Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monkey See?

That is, do you want to see pictures of our little monkey in her Halloween costume?

And finally, from the Fall Festival the other night, I like to call this "Curious Kate and the Mom in the Yellow Hat."

The End.

(the end has a pretty cute, curly tail, don't you think?)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday -- Nine Month Pics

Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

Kate is nine months old today, which means she has been outside the womb about as long as she was in! While still my little baby, she also seems like such a "big girl" now (big girl being relative, of course). These last two months have been huge for her, developmentally, as she has learned to pull up, cruise, crawl (in that order), and feed herself finger foods.
Now, at nine months, she is:
  • cruising easily and even walking with a push-toy
  • standing unassisted for a few seconds
  • getting close to walking unassisted
  • on the verge of waving (right now it's more like a "heil")
  • eating three meals of solids (oatmeal, yogurt, fruit/veggie puree, etc.) in addition to four bottles a day (though she's taking less in each bottle--down from 8 oz. to just 4-7).
  • eating a wide variety of finger foods (puffs, macaroni, banana, peaches, string cheese, peas, carrots, bread, and zucchini)
  • wearing size 2-3 diapers
  • wearing size 6-12 mo. clothes (Gymboree and Gap size things with that wide range, Carter's just with 9 mo.)
  • wearing shoes on a regular basis
  • sleeping around 10-11 hours at night (she's been doing 10 for a while, but she's been sleeping a little later, lately)
  • napping 2-3 times a day in short stints (usually 45-60 minutes at most, though occasionally longer)
  • just starting to express preferences or separation-anxiety for certain people
  • still blowing raspberries and sticking out her tongue
  • laughing a lot when we tickle her, blow her hair, or chase her crawling
Kate's getting to be an old pro at this life-outside-the-womb thing! She is a very happy baby, independent and active. I love you so much, Baboo, and I feel so lucky to be your mommy!
[By the way, another Nashville mommy-blogger, Vanderbilt Wife, is celebrating her daughter's first birthday with a little blogstravaganza called "12 Days of Libbie." She invited anyone writing a "love-on-your-kid" post to link up, so welcome to anyone clicking over from there! And happy birthday, Libbie!]

Monday, October 26, 2009

Changing the World

I love busy days at work, and there is nothing like being out of town to create a busy day when you return! Scurrying around to get back on top of the heap, I start by responding to e-mails and then by going through the pieces of paper that collect on my desk reminding me to do things: a phone number written on the back of an envelope, a contract that needs to be filed, a proof waiting to be...well, proofed.

All this scurrying is part of the process of producing books that I hope/believe will make a difference for pastors, churches, and people of faith. I don't heal the sick or feed the poor in my day-to-day work, but hopefully my work can play a small part in empowering Christian communities to be a real force for positive change in a hurting world.

My confidence in that goal got a boost during my trip last week up to Ginghamsburg Church, near Dayton, Ohio. We were there for Change the World, Ginghamsburg's fourth annual conference on the missional church. This is always my favorite trip of the year, getting back to the core of what Jesus called the church to be. Past speakers have included Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, and Adam Hamilton. This year featured Ron Sider, Ruby Payne, and Trevor Hudson, in addition to Ginghamsburg's Pastor Mike Slaughter, who always speaks at the event.

I really loved hearing from Ruby Payne, renowned expert on poverty. She looks at the cultural values and "hidden rules" inherent to the poverty, middle-class, and wealthy classes. It's quite fascinating, and a bunch of teachers and social workers from around Ohio paid to come just to her sessions of the conference. It made me think about how the church can minister not only to the poor outside its walls, but also within--integrating and serving the families living in poverty who may come to worship but are often kept on the outskirts of our middle-class-oriented congregations.

Mike was inspiring, as always, reminding us of the church's imperative to be missional rather than attractional, to make disciples rather than tally decisions, and to value people over buildings. His keynote was a great teaser for his upcoming book Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus, Mike's ninth or tenth book, and his third that I have edited. Aimed at pastors, leadership teams, and others active in church missions, the book explains changes in strategy, budget, programming, and organization that churches can make in order to make mission to the "least, last, and lost" the church's top priority.

