Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Worth celebrating

When we celebrate, we exercise our ability to see and feel goodness in the simplest gifts of God. We are able to take delight today in something we wouldn't have even noticed yesterday. Our capacity for joy increases.
-John Ortberg

While cleaning, organizing, throwing away, and putting up stuff in our basement/office/scrap area, I happened upon an old journal. It's actually a nice journal that Greg got me for our first anniversary. That's the same weekend we moved to Murray, so that's when it starts. The thing that kind of disappoints me about it is I stopped writing in it March 6, 2004 -- seven months after I started. There are so many blank pages that deserved to be filled.

August 2003 was a time of searching for me. I was sure I wanted to be in Murray. I didn't have a job, and I didn't even want to work at the newspaper here. There wasn't an opening anyway. I was reading "The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg. And, to be honest, I'm not sure I finished it. I must have liked it, though, because I have a ton of quotes in my journal from it.

About joy. And celebrating. Every day.

It took me a while to get adjusted, although it only took me a month to get a job. We moved to Murray on Aug. 4, 2003, and I started at the Ledger & Times on Sept. 8, 2003. I worked there for four years, and surprisingly loved it. In fact, I like living in Murray and can't see our family growing up anywhere else. (I know that's impossible to explain to some people!)

Never say never. And never think you can plan the details of your life. You'll miss pleasant surprises if you're too caught up in what you think you want. It'll change anyway.

Gosh, in some ways it seems like we just moved here, and in others it seems like a lifetime. We're celebrating our sixth anniversary this weekend, Sunday specifically. That means come Monday we'll have lived in Murray for five years. (That's not including the four years I spent in here in college or Greg's entire childhood.) I'm talking about us. Our little family.

We decided the first few years of marriage were rough, and we're glad to be out of them. The past year as definitely been the best -- in terms of peace + joy -- that's we've experienced together. Between our company, which is Greg's day-to-day job, and our daughter, we feel like our family has a purpose that is motivated by passion. It's like we've discovered who/what we're supposed to be, together and individually.

How about some more of those quotes from John Ortberg:

If we don't rejoice today, we will not rejoice at all. If we wait until conditions are perfect, we will still be waiting when we die. If we are going to rejoice, it must be in this day. This is the day the Lord has made.

Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is one thing hurried people don't have. ... That's why Jesus never hurried. If we are to follow Jesus, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives -- because, by definition, we can't move faster than the one we are following.

I'm thankful God worked on me through the little things and the big deals. Since we've moved to Murray, I've been diagnosed with diabetes and dealt with infertility. Talk about some life-changing issues thrown in with the everyday that was made up of many deadlines, family functions with the in-laws and trips to see my family.

Meet today's problems with today's strength. Don't start tackling tomorrow's problems until tomorrow. You do not have tomorrow's strength yet. You simply have enough for today. -Max Lucado in "Traveling Light"

That idea about today's strength makes more sense to me today than it did on Jan. 31, 2004 -- three days after I was diagnosed with diabetes. Time is such a teacher.

In fact, time also is a funny thing.

Newspaper stories are fleeting things. The thing that makes this business so remarkable, that every day we get a new canvas to paint on, is also what makes it so unsatisfying. The story, almost always, dies with the day, the pages of the day-old paper turning yellow in the sun. -Journalist Rick Bragg in "Somebody Told Me"

Thankfully, our lives don't yellow and get tossed out. Here's to nearly five years in Murray and six years as Greg's wife. Seems worth celebrating to me.

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

(It's basically fat-free and sugar-free ... AND still tasty!)

1 graham cracker crust
1 8-ounce package fat-free cream cheese
2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter
dash vanilla
2 or 3 packages/spoons artifical sweetener
1 container of free Cool Whip

1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 small package sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pudding

Mix cream cheese and 2/3 container of Cool Whip with vanilla and artificial sweetener until creamy. Add peanut butter. Pour mixture into pie crust.

Prepare pudding per package directions, using only 1 1/2 cups milk. Spread over top of pie. Use remainder of Cool Whip on top of pie.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

SERVING = 1 slice
EXCHANGES = 1 starch; 1 meat

GO with the FLOW

Shelley challenged me to scrap more than one picture on an 8 1/2-by-11 page. So I did. I like how it turned out. I'm used to filling up bigger pages, so I actually had to get creative to make it all fit yet not seem too busy.

See, I am doing a new thing! ...

