Happy Birthday, Zio Randy!

This is from Cole to his Uncle Randy in Italy.


Christmas Fun

(Wanted to share a special photo just for Nana. Check out the biscuit. Talk about tradition...)



This time of year always makes me do a lot of thinking about traditions. I'm sure I'm not the only person who can say this. I've found, however, that having a child of my own makes it even more so. What traditions have my parents passed on to me? Which of these am I interested in passing on to my own family?

Foremost on my mind this year, however, is the issue of beginning traditions. Since Gilbert began this new job recently, he wanted to try to avoid taking vacation days so early. Because of this, we finagled things around and had our family visits early this year, so we're here, in Indiana, on Christmas Eve, just the three of us. I'm pretty excited about it, but I realized a couple of days ago that this means there will be no one to cook a Christmas meal for me! That means I am responsible for this aspect of the holiday!

So, as I thought about this daunting task and about family traditions, I decided that maybe our family tradition can be that we go to a restaurant for Christmas dinner. The more thought I put into this, though, the more I realized that this tradition would make me look lazy, and the thought of that makes me crazy, so I decided against starting this tradition. Then I thought that our tradition could be that we have something non-traditional for Christmas dinner. After much contemplation, I've decided to cook breakfast for Christmas dinner. The good news is that at this point, there is no one to be concerned with but Gilbert and myself, and since Gilbert's good with it, the plan stands--at least for this year.

Another tradition I thought about was preparing for Santa. I realize that Cole doesn't understand the whole Santa thing yet, but I decided that now's as good a time as any to begin this tradition. I've been thinking about this one for a few weeks, and had decided that baking cookies together to put out for Santa would be a fun tradition to start, and since Cole loves to help in the kitchen (yes, already), I thought we could bake sugar cookies and decorate them together.

We had dinner on Saturday night at our friend Mindy's house, and upon leaving she presented us with "some goodies." Much to my excitement (and without Mindy having any idea about my plan), the "goodies" were sugar cookie mix, a cookie cutter, a tub of butter cream icing, four tubes of writing icing, and a great hand-painted star plate. Perfect! This convinced me further that I should make an attempt to begin what I hope will be a tradition in our family as long as my children will continue it.

The following pictures show the result of our work:


When I think about the traditions that my family has always had, I realize that most of them were probably not started on purpose. They're just something we always did so they became traditions. I think this makes them even more special. However, I want to make sure that there are things that Cole will be able to look back on and say, "We always did that at Christmas time." I guess I want to be sure that he has warm feelings about his childhood Christmases like I have about mine.

Merry Christmas! I pray that you all will be blessed in the coming days just as I have been--with family, with friends (old and new), and with special traditions of your own.


Dashing Through the Snow...

This afternoon we all bundled up, pulled the sled out of the back of the car, and hit the slopes! I wanted to share a couple of pictures, as promised.

My camera wouldn't cooperate in order to get the picture of Cole just after the sled tipped and he landed on his face in the snow. It would have been a pitiful picture anyway (he was very sad), but I was trying to capture the moment! I guess it's better to show the grins instead. He laughed every time we pulled him in that sled. What a great gift!

(Am I going overboard with the Christmas carol titles? They just seem so appropriate!)



You haven't heard from me in a while, because Cole and I left Wednesday morning for a seven hour trip to Alabama to visit my family. We had our Christmas get-together and the first of Mamie's birthday parties. (Her birthday is the day after Christmas.) We had lots of fun. Jess, Em, and I spent Thursday in Chattanooga while my mom took the day off work and stayed home with the two cousins. I think it's fair to say that all four of us grown girls had a great day and that the babies enjoyed each other too, as these pictures prove:

(I promise they have matching pj's on accident, although we did make an effort to have them wear them at the same time. We don't usually dress them alike. Will they gripe about these pictures later?)

Cole got several great Christmas gifts, but my favorite was a nice, wooden sled from his Nana. He and Mamie were having a great time on it, even inside with no snow, so I couldn't wait to get back to Indiana and use it outside with real, honest-to-goodness snow.

(If you're wondering, Cole decided at the dinner table he needed to shed his shirt and later tried to shed his pants and diaper. Who knows what's going on with this boy...)

Ironically and much to my disappointment, it was this snow that I was longing for that kept us from making it back to Indiana as planned. Gilbert called when we were almost to Bowling Green and said, "If you're coming, you'd better come right now. They're calling for 12 inches in Indianapolis." Since Cole was ready for a break from the car and for lunch, and since driving in perfect weather with a one-year-old is stressful enough, I decided we'd better sit tight in Bowling Green until the road conditions were safer. I was, as many of you know, based upon the tears you know I ridiculously shed over this decision, sad not to be able to be in Indiana with Gilbert and the snow as planned.

However, things turned out fine. As we are blessed with great friends in Kentucky, we invited ourselves to the Gibbs to spend the night and went to church with more dear friends today. (Cole got plenty of kisses--he honestly did have a few lipstick spots on his face by the time we left--and they got their Cole fix for a little while.)

When we finished the lunch that Dana and Megan treated us to, I called Gilbert to check on the weather, and he told me that he thought we could try to make it. I suggested he call someone knowledgeable for a second opinion, and with that I got the green light to head on back. Since Cole had fallen asleep in the car on the way back to the Gibbs, I left him in the car, grabbed our things very quickly, and headed back north**. With much, much prayer, we are safely home. Another piece of good news is that the snow is still around (I'm sure it will take a while for almost 9 inches to melt.) I'll post pictures of Cole in his cool new coat, hat, gloves and sled soon.

