Monday, January 31, 2011

The Bachelor in Vegas

This was my running commentary during the show. I texted a shorter version to Holly while we watched together ... 821 miles apart. You can read my previous ramblings, should you be interested.

Vegas? Really? Seems like "The Bachelor" could do a little better -- more exotic, perhaps. Yes, of course, Michelle is excited to be in "Sin City."

I want Michelle to stop talking. Meanwhile Shawntel is eating and talking about replacing blood with chemicals as an embalmer. And she's still talking ... about draining blood and molding people's faces. And Brad keeps laughing and called her the hottest funeral director he's ever met. Um, Brad, really, how many funeral directors have you met? Much less wanted to date?

Oh, and, hey, producers, I don't care what's coming up later in the episode. I'm watching. I'll see for myself.

Emily. What a girl. Facing her fear of driving. Moving forward from her past. She's brave. "I decided I don't want to bring anything from my past into today." Wise, Emily. Really a story like that is the only thing that will make me want to watch a car drive circles around a track.

And another note for the producers: Ali and Roberto's "The Lion King" Broadway show was way better than this Elvis show with the Ashleys. Just thought I'd offer my opinion, you know, in case the producers wanted it.

I really just get confused which Ashley he's talking to while they were at dinner. And, no, I don't have their last initial memorized. He let the sweet one go and kept the emotional one.

Apparently I could be a therapist. Yes, vulnerability is hard. But it's part of having real relationships. Yes, there are emotions. That happens when people are vulnerable. And, hello, this is a dating show!

Observations from the cocktail party ...

CHANTAL may not be so high on Brad's list any more. He shrugged his shoulders when she said they were in a good place.

ALLI was impressed with his sweet gesture. And, hey, it was sweet.

MARISA. Hmmm ... I didn't really know she was there.

MICHELLE is too aggressive and still talking. "No talking" was the best thing she's said all season. Yet, she's still talking. And stroking Brad's hair.

LISA. Again. Not sure who she is either.

And in the coming weeks: Coasta Rica and South Africa. Much improved. Way better than Vegas. Thank you, producers. But oh the drama. Have I mentioned I liked "The Bachelorette" better?

Around here ...

We've been hanging out with each other and our friends and family.

Greg and I went to see "The Dilemma" on Friday night. It was better than I expected, and I was glad to be out on a date to the movie theater. Then Saturday we went to Paducah, where I got to shop at Hobby Lobby, Cate went to her friend Gabe's birthday party at YaYa's Island, and Greg ate at Rafferty's. OK, so, we all four were together, but everybody had a favorite part. Well, except Ben, who loves just being along for the ride. Then we went to the Murray State basketball game that night.

It was a good weekend to just be together.

What have you been doing?

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28, 2004

I had lost a ton of weight. I was always thirsty. And my contacts felt dry in my eyes.

Those were my symptoms. For months. Really, probably closer to 18 months. At first I didn't notice. Then I needed to hold a couple more months until my health insurance kicked in.

I chose a doctor a friend had gone to and liked. And within five minutes of talking to the doctor, I learned I probably had diabetes. She ordered a blood test to confirm, but she told me to go home and pack a bag for the hospital.

I cried. I called Greg. I cried. I called my mom. I cried.

I cried because I was scared.

Even on this first day, I was thankful for my doctor. She was calm and encouraging. And she didn't let me in on just how dangerously high my blood sugar was. I mean, she told me the number, which was in the 500s, I believe, but she didn't let me know just how worrisome that was. She also didn't tell me until later about my A1C, which measures the average blood sugar level over the past few months, and how it indicated diabetes had gone undiagnosed in me for quite some time.

Some in the previous year or maybe even two, my pancreas had stopped working. A virus killing off good cells is the best possible cause, but, really, the reason is a mystery. Turns out, my pancreas doesn't produce insulin and my body was burning fat because it couldn't properly break down sugar, leading to my thirst and hunger issues and weight loss.

I spent three nights in the hospital, where the nurses gradually brought my blood sugar level down with shots of insulin in my upper arm and tended to my dehydrated body with fluids. I learned how to count carbohydrates, give myself insulin shots and monitor my blood sugar levels. I realized our bodies are complex and that addressing this one need helped me feel so much better in every way.

I take one kind of insulin every time I eat and I take another kind each evening. I go to the doctor every three months to have blood work done so my blood sugar, thyroid function and cholesterol levels can be monitored. I know if I go too many days without exercise that my blood sugar rises for several days, giving me headaches.

I certainly don't manage it perfectly, and I still like to treat myself to sweets [with extra insulin, of course]. But I take care of myself, even though it's frustrating some times. A side effect of insulin is the difficulty losing weight. Yet I have to take it. So, like most people, I'm better off to pass on the desserts. But I like food. It's a vicious cycle. Usually I am thankful my chronic condition is one that is manageable. But some days I wish I could have a normally functioning pancreas.

I don't really want to live Jan. 28, 2004, over again. But it's part of me. I don't cringe when I give myself a shot or prick my finger. I just do it. Most of the pharmacist technicians at Rite-Aid know my name when I walk into pick up my diabetes supplies at least once a month.

