Monday, April 30, 2007

... with space to swing your arms around ...

It's the last day of April. And tomorrow will begin my favorite day of the year.

May is the best, and not just because my birthday is later this week. May is just a beautiful month. It's still sometimes spring (cool nights), but really I know summer is almost here. Baseball is in full swing. And my swing just calls my name constantly. Walks are a bit more intense with the sweat that comes quickly. Fruit at the grocery store looks good and then tastes even better when I get it home. And it's easy to persuade Greg to grill (especially now that he got a new grill for his birthday).

And this year we're expecting a baby.

I was watching a rerun of "Grey's Anatomy" today. (I'm telling you, a show is beyond good when I can watch it over and over, even though I know Meredith Grey will not blow up. She'll pull out the homemade bomb from a guy's body and then Dylan the bomb squad guy blows up. Happened the first time. Happened when I first bought the second season on DVD. And happened again today while I was eating dinner.) Anyway, I think that episode has some of the best quotes and music of all the episodes. Well, at least as far as I remember.

One of my favorite songs is in there during some of the most intense scenes: ... if I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to. And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd 'cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud, and I know that you'll use them, however you want to ... That's "2 a.m." by Anna Nalick.

And then while some of the plot lines are twisting together like that show does so well, this other beautiful song with beautiful words is playing: There are no guarantees in life -- not for the present, nor for the future. All I know is that I'm here -- don't know for how long. I love the way you live so intensely, enjoy every minute of life, with space to swing your arms around ... That's "Unlike Me" by Kate Havnevik, and I've blogged about it before. And looking back, it's interesting to see life at work. God really does take care of us.

So happy May to you. And I hope you're enjoying your life as much as I'm loving mine.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

... your face will surely show it

While Charles and Angela were busy moving the rest of their stuff from Maryville, Tenn., back to Murray, we got to spend some time with their kids. Elijah is almost 3 1/2 years old and Ethne is 19 months old. And, boy, are they entertaining.

Especially when Ethne does motions to "When You're Happy And You Know It." The best part is "... then your face will surely show it." This is her face showing it.


They enjoyed our swing on a beautiful spring evening. (Elijah was still gripping that French fry from our dinner at Cracker Barrel, but we eventually tossed it away when he got more interested in a ball.)


Uncle Greg also was quite the hit in the back yard.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

waiting for baby


Not the best picture in the world, but you'll get the idea ... This is the page I made with these pictures.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

loving, doing, establishing, keeping, being, standing, going ...

'Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you’re made of
You might bend ‘til you break
Cause it’s all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you’ve had enough
You get mad, you get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand, then you stand

--Rascal Flatts' chorus in "Stand"

I don't know when something becomes routine. I don't know how many times I have to do make it a habit. But, regardless, I've been thinking about routines and habits and "that's what I usually do." I must have a slightly addictive personality (which does run in my family, but I think more generally is human nature ...) because I become comfortable quickly and I resist changing any comforts. So, I'm realizing more and more that even good routines need to be shaken up sometimes for the sake of learning and experiencing. With that said, I'm trying to establish some new habits while trying not to fall into the that's-what-I-usually-do trap.

Example: Diet Dr Pepper is better for me than Dr Pepper but water is better.

That's a shallow example. But it's safer than discussing how I can even find myself falling into habits with people I love. I've been on guard with those lately too.

There's a thin line between (I suddenly have one of my favorite Indigo Girls' lines streaming through my head: "And it's a thin line between pleasing yourself and pleasing somebody else ...") loving people, doing what's right, establishing good habits, keeping up with responsibilities and commitments, and being flexible enough to go with the flows of life. And standing through it all is what keeps me going.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Trying. Hoping. Living.

Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins? It's not a day on a calendar, not a birthday, not a new year. It's an event, big or small, something that changes us. Ideally, it gives us hope, a new way of living and looking at the world, letting go of old habits, old memories. What's important is we never stop believing we can have a new beginning. But it's also important to remember that amid all the crap, there are a few things really are worth holding onto. --Meredith Gray in a second season episode

But the best part is that it can be every day. We can choose to live with this hope each day. Sure, we're not going to meet every goal every day; we're not going to get every item checked off our to-do list; we're not going to make every phone call and write every letter. But we can wake up knowing that we're blessed with another day -- thus another chance -- to be somebody.

(This attitude sort of has been the theme of my year, but not just because that's my personal resolution of sorts. It's also been the result of the circumstances and people around me.)

For the record, on a smaller scale, I'm trying to eat less sugar. I've done pretty good this week. It's hard with all these April birthdays around me, but I feel better passing up a few cookies here and a few pieces of candy there. My diabetes appreciates it and so does every other part of me. Sugar can be a familiar habit for me. It's easy. But it's definitely not necessary. So I'm trying ...