**Thanks, Todd, Dana, Megan, and Andrew for the hospitality. Sorry to leave in such a hurry. I hope you understand. If I left anything, let me know, and we'll figure out what to do with it. Also, thanks, Valerie, for letting me invite myself to your house this afternoon. Can I get a rain-(or snow-)check?


On a related note, I wanted to share a cute Cole story. He slept from Bowling Green to just inside Indiana, where we stopped for gas, a diaper change, and a stretch break, but when we got back in the car, it was the LAST place he wanted to be, and he made sure I knew it. I was doing everything I could to make him happy but also to ensure our safety. I got to the point, though, that I had to just ignore him until I came up with a new idea. By the time we got to Indianapolis he had come up with his own plan for occupying his time. This is what I heard from the back seat: "Momma?" "Yes, baby." Then he'd speak to me in his own, special language. (If you've spent any time with Cole you know what I'm talking about.) I came up with some answer to his question like, "Yes, we're getting closer." Then as soon as I'd finish talking, "Momma?" "Yes, Cole." Then more jibberish. He continued with his questions, and I continued with more random answers. "It won't be long... We're getting closer...Yes, Daddy is waiting on us...Yes, we can call Nana when we get there." This went on long enough for him to ask 10 or 12 questions, one right after the other. It was too cute. The more I think about it, the more I think he was probably just saying, "Momma? Are we there yet?"


A New Member Joins the Ranks

My sister, Jessica, has made her first post. Check out her blog via my links and see my adorable niece, Mamie. She's just four months younger than Cole and is too cute!


Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Today was a monumental event: our first big snow in Indiana. Well, maybe real Hoosiers don't call this a big snow, but to most Alabamians, Middle Tennesseans, and Southern Kentuckians, this is a good, big snow, and that's all I've ever been.

I had asked Santa to bring Cole a snow suit and some rubber boots for Christmas, but with a snow like this, he had to make an early delivery. I thought I'd share some of the photos:

It took forever just to get Cole suited up. I dressed him in a pair of p.j.'s, a sweatsuit, two pair of socks, the snow suit, a pair of gloves, a pair of galoshes, and a coat. I started to doubt it was even worth it. This was the end result of all the dressing:

He actually couldn't even walk across the room to the door without falling. Then he couldn't get back up. This remind anyone of anything? (Hint: You'll shoot your eye out, kid!)

Finally, we made it outside. Even though I spent most of the time either dragging him or carrying him because he couldn't walk in snow this deep, we had fun. I considered teaching him to make a snow angel, but I thought laying him flat on his back might freak him out. I think we'll save the real snow activities for next time.

Post Script: I heard this morning on the Today Show that it was in the 50's in Nashville. Funny to come across this information when I had just been wondering, as I looked out at the snow, what the weather was like in our old neighborhoods.


My Boy (or Pride, part II)

Cole is always cute, but today he was especially cute, so I thought I'd share the stories of the day. Let me start my saying that I realize probably all of these cute things have been done by every regular church-going child. (This is not to imply that if your child hasn't done these things, he/she needs to spend more time in church. I simply mean that I realize my child is not a prodigy but a normal child, and I don't expect you parents out there to be amused by Cole's actions. However, I hope you will be.)

First of all, I wanted to go to early service today, which causes a major time crunch, so I yanked Cole out of bed as soon as I had myself ready and got him dressed. (He was awake when I got to him, so don't think I awakened him from a deep sleep by "yanking" him.) As I was dressing him, I was singing a Christmas song that my sisters and I heard Mitch Miller sing frequently as children. "Who's got a beard that's long and white? Santa's got a beard that's long and white. Who comes around on a special night? Santa comes around on a special night. Beard that's white, special night...Must be Santa, must be Santa, must be Santa, Santa Claus." There are many verses to this song. I was singing as many as I could remember. After singing for a while, Cole looked at me, put his finger over his lips, and said, "Shhh." It was hilarious, but I obeyed.

Cole has taken an interest in the singing at church. He has started to sing along. It hasn't gotten especially loud yet, but it's still cute. I love to hear him sing, and he often moves his hands with the song leader as well. It almost brought me to tears today. I think the level of pride I felt today in hearing him sing is second only to the moment he was born. It was a great feeling.

After the singing subsided, one of our elders got up to give communion thoughts. Cole then turned around to the people behind us (we were in probably the third or fourth pew), put his little finger over his mouth again, and shushed the people behind us. The elder then lead a prayer, and when it was over he closed with an "Amen." In case he hadn't closed the prayer well enough, Cole echoed, " 'men."

When a video was incorporated into the sermon, Cole craned his neck to watch. He crawled into the lap of the lady next to us who was helping me barricade him in and watched intently with the sweetest little angel face.

Then tonight, as we waited for church to begin, we went into the auditorium where our children were practicing for a play. They were singing a song that required arm movements. Cole watched for a while, and then imitated, as exactly as a one-year-old could, each movement they made. Again, I was so proud.

That's my boy. I know there will be a time when his embarrassing actions outnumber the actions that make me proud, but for now, let me revel in this moment.