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

I don't consider myself a fearful person. I don't worry about sugar substitutes giving me cancer or whether talking too much on the cell phone will do weird things to my insides. If I spent my life worrying about stuff like that, I'd be a wreck because every day there's a new study verifying the importance of one thing while discouraging other things because they *might* be harmful. I'm not afraid of spiders. And while I don't like birds, it's not fear as much as I'm weirded out by them.

When it comes to matters of the heart, the stuff that really matters, I'm not all that fearful either. I trust people. I like people. I realize my life is deeply enriched because I let people in. I realize I'll be disappointed, likely more than once, but that hasn't stopped me yet.

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT)

Like the first verse says, our God is one who gives us new days. That's the beauty of grace. We constantly get to start over, and hopefully go into the new day with less fear than the day before.

My fears are more abstract than spiders, or even cancer. I'm afraid of forgetting. That's why I blog, and take pictures, and scrapbook, and write notes to myself. I'm afraid of forgetting little commitments I said I'd do. And I'm afraid of forgetting how amazing being the mother of a little one has been.

And forgetfulness frustrates me, especially when it's plaguing me.

Then I'm also fearful of losing people. I guess to death, but even more so to circumstances infected by human imperfection and emotion. That's definitely rooted in a past situation that tore my heart to pieces. But I definitely don't have control over other people and their reactions and decisions.

I cling too tightly sometimes. Maybe sometimes it's more in head than in my actions. But still. That past situation seems to creep in to my new days every now and then. While I'd embrace my old friend if she walked in the door right now; I still fear what happened to our friendship might happen again with someone else I love.

But God tells me not to fear. He tells me to love. And that's what I'll do. Today there is less fear than yesterday and tomorrow is yet another day. Thankfully, I'm not alone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

{lake fun}

A two-page spread I scrapped during Cate's naptime today ...

(left page)

(right page)

friends + water

Three moms, two 2-year-old boys, one 15-month-girl and one great friend who loves being with us and our kids went to a water park yesterday. Cate + I went with other friends earlier this summer, but it was even better this time because Cate can walk. She especially loved the family tube slide, which we didn't go down last time. I'm training her to be my roller coaster girl!

Luke + Cate were definitely more interested in getting back in the kiddie pool than posing for a picture!

The tubes were poplar, as was "falling down" in the shallow water.

Cate had an important phone call to take ... on Pierson's shoe!

I guess she had a message for him! He's listening to whatever she's saying!

There are more pictures here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

totally terrific tubing

I went tubing for the first time this weekend on Lake Barkley. And it was so, so much fun ...

There are more pictures here. I like the way Facebook organizes pictures, plus I don't have to upload them again!

Friday, July 25, 2008

8 1/2-by-11

This is the first 8 1/2-by-11 page I've scrapped. It was fun to do something different. Plus I really like the paper I bought last weekend on sale at Hobby Lobby.

Fellow scrappers, what size pages do you usually make?

(For you non-scrappers, I usually make 12-by-12 pages, meaning the paper is 12 inches by 12 inches. Although I have made 8-by-8 and 10-by-10 albums about trips, etc.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Red Letters Campaign: Attachment

How did attachment go during your first year? Describe what you did to prepare for attachment as well as the joys and challenges of attachment during your first year home.

A friend of mine who has adopted her two children domestically warned me that bonding with our baby might be a challenge. She encouraged me to let Cate sleep close to us, like in a bassinet beside our bed. Until that conversation with her a few weeks before Cate was born, I hadn't even considered not bonding with my baby.

Sure, I wasn't physically birthing this baby, but I had all the peace that the birth mother was carrying a baby for us. That's even how she talked. It's what I knew in my hard, even though a couple people tried to instill fear in me.

After Cate was born and the nurses took care of her immediate needs in the nursery, a sweet nurse brought her to me at 4 a.m. I fed her and held her for three straight hours. Greg was trying to sleep. But I was falling in love with the little person who was going to change our family in more good ways than I can ever begin to count.

I guess I should say: We bonded.

And we haven't stopped bonding since.

We spent the first week of her life in a hotel in southern Indiana waiting for the green light for state governments to go home. That was a bonding experience in itself. Cate slept in a travel bassinet near our hotel bed. Then when we got home, she spent a night, maybe two, in the bassinet in our room. We decided we'd all probably sleep better if we had our own space. So she went to her crib, and that's where she's slept since. We're just down the hall so we can hear her, but my baby likes her sleep as much as we do.

