Thursday, December 31, 2009

Benjamin Slick

Greg sometimes says, "Hey, slick!" when he talks to Ben. It's like a manly term of endearment, I think. Cate apparently heard him [at least once] because earlier this week she heard Ben crying and said, "Benjamin Slick crying." I asked her what she said, and she repeated herself, "Benjamin Slick crying." And every day since that's what she has called him.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas in Louisville

We headed to Louisville on Saturday morning to continue our Christmas celebrating. We missed Cassie and Zac being there, but Greg, Cate and I did open our presents from them while we talked to them via Skype. Isn't technology wonderful?!

One of the best things about being in Louisville is watching the kids play together. Milla [who turns 6 next week] and Cate played really well together. Sometimes they even included Jax [who at 17 months tries really hard to keep up with the girls].

This is Jax saying "all gone" when the girls went back under the blanket. Adorable, really.

Another great thing about Louisville was Katie [and her mom] came to see me. Well, OK, maybe they came to meet Ben, but, either way, I'll take a visit from my friend of 19 years and counting ...

Now, Cate would like to model a couple of her presents for you ...

I think she could be in a Snuggie [for kids!] advertisement.

And, all the way from New Zealand ...

Every girl needs a hat like this. Thanks, Aunt Cassie and Uncle Zac!

Ben was a good traveler. [Translation: He slept the entire way to Louisville and again the entire way home. Conveniently, the drive time is about the same as his feeding increments.] Even so, I think the trip wore him out ...


There are many more Christmas photos in a Facebook album. Go look at them there, if you wish.

Ah, simplicity ...

Do you remember the universal remote control Greg so graciously gave me last year? Although I still think he really bought it for himself, the remote is handy. That is until we misplaced it AFTER the move. Yes, AFTER. It made the 1.1-mile move and we even used it a couple times before misplacing it. Meanwhile, I was Christmas shopping, and I saw this remote ...

Yes, it's universal and will simplify our life -- yet, again! -- from four remotes to one. Ah, simplicity. [Alluding here to Greg's hint to me about last year's remote: "It will simplify your life."] PLUS, it's perfect for any die-hard Wildcat fan. ESPN channels can even be programmed into the remote so you don't have to remember whether it's 3-0 or 3-2 you want to watch Wall dunk the basketball.

I guess I should tell you that we found our original universal remote a few weeks ago, and I contemplated returning Greg's upgraded universal remote. But I decided to keep it and give it to him for Christmas as I planned. [And, it should be noted, I didn't even give it to him early when we couldn't find our original universal remote. Rather, my remote.]

Continuing with the technology theme, Greg gave me a DVD player this year. Yeah, I know, romantic. But, really, I [indirectly] asked for it by saying I wish the XBox, which doubles as our DVD player, played burned DVDs so we could watch the "Dexter" episodes we have downloaded on the computer.

All of this to say, Greg was especially excited about the UK universal remote because I guess we'll need two universal remotes to control all the electronics. Um, that sort of complicates simplicity, but, hey, whatever works, right? I guess we can quickly flip between Wall's dunks and Dexter Morgan using just two remotes, and not five.

Christmas Day

We started Christmas Day at home ...

Cate was excited, especially about this toddler camera. And Ben, well, he just hung out with us, and his stocking, which was about his size ...


Then we headed next door to Nana and Papaw's house [Yes, Greg's grandparents are our neighbors!] where all 28 Taylors [meaning the ones from Nana and Papaw's branch of the family tree] gathered together.

Included in the 28 were three babies celebrating their first Christmas. OK, so, maybe celebrating is a stretch, especially for mine, who slept most of the time, including during our photo shoot ...

From left, that's Emaline (3 months), Ben (1 month) and Evelyn (8 1/2 months). Ben and Evelyn are first cousins and Emaline is their second cousin.

And here is one of my favorite shots from the day ...

That's Ben sleeping comfortably in the arms of his great-grandma. The warmth of the room caused him to lose his cute Christmas attire. Hey, it's better than sweating. Although Nana still wanted to cover him in a blanket!

Conveniently, we walked back to our house for a smaller Christmas party with Greg's immediate family and their families.

John got the party started by giving the kids the gifts from him and Christine. We had a good time exchanging presents, eating and playing the Name Game.

There are many more Christmas photos in a Facebook album. Go look at them there, if you wish.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas with friends

I've talked about it before. But I'll never tire of talking about it. Our friends. Our community. We're so very thankful for the people with whom we share our lives. Yes, us adults are friends, but, maybe the best part, is our kids are friends too. I love watching their relationships develop and grow, as they learn more about each other.

We had a chance to have two Christmases with friends this week.

First, Cate and I (and, well, Ben, but he slept through it ...) hung out with Courtney and her kids Tuesday morning. Noah, who is almost 5, is the oldest, and he likes to help Cate, who generally appreciates his help.

As a mom, I'm really excited about teaching Cate how to play Don't Break the Ice (and Candy Land, but that's not really related to this post ...). I have so many fond memories involving the moments and, more importantly, the people, playing board games.