Much of those few days is a blur. But I remember one thing clearly: When I called Greg just a few minutes after I found out, crying, of course, he said, "It's OK, we'll change our lifestyle." He said, "we," and I was reminded I'm married to my best friend who is willing to live life with me, despite circumstances that may alter the course we thought we were on.

And he's lived by that these past seven years. He knows when I get irritable there is a good chance my blood sugar is high. He knows if my words start to be confusing and I'm sweating that my blood sugar is too low.

God created me and knows the details of every hormone and organ in my body. I may not know why my pancreas quit working, but I'm thankful there are ways to continue living this life, my life.

This is the last in a five-part series about how January changed me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27, 2010

Ben has kept us on our toes before he was even born.

We were going to use a placement agency for our second adoption, but we learned about Ben's birth mom just before we really committed. He wanted to come into the world early, forcing his birth mom to take it easy for months before he was born, just eight days early. Once we had him home, he spit up often and was quick to express his discontentment. Let's just say, once Ben was sleeping through the night, momma and Ben were both more pleasant people.

And then, thankfully, his adoption process went even faster than we expected. The hearing was just an informal formality, but it was an important step in creating our family of four. And we wouldn't change Ben's second-child ways that disrupted what we were used to and made our family even better. He's 14 months and already taught me many life lessons.

You can see pictures from the final adoption hearing here.

This is the fourth in a five-part series about how various events in January changed my life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Round 3

Both my kids have strep throat. Again.

This would be the third time since late October, if any of you are keeping track.

Yep, seriously.

When Cate woke up from her nap this afternoon, she told me her eyes and throat hurt. "My eyes hurt" is code for she has a fever. And the throat, well, I figured third time was a charm, so to speak, because the other two times she had strep she didn't actually have a sore throat.

I debated for about 20 minutes about whether I should call the doctor. It was already after 3 p.m., so I felt like my chances were slim for even being able to get in to see anyone. But then I thought about how we're supposed to get 2-4 inches of snow tonight (It's currently snowing now ... and it seems to be sticking!) and our pediatrician's office is closed on Thursdays. So, I called. And they told me to come up as soon as I could and a nurse would test her for strep.

So we were sitting in the waiting room about 20 minutes later, and after waiting an hour because the nurse I talked to apparently hadn't told anyone else we were coming, both of my kids tested positive for strep. Funny thing about Ben: While the nurse was weighing Cate and taking her temperature (which was 101 degrees, if you're interested), another nurse walked by and asked if Ben was sick. I said I wouldn't be surprised if they both had strep, you know, considering history. And she said it looked like he had a fever. Nothing like a comment like that to make a mom feel unobservant. Anyway, he did have a fever (99 degrees).

Once Cate's fever broke after a dose of Motrin, she seemed normal. Ben has seemed normal the whole time. Strep throat is a crazy sickness that seems to like my kids but doesn't keep them down long, thankfully.

Looks like we'll have multiple excuses to stay inside all day tomorrow. I don't really want to be outside in the snow, but the idea of being "snowed in" is growing on me. I only have six eggs, though, so hopefully it won't last long. But at least I'm all set with two bottles of antibiotics for my kids.

Monday, January 24, 2011

helicopters and metaphors

[Previous ramblings about "The Bachelor" are here. If you are a sucker for the made-for-TV drama that may or may not make a relationship in the real world, join in the conversation in my comment section.]

I will not talk about Michelle. Or her magically appearing black eye. I will not talk about Michelle because she wants us to.

My observant friend Holly noticed Chantal and Brad got in a yellow helicopter and out of a silver one. Thanks to my DVR, I went back and looked, and it's true! What's up with that, producers? And Holly shared another funny helicopter-related observation during our running, texting commentary:

Chantal thinks she's special because she got picked up in a helicopter. Pretty sure that happens on EVERY episode of "The Bachelor."

Indeed. In fact, it happened again for Miss Black Eye later in this week's episode.

But back to Chantal's date ...

As cheesy as it is, I love the facing-your-fears-together storyline. "When you put yourself out there, a whole new world can be open to you." So true, Chantal. But let's remember, you're on "The Bachelor," so, yes, Brad is bonding with, kissing and planning picnics for other girls. Stop all the crying.

Brad seems to recognize that "The Bachelor" isn't the real world. When he gave Chantal a rose he talked about how he thinks about how their relationship could work in "the real world." Despite her quantity of tears, I think Chantal is around for awhile.

The interruptions are childish and unnecessary. Ashley H. is a vulture. Hey, Ash, you didn't "get" all that one-on-one time on that group date; you stole it, especially from Britt.

Speaking of Britt, she apparently doesn't eat of the food she supposedly writes about. But as a woman trying to win Brad's heart, she's growing on me. In fact, she's moved into my top three with Chantal and Emily.

Dear, Michelle - I know I said I wasn't going to talk about you. But I need to mention this: I thought you said you were here for Brad. You'd do anything for him. So just go down the building with him without the big scene, complete with cursing and threats of puking. Even my husband looked up from the magazine he was reading to shake his head at you and yell, "Fake." Your obnoxious, whiny ways aren't winning you any hearts in my house, so, please, stop talking.