Pride and Italy

Four of the things I am most proud of in life are these: my faith; my choice of husband; birthing such a wonderful, beautiful child; and this:

After all the trouble I've been through in the last week, I feel like I birthed this thing too. So I guess it's official. I walked into the BMV yesterday and all 10-15 of the clerks started smiling. "It's Mary Katherine," they said. Then one added, "Paris-Kerrigan." The lady taking my picture had the nerve to say, "That's a long name," as I placed my signature on my license. I tried hard not to give her a dirty look. But she is right. It is a long name. I've decided to simply add an "M" to the signature I'm used to: "M. Kate P. Kerrigan." The full name is long enough that by the time I get to the end of Katherine, it starts to look like a long squiggly line. The perfectionist in me hates that. I want to clearly see each letter or I'm not satisfied.

Thanks for your support in the midst of my crusade.

On to Italy...Several of you have inquired about our trip. I'll tell you what I know. My brother-in-law, Randy, is currently in Prado, Italy (oops, PraTo) with the AIM program (Adventures in Missions). He completed a semester of classes in Texas related to missions and bible, and at the end of the "semester" he was sent with a team to Italy to, as far as I can understand, be an apprentice to a missionary there. He's been there since May.

Gilbert's mom, dad, and grandmother decided to plan a trip to visit, and his mom very graciously offered to purchase us tickets as well! We are very excited. We thought we might need to go seperately, as Gilbert's mom was planning to go during her spring break, but mine was not on the same week. However, when Gilbert accepted the job here, it freed up my schedule considerably. If I have the opportunity to interview for any jobs that will begin before then, I plan to be up-front about our trip and make sure that potential employers would be willing to give me this week off.

We were concerned about taking Cole. My way of looking at things has been this: this is a once in a lifetime trip for me, but hopefully not for him. On top of that, he won't appreciate it and traveling with a 19-month-old may be a little difficult, especially when the travel itself will take almost 24 hours and being there will mean a time change to adjust to (I don't know what the time change is, exactly, but I'm sure it's enough to shake up a baby's schedule). Because of all these concerns, and because my mom's spring break is the exact same week, my mom (and maybe Auntie Em) will come to Indiana and spend the week at our place with Cole.

As far as what we're doing while we're there, I'm not totally sure. I think Randy is planning some things for us to do. We are flying into Florence, and I'm pretty sure we'll do some sight-seeing in the bigger cities. I think my biggest interest is having the chance to see some of the country-side. That's all I know, for now. I can keep filling in more details as I learn them! Thanks for your interest!

(Am I driving you guys crazy with these novel-length posts? I'll try to work on this, but I told you, I can't give the simplified version of any story.)


The Plot Thickens

It's Wednesday. D-Day. Thought you all might like an update on the name-change fiasco.

Last night, as a last-ditch effort to prevent myself from purchasing a new passport, I called Expedia, the T.S.A, and USAirways about the fact that my passport name and ticket name do not exactly match. I was just hanging on to the hope that maybe, just maybe, they would tell me that it isn't a very big deal. Expedia agreed to put a notation on my ticket that states that Mary Katherine Paris-Kerrigan and Katherine Paris Kerrigan are the same person. The gentleman there also gave me the numbers for T.S.A and USAirways.

Calling T.S.A. got me nowhere, as everything was automated. USAirways worked out better, though. After I successfully got the man there to understand my situation (at least I think he did), he said that having my driver's license with my picture and my passport with my picture meant that he could "assure [me] that [I] will not have any problems with [my] flight." I made him repeat that statement about three or four times. Seriously. In the back of my mind, though, I keep thinking that he has no business telling me that, because he has no idea what type of passport/ticket/name Nazis I will encounter at the airport on that fateful day in March. I'm choosing to think of it this way: with the name on my license that matches my ticket, I can at least make it to our first stop in Philadelphia. If problems arise there before I can get to the next stop in London, I'll call my dear friend Ashley's sister and spend the week in Philadelphia. What a fun vacation!

Now, back to today's events. I went to the DMV (or BMV is what it's called here) feeling confident. I have to take a written test to get an Indiana license, and I had studied like the nerd that I am, so I was feeling good about things. The clerk today reacted the same way as the clerk from last Wednesday. "The names don't match. Is this person the same as this person?" I explained my story yet another time. Evidently, the two letters that the social security office had given me as proof that I had done what the BMV required me to do didn't match each other. One said, "This is to prove that Katherine Paris Kerrigan has applied..." The other said "Mary Katherine Paris-Kerrigan, blah, blah, blah..." After much discussion, I was informed that I had to return once again to the social security office and have them give me another letter, then perhaps wait 24 more hours and return again to the BMV. I almost cried right there.

Then the discussion centered on my proof of residency. I had taken our electric bill as proof of my address. It says, "Gilbert M. Kerrigan and Kate P. Kerrigan." Will Big Brother accept this, the clerks wondered. Surely he'll know that Kate P. Kerrigan is the same as Mary Katherine Paris-Kerrigan (which has been my thought about the entire fiasco: surely they know that Katherine Paris Kerrigan and Mary Katherine Paris-Kerrigan are the same person!) On the verge of yelling I said, "There is not an single piece of paper that exists as proof that Mary Katherine Paris-Kerrigan is a resident of Indiana. I have only been Mary Katherine Paris-Kerrigan for two days. If you tell me that I must have proof that has that name on it, I won't be able to do it." They finally decided that my electric bill would probably suffice. When I realized that the clerks were only doing their jobs, I calmed down and headed to the social security office one more time.

