gut punch

First of all, Taylor is still sick.  The women who work in the office of her school told me this morning that she came to the office yesterday, sat down in the chair and sighed before saying, “I don’t feel good…I should have just stayed home in bed.”  Is she 4 or 40?   I feel like a GREAT mother for sending her to school sick.


This afternoon, she crawled up into my lap after playing outside (this is one side effect of being sick that I don’t mind one bit).  Russ had just left to meet a friend for dinner before going to a meeting and told Taylor that Grammy was coming as a means of convincing her she didn’t want to go with him.  She looked at me and said, “Mommy, are you and Caleb going to stay home with me and Grammy?”  I sighed and replied sadly, “No, I have to go back to work for a little bit….but you know what?  After tonight I won’t have to work at night again for a long time.”

She perked up, threw her arms around my neck, and exclaimed with much excitement “THAT’S SO GREAT!”  Then she grabbed my face in her hands and gave me a big kiss.

How’s that for making a mom feel guilty?!  I really felt like I got punched in the gut.  I love my job.  And I love that my job has the flexibility to spend a lot of time with my kids, but missing bedtime is tough….especially when there are weeks like the last two when I’ve been gone at night much more than I’ve been home.

And to add insult to injury, on Monday morning, we were looking at a picture that Taylor drew of a child with a frown on his/her face.  We asked her why the child was frowning, and she said “Because he’s sad, and he misses his mommy and daddy because they aren’t home at night.”


So I will begin to assuage my mom guilt by staying home with her tomorrow for her third sick day in a row.

But then I will have minister guilt because there are things left undone at work and things that I’ll have to cancel.  It’s a never ending cycle trying to find the balance.

I am, however, definitely looking forward to the next few weeks when the scale tips more towards the family side.

Paging Dr. Taylor

I don’t know if Taylor’s gene pool predisposes her to having a knack for diagnosing herself or not, but she does have it coming from both sides.  My great grandfather was Dr. Taylor….he was my paternal great grandfather and delivered my maternal grandfather in the small town where both of my parents grew up.  Fun trivia.  And we all know that Russ is THIS CLOSE to being an MD.

Last night (this morning?) at about 12:30 am, Taylor stumbled into our room and said she had a headache.  I got up felt her forehead and tucked her back into bed.  At about 1:30 am, she strutted back in (as if she had been awake the entire previous hour contemplating what she would say), and declared, “Daddy, I need some water, and some honey for my cough and some medicine on my chest”  So Russ got up and met her requests and tucked her back into bed.  She coughed a bit for the next hour or so, but finally drifted into a deep sleep and then slept late – all the way until 6:30am!

After breakfast, she said she didn’t feel good, but she looked and acted completely fine.  I felt her forehead again and told her to get dressed for school.  On the way to get her shoes on, she said.  “I have a fever.  I’m not going to play today at school.  I’m just going to sit down and rest because I’m sick and I don’t want to get my friends sick”.  I thought that was a pretty interesting statement, but still, she was acting and looking fine…and her forehead still felt normal, so we sent her into school.

Then at 11:30am, I get the phone call from her school that she has a temperature of 103 and it was still climbing!

Poor thing had a fever and chills…was completely flushed…and just so pitiful.  She fell asleep on the way home from an errand and would not wake up for the next couple of hours.  But almost-doctor-dad came to her rescue and took great care of her this afternoon/evening.  I hope she’s on the mend.

But for now, I’ve learned my lesson – I need to trust her when she says she doesn’t feel good.  Well, at least until she’s a teenager and faking sick to get out of going to school.

what dreams are made of

Last Christmas, my sister and brother-in-law gave us a fire pit.  We were really excited about, but there was always some reason we didn’t actually USE it…it was too cold or too hot or too light outside or raining…or Russ was working late…or I was working late.  You know, life.  But last weekend, we decided it was the perfect time to try it out.  So great! And now we are hooked.  We did it again last night.