Change the World is essentially "Mike on paper," articulating the true heart of his ministry. Mike actually said he could go on his next trip to Sudan in a few weeks with no regret or fear because he had written the book he was born to write. That was understandably disconcerting to his wife, but if that isn't reason to read this book, I don't know what is!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

1DoH: Away and Back

Welcome to the fifth installment of 100 Days of Holidays!

26) Monday 10/19: It is finally getting to be jacket weather, so Kate donned her polka-dot fleece jacket as we headed off to "school" today. 27) Tuesday 10/20: Kate and Daddy love roughhousing on the floor. Matt is such a good daddy, and my confidence in his childcare skills made it much easier to head off on my business trip this week.
28) Wednesday 10/21: Matt sent me this picture message of Kate eating her finger foods. Neurotic as I am, I responded "Is Kate wearing pink pants with her green shirt?" No doubt rolling his eyes, Matt texted back "I knew you would notice that." She did start the day in the polka dot leggings that go with that top, but apparently there was "an accident."

29) Thursday 10/22: Granna came up to spend the day with Kate while Daddy went to a leadership event of some sort. Shame that event wasn't Change the World, where I was!

29) Friday 10/23: Mommy's back! Hooray! This trip to Ohio was the longest I'd been away from Kate, and it was hard, but luckily it's a good conference and a good author relationship, so I enjoyed the trip. We had bathtime soon after my homecoming, and then all three of us played in Kate's room before bed.

30) Saturday 10/24: Today was such a full day, I'm going to go a little wild and crazy and post two pics for it. First, we spent most of the day down in Nashville, where our friend Maria did some family and 9-month photos for us. They are gorgeous! If you're on Facebook, you may have seen a sneak peek, but there are more to come on Wordless Wednesday!

In the evening was the church Fall Festival, significant (for me) primarily because it was the first time Kate wore her Halloween costume! What a cute little monkey!
31) Sunday 10/25: Here we are as Kate and I slipped into the back pew at church (Daddy came over to say hi). I used to sit up front, but after getting frustrated with having to take Kate out numerous times during worship (see my rant here), I started sitting in back where I can let her crawl and cruise around some, and make an inconspicuous exit if necessary. It's working out much better, though last week was still exhausting. This week, I didn't break out the puffs until sermon time, and an older gentleman asked to hold her right around the prayer time, so I actually got to pray! (It's hard to pray while wrestling an alligator and keeping one eye open to make sure it doesn't crawl right up the aisle or out the door!)

This week--Kate's nine month Marcel pic, and more Halloween fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

1DoH: Pumpkins Galore

If it's Sunday, it's 100 Days of Holidays!

(19) Monday 10/12: Kate brought home her first school "art project" today. Obviously, she had little to do with making it, but it's still precious and I hung it on the fridge, of course!
(20) Tuesday 10/13: This is our anniversary week. October is my favorite month, which is why I was determined to get married in it and have an autumnal color scheme.
(21) Wednesday, 10/14: It's our third anniversary! To celebrate, Matt and I had a great Italian dinner (our favorite!) at Sole Mio and stayed overnight at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. It was a very special date--swanky dates are rare these days!

(22) Thursday 10/15: Kate stayed overnight with Granna and Opa while we were on our date. Here she is playing with her socks and shoes after getting into her jammies.
(23) Friday 10/16: Popi came to visit overnight, since he was down our way for an event in southern Kentucky. Kate's bib says "A bottle of the house white, please!" Popi and Nala brought Kate that from their recent trip to Ireland (more Irish goodies to come at Christmas, I hear!) (24) Saturday 10/17: Family trip to the pumpkin patch! Matt and I said that if the owners charged a flat fee for cute-photo-opp, they would earn a lot more than they do selling pumpkins at $.25 per pound. (More pumpkin patch pics to come on Wordless Wednesday!)
(25) Sunday 10/18: This is one of my favorite fall decor items. I got it a few years ago on sale at Pier One. It's kind of heavy--all metal, and I love the batik pattern. (The painting in the background was done in the watercolor class I took a few years ago. I like it.)
Coming up this week: business trip and Kate's halloween costume!

