Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a date with Cate

I took Cate on a date to see Sesame Street Live. She doesn't really watch "Sesame Street," the TV show, but she knows Elmo from the potty training video and some books. She also recognizes Big Bird from some books. She loved Disney Live about eight months ago, so I figured she'd enjoy all the singing and dancing with Elmo and friends.

I was right.

This is the best self-portrait shot of our five or so attempts. We'll take what we can get.

And for me it was fun to be with just her. We happened to sit next to people we know, but we didn't go with anyone. And it was nice. We talked. She made me laugh. And we just enjoyed some time together. I mentally recalled going to live shows like that when I was a kid [although older] while she soaked in the characters, songs, colors, numbers and dances.

That's Abby on the left. I'm not sure how Cate knows Abby, although I'm not sure how Cate knew to pick her out as her favorite. Before we got there, she told me Elmo's pink and purple friend was her favorite.

So we're sitting there, and Cate points to Abby, who I had confused with Zoe, until I heard one of the character call her "Abby," and says, "That's me. I want to be her." [That's her thing. She'll pretend characters are her. It's a little different than her pretending she's them.]

So then she asks, "Who are you?"

"Um, who do you want me to be?" Answering a question with a question. I hate when people do that, but I seem to do it to my 3 1/2-year-old girl rather often.

I think she pointed to Zoe, Elmo's orange friend, but I'm not entirely sure.

Then it was back to the cotton candy. I too think it's so tasty that licking every last grain of sugar off fingers is required.

Monday, November 29, 2010

'tis the season

Our Thanksgiving included a touch of Christmas.

Snowflakes actually fell, and sort of stuck to the already-wet ground, on Thanksgiving night. Then we went to a Christmas parade, shopped a craft fair and toured a Christmas lights display while in and around Highland, Ill., where my brother-in-law John and sister-in-law Christine live. We spent Friday and Saturday there.

Cate, of course, enjoyed being with her 6-month-old cousin Mae Rose.


We bundled up for a nighttime Christmas parade that turned out to be one of the best parades I've seen. And I've seen a lot of parades. This parade included a fire-breathing dragon, fake snow from a float, several lit-up floats and Santa on a traveling rooftop.

Cate has seen enough parades to know what to do. Wave. And collect candy.


Cate rode a camel, which was one of the activities at Our Lady of the Snows, which also included Christmas lights that told the story of Jesus' birth. Ben wanted to ride too ...

And then we ate kettle corn while driving through the display ...

a happy Thanksgiving ...

My mother-in-law's turkey was 2.75 times my newborn son's weight last year. Ben was born the week of Thanksgiving, so his birthday and the holiday now go together in my mind. And, yes, he'll probably be subjected to pictures with the turkey for many years to come. Peggy pointed out this year that our turkey may grow though as our family continues to grow.

Want a visual comparison?

From this ...

... to this ...

Ben and the turkey were the same size this year. About 22 pounds.

And, even better for Ben, he loved eating the turkey this year. His other favorite food on Thanksgiving was black-eyed peas.

Although there were 18 people at Thanksgiving lunch, my kids were the only kids because the other four Taylor cousins were doing different things with their other sides of their families. Even so, Cate didn't have much trouble recruiting company at her craft table ...

Her great-uncle David was happy to join her. Later she recruited some of her first cousins once removed.

1, actually

On Ben's actual birthday, we celebrated by having the Tompkinses over for taco soup. We took the kids out for ice cream and then game home, put the birthday boy to bed and let the others play while us adults played Settlers of Catan. It was a good evening for everyone, especially because their Thanksgiving travel plans kept them from coming to the party to celebrate with us then.

Isn't that tool box adorable? Thanks to the Tompkinses for a cute toy and a fun night.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ben is 1!

Ben really likes the balloons.

He likes to smile too.

His sister wanted in on the photo shoot.

Did I mention Ben likes playing with the balloons?

So does his sister.

We already had a birthday party. But every day is a party with these two.

Today is just a special kind of party.

Happy birthday, sweet Ben!

You've kept me on my toes this year, but you've blessed me so much. You've reminded me that babies are little people who don't fit into by-the-book formulas. You do things that remind me of Cate, and then I think about how God really knew what He was doing. We don't share any DNA with you, but Our Father knit us together. To be a family. This family.

We couldn't have planned a better addition one year ago. You make us laugh harder and love more deeply, even while you're trying to climb the stairs or taste test anything in your path. I think you're going to be a climber. People often comment on how happy you are. Indeed. But you're also loud and on the move, constantly. When you want to eat or sleep, you want it right then and make it known. But you still manage to go with the flow of everyone else.

Your story -- which I happily claim as part of my story -- reminds me that God cares about the details of our lives. Your smile brings joy into any room. And you draw in strangers wherever we are with your giggles and grin.

Now that you're 1, you have a bottle radar. It's only been a couple of days, but you're drinking your milk out of sippy cups, which until this week you seemed to think were only for water or juice. And it's soy milk. You were spitting up curdled whole milk.

This week you've started a funny gurgling sound and an "O" expression with your mouth. You'll say "nigh-night" when you want to go to bed or realize I'm putting you to bed. Speaking of bed, you went a week or two without morning naps, but then you took two naps the last couple of days. I'll just consider it a transition. And realize, once again, that we aren't made to follow formulas.

You like to follow your sister, who adores you and protects you. And you crawl like a champ. Seriously fast. I guess that's why you aren't too interested in walking. You do pull up and cruise around tables, chairs, laps and toys. But when you really want to get somewhere, you're moving on your hands and knees.

We've gotten here. We've gotten to a year. And, buddy, I have to admit that I'm glad. I'm excited to see what you'll do as a toddler. I'm certain you'll make messes and love every moment of doing so. But I'm also certain you'll pull us into your world, where joy abounds. And there's no other place I'd rather be.

I love you, sweet boy.


Want to read about his growth? You can ... 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8 months,9 months, 10 months and 11 months.

Ben & Caroline

Ben may not have chosen his friend Caroline, but he seems to like having her around. Sometimes us parents do know what we're doing and cherishing friendships is something I hope my kids learn early and deeply.

Just think. These two will go to kindergarten together in 2015.

Caroline isn't so sure about her friend climbing on her ...

... but Ben seems to mean well. It's boy love, I suppose.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Celebrating Ben!

Even though I'm happy to be here, this place sneaked up on me. As I look at that picture of three of us, I think back to my favorite picture from the day Ben was born. Nearly a year ago. Ben is 1, almost. And we celebrated yesterday, on a beautiful day with family and friends.



Isn't November a strange month? I had to wear gloves a couple weeks ago, and then I hosted an outdoor birthday party and let my son eat cake while wearing only a diaper.

I couldn't have asked for a better day, though.

And just look at this cake? It was as delicious as it was cute.

The kids loved the bouncy house we borrowed from a friend. Ben liked his first-ever dessert. And we enjoyed being with the family and friends who had some free time, despite the busyness of the holidays that has already begun.

Our tailgate birthday party was followed by Murray State's season-ending football game. Then after a short rest time, we met friends for dinner, where Ben had his second-ever dessert, before going to the Murray State basketball game.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This picture is actually from about a month ago, when I was sick and
Sarah graciously invited Ben over to play with Davey one morning.
But that same happy facial expression illustrates our day. Plus I
realized it was sitting on my computer desktop, waiting to be shared ...


Today was a hooded sweatshirt and rain boots kind of day. Other than dropping Cate off at school and then picking her up 3 hours and 45 minutes later, I didn't have a plan beyond knowing I wanted to be warm and have dry feet.

On the way to take Cate, Sarah texted me to say she and Davey were going to the story time I had enjoyed a couple weeks earlier when Cate was out of school for Election Day. It's one those come-as-often-as-you-but-no-sign-up-required events that is as good for the moms as it is for the kids. I had just been thinking about what I wanted to do while Cate was at school ...

I needed to pay some property taxes for our company.

I could shop for a smaller Christmas tree that I'm thinking I'll put up on a small table in the corner of our living room. Honestly, I don't want to spend weeks dealing with Ben's small hands grabbing ornaments, lights and artificial branches or his mouth inserting of the previously mentioned in his mouth. Cate was 7 months when the Christmas tree was first in her reach. But she was never into everything like Ben is. I know, a stereotypical boy-girl difference.

I could go home and start some laundry.