Cate is almost 15 months old, and bonding hasn't been a challenge. Of course, she hasn't known any other caregivers. We were there when she's born and she's been with us since.

How's that for not really having an answer to the Blog Buzz question?!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Road trip!

Cate + I took a spontaneous road trip on Monday. Mom had called to tell me Laine was admitted to the hospital and being induced. I went back and forth about whether I should go at the beginning of the week or later in the week. I opted for the beginning, and I left about two hours after deciding. I was excited to meet our new nephew Jaxson and I think I subconsciously was ready for a road trip!

I hadn't been to Oldham County in awhile. I went to a friend's house at Christmas, but that's it in the last couple years. The last two days were the most time I spent in Oldham County in a long time.

This was Milla at the hospital after playing (and eating) at McDonald's, which she calls "Old McDonald's." I really was trying to get a picture of her shirt, announcing her role as Big Sister, but she wasn't exactly standing still!

Milla wasn't sure what to think about her mom laying in that little hospital bed that didn't provide much room for her. Turns out Cate was a great distraction!

We took them to play ...

While it looks like Cate is escaping ...

... she totally went back for more!

Cate didn't much napping in yesterday among the visiting Laine, Kevin + Jaxson; having lunch with an old friend; shopping at Kohl's + Sam's; visiting Poppy; and eating dinner. But she was a trooper, and then promptly crashed when we hit I-65. She slept all the way to Calvert City. (That's a couple hours for you people unfamiliar with the trip from Louisville to Murray!)

Jaxson Noah Hill

Kevin + Laine had their baby boy on Monday night. He was born at 11:46 p.m. July 21, 2008. He weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and was 21 1/4 inches long. I took this picture of them a little after midnight, so little Jax was so new!

Then these are not quite 12 hours later ...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Salvaged (The Page)

I've had this page in my head for awhile now. So it didn't take that long to make, especially because I already had the collage of pictures printed out from my computer.

Sundays ...

... are lazy days. At least the afternoons are.

We go to church and eat lunch with our friends. Then Cate usually crashes, and Greg rests in front of the Cardinals baseball game. I usually rest too, although then I'll think of something that I could be doing and do that.

In this picture, Cate + Greg had both just woken up from naps. I guess when I carried Cate out (I was going to have her jump on Greg ...) she realized maybe she wasn't quite done laying down. It only lasted a few moments longer, though.

Game Night!

The other day I wrote about how motherhood has taught me about a go-with-the-flow spirit. Well, that came into play the other night when we had friends over for Game Night. A couple of the guys wanted to play corn hole, so the party moved from the kitchen to the back yard. I should probably mention that there were seven kids ranging from 4 years old to 3 1/2 months. Five of those seven are very mobile, so they were immediately attracted to the sand + water table, plastic pool and small slide. We hadn't intended on swimming or playing in sand, but that didn't stop them or us mothers.

Cate never really made it into the pool, but as you can see above she had her moments in the sand. Luke + Pierson, who are both 2, ended up swimming in pink Dora Little Swimmers after their clothes got wet from them jumping in the pool.

There are more pictures from Game Night here.

And, yes, we actually ended up back inside to play Pictionary. Maybe everyone was just eaten up by mosquitoes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Golf, anyone?

Greg went golfing this afternoon, and apparently Cate wanted to go to!

She's very into balls right now. She says it every time she sees anything round, like the cantaloupe and grapes at Kroger today. We went to sign something at the bank, and the lady had a basketball on her bookshelf, so Cate repeatedly pointed it out.

She was not happy when Daddy put the golf balls into his bag, but she forgave him.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scrappin' the night away

These are what I scrapped tonight ...

I've never scrapped a page before and disliked the way it turned out so much that I started completely over. (I've changed as I went along, still using what I had ...) That's what I did with the page about Katie's shower. Totally trashed what I had, reprinted the photos in different sizes, used different paper ... Now I'm pleased!

This is a two-page layout ...

The colors are better on the bottom. Both pages have the same background paper, although the top has the lines going horizontally and the bottom's are going vertically.

I'm really fond of this page of Cate hugging Ethne. I just like that I caught that moment.

Dear Cate

I take so many pictures of you, trying to preserve all the details that make our ordinary days so joyful and peaceful. I want to show you everything when you get older and tell you how great God is to know you'd fit perfectly in our family.

But sometimes pictures just don't do it.

