January 30, 2011


Part of January Reflections '11

I like to think I’m a grateful person; however, I know I’m not thankful enough for all the blessings that God has given to me in my life. As for a list of 50 things for which I could thank God, I chose to make a specific list of sometimes-small-seeming things that affect my daily life. Everybody’s thankful for their spouses, their kids, and health. And, as Christians we are thankful for Jesus, the cross, salvation, God’s sovereignty, etc. But my list would have been MUCH longer if I’d included all those big, substantial, world-altering things.

Here’s my list of things to thank God for—in no particular order:

1. Cute maternity clothes that allow me to enjoy being pregnant.
2. Delightful, talented ladies in my writers’ group who encourage me in my writing.
3. Fellow bloggers who inspire new ideas for my blog.
4. Chocolate ice cream in a tumbler with milk that ends my day in a sweet way.
5. Dark-chocolate-covered pretzels which serve as an afternoon snack.
6. Fioona our robotic vacuum cleaner that helps keep the Fatty hair to a minimum.
7. A comfy, new recliner which replaced the eyesore.
8. Friday morning women’s Bible study that keeps me studying God’s Word during the week.
9. Sweet, caring babysitters at Bible study who give me time away from Hamilton.
10. Hamilton’s love for “school” which makes me happy to drop him off.
11. My pink BlackBerry that allows me to send emails away from my laptop.
12. My handy husband who keeps our cars and house in tip-top shape.
13. Kids Place Live on XM radio that keeps Hamilton content in the car.
14. A mother-in-law who’s been so encouraging regarding my blog.
15. Helpful, talented parents who love to visit and work on household projects.
16. Delicious, frozen pizzas that make a quick meal easy.
17. Panera Bread’s sausage-egg-and-cheese breakfast-sandwiches on ciabatta bread.
18. Arby’s Beef ‘n’ Cheddar sandwiches for those early pregnancy days when nothing else tastes good.
19. Instant, friendly connections with moms of other one-year-olds.
20. Claire’s love for the piano and her increasing desire to practice.
21. My newly resoled, brown boots that make me feel warm and fashionable.
22. Free wireless access at Atlanta Bread Company and Panera Bread, two places I frequent regularly.
23. My husband's uncanny knack for researching and learning about any and all topics.
24. A good-paying job that my husband not only excels in but also loves.
25. Chai lattes with soy milk from Starbucks.
26. A high-capacity washer and dryer that help shorten laundry day.
27. Hamilton’s love of music and penchant for dancing that makes me smile every time.
28. My new camera that makes taking pictures fun and more worthwhile.
29. Tomato soup from just about anywhere.
30. Dining out without the kids.
31. Facebook’s keeping me informed about friends’ lives almost immediately.
32. My husband's unparalleled help in the kitchen with food prep and dirty dishes.
33. Appreciative, hungry bellies in my family that eat and enjoy just about anything I attempt to cook.
34. Refreshing, delicious water straight from the tap of our kitchen.
35. A fenced-in backyard where Hamilton can play with minimal supervision.
36. My mom’s celebrating of all holidays with small, cutely wrapped gifts, which now my children get to enjoy.
37. My brother’s incredible knack for finding a perfect gift for anybody on any occasion.
38. Community Thrift Store’s ever-rotating stock of gently used clothing and furniture.
39. A capable husband to watch the kiddos when I’m enjoying girl time.
40. Top-notch music at church that aids my worship each Sunday.
41. Cute bed-and-breakfast inns that make vacations seem cozy and wonderful.
42. Netflix streaming in HD and Blu-ray discs that conveniently come in the mail.
43. Bonding and laughing hysterically with my family while playing board games.
44. Timely advice and funny stories from other moms of toddlers.
45. A comfortable bed with clean sheets and a warm down comorter.
46. Hoodies with zippers, front pockets, and deep hoods.
47. Comforting presence of the dogs on nights when I’m home alone.
48. Tiny hands and feet that bump my belly from the inside especially in the evenings.
49. Trendy, comfortable shoes without heels.
50. Free, picked-up-on-the-side-of-the- road furniture that only needs imagination, elbow grease, and a little investment.