Speaking of talking, Brad's therapist is back. And this comes after the group date involved Dr. Drew. I hope everyone now fully understands they have to truly open up in order to forge ahead with their relationships. Yes, vulnerability is hard, but it's the key to connecting with someone.

And, now, everyone, a collective "Awww ..." Yes, Brad missed Emily. Seems like there is more to come with that relationship next week.

I know there are other "The Bachelor" addicts out there. Maybe you aren't as public about your addiction as I am, but I know you're reading. So, tell me, who are your top three choices as this point?


"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
--Jesus tells his disciplines, according to John 14:1-4

Today my 3 1/2-year-old girl asked me how Jesus takes us to heaven. She wanted to know how we get there and where heaven is. And she wanted black-and-white answers that don't really come with faith, which is being sure of what we hope for.

And I hope for heaven. God promises heaven to those who choose to follow Him.

So that's where I started. God must have been preparing her little heart for the conversation because the verse she has been learning at school is "Follow God," or some paraphrase along those lines. Today she even remembered it well enough to get to pick a treat from the treasure chest.

I told her we go to heaven when we die because that's where Jesus lives and God promises us we can live forever there if we just follow Him.

"I know, Mommy. We do follow God."

Talk about childlike faith. But that's not what was on her mind.

So instead she asks, "But how does Jesus take us to heaven?"

Um, truthfully, I had no idea what to tell her. So I went back to a conversation we'd had Saturday when we drove passed the cemetery that is about two blocks from our house yet she'd never asked about. "What are all those little buildings there?" she asked two days ago as we drove passed the cemetery.

I told her they were markers were people's bodies were buried. Like Granddaddy's body is in a different cemetery with a marker that has his name on it. Then she reminded me Granddaddy was in heaven with Jesus. And that's where the conversation got complicated.

"Yes, Granddaddy is in heaven. His heart and soul are living with Jesus forever, but our bodies stay here on Earth."

And then she told me when she got older she'd die too. I reassured her that it wouldn't be for a long time and that God wanted to her to love her life here for now.

So back to today ...

I reminded her that God lives in our hearts and our hearts ["souls" seems even more abstract to me ...] go to live with Jesus when we die.

"I know, Mommy. Where is heaven?" I detected the frustration in her voice that I wasn't giving her specific directions to how to get to heaven. So I just go with, "It's far away from here, but it's going to be the best place we'll ever be."

"Is it high up in the clouds?" Again, she wants directions, like how she talks about turning right onto Main Street to get to school. Having no black-and-white answers, I told her yes.

"How do we get there?" I think she wanted me to say we fly, like we did to get to New Zealand. Or we take a bus, like Granddaddy used to drive. Or we drive a long, long way. Instead I just went back to how the conversation got started: "Jesus takes us there."

That seemed to be good enough. But the silence was only her mind still working, thinking about heaven. "Will there be toys there?"

I am certain of what I hope for. And I hope for heaven. So I told my 3 1/2-year-old girl that there would be toys in heaven.

When she's older, I'll tell her about why I don't really think we'll care about toys when we get there. I believe we'll be so in awe of living with the Creator of the world that we'll be too distracted by a beauty that won't even compare to anything we've ever seen to even care about what we used to do.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Racer fan

I came to dance-dance-dance-dance
I hit the floor cause that's my plans plans plans plans ...
I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
saying ay-oh, gotta let go
I wanna celebrate and live my life

--From "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz

Ben has been getting the TV camera action lately at the Racer games, but my other child certainly enjoys herself ... especially during time-outs when "Dynamite" is playing. She likes the song so much we often listen to it in the car. Yes, I downloaded it. For her, of course.

And, no, I have absolutely no idea who taught her to dance like that. Seriously. You all know I don't dance. And I don't believe that's how Angelina dances either.

January 23, 2002

It was an ordinary Wednesday morning. I was sleeping later than I can imagine now as a mother of two because it was my day off. As an editorial assistant at The Associated Press who took sports scores, wrote some stories and answered the phone, I worked 4 p.m. to midnight with Wednesdays and Sundays.

My landline phone rang, waking me up. It was Greg, who was a law school student about 77 miles away. [Side note: I did have a cell phone, but I used my landline more often. Greg didn't even have a cell phone, just for the record.] We had known each other four years and had dated the majority of that time, which began the second semester of my college freshman year. We chatted for a few minutes before he said something was supposed to be delivered to my apartment and I should check to see if it was there.

I did. And, lucky me had a box of flowers waiting for me.

Of course, I discovered these flowers after I decided that even though Greg sounded weird on the phone that whatever he was talking about would be worth getting out of bed for.

Tulips are better than any alarm clock. That's for sure. So I picked up the box and was nearly back inside my apartment when Greg walked around the corner. He called me on a cell phone that he borrowed from his roommate. And he skipped class to bring me flowers, which I had to put in a blender because I didn't have a vase.

