Friday, July 29, 2011

Dive in!

"For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them." --Ephesians 2:10

A friend from church who has been where I am in a season of mothering small children said something last week that struck me: "Don't despise the mundane."

She wasn't talking about parenting, rather a lesson she learned while on a mission trip. But I felt like she was speaking to me.

Sometimes I get annoyed with things that don't really matter. Like piles of papers that need homes. Or typos and misspellings on an advertisement. Or the way somebody wants to do something I think I can do better. Or the messy kitchen counter tops. In the moment, I make these things matter too much. Really, things like these aren't worth my over-investment of emotion.

See, while I'm getting stressed over something silly, God is working. He's working when I wash and fold another mound of laundry. He's working when I clean the kitchen -- again. He's working when I grocery shop with my two kids in tow.

I may not always see it, but God is working while I'm mothering, and keeping my family's calendar, and talking to my husband, and running errands. Sometimes I miss this truth while I'm in the moment, but I believe it. He's worked faithfully before, and He'll do so again. And again.

The mundane is real life, but it's not all life is. God calls me to trust him with everything -- my marriage, my children, my laundry, my dreams -- because he's begun a mighty work. And it's not over yet. In fact, some of it is only beginning.

So I need to dive in. Let go. And let God work, transforming what may seem mundane into something meaningful.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ready, set ... EXPLORE!

I highly recommend the Indianapolis Children's Museum. No, it's not near us, but it was nearer our road trip destination, so away we went. And it was worth it, take a look ...

We started with digging as part of the archeological exhibit.

There was also hugging some archeological remains.

I loved, loved, loved this kaleidoscope ceiling.

And this clock! How creative is that?

Ben loved Diego. He posed right there with no prompting.

And he ran all around the Diego & Dora exhibit,
checking out everything there was to see.

Who knew there would be a fashion show?
No notice didn't deter Cate from the runway!

Of course, there was an Indy car.

Playing in water is always fun.

Cate and I built this together while Ben was napping in the stroller.

That's teamwork to complete the dinosaur puzzle.

And we ended with more digging. This time for dinosaur bones.

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Bouncin' around

As I mentioned, we took a road trip. And while in Louisville, we celebrated my nephew Jaxson's third birthday. It's was a fun time at Incredible Dave's, contrary to Jax's serious expression above.

Just ask Ben, who loved climbing up and all around in this ...

... and then worked hard climbing up the inflatable ladder to the inflatable slide, only to come down and do it all over again. And again. Perhaps I should mention Ben is 20 months old. He has no idea. He thinks he's big. And that shows in his no-fear approach to most anything.

Cate had fun too. She especially loved this "jumpy thing," as she called it. And, really, I don't have a better name for it.

Perhaps her dad and I prompted this bouncy, adventurous spirit when we jumped off a bridge. Had Ben not been 15 pounds under the weight minimum, I'm sure he would have been next in line.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

52 hours

I like road trips. And I like the summer to include some fun things that are different from our small-town entertainment.

So we went on one of these kinds of road trips on Sunday after church. We left just in time to get to my nephew's 3rd birthday party in Louisville. We had fun celebrating Jax at Incredible Dave's. More to come on that later.

Originally, the trip was going to be me and the kids. But Greg ended up needing to meet some guys for work on Monday in Louisville, so we were happy to have him along. While he worked, I drove a mini van full (me, my two kids, my sister-in-law, 7-year-old niece, 3-year-old nephew and my mom) to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. My dad met us there and we also spent some of the time with a high school friend and her three kids. It was my first time there, and I'm a fan. So fun. And more to come on that another time too.

Then we had lunch at Tumbleweed overlooking the Ohio River with a dear college friend and her two girls who are just months apart from my kids. So it was three adults, a 4-year-old girl, a girl who turns 4 in a month, a 20-month-old boy and an 18-month girl. And it was a great lunch full of catch-up stories, reminiscing about when there were fewer of us between us, and watching our preschool girls get to know each other. Probably more to come on that too; I've been thinking about the evolution of friendships.

And then we drove home. Fifty-two hours from start to finish. And I'd do it all over again.

But next time I'd take the keys out of my back door before we leave.

Good thing we live in a Mayberry-like town. Even so, I did ask my husband to walk in the house first. Now we're all home, and it's bustling with Diego as background noise to my kids' play and pitter-patter of small feet on hardwood floors. And I'm thinking about tidying up and making a grocery list. I wonder who messed up the house and ate all our food?

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

At the farm

I like going to the farm to pick up our CSA basket for more than just the delicious vegetables and fruits we get to bring home. It's entertainment for my kids, who live in the middle of our small town and aren't likely to get a pet any time soon.

Yes, my girl was milking a cow while wearing a skirt and sparkly flip flops. Meanwhile, Ben liked the open field to roam ...

That pig acted like he was guarding the pond, but the pig's stare didn't bother my boy, who is all boy. I'm pretty sure he had visions of swimming with the pig in the pond. No worries. I wasn't going to let that happen.

At first, Ben didn't want to stop wandering long enough to check out the chicken ...

But then he changed his mind and joined the rest of the kids. And the chicken.

Thanks, Hillyard Field Organics, for the entertainment. And, of course, the squash, tomatoes, onions, blackberries, okra, potatoes and peppers are delicious too.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Letting go ...

We let the butterflies go.

Cate will tell you they went to make friends with other butterflies, although she was hesitant at first. While telling her and listening to her 4-year-old mind process the decision to let them fly out of the butterfly house that had been sitting on our kitchen counter, I was reminded that becoming a new creation and then embracing the freedom that comes with growing wings is a realistic life cycle.

