Little Man is One

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to post on here since these kids keep me so busy running around, and even though it’s almost 4:00 and I haven’t cleaned up from lunch yet, I had to post SOMETHING about the Little Man’s Big Day.

Yesterday Paul turned one.

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He loved his birthday and he loves being one. Grandma and Grandpa surprised us all by coming down to celebrate a day early and they gave him a tee and bat and ball, so he’s more eager than ever to learn to stand up so he can play ball with his Daddy.

Ever since he was a newborn, there’s been an ongoing joke that Paul has wanted some bacon. It became such a big deal that we just couldn’t pass his birthday without getting him some. So we found some less-bad-for-you turkey bacon at our favorite store and brought it home to cook up with his big dinner. Not only did the Big Guy get bacon, he got cake. Yes, he is our first baby who actually got to eat cake on his first birthday because with our other preemies we were extra diligent to avoid all the allergens and sugar. Well, to be fair, this was more of a banana bread than a real cake (sugar free, dairy free, egg free…) but it’s what we call cake and he dug right in.

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A tradition of mine is that I always make a cross-stitched picture to go on the kids’ birthday cards. For Paul I did a baseball picture of Charlie Brown, because we’ve often told Paul that he resembles the big-headed cartoon character. And baseball because, he’s his daddy’s boy.

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Dan carried on a tradition from his own dad and gifted Paul with the entire set of baseball cards from the year he was born. Paul was so fascinated by them, I could not get him to look at the camera.

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We spent a little extra time praying for Paul around the dinner table and on the way to Bible Study we retold the kids Paul’s birth story.

Paul has been such a joy, such a blessing to our family. He loves to play, wrestle, eat, and snuggle Mommy. He’s content and cheerful and can entertain himself, and even seems to be learning not to climb up on the dishwasher when it’s open. 😉 His first year has been a memorable one that involved ZERO trips to the NICU, and we still find it hard to believe God gave us a baby we could bring home with us the day we left the hospital. We are eagerly looking forward to the next year with our Little Man and all of the excitement it has in store.

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Happy First Birthday Paul!

27 Reasons

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Today, on the twenty-seventh day of January, Dan is turning twenty-seven. Since we’re all about numbers around here, I thought it’d be the perfect day to share 27 things I love and respect about Dan. I sat down a couple weeks ago with this idea, thinking it’d take me a while to compile that many reasons, but I had the list written in about five minutes with plenty more reasons left unnamed. So, here they are, in no particular order, the first 27 reasons that I wrote down for why I love and respect my husband:

1. He prays.

He prays for me every morning before work and we pray together every night before bed. He prays before meals and trips. He prays when someone gets hurt. He calls me and prays for me when I tell him I’m overwhelmed. He prays when we start to argue or have a bad night. And those are only the times when he’s praying out loud with me.

2. He kills bugs for me.

Even though it’s pathetic. He doesn’t laugh at me (too much) and he never shows me the dead bugs before he disposes of them.

3. He insists on eating dinner together as a family.

Our dinners are one of the highlights of the day because we have them together. Every single day.

4. He reads the Bible to our family.

After dinner every night, Dan reads a section from the Bible. The kids fidget and my mind often wanders, but I know this is a priceless gift to have a husband who so values God’s Word.

5. He’s a natural daddy.

When we got married I knew Dan would be a good dad, not because he had so much experience with kids (he had none) but because he seeks God and does what is right. I was pleasantly surprised the first time Dan held Lydia and so naturally started chatting away with her in his arms. I believe Parenthood has come more naturally to him than to me and I am so grateful for it.

6. He seeks God’s direction.

Any time any major decision has to be made, Dan prays and seeks God’s direction. This has led to so many blessings in our lives already.

7. He knows when to have fun.

Dan is almost as frugal as I am, but every once in a while he decides it’s time to splurge with a family-fun day. He’ll pick a restaurant or a meal we can make easily at home, treat us to a dessert, take us to a splash pad or Ann Arbor museum, and let the kids ride the bus. Family-fun days have become more fun than I can even handle so now we have to keep them a little shorter so Mom can get a nap.

8. He’s frugal.

Dan has no expensive hobbies or fancy toys. The biggest splurge we’ve ever made on him was for his gym equipment, which has already more than paid for itself in gym membership fees.

9. He gives gifts like it’s his job.

Dan does gifts right. He thinks long and hard and can choose one gift that will be so meaningful, useful, and long-lasting. One Christmas he got my my Bible, which is probably my favorite gift ever. This year he got me my camera after my old one had died shortly after Paul was born. One birthday he bought me a set of shirts and skirts to mix and match when all my clothes were stained from baby spit-up.

10. He is generous.

More than me! Dan loves to give where there are needs and he doesn’t hold back.

11. He tells me his dreams.

I do not take this for granted. Dan actually talks to me and tells me his hopes and plans for the future no matter how likely or unlikely they actually are. This means the world to me.

12. He keeps me informed.

Dan pays attention to the news when I just don’t have the time or dedication. He updates me on what’s going on in the world at least once a week. When conversations come up outside of the home, I don’t feel quite so much like an ostrich with my head in the sand because Dan has clued me in on what’s going on outside of our home.

13. He provides.

Even when work is boring, or hard, or tedious, or hard to find, Dan has always done whatever he needed to in order to provide for us.

14. He listens to me.

I talk a lot. And he never tells me to be quiet.

15. He wrestles his family members.

Perhaps the girls favorite activity is wrestling daddy, and no matter how tired, some amount of wrestling takes place almost every night in our home.

16. He’s social.

I don’t have to cut conversations short because my husband is rearin’ to go. Dan is often the one wrapping up conversations when I’m tired, hungry, and ready to go home.

17. He’s smart.

I had no idea how smart he was when I married him. Not just book smart, either. He’s just smart all over.

18. He exercises.

There were no “Freshman 15” or “Marriage 20” for Dan. Dan needs exercise and makes it a priority to live, move, and eat healthy. He also makes it a priority for me to exercise and acts as my personal coach, pushing me when I just want to be lazy. God knew I needed this in my husband.

19. He lets me sleep.

When Dan takes the kids so I can nap, that just makes my week.

20. He helps at home.

Dan doesn’t sit around complaining about how messy everything is. He helps! He prioritizes my spending time with the kids and if he thinks things are getting too messy or I am getting too overwhelmed, he is quick to step in and do chores so I don’t have to.

21. He is cautious with the kids.

So many times he has noticed some danger and pointed it out. I have inwardly rolled my eyes and thought, “You are being way too cautious. This is not necessary.” only to find out later that he was right. I have learned to respect his cautions and listen to them.

22. He keeps our priorities in check.

Play with the kids. Get outside. It’s ok if the house gets messy. Just make sure there is something to eat. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I am a huge fan of my husbands priorities.

23. He helps me make decisions.

Dan is always there to talk things through, give advice, and pray with and for me. I’m not sure I even could make decisions without him to fall back on anymore.

24. He’s hospitable.

We love having people in our home and we are learning how to be good hosts. I’m glad I’m in this together with Dan and not inviting people into a home where Dad just wants some alone time.

25. He seeks wise counsel.

Dan is not too proud to ask for advice from the authorities in our lives or from people he respects. And he listens to them too.

26. He’s athletic.

It’s kind of fun being married to the Dan Taylor, athlete extraordinaire.

27. He’s cool.

Dan’s always been cool. I have never been cool. I was just the smart, quiet nerd who some people might have thought was sweet. How I ever got to marry one of the cool guys, I’ll never know. Our differences in this area are especially emphasized when some upbeat music is playing and we both start dancing.

Happy Birthday, Dan! You’re the best in the world!

Almost Two

Tomorrow our little Red-haired Munchkin turns two! In honor of two years together, we filmed a short video to show you all how adorable she’s gotten along with a few of her latest learning accomplishments. Happy early birthday Big Girl. We love you!

Just for fun, go ahead and watch the video again paying attention to Lydia instead of Abby. And then once more watching me, just to see how I rub my nose when I’m thinking. 🙂

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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