the
soundtrack
series

musings

Let Go, Part II

Force edit.

The "publish" button was pushed.  The Soundtrack Series has been officially brought to life.  There are still a few kinks that need to be worked out format-wise (I blame my father for the perfectionism gene), but the first chapter has been posted, and I fully intend to post a new chapter every weekend until the first book in the series is done (or I die--whichever comes first).  Then, Lord willing, I'll begin posting the next one.Oh, Lord, what have I done...?May I not live to regret this.

Let Go

I'm throwing down the gauntlet. I'm throwing down the gauntlet...for myself. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm challenging myself. We perfectionists have been known to do this.

Months ago, I wrote about the fact that I've been writing a novel. I excitedly reported to the blogging world that I intended to post my novel, chapter-by-chapter, on a website that Nate was in the midst of creating. Nate finished the website, and it's gorgeous (he's a genius, in case you were wondering). Actually, he finished it months ago, and has been hounding me ever since about the fact that I haven't posted anything. Call it procrastination, call is fear, call it whatever you want - I've been putting this off. The only people I've shared my writing with are my mother (who is obviously biased - I'm her daughter), and my husband (who is also biased - I'm sleeping with him). At any rate, I'm now challenging myself to go for it and follow through. This weekend, when Nate's home and can show me exactly how to post my chapters, The Soundtrack Series will come to life.

Christmastime

Sally: “I've been looking for you big brother. Will you write a letter to Santa Claus for me?”

Charlie: “Well, I'm on my way to rehearsal for the Christmas play, but I guess so.”

Sally: “You write it, and I'll tell you what I want to say.”

Charlie: “Okay, shoot.”

Sally: “Dear Santa Claus...”

I could go on, but I imagine whoever owns the rights to _A Charlie Brown Christmas _ would fine me for copyright infringement of some kind. I believe I could recite the whole thing—start to finish—from memory.

Every year since I can remember, I've watched A Charlie Brown Christmas with my family. We try and figure out which member of our family is which of the dancing kids when Schroeder plays the piano, we quote Lucy's lines as she “analyzes” Charlie, and Mom always turns the volume up when Linus steps into the spotlight to tell everyone about the real meaning of Christmas. We haven't done it yet this year, and I can't wait!

As for how the Phillips family is doing, I'd say we're all doing well. Cate's first birthday came and went in October, and we were left with two very conflicting feelings: we can't believe it's already been a year since we brought her home from the hospital; and we can't believe it's only been a year, because we have a tough time remembering what life was like before her. She is so many things that we can no longer live without.

She's cuddly.

She's determined.

She's smart.

She's loving.

She's fast.

She's imaginative.

She's independent.

She's ours.

Nate and I have been very busy trying to keep track of her. This year is the first year she's been able to appreciate our Christmas tree, and she loves it. She stares at the lights and pokes the branches. Then, she'll attempt to remove one of the low-hanging ornaments. It's a predictable scenario.

“Cate, no.”

She freezes, not looking at me. After a few frozen moments, she continues trying to take the ornament off.

“Caaaate, no.”

She looks at me, gives me a I-want-to-do-what-I-want-to-do look, and takes it off.

I give her my best Mommy you-can-either-obey-me-or-we're-going-to-have-an-issue look.

She hesitates, as if debating in her own mind the pros and cons of giving in. Then, she walks over to the tree and attempts to put the ornament back herself. Not understanding the whole concept of the small hooks and loops that help the ornament hang, it falls to the ground in front of her.

I offer to help her put it back on the tree, we do so, and she goes back to smiling at the pretty lights.

Nate is thoroughly convinced that, while going through this whole process, Cate is making a mental note in her mind that we have, yet again, thwarted her efforts to do something fun. He's confident that, once she is bigger, stronger, and can communicate more clearly with us, we'll somehow pay for not letting her take ornaments off the tree. Given how strong-willed she can be at times, I'm thinking he may be right. Lord, help us...  

Photograph

There are many things that change in your life when children arrive. Take photo shoots, for example. I love pictures. I love taking them; I love having them taken. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the sentimental.

Well, a few weeks ago, we had our first official Phillips family photo shoot. We've taken pictures since Cate's been born, of course (boat loads of them, actually); but this was our first professional shoot as a family. So, as you can imagine, we all made sure our outfits matched and our hair was done and our teeth were brushed (this was easy for Cate—she only has two). The one thing we didn't prepare for was having a little one who wasn't really in a picture-taking mood. That's right—I said mood. Apparently, one needs to be in a picture-taking frame-of-mind, and Cate...was not. I did not realize that the right mood was imperative; but then again, I don't remember what it was like to be a toddler who was being told where to sit, stand, and smile. It made for an interesting morning, but we still managed to get some good shots. Once we have them, we'll post them!