And there's something to be said for trying. And hoping. And living.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

a place for her

Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. --Mother Teresa

We heard Cate's heartbeat again yesterday. Now we're just waiting. Three weeks until her due date. But we have a place for her.





(I painted that once-blue rocking chair black and added that cover from JC Penney.)


(This is my favorite piece of furntiure. How practical! Two dresser drawers and those cute yet function cubby holes for the baskets I had already bought. And when there are no more diapers, the changing pad just comes off, and the furniture is still good to go.)


And this is the bedding around which I planned the room.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Peacefully debating ...

... and who says politics and religion are no-no topics!? Well, this isn't the dinner table.

Start here, if interested in joining the philosophical debate that started with a column I wrote in the newspaper (then published on here) and turned into a spiritual conversation across the country. Like I said in my comments on the initial post, these friends of mine are some of the most intelligent people I know. For me, everything comes back to my spirituality. It's the foundation of everything else. (So it seems silly that I was surprised politics sparked religion. But I shouldn't be surprised.)

Anyway, meet those involved. There's Liz. (Although I still insist on calling her Elizabeth. Comes more naturally. That's what I knew her as. I realize people change and grow up. But there's something familiar about Elizabeth, who I met when we were second-graders.) But, we have Liz, she lives in Portland, loves horses and is quite a thinker. Then there's Laura. She's a high school classmate and we reconnected thanks to plans for our 10-year class reunion this summer. Since the days in Oldham County, she's done a 180 and isn't afraid to talk about it. Liz would have graduated with us, but she moved to Buffalo our freshmen year.

So the conversation started on my blog continues here. I tell you, this is what blogging is about. In fact, this is what freedom and choice are about.

Please chime in.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

1,184

So this is the 1,184th post of my blogging career. Usually I pretty much have a blog entry composed in my head before I actually write and publish it. Does that make me obsessive? Either way, I have a few blogs I love to read, even though I wouldn't know their authors if they walked up to my desk right now. (Those would be inspiring strangers on the side bar to your left.)

And sometimes I'm left babbling about my seemingly-insignificant ways with words that spin around in my head throughout the day for no real reason. And I'm left chronicling my life to you, whoever you are.

Yesterday was a bit insane. Nothing major. Just hectic. I think God might be preparing me for parenthood in one sense. (I promise I realize I will never be totally prepared. Isn't admitting that some preparation in itself?) But back to my point. Work was filled with lots of minor tasks that mostly got accomplished. I even got to hear an adoption story unexpectedly from a girl I called for a work-related matter. It was a pleasant surprise, and someone with whom I expect to share more stories. Then after work, I took a walk with Jaclyn before going to Greg's office to pay his work bills and balance those accounts. Then we ate at the Chinese buffet. (I'm telling you, I can't seem to get enough Chinese food right now, mostly General Tao chicken and crab rangoon. NO. I'm not pregnant. So stop it with those thoughts. Women getting ready to adopt have cravings too. In fact, women who don't even want children have cravings too. Fact of life.) Anyway, so then went to the grocery (I can't go very long without milk OR orange juice) and then I tended to a random adoption form that we should have filled out at the beginning of this process but didn't know about until now. At least tending to the form meant chatting (specifically, texting) with the birth mother, which I like doing because I genuinely like her. Meanwhile, Greg hung up rods and curtains in the baby's room. At 9:30 p.m., I finally sat down and turned off my brain. Well, mostly. But it doesn't take that much to keep up with Horatio's one-liners on "CSI: Miami."

So, maybe it was because my brain was closer to off than on, but I need to talk about the ending of "CSI" last night. Anyone out there see it? What was up with the fictional pop star who checked herself into drug rehab at the end then shaved her head? I mean, is it a Britney reference? If so, that's a bit out of character for the show. If not, the question remains: What's the point? Insight would be much appreciated.

Monday, April 16, 2007

SERIOUSLY? Swim?

Go here. Click on "Get Directions." Go from New York, New York to Paris, France. Then read line #23.

Enough said.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Happy birthday, Luke (and several others ...)!


Luke turned 1 on Thursday, and we celebrated Saturday afternoon. (His shirt says: I dig being one. Cute ...)

And I think he enjoyed the cake. Smart move, Jaclyn, to eliminate the white T-shirt so your son could adequately take care of the cake.



Later Saturday Greg and I went to another birthday party to celebrate the many April birthdays in the Taylor family. Uncle David's was yesterday. Cousins Camee and Zori will have birthdays this week, as will Greg. Nana's was earlier this month. Oh, and since mine is in the first week of May, I'm pretty close to April.