January 29, 2011

Claire's Big Reveal

For part of Christmas and her birthday, we gave Claire a bedroom makeover, including a cool, collegiate loft bed and new curtains. The idea was to take Claire's room from "little-girl cuteness to preteen coolness"--so said her note from Santa.

When we first moved in, I painted Claire's room lavender (with great help from Travis). Claire also decorated her room with lots of Hello Kitty accessories. We called it her "Hello Kitty haven."
One of the problems with her old room was stuffing too many pieces of furniture into the small space. Once I settled on the idea of a loft bed, I was convinced that would help alleviate some of the issues.
She also had too much stuff--toys, junk, trash, unused TV, and clothes--squeezed into the poorly organized space.  
We spent half a day going through her closet and drawers, gathering many bags of trash and boxes of stuff for giveaway. Claire was such a trooper embracing the minimalist attitude and being ruthless about extra stuff. After cleaning out her room, we had a huge pile of trash and a full front porch for the National Kidney Foundation to pick up. Plus, we found good homes for Claire's old end tables and the DVD player.
During our work weekend with Mom, Dad, and Travis here, we painted Claire's room and several pieces of furniture to give her room a completely new look. Mr. Morgan 's steady hand painted the trim, while the rest of us split time putting two coats of Gleeful on the walls and multiple coats of Begonia on the bed.
Claire also decided she wanted her desk chair painted lime green like the walls, and she wanted a combination of both colors on her chest of drawers. With so many helpers, we were able to finish all the painting that weekend.
This past week Mr. Morgan and I have been busy putting the finishing touches on her room--buying, returning, and rebuying new drawer pulls and knobs for her chest of drawers; switching her fan blades to shorter ones; assembling her new bookcase; cutting her closet shelf to make room for the long, hanging shoe holder; and hanging her artwork and other things on the walls. We're finally picture-ready, though we still lack the curtains; Mimi's working on the window treatments using the fabric that Claire picked out.

Claire's cheap, white, freshly cleaned desk has a new place of prominence under her loft bed, and her closet is much more organized with less stuff crowding the shelves.
Claire's favorite part of her room has been the wall stickers. We found big, pink dots that came with a dry-erase marker for notes, and she's enjoyed forming words and phrases with the pink letters--fun!, shh! be quiet, cool!, and Claire's art area.

January 28, 2011


So Blogger tricked me with their draft.blogger.com site--and I thought I was so clever to have discovered it! I thought the draft site was mirroring my real blog, enabling me to tinker with the format and template without losing or changing my viewable-to-the-world blog. Obviously, this is not the case. Ignore the changed blog look, for tomorrow I will tackle the redoing.

New Artwork

All Claire's new artwork from her SOA audition has been posted to her Artsonia page. Check out her new pieces, including the one above, and feel free to leave comments or join her fan club. She was so proud back in the fall when her artwork was first published, and she was even more excited to have more comments, views, and fans than anyone else in her art class. Thanks for the support!

January 27, 2011

Shoveling and Hammering

Hamilton loves to play outside especially if Daddy plays with him. Hamilton loves to do whatever Mr. Morgan is doing, even if he's using the shovel to pick up dog poo.
Mr. Morgan found a small hammer that Hamilton could easily carry around, so he could help Daddy hammer the stakes that hold the guy-wires for the crape myrtles.