Watching these caterpillars become butterflies in 16 days {well, two of the five didn't emerge from their cocoons until two days later} was amazing to watch. And, of the five, only one didn't do exactly has the instructions said; she was born with a broken wing.

"Bye, butterflies!"

If you're interested in the specifics, Greg ordered the kit online, and then we started the process when the caterpillars came in the mail on June 27. The caterpillars spun themselves into their cocoons and we moved them to the butterfly house on July 6. Three butterflies emerged on July 13 and the two others followed on July 15. We let them go July 17.

And we're going to do it all over sometime.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Dreaming of cooler days

"Mom, can I play in the snow?"

I paused before I answered, replaying the off-season question in my mind. "Yes, when it's winter. But it's summer now."

Perhaps 4-year-old Cate forgot less than an hour earlier she was telling me how hot she was while we she and her brother were in the double stroller at my outdoor exercise class. And maybe she forgot she was dressed in her swimsuit and we were driving to the pool. Either way, she must have been dreaming about cooler days and continued to for another mile, as we got closer to our swimming destination.

"It's summer now. Then it's fall. And then it will be winter! Maybe we can build a snowman." That's my daughter, processing her thoughts and making a plan.

"Sure," I said, trying to be the supportive momma. "We can build a snowman when it snows." I used "we" loosely because I'm much of a summery, sunshiny gal. Although I do realize seasons are part of life.

Not long after our conversation, we applied sunscreen, fastened flotation devices and found relief from the 90-degree humidity in the pool. And I'm guessing Cate forgot all about her mental winter wonderland.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Growing wings

We have five Painted Lady butterflies. And we missed every one of them coming out of the cocoons. And all but one did it while we were close, just not watching. Two made their appearance while the kids were napping and I was doing chores one afternoon. And two others showed up Friday morning while I was working at the kitchen table and the kids were watching "Curious George 2."

The caterpillars spun themselves into their cocoons (7-10 days) and transformed into butterflies (another 7-10 days) exactly like the directions said they would. By-the-book science projects are pretty much the only way for me, someone who must use the other side of her brain.

Although one butterfly does seem to have a broken wing.

After another day or two of watching them and feeding them sugar water on paper towels and orange slices, we're going to let them go.

But first some Painted Lady butterfly facts, according to the included information:

She can lay up to 500 eggs.

She is the most widely distributed butterfly in the world.

She may travel 1,000 miles in her lifetime, which is normally 2 to 4 weeks.

She breathes through her abdomen, has 10,000 eyes and tastes with her feet.

Even a momma can learn something! I love seeing them open their wings to reveal the vivid orange and then close them again to camouflage themselves. They seem fragile but complex, which, really, can be said of us all.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

A full heart for 'Friday Night Lights'

Go Lions!

That would be the East Dillon Lions, the fictional team that often manages to win games in the final seconds of play. But the football is just part of the drama on "Friday Night Lights." I like football, but I love the relational elements of the TV show that has done so many things right.

"Friday Night Lights" is ending tonight after five seasons. We watched the first four seasons on Netflix, so we came late to the pep rally. But we're here now.

It's no secret I like TV. But I also can get annoyed with TV. "Friday Night Lights" did so many things I wish other shows would.

1. The cast evolved.
Other shows I've loved like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" have focused on the characters who have been there from the pilot episode. "Friday Night Lights" managed to have characters move on, because that's reality, and develop the newcomers in ways that made you want to root for them too. Even though the Capeside few lingered, at least they went to college after four years of high school in "Dawson's Creek."

Sure, we may have wanted more of Tim Riggins scrappy ways, but somebody like Smash Williams or Vince Howard was bound to come into the spotlight. That's what happens in high school, and life. And Jason Street was going to have to find a way to adapt to life changed by a serious football injury. I do love how the writers have included Tim, Tyra, Julie and Matt in the closing episodes because reunions and homecomings do happen in real life too. Although I am wondering about Lyla Garrity.

The writers also developed minor characters into major characters. Take Billy Riggins and Mindy Collette. They were older and out of high school when the season started, but they settled into adulthood. Sometimes people do stay around the small town others were more than ready to leave.

2. It's not dragging on.
I had doubts when Coach Taylor went to resurrect the crosstown East Dillion Lions after leaving the powerhouse Dillon Panthers with a short college stint between. But it worked. I read in a well-done behind-the-scenes story that Coach Taylor replaced the blue from the early seasons with the rivaling red and made it his own. It's true.

But even so, FNL creators realize good things have to end before they become annoying, repetitive things. This is another reason I admire the "Lost" creators. They had a plan for six seasons and stuck with it, even though plenty of fans weren't ready for it to end. Ending while things are still good and the audience is still enthralled with the characters and their stories is a good move in my opinion. Failing to do this is why I gave up "Grey's Anatomy." And I'm wondering how "Army Wives," after five seasons I just crammed into a couple months, is going to handle the next steps.

3. It's not just about football.
I wouldn't call "Friday Night Lights" a sports show. Yes, some characters coach football, others play football and plenty support small-town Texas football. But it's not about football. It's about community and family and teamwork and dreaming. And sometimes life is hard, but you pick yourself up -- with the help of those around you -- and keeping going.

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

My story

{Click on image to enlarge it.}

By the time I graduated high school in 1997, I knew I wanted to write. And I set out to make a living doing this thing I loved. My dear friend Katie, who has known me since I was 11 years old, included the above newspaper clipping in a card she sent me. Much has changed since 1997, but I still love to use words to create stories.

The dream that started in the high school "The Clarion Colonel" newsroom came with me to Murray, