Saturday, April 30, 2011


I played my first-ever golf game today that involved swinging a club that wasn't a putter and attempting to get the ball on the green from a far-away distance. I'm certainly not a natural golfer. Actually, it was an ugly display.

But it was a fun afternoon.

Just ask my kids.

There were sticks to carry,

numbers to be written,

rides along the cart path,

flowers to be picked, even at distracting times,

and putts off yellow tees*.

And I'm pretty sure my husband thought he was living in some dream world when I agreed without hesitation to go to the local par-3 course with him today. Don't tell Greg just yet, but I'm planning on a return trip.

* I may have never actually played golf before, but I do realize tees don't belong on the green.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

stormy day

With my cell phone battery low and no electricity in the house for 18 hours, I took notes on an old-fashioned piece of paper throughout the stormy day yesterday. The following is my ramblings ...

Tuesday, April 26
I woke up at 12:30 a.m. to the sound of wind banging against our house and noticed our ceiling fan wasn't going. Greg was looking at the weather radar on his iPad and said he had just heard a transformer blow.

Greg carried Cate down to our room, mostly because the pitch darkness could easily cause her to stumble down the stairs if she decided to get up. She slept the rest of the night on our bedroom floor.

Ben slept all night in his bed.

After that second installment of sleep, Greg checked out things at work -- which was also dark -- and then we decided to meet at Hardee's for breakfast. Around 8 a.m., the drive-thru line wrapped around the building once and part way a second time. Greg ordered our food inside, where that line grew longer by the moment. Hardee's is a popular breakfast stop, but choices were especially limited as many in the city still didn't have power.

Greg tended to some work tasks and the kids I went to Walmart to stock up on candles (We only had two and wanted to be prepared should our power stay out into the evening.), matches (Greg used the last one. Matches seem to be one of those things that I always just have. I took me awhile to find them in the store.), a couple battery-powered lights (mostly for a back-up night light upstairs), soy milk for Ben (so I didn't have to let the coolness out of my fridge while we didn't have power), and Angel Soft toilet paper (OK, so that wasn't on the original list, but it was on sale.).

Then we walked the neighboring streets, mostly because it seemed more reasonable to be outside than in our dim house.

Ben got muddy when I let him out of the stroller to play in our yard. The boy likes to splash in puddles and be moving. Often he moves faster than he's really capable, so he ends up on the ground. And the dirt doesn't slow him down.

We ate lunch at Pagliai's, which has an indoor play area. I figured with more storms in the forecast the possibility of my kids being cooped up needed to be addressed. They ate, played hard, and ate again.

And then they napped. I talked and texted and Facebooked so much my battery was nearing its end. Thankfully, I have a car charger.

Our weather-watching friend Justin who also works at Murray Electric System read on Facebook that we still didn't have power, so he came by to check on us. I'm telling you, these are the moments I'm reminded why living in a small town is so great. He also told me about the storms that were coming our way and how sleeping in the basement was a good idea.

Around 3:30 p.m., the kids were both up and acting antsy in our darkened house. It started to storm again while I read "Bear Feels Scared" and "Bear Feels Sick" to my kids on the porch swing. Our friend Cate, who also didn't have power or a dinner plan, came over.

A wall cloud -- a new term to me -- hoovered over Murray, so we went to the basement, where we read "Bear Wants More" and "Bear Snores On." When I saw "we" went to the basement, that doesn't include Greg, who was at work by this time, where power was restored and he was on a conference call. He didn't even realize big, dark clouds were hoovering near.

Sarah invited us for dinner. The food was delicious and the fellowship was a good ending to what had been a disjointed day. And I was reminded of lines from "Bear Feels Scared":

With a flap and a flurry
all the friends gather near.
They give him bear hugs--
and they calm his bear fears.

I wasn't scared, but I was recognizing -- yet again -- the joys of living in community, where people check on each other and take care of each other. With a text here and a phone call there, we decide how and when to gather together. And living like that makes life far from scary.

When we got home at 7:45 p.m., our power was back on and we got the kids ready for bed. Their beds. At least to start. Once they fell asleep, we moved them down the basement, where we all slept. I saw lightning, heard thunder and was updated via The Weather Channel texts of tornado and storm warnings, but it was a rather uneventful night.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I was surprised [in a good way!] to find the following pictures on my camera card when I was uploading pictures from our Easter weekend. The parallel cuteness of our kids sitting in each other's chairs was enough to motivate Greg to get out the camera while I was showering Saturday morning. Consider those unsolicited photographs of an ordinary moment to be among my love languages. Seriously makes my heart happy.

Sitting only lasts briefly for Ben ...

Monday, April 25, 2011

young love

Ben has liked his friend Caroline, who is four days shy of being nine months to the day younger than him, from the beginning.

And so it continues ...

"Can I hold you hand?"


"I really want to hold your hand."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

After having many conversations this week about Jesus rising from the tomb leading up to Easter, it was fun to actually wake up and remind Cate that today was Easter, the day dedicated to Jesus' death and resurrection that gives us grace and life.

We started the morning with an Easter basket that had treats symbolizing the Easter story.

Each jelly bean color represented different things (Jesus' blood, sin, grace, new life, etc.). The chocolate money was a reminder of Judas' betrayal. The rock -- edible and filled with chocolate! -- symbolized the stone that was rolled away. And the lamb is a reminder that Jesus is the Lamb of God and always with us.

I was so excited when Greg found this resurrection-themed Easter basket idea online this week. So excited, I spent some time Thursday gathering these items and making my kids their first-ever Easter baskets from us.

Then we enjoyed our church's breakfast potluck, which is always one of my favorite meals of the year and included delicious cinnamon rolls that helped me break my dessert fast. After church we went to my mother-in-law's house to join several other relatives for lunch, laughter and, of course, an egg hunt.

It was Ben's first egg hunt. But he knew what to do. All boy, I tell you.

Greg's cousins hid the eggs for the kids. And Cate found the one in my favorite place ...

Apparently, the mounted deer head that is a pile of my brother-in-law's stuff didn't bother my girl. I guess she thinks deer are friendly, especially when they're just decoration.

Friday, April 22, 2011

on the road and back home again

I realized I never wrote about my weekend away. And it's worth writing about.

Mom and I stopped for a Coke Zero at a gas station in Cadiz before we got on the interstate and discovered a great gift shop. Yes, attached to the gas station. That was on our way to Nashville to meet Laine and some of her family members for her bachelorette party. Laine is marrying my brother in a couple weeks, and it's especially fun to celebrate because we've know her so long and she's really already part of our family.

And Laine's fun ...

I discovered the deliciousness of Demo's on Friday night. Then on Saturday, Mom and I met Greg at Ted's Montana Grill for lunch. From there, Greg and I began our overnight date, which included watching "Scream 4," shopping at Target, eating some more, and then to the Matt Nathanson and Sugarland concert. Well, Little Big Town was there too, but I didn't come to see them.

I wished Matt Nathanson played longer; four songs didn't cut it. Although the four songs were good -- two new ones, "Come On Get Higher," and then a fun cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." I just wanted more.

Sugarland was awesome live. Jennifer Nettles can sing. And my favorite part was when Matt Nathanson came back out to sing "Run" -- a song that'll be on his new album this summer -- with her. Man, they're good together. Sugarland's closing cover of Madonna's "Like a Prayer" was entertaining, but there's just a lot going on whenever Little Big Town is on the stage.

Also included in my weekend was some sleeping in and then a perfect ending meal at Blackhorse Pub & Brewery in Clarksville, Tenn., on our way home. Even after such a fun weekend, I was so glad to be back home because, really, Dorothy was right. There's no place like it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"He is not here; he has risen!"

... "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"

Monday night we made resurrection rolls. It happened to be the same day Cate's memory verse at school was "He is not here; he is risen!" I'm amazed at how she can tell us that Jesus died on a cross and then wasn't in the tomb when they came to look for him. Greg asked her last night if she knew what a tomb was, and she replied without hesitation, "It's like a cave."

She amazes me.

And God amazes me. The way he weaves moments together couldn't be orchestrated by me, even if I try. And I do try.

We talked about Jesus' burial and resurrection while she dipped in the marshmallow in melted butter and the cinnamon/Splenda mix [signifying the oil and herbs they used to prepare his body] and then rolled it in the crescent roll [Jesus' tomb]. And after 15 minutes in the oven, the marshmallow wasn't there. It had melted. Consider it a fast-forwarded object lesson of the three days that changed history.

If you're interested, here is the recipe I used. I know there are several others out there too.

May you and your family be blessed as we celebrate the joy that comes with the eternal meaning of Easter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

'Who's coming ...'

At least once a day, Cate asks, "Who's coming to our house?" or "Who's eating dinner with us?" I believe hospitality will be one of her gifts. And, really, that makes me proud.


Ben often goes to the door and says, "Outside." There is certainty, desire and pleading all wrapped up into one that one compound word. In fact, it's her first compound* word.

And, yes, he says it frequently.

He really likes pushing the "go" button, but instead of holding it down, he taps it, resulting in a jerking motion. I suppose that doesn't bother him. Probably because he's outside.

Sweet boy, smelling the flowers ...

... and then he decides to yank one off. All boy, I tell you.

"Swing" has joined his growing vocabulary and has become a favorite outside activity.

* I realize noting my son's first compound word is nerdy. Thing is, I did it when I was keeping a list of Cate's words too.

What's for dinner?

Never a dull moment around here. Even dinner is entertaining, apparently.

I know, now you all are wanting to come over for dinner. Come on over, I'm sure it will be an adventure.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

home & away

I'm going away for the weekend. Without my kids. For the second time this month.

After this weekend, I will have spent more nights [four] away from my kids than I had previously [three] in Cate's almost four years of life. Not that I'm keeping track. But I do think about it because it's hard for me.

I want to put a disclaimer in here, now, that I realize every family, every mom, every kid is different. People have different needs. People have different ways of coping. People have different responsibilities and are blessed in different ways. So what I'm going to say about me may have absolutely nothing to do with you.

And that's OK. We'll still be friends.

I like to check on my kids before I go to bed. I've done it nearly every night for the 47 months Cate has been in our family. And I've done it for the almost 17 months Ben has been here. I plan to keep doing it for a long time.

Likewise, I like the couple hours Greg and I have without kids most evenings. We watch TV and movies. We play Words with Friends or whatever two-person game is our current addiction. Sometimes we have things to talk about. Sometimes he works and I fold laundry. But it's a break from answering questions, changing diapers, filling a sippy cup with soy milk, explaining what we're going to do next, reassembling a toy, reminding Ben not to climb there or stick his hand in the toilet, and asking Cate to remember Ben is smaller than she is.

The evenings on the couch with my husband are my time to be refreshed as a mom. Of course, I squeeze in time to read on the porch swing while they're napping, texting and Facebooking my friends from the convenience of my iPhone, or meeting a friend and her kids for lunch during the day. Those are times of refreshment as well.

And every now and then I get to do something fun with just Greg. Like go to the Final Four. Or a baseball game. Or an amusement park. Maybe even dinner and a movie. And those times are sweet. And they're good for my kids too because they need to know their Daddy and I love each other and value our marriage.

But I never want leaving my kids to be easy. I never want to want to leave them. I want to always want to be home.

With Greg.

With my kids.

Because this is where God called me to be, and it's the hardest, most unpredictable, most rewarding place I've ever been.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

chasing the deer

The deer is no longer in our yard, thanks to the Fish & Wildlife officer who joined the crew, which is partially pictured above. At various times yesterday evening, a few city policeman, a couple teen-age boys, a neighbor and a Humane Society representative with a video camera chased the deer through our yard and our neighbor's yard. It was the fastest I'd seen the deer move; I'm guessing she didn't like the idea of the rope one of the guys was carrying.

Turns out, the deer was probably somebody's illegal pet because it wasn't native to or even known to be in our area. The deer's hop was what gave her away to the Fish & Wildlife officer as being a fallow deer. I don't know much about deer, but this one didn't seem to run like ones I've seen darting across the country roads around here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

the deer still here

The deer is still here. And nearer than she was before.

She's become brave, venturing from the drainage ditch and culvert to our few flowered bushes lining our front porch. She walked to the backyard and nibbled on some grass there before returning to our front yard. Yes, we spent some time watching [and Ben waving] to her through our window. She seemed uninterested. And just kept meandering around the yard, in the rain.

I don't see her now, so I suppose she's taking cover somewhere I can't see. Unless the animal control officer heard the message I left for him this morning and came by.

UPDATE @ 2:52 p.m.: The deer has not floated away in the rain or been rescued by the animal control officer. She is sitting like she doesn't have a care in the word in our backyard near the corner of the fence.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

corralling friends

Davey is one day older than Eva and 24 days older than Ben. It's fun to have friends whose kids are so, so close to my boy's age. They certainly do their own things in their own time, but it's fun to be able to have a point of reference as they grow up.

Sadly, the Youngs -- that's Eva's family -- are moving to Oklahoma soon. We wanted to have dinner and catch up before they left, and, of course, that meant we could get our babies who aren't really babies together for another photo shoot.

At first, they just slept through a photo shoot. Then when they were just a few months old, we propped them up against each other in a chair. Even a year ago, they were easy to to corral a year ago. Containing them when Eva and Davey celebrated their first birthday [meaning Ben was just a few weeks from turning 1] also was challenging.

Now Davey and Eva are 17 months old and Ben is 16 months old. And they are on the move. In different directions. At different times.

At first, Ben was ready. But that was short lived, especially once his friends joined him on the couch.

So we had to corral them in our arms. The boys were more OK with it than Eva.

And, yes, Cate wanted to be part of the photo fun. But Eva was done.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

oh, deer ...

I saw a deer today. In my front yard.

I live in a city. It may not be a big city, but deer don't usually wander down the street. Or through my front yard.

Apparently our yard is attractive to animals. We saw a raccoon in a carport. And then again in the same creek in our front yard that the deer visited. And then he was trapped, after an opossum first fell victim to the enticing food in the cage.

He walked through the culvert and decided to snack on some grass on the other side. And, last I looked, he was still hanging out below Sharpe Street.

16 1/2 months

Ben keeps life entertaining, that's for sure ...

He's certainly more than a flag-waving want-to-be-princess.

He has the best laugh, a contagious smile, and determination to climb high and get to the next place fast. He loves his cup of milk and being outside. He'll eat most anything that isn't sandwich meat or sliced cheese. He likes people and flirts with nearly anyone with whom he makes eye contact. He likes what his sister likes. His moods and feelings are clear and he doesn't like to sacrifice sleep.

Our lives certainly wouldn't be the same without our Ben.

spring eggs

Cate was really excited to dye Easter eggs, except she's been calling them "Spring Eggs." I think that's from an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Either way, she was excited for the craft time.

And I'm pretty sure she remembered dying eggs before. Twice before.

She was proud of herself and her creations.

Unfortunately, the eggs weren't hard boiled enough to eat. They weren't runny, but they weren't finished boiling yet. Don't ask. I have no idea what happened. I boiled them like I have every other time I've boiled eggs.

Yes, she has more egg dye awaiting the next -- hopefully edible -- round. Coming soon.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Today ...

... has been 80 degrees and sunny.

... was babysitting co-op day at my house.
Two adults. Seven kids from 8 months to 6 years.

... is Norah's birthday.
Happy 3rd birthday, friend!

The cupcakes Jaclyn sent were good. Obviously.

That blanket

Anyone who spends much time with Cate, who turns 4 in less than a month, knows she loves to sleep with her "polka dot" pink blanket. One side is that soft material that has the raised circles and the other side is satin. When she was smaller -- like Ben's age -- she'd request "that" blanket if we tried to substitute another similar pink one for naptime or bedtime. She still likes that blanket.

And she likes her 16-month-old brother to like his blue version.

Ben's always liked to sleep with blankets near his head or his head near the bumper. But he hadn't shown favoritism toward a blanket until recently. And it's that blanket. The one like his sister's. The one she picked out for him in a store before he was born.

He'll walk around the house with it, sometimes on his head, and he'll find it when he's ready for a "nigh night." His version of that blanket comforts him like his sister's comforts her. To me, it's sweet she wants him to know that kind of comfort, as long as it's his blue one and not her pink one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Remembering Gary

This is the day the Lord has made;
I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Most of me can't believe it's been a year since my father-in-law, who my daughter adores and calls Granddaddy, passed away unexpectedly. But part of me recognizes that a lot has happened in this past year. One thing is for certain: Gary Taylor is missed here on earth, in our family and in the larger community. But nobody doubts the completion that occurred on April 6, 2010, when Gary found eternal peace in the place Jesus has spent more than 2,000 years preparing for us.

Meanwhile, I've watched my mother-in-law become more courageous and more generous -- characteristics she already possessed yet have managed to grow even stronger.

My relationship with my sister-in-law Angela has strengthened and deepened.

I've talked to my almost 4-year-old daughter more times than I'm guessing I would otherwise about heaven, and Jesus, and death, and burying our earthly bodies and gaining eternal spiritual bodies. Today at the cemetery, I noticed her talking to Elijah and Ethne about how Granddaddy's body is buried there where we stood, but how his heart and soul are in heaven, where he got a new body and lives with Jesus. You can see, she even pointed. I love watching as her little heart tries to grasp these complex truths.

I understand the word legacy in a way I never comprehended before because I'm watching my husband continue building what Gary started.

Yes, Gary has missed being here when Ben became a toddler and Mae Rose was born. Cate has learned to write, Ethne has fallen in love with ballet and Elijah has matured. But I know their Granddaddy couldn't be prouder of the ways they love life and each other.

We gathered together today to remember this legacy. We saw the gravestone for the first time. And we prayed, giving thanks that even when life is hard, God is still faithful. There were laughs and tears, and energetic kids, but Gary wouldn't have changed a thing because he knew how to live life to the fullest.

I'm guessing he looked down and smiled, just as I did when I walked up and heard three little voices praying their own prayers about Grandddaddy and Gran-Gran. And I know for certain praying and living and believing are what he wants us to be doing. Today. And every other day.

More photos from our cemetery visit are in an album on Facebook.