We've already started traditions, even though you're only 14 1/2 months old. Daddy usually puts you to bed. It usually starts with a book and always comes with a song. He rocks you while you hold the soft pink blanket (one of two, actually) that you like to snuggle with. Then he lays you down, always the opposite direction of the way I lay you down for your naps. You don't care which direction because you always get yourself on your stomach in a more comfortable position.

You go to bed a few hours before us. So after Daddy and I have watched a TV show or played some Boggle, I come in your dark, quiet room and check on you. I don't know what I'm "checking" for. I just cover you up with another blanket because you usually have the soft, pink on twisted beneath you, usually up near your face. Sometimes you're still sucking your thumb. Usually your head is in the corner, pushed up against the bumper, and your bottom is in the air, higher than the rest of your body, thanks to your knees that are bent beneath you.

Then I gently close your bedroom door, but not all the way because to completely close it would mean I have to pull real hard, and you'd probably hear it. That's what happens in older homes when the doors and their frames are slightly off. So I'm gentle and quiet and then I go tell your Daddy how you're sleeping. Usually he's brushing his teeth or taking his contacts out, and I'm waiting for him to get out of my way.

When we get in bed, I always have something to say: Cate is so much fun. Did I tell you that she ...? Our daughter is so precious. She's perfect for us. Have I ever told you how thankful I am that I get to stay home with her?

Something like that.

Somehow checking on you when you sleep makes me think all these things that your Daddy already knows but I always feel the need to tell him. And he doesn't seem to mind because he usually echoes the sentiment with his own example.

After some other banter that isn't nearly as story worthy, we go to sleep, thankful you're just down the hall and tucked so tightly into our hearts.

I love you, sweet girl.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Cate has moved beyond "taking steps" and is now "walking." The quotes are necessary because while she has gone beyond taking just a few steps, she still is awfully fond on having one finger. Now, I knew I'd miss her first real walking adventure because she has a stubborn streak and I just knew she'd be sneaky about it! :) And, sure enough, my friend Katie (OK, so I have a lot of friends named Katie ...) was watching her today. Well, Katie was carrying her daughter Evalyn and Cate apparently decided it was time to walk ... and she followed Katie. And Evalyn. Cate is rather fond of Evalyn, and apparently fixing her hair, which is what she did at Katie's house today when she wasn't walking or eating ramen noodles.

Anyway, back to "walking" ...

So Cate will crawl over to me and put her hand in the air and said "walk." I oblige usually, but today, after learning Cate really can walk with my one finger holding her up, I challenged her to really walk. Without my finger. And she did. Enough steps that I didn't think counting them was necessary.

She showed off her new skill briefly when we were at Adam + Jamie's house tonight too. Briefly. I just don't think she's always into putting on shows. I'd say that's a good thing in the big picture. Shows have their moments.

Yes, I realize walking is a talent that probably is better documented on video. But you know me and the video camera. (That's Greg's job, really. Although I keep meaning to use the video setting on my Kodak.) So we'll capture it soon, but until then, these picture are all you've got ...

She sees the camera ...

... but she keeps walking.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Freedom + Joy

I'm feeling reflective.

I just want to write, even though I'm not sure I know what's going to come out as I type. How's that for the freedom that words really do give us?

This morning I was skimming a book I'm sort of reading. I say sort of reading because it's more like I'm flipping through it and just reading the parts that interest me. It's about motherhood and writing -- two of my favorite topics -- but some of the writing prompts are geared toward mothers with older children. Even like a few years older. I mean, I still give people my daughter's age in months.

When does that stop anyway? I'm thinking at 18 months I'll start saying, "She's 1 1/2 years old."

"Gently remind yourself that life is okay the way it is, right now. In the absence of your judgment, everything would be fine. As you begin to eliminate your need for perfection in all areas of your life, you'll begin to discover the perfection in life itself." -Richard Carlson, as quoted in "Writing Motherhood"

I like perfectionist are probably always perfectionist. At least that instinct to control and plan and know the details is always there. But I do think we can change. I'm so thankful for the grace to change.

And, you know, I think I'm less of a perfectionist than I was 14 months old. My daughter has transformed me in so many ways. Some obvious. Some I'm just realizing. And I'm sure others I won't realize for years and years. But she has made me a better person. A person that I'm really enjoying getting to know.

I don't really talk to myself. But I do spend most of my day with a 14-month-old who has a limited vocabulary. Juice. Dada. Mama. Walk. Ball. Dog. Duck. Bird. That's probably why I'm feeling reflective.

