Thursday, August 25, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

Just about a year ago, Kate had her first carnival train ride at a church Labor Day festival in Louisville. You may recall it didn't go so well...

To her credit, she wasn't scared, just cranky, overdue for a nap, and--despite the fact that Popi had waited in line for a half hour in her stead--she just didn't want to ride the train. 

So, this past Sunday, when Nala and Popi came down from Louisville to meet us (and a large group from our new church) at Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Ky. (about halfway between Nashville and Louisville), we worried that Kate would freak out and try to jump off the rides--especially those that didn't allow an adult to ride with her. 

We were pleasantly surprised. She had a blast!!

The faster the better, in fact! She loved the super-slide and rode it with all the non-pregnant family members there! And she got a big thrill out of "The Whip," which was actually the oldest ride in the park--over 100 years old! It rode around the little oval track at a moderate pace, but then whipped quickly around the ends. What a little daredevil!

And she even proved her train-riding (and driving!) prowess!

 Toot! Toot!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Same Ole Prayer

As a pastor's spouse, I am more familiar than most people with my husband's preaching and worship-leading. And since I have attended practically every worship service he has led for the last six years, sometimes his go-to phrases can become rote to me. By that I mean that they lose their meaning, becoming simply "something Matt always says." (I can't imagine how clergy spouses of fifty years feel!)

Sometimes, these repeated phrases give me the giggles. For example, when Matt led The Gathering, an alternative worship service he helped create at Crievewood UMC, we collected the offering by simply having baskets on the altar, into which people could drop their offering when they came forward for communion. To explain how it all worked and to link the receiving of God's gifts (the communion elements) and the giving of our finances, Matt would always say something about giving and receiving and sharing.

If you're a die-hard "Friends" fan, like I am, you may see where this is going. Every week, when Matt started to say these words, I would hear Joey practicing his spiel for Monica and Chandler's wedding: "the giving and receiving and having and sharing..." and I would have to stifle my laugh. Matt would have to avoid looking at me or he would crack a smile too. 

In the four-plus years since then, I haven't heard that giggle-inducing turn of phrase, but I have heard every week Matt's pre-sermon prayer. Despite the fact that I once saw it posted on a congregant's refrigerator (a testimony to its meaningfulness), I often find myself glazing over because I am so used to hearing it that I no longer hear it.

"I wish he'd say something else before each sermon," I'm tempted to think. "I'm so bored of that prayer."
I have to remind myself that unless I have truly internalized and mastered the transformation the prayer requests, I have no business wishing it away. So instead, I am trying to listen to it even more intently and make the prayer my own.

Every week, Matt says:

Lord, make us masters of ourselves
that we might be the servants of others.
Take our minds and think through them.
Take our lips and speak through them.
Take our hearts and set them on fire.

So I pray:

Lord, make us masters of ourselves
Help me to control my tongue, my temper, my frustration, my self-centeredness

that we might be the servants of others.
So I can be a more patient mother, a better wife, a more selfless Christian.

Take our minds and think through them.
Help me to see the world as you see it.

Take our lips and speak through them.
Help me to speak and interact with others with kindness and compassion.

Take our hearts and set them on fire.
Help me to know you and feel you working in my life. 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Playtime with Kate

Last night, Kate threw an absolute fit when we said she could not watch any more "Abby-Elmo" (i.e. Sesame Street of any kind, even things without those two favorite characters) for the evening. She literally screamed "I wanna watch Abby-Elmo!" over and over for about twenty minutes. Matt and I contemplated taking a video of her to send to PBS, saying "see what you've done?!" 

She really, really loves Sesame Street, and we have several DVDs in addition to watching short clips on But when Kate's not watching or begging to watch Sesame Street, she has other, more enriching hobbies we can indulge. 

Like painting...
I suspect she enjoys the mess-making more than the actual creative expression, but we definitely had fun with some new watercolors and markers we got when shopping for this year's school supplies (which consisted of crayons, markers, and a pencil box). She had to try all the colors, and did not want to be slowed down by rinsing the brush between colors.
Kate likes to practice cutting and pasting. She likes for me to cut out shapes from colored paper and she'll glue them to another paper. Often, when we color, she's more project manager than artist, asking me to write or draw various things for her. "Write my name!" she'll beg, and we'll spell different words. This morning, she had me draw her, me, and Daddy (all wearing purple)... and the cows from her Little People Farm.
She likes playing with the farm in general, but as the cows are the only animal she has multiple of, she likes to carry them around with her. Not sure why. They came outside with us this evening and rode in the baby swing while she played on the swingset. 

