Alistair James Payne


On December 12, 2012 at 11:10 am, we welcomed Alistair James Payne to the world (pronounced Al-i-stir). He was born by c-section at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, MD weighing 8 lbs, 4 oz and measuring 20.5 inches long.

Alistair is proving to be quite a sweetheart. He immediately took to breastfeeding, demonstrating a great ability to suck, and he has already started stretching out his sleeping times. Last night we got to sleep from 1:00 am to 6:30 am! He is steadily growing and is almost out of his newborn sized-clothing into the 0-3 month size. We are so blessed and fortunate that he does not cry much, although he seriously dislikes having a dirty/wet diaper and getting his clothes changed.

Juliana loves “baby brother,” and has already asked to hold him many times. When she first met him in the hospital she was so excited that she basically just ran around in circles all day long. She is a very helpful older sister, and she often brings me toys that she wants to share with him.

Although I have struggled quite a bit with the pain of breastfeeding, we are settling into a good routine, and I have high hopes that the pain will soon ease. We have been so blessed by the continuous visitors who have made the transition to two children so much easier with their baby holding, cooking, cleaning, and Juliana watching. Thank you Nana, Papa, Grammy, Grandma, MeMe, Auntie Katie, Uncle Justin, and Cousin Ellis!



Christmas Favorites

The tree is up. The house is decorated. The presents are wrapped. I am slowly getting everything ready for the holiday and the baby’s arrival. In a couple of days I plan to have the nursery all done, and I will post pictures here.

We have been counseled by my OB to have a scheduled c-section (long story), and are currently scheduled for 12/12/12. It was very weird to choose the baby’s birthday. But, we thought that was a great day. So, only a little more than a week to go. In the meantime, I have lots of things to get done. I want this house ready, I need a pedicure, I need to explore a few more Christmas adventures, and I definitely need to watch some more Christmas movies.

Here are my favorite Christmas movies. (I will not try to disguise the fact that I love romantic comedies. I know they are usually not Oscar-worthy. I know they are very predictable. What can I say? I am a romantic.)

1. Love Actually (yes, there are a few, ahem, scenes that are rather unnecessary): such a wonderful film full of different kinds of love stories and great actors/actresses. My favorite story line: Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister and falls in love with one of his staff members. Best scene: Hugh Grant dances. Also, SET IN LONDON.

2. Christmas in Connecticut: this is an old old classic, starring Barbara Stanwyck. Oh my goodness how I love this movie. The large country house in Connecticut is my dream house, and with the snow falling and the horse and buggy ride, it conjures up my non-stop nostalgia for a time and place that I have never actually experienced.

3. You’ve Got Mail: although this is not necessarily a holiday film, much of it takes place in New York City during the fall and holiday season. It makes me wish I had lived in NYC at some point. I am sure it must be such a magical place to spend the holiday season. Also, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are classic. I love it.

4. Bridget Jones’s Diary: this is not an exclusively holiday film either, but it begins and ends with Christmas, and I always feel like watching it during the holidays. Although I am not really a Renee Zellweger fan, she did such a fantastic job portraying the main character (whom I had already fallen in love with from reading the books) that she won me over for this film. And of course Mark Darcy played by Colin Firth? Well, there is nobody better. SET IN LONDON.

5. The Family Stone: this movie is not necessarily awesome, but a huge part of it hits me as a perfect holiday film. I love the house and the family. I love the way the siblings interact. I love the parents. Sarah Jessica Parker is a bit irritating, but I can get over her because I love the other characters so much. It has some sad moments, but it is a really beautiful picture of a family.

6. Elf: I know that a lot of people think this movie is dumb. And it definitely has some dumb moments. But, I don’t mind that of course it isn’t realistic in any way. I think Will Ferrell is a hilarious guy, and Zooey Deschanel charms me with whatever she does. This is a sweet, kosher, fun movie for the whole family.

7. It’s a Wonderful Life: one of my absolute favorite movie moments of all time: Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed talking on the phone, wanting to kiss. I just adore this film. Such a great message of course, and a beautiful love story. Also, a super creepy scene for me: when they are dancing and the floor slides out from under them and it’s a pool. Yikes! That freaks me out so much!

8. Little Women (with Winona Ryder): I went to see this movie with my dad and sisters on Christmas Day in 1994. The story has always been one of my favorite, and I loved this version. There are several Christmas scenes, and it will always be linked with Christmas for me.