Now to the point of this post: our little girl is growing up, and she's a stubborn little girl. We've always known this, but as she's getting older, it's showing up more and more. As we were taking pictures, Cate showed us that she wanted to do things HER way. She wanted to run around (not in the new, adorable shoes we bought her), put rocks in her mouth (yes, we stopped her), pull leaves off the trees, run her fingers through the dirt, and do what SHE wanted to do. Of course, the entire time, she was still adorable, which worked well for the pictures! She's our little fireplug, and I believe that is one of my very favorite things about her. She's just like her mom and dad—spirited, opinionated, determined, and often frustrating. She is every bit the daughter I wished I'd have someday. God, You are so good.

 

Love Story

Ah, Taylor Swift. I must admit, I had my doubts about her. But after listening, I've come around. Nate still cringes at the fact that I now enjoy country music. But I digress...

If you know me at least marginally well, you know that I like to write. My dream has always been to be published someday. Now, I'm pretty confident that becoming a published author will never happen for me, and I'm just fine with that; but I am taking a leap and doing something with my writing that I've never done before. I'm going to let you—whoever is reading this blog—take a look at what I'm writing. My husband is in the process of making an amazing website on which I will “publish” what I write. I'll post my books chapter by chapter, in the hopes of getting some feedback that may help me as I continue to develop the series. Now, if you're interested in knowing a little more about this venture of mine, I imagine you have a few questions:

1) For what audience is the series written?

I'm just going to go ahead and admit that my series is fluff. What do I mean by fluff? Being a literature teacher, I am constantly surrounded by classical and award-winning literature. I certainly enjoy these types of books; but when it's raining outside and I have time to myself, I'll cuddle up on the couch with a blanket and a book that has a good story, but requires very little thinking. So by “fluff,” I just mean that my series will not be anything tremendously intellectually stimulating. When writing, I basically have someone like myself in mind—someone whose life is busy, and who enjoys occasionally escaping into someone else's world for a while.

2) What is the series about?

God has blessed me with an interesting life. I've had so many wonderful experiences, and being a decent storyteller, I enjoy sharing them. As a result, my series is loosely based on my own life (my younger life, that is). It's fact-meets-fiction. The main character is a young woman in her late teens (into her early twenties by the end of the series) who is simply trying to figure out who she is and what God wants her to be in this world. I'll admit up front...she's modeled after me. I think she's a much better person than I am, but she's technically fictional, so that's okay.  And, following the title of this post, one of the other main characters is modeled after my husband, making this a bit of a love story.  A pretty convoluted love story (just ask anyone who knows us), but a love story nonetheless.

3) What is the meaning behind the title, The Soundtrack Series?

My love of literature and writing is paralleled by my love of music. When I was in college, I was known for my music collection, and my roommate would always ask me what I would put on a soundtrack of my life. I thought about that for a while. For me, music compliments life. If I was going to make a soundtrack for my life, it would have to be a series of albums that each represented a different time period. So, inspired by my love of music (and my former college roommate), I decided to write a series of novels based on music that would complement the storyline of a life, and music that would complement that life's events and cast of characters. That's the basis of The Soundtrack Series.

 

So Much to Say

Well, it's been quite some time, hasn't it? Seven months, to be exact. And these seven months have been the fullest of my life thus far. As far as the world is concerned, a lot has been happening since I last posted—Obama spent his first hundred days in the White House, Bernie Madoff was caught being a not-so-nice guy, lots of celebrities died, the swine flu caused quite a stir, and ABC's the Bachelor and Bachelorette both had seasons that ended without bloodshed (though one came shockingly close). While all of these occurrences may seem interesting and certainly made headlines, here are the top ten things that have made headlines in the Phillips household these past seven months:

  1. I turned 29, while Nate reached the big 3-0 (I did my best to not rub it in...much).

  2. Nate graduated from ASU West. Wa-hoo!

  3. I finished another year of teaching. All of my students survived.

  4. We had the opportunity to be in the wedding of some of our dearest friends.

  5. I helped organize four weddings in the course of five weeks. Poor Nate helped, too.

  6. We took our first baby-free vacation, which was glorious!

  7. Nate began a number of projects, including building a new garage workbench.

  8. We tasted goat for the first time.

  9. We discovered 30 Rock—one of the best shows on television.

  10. We watched Cate grow into the most beautiful, strong-willed, energetic firecracker in our home. After a few months of rolling over, she started crawling like crazy, and she's now a wobbly walker. She's everywhere! She's getting really sick of baby food, and is branching out to a few big-people foods. Pickles and frozen yogurt are her favorite so far (though, I imagine, not together). She's also talking constantly—well, at least she thinks she's talking.

