July 26, 2010


Though much of last week was kid-free and wonderful, I missed having Claire around to help me. This summer she's been a huge help with Hamilton, and she's good at helping with chores too. Hamilton loves his "Sissy" especially when she reads to him.
Claire loves to read Hamilton his book with all the "Can you do it?" motions. Hamilton's getting pretty good at clapping his hands--on cue and whenever he's proud of himself.
Sometimes he likes to lay back and let Sissy kick his legs for him.

At the Beach

We're planning to go to the beach tomorrow because Mimi and Hamilton arrived today, and I picked up Claire at noon. Yes, the kid-free weekend is over, but I'm so glad to have both kids back! So here are pictures from our last beach trip.

Nearly two weeks ago my dear friend Bess, a fellow Mountville-native, dashed down to Charleston for a short visit. She loves the beach, so Friday morning we loaded up both kids, a cooler of refreshments, towels, and sunscreen. After three stops to find Hamilton a must-have hat, we made it to the beach.

I so enjoy sitting under an umbrella and reading a book at the beach; however, Hamilton only wanted to sit in the shade long enough to eat his lunch. He looked so big sitting on my beach chair's footstool enjoying his Cheerios.
Mmmm, peaches and sand didn't seem to bother him too much.
Then he was off toward the water--and I was out of my precious shade and into the blazing sun.

July 25, 2010


Hamilton has spent the last few days at the farm with Mimi and Pops. We've missed the little one, but we've so enjoyed our kid-free weekend! I finally sat down at my laptop this afternoon to find Dad's email with this cute video showcasing Hamilton's newest trick.

July 17, 2010

July Boys' Birthday

The "July Boys" turned one this month--Hamilton (7/5), Arthur (7/11), and Grady (7/25). We mommas finally settled on an "under the sea" theme for their pool party. Grady's Aunt Stephanie made this amazing cake!We spent all morning prior to the 1 pm party decorating the room, and I had a great time with my dear friends Amanda and Christie as we hung streamers, arranged tables, and enjoyed the sangria early.Christie found lots of cute, themed party supplies, and we all combined our beachy/sea creature decor to create the under-the-sea ambiance.We hung blue streamers from the ceiling to create waves, and Claire helped us the day before to blow up tons of green balloons to create kelp in the corners.Once the party started, the boys gathered around the coolest thing there--Christie's red wagon that she'd used to haul in her stuff. Grady and Arthur are both walking like champs, so Hamilton was left behind a little bit.Then he got "stuck" in the wagon, since he's unable to crawl out by himself.We lined up the three highchairs, so the crowd could all watch the boys eat their cake. First, Hamilton enjoyed gnawing on his candle.
Here are all of us parents behind our children: (from left) Flip and Christie, Amanda and Alex, and Mr. Morgan and me. Arthur and Hamilton are both wearing party hats, though Grady told me he was too cool.
Hamilton absolutely loves cake, so he could hardly wait for me to pinch off pieces for him.
All three boys loved their birthday cake, making cute messes and eating way too much sugar.
The Hardee-Whites' neighbor Carly came to the party, and Claire loved having a friend there to swim with her.
The boys' friend West came to celebrate too. Since his party was back in March, he's a pro at eating birthday cake and ice cream.
After cake we took the boys outside for some swimming in the baby pools. Harper, a girl friend from church, joined the boys in the pool, wearing her super-cute, asymmetrical swimsuit.
Abby made an appearance at the party. She enjoyed the sidewalk chalk.We also provided bubbles for entertainment, and Hamilton found a discarded bubble wand after his swim.

July 16, 2010

The Stink Eye

Earlier this week Claire, Mr. Morgan, and I were lounging around, watching television, browsing the Internet. As usual Claire asked an out-of-the-blue question, "Gray, how do you give somebody the stingray eye?"

July 14, 2010

One Year Old

I took these pictures a few days after Hamilton's actual birthday; he turned one on July 5. We did not tote Mr. Waddles, Teddy Long-Legs, and Simon on vacation with us. He gave no smiles during this photo shoot; he just tugged on his top lip with his big, bottom teeth, which has become his habit lately.
Most of my shots looked like this. The slowness of my camera is only exacerabated by Hamilton's quickness.
I employed Mr. Morgan's help: I pushed Hamilton back against the chair, and Mr. Morgan held him there by the head until my camera was ready. Hamilton looks like he's bracing his friends for impact. As a one-year-old, Hamilton is moving everywhere and exploring everything! He crawls like a champ, cruises on furniture quickly (especially in familiar territory), and pulls himself up on just about anything. He stands by himself for several seconds at a time, though he prefers to drop and crawl to his destination instead of taking steps.

He still loves to mimic sounds especially the dogs' growling and barking. We've switched from formula to whole milk, and he's weaned off the bottle. He enjoys his sippy cup with handles, and it took him only two days to get used to drinking milk from that cup instead of his bottle.

He has five teeth--two bottom and three up top. He loves making sucking noises with his teeth, tongue, and lips. He's still vocal, making all sorts of sounds and noises. He especially loves his books that require the reader to make noises or perform actions. His newest book allows him to mimic the reader's movements; he's mastered several of the animals' actions, including turning his head like a penguin and clapping his hands like a seal.

We visited the doctor last Thursday for his one-year visit. He's 32 inches long and 20 pounds, 6 ounces. His weight is on the low end of normal, and his height on the high end. He's such a delight, and I can hardly believe it's been a year since we first met this precious, little boy. I'm so thankful to be his momma!

Hello, Dollywood!

We arrived in the Dollywood parking lot about 9:30 am on Tuesday ready for a day of fun. Hamilton doesn't know it yet, but he's going to love Dollywood.
Claire and Mr. Morgan enjoyed this ride because they got to battle spectators using water guns. They, of course, were soaked when they finished this ride.We had gorgeous weather for our day at the amusement park. Claire hadn't known what to expect before we arrived, but she thought Dollywood was the best place on earth. We kept hearing from her all day, "This is the best day EVER! Thank you so much for bringing me! When we come back next year..."
We saw the Gazillion Bubble Show, which Claire and Hamilton both loved. Claire had read about the "bubble scientist" in her Highlights magazine. After the show she was so eager to meet him, so I encouraged her to walk to the stage to talk to the bubble guy. She spoke briefly to him, telling him that she'd read about him in her magazine. Meeting him was just as cool to Claire as watching the bubble show. She remarked, "I can't believe I've met somebody famous!" Hamilton also loved the show because the spectacle was so incredible. He got so excited, clapping his hands, dancing around, and smiling his big grin.
We went on several roller coasters because Claire was tall enough for all of them. I don't care for spinning rides usually, so I sat this one out. Claire loved this ride, though she and Mr. Morgan didn't get soaked like some riders.
Hamilton was such a trooper most of the day, though being in the heat and napping only in the stroller wore him out.
While Claire and Uncle Travis were off doing an obstacle course, we put Hamilton in a swim diaper and let him crawl around in the kids' area.The refreshing water helped revive him, and he loved splashing around in the puddles. The softer surface made crawling bearable, so he got lots of good exercise.

July 13, 2010

Birthday Celebration

Though it's now been over a week since little Hamilton officially turned one, I'm finally posting about our family party we had on our vacation. We commissioned our dear friend Bonnie to make his cake, since she's so talented. I emailed her a picture of the ubiquitous Mr. Waddles, so she could incorporate Hamilton's favorite stuffed animal who's been with him since the beginning.
Capturing a video of a one-year-old just inches away from his birthday cake is not easy. Somehow he doesn't know you're "not ready yet."

Hamilton LOVED the singing, of course, and he especially loved everyone looking at him and smiling while singing to him. In case you haven't been to a kid's birthday party in the last few years, there's the "regular" Happy Birthday and there's Happy Birthday, Cha-Cha-Cha--that's the version Claire likes, so she's singing that one.

Hamilton thought cake and ice cream was the best thing ever. Notice how he's accepting the bite from Uncle Travis while simultaneously also reaching for his plate for more.I love how his nose scrunches up! And, we spoon-fed him birthday cake because he couldn't figure out how to break the slice of cake into pieces with his fingers and put them in his mouth. I'm also afraid he'll choke since he sometimes shoves food into his mouth like a fat kid.Consequently, he didn't get too messy. He did, however, definitely want to eat more cake and ice cream than we wanted to give him.Hamilton ate all of his cake so quickly that he had to watch the rest of us eat ours when he was done.

Cades Cove

We carted four bikes on the Taylor family vacation, so we could ride through Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We stopped once we got into Cades Cove, so the bike riders could suit up. Mom and I drove in the car with Hamilton while the others rode their bikes.
The winding road through Cades Cove has many stops along the way. We took this short, dirt path up to an old cabin.Several times we stopped to tour some old churches, and Hamilton got to ride in the backpack.
Along the way we spotted a deer. It was obviously used to lots of attention and traffic. Claire was obsessed the whole trip with seeing a bear--at the cabin, on the road, and at Cades Cove. Pops had assured Claire that we'd see a bear during the Cades Cove bike ride, or he promised to pay her a nickel. During the last two miles of our 14-mile trip through Cades Cove, we saw some bears! We saw a momma bear with three cubs in the woods. Claire was ecstatic--and Pops too!

July 11, 2010

Taylor Family Vacation

Because Dale and Deb had a wedding to attend in Townsend, Tenn., we planned a family vacation in the mountains. With heavy traffic on I-40, we arrived just in time for them to make the reception. We Morgans and Travis unpacked our bags at our cabin and relaxed for a few hours after our long drive. The boys enjoyed a favorite, afternoon snack: Mr. Morgan's Cape Cod chips and Hamilton's Cheerios and Yogurt Melts.
On Sunday we attended a local PCA church that I'd found before we left. Hamilton was the only baby in the nursery, and the volunteers seemed overjoyed to have a little one. After Hamilton's nap, we headed to Gatlinburg, which was normally a 30-minute drive that the holiday-weekend traffic extended into over an hour.

We ate dinner creekside, and then we did some shopping, people-watching, and walking. Claire thought Gatlinburg--with all its spectacle--was fantastic. I was happy to find some banjo street-music for Mr. Morgan to enjoy, especially since he was enduring so many things he dreads: hot and humid weather, crowded streets, and walking for entertainment.
Since the public fireworks started WAY too late for our little ones, Claire contented herself with some sparklers that Pops had saved for her since a wedding he'd attended in April--what a sweetie!