My heart was beating fast. Like it knew more than my head knew. I hugged Greg for a long time. I didn't say much. Plus, it was the morning, and I don't talk too much in the morning. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised Greg was there because we generally saw each other on Sundays at that point.

Then he gave me a handwritten letter. It was amazing, really.

As I write this I am overwhelmed by all that you mean to me. You are my best friend, the one who knows me better than any other, my confidante, and normally the only person I talk to when things are especially bad or good. I love you more than I knew a person could love another ...

He went on to talk about how our relationship had developed and God was in it with us.

And then I realized what was going on ...

Kristin, I want to be with you more than anything else. ... More than anything else, I want to look back on the life I've lived and rejoice because I got to spend it with my favorite person in the world. ...

I hurried through the last half, not truly retaining what I was reading but thankful that I could re-read the beautiful words later, when my heart wasn't racing. I noticed Greg was watching me.

And then he knelt down. I didn't give him time to say anything and hugged him. Leave it to my impatience to rush the moment. "Wait, I have something to ask," he said.

He asked me to marry him when I finally gave him room to breathe.

I said yes.

Well, actually I paused and just looked at him, fell more in love with him, and then said yes.

We spent that Wednesday together. It wasn't Christmas, which we had just celebrated. It wasn't Valentine's Day, when we went on our first date. It wasn't even Feb. 7, when we met four years earlier. No. It was Wednesday, Jan. 23.

And we were married 192 days later.

This is the third in a five-part series about how various events in January changed my life.

Friday, January 21, 2011

snow angel

Another snow day. And it's still January. I'm enjoying it from the inside, wearing sweatpants while reading a book.

But Cate enjoyed the actual snow.

She went out by herself in our backyard and was out there for 34 minutes. Minus the two slips on the ice in the carport, she seemed to enjoy herself and the snow angels she made. She even tried one on her belly ...

And, in case you're wondering, yes, I took these photos through the kitchen window.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20, 1996

Will You take me back now take me back and let me be Your child/'Cause I've been broken now I've been saved/I've learned to cry and I've learned how to pray/And I'm learning I'm learning even I can be changed --From "Growing Young" by Rich Mullins

God orchestrates moments. He weaves together people and places to reach our hearts. I knew God was working 15 years ago, but I didn't realize what it would mean.

That Saturday night sitting in the Flaget Center sanctuary on the first night of the Chrysalis weekend was a turning point. I had been having conversations with friends about spiritual things. I had been wondering about this life and the next. And I was led to Romans 8:28. All of those things intersected in my heart and mind as I wrote down on a tiny sheet of paper things I wanted to give up. Then I nailed them to a cross. Literally.

That perfectionism and desire to please people should remain on the cross because died there for me. I have often tried to regain control over the details of my life, but ultimately my faith goes back to that night, when I gave up control for the first time and God promised me He'd lead me step by step through life. Thankfully, His grace covers all my continued imperfections.

I can still hear "Growing Young" playing in the background while I felt God bring peace to my heart while I sat with my back against the sanctuary wall. But, really, I was no longer against a wall.

Because God does work for the good for those who love him.

I've had to figuratively nail some of those same things back to the cross through the years. And I've had to give up other struggles. But the God who met me that night when I was a 16-year-old girl searching for her identity continues to lead me through life. And I am continually reminded He's always watching down the road for me.

This is the second in a five-part series about how various events in January changed my life.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

bath time

Bath time is happy time around here. And, really, it always has been.

Ben particularly likes splashing. A lot. With his hands. With his legs. And now with his bottom when he plops down from standing. Just notice the suspended drops of water in the top picture and the wave-like motion of the water in the second picture.

January 18, 2007

We had talked on the phone, but watching Cate's birth mom walk into the doctor's office waiting room was surreal. She was carrying our daughter inside her and she was thankful her daughter was going to have a family. And from that moment on, God lined up detail after detail to create our family.

Not only did we meet Cate's birth mom that day, but we also saw our daughter via ultrasound. We named her Catherine Anna, officially, on the drive home from Bloomington, Indiana.

I later learned that Catherine is also the birth mom's middle name. See, God was showing his faithfulness in all the details. This was His plan. This was meant to be.

I tried to soak in the details of this woman who made a brave, selfless decision. I liked talking to her during our lunches that would following pre-natal doctor's appointments over the next 15 weeks.

She's 5-foot-10 with a very sweet face. She's big-boned and beautiful. Her dark hair is mostly straight but seems to want to flip just a bit as it grows back. She likes pink, just look at her tennis shoes.

Growing up in a Midwest family, she's the youngest of three. She loves sports and plays card. Even though Christmas is her favorite holiday, she chooses to be outside in warm weather. She likes pizza, chocolate and root beer.

She could raise the baby growing inside, and truly I have no doubt she's be a fine mother. But she's 19. She thinks about going to medical school, or at least pursuing a career in the medical field. An occupational therapist, perhaps. Somehow she'll end up helping people. Maybe that's why she battled and survived Hodgkins disease. She wears a yellow Livestrong bracelet.

I only hope our baby has part of her determined spirit and positive attitude. And then I can say it's in the genes.


This is the first in a five-part series about how various events in January changed my life.

Monday, January 17, 2011

ninjas, a therapist and fangs

I drafted this blog while watching "The Bachelor" and texting with Holly and Katie. It's random observations and commentary. Feel free to join in below in the comments section.

I don't sing. So I can sort of imagine how Ashley S. [aka First Impression Rose Winner] was feeling in that recording studio. At least Brad couldn't sing either. They sure seemed to enjoy themselves, and the real Seal singing. And, hello, these rooftop dates on these shows. That's totally something I can go for!

"It says, 'Love hurts,' but what really hurts is being on this group date with all these other women." Yes, Michelle, it's called "The Bachelor." Again, it's a dating show. Get over it. And, no, the ninjas will not kidnap them. And, really, I hope they don't get the chance to "practice making babies."

I think Brad is keeping Chantal around for awhile. I just get that vibe. Perhaps it's her "puffy face." She even makes him stutter.

I missed one of the girls describing Emily as Barbie with the heart of Mother Teresa, but, thankfully, Holly and Katie both texted me about it. Emily remains my favorite, although I was growing a tad impatient with Brad unknowingly leading her into her story about her fiance and daughter and her ignoring the prompts. But she came around.

She worried that Brad wouldn't be OK with her "stuff." But he seemed appreciative that she told him. "It's not stuff. It's you." True, Brad, true.

I could have done without his therapist's appearance, though. He didn't really seem to offer much wisdom. Of course, if you want to get to know people, you have to be vulnerable. Of course, when you let go, it's easier to enjoy the moment. I hope he didn't have to pay for that advice.

Michelle, really stop talking? "Can I have you?" Um, really? Again, really, you're on a dating show. So Brad hugged her on his way inside. And, yes, you are interrupting. Clearly. Brad was talking to another girl. Why must he ditch Chantal for Michelle?

Brad likes that she's playful and direct. But, really, I think that's her just manipulating him. "She can steal me away any night." Oh, dear ...

Madison took out her fangs while telling Brad about how she'd had a bad week. I have an idea: Don't wear the fangs. He may take you more seriously.

I'm with Brad, though. Fang Girl seemed more real when she was walking away.

My previous Bachelor ramblings are here, if you need to catch up.

stories worth telling & a giveaway

One of my favorite things to share with Holly is our philosophy that everyone has a story [really, stories ...] worth telling. And we like to tell stories, both our own and other people's.

Our lives intersected in the Ledger & Times newsroom when I was moving away from my reporter life to be a full-time momma. I loved being a reporter, but I knew for that/this season of my life my story was supposed to be set [mostly] at home. With Cate. And now Ben.

I haven't once regretted that decision.

And I gained a friend in the process.

A dear friend, who is so much more than someone to text during "The Bachelor."

Meet Holly. She dreams big. She takes care of people. She's bold and honest and trustworthy. And she has a way with words.

My friend is channeling her talents and heart into a new venture that will add a delightful perspective to other people's stories. It'll help others commemorate milestone moments, reminisce about loved ones, express sentiments worth preserving and capture stories worth telling.

Your Story, My Pen is one of those ideas that seems so simple, leaving me to wonder why someone else didn't think of it. But then I realize I'm really thankful my friend Holly dreamed it into life because she'll cherish the stories people let her life alongside them. And, trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Yes, you.

One of you will win a free story, written by Holly. Specifically, you'll work with Holly as she tells one of your stories in 500 words. [This is valued at $750!] Visit her website for more information about her business and possibilities of how stories will be told.

Unrelated to Holly's new venture, I am in launching a five-part blog series tomorrow about how January changed me. I'll share those stories with you over the coming two weeks. When Holly told me she wanted to share this Your Story, My Pen giveaway with my blog readers, I knew it would tie in wonderfully with the stories I'm going to tell you.

So, you have until Friday, Jan. 28 to enter a chance to win having one your stories told by Holly. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me, briefly, about one of the greatest stories in your life. Who was the person who encouraged you to do something completely out of your comfort zone? Did you launch a new business? Or maybe it's a love story. Or a miraculous birth of a child. Did your road trip across the country? Did you face your greatest fear?

We have a story tell. I'll tell some of mine in the coming weeks. You give us a snippet of yours. And then Holly will creatively and masterfully tell the story that belongs to one lucky reader chosen at random.

[A contact e-mail must be provided, unless you know I have yours.]

express yourself

My son isn't quiet.

He's reserved at first. Like when I take Cate into preschool. Those people probably think it's the quietest kid around. Just give him five minutes. And then he'll be waving, grinning and nicely yelling. Unless, of course, he's tired or hungry. Those conditions prompt a confidence repeating of "nigh night" and much clapping, which is his version of the sign for "more," respectively.

And for having a limited vocabulary, my [almost] 14-month-old son does pretty well expressing himself. I especially noticed this yesterday.

Example 1:
I took just Ben to Kroger and put him in the normal grocery cart when we got inside. I didn't even think about the car cart that was parked several feet away.

He looked around instantly and then pointed and grunted toward the car cart. And then he started clapping, you know, "more," which can also be interpretted, "I want that." He's certainly learned his grocery fun from his sister, who loves driving the car cart when she's not pushing a small cart of her own.

So I put him in the two-seater car cart and he scooted to the middle like he owned the cart.

Example 2:
Cate was working "in her area," which is a nook in the play room where she keeps her crayons, markers, paper, glue, scissors and stickers. Yes, she takes after me. But the point is, she was doing that while Ben was playing with some of her My Little Ponies. Yes, we have balls and cars and trucks, but he really likes the ponies. No worries. His daddy will teach him to catch and throw and tackle and shoot and cast and jump.

The ponies only lasted so long, though. Then he wanted to be with his sister. In her area. With her stuff. Her craft stuff is dangerous for a boy who likes to put most everything in his mouth. So I'd walk into her area, spank his hand and bring him back to the center of the room, where there were ponies and balls and cars and a town's worth of Little People. That would last seconds, and then he'd be crawling at his quick, quick speed back to Cate's area.

"Mom, he's in my area," she'd say. Like I didn't notice.

So I'd get him. And again spank his hand. Then remove him from the area. And again the other, more boring toys wouldn't satisfy.

This sequence repeated probably close to 10 times.

I was frustrated. Cate was frustrated. And Ben was frustrated to the point of tears.

He crawled out of the room and started backward down the stairs. I came down behind him and watched him crawl into his room. He started reaching through the bars of his crib for his soft, blue blanket that he cuddles with each night. And then he sat in front of the crib and pointed, saying "nigh night."

Apparently he was done with the day. At 6:39 p.m.

I changed him, rocked him, sang to him and put him in his bed. He smiled. And that was the last I heard from him until this morning.

Friday, January 14, 2011

You're a winner!

Mindy won the $25 CSN Stores gift card to spend however she'd like. Mindy, look for an e-mail message from me coming your way. Enjoy!

living in community

Jaclyn and I have been friends for 12 years [and counting ...]. In those years, we've been single college students, college students with boyfriends, dorm suitemates, e-mail friends, engaged to our college boyfriends, newlyweds, professionals, TV-watching friends, walking partners, Bible study classmates, small group companions, women who wanted to have babies, women who had surgery as part of their struggle to have babies, Settlers of Catan addicts, and mothers.

And we went to lunch today without any of our combined five kids. Or our husband. We love all of these people dearly, but it was good to be just Jaclyn and Kristin for 90 minutes.

Now you're wondering how we managed to eat like grown-ups at Cracker Barrel. Well, I'll tell you.


We are blessed with an awesome community of friends. Friends really isn't even a strong enough word. We have a small group -- if you consider 12 adults and eight kids small -- from church that actually used to be a bigger group that meets weekly to share our lives together. Sometimes it's chaotic. Sometimes it's predictable. Sometimes God surprises me somehow, even though He promises us new life and grace and mercy and hope.

These are the people who filled my fridge with food after we adopted Ben. They prayed for me and situations close to my heart. They helped me raise money for Ben's adoption. Twice. They let me help them. They make me laugh and don't care if I cry. They stood in a really long line to give us hugs at Gary's visitation and let us lean on them. Sometimes our kids inadvertently share strep throat germs. And sometimes our kids end up dressed alike on purpose and other times by accident.

And we all live in this small town that makes a great home.

Of course, there is a bigger group that is associated with this smallish group. And five of us moms decided to start a babysitting co-op. It works like this: Every other Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. two of the moms are available to watch the nine kids at someone's house. We take turns hosting and helping. The other weeks the three moms who aren't on duty can do whatever. Errands. Appointments. Hobbies.

Or lunch with a friend.

What do you think we spent most of our time talking about? Yep, our kids. We wouldn't change where we are for anything. We're constantly learning something new, sometimes thanks to a lesson from our pre-schoolers or our smaller ones who don't even walk. Of course, we reminisced some too.

I left feeling full. Literally from my Cracker Barrel salad and cornbread. And figuratively from my time with my friend.

Apparently it's good for my health too. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin -- a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. At least according to information taught at Stanford and being circulated as an encouragement to women.

I am thankful for where Jaclyn and I have been, and I'm looking forward to where we're going. Together. With our friends and their growing families.

Monday, January 10, 2011

tears, too much talking and onion breath

Holly wasn't watching yet, so I couldn't text her. Consider the following what would be my texts to her, plus some running commentary and some unsolicited advice. Oh, and don't read on if you haven't watched this week's episode of "The Bachelor" and plan to without spoilers.

Ashley [the one who got the first impression rose ...] is bitter that the other Ashley got the first date, and a one-on-one date at that. I have some advice that I think every season: Don't go on a dating show on national television if you aren't prepared to compete with other girls. Of course you hope he likes you more than the others. That's the point.

Carnival date. Good choice, Brad. "I feel like I can be myself around her. I like this girl. I like this girl a lot." Yes, Brad, again, that's the point. But slow down. This is just your first date. Then she says, "Can we do it again?" Referring to the kiss. And they kiss. Again.