Speaking of games, all three kids (again, Ben was sleeping ...) enjoyed the game Cate picked out for Noah.


Then on Christmas Eve Eve we had the Tompkinses over for dinner (Pizza Hut!) and some adult game time (Seafarers ... and expansion of Setters of Catan) while the kids played.

We also exchanged presents ...

[I know it is shocking, but, again, Ben was sleeping ...]

May your Christmas be filled with family and friends who are important to you. Cherish these moments.

Growing with Bear

Remember my month-by-month bear project during Cate's first year? Well, I'm doing it again with Ben. And a different bear. And a big sister who likes to be included.

[For you blog newcomers, I'll explain the project: Each month I'll take a picture of Ben with the same stuffed animal to document his growth. After 12 months, I'll make some kind of scrapbook layout incorporating all the pictures.]

One more from our photo shoot ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In the last week ...

We went to Patti's for the company Christmas dinner. And, like the crazy new-to-two mom I am, I took my kids. We were riding in a bus (like a 15-passenger one; not an uncomfortable school bus ...) and I knew Cate would be heartbroken if she missed out on that, especially with her Granddaddy driving. And I knew she'd love the millions of Christmas lights. She enjoyed the night and made me proud I didn't leave her at home. Ben, being the three-week-old boy he was at the time, slept through the whole thing.

Ben's baby acne started clearing up.

We had a Christmas party with our small group from church. Two of our friends had babies the last week of October, making them just 3 1/2 weeks older than Ben. I'm sure Davey (Oct. 30; middle in picture) and Eva (Oct. 31; left in picture) will have much to teach Ben.

Cate helped give her brother a bath.

We went caroling.

Ben was awake for three hours in one stretch for the first time on the day he happened to be four weeks old. Grandmom was here and enjoyed seeing his eyes.

Cate opened the "big present," as she keeps calling it from Grandmom. It's a play kitchen. She has already pretended to cook many things and actually poured her milk into one of the cups.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday's Thought:

I really like this hand-me-down frame from a friend that is now hanging in my kitchen. The quote expresses how I feel about the people with whom we share our lives on a regular basis. Today, and so many other days, I give thanks for friends and family who indeed make life more enjoyable.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Worth Repeating Wednesday:
Silent Night

While it tells a beautiful story, "Silent Night" never has been my favorite Christmas song. And, you should know, I love Christmas music. I have lots of "favorites," but it hadn't been in the list. Until I heard this version ...

Love it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

making & baking

Courtney had a couple people over today to bake Christmas goodies. Technically, I didn't "bake," but I assembled goodies. I made the delicious pretzel treats that have the melted Hugs kiss and mini M&Ms that I learned about last year and the equally delicious peanut butter and chocolate cookies (peanut butter between two Ritz crackers dipped in chocolate). Cate (and her friend Emma) put some M&Ms on sugar cookies. Everybody traded cookies and treats so we went home with a variety, of which we're going to share with some others this week.

Then after naptime, Cate and I made ornaments ...

Fun with lots of Taylors

The annual Taylor Christmas Party is always fun, which is probably a direct result of there being so many people. And this year some people were even missing. Of course, we had "new" people, like my niece Evelyn and Ben.

Cate was torn between singing karaoke (with her best performance being "You Are My Sunshine") and jumping ...

There also was dancing ...

That's Cate with Gabe (her second cousin once removed). He volunteered to dance with her when she tried to cut in on her cousin siblings Elijah and Ethne. But, really, once they got going, Cate did the leading. Gabe didn't seem to mind.

When the night was over, the kids still wanted to jump, as you can see.

It's fun to look back at pictures from the same event a year ago and even two years ago.

more about board games

It amazes me how people end up here. Really, the Internet still amazes me. The whole world is connected. All of the time. Google searches anything and everything. Anyway, my giveaway recruited another e-mail regarding a game contest. This one I have no control over, but I did enter it myself.

Loaded Questions has a contest that gives away $5,000 to the five best questions submitted to the new version of the game. You can enter here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

And the winner is ...

Emily! Settlers of Catan will arrive on her doorstep soon, thanks to Cate drawing her board game memory out of a bowl ...

Canasta is our favorite game(as if you didn't know)... No it's not a board game but it is definitely a game of strategy!! This game has been passed down four Generations in our family and even includes two old reliable rule books... As far as board games go though... I'm always a sucker for scrabble!!

Thanks for everyone who participated in my first blog giveaway. I hope to have more opportunities to give you free stuff in the future.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Thursday's Thought:
Baby Jesus

This has been a popular holiday toy at our house. Cate's initial favorites were baby Jesus, the angel and the sheep. And I think I've had as fun setting up the nativity scene as Cate has.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Worth Repeating Wednesday

This is the opening track on Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God," a beautiful, beautiful Christmas album. Katie gave it to me last year, and I felt like I was finding a treasure when I pulled it off the shelf yesterday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

a family of four

Our college friend Josh took these family pictures for us. My goal is get some taken annually, and so far we're on a roll. Here are last year's pictures, which Josh took in October. And here are the first family pictures we had taken, courtesy our central Kentucky friend Rod, when Cate was just seven weeks old.