All in all, I'd say it's been a wonderful seven months. And, as you can plainly see, much of the wonder comes from the fact that our Cate is growing up. She's everything we could have ever dreamed—a perfect combination of Nate and me. Of course, in the midst of our Cate-centered universe, Nate and I still enjoy our time together. Life is just so good.

So there you have it—a quick look at what's been going on in our corner of the universe. I'll do my best to try and keep up a little better with my updates, though having a ten-month-old, I make no promises.

 

Small Enough

Nichole Nordeman wrote a song years ago called “Small Enough,” and if I had to make a list of my favorite songs of all time, it would be on that list without question. The lyrics beautifully lay out the idea that, though sometimes we need God to be the big guy who does big things, there are moments when we just need to be reminded that He's here, that He loves us, and that everything will turn out exactly the way it's supposed to.

In my head, this song played pretty consistently throughout my entire week. Why? Well, we had an interesting week—one of toughest we've had in a long time. It started with Nate in a whole lot of abdominal pain; it continued with a trip to the ER; and it kept going with an unexpected, rather unpleasant hospital stay. Amidst the craziness, though, we felt as though God had, indeed, become small enough to fit in Nate's hospital room to be with us. Despite any fear or anxiety, Nate and I knew we could trust that everything would turn out exactly the way the Lord had planned.

In the end, Nate's diagnosis was a treatable one (a serious bacterial infection). Our week ended with the weary Phillips family back under the same roof. Wa-hoo! Nate's doing much better, which is incredible! As I write this, he's playing on his computer across the room. I can't help but smile. God's so good—He's big enough to control the big things, but He's also small enough to be with us when we have a tough week. We're so blessed!

 

When Love Takes You In

If you know us at all, you know we’re music people. Actually, if you know us, you know that the term “music people” is a grand understatement. And, like all true music people, songs touch us in a million different ways for a million different reasons. Moments in our lives are often attached to songs—musical expressions of whatever is happening with us at the time.

Since Cate’s arrival, I have been anxious to put together a mix for her. She loves listening to music, especially when she falls asleep. To help broaden the music collection in her bedroom, I finally made a mix. In putting the playlist together, I stumbled upon a Steven Curtis Chapman song that he wrote for his adopted daughters, entitled, “When Love Takes You In.” I listened to it, cried (apparently, I’m a total sap now), and thought of our Cate. Later on that evening, I popped the new mix in her CD player, and played it for Cate while she ate. “When Love Takes You In” was the last song on the disc, and as it played, Cate’s eyelids began to flutter and she fell fast asleep. If you’re interested, here are the lyrics:

I know you’ve heard the stories But they all sound too good to be true You’ve heard about a place called home But there doesn’t seem to be one for you So one more night you cry yourself to sleep And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes A miracle starts with the beat of a heart When love takes you home and says you belong here The loneliness ends and a new life begins When love takes you in

And somewhere while you’re sleeping Someone else is dreaming too Counting down the days until They hold you close and say I love you And like the rain that falls into the sea In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes A miracle starts with the beat of a heart

And this love will never let you go There is nothing that could ever cause this love to lose its hold

When love takes you in everything changes A miracle starts with the beat of a heart When love takes you home and says you belong here The loneliness ends and a new life begins When love takes you in it takes you in for good When love takes you in

This past Wednesday, it became official. Cate is ours. Of course, we feel as though she’s been ours from the very beginning, but it was an amazing experience to stand in front of a judge and hear him declare that she is now our daughter. I’d try and describe how I felt at that moment, but I can’t. It was just too surreal. Wonderful. God was clearly there, as He has been from the beginning. And, after we were all done, the judge leaned over and said (obviously kidding), “She’s just adorable. If you change your mind, I could have at least a dozen families in here right away that would take her off of your hands.” Nate and I laughed and looked at our little girl. As far as we’re concerned, love took her in, and she’s home for good.

If you would like to see some pictures of Adoption Day (now an official holiday in the Phillips household), click here.

Smelly Cat

We have been reduced to finding humor in bodily functions. Having a baby makes taboo conversation topics—pooping, vomiting, burping—a part of everyday conversation. It’s a strange phenomenon, but one that certainly has its comical moments.