Greg's mom and grandma got me stocked up with some cute baby scrapbooking supplies, some of which I've but to use this afternoon while exerting creative energy in my empire. I made a double-page spread on the shower from last weekend and fun page featuring Milla and Cassie and their Easter egg dying.


(click on image for larger view)


Saturday, April 14, 2007

I'm just a ...

... My car gets me along just fine to and from the station
But my castle is this Houston Metro Bus
My first stop is Ashbury.
And the sign's been gone for years
but all the same the people wait cause they know that I'll be there.

What would you say if I told you that I won't be by today?
Would you say that I'm just a bus driver
and what do I know,
just a bus driver ...

Well, I'm always there by five fifteen
and lately I've been early
'cause Judith likes to be in early to the bank.
And she gives me conversation and a token good for riding.
And she's happy all alone

And then there's Charles in retail sales;
and I hope they pay him well
for the work that young man does
Cause I've never seen the inside
of a custom refrigerator
but I know he's the first and last one there

I wonder what they do all day,
and their respective works. ...

And I wonder how this world would be
if I was never here to drive this bus around from Ashbury to Main.
Suppose this town would be the same
but with one bus' less exhaust.
But that bank and retail stores,
they just wouldn't be the same.

But what can I see from the limited confines of my bus driving seat
Only me

--"Bus Driver" by Caedmon's Call

Perspective.

Can I really prepare to leave my work for someone else to pick up when Catherine Anna arrives? I have been keeping a list of all the "news" I already know about. Thing about news is it just happens sometimes. But I think the real question is: Does it matter that I'm going to be gone for six weeks? I like my job. I like knowing what's going on and communicating that to other people interested in knowing what's going on. But the news isn't going to stop because we have a baby.

And that's OK.

I've come to the point of realizing (at least starting to realize) that other people's stories aren't my priority. Yes, I like gathering the information and writing it for others to read. Yes, I like covering meetings and events and relaying those on to others. But going to my baby's doctor's appointment on Friday was without a doubt more important than covering the MSU Board of Regents meeting. Seriously.

And that's how I want it to be.

I want to work hard and do a good (maybe a better word is fair) job while I'm there and when I'm available. But more importantly, I want to be a good mother and the best person I can be for my family.

So Greg and I spent about nine hours in the car yesterday. To Bloomington. Doctor's appointment. Lunch with the birth mother. Back toward Murray. Stop in Evansville to shop at Target. Home 14 hours later.

And let me tell you, what a great day, to say the least.

In nine hours I could make it to a beach, or at least really, really close. I like the beach, you know. But nothing compares to the process. I'm to the point that I'm as ready as I'll ever be. People tell me I'll never be ready. But I'm telling you I'm ready to learn that I'm not really ready.

On that note, sort of, I really liked this Elisabeth Eliot quote Laura used on her blog earlier this week.

We like things to go smoothly and as planned. Very often unexpected things intervene, and our plans go awry. We think we've got "problems." There is another level at which everything that happens is being engineered. "God has no problems," Corrie ten Boom said, "only plans." When ours are interrupted, his are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) "toward the goal of true maturity" (Rom 12:2 JBP). Believe God. Turn the interruptions over to Him. He is at the controls.

So, see, God is ready. And the process is part of the plan. Thankfully, we really haven't encountered anything we perceive as a "problem." But this process is obviously loaded with the unexpected. I pray I continue to rejoice in God's surprises. But for the record, even her foot is cute ...
(That's her big toe and two others that you can see pointing to the right. The other two are there, just not as clear. I tell you, these ultrasounds are amazing.)

She's 6 pounds 12 ounces right now with four weeks until her due date. And she has hair. (That's a profile shot from the ultrasound clouded by the placenta. The top of her head is toward the right of the photo, and then her chin is sort of in the middle.) She's already positioned like she's ready -- head down, feet in birth mother's ribs. And, according to my online research, her skin is likely "baby soft," her fat is probably dimpling her elbows and knees and hopefully her kidneys are fully developed and her liver is processing.

She's a little person. And we are so ready for her to be part of our family.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

celebrations all around

My first thought this morning: I am looking forward to sleeping in -- just a little bit -- on Saturday. Then I realized it was Tuesday. Gotta a few days to go. But my next thought process was about how Catherine Anna is due in a month from today. (I realize due dates are very loose time frames, but still ... I like details like that.)

So, back to that moment of wishing my week away. I don't really want to do that. But I do with the weekend went a bit slower. My mom, sister, soon-to-be brother-in-law, brother and niece came to visit. I wanted the women (including 3 1/2-year-old Milla) to come to the shower that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law planned. Plus it was Easter, and I thought it would be fun to vary the Hill family gathering location.

AT THE SHOWER...

We played some games.


