The Munchkin Turns Four

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On May 30th, our Lydia turned four. As with all Taylor birthdays, the day (and following and proceeding days) was a celebration. Earlier in the week, Nana and Papa stopped by for a visit and gifted Lydia with some new outfits. In fact, she’s wearing exclusively new Nana and Papa outfits in all of the pictures in this post. Actually, she wears the Nana/Papa outfits almost exclusively now. Especially the purple dress (not pictured here) which she asks to wear every single day.

First thing in the morning Dan gave Lydia her birthday flower: a petunia which is now happily planted in the window box in the front of our living room windows. She faithfully waters it and pulls off the dead blooms (with some help). It’s pretty cute.

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Next Lydia got to open some presents. Dan and I gave her a backpack stuffed with a notebook, pens, and toddler scissors, along with an activity package called Ready, Set, Paste. It has eight little glue projects and Lydia loves putting them together for “school” each day.

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Late in the morning our family made a trek over to Plymouth to visit the famous E & H Lemonade Stand. It was our first time and we took our time considering our options. The lemonades were delicious. While we sipped, we enjoyed some activities put on by the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum.

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Next we traveled in to Ann Arbor for an open house. Lydia got soaked running around with some of her friends in the rain. By dinnertime everyone was tired out, but not too tired for some more presents, this time from Dan’s parents.

Paul even joined in the celebratory mood by almost smiling.

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Lydia got a swimsuit, towel, chair, and a sprinkler and has asked to play in it every day without fail. I thought it would be fun to see her reaction when she finally learned what the “spraying thing” was, but the reaction wasn’t as epic as I’d hoped. But I’ve included a couple clips for your enjoyment. We’ve all had fun with the sprinkler already.

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Lydia also got two new pairs of sunglasses which were promptly snatched up by Abigail. Abby was also sporting a post dinner mohawk and no shirt because we had spaghetti for dinner and she is impressively messy whenever we eat spaghetti (which is also why we save spaghetti for bath night).

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Great Gramma Dexter gave her a new, very special mirror, which used to be Grampa Dexter‘s. He used to use it when he was stuck in his big chair to see behind him into the kitchen and find out what Gramma was doing.

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And now she’s four. She’s just as cute, funny, snuggly, sweet, and helpful as ever. She’s also developing her very own sense of fashion. She loves to sing and pretend and act like a “big girl” in front of others, and she really dislikes being alone. She also keeps Dan and I on our toes because we told her not to say “hate” and she corrects us every time we say it (which is why I used dislike in that previous sentence!) She recently caught our pastor taking a bite of soup without praying first and she bluntly blurted out, “You didn’t pray for that!”.

She’s quite a character and we love her so much. Happy birthday sweet Lydia Hope!

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Happenings

The past several days have been full of fun happenings at the Taylor household…

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To begin, we celebrated my birthday last Thursday. Dan wished me “Happy birthday” a dozen times, bought me some pretty spring flowers, and frozen raspberries to thaw out for a sweet dessert.

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Lydia wished me many “happy birthdays” and sang me many happy birthday songs.

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Abby dished out happy birthday smiles and entertained us all when she ate her raspberries.

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It was a happy, fun, and special day. Oh, and Paul slept better at night as his birthday gift to me.

A few days later we celebrated Paul’s first Easter, and his first Sunday at church. The morning was filled with a joyful church service celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and His ongoing work around the world today (and a yummy potluck breakfast). Of course, the kids were dressed in their Easter best, so we took a lot of pictures.

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Handsome little guy, isn’t he? 🙂

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(Another handsome one here, I might add)

To wrap it all up, yesterday we celebrated another important holiday: opening day.

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One Year of Thankful…Complete

One year ago, on my birthday, I began a project I called “One Year of Thankful“. My 26th year had been tough. We moved a pile of times, endured unpleasant job changes, suffered through 12 unexpected weeks with a baby in the hospital, and were in the process of adjusting to having two kiddos at home. I was having a hard time, feeling down, getting angry, and realizing the lack of joy in my life. So I began this project: record one blessing a day and take a picture to go with it.