Cate made a poop the other day that scared our cat, Lily. Yes, you read the sentence correctly. It was hilarious. Nate was sitting in his office working on the computer, I was sitting in the living room on my laptop, and Cate was playing on the floor. Lily, our giant ball of fur was stretch out over the top of our overstuffed chair. All was nice and serene. Then, out of nowhere, Cate broke wind at a rather surprising volume, and Nate and I both looked up from what we were doing to see Lily poised in “attack mode” on the back of the chair he had been laying on. We’re easily amused around here, and died laughing. Lily, of course, looked monumentally offended that we found the whole thing so funny.

So I know that “Smelly Cat” isn’t quite the right title for this post—it should be “Smelly Cate.” Ah, the joys of parenthood.

Time

Okay, so I’ve been negligent. As far as keeping up with posts, I’ve failed miserably. Luckily, I have a good reason—a bald, chatty, giggly, squirmy, adorable little reason. Cate turned three months yesterday, and I am starting to wonder where on earth time goes. Wasn’t she just born? I’m sure every mom on the planet feels this way, but there is a part of me that wants Cate to stop growing because it seems to be happening soooo fast! So, in spirit of trying to catch everyone up on the goings-on of the Phillips household (and yes, those goings-on generally revolve around Cate), here are a few highlights:

  • She’s a social butterfly. She loves being in the middle of everything.

  • She’s unbelievably girly and dramatic. Go figure—I have a girl I already don’t understand!

  • She really loves Daddy, Uncle Chase, and Grandpa. Basically, she’s a fan of the boys. Nate is already very concerned about what this may mean for the future.

  • She loves Sesame Street and the Muppet Show. And, if you are wondering, Kermit still seems to be a favorite.

  • She loves to read with us, which is so much fun. Of course, she still hasn’t been able to grasp the complex plotlines of Pat the Bunny or Goodnight Moon, but there’s always next month…

If you would like to see Cate at two months, click here.

If you are trying to make a “Cate Grows Up” flip-book and want to see her three-month photos, click here. Then again, if you’re making the flip book, that’s a little disturbing. Please don’t visit our site ever again.

It's Not That Easy Bein' Green

Well, it’s 2009. That doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true! Somehow, Christmas and New Years came and went, and now I’m sitting in our office wondering what’s in store for the coming year. I imagine it will be filled with a whole lot of firsts—first steps, first words, first birthday… Of course, I’m referring to our dear Cate, not us. Nate and I pride ourselves on being able to walk and talk without any guidance.

The past few weeks have already had their share of firsts. Cate enjoyed her first Christmas (she, as you can imagine, was completely spoiled), she slept through her first New Years (we old people did, too), and she shared with us her first non-gas-related smile and giggle. It has been all smiles around here, and it’s the greatest thing. We can’t get enough! Along with this smiling and giggling has come another first—Cate’s first infatuation. Yes, our daughter, not yet three months of age, has fallen in love…with Kermit the Frog. Nope, I’m not kidding.

Nate and I have always LOVED the Muppets. We have the first three seasons of the Muppet Show on DVD (purchased long before Cate), and Sesame Street has always been a favorite childhood memory of mine (and Nate’s, I believe). So, when Cate joined our family, it was inevitable that we were going to be surrounding her with these funny little creatures. A few days ago, we were sitting in the living room enjoying our dinner while Cate watched a Muppet Show episode, and we noticed that she would begin to smile every time Kermit came on the screen. It was hilarious! Today, we tried it again, and sure enough, Kermit would appear, and we would hear giggles and Cate would wave her hands in the air. We also have a little Kermit stuffed toy (also in our home long before Cate), so Nate went upstairs and got it, brought it down, and showed it to our smitten little one. Big smiles. Big giggles. Apparently, our daughter has a thing for green amphibians. Hopefully…this is just a phase.

 

All That I Want

The following post was actually written on the evening of December 1, 2008:

The weather is finally cooling down.  Yay!  Time to bust out the warm clothes.  And, of course, with that cold weather is the knowledge that Christmas is coming.  This is my very favorite time of the year-always has been; always will be.  There are so many reasons why (I will inevitably bore you with an entire post detailing a few), but there is one that stands out this year.

I love the fact that I will be spending the holidays this year with my family, which grew two adorable members this past year-our nephew Jack, and our precious daughter, Cate.  Cate is going to make Christmas better simply by being here.  She's made our family complete, and she brightens the world around her.  Add to that the fact that she already has way too much cuteness and personality for her own good, and we could not love her any more than we already do!  Here are a few updates on our little monster:

  • She is smiling more, though we're not entirely sure it's ever intentional.