January 25, 2011

Rearrange a Few Things

Since Claire's room is getting a total makeover and Hamilton's upgrading to his big-boy room, I was feeling like I wanted a change in our bedroom. This week I've been working to rearrange the furniture--an easy, cheap way to acheive the change for which I'm longing. I moved one piece of supurfluous furniture out, switched the bed to a new wall, and hung up some new art. I'm excited at the results, though Mr. Morgan's still getting used to sleeping with a new perspective. (The bed used to be on the wall between the windows.)
Sadly, I did not think to take a "before" picture for maximum effect on the blog, especially for those who've never seen our bedroom. I remembered to take "before" pictures of the other rooms we're making over I guess because we were overhauling the whole room with new paint, window treatments, and furniture. I'll post Claire's and Hamilton's rooms' "after" pictures once we're all finished with rooms. Hopefully, we'll finish Claire's room this week, since the disorder of the upstairs is starting to drive me crazy.

January 24, 2011

SOA Audition

Our little resident artist auditions for Charleston County's School of the Arts Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. Say a little prayer for Claire if you think of it tomorrow! She's worked really hard to put together a good portfolio, but the audition will be intense with an interview and a written exam as well. I'll post her artwork for everyone to see after the audition.

January 23, 2011

Blueberries and Me

Claire wrote this paragraph which I think is so cute. She printed it in a crazy, hard-to-read font, so I've transcribed it below.
If I compared myself to a fruit, I am most like a blueberry. It is very small but has a very strong taste, just as I am tiny, but mighty. I am small, but I have a lot of personality. Blueberries are very fragile and they can bruise very easily. In the same way, I can be hurt very easily and I cry all the time. In fact, the longest time I have gone without crying is one month! Like the blueberry, I am soft in the middle and I get very sad when something bad happens to an animal or any living creature. I like being with other people, just as blueberries grow in bunches. For all these reasons, I am most like the fruit, blueberry.

January 22, 2011

More from Claire's Birthday

Thursday night we celebrated Claire's birthday with her requested dinner: angel hair with red sauce and ground beef (not meatballs), Caesar salad from a bag, and garlic bread. (At first she requested rice as a "side" for the angel-hair dish, but I convinced her that rice is not an appropriate addition to a pasta dinner.)

After her special dinner, Claire opened her presents from us. She and Mr. Morgan played the rest of the evening with Claire's new toys.
Since Claire (and Mr. Morgan) enjoyed her hexbug from Christmas so much, Mr. Morgan got her a battle bridge where hexbugs go head-to-head in an elaborate maze of corridors. They both loved it!

January 21, 2011

Hamilton and the Horsie

Though he was a little wary of this horse-head-on-a-stick when he opened it at Christmas, Hamilton is fond of his horsie now. He loves the galloping and neighing noises it makes, and he skips around the house riding. Many times a day I'll say, "Hamilton, where's your horsie?" Then he'll reply, "Huh-see, huh-see," as he runs to find it.

January 20, 2011


Since the croup incident early Sunday morning, Hamilton seemed to get better for two days then developed a nasty cold that has kept us from the company of all friends. While we haven't been exactly housebound--I've been running errands and grocery shopping, we haven't seen any friends or done our normal, fun activities this week. Then today I woke up not feeling well, so I guess all the sweet kisses from Hamilton have passed some germs to me.

I'm amazed at how sad, lonely, and disappointed I've felt all week knowing I'm missing out on opportunities to see friends whom I love at writers' group, community group, and women's Bible study. I've also been up during the night with Hamilton more this last week than any other time during his life after he began sleeping through the night. My lack of solid sleep and companionship outside my family has affected my attitude and outlook for much of the week, and I've felt worn down and sluggish. But the Lord's provision for our lives encompasses even seemingly small events which can have a big impact: I received sweet messages from friends earlier today that lifted my spirits and reminded me how wonderfully the church can minister to my heart.