Routine is good. Cate generally sleeps on a fairly predictable routine. I say things like "generally" and "fairly" because I can tell you how it usually is. Usually. We aren't regimented, but I don't sacrifice her naps for much. I like that she has a bedtime. And I love that she likes her bedtime.

Yet with motherhood comes a go-with-flow need that I never possessed. But I'm learning that there is a certain freedom in having a few things on the agenda when I wake up but still having plenty of time to see what happens. Maybe we'll stop at the park and swing. Maybe we'll play in the backyard. Maybe we'll go to the Farmer's Market to get squash.

There are things like dentist appointments and a weekly Bible study that make it onto my calendar. But there are more things that don't ever get scheduled. They just happen. Because I'm learning to go with the flow.

Flowing like that is a freedom I never knew I wanted, maybe even needed.

But it's calmed my heart, slowed my stress and given me a joy that I used to think came in the big moments. Really it's the small things, the details us perfectionists always love, that create joy. Even if I don't plan just how the details are going to work into my day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

summer pages

Some random summer pages I finished tonight ...

Lake Day!

I was craving some time at the lake, and the rain held off for me yesterday. We spent a couple hours at a place off Lake Barkley in the late morning/early afternoon. I even have some reddish arms to prove it! Cate loved being in the water, too. I'm glad I have Holly has a friend. Not only can we talk for hours (literally), but she loves being at the lake as much as I do.

Cate wanted Evalyn in the float with her! Sweet gesture, despite being unrealistic.

There was much splashing around. Cate particularly liked it when Greg and I tossed her back and forth.

That's Cate making her motor sound!

Evalyn (Holly's niece) loved being in the water.

Red Letters Campaign: Money

"How do I do this, moneywise? I want to adopt, but it seems so overwhelming. We don’t really have $20,000 in the bank, ya know!" Please blog about your experience, ideas, insight, fundraisers and other ideas that worked for you while raising your adoption money.

Um, we didn't have $20,000 in the bank when we decided to adopt. In fact, we still don't have $20,000 in the bank! :) Seriously, though, I definitely understand concerns about money, but when God leads you somewhere, he doesn't desert you. Even financially.

We decided to adopt after a couple years of trying to get pregnant and eventually getting answers about our infertility. For us, having a baby was about having a family. Not being pregnant. So, honestly, turning our attention to adoption was a relief for me, emotionally. I felt like God was showing us another way, and that was exciting to me. I just assumed pregnancy was the way to a family, but I learned otherwise. I learned God has more than one way to create families.

OK, so, back to money. You hear about adoptions being so costly, and while that's true, it's not like we wrote a $12,400 check and that was it. There were lots of smaller checks throughout the process. During the process both Greg and I worked, so we earned money as we needed it and, thankfully, we had some money saved.

Adopting domestically can definitely be cheaper than adopting internationally because there's less paperwork and more minimal travel expenses. But we still had to pay two agencies (one in Kentucky and one in Indiana, where Cate was born), two attorneys (although our Kentucky attorney is a friend so that knocked down what would normally be a greater expense), travel expenses to go to doctor's appointments with the birth mother (who was 4 1/2 hours away), smaller costs of getting background checks and copies of important documents, and medical bills (again, thankfully, she was still on her parents' health insurance).

Finding a birth mother through family also helped make our process less costly. We didn't have to pay an agency or attorney to find us a birth mother. My sister put us in touch with someone she already knew who was looking for adoptive parents for the baby she was carrying.

I don't know that I have any wise financial advice. But you can't think about it as one huge check. It's smaller investments along the way. And if it's what you're supposed to be doing, God will provide you the resources because he certainly has a heart for children.

Oh, and it's also helpful to remember that once you can come up with the money along the way, you get it back, penny for penny, up to a certain amount, on your taxes, thanks to federal tax credits. Be sure to talk to your accountant about that.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On a date

We went on a date last night. First, we went to Kenlake to eat catfish. Well, the only catfish they had was on the over-priced buffet. We ate there anyway, even though it wasn't exactly what we wanted. The view is nice, though. And we took a walk down by the lake.

Then we went to play mini golf at Maggie's Jungle Golf ...

... where there are large animals throughout. Seriously, though, it's a fun mini golf course. Although, Ryan, it's not nearly as complicated, or maybe I should say competitive, as the one at The Park.