Two Weeks

I love the way Ben often holds his hands.

We've been a family of four for two weeks. And, really, things couldn't have been smoother. Cate doesn't like Ben to cry and helps bring me blankets and diapers. She often gives Ben stuffed animals while he's sleeping in the swing.

The last night have been excellent with Ben sleeping in four- and five-hour stretches. When we feed him late at night or early in the morning, he usually goes back down in his bed fairly easily.

My first trip to Walmart with two kids went well. Cate rode in the cart as usual and Ben slept in the sling I wore. "Do you have a baby in there?" two different women asked at separate times. I told them I did and then proceeded with an explanation that probably wasn't necessary: "It's cold out and I thought this seemed easier than bringing in the carrier, especially when I wanted her [meaning Cate] to be in the car too. Plus this way nobody is breathing on him." Yes, it worked well, even though I never thought I'd be a mom who used a sling. Really, though, it only makes sense, especially when I have a toddler.

We used the sling [Thanks, Emily!] at two basketball games, both of which Ben basically slept through. If you've ever watched a game with Greg, you know our row wasn't exactly quiet.

All of that to say, everyone seems to be adjusting well to being part of a family of four.

It's a SETTLERS OF CATAN giveaway!

I associate board games with people. Othello reminds me of my former neighbor and longtime best friend. Cribbage is a game my other best friend and I used to play often. Euchre reminds me of college friends. My childhood friend and I used to leave games of Monopoly set up for days so we could actually finish them. My mom and I are usually competitive in Scrabble. Apples to Apples makes me think of hilarious moments with both friends and family. We know which friends like to play which card games. The Game of Things is the Game Night choice among my friends right now.

But my real board game obsession is Settlers of Catan.

Stay with me and you can win your own copy of my favorite game, courtesy Toys and Games Online, which has a great selection of online toys and games. [For the record, this is my first blog giveaway, and I'm really excited about it!]

It's been three years since my aunt -- who always knows the best games! -- taught my husband and me to play, as if learning how to trade sheep for brick, convert settlements to cities and build the longest road through Catan was the best Christmas present ever. I bought the game for Greg for Valentine's Day 2007 (Nothing says "I love you" like a new competition, right?) and we haven't stopped playing since. Almost literally.

We play with another couple at least a couple times a month. (Although for awhile we were playing weekly ...) We even have an on-going scoreboard to tally victories. I'm always white (See, I have the longest road in the picture above. That's worth 2 points toward the 10-point goal.) when we play and we sit in the same order around the table, regardless of whose house is hosting. And, in case you're wondering, I'm four tally marks behind Greg and Bryan. I've recently been making a run to catch the guys. Jaclyn is a few behind me, but given the fact we play at least two games every time we have a Settlers night, she can catch up in no time.

We like the expansions likes Seafarers as well as Cities and Knights, but when we play those we may only have time to play one. To feed our obsession, we usually play the original Settlers of Catan because the four of us have established such a rhythm.

If you've never played, the best explanation I can give to this German-made game that has won all sorts of awards is think about mixing Monopoly with Risk. But, really, that description doesn't do Klaus Teuber's invention justice. It's a strategy game with lots of rules. But once you learn all the rules, you won't be sorry. One of the reasons playing never gets old is the way the board changes each time it is set up. The strategy I used last time I played might not work to my advantage next time, depending on where the resources are and what numbers are associated with them.

In honor of the approaching three-year anniversary of the start to my obsession, you can win your own copy, courtesy Toys and Games Online, which offers a variety of online toys for all ages at reasonable prices.

All you have to do is post a comment about what your favorite game is and a memory you associate with that game. (Be sure to include an e-mail address so I can contact you, should you be the lucky winner!)

All of the comments will be placed in a bowl and one winner will be randomly chosen, probably by my 2 1/2-year-old daughter, who has witnessed many Settlers marathons but isn't quite old enough to bargain her way with sheep and wheat to successfully settling Catan.

You have until 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 to enter this giveaway.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let the holiday weekends begin ...

It's December. Evident by the Christmas festivities.

So, with the holiday spirit abounding, here is a recap of our weekend ...

We introduced Ben to Settlers. While he wasn't all that interested, as you can see, he did get plenty of attention, courtesy his fake aunt Jaclyn. [Side note: I managed to win one of the two games we played. I'm making a run at Bryan and Greg, who are leading our all-time scoreboard ...]

Saturday included the annual Christmas parade, which rivals Homecoming for my favorite local parade. [The other competitors in Murray are the Fourth of July and Veteran's Day parades ... Ah, small-town America at its finest!]

Ben was bundled up and pretty much slept through the whole thing!

There were camels! And horses ...


Not that you could see it under all his layers, but this is what Ben was wearing in honor of the season ...


After the parade, Gran-Gran gave the kids their Christmas pajamas while we ate lunch at Pizza Hut. Cate loves the bus, which I'm sure will work well as a new purse for her toddler toys, and insisted on wearing the pajamas last night.

And while basketball isn't necessarily holiday related, this video of Cate "dancing" last night is worth watching ...