January 19, 2011

Eleven Years Old

Claire turned 11 years old today. She and Mr. Morgan ate breakfast at Chick-fil-A. She's gotten several birthday cards in the mail, which is a much-anticipated, afternoon treat for her. She also got several phone calls wishing her happy birthday. Tonight we took an ice-cream cake to community group to help celebrate her special day. The biggest surprise (for her) was a phone call from Absolutely Mindy to give Claire her personal birthday missions live on the radio.
Every afternoon on the way home from school, we listen to Kids Place Live on XM radio. Birthday missions are the disco jockey's schtick, and each set of missions are different for each kid's birthday. For example, a mission might be to ask your parent to tell a story from his favorite birthday or to dump ice cubes down your shirt. They're really cute, and Mindy is great at making the missions sound super cool to kids. Claire was ecstatic after the unexpected phone call. Claire will complete her birthday missions tomorrow, so I'll have more pictures to share then.

January 18, 2011

In the Kitchen

One of Hamilton's favorite afternoon activities, now that he can't go outside as much, involves sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and playing with Mr. Morgan's thermos. Hamilton loves dragging the thermos out of "his" cabinet, and he practices taking the top on and off.

January 17, 2011


Many afternoons after Mr. Morgan gets home from work, he and Hamilton share a snack while watching the news. Mr. Morgan's new recliner, which we got in December, comfortably holds himself and a kid--one of his requirements for his new chair.

January 16, 2011

Even Earlier

Had I known I'd have been up even earlier this morning, I might have tried harder to go back to sleep on Saturday morning. The first time Hamilton woke me up was 12:30 am on Sunday; he was crying and coughing. I went in to calm him, and I realized his coughing was worse than it's been the last week or so. He quickly calmed down, stopped coughing, and began breathing more easily while lying on my chest in the glider. Back to bed he went just a few minutes later.

At 5 am he woke me again with more crying and coughing; only this time his coughing was much worse. He was also having trouble breathing, with each breath sounding ragged. So into wake Mr. Morgan we went, and half an hour later we three were on the way to the emergency room. (We weren't sure why Hamilton was having trouble breathing, since he'd been fine all day. But, he'd eaten shrimp for the fish (ha!) first time Saturday night, so part of me was afraid he might be having an allergic reaction.)

With few cars on the road, we arrived quickly at Trident to an empty ER-waiting-room. One problem: It was also empty of nurses to check us in. Hamilton was breathing better by this time, so I wasn't frantic; but I probably would have been if he was any worse. The security guard came out after a few of my shouts of "HELLO!!" He told me the nurse should be back soon, which is not reassuring when I've just come to the ER in the wee hours of the morning with my little one.

Eventually both nurses did come back to the check-in station, and we got taken care of right away. By this time, Hamilton wasn't really exhibiting the scary symptoms he'd had at home, so the nurse said, "OK, tell me again what's wrong with him." Once we saw the doctor, he asked the same question since Hamilton was acting like his normal, happy self. I made Hamilton lie flat on his back for about 20 seconds, and the labored breathing and coughing came quickly then. The doctor immediately said, "Ah, sounds like croup."

For you parents out there who've had children with croup, you understand how scary the symptoms are especially if you don't know what's wrong with your child. I was so thankful that Hamilton only had croup, whose symptoms can easily be alleviated, instead of a shellfish allergy, asthma, or other scary respiratory problem. We were in and out of the ER in about an hour, and since Mom and Dad were here we didn't have to drag Claire out of bed too. The Lord protected Hamilton while he slept last night, since in my parental ignorance I didn't know what I should have been doing to help him.

Hamilton took two good naps today and seemed almost normal for much of the day. We set up a humidifier in his room to moisten the air and help with his breathing, so I'm hoping he'll have some peaceful sleep tonight--so Mama can too!

January 15, 2011

Up Early

On this cold, 24-degree Saturday morning, I'm up early enjoying a favorite cereal and a big cup of cold water. The house is still quiet, and I'm wondering if I'm awake and alert so early because of my pregnancy tendency to be hungry in the mornings or my excitement at the coming day. Mom, Dad, and Travis are here not only to celebrate Christmas and birthday with Claire, but also to paint Claire's room and get a good start on her room makeover (a gift from Santa). With so much manpower, I'm enlisting their help with other household projects, too. Yes, I think the excitement of completing household projects trumped my hunger this morning, since I usually don't roll out of bed until way after 7.