  • She loves music.  She's definitely a Phillips.

  • Her eyes morph from blue to green, and sometimes, they even look brown.  Of course, I'm hoping they'll be brown to match Nate and I, but how cool would it be if they just continued to change for the rest of her life?

  • She has a little lion stuffed toy thingie (that's sincerely the only way I can describe it) that she enjoys.  She stares at it and makes funny noises.  If you saw this thing, you'd stare at it and make funny noises, too.

To add to the holiday cheer, if you would like to see some of our family Christmas pictures, click here.

 

 

 

 

Home

The following post was actually written on the evening of October 30th, 2008:

Our Cate is finally home. Actually, she's been home for about a week now. Right now, she is tucked in Nate's arm (one of her very favorite places). As I write this, both of their eyes are fluttering...oh, wait...now they're both asleep! I have no doubt that she will definitely be Daddy's little girl. She will have Nate wrapped around her little finger.

For everyone who is dying to know how we're doing as a new family, the answer is simply wonderful. Of course, we wish that Cate would sleep through the night, change her own diapers, and communicate with us in ways that do not involve me being able to see her tonsils, but we're wonderful nonetheless. There is no question that she is our daughter-we couldn't love her any more than we do, which is an amazing feeling. Here are a few fun facts about our Cate:

  • Though she likes being swaddled, she also likes sleeping while in a muscle-bound pose with her arms outside of the blanket. For those of us who are Arrested Development fans, it is her "Steve Holt!" pose.

  • She loves the lullaby versions we have of the Beatles, Radiohead, the Cure, and U2. Personally, I think her favorite is U2. What a kid!

  • She does NOT like being dirty. Aw, she's a chip off the old block already.

  • Her favorite finger puppet so far seems to be Gonzo. Who knew one of the least attractive Muppets would her favorite?

So there you go-a glimpse into the world of Cate. If you are interested in seeing some new pictures of her, click here.

Welcome to Our World (Part Deux)

The following post was actually written on the evening of October 23rd, 2008:

Cate is adorable. Right now, I'm looking at some of our first photos of her. Oddly enough, I think she looks a little like Nate! Go figure. I'm sure that we will be seeing much more of both of us in her as the days, weeks, and years pass. Hopefully, she'll only inherit our good qualities...

We cannot wait to bring her home and start our new life together as a family. Adoption is such an amazing experience to go through, and Nate and I are feeling so blessed to be going through it with friends; but I have to admit, it has been difficult to leave the hospital these past two evenings, knowing that our daughter is being left there. I know, I know-we'll get to bring her home soon enough. We just want Cate home!

For more Cate pictures, click here.

A Life So Changed

The following post was actually written on the evening of November 23, 2008:

Nate and I are finally climbing out of the coma that comes with bringing a newborn home, and we have finally started finding out what has been happening in the outside world during the past few weeks! As it turns out, life has, indeed, been moving on without us...but luckily, we haven't missed anything earth-shattering.

Yesterday, our little girl turned one month. How time flies, huh? Cate's growing SO FAST! I am already wishing I could slow her down because my baby is growing up! Granted, she's not even sitting up by herself yet, so I think I have a bit more time before she leaves home for college, but still... So, since Cate is one month, we took a bunch of pictures that we can compare to ones that we will take each month during her first year. Following the example of Cate's wise Aunt Sarah, we chose an object that will sit next to her when we take the pictures each month so that we can see how much she's grown. And, true to Phillips form, our object comes with an entertaining story...

Aaron and Stacy are two of our dearest friends. We have shared many memories and inside jokes with them over the past few years, and one of them revolves around our shared love for the television show How I Met Your Mother. Nate and I came home from our first post-Cate date, and I was getting her bath stuff out of our guest bathroom when I noticed a stuffed goat sitting next to the toilet. I raised an eyebrow (goats don't usually appear randomly in our house), and yelled to Nate, asking if he knew why in the world we had a stuffed goat in our bathroom. Nate popped his head around the corner and eyed the little creature. After waaaay too much thought, we figured it out. Aaron and Stacy had left it for us, providing us with a good laugh and a How I Met Your Mother reference (I'm not about to try and explain the reference to you). So, as you can imagine, Nate was dead set on making the goat, now named Ted, the object we use when taking pictures of Cate. Yes, a goat is an unusual choice. We're unusual people.

So, if you're interested in seeing our lovely Cate and her pal, Ted, click here.