9. The Holiday: this is not the best movie in the world. It’s a bit cheesy. But Cameron Diaz is always fun, and Kate Winslet is always gorgeously wonderful. Jack Black makes me laugh no matter what he does. In this movie he has a priceless scene in the video store singing movie scores. He is so so funny! Also, I really like Jude Law. Best movie moment: when the little girls and Jude Law and Cameron Diaz are in their makeshift tent. Brings tears to my eyes every time. SET IN ENGLAND (part of it).

10. When Harry Met Sally: this movie does not take place exclusively during the holidays, but several key moments are at Christmas/New Year’s Eve. I love the friendship that slowly blossoms into love between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. They are sweet.

Honorable Mentions:

Sleepless in Seattle: classic. Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan are so cute.

New Year’s Eve: Like Love Actually, but set in New York on New Year’s Eve. I really liked some of the story lines, but this is not as good as Love Actually. The music is fun though.

P.S. Anything set in London will get me. I really need to experience Christmas in London. Yum.

Posted in Fun

Happy Thanksgiving


Hello Loved Ones. You’ve probably seen the pictures on Facebook, but I wanted to share a photo from our recent photo shoot with the beautiful and talented Monika Bliss Morris.

We had a lovely day today with gorgeous weather and a fun dinner with Robby, Meredith, Isaac, and Avery. Of course Juliana is thrilled any time that Isaac is here to play, and they had a good time together, mostly. Their visit may have included some kissing. The meal was standard veggie fare: Christmas casserole (old family recipe), green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, 5-cup salad, bread, pumpkin pie. Delicious. Maybe not so nutritious.

Although this year has had its share of tragedy and trials, we remain incredibly blessed. God is watching over us every day, and I am grateful that we have each other (nearly to the 15-year anniversary!), our precious Juliana who brings us amazing joy every day, a baby soon to arrive, dear family members in Tennessee and Michigan and Florida and Switzerland, and wonderful friends all over this country. Thanks to each of you for the ways you bless our lives.

I hope your Thanksgiving was special and meaningful.

Now, for more food . . .

3 Years Old

So this is what a 3-year-old looks like! (Of course she still is the size of a small 2-year-old, barely fitting into 24month or 2T clothing, but that’s okay!)


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Some new, favorite toys from her birthday:
–kitchen and cooking, especially with play-dough and her new whisk
–toy animal figurines
–lady bug watch (“I need to have my watch on, Mommy”)
–playing all of her new musical instruments
–coloring and drawing
–stickers galore
–feeding her babies with the eternally filling bottles
–solving wooden puzzles
–reading her new books
–build a “castle” (otherwise known as a tower) with her blocks
–play catch will all kinds of balls, including the newly rediscovered “sparkly” ball

Favorite apps:
–Letter School
–ABC Music (introduces her to all the instruments. When we are in a restaurant and there is background music playing, she will say: “Mommy, what instrument is that?” Or: “Mommy, I hear a violin!”)
–TED (yes, she watches TED talks)

Something funny she said today, out of nowhere and related to nothing: “Don’t be sillly, Mommy! This is important!” I thought it was hilarious and laughed, so she now says it all the time.

Posted in Fun

Juliana’s Third Birthday


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It has been a long time since we posted, but things are going well. And today, Juliana turns 3! She is a wonder and source of daily hilarity and amazement for us. Here are some of her most recent activities:

Things she loves to do:
–play kitchen and cook food (especially in her new kitchen from Grammy, MeMe, Auntie and Uncle Justin, and Cousin Ellis)

–clutch an extraordinary number of small items in her hands, while attempting to do other things (small, round balls–especially the sparkly one–a mirror, shovel, tiny green owl, and her ever-present puppy named Raisin Bran)

–play catch with said balls

–“color outside” on the sidewalk with chalk

–swing at the park

–read books and more books: current favorites include The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Prayer for a Child, Kitten’s First Full Moon

–dance to music, preferably while you are holding her

–climb onto things and jump off: she is still enjoying our weekly Little Gym class and has recently become very unafraid of jumping off of anything

–snuggle with her blankey (thanks Jacqueline Erwin!) and Raisin Bran (thanks Rachel Sherwood!)

–go outside and play in the dirt and leaves

–sing at the top of her lungs, nonsensical songs that occasionally have real words inserted into them. She makes up songs as she goes and her go-to song title is “The Carolai Song.” I have no idea what that word means or where it came from.

–play all kinds of musical instruments: violin, guitar, recorder, drums, shakers, xylophone, piano, whistles, etc. She basically is either singing or playing music all day long.

–go to the farm and pet the animals, especially feeding the calves

–dig in the sand. She would do this for hours! I think we need a sandbox.

–swimming. Although swimming season is over, she asks nearly every day if she can go swimming. And yesterday while we were at the park, it was all we could do to keep her from jumping in the water because she wanted it so desperately.

Things she loves to eat:
–grilled cheese sandwiches
–mac and cheese
–apples, pears, plums, bananas, grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches (with no red parts on them)
–sometimes peas and broccoli
–milk and orange juice
–she has newly discovered that she loves cake
–hummus and “different crackers” (Ritz)

People she loves:
–Mommy and Daddy
–all of her wonderful extended family of grandparents and aunts and uncles, whom she asks to video chat with nearly every day
–Cousins Ellis and Baby Olivia (she released some of her birthday balloons into the sky and said that she was sending them to Ellis far, far away)
–her best friend: Isaac, whom she “needs” to see every single day
–her many other friends whom she talks about all the time: Zach, Daniel, Fenannah (Savannah), Brooklyn, Odessa, Henry, Enoch
–Robby, Moses (Meredith), Lala (Leslie), KeeKee (Keelin), and Avery who are always mentioned in the same breath
–Marci: “Is Marci coming to play with me?” Is an almost daily question
–Ted, Beth, Evan, Jenny, Alban, and Ansley all of whom she uses as her personal readers

Hilarious things she says and does:
–she stands in front of the fireplace, where she can see her reflection and says: “Hi, my name is Juliana, and I am taking pictures of Mommy.” Or, other random things to the little girl in the reflection.

–“I’m going to school, to teach. And check on my baby, and the other baby. Bye bye!”

–When she is about to start singing something, or if she has started and we are not singing too: “Sing, friends!” or “Wanna sing, guys?”

–when I said about Jason, “I’ll go get ‘im,” she said: “No, Mommy, you will go get HIM, not THEM.” Yes, she is already correcting my grammar.

–inserting words into songs: “I have crayons, I have crayons, Heigh-ho the derry-o, I have crayons.” Or: “The itsy bitsy mommy went up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the mommy out. Out came the sun and dried up all the mommy, and the itsy bitsy mommy went up the spout again.” Or: “Twinkle, twinkle little circle…” Or: “Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full. One for the mommy, one for the dad, one for the weasel, one for the Sophie (our cat)…”

–We were at the doctor having an ultrasound (early on), and she said: “I was a little baby like that! I was in there (the womb). Inside there, you don’t get dirty!” I have no idea where she came up with that. We had never talked about her being inside there (at the time), and certainly not about not getting dirty!

–to her own hand: “No, no hand! Let go, hand! My hand not obey!”

Although Juliana remains quite small, she has done phenomenally well in her developmental growth. She has caught up to and surpassed the 3-year-old expectations, and does quite a few things at a 4-year-old level. She is in the early stages of pre-reading, and recognizes many sight words. Her language and cognitive skills have skyrocketed, and we are so thankful that she is doing well. Many of you have followed her progress and prayed for her: thank you! We are happy to report that she does not show any lingering effects of her prematurity, except her glasses, which she will always need.

Juliana is a very happy and typically very obedient, joyful girl. She makes every day so delightful, and we are so blessed to have spent another year with her. We can’t wait to see what her next year of life holds, especially as we are adding BABY BROTHER to the mix, sometime in December. Juliana is very excited to meet him, and wanted him to “come out for my birthday.” Fortunately, this baby seems to be staying inside into a more safe time to come out.

Stay tuned for more upcoming pictures. We just finished a fall photo shoot with the fantastic Monika Morris, and Juliana’s 3rd birthday portraits will be done soon. Thanks for visiting the blog!

2011 In Review


Hello all! We’ve had a good year here in the Payne household.