I do appreciate Brad opening up about his father, the apparent root of his insecurities and truth issues.

And, hey, girls, again. It's a dating show. There will be group dates. That's no secret. Stop whining. And, specifically, Birthday Girl Michelle, let go of the fact that you're celebrating your 30th birthday on a group date with Brad and 14 other girls.

While making public service announcements for the American Red Cross, the group date included a girl who interrupted a scene she wasn't supposed to be in, pity claps, two girls with Brad on the bed, a walk-out-of-the-room drama from Birthday Girl, who actually said, "All I want for my birthday is Brad." Really, Michelle, stop talking.

"I feel like we need to dissect you." Yeah, Michelle, didn't stop talking. And I guess Brad doesn't care because he gave her the rose. And, of course, she kept talking about the rose.

Melissa needs to stop talking too. I'm guessing Raichel -- the manscaper -- would agree.

I don't really remember Jackie from the first night's cocktail party. But I'm liking her. Now, granted, I left the room to put Cate to bed during their pampering part of the date, so maybe I missed something between a room full of dressed and pulling up to the fancy venue that you fellow Bachelor addicts need to share with me.

"Now I'm afraid you're afraid of me." I get that, Jackie. And, really, I appreciate that she hasn't dated 80 men. Brad's concern that she hasn't had more than two relationships doesn't worry me, but he seems to be really caught off guard. Her caution to love shouldn't be a turn off, especially this early in the game.

Um, Train, really?! And playing a great song when they turn around. Super date.

Back at the house. Michelle, who has a rose, in case you forgot, is again monopolizing Brad because she had questions. Um, questions about coffee and what foods he keeps in his fridge. And she had the nerve to tell some other girls that's what she asked.

Oh, Emily. I've missed her this week.

And, wait, where's Fang Girl? I haven't noticed her this week. And, really, that's fine by me. Oh, she got a rose at the rose ceremony. I guess maybe Brad talked to her this week.

Did Raichel really say Jesus loved her and that's why she's going to stay? In all the drama and tears from Michelle, I started tuning out that part of the cocktail party while I was matching socks. Unfortunately, I wasn't watching the show on our TV with the DVR because Greg and some guy friends were watching football, so I couldn't rewind.

And then Michelle broke the crying while talking to Brad for a moment while she talked about onions and pizza. Um, weird and unnecessary.

Anyway ... Brad went to get the bottom of the crying.

But that didn't last long. Then came Ali and Roberto! I guess because they're still in love following their romantic start on "The Bachelorette" they can help Brad detect who is there for the right reasons. Um, yeah, OK. But, wait, they did mention Emily seeming genuine. So, maybe, just maybe, we all know what we're talking about.

Some parting words for a couple of those who didn't get a rose ...

Melissa, I'm really glad you won't be on next week's show. And I'm glad Brad saw through your tears and onion breath.

Raichel, Brad must not like the way you pulled off his wrist hair. Keep your manscaping ways to yourself. Oh, and fighting with Michelle probably didn't help.

Ali and Roberto gave advice. I've sprinkled advice through this babbling blog. And the girls obviously have opinions, which are bound to translate into advice, eventually. So ... what's your advice? What would you tell Brad or the girls? You know, if you could ...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

modes of transportation

I went to the Murray-Calloway County Airport for the first time to celebrate my nephew's 7th birthday party. Elijah loves planes, hence the airport venue. My kids loved the party and being with cousins and friends.

Make a wish!

We got a tour of the hangar and the kids got to get inside a two-seater plane. Here is Cate loving the moment.

And now for my other child ...

Ben's hair was crazy. More-than-usual crazy. It wouldn't lay down. Even with momma spit. But he's cute. Just look at that wave.

He doesn't really care anything about walking. Sometimes he humors people who take his hands and try to encourage him. Usually he just goes back to his knees ... and crawls ... quickly. I think he thinks walking will slow him down.

Ben was really into this Pin the Wing on the Plane. Really into it. See, he likes to stand up when it's to his advantage, but not so much as a mode of transportation. I'm guessing all that will change soon.

around here

We are Racer fans.

We enjoy each other.

We like to laugh.

We make our own fun.

Friday, January 7, 2011

a fresh giveaway

Purging and online shopping are two of my current loves. Seems contradictory, I know. But these loves can intersection, really. Just look at CSN Stores, which includes more than 200 online stores that sell anything you could possibly need, from storage containers to modern dining room furniture to board games to cooking accessories.

One of you will have $25 to spend at CSN Stores on whatever you'd like. Well, one of you who live in the United States or Canada because that's where CSN Stores ships their goodies.

So, it's the beginning of the year, a clean start. I've been purging and organizing and decluttering and rearranging. I've also been loving my Motivated Moms household planner.

What have you been doing in this early part of 2011?

Just answer that question in the comments section below. And leave your e-mail address, if you're unsure if I have it. One person will be randomly selected to receive a $25 gift certificate to spend at CSN Stores. You have until Friday, Jan. 14 to enter. Sometime that day, I'll choose a winner.