I mean, really, what’s better than sitting around the fire on a crisp fall evening sipping hot chocolate, listening to Christmas music, roasting marshmallows, making s’mores and hanging out with your favorite people?  Nothing.  Nada.  The only thing that would make it better is if Caleb would refrain from trying to touch the fire and therefore be allowed to hang out with us.  So far, he’s only made it 5 minutes before I put him to bed so we can enjoy the time without fear of third degree burns and a screaming toddler.  But the upside of that is that Taylor has gotten some good quality time with the undivided attention from both parents.

Last night we sat around talking for a while.  Taylor finished her hot chocolate, then pulled her s’more apart, ate the melty chocolate, then scraped the gooey marshmallow off the cracker, then decided to put the cracker in the bushes for the ducks.  Then she wiped melty chocolate and gooey marshmallow on her jeans (*note to self:  bring wipes outside next time).  She sits back in her chair for a minute gazing into the fire before looking at Russ and saying:

Daddy I want to cuddle with you.

and climbs up into his lap with her blanket in hand.

His face was covered side to side with a grin of perfect contentment as he says back to her:

I love you so much.

She gives him a kiss and says:

I love my whole family.

Then she snuggles her hello kitty hat covered head under his chin as he and I share a glance that confirms that this is what dreams are made of.


I am a big fan of Modern Family and Parenthood…good fun shows about family life…really just life in general.  I have tried to get into Up All Night, but the humor seems a little overdone/forced.   But after the most recent episode, I think I’m hooked.  Besides the great line “diaper time’s hard enough without somebody jackin’ up your wipes”, in this episode, I realized that I share a lot in common with the mom.  I am a bit crazy like her.  I might prefer to call it “organized” but other people might call it having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Obsessive Personality Disorder.  whatevs.  Given an unexpected week off from work, she’s left at home and begins to reorganize everything (much to her husband’s dismay)…she even goes into her neighbor’s yard to pull weeds to bring order to her life now that she has time to notice the disorder.

There are just some times when I can’t stand the disorder.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

I loved setting up the Nativity every year when I was little.  It was my job, and every year I set it up exactly the same way.  Even when I was in college (heck, even last year).  This year, I thought to myself, “what a fun tradition – I should let Taylor set up the nativities” (because I have a bit of an obsession and there are now many).  She was excited and set them up very carefully.  But when I walked past them, I couldn’t help but notice that nothing was in the right place.  They weren’t symmetrical; the characters weren’t in biblically accurate places (ok, nevermind the fact that the shepherds and wisemen would not have been present at the same time…yada, yada).  So I “fixed” them.

Then as she was walking past one of them, she stopped dead in her tracks (much like I had just done), and sighed, “Uh, Caleb messed it up…I need to “fix” it.”  I did come clean that it was me who rearranged the characters, even though it was very logical that Caleb would mess them up – he has been known to throw them around – and Taylor responded, “Mom, you should know better” and proceeded to re-re-arrange the characters.

But I still couldn’t stand it – I mean, she put a shepherd where Joseph should be and then put the camels in front, so you couldn’t even see Jesus.  It just wasn’t right.  So now it’s a game.  We both re-re-re-arrange the nativities each time we pass them and notice that they need to be fixed “our” way.

Nativity #1 – My version

Nativity #1 – Taylor’s Version

Nativity #2 – My Version

Nativity #2 – Taylor’s Version

Who do you think will win this game?



Taylor is 4.  It’s pretty awesome.  We were all pretty excited.  It’s been a party all week and doesn’t really stop until Thursday when we take her to Disney on Ice (in lieu of a party because OMG with all the other weekend plans!)

So, this is how we celebrate FOUR!

Poor girl had to make her own cupcakes for her school party:

pink for the girls; blue for the boys

Russ had to work 4-10pm on her birthday so we couldn’t do a big birthday dinner.  We did a family birthday breakfast instead and even sang for her.


She had a fun day at school going on a field trip and having cupcakes with her friends.  Then more celebrating at home.  She was a bit tired of me taking pictures by this point in the day, but at least tried to humor me.

While Taylor approached her cupcake with the daintiness of a girl and the patience of a four year-old, Caleb devoured his with the complete reckless abandon of a one year-old boy.

The fun continued on Saturday when Pops and Grammy came to her soccer game and gifted her with her first bike.  She was pretty excited.