January 14, 2011

Christmas in January

Since Mimi and Pops got a little sick after Christmas, they didn't come to Charleston as originally planned over New Year's Day to celebrate Christmas with Claire. We held our belated Christmas celebration tonight with Claire opening the majority of the gifts--she didn't complain.
The biggest hit was a hexbug, with which Claire played the rest of the evening. Mimi had gotten a tip from another 10-year-old about the best toy to give. Claire immediately recognized the robotic creature, exclaiming, "Cool, a hexbug!"
Claire made a quick mess with all the paper and trimmings from her presents. Tomorrow we'll celebrate her birthday, though I'm sure Claire won't mind unwrapping gifts all weekend.

January 13, 2011

Human Cheese

Here's an interesting article about a woman who wants to produce human cheese.
[The response] definitely runs the gambit [sic]. Everything from ‘this is such a great idea’ to ‘this is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen.’ Overall, response has been pretty overwhelmingly positive, which I didn’t really expect. Maybe it’s New York – we are pretty adventurous eaters.

Branding and naming are paramount in overcoming potential eaters' qualms about human cheese. Does changing the "human" part of the name to a euphemism make you more likely to think of trying it without being grossed out? I might try some "homo sapien cheddar" or "biped feta" if there was some good wine to go with it.

January 12, 2011

On Writing

Sweet Mr. Morgan surprised me tonight with a little, impromptu gift. He can be so sneaky and sly sometimes, wrapping this thoughtful present at work today and leaving it casually on the coffee table for me to find after Hamilton went to bed. Since I've been spending so much time blogging and writing lately, he researched to find me a highly reviewed book on writing. I'm so excited to dive into this "ultimate guide to writing well," and then share my discoveries with my writers' group.

January 11, 2011

News Sources

Part of January Reflections '11

Mr. Morgan’s favorite, unwind-after-the-workday routine involves sitting in his favorite chair to watch Live 5 News with his tortilla chips and salsa (after a quick hello to us). He watches Live 5 News because their newscast looks the best on our TV, since it’s filmed and broadcast in high-definition and widescreen. I prefer national news outlets (mostly Fox News) to which I listen via satellite radio in my car and in the kitchen. I can barely tolerate local news because most stories are so un-newsworthy. We do discuss interesting or weird news events (both local and national), but Mr. Morgan doesn’t follow or have much interest in political news--which I love. I feed my political-news obsession with National Review Online and The Daily Beast, along with other news sites. Mr. Morgan keeps up with technology news through various blogs like The Consumerist and magazines like Wired and CEPro. He keeps me updated on cutting-edge technologies and cool gadgets that he’s drooling over.

No Snow for Us

Though much of the South has been blanketed with snow for two days, in Charleston we only had rain and a little ice. Schools were cancelled yesterday, and many area bridges shut down yesterday morning during the worst of the storm. But with a three-hour delay, school was back in session today.

Hamilton and I have stayed inside for the past two days because of the cold, wet weather. He did, however, venture out onto the back porch yesterday afternoon. He'd been relentless about going "outsih, outsih" after his nap, so I bundled him up. He played with his back-porch toys for about five minutes before crying to come in from the cold. Though I'm glad in some ways not to be snowed in, I'm a little envious of my fellow bloggers' pictures of their adorable kiddos making snow angelssledding down the driveway, and playing in their pajamas in the snow.

January 10, 2011

Puppies and PJs

Hamilton loves Fatty and Phoebe especially when they sit close to him or let him sit with them in their bed. Hamilton and Fatty play tug-of-war with the dogs' ratty blanket, and he likes to mimic Fatty's growling as though it's a game. I'm pretty sure Fatty's just tired of his antics or his hands-on attention, which elicit her throaty rumble, but Hamilton responds nonetheless.