Now my “year of thankful” is complete. I’ve learned a few things along the way and I’ve enjoyed counting my blessings. I’ve learned that it’s not enough to pick one thing a day, an attitude of thankfulness has to be continuous. I’ve learned that blessings come in showers and sometimes there are droughts. At times I would have to choose between a number of blessings in a day. Other times I would go for days struggling to think of anything for my “thankful”.

As I was wrapping up my year, I thought it would be fun to go through my complete album to see what I was the most thankful for. I think this says something about my personality and it definitely says something about what I treasure in life. Here are my top ten:

10. Finding Things – Apparently I lose things somewhat frequently and really dislike it. Every time I find a lost item I have reason to rejoice.

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Day 54 – I found my lost phone.

9. Nature and Beauty – From the beauty of freshly fallen snow, to a colorful sunset, to my favorite flowering trees, I love enjoying the beauty God has placed all around me.

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Day 79 – Baby bunnies.

8. Relief from My Job – You don’t even know how many times I took pictures of dishes washed by someone other than me! Or sometimes it was folded laundry, someone to watch the kiddos, or a discovery that made my life easier. A break from the grueling task of “domestic engineer” frequently made my thankful list.

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Day 216 – Having my parents here while Dan and I were at the hospital, being able to take it easy as the girls were cared for and all the dishes and laundry done.

7. Material Things and Comforts – Material things were often gifts and comforts often included warmth or sleep. I’m blessed with so many nice “things”: a house, clothing, all sorts of kitchen knick-knacks, and so many comforts like warm blankets, medicine when I’m sick, or the exercise ball that brought so much relief late in the pregnancy.

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Day 71 – Nap time.

6. Love – Originally this was lumped under “Family and Friends”, but it came up so many times I gave it a category of its own. From date nights to flowers, love letters, and special chats with Dan, it’s clear that I enjoy any language of love from my husband.

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Day 315 – My one and only Valentine.

5. Walking with God and Answered Prayers – This category skyrocketed late in my pregnancy with Paul. Every week was an answered prayer. But it wasn’t just weekly milestones that made the list. During some of the most pressing trials of the year God brought much peace, guidance, and comfort.

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Day 348 – This moment. I thought it would never happen. Psalm 37:4

4. Quiet, Precious, and Meaningful Moments – I am a creature of habit. Special moments that we enjoyed every day (like breakfasting in the breakfast nook or snuggling with Lydia in the morning) often made my list. I’m also an introvert and any quiet or peaceful moments made it into my thankful album.

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Day 82 – This Moment: Snuggled up with his girls.

3. Food and Fun Times – I was amused at how often food came up as my thankful for the day. Especially special occasion food (aka something with cheese) or fruit. Fun times were also a favorite, including family outings, trips up North, and weddings and showers.

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Day 156 – Another perfect pre-baseball picnic.

2. Productivity – This one really surprised me. It’s back to those pictures of dishes I guess! The second most frequent thankful has something to do with making progress on housework, organization, research, or projects.

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Day 233 – Finished!

1. Family and Friends – This one isn’t much of a surprise. Family and friends and the special moments we have together were the most common thankful by far. God has blessed me with many loved ones, but most frequent were my loving husband, and crazy kids.

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Day 364 – Adding another little one to our family has only made me love them all more.

Birthday Shoes and Pizza

When Dan and I first started getting to know each other, we sent emails about once a week while I was away at college. Once I came home for the summer, he kept wanting to get together but nothing just spontaneously worked out, so finally he had to call my house and ask me.

At the time of the phone call I was just about to eat some lunch, a bowl of leftover spaghetti. I answered the phone and was just lifting the first forkful to my mouth when Dan asked, “Have you eaten any lunch yet?” and I (after putting the fork down) honestly answered, “No”.

An hour later we were chatting over sandwiches at Quiznos, finally getting a chance to just sit and talk for the first time only a day before Dan would leave on a ten-day mission trip to Guyana. It wasn’t officially a date. We didn’t start dating for another year and a half. But it was the first date none-the-less. Now I have the joy of eating with Dan every single night, and seeing him every single morning and evening, and I love it.

I share this story because, 1) It’s a good story, and 2) Tuesday was Dan’s birthday, the day we celebrate all things Dan. We love him.

There may have been pizza involved.

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I may have tried to take a picture with just salad on the plate to keep the pizza a little family secret. The secret is out. There was pizza. Lydia went bazurk and Dan didn’t feel all that well afterward. Lesson learned.

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I guarded the cards and gifts zealously for days leading up to this celebration, but finally the time came when Abby…er…Dan got to open presents.

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But, slow down. Cards first. Always.

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Then presents.

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Dan got some much-needed new shoes (barefoot shoes, see how they bend?), weightlifting shoes, and his old jump rope. The girls loved the jump rope but were unimpressed with the shoes. Dan loved the shoes but took the jump rope from the girls because it was getting a little dangerous.

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Dan thanks everyone for their kind birthday thoughts, words, and prayers. Apart from the post-pizza-unwellness, I think he had a nice day. We certainly enjoyed it as we enjoy him every day. And, we were all happy that Baby did not join us for the celebration.

Our One Year Old

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Last Thursday, we celebrated Abby’s very first birthday. Dan brought her home some miniature roses which she was thrilled with (mostly because she wanted to eat them). She’s at that age when everything goes into her mouth.

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After dinner…presents! For someone who has never had a birthday before, she seemed pretty excited. Lydia must have given her a heads up.

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In the end, Dan had to help her out a little.

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The jumbo knob puzzles may or may not have been a hit. Mostly, she just wanted to put the puzzle pieces in her mouth. Lydia, on the other hand, was happy to play with the puzzles.

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In lieu of a birthday cake for our not-really-one-year-old-yet preemies, we’ve made a family tradition of giving the birthday girls watermelon instead. Abby loved her birthday watermelon and successfully at her whole piece minus the last bite, which fell on the floor.

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So what’s the little one-year-old up to these days?

Well, she’s officially a big kid. Sometime in the past weeks we caved and started buying jarred baby food. It was just too much work to make our own while we’re living in transition. Since then, Abby eats like a pro, averaging two jars per meal or snack. She’ll eat anything, but has lately shown a little less favor toward the spinach potato combination.

Abby chatters away during the day and at meal times and is (still) always smiling. While we were visiting Rob and Crystal a couple of weeks ago, she figured out how to “crawl”. It’s an interesting version of crawling, but it gets her where she wants to go. She keeps up with her big sister pretty well now, and keeps us busier than ever.

One Year Old!

Well, it’s been a whole year since our Abigail was born, and what a year it has been! Today we celebrate a whole year with Abby Faith. We celebrate that she even made it this far, that we’re no longer driving back and forth to see in her in hospital every day, and that she is a happy and healthy baby girl. Most of all we celebrate that God entrusted her to us and for all the precious memories we get to share in the years ahead. We love you Abby!

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Sweet Potato Prayers

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This Thursday will mark six weeks of basement living for our family, and, as we don’t have an accepted offer on any houses yet, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. I daily ask God to provide the right house for us in His timing, but that His timing would be soon. It was during one of these prayers that I realized a change (for the better) that has come over me in these past few weeks. I am more desperately depending on God for help. For me, that looks like lots and lots of praying. It’s not the kind of “close yourself in your closet and get on your knees” praying. It’s the “in the middle of the chaos” sort of praying.

And as I pray, God answers. I don’t want to forget those answers, and I thought it might be fun to share some little answered prayers from this past weekend.

Friday was Lydia’s birthday. We had big plans of spending the whole morning at the playground. We were even going to eat lunch there and come back for a later nap time than usual. Then, as Lydia and Abby napped, I was going to clean up and cook up a Mexican feast which was to include this sauce that Lydia loves. She affectionately refers to this as simply, “Sauce”.

Somewhere in the middle of our morning (pre-playground trip) I realized that I didn’t have a sweet potato for Lydia’s special sauce that I had promised her. And Dan had taken the car to work with the stroller in the back seat. Bummer. I prayed that God would somehow provide me with a sweet potato for Lydia’s sauce. I decided to go to the playground without the stroller and just eat lunch at home. And I went on with the day.

After breakfast I asked Lydia to go to the bathroom so I could brush her teeth. She scurried off and I took care of a couple of things before heading off to join her. When I got to the bathroom, the door was shut. And locked. And Lydia didn’t know how to unlock it. After messing with the lock for a while myself I went upstairs to get RJ (the real homeowner) to ask for help. He graciously came down and we spent the next twenty minutes trying to explain to Lydia how to unlock the door while he tried various tools in the lock.

She had been in the bathroom for almost half an hour when RJ went upstairs to look for some different tools. I had been praying silently all along, but after unsuccessfully trying to explain one more time to Lydia how to unlock the door I decided to pray out loud. We asked God to help us get the door unlocked and within minutes RJ tried the right tool and Lydia was free.

I had been on and off the phone with Dan all along and called him once more to tell him the emergency was over. Then we got ready to go to the playground. Just then, the door opened and there was Dan! He had been sent home to work for the day because they didn’t have the internet working at the office. And Dan brought home the stroller and the sweet potato.

Lydia enjoyed the rest of her birthday with a long-awaited visit to the playground, a necessary nap, and a Mexican feast, including her special sauce.

God gave us a sweet potato, an unlocked door, and even a stroller (an unvoiced prayer) all in one short morning. These are just a few examples of the daily ways God hears our calls for help and gives us what we need. One of these days I believe He will give us the house we’ve been praying for, but in the meantime (and long after) we will be thankful for answers to our “sweet potato prayers”.

Almost Three

Tomorrow morning, at 7:52, Lydia will turn three. We’ll probably spend most of the morning playing outside. I will probably make her take a nap even though it’s her birthday. Then we’ll pull together a birthday dinner that will definitely include tortilla chips. We’ll tell her birth story and celebrate that God has given us three whole years with our little Munchkin. Our Little Bunny. Our Big Girl. Our Gooselet. Our Lydia.

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One Year of Thankful

Last Wednesday was my twenty-sixth birthday. Reflective person that I am, birthdays always cause me to think back over the past year and notice any blessings, hardships, lessons, or changes in my life. So this year, as I took some time to reflect, I came to a conclusion.

My twenty-sixth year was the hardest one yet.

From moves to job changes to NICU trauma, the year was full of hard things, harder things than I’ve ever gone through before. I started to wonder…was it a particularly hard year? Or is life just hard and I’m noticing it for the first time? It was a depressing thought, but I really was wondering if being a grown up is just plain old hard and I need to get used to it.

Whether it was a hard year or this is a hard life, I decided that I need to work a little more at thoroughly soaking up and enjoying my blessings, and thanking God for them. So I made a resolution. For my twenty-seventh year I want to be more purposefully thankful, deeply thankful.

This is nothing new, I know. But for this year I’m going to try to record one thing for which I am thankful every day. And, since I’m a visual person, I’m going to take a picture for each day, so I can easily look back and literally see some of my favorite blessings. I’m not sure how often I’ll share these on this blog, but I thought I could at least share a few to start.

God is good, all the time, whether life is hard or not. But God has also been so good as to fill my life with blessings. So call them gifts, or Edelweiss, or blessings, or silver linings, or woodchips or flowers…but here we go.

Day 1 – A fresh new year ahead to walk with the Lord

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Day 2 – A husband who will stop at nothing to make my birthday special and show me I am loved

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Day 3 – The opportunity and creativity to redo Lydia’s room, and enjoy the process

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Day 4 – Even when our plans don’t work out well, Dan and I can laugh about it together and still create happy memories

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Day 5 – My first real workout run to train for a 5K

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Day 6 – Dan doesn’t have unreasonable expectations. He sympathizes with the challenges of my job and helps me prioritize. Then he is pleased with the things I do and doesn’t care about the things I don’t get done.

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Day 7 – Watching my girls play together

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Day 8 – A gradual start to an early morning

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Eight days down…357 to go!