I’d say we can call birthday #4 a success.  It’s hard to believe that’s she’s already 4, learning to read and write, playing soccer, taking dance classes, beating Grammy at Memory, developing her own style and picking out all her own clothes, giving herself a bath, making up sing-songy prayers at meals and bedtimes, making her own cupcakes, going to sleep without any battles, doing homework, learning how to ride a bike, and so much more.


While on our annual vacation with our friends from seminary, we noted that we all have very strong, independent, stubborn, feisty, opinionated, funny girls.  When their propensity for stubbornness and attitude was driving us crazy we would try to remind ourselves and each other that these are traits that we will appreciate one day and more importantly will serve them well into adulthood.

That is if we are careful not to kill their spirit.

I am preparing to lead a Bible study with our middle school girls this year, and I am super excited about it because I love middle school girls and this group of girls in particular!  I started reading Doing Girlfriend Theology by Dori Grinenko Baker to get ideas and direction.  The foreword had me hooked with its analysis of a girls journey from childhood to adolescence, hooked and aching.

The feisty “tomboy” girl of ten gets shut down by thirteen and loses her voice.  As she moves from childhood to adolescence, the girl learns to conform to the expectations of gender roles.  In myriad ways the message comes to her that she must quiet down, lower her voice, learn to make herself pleasing to others, no longer expresses her own feeling

and later

Internalizing cultural cues, girls begin to “not know” and to behave in ways deemed “nice and kind”….Descriptors such as “vivacious” “spunky” and “willful” give way to adjectives such as “non-confrontational” and “pleasing.”  Wildflowers dry up; wallflowers emerge.

GAH!  I certainly don’t think it happens to all girls, but I can understand how it does happen. You can’t ignore the stories of depression, cutting, eating disorders, and suicide in young girls.

I’ve been inundated with articles about raising daughters lately, so my minds all a flutter.

Rebecca Wolf talks about whether or not we should tell our daughters they are pretty on Momversation as does Crazybananas.  I concur with their conclusions that we SHOULD tell our daughters they are beautiful, because they are.  I remember coming home from college after getting my portrait done for our sorority composite and I was talking to my dad – I said something about how I ran by between class and getting in my car and didn’t do any extra touching up while most of the girls were spending lots of time glamming up, when my dad said something like “that’s because you’re beautiful just the way you are” – that was 10ish years ago, obviously it made an impression.

For the moment Taylor is pretty fond of herself.  I find her looking at herself in the mirror, singing songs and making faces and playing with her hair.  Last week we watched a few videos of her, and she was loving it.  She was smiling with pride the whole time.  I hate watching/hearing myself on camera – I hope she never feels that way.

But I also hope that her looks aren’t her priority.  The story about the t-shirts marketed to young girls saying “I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother does it for me” is just absurd.  How did anyone think that was a good idea?

Taylor is beautiful, but she is also funny, smart, wild, feisty, independent, strong.  I want her to know all of those things about herself and be confident.  But I do also want her to be “nice and kind”  and humble and generous and polite.  I’m sure she can be all those things without losing her spunk, right?  Because I hope she always wakes up full of awesome.

tutie tot

Taylor in the 4s cracks me up.

In the car on the way to Target this afternoon:

T:  Mommy, I see the clouds.  Is it going to rain?

D:  I don’t think so, those are white clouds.  When the clouds are grey it will rain.

T:  Oh, when people cry their faces are red; when the clouds cry, they are grey, you know?*

D:  Huh…I guess you’re right.

In the car on the way home after a Target trip in which she had trouble following directions:

T:  Mommy, I’m sad of you because you hurt my feelings, you know?

D:  I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but you weren’t listening at Target.

T:  When we get home, I’m not going to play with you.  I’m only going to play with Daddy.

D:  Ok

T:  Look the clouds; they are grey now…I think they are going to cry now because you hurt my feelings, you know?

*Today she started saying “you know” at the end of 93% of her sentences.


Taylor in the 4s is learning A LOT of really useful things:

She’s also learning to write:


I think these moves are all her own, no preschool needed:

Note Caleb at .20, holding up 5 fingers as the show sings about counting to 5 and tapping his leg on beat.   I cut the video off right when Taylor was pushing Caleb off the dance floor.