Saturday morning as we prepared Hamilton's big-boy room for painting, he wandered in. The puppies were enjoying the streaming, warm sunlight from the south-facing windows, and Hamilton plopped himself in between them like they're three peas in a pod.

January 9, 2011

Goodbye, Johnsons

Our dear friends are moving this week, so we hosted a going-away party for them tonight. We're SO sad the Johnsons are leaving; there will be a missing family in our community group, our church, and our circle of friends. And, the July Boys will be separated!

We had a great party tonight with no one wanting to leave and say the final goodbye. Most of the men sat around watching the kids play with Hamilton's toys.
We women congregated around the kitchen table, chatting over wine and punch.
Hamilton did fairly well at sharing his toys with all the partying kids. However, Grady took an interest in the train-repair shop. Though Hamilton has never spent much time with that toy, though he loves the train that came with it, he hounded Grady telling him "no" and pulling at his clothes. Grady smartly eluded Hamilton's attempts to recover the now-popular toy.
Grady put on a little show for everyone when he stood on the coffee table and showed his belly--to many cheers and chants from the adults. Hamilton knows he's not allowed to stand on the table, and I love how in this shot he's eyeing Grady just waiting to hear the reprimand for Grady's rule-breaking.

January 8, 2011

Mayhem in Arizona

We busied ourselves all day with painting Hamilton's big-boy room, so I finally had time this evening to read more about the tragic attack in Arizona. I can't really imagine the horrific experience of attending a public, political event when a gunman shoots his targeted congresswoman in the head at close range and kills several others including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. How scary the scene must have been in Arizona. Amazingly, the congresswoman is supposed to recover, and post-surgery she's responding to doctors.

January 7, 2011

Homemade Things

Part of January Reflections '11

When I was a kid, I didn’t have a store-bought dress until I was 14. Mom sewed all my dresses, and she was (and is) so talented at sewing clothes. When I was small with my first memories of my homemade dresses, I wasn’t always so thrilled about Mom’s making all of them. But as I got older and Mom encouraged me to help in the design process, I began to love having my own seamstress. We’d spend hours in the fabric store looking at patterns until I found the coolest dress pattern, and then we’d search the store for perfect fabric. Mom lovingly made prom dresses, costumes, and Sunday dresses for me for years. I still love designing and scheming in the fabric store with her, though now we’re usually contemplating curtains or chair coverings.

I don’t sew personally, though not for lack of opportunity to learn or practice. This past year I did make all of Hamilton’s baby food from scratch. I was inspired by this book and other friends who made their babies’ food, so I was determined to do so with Hamilton. I enjoyed making big batches of sweet potatoes, lima beans, broccoli, and turnips. Hamilton ate just about everything as a six-month-old, and I loved using all my CSA veggies for his food. I froze his purees in food trays, thawing a few for supper or popping a few in a to-go container for lunch.

I used to “home-make” pizza crust back when I was on a no-gluten diet, but I was glad to give up that labor of love after eight months. I have aspirations of preparing homemade salad dressings sometimes, but I’ve yet to try.

While I love homemade things, I appreciate well-done, store-bought things, too. My efficient nature must see a decidedly better product in the homemade thing to warrant my making it, especially if it takes more time to produce. With my dresses and curtains, Mom’s skills definitely produce better-looking results than store-bought equivalents--for less money usually, too. With baby food, I knew I was preparing much cheaper, better-tasting, and less-processed food for Hamilton. With my pizza crust, if I wanted to eat pizza (a lifelong favorite food), then I had to make my own gluten-free crust. I think with the salad dressings, I just love this lime vinaigrette so much that I don’t think I could make anything better.

January 6, 2011

His Robe

As promised, here are pictures of Hamilton in his oh-so-cute robe. After Mr. Morgan bathed him tonight, he brought Hamilton downstairs for playtime and a photo shoot with my new camera that captured 117 shots in less than five minutes. I'm still learning how to use the camera, but I thought these shots turned out well.
The hood makes the robe even sweeter-looking.