She's also been having me draw Dolly over and over (her little plush baby that she got when she was born) and then as Dolly sat and watched us draw other things, Kate occasionally turns the paper toward Dolly and says, "See, Dolly? Mommy, Daddy, Kate!" (or whatever we were drawing). She did that when we were reading a book with another baby doll (whom she has named "Sister") recently, making sure I angle the book so the baby can "see." I imagine she'll do that with her baby sister too :0) 

We still enjoy old favorites like play food and blocks too. This morning we "shopped" around the living room for fruit and other things arranged on the furniture. Then we played with blocks for a good long while. Kate is very into matching colors now, such as when I'm wearing a green shirt and she'll hold up a piece of play broccoli to show me how they match. So, a lot of the block playing now is grouping all the blue blocks, all the orange blocks, etc. I like to stack blocks into towers, but apparently I do it wrong, since she is often telling me, "No, Mommy!" 
And finally, the newest (coolest, in my mind) development is Kate's ability to use her imagination. She's started wanting to play pretend without any props, and it's so fun to see what she comes up with. The two main games are eating--we pluck food from a tree or a shelf, prepare it, and eat it--and balloons--we grab the strings of helium balloons, I tie them to her wrist or ankle, she shouts "oh no! it floated away!" and we try to catch it before it flies too far away. (I don't know why I can never tie those imaginary strings tight enough! :0) Here's Kate trying to catch a balloon that floated away...

What kind of games do your kids like to play?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Six Months

This month's picture is pretty messy (and about ten days late), but here I am at six months along. Kate was having a little meltdown because she wanted me to hold her right then. "I wanna hold you!" she screams, meaning "I want you to hold me," but it's sweeter this way. I usually respond, "I wanna hold you too," except when I have to say, "Sorry, I can't hold you right now.")

My hair also looks funky in this pic because a) the humidity is making my "horns" (i.e. the pieces of hair around my temples that never grow out) frizzy--I call them horns because when I was younger they would frizz out and up--and b) our upstairs air conditioning has been out for a week and a half, making me get dressed and ready as hastily as possible, and definitely not holding any heating devices near my head.

Nonetheless, I love this maternity dress my mom got me for my birthday, and am longing for the day when I can wear sleeves and pants without completely overheating. It is SO, SO HOT!! I know it's hot for everyone, so I'm not claiming it's just the pregnancy, but man oh man, I can't wait for it to be fall. 

I'm feeling pretty good. Still throwing up occasionally, as is to be expected for me. I went about a month without it, and now we're back to a couple times a week. Oh well. I'm in the hungry-and-heartburny stage of pregnancy now, where I'm eating every two hours and frequently suffering heartburn afterwards. 

Claire is moving a lot, and many movements are visible from the outside, which I just love. I lean back and watch "the belly show" as she punches and kicks. Whereas Kate used to stretch a lot, bulging firmly out one side, Claire often seems to "crawl" across my belly, with almost a scampering-type feeling. It's a funny feeling, but I love it. 

Less than three months to go now! I need to start preparing the nursery soon. I washed Kate's old newborn things, and most everything came clean. (It seems that spitup stains that look clean at the time tend to yellow while sitting in a box for two and a half years.) 
Kate helped with the washing, of course, and had to try on this little bear hat. I had to snap the picture quickly because the hat kept slipping up her head and popping off! It fit much better when she was just seven months old...

So, Claire now has drawers full of hand-me-down sleepers and onesies... and a few new things I couldn't resist getting for her!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Working the Camera

Our friend Maria (who has taken family pics for us several times before--like here, here, here, and here) came over a couple weekends ago to take photos of Kate. We've usually done spring and fall, but we missed this spring and I wanted to have another shoot focusing just on Kate before she has to share the spotlight with her sister. Plus, she just hit the 2 1/2-year mark, so I should share a little of what she's up to!

Besides seriously working the camera, that is.
At 2 1/2, Kate is a sweet, smart, strong-willed little girl (who can be very bossy at times--good luck, little sister!)
She knows her letters, colors, shapes, and numbers up to 14. She stands by the car and spells out M-E-R-C-U-R-Y, and recognizes the word "Butler," when she or Daddy are wearing their Bulldog gear. The other night, she said her first prayer, "Dear God, thank you for food... church... my room."
She can "read" (i.e. has memorized) the Eric Carle book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and will sing various songs spontaneously, including "The Alphabet Song," "Clean Up, Clean Up," "Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," and "Happy Birthday."
We finally found a vegetable she'll eat--carrot sticks. Finally! V-8 Fusion and Prego Veggie Smart are still good solutions, though. Favorite foods right now include hot dogs, bagels with cream cheese, yogurt, pasta, and marshmallows.
Potty training is going pretty well. We didn't do the boot-camp-style of intensive training, so it's been a long process, but at this point, she can go a whole day without an accident (doesn't always do it, but can!) Sometimes that even includes naps, when we forget to switch to a pull-up, which she still wears at night. I draw hearts on her hands with markers when she stays dry for a period of time, and (yes, we resort to bribery) I'll sometimes give her ice cream for going #2 on the potty, since that was an issue briefly.
She struggled some in the classroom she was in for the last two months at her new day care. While she will ask us--or even other teachers--to go potty when she needs to, somehow that teacher intimidated her and she wouldn't ask to go. Given how harsh the teacher was about it even when talking to Matt and I, I suspect she scolded Kate for accidents and made her afraid to ask. (Talk about a mad mama bear!) She's now in a new classroom, and while she had one accident the first day, she's stayed dry for the entire day yesterday and today.
 So, my little baby is becoming a little girl, and soon will be a big sister!
I sure do love my girl.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Computer's Back!

Hooray! After dealing with my slow, buggy, disk-way-full computer for months, I now have a new hard drive, more than five times the storage, and other good stuff thanks to Tech Pros in Franklin. It might not have been a bad idea to ditch the thing and get a new (lighter-weight!) notebook, but we've had a lot of big purchases lately, and I'm hoping that this cleaned and fancified machine will last me a couple years more.

So, yay! I can blog again and share those lovely, gigantic photos that fill up my memory. First order of business, a super-quick recap of life since our big move...

We've been doing a lot of swimming in the neighborhood pool. It's great just to walk out the back door at the end of a long, hot day, and take a quick dip before dinner! Kate was timid at first, but is now jumping in from the side (into our arms) with no fear! (oh, and Matt went clean-shaven for his renewal leave in the month of June)

We also have a playground in our yard that came with the house, and behind that (see it on the ridge there?) is the neighborhood playground, so we have a lot of fun stuff to do outside this summer!
Dear friend Becca's third birthday party was in June. The theme was Super-Readers (a PBS show) and the kids sang along with the show's songs using fun microphones. Becca had the American Idol diva moves down!
Matt and I went to the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. Matt had wanted to go to this progressive Christian music/justice/art festival anyway, and I got to go as part of the Find Your Way Home prison tour. (Remember last summer, when we went to Houston?) Becca Stevens, the Magdalene ladies, and a few awesome Nashville musicians presented at a Raleigh women's prison and at the festival. The prison was very impressive in its commitment to rehabilitation and job skills preparation. The warden's stated goal was to help the women know that--whether they would be getting out in twenty years or never--they can have a meaningful life. The Magdalene women with us who had experienced incarceration were wowed by this facility's emphasis on hope and restoration.

And here's Matt and I at the hippie-Christian festival. The highlight for me was hearing Jennifer Knapp play. Her songs feel so much more "real" than many in Christian music.

True to my dorky, survey-loving self, I was genuinely thrilled to have been called on to be a Nielsen family for a week! We got thirty bucks and had to keep a diary of all our television viewing for a week. It's an interesting exercise to actually make note of what you watch and for how long (and how often the TV is on when no one is watching--it asks that too). Turns out, we mostly watch the news and comedy-news shows like Colbert. A few episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" and a late night showing of "Titanic" pretty much rounded out the week. 
My thirtieth birthday was July 4. Kate made this cute firecracker hat in school. I called her "my little firecracker," which made me think of my grandmother, whose words upon hearing of my birth were, "we've got another little firecracker!" since my cousin had also been born on the Fourth of July the year before.

We had a nice birthday/housewarming cookout with friends and family.
 Matt and the dads tapped the mini-kegs on the back patio...
 ... though it was mostly an indoor party, due to the crazy heat.

Kate and Becca had a big time playing together in their red, white, and blue outfits.
 After a brief siesta, some of us continued the festivities at a big concert and fireworks event at a local park.
 Kate danced with Granna and Opa...
And watched fireworks with Nala and Popi (the sweaty, tired, glazed-over look just about sums up the long day!)

Tracy, my best friend from college, came to town for my birthday and came to the fireworks as well.

And just this past weekend, we went to Atlanta for the blessing of her and her husband's marriage (they eloped two years ago and had a lovely church ceremony to bless their civil marriage). My camera wasn't cooperating, so I only have three pics from the weekend, but this one shows the sunflower theme that ran from the invitations to the bouquets to the cake! 

Whew! I'm glad to have gotten all that out there. Coming soon: my six month prego update, Kate's 2 1/2 year pics, and maybe some reflections on Romans as Matt begins an eight-week sermon series on Paul's letter and I try to practice some discipline by reading along as he prepares. 


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