Juliana has grown to a staggering 20 lbs and 31.5″. What a big girl! She has started talking and says the following words regularly:
Mama, Dada, Nana, Papa, Meme (for Megan), Robby, yep, no, go, bye, hi, apple, baby, bus, bath, beep, hot, hat, bite, off, and she signs the words for more, water, all done, please, and thank you. She does the animal sounds for cow, dog, cat (kinda), sheep, lion, tiger, and monkey. She attempted something like “ama” for Grandma, and this morning she said Katie. She has loads of other words that would not be recognizable to a stranger, and many that are not recognizable to us. She is also getting more willing to repeat the words that we say. Yesterday she said “Memphis,” the name of the Herrs’ dog who is staying with us. She also sings, in tune, the alphabet song (although not all the letters are clear), and her own special bathtime song. Occasionally something will come out that really sounds like a sentence. “That’s my cousin!” (pointing at Ellis), “What is that?”, “No, I didn’t.”

Since her 2nd birthday in October when she received refrigerator magnet letters from her Nana, Juliana has been learning her letters. She loves it! She can now identify most of the letters of the alphabet, and she says about half of them. Her favorites are B, D, and E. Sadly, she hasn’t even yet attempted J, which is the official letter of our household. She also seems to have a fairly consistent grasp of all the colors. She can regularly identify them, although she doesn’t say any of their names yet.

She loves Christmas trees and lights and her latest obsession is the moon. Reading is her favorite past-time, and she still loves dogs and cats. She climbs up on her rocking horse all by herself and loves to rock it. She loves coloring and made her first craft this fall with her OT: a leaf with bits of red and orange tissue paper glued on to it. Of course it is up on our fridge. She has recently discovered sticker books and loves matching up the sticker with the pictures and then tapping it to stay down.

Her palate is still not very sophisticated. I’m afraid we stick to the following menu 99 times out of 100: mac & cheese, apples, bananas, oatmeal, cold cereal (Raisin Bran without the raisins), yogurt, grilled cheese sandwiches, grapes, frozen peas, and whole wheat Ritz crackers. She has however discovered that she loves hummus, so this gives me hope for a future of more exotic tastes. She guzzles water like it’s going out of style (I think she drinks more oz per day than I do!), and she loves orange and apple juice, although she gets these in very rare doses.

Juliana was sick for the first time on the nights of December 23-24 and 24-25, and for most of the day on Christmas. She threw up several times and was downright miserable. She was so quiet and sweet and endured her pain like a champ. Mostly she wanted to snuggle on the couch with me, which was fine!

Thanks to Monika Bliss Morris for a fantastic fall photo shoot!

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We spent Thanksgiving in Michigan with the Paynes and Great-Grandma Kinyon. For Christmas, we traveled to Tennessee to visit with the Minner side of the family. We had a very happy holiday season, and we wish you all well in 2012!


2 Years Old


Here are some Juliana-isms for you:

“Maaaaa” = I’m being gentle in petting the kitty / This feels so soft / I am deliberately NOT hitting you.

“Eeeessa doooggy!” = I love that random dog so much and it makes me so happy that I am going to squeal until you two break down and get me my own.

“Howoooo!” = I have just discovered how incredibly awesome the moon is, and I think that I will try to howl at it like a wolf.

“eee” = meow

“ahh, beee, ceee, dah” = Yes, I am singing the alphabet song.

“Mroo” = Please take me down to see the cows in the back yard before they disappear to their “happy home in the country,” because I love every animal so much, even if they don’t know I exist.

“Key-key” = I just saw Sophie run by as she was trying to escape from me, and she totally made my day!

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Posted in Fun


I’ve been reading a lot about ethics and utilitarianism lately, particularly Practical Ethics by Peter Singer. His logic and presentation of Preference Utilitarianism, particularly as it pertains to the person-hood of creatures, is compelling. Because of this, I have decided to change my own behavior and stop eating most meat excepting fish which I’ll address in a moment. Here are my main thoughts on the matter:

  • The small pleasure that I receive from eating meat requires the real pain of other sentient creatures.
  • I don’t want to support the factory farming that supports the vast majority of meat production in this country.
  • I’ve excepted fish and other seafood because I don’t think it meets the criteria of sentience and person-hood of the other most common forms of meat.
  • This isn’t the final answer. As I think more about the ethical ramifications of my life, I may revise this in other directions.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions in the comments.

A new cousin

Welcome to the world, Ellis Mark Partlo! He was born on July 14, 2011 weighing 8 lb 2 oz. He’s a sweet, beautiful baby and we are so happy to have a nephew! Juliana’s first cousin! Congratulations to Katie and Justin who are wonderful parents!

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Hmmm . . . look familiar?

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Posted in Fun