Now, I'm going to clean out another closet.

sleepy little Racer fan

My sweet, sleepy boy made WPSD-TV's story on the Murray State versus Tennessee State basketball game last night. This would be his tired, dazed expression, which happens when he decides not to give into sleep.

Yes, I know, silly momma expecting him to sleep during a basketball game. But, hey, he's done it many times before, so experience influenced my expectations. Ben usually goes to bed at his self-imposed bedtime of 7 p.m. The men's basketball game starts at 7:30 p.m. Yeah, it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out why he was tired. Usually he'll just give in, but last night he cried about it for awhile, drank milk, told people around us "nigh-night," and then randomly clapped his hands just as his eyes would start to close.

So, yes, the tired, dazed expression. But it was a welcomed relief in Section 107 Row 2 last night. And with 5:17 remaining in the game, Ben gave into sleep. And then he clapped one more time.

Thanks to Emily for pausing her TV and snapping a picture. You can watch the game story online.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Team Brad

Confession: I like to watch "The Bachelor."

And, if you really want me to be honest, I am a fan of Brad Womack. Who can blame him for not picking one of the two women left three years ago when he wasn't ready to commit? Yeah, OK, lots of America, apparently. Sure, he should have dealt with his commitment issues before he ever went on the show. But couldn't we all say we should have done this or could have done that first?

So, Brad's back.

And he said he's changed, thanks in part to a brokenness following his letting Jenni and Deanna go. Of course, there were three years of counseling. [His therapist testifying on his behalf in the early part of this week's episode was entertaining to me.]

What kind of world would we live in if people couldn't change?

They can.

Hopefully I can.

And I guess we'll watch and see if Brad changed.

I appreciated the Ashley [of course, there are multiple Ashleys ...] who said everybody has things from their past they wished they had done differently. Amen. But I do understand the hesitations from the women: Is he ready? Is he going to repeat his indecision?

But give the man a chance.

One of my favorite parts of watching "The Bachelor" [or "The Bachelorette," for that matter ...] is texting my commentary to Holly, which whom I share many interests, including but certainly not limited to Sonic drinks, detailed conversations, talking loudly, writing, playing cards, learning how to better trust God, and, of course, "The Bachelor." We may live hundreds of miles apart, but texting about reality TV brings us closer. Even when we watch on different nights.

While watching the episode that aired Monday night, I had plenty to text Holly. Here are some of my comments [in italics] followed by some additional comments. You know, because it's the most dramatic and controversial season of "The Bachelor." Ever.

"I don't want my package waxed at all." Ha!

Thanks, Raichel, for sharing your career in manscaping on national television. It was truly entertaining. Although I'm not sure Brad could say the same thing.

"I was once broken up with because he was looking for a more petite behind. ... Can you handle this?" Wow. Oh. Wow.

One of the girls totally said that. And where my ellipsis is, she was still talking while getting up and turning her backside to Brad, the guy she was trying to woo. Seriously.

Brad is asking about Madison's teeth! It's funny. "The girl has fangs. If that's her thing, fine. If it's a joke, take them off."

She totally has fangs. And likes vampires. Brad seemed annoyed by the whole thing, but he still mentioned fangs being hot. Um, no, Brad. Let the sweet Southern belle woo you instead.

That would be Emily. She's my favorite. She's Holly's favorite too, in case you were wondering.

Yes, I think I'll blog each week about the show. I can't promise I'll always watch it on Monday nights, but I can promise I'll watch. And comment. Your turn. Who else out there watches "The Bachelor"? What do you think of Brad returning?

Welcome, 2011!

Ah, a new year.

Writing 2011 is strange. The four numbers don't seem as balanced as 2010. But 2010 was a year that completely got away from me. Maybe I can soak up the details even deeper this year. Hopefully I can be that better version of myself who I keep thinking about. You know, the one whose words are gentler, compliments are more plentiful and love is even more apparent.

I've been thinking about this post. But something was holding me back from writing it. Then Holly inspired me, like she often does. So I just started writing.

Transformation has been on my mind.

Sometimes I feel stuck. Like I'm never going to be gentler and kinder like I want to be. Or that I'll always feel some stress when I'm running late. Or that talking loudly is always going to be my default for when I'm excited, irritated, mad, frustrated or trying to convey a very important point.

But God considers me His masterpiece. He's not going to leave me like he found me. I need to seek Him instead of trying to transform myself. He'll do it from the inside out.

God knows I need repetition because after thinking about true transformation one night, I read these words by Max Lucado the next night: God has ambitious plans for us. The same one who saved your soul longs to remake your heart. His plan is nothing short of a total transformation. "He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son." (Romans 8:29 The Message)

So, here's to 2011 being the year I loosen my grip so I can be that better version of myself, not only for myself but for my husband, my kids, my extended family and my friends.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A winner!

Teaque won the "Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies" CD that I'm giving away on this first day of 2011. Congratulations, Teaque!

Side note: You all should go tell Teaque you'd like to her to start blogging again.

And happy 2011! May your new year be filled with peace, love and many little moments that matter in big ways.