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Favorite Blogs

As I look through my Google Reader each day (via its little app square on my iGoogle homepage) there are some blogs I am always excited to see. Obviously, everything I add to my Reader is there for a reason--be it entertainment, professional enrichment, professional networking, or just keeping up with friends--but some I am always eager to click on first, because I know they will bring something fun, funny, or cute. (I know "insightful" and "thought-provoking" should be up there in terms of valuable content, but what can I say? I'm a sucker for cute baby pictures and interesting life-updates.)

So, here are five of my very favorite blogs. They are all much more widely read than I, so they certainly don't need any publicity I could offer, but you, dear readers, may just want to click on over and become their millionth and million-and-oneth readers and enjoy their writing as much as I do.

Kelly's Korner (
Kelly Stamps' daughter Harper was born two weeks before Kate and spent several weeks in the NICU from some unforeseen illness at birth. (Talk about scaring me to death--her pregnancy was totally normal and then the baby nearly died after birth.) Harper recovered and is now a totally healthy 9 month old. I love watching her grow and comparing (even though I shouldn't!) her milestones and all with Kate's, since they are so close in age. I also enjoy living the stay-at-home-mom life vicariously through Kelly. Her posts are mainly just day-in-the-life updates about what she and Harper are up to on their adventures to play groups and baby showers and other fun things. Kelly is extremely southern, so her writings on the Arkansas Razorbacks, Walmart, and down-home cooking are all very entertaining. Her frank discussions of her years struggling with singlehood (she was 33 or so when she married, I think) and then infertility, and her constant prayers for young women still dealing with these things are very touching. And Harper is famous for her giant hairbows. (Those of you who tease me for Kate's bows--you ain't seen nothin' til you read Kelly's blog!)

The Mom Creative (
I discovered Jessica Turner's blog when my husband Matt told me that the wife of Matthew Turner (author and acquaintance through the Nashville Emergent Cohort) had a scrapbooking blog I should check out. That was about two years ago, I think, because Jessica wasn't even pregnant then and now her son Elias is 15 months old. It has been fun to follow Jessica through her pregnancy and early motherhood, all about six months behind her. Elias being that nice interval older than Kate helps me learn what to expect and fun things to do or try when Kate gets a little older. Jessica works in marketing and PR, and applies the same interest-generating genius to her blog, so she has fun giveaways, interesting parenthood discussions, ideas for creative memory-making, etc., plus the awesome scrapbooking that drew me to her site in the first place. (She also has an online class at Big Picture Scrapbooking about scrapbooking your baby's first year. I signed up for that and would recommend it to others.)

Milk Breath and Margaritas (
Like Jessica Turner, Amy is also a working mother, blogging in the precious spare time she steals around board meetings, day care pickup, and crazy evenings with her two little boys, nicknamed "Shark Boy" and "Honey Bear." My favorite posts are "Shark Bites" and "Bear Bites"--basically her version of "Kids Say the Darndest Things." Those boys are hilarious. Amy posts pics of her awesome wardrobe and shoe collection, so the less stylish among us can live vicariously through her sophistication. She is also a great writer, her sentimental reflections on motherhood feeling more poetic than sappy. Read this blog for great photos, recipes, fashion inspiration, and snarky, witty commentary about modern motherhood.

Cake Wrecks (
This is--in my humble opinion--the funniest thing on the Internet. I can't even remember how I discovered it, but enough other people love it that they have a book out now, highlighting (as the subtitle says) "when professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong." The blog and the book feature photos of bakery cakes with typos, bad grammar, unintentional innuendo, general stupidity, and general ugliness. Apparently a good number of grocery store cake decorators (AKA "wreckorators") are on crack. A fan favorite is the Father's Day cake that says "Happy Falker Satherhood." Huh? Some wrecks are the result of hyper-literalism in reading the order, as is the case in the cover image for the book: a cake reading "Good Luck Suzanne / Under Neat That / We Will Miss You." This site seriously makes me laugh until I cry.