One was an old-fashioned memory game with phrases and moments new parents experience with bags of candy with appropriate names as prizes. (For example: One matching phrase was "3 a.m. feedings" and the prize was a bag of Airheads. Clever.)

And then everyone had to make a baby out of Play-Doh, and I judged the masterpieces.


(Above) That's Greg's aunt Jennifer and her daughter Maya working hard on their Play-Doh sculpture. But I picked the one Greg's great aunts, Mary and Beverly (shown below), made as the winner. They may have had a funny colored baby, but, hey, it had a belly button, which is more than I could say for anyone else's.




Milla helped me open presents. Here I'm in awe of the beautiful diaper bag Mom and Cassie gave me. I love it. Makes me want to tote all sorts of necessities (and goodies) around.

My other favorite gift was this basket of necessities (which, again, translate into goodies for me).


That stuffed horse plays a calming lullaby, by the way.

And Milla wasn't the only cute baby girl there. Here's Ethne, plus there were three other toddlers. They all chattered in their own way, but none of them paid much attention to any of the others.


MEANWHILE, DYING EASTER EGGS IS SERIOUS WORK, I TELL YOU.

See, look at these two ...


Cassie is concentrating on making sure the tablets are fully dissolved. While Milla is taking Zac's advice to use the crayon to add more design to the egg before dipping it into a color.

And then after we (sort of) convinced Milla that the stickers would work best if she waited until the following morning when the eggs were dried, she went on to sleep. But she didn't forget. The stickers were the first thing on her mind Easter morning. Seriously, who could forget Dora?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Resembling Pam

I felt a little like Pam yesterday.

I shredded lots of old bills and receipts while making an effort to organize the filing cabinet of personal documents, accounts, insurance, etc. I shredded so many things that I had to dump out the shredder three times. A large black trash is mostly occupied now with small fragments of so-called important papers.

Pam likes to shred things at Dunder-Mifflin. She even showed a colleague's son the joy of shredding in one episode.

For the record, I would like to state that I'm on the Pam side of the Jim-Pam-Karen love triangle.

Sure, you could say Pam had her chance but opted for Roy. With Roy (hopefully) fully out of the picture, Pam is obviously thinking about Jim, and the friendship they formed that could have been more. Meanwhile, Jim is doing is best to get over Pam while dating Karen. I have nothing against Karen. She's pretty, sometimes funny and usually focused (on both her work and Jim). But she's not Pam. I think I can relate to Pam more (beyond the shredding!) because she's slightly awkward and tries to be nice in a office that doesn't always prompt such a thing.

And, thing is, Karen knows. She knows what I know: Pam and Jim have a connection. She knows Jim is good for Pam and Pam is good for Jim. Yes, they pull off pranks together, but that's only the tangible effects of their connection. Now, maybe, just maybe, Pam is ready to confront these feelings of hers.

Go, Pam. Even Roy expects you to!

And shred some documents if you need some time to think.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A hope-filled cry

I can't really remember when I last had any hope, and I certainly can't remember when anyone else did either. Because really, since women stopped being able to have babies, what's left to hope for?
--Theo Faron (Clive Owen) in the trailer for "Children of Men"

Can you seriously imagine if a baby wasn't born anywhere in the world for 18 years? I never thought of such a situation. We all just assume life with continue despite our choices, our believes, our fears and our politics. But what if every woman was infertile?

Then a baby's cry would be the most welcomed sound in the world.

Sure, "Children of Men" is a fiction story, but the message I took from it is real.

In the movie, Kee is a young, black girl who realizes she is carrying the world's most prized possession inside. Action and political drama aside, with the help of people whose stories also are interesting, Kee travels through a violent country overrun with terrorist toward her future, her baby's future and the world's future. Refugees stopped fighting momentarily. Soldiers let down their guards. Kee focused so bravely and unselfishly. The baby cried.

And the human race realized there is indeed hope.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

My family and food

My great-great Aunt Ree (Marie, really, but at some point most of us kids couldn't pronounce her name) liked to shop at dollar stores for things she definitely didn't need and "pack rat" has an understatement about her storage habits.

And she often talked about what she ate. In detail.

My sister and I often likened anyone to Aunt Ree if they started to go into detail about a week's worth of meals.

But, to honor the late Aunt Ree, let me tell you about the best way to make cinnanmon toast (a food that, ironically, reminds me of my Nanny, who happens to be Aunt Ree's niece and my grandmother because she could make it to perfection). Sandwich buns. Cinnamon toast is amazing on buns instead of bread, especially when it's broiled in the oven rather than actually toasted.

Yummmm ...

I just ate a few pieces. It's really such a perfect way to start the morning. A few foods are worth talking about, trust me. Aunt Ree sure thought so.