Wait. Let me pause here to fill you in on the fact that Cole was with a lady from church for a couple of hours so I could go and take my driver's test. So, on top of everything else, I was crunched for time. I wanted to pick Cole up in time to bring him home for his 11:30 nap.

Meanwhile, back at the social security office, my number was 72. I came in as #58 was being called. One entire issue of Better Homes and Gardens later (I even read some articles), my number was called. I explained my situation and the clerk asked what branch of the BMV I had been to. I was then told that the BMV is not supposed to send people to the s.s. office for this reason. Evidently it had been done often enough that the social security office was tired of it, because she made a copy of my paperwork to pass on to her supervisor so he could call the BMV. She corrected my papers and told me that I could go back today to sort things out at the BMV without waiting 24 hours, but by the time I finished there, it was time to pick up Cole.

So, this is where things stand now. I'm taking Cole to stay with the secretaries at church this afternoon at three. (It's a good thing he's so cute. They haven't started to complain about how distracting it is for him to be there. Well, at least not yet.) I'll then make another attempt at getting my license. I'll keep you updated. At this point, the worst that could happen is that I could fail my driver's test.


What a MESS!

By my title, you might guess that I'm talking about my house or my child or something of this sort. Oh, I wish it were a mess like that. Let me just fill you all in on the past week of my life. It all started five years ago... Try to keep up with all this:

I was born Mary Katherine Paris. Beautiful name, huh? I've never really liked Mary by itself. Until I was in sixth grade, I was known as Mary Kate. (I was born before the Olsen twins were thought of, by the way, so no jokes, please.) Then I became too cool to have a double name, so I started going by just Kate. A few people very close to me still call me Mary Kate, like aunts and uncles, cousins, my best friends' parents. The only person who calls me this NOT from my childhood is my father-in-law, and he's sweet enough to call me whatever he wants to. He could call me dork if he wanted to, and I'd still be proud.

Back to the subject. On the other hand, I have always really loved my maiden name. I just think it's pretty cool. So, five years ago, when I became a Kerrigan, I wanted to mix things up a little and drop Mary, make Katherine my first name, Paris my middle name, and Kerrigan my last name. My mom had done the same thing when she got married. I had no idea that this would cause such problems...

When we first married, I went to the social security office and became Katherine Paris Kerrigan, no problem. Then I went to the DMV and discovered that I was not allowed to do that with my driver's license without legally having my name changed, so I became Mary K. Paris-Kerrigan (hyphenated). Fine. The only problems this has caused so far is when my students ask me what my middle name is (I go through the entire spiel, in very Kate-like fashion, because I can't simplify any story) and when I went to vote in the last presidential election. I stood in the A-L line forever (for the "K"), just to learn that I should be in the M-Z line (for the "P"). I would call this a small hassle, but not a very big deal, until last week.

I went to the DMV to have my driver's license changed. When I pulled out all my information, the clerk just stared at it all. "None of this has the same name. Which is correct?" So I go through it all--the birth name, married name, social security name, driver's license name, and so on and so forth. Evidently, it doesn't work that way anymore. Both DMV and Social Security office must have the same information. I was referred to social security to sort things out before I came back to the DMV office. I was irritated, but not overwhelmed--yet.

Today I went to the social security office. Unless I want to legally become Katherine Paris Kerrigan, I will be Mary Katherine Paris-Kerrigan. So I am. The up-side is that I really like Mary Katherine, because it's pretty and because my dad and granddaddy named me this family name. But I have a whole new last name, as far as I'm concerned. Evidently, this is as far as a lot of people are concerned.

It occurred to me that my passport says Katherine Paris Kerrigan, and I'm going to Italy in March. So I make a trip to the post office after Gilbert purchases plane tickets for Mary Katherine Paris-Kerrigan. The news, in a nut-shell? Looks like I'm paying for a new passport.

I left the post office, called Gilbert, and said, "I'm going somewhere quiet to be by myself." I thought I was going to scream. I was completely overwhelmed. After Barnes and Noble, a caramel macchiato, and an hour of reading a grammar book, I was feeling a little more calm.

I'm going to see what happens with the DMV on Wednesday. I wonder how much mess I will uncover there. Keep your fingers crossed for me.


I'm Dreaming of a White Thanksgiving...

Wanted to share with you all some pictures of our snowy Turkey-day:

Okay, so maybe you wouldn't call it an official "White Thanksgiving," but it did snow throughout the day. I realize you can't actually see the snow in these pictures (this was the hardest snow we had all day), and you all farther South could probably send a few of your own and tell me that you had snow too, and you'd have just as good a case as I have with this evidence, but really. It was snowing. I promise.

We shared the day, happily, with my little sis Emily, who came to represent my family for me as my parents weren't able to make it because of my dad's test on Wednesday. She'll be staying with us for almost a whole week. We are excited to have her. Cole is especially excited and is loving playing with his "Auntie Em."

We shared dinner with new friends from church who invited us and some other friends over. It was nice to be in a busy house instead of in our own rather empty house with no table. It made me truly thankful for some things I don't usually have in the front of my mind on Thanksgiving. In addition to the usual things I consider--family (like sweet Em), shelter, food, and health--I was also thanking God for new friendships and the bond we have as Christians, even when we have only known each other for a short time. How grateful I am to have these new friends, and how lonely I would be to have just moved to this new place if a new church family hadn't come with the package! They are a great comfort to all three of us.

I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well, regardless of the fact that you may not have been able to play in the snow like we did!