Slacktivist (
Ok, this one actually is "insightful" and "thought-provoking," but it's also funny. Of the various commentary blogs I read on religion and the church, I find most of them boring. I know that's sad, given my profession and academic background, but I also have a short attention span. I started reading Slacktivist just on Fridays, when he does his snarky but incredibly insightful commentary on the Left Behind books. Covering only a few pages at a time, he dissects the theology, eschatology, moral framework, writing style, and everything else about LaHaye, Jenkins, and their bestsellers. In the past few months, I've started reading his everyday posts as well, and they are just as smart and snarky as "LB Fridays." The current focus of his scathing critique is the Conservative Bible Project. Fascinating!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Surprising Myself

On the drive home from work tonight, I was listening to a political talk radio show and marveled to myself, "Who would have thought I would listen to political talk radio?"

Up until about five years ago, when Matt was closely following the 2004 presidential race, I wasn't really interested in politics. Sure, I had an opinion about the big races and a few of the big issues, but I wasn't all that informed and certainly didn't spend a lot of time trying to become informed. And until I got XM with my Hyundai 18 months ago and discovered the POTUS station ("Politics of the United States for the People of the United States"), I could barely tolerate ten minutes of talk radio, insisting on switching to a music station instead.

So, as the call-in program came to a close this evening, I started thinking about other ways in which I've surprised myself over the last ten years--ways in which I've changed unexpectedly. For instance:

Ten years ago, I never thought I would be a Democrat.
Seven years ago, I never thought I would like country music. (Still don't love it...)
Five years ago, I never thought I would find a job that used my religion degrees.
Three years ago, I never thought I would love a job enough to keep working once I had kids.
One year ago, I never thought I would feel good about putting my child in day care.

Then again, some things don't change: I am still staunchly pro-life (though I've expanded that beyond to abortion issue to include opposition to war and the death penalty), I am still a big dork who loves historical drama television miniseries (now with a sweet husband who indulges my co-opting of the Netflix queue for things like "Scarlett," "Queen," and "Catherine the Great"), and most importantly, I love being a mother as much as I always knew I would...

... and maybe even more.

Now that's a good surprise.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sorta Kinda Walking

In the last week, Kate has been walking with her little push-cart toy. She can go all the way across the den and kitchen, then she gets upset when she hits the cabinets or bookcase, sad that it won't go any further. She's just a bit over eight months now--she may be really walking at nine months, like her daddy. Wow, Kate

Sunday, October 11, 2009

1DoH: Flu and Fall Decor

Check out earlier 100 Days of Holidays here!

(12) Monday 10/5: Kate was diagnosed with the swine flu. This pic was from earlier in the day when it was more just pity for her feeling icky, before it turned to sheer panic.
(13) Tuesday 10/6: Kate was very clingy and cuddly throughout her illness, taking several naps on our chests. Sweet little bear.
(14) Wednesday 10/7: Kate was feeling much better, and we actually enjoyed this last day of our quarantine with special family time.
(15) Thursday 10/8: Matt had a residency retreat to attend, so Kate spent Thursday with Granna and Opa. She wore one of her cute new fall outfits--one of the few things I've bought new (and not on eBay!)

(16) Friday 10/9: I finally did get decorated for fall. All the breakables had to go in the living room--Christmas will be an even bigger challenge!
(17) Saturday 10/10: Kate recently graduated to sitting up in shopping carts, rather than having her car seat perched on top. She has a cool seat cover to protect her from germs and make it comfy (and cute--I love lime green).
(17) Sunday 10/11: This afternoon, I went to a baby shower for a girl at church. I'd heard of diaper cakes before, but hadn't been to a shower with one yet. Cute. She got five blankets--well on the way to the total of 28 I received!
Next week... the fall holiday of Matt and my third anniversary!


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