I have two packages that need to be returned to Diapers.com and Amazon.com via UPS, but carrying two boxes of diapers [that Ben outgrew sooner than I expected ...], an umbrella and an almost-1-year-old into the UPS Store on a rainy day is more than I really want to handle.

I have two baby gifts to drop off. Again, present, umbrella, baby ... too much times two.

So I text Sarah back [at a red light, of course ...] to say Ben and I will be at story time too. Then I remembered Jaclyn said she and Sabrina were coming too. Alright, an impromptu plan was in place for my morning.

After dropping Cate off, I paid the company's property taxes and then went to story time. Toward the end of the 90-minute time of playing, listening to a story, crafting [at which time Ben and I opted for more playtime ...] and snacking. The graham crackers apparently only whetted my son's appetite and then my pregnant friend Sarah mentioned she was hungry.

Continuing with the impromptu planning, I asked Sarah if she and Davey would like to get some lunch with us. We decided upon Taco John's and moved our conversation there while the four of us ate quesadillas and drank our drinks from a straw. Yes, seriously, I don't remember Cate being able to drink from a straw at this point, but Ben and Davey both can.

Our boys' achievements in their first year of life were only part of the conversation. I left with a full heart, thankful for a friend who prompted some impromptu planning on a rainy day.

almost there ...

It sounds cliche to say that I can't believe my baby boy turns 1 in a week. But, really, this year has flown by.

But unlike many moms, I'm not sad about my boy turning 1. It's no secret I prefer the walking and talking that comes with toddlers. But I can already tell, my boy is going to be more into things than my girl ever was.

Even so, I'm loving watching Ben learn new things all of the time, even if that translates into him getting into things, trying to climb up the stairs before I notice and annoying his sister by getting into her space.

His birthday came a little early, first with the Power Wheel from Granddad Hill last week, and then with some gifts from Grandmom on Sunday. She made a visit because she'll be in New Zealand for Thanksgiving, and Ben's birthday party.

He started with the one most his size and the moved on ...

... or, rather, over ...

... toward the smaller one that made a sound and the big one near it.

And when he got there, even the paper was interesting. The beauty really is in the details and journey from there to here, where I have an almost 1-year-old boy who believes the world is his playground. And he couldn't be happier about it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


We went to a Veterans' Day parade, which is absolutely no surprise to those who know about Murray, Ky., and its obsession with parades. If a town can truly have an obsession, this town's is its dollar stores and parades.

Both are typically nice additions to life.

Take today's parade, it's something to do at 4 o'clock on a Thursday afternoon. And it's a way to spark a civics conversation with a 3-year-old who likes to know what's going on.

Just today we discussed freedom and Thanksgiving, although she was more familiar with the pilgrims ["I made a pilgrim at school. A girl one."] than the Indians ["I don't know who they are."].

And let's not forget the dollar stores. I've actually shopped at two of the four [and that's not counting Big Lots ...] just this week. Yeah, I know. And I've been two Walmart. Twice. I've had a holiday urge to craft and shop, so I've been exercising some creative freedom.

Ah, yes, back to freedom.

Hope you enjoyed your Veterans' Day. Maybe it got you off work. Maybe it caused you to make a pointless trip to the bank and post office. Maybe it took you to a parade. Or even a dollar store. Wherever you were and whatever you were doing, I hope it included celebrating those who have served, are serving or will serve to protect our freedoms. And I hope you praised God for his freedom that surpasses all the other good things in our lives.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

snippets of my life

After learning I have diabetes, a woman I recently met asked me how my pregnancies were. She had gestational diabetes, so she said she was curious, which I totally understand. So I kindly said, "Actually, both of my kids are adopted."

I always hesitate.

Not because I'm ashamed. Truthfully, I'd tell anyone who wants to listen. I love their stories. I love how God heard the desires of my heart and led us to have a family in a way that has been better than I could have ever imagined.

But I know it catches people off guard.

After getting dressed for the day, Cate said, "Cool shoes, Mommy."

Cool is her new description of many things. So I thanked her and went on with what I was doing. I didn't get very far before I hear her critique of my outfit continue.

"Why you wearin' that shirt?"

Um. Several answers go through my head. Because I like it. Because it's nice outside and it seemed to be a good day to wear it. Just because.

But instead I answered her question with a question, something I hate other people to do. "Do you not like it?"

"No," she said simply.

Cate, Ben and I were all playing separately in the playroom [appropriate, huh?] yesterday when I decided Ben was ready for a nap. So I got up from my scrapbooking table and told Cate I'd be right back, leaving her to her own crafts.

When I returned and told her we'd need to start cleaning up so she could take her nap, I noticed some strands of her hair on the floor.

"Is this your hair?"

She confirmed, and then went back to coloring her picture of Diego.

"Who cut it?"I wasn't done with the conversation.

"Me." Exactly what I was afraid of.

"And why did you cut your hair?" I try not to ask my 3 1/2-year-old why because it's not really a good information-gathering question for that age, but I couldn't think of anything else to say.

"Because it was in my eyes."

Lovely. So I have a problem-solver who takes matters into her own hands. And I actually trusted her with scissors. I always put them up when her friends come over to play, but I thought she played well with them.

And one could argue she is resourceful. But I can't count the number of times I've said, "Only cut your paper." I've stopped saying that. I guess I'll begin again, when her personal scissor ban is over.

Thankfully, she only snipped a few strands the side of her head. It looks like her bangs extend way too far over. And when her hair is down, it's hard to notice.

Of course, I notice, though. That's what moms do.

Ben received his first birthday present in the mail. His first meaning, the first one. But, yes, it's for his first birthday. My dad sent it. My dad is a good gift giver to my kids, and I'm always surprised too.

Anyway, he got a Lightning McQueen Power Wheel that his sister is really excited about. I was adding the steering wheel and charging the battery [Hooray for minimal assembly!] this afternoon because, really, who wants the box with the new toy just sitting there teasing everyone. Certainly not Cate.

So she was sitting in it, even though I explained it would be tomorrow after preschool when the battery would be ready [18 hours, really?]. Ben wanted in, and she told him she was riding in it. I suggest she give him a turn to sit in the toddler automobile that had no juice, and she said, "Ben needs to share."

Well, yes. That is one part of sharing.

But the other side is you, my oldest child, need to share with Ben. After all, it is his birthday present.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Cate and I had a girls' night, even though we didn't really plan it.

The Murray State basketball exhibition game had been on our calendar for quite some time, but Greg's stomach virus wasn't scheduled. Even so, Greg woke up feeling nauseated and achy at some ridiculously early hour and proceeding to spend his day in bed.

I put Ben to bed a few minutes before 7 p.m., which is his preferred bedtime, and then Cate and I went on to the basketball game, although my 3-year-old kept calling it the "basketball party," which is what we called the recent Fan Jam event. It's like a party, especially if our Racers prove they were only getting started last year, when they lost by two points to eventual finalist Butler in the NCAA Tournament's second round.

Anyway, back to tonight ...

Cate shared popcorn with me, drank Sprite (well, it was actually 7-Up, but please don't tell her!), laughed with two of her cousins, clapped, spelled R-A-C-E-R-S!, and needed an explanation about why the cheerleaders didn't throw her a T-shirt.

Oh, and she talked. Because that's what she does.


And while getting our mother-daughter date night photo off my camera, I remembered I had this cute photo of Luke and Cate. We've know Luke since the day he was born, about a year before Cate was born. She was happy to have him at the Murray State football game on Saturday, when the sun was shining but the air was colder than it had been so far this fall.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Councilman Taylor

My husband will be one of Murray's new councilmen, starting in January, thanks to the 1,624 people who voted for him yesterday. I covered the Murray City Council when I worked at the Ledger & Times, so I'm excited in a nerdy way in addition to the typical supportive wife way.

It was a 24-person race for 12 at-large seats. Here were the top 12 vote-getters who will represent city residents ...

Danny Hudpseth - 2,547
Jason Pittman - 2,176
Dan Miller - 1,970
Robert Billington Jr. - 1,904
Linda Cherry - 1,837
Jeremy Bell - 1,757
Pat Scott - 1.681
Greg Taylor - 1,624
Pete Lancaster - 1,605
Don Elias - 1,580
Jay Morgan - 1,564
Amos McCarty - 1,500

Greg had the highest vote totals among the four non-incumbents. If I were writing a story, that would be my lead.