My dad is getting ready to leave the hospital now. Everything went well. They found that the artery they were concerned about doesn't have need for immediate attention, so they're sending him home. Thanks so much for the prayers. They worked!


Prayer Request

I've got a prayer that I'd like to request. I got a call from my dad tonight. He's scheduled to have an arteriogram performed on Wednesday morning. This will be the third heart procedure he's had performed. He's had two heart-attacks, both before the age of 50, so this type of procedure, while it is performed frequently without any problem, is not taken lightly by my family. Please keep him in your prayers.

I will be praying that you all will have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving this week. Thank you all so much for your willingness to remember my dad as you celebrate the holiday.


Not for Weenies

Okay. Cue the Bud Light music: "Real American Heroes..." Here's to you, stay at home moms. It's getting the best of me. I feel that my problem is that I'm not used to being home with a little one, and only a little one (no grown-ups). Another problem might be that last time I was in this position I had a fourteen week old. Now I have a fourteen month old. He's a teeny bit more active now than he used to be.

I mean, I love my boy. I don't have to tell you all that, but he's wearing me out. And to those who say that stay at home moms should be responsible for all the housework and should be able to get dinner ready every night, poo on them. By the time Gilbert gets home--wait, by the time lunch time rolls around, the house is wrecked. If I tried to clean it up throughout the day, it would do no good. My best option is to wait until 8, when Cole's in bed, and clean it up then, just like I did when I was working everyday.

Now, since Sandra P. has requested pictures, I thought I'd give you a little slide show of a typical day, just for the sake of humor:

Here's Cole checking out the cabinets. We now have locks on this one.

Helping with the laundry...

Making a Cheerio trail in case he needs a snack later...

Tired of hearing "no" too much... (It is hard being a baby.)

Assisting with meals...

Finally playing with real toys.

But at the end of the day, I've gotta ask...

Who wouldn't LOVE to do what I do with this sweet boy every day?


Origin of a Tag

Because of the short amount of time I've been a blogger (or maybe because I'm not loved), I've never been tagged before. But I have been around the block long enough to know what tagging is, so I'm taking the initiative to start one myself.

The idea to do this is a combination of my desire to start an email questionnaire about being a mommy and my desire to share funny stories about my little mischieveous boy. So, I'm adapting a tag I've seen floating around...Who doesn't like to tell cute stories about their kids? Here are the rules:

1) Each player starts with five random facts/habits/stories about their child(ren).
2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their five things) and post these rules.
3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose a few people to get tagged and list their names.
4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

My Sweet Cole:
1. Cole loves to tickle. He says, "tickle, tickle, tickle" in his own, cute way as he wiggles his fingers. In the last week he's tickled an elder's wife's bare foot and the cable guy while he was working on our computer. Hilarious.

2. His favorite word is "please." (What a mannerly boy.) He signs the word and says either "pea" or "bea." Anytime he wants anything, this is what he does. Lately he finds what he wants and says, "This. Pea."

3. When he sees any type of live animal (I don't mean as opposed to dead. I mean as opposed to in a book), he says, "WHOA! WHOA!"

4. During church on Sunday, we went to first service when they don't have a staffed nursery. I was so pleased at how he was behaving, overall. At one point, though, he laid down in the floor very still. He put his hand up and started playing with the bottom of the pew in front of us. When the lady in front of me turned around and smiled, I remembered that the pew has a gap between the seat and back. He was poking her in the bottom.

5. Since our move, he's been into EVERYTHING. Sometimes he drives me nuts. To make matters worse, our cabinets have no handles, so we can't easily put child locks on them. Although we've put anything harmful out of his reach, he can and does unload all the cabinets whenever he has a chance. Yesterday I heard him banging around in the kitchen. When I checked on him, he had completely unloaded one of the cabinets and had put himself totally inside. Of course, my camera batteries were dead, and by the time I replaced them, he had slithered out.

*Bonus fact! (I just thought of this one, the day after making this post, and I couldn't leave it off.) If the computer "falls asleep," Cole goes over and pushes a key to make it "wake up" so he can see his picture on the wallpaper. After he sees the picture, he walks away and goes on about his business.

Okay. Now your turn. I tag Melissa, Terri, and Ashley.


Shopping, part II

I did something today that I have never done in all my many (ha!) years as a grown-up. I've done it many times, especially as a teen, but never as a grown-up. I went on a true, honest-to-goodness shopping spree with my own (not my mother's) money.

My dear friends and co-workers at Drakes Creek sent me away with a $200 American Express gift card. When I got it, I thought of the bills I could pay with it. My thought process went something like this: "Okay, we can probably have the electricity turned on or pay a few phone bills with this. That will really help us out money-wise when we get there." But when I told Gilbert about this gift, his response was not the same. "Kate, you should take that and buy yourself some new clothes." Wow. How generous of him. I hadn't thought of this. The reason that I was so impressed with his response was because every time he comes into some extra money, I automatically view it as our money. When he suggests that he buy some hunting equipment or musical device with his newly acquired wealth, I remind him of all the practical things we can buy with it. So I was shocked and guilted (unintentionally) when he reacted to my funds in the way he did.

I pondered his proposal for a long time (I think it's been almost three weeks) until I stood long enough in my closet at a loss for something warm, stylish, and un-hole-y (by this I do not mean unholy, a.k.a. trashy) that I couldn't take it anymore. I would go shopping.

