, medical information, and whatever other papers you may need to locate at some point in the future. My husband has a mostly paperless filing system at his office, thanks to a speedy scanner. Truthfully, I'd like for that to happen at home at some point.
  • Use labels on your emails. I love Gmail. The label system in there works great for me to keep my inbox from being cluttered with emails I may not need. But it's so easy to store them, so why would I want to delete them all? I also like the priority inbox feature that organizes my messages into unread, starred, and then everything else. It's visually organized and practical. Go, Gmail!
Visit for more tips on how to rid your life of clutter. You can even enter a sweepstakes while you're there.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

{Available for Rent} The Gathering Place

We like being at the lake. In our case, "the lake" means Kentucky Lake. It's one of the largest man-made lakes around. The longer we've lived in Murray, the more summer days we've spent at the lake. My favorite thing is tubing behind a jet ski. My husband likes to fish, and my kids are liking reeling in catfish and blue gill these days. We like gathering lots of friends on a pontoon boat and floating around in the water. 

During these past summer days, I've dreamed of a lake house. The city girl in me loves living in town, where Kroger is close, friends are in walking distance, and the park is across my little street. 

Now, I get a little of both, which really may be my dream. And I get to share with you because The Gathering Place is available for rent. 

We have a three-bedroom house on Kentucky Lake. It's pretty much ideal for a family like ours. The slope down to the lake is more gradual than some of the cliff-like areas surrounding the lake, so kids can ease into the water. ("Like the beach," my almost 5-year-old girl said. Yep, like that.) It has a private dock on a bay off the main lake, which means swimming and fishing are convenient. Kentucky Lake is the Tennessee River dammed, so the water level can be changed throughout the year. The docks farther in Sugar Creek Bay don't have year-round water. Thankfully, we do. 

So, as I said, there are three bedrooms. They all have lake views, thanks to doors that go out to the second floor balcony.

This is the master with an attached full bathroom.
This bedroom has a full-sized bed.
The third bedroom has a twin bed. We're hoping to add a second bed.

Walking into the front foyer, you can go upstairs, where there are the three bedrooms as well as two of the bathrooms. The kitchen, living room, and family room are downstairs. There is another bathroom off the family room and both the living and family rooms have sofa beds. 

The kitchen is furnished with cooking and eating utensils and accessories.
The family room
The living room
So, come, gather here. The Gathering Place is available for rent throughout the year. We'd love to have you as our guest. You can see the availability and book at The house also a Facebook page, so you can like it there.


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