I wanted to be stylish. I see all these ladies who look so well-put-together, and I wish I could be more like that. I wanted to walk into the store, find a mannequin with something cool on, and buy that outfit. I didn't want to buy what I normally like or purchase. I wanted to be different.

I started and finished my spree at Kohl's. Because today is the day to observe Veteran's Day, I was able to take advantage of great sales. My concern was that I would get there, not be in the mood to shop, get frustrated that I wasn't fitting into the sizes I thought I should, and go home empty-handed. Here's the proof that this didn't happen: I got there at 8:20; I left at 10:30. I left happily at 10:30. It was great. I was completely exhilarated. I normally hate shopping, but I never knew it could be so fun. I think what made it so fun is the fact that I didn't have to come home and enter large numbers into the check register and then, consequently, fight the desire to make returns. It's a great feeling.

After leaving Kohl's, I spent the birthday money my mother-in-law gave me and bought a new pair of tennis shoes. I came home with two pairs of shoes, two pairs of pants, five shirts, two necklaces and two pairs of earrings. What a great day.

I have so much more from my spree that I want to share, like the fact that I talked the sales clerk into giving me an extra 25% off one shirt because it had a hole that I was willing to stitch up, but I'll move on. I gave Gilbert a fashion show tonight just before I started working on this. One outfit he called an "un-Kate-like outfit"--the exact look I was going for. Mission accomplished.



I thought it might be interesting to you all if I begin to comment on some of the things I'm experiencing here in Indiana beyond my new home, so I've decided to post the first (probably of many) in which I tell you about what it's like here. Today I'll give you the perspective of what I'm experiencing here from the consumer point-of-view (in other words, my shopping experiences).

[I would like to note here that I just re-read the above paragraph and realized that it sounds like I'm planning to write about some foreign land, like the North Pole or Africa or as some pioneer would write about an uninhabited part of the country she's never been.]

I'm pleased to announce that from our duplex I can look out Cole's bedroom window and see Wal-Mart's Tire and Lube Express. Some of you cringe upon hearing this information. The truth is, our neighborhood is rather quiet, and the flood lights of Wal-Mart do, just like the store, run 24 hours a day, but we've put Cole's curtains up, so we're good to go. Another reason that you might cringe is simply at the idea of Wal-Mart. If you're at all like me, any mention of a grocery store makes you cower, but being at home these days makes me itch for an outing, so I don't mind the idea of Wal-Mart here--yet, anyway.

I do have some new shopping experiences that I'd like to report. I have had the opportunity to enter my first Super Target. As much as I enjoy Target, it didn't quite love this experience like I thought I would. I guess the fact that I had a baby with a diaper so dirty that he wouldn't sit down and diapers in the car didn't help the situation. In addition to this, I was looking for things that could either fit into the regular, normal area of the store or in the grocery section. For this reason, I found myself wandering up and down each aisle, sometimes more than a couple of times, hoping I would find what I needed (in this case, cleaning supplies), and hoping that Cole wouldn't flip out of the buggy. Despite my frustration, however, I'm sure that I will grow to love Target once again, and perhaps the super version even more than the regular one.

Another unique store I've found is Payless. And I don't mean the shoe store. This is a grocery store. Based upon what I can gather, Payless is Kroger. It's just that when Kroger bought it out, no one wanted to part with the name, so they continued to call it Payless, but they stock everything Kroger stocks, including Kroger brands. Their slogan is, "Right store, right price." Sound familiar? What's most humorous is the fact that the signs that mark each aisle look to have stickers that say "Payless" over the "Kroger" stickers.

Finally, I'll tell you about another I've never heard of that I encountered today. No funny story for this one. There's a store here called Meijer. It is pronounced like the last name of a boy I knew growing up, Josh Meyers, except without the s at the end. To me, it's exactly like a Super Walmart, but it seems to be a little more upscale than Wal-Mart. It's nice. They even have real Carter's baby clothes, and they also have real sales. Cole and I stayed there for probably an hour or more, just wandering around. While there I bought a third baby gate to replace the first for the bottom of the stairs (this one has a door so we won't have to hike our legs over anymore--an interesting feat when you're holding a sleeping boy), some quiet church activities (for Cole to use while Daddy's preaching--not for myself), and child-locks for our toilet. (This, I'm afraid, is another, more entertaining post; perhaps my next. I'm still mulling this one around in my head and trying to take pictures to add to the entertainment value.)

Considering the fact that this is the largest city I've ever lived in (and I do realize that my take on Super Target makes me sound like I actually did grow up in Bridgeport, Alabama), there are many more shopping experiences to be had. This weekend, Gilbert and I are planning on trying out the mall.


Feedback, Please

Okay. I've glanced back at some of my blogs, and I need some feedback. Am I too negative? Maybe I'm a negative person. I think that I feel that the most interesting stories are the ones where something semi-chaotic has happened. Am I bringing you all down? Should I try harder to be more upbeat? I don't want someone that I don't know to stumble upon my blog and think, "Wow. What a negative person!" Am I coming across that way? Comments, please. Love you all. Kate

A Boo-Boo

Take a look at this beautiful candle holder that was given to us by someone in recognition of our wedding. To be totally honest, it has been in our attic, but it was re-discovered throughout the course of the move. What I would like you to take a close look at is the detail that was given in order to ensure that the candles would stay in place. See those sharp, spiky pieces poking out? This perfect, well thought-out decoration was the cause of this...

This is Cole's first real, bloody boo-boo. You see, the candle holder was in this box of random kitchen things that were given to us as wedding gifts. I sorted and sifted through that box before I gave it to Cole to play with. I even took out a couple of knives, just like any good mother would. I seem to have overlooked the candle holder, however. After Cole had played in this box for approximately 30 seconds, he started to cry out in pain. When I looked him over, I noticed a little blood on one foot, but at that point he had stopped crying and had gone on his merry way. The blood appeared to have come from a little scratch. No big deal. Then a few minutes later we went upstairs for a diaper change. It was at this point that I noticed his other foot. He had two gashes, still bleeding! THIS is where the blood had come from. I'm sure the gashes wouldn't have looked very deep to any normal bystander, but to me, a mother gazing upon her child's first boo-boo, I thought he needed stitches. I contemplated taking him to the ER, but decided against it.

Needless to say, he's healing nicely. He acts as if this event never happened--no limping, no wincing when I put his shoes on, no whining as I washed the cuts. I guess it all goes to show a few things: moving can be dangerous, looks can be deceiving, and first boo-boos generally aren't something to fret about.

**P.S. If you are the one who purchased this candle holder for us, we do thank you. It really is beautiful and your kindness in thinking of us as we married was greatly appreciated. I do, however, want you to know that this item is now safely in its new home--the garbage can.


A few more

Okay, so I've had my first successful picture posting, and I'm hooked. I have a few more I want to show off. These are from a small going-away party the Gibbs had for us about a few weeks ago. I thought they were good.

My little James Dean

These are from Halloween (Obviously. I wouldn't dress my child up like James Dean for no reason.)

We're here!

My hands reek of bleach. The smell is actually stuck in my nose. I spent most of my time today scrubbing something. All this to prepare for unpacking the things that I just packed in the last week. Not seven days ago, Gilbert and I spent the day "buckling down" in an attempt to get things put into boxes, and now it's time to "buckle down" again so that we can take these same things out of boxes. Strange? Ironic? Daunting? Yes. Necessary for my sanity? Yes again.

Cole and I decided to deviate just a little from our original plan. I was to finish work on Wednesday, spend Thursday packing, cleaning, etc, and get in the car Friday morning and head to Lafayette. But after sleeping on the floor for three nights and watching my poor boy's face light up just to talk to his daddy on the phone, I decided it was time to head on up.

I stayed up until almost midnight on Wednesday cleaning. Then Thursday morning my great friend Melissa completely cleared her schedule for the day at a moment's notice and without thinking twice and came over to help me. My request was that she come and watch Cole while I worked. Instead, she occupied her two boys as well as mine, rolled up her sleeves, and did some scrubbing, boxing, and moving too. When she walked in my door I was on the verge of tears. Two hours later, my car was packed (with only room left for a little 24 lb. body to fit), my house was empty, my tears were no longer, my sanity had returned, and I was thanking God for such a wonderful friend. I only hope that I can be the same type of friend.

Four hours later Cole and I were back with Daddy and sitting, happily and safely (although staring at those darn boxes again), in Lafayette--our new home.

Our duplex is not quite as cool as I remember it being when we first looked at it. How did we miss the dirt, the grime, the marked-up walls before? The last time I moved into a place where someone I didn't know had lived, I was too stricken with love and the excitement of being married to think about the fact that some stranger had cooked in this place, had eaten in this place, had showered in this place, had peed in this place. Gross. Today, I was not too google-eyed to face reality. I was just totally grossed out at the thought of Cole bathing in someone else's tub and rolling around on the floor where strange, maybe even dirty people had walked. So I rolled up my sleeves and I scrubbed. As badly as I wanted to be unpacking boxes, I got out the Clorox Clean-up with BLEACH, and I de-germed. It felt great. I now have two germ-free tubs and three germ-free sinks and toilets. It's a relief. I have never loved bleach so much in my life.Tomorrow's task? Cleaning the bathroom floors and emptying boxes in the kitchen. I'm actually looking forward to it.



I'm hoping that writing this post will be a therapeutic process for me. I'm also hoping that I won't start crying as I type, because I feel like I could at any minute, and at any minute I will be in the company of 32 fourteen-year-olds.

My house is empty. Well, except for a pack-and-play for my baby to sleep on, an air mattress that hasn't had air in it since 2 a.m. (Yes, it seeped out while I was sleeping, or trying to sleep), a table and chairs, a booster seat, and a junky old recliner that I told Gilbert he better not even think about hauling to Lafayette.

Cole knows something is up. He cried the whole time I put up his bed and blew up mine. He didn't want to sit on, lay on, or go near my mattress. He got so angry with me last night for telling him not to open the toilet seat (a request that I have to make often) that he squeezed my legs as tight as his little arms could and then proceeded to bite my leg. After swatting his bottom AND putting him in time-out, which I'm sure is a mommy no-no, I felt terribly guilty. My mom brought things to light after I called her for one of those good old "mom pep-talks." She said, "Kate, his world is changing, too. He knows things aren't the same, and he may act out for a while until things feel more normal." Wow! What a big impact this move is making on my one-year-old's life. That makes me feel guilty again.

This morning as I got him ready for school, he pitched a huge fit when I tried to get him dressed and got mad when we finished brushing his teeth. This is strange because he normally hates brushing his teeth. I distracted him by letting him turn off the light switches. This always brings a smile. I took him in to daycare and handed him off. He usually cries a little when I drop him off, but today he looked at me just before he started crying and said, "Ma-ma?" It almost broke my heart.

This brings me to the condition I am in this morning. I have seriously contemplated calling for a sub tomorrow, my last day of work, so I won't have to drop him off again. I guess daycare, though, is normalcy, and that's exactly what he needs right now.

I have been totally fine with turning my own world upside-down, but when I see that this move is affecting Cole, it makes me incredibly sad. He is so resilient, though. He always has been. I know that in no time, he'll be back to himself. Gotta love that boy.


Chocolate Saves the Day

Here's a piece of info. about me that you may not know. I seem to work best under pressure. That's a fancy way of saying that I like to procrastinate. It's two days until the big moving day, and today was our first and only official packing day. It was exhausting.

I have packed a little here and there, out of necessity, but never full-fledged, "all I'm going to do today is pack" packing. We sent Cole to play with his friends Jack and Reese. We never could have gotten so much done if it hadn't been for that. I spent almost the entire day in the kitchen. Gilbert was wise to spend almost the entire day out of the kitchen. Having so much to do makes me completely grumpy.

The best part of the day was when I pulled a set of bowls off the top shelf that hadn't been touched in a while, and I found chocolate in them! One was a small package of Hershey's Kisses that said, "Happy Valentine's Day!" on the package. I don't remember these from this past Valentine's Day, although that's been eight months ago. What I'm getting at is that they've probably been there a year and eight months. The other was a box of three fancy chocolates--like the Whitman's kind. There was a sticker on the bottom that said, "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Kerrigan! From: Kaitlyn G." Kaitlyn G. was a student of mine more than two years ago.

Now I know what you're all wondering. "How was that the most exciting part of the day?" I'll tell you how. Because I sat down on the floor with my back against the cabinets that I should have been unloading and I ate those chocolates. They were a little hard and discolored, but they were, perhaps, the best chocolates I have ever eaten. I enjoyed them thoroughly.

Following my rendezvous with the chocolates, my day improved. I felt much better, and packing proceeded as it should have. I even allowed Gilbert to join me in the kitchen after that without danger of having his head bitten off.



I told my students today that I'm moving. I wanted to do it a while back, but my principal told me to hold off. I couldn't believe he'd tell me to do that. I really wanted them to know. But the longer I waited, the more I decided to put it off. I had this fear that they would refuse to do anything I asked them to from that point on. Gilbert said I was giving them too much credit, to assume that these sweet, innocent eighth graders would think that way. Yeah. Right.

Some were shocked. Some seemed disappointed. Some were glad, I'm sure. They couldn't believe I hadn't told them yet. The room was filled with questions, most being asked at the same time. How long had I known? Have the other teachers known? Why Indiana? Why now? Will you teach? Do you have a job? You're moving to Indiana, and you don't even have a job? What will happen to us? Who will be here when you leave? Will the substitute be mean? Can we have a party on your last day here? Can we throw away our grammar books? Will there still be write-ups after you leave? Will we have to do on-demand writing when you're gone? By sixth period, I could predict what they were going to ask.

At the end of the day I asked myself a few questions. Should I have told them in September when I wanted to? Was my principal actually right in his advice? Probably so. But, was Gilbert right? Had I given them too much credit? I guess the next eight days will tell.


Making an Effort to Pack

Yuck. It's 8:30 on Wednesday night, and I have a big U-Haul trailer sitting in my driveway, calling me to load it. No, we're not moving yet, but Gilbert's making a trip up to Lafayette tomorrow and he's taking some things with him. Problem is, I have yet to find motivation to box things up at home #1. One thing I do remember about moving is that it is wise to box things up if you want to move them from point A to point B. Herein lies my problem.

Another problem is that home #1 (by this I mean my house here in BG) is about 200 degrees, and on top of that, I feel that I'm suffering from P.M.S. Or maybe I'm going through early menopause and I'm just having hot flashes. Either way, I'm extremely grumpy. I've been this way for the past three days and my poor husband may want to leave me here when he and Cole move. Maybe by then I'll be a little more sane. You are welcome to say a prayer that this will actually happen. The sanity I mean, not that my husband and child will leave without me.

By the way, exactly 2 weeks from today my career at my really great school will be finished. I have mixed emotions about this. More on this topic later, though. I must go help my husband load this crazy trailer...


Finally, a Blog!

Okay, so everyone and her mom has a blog, right? I was starting to feel that anyone who is a good young mother has entered into the world of blogging as a means of bragging about her children. I, however, have fought this idea for as long as I could. I wanted to prove (perhaps only to myself) that I can be a good, proud mother without posting a single blog. The truth is, I have tried so hard to avoid the blogging world that I rarely view my closest friends' blogs, as precious as their children may be. But despite my best attempts, the blogging bug has bitten, and I've joined other moms in an attempt to share my child with the world (or at least with the people who love him.)
My rationale is this: we're moving away from all that is familiar to us. Farther away from family, farther away from the friends that we know so well, and all those who love us are requesting us to keep in touch. There is only one logical solution... You know the one I'm talking about... I must blog. So, over time, my goal is to use this as a way of helping you to watch my sweet boy grow. I am as heartbroken as some of you may be that you won't get to witness this in person. This, as far as I can tell, is the next best thing.
Sharing my boy with you, however, is not my only agenda. I plan to use my blog as a way to invite you into other adventures that I encounter through being a wife, a teacher, and a Christian lady. I hope that it will be interesting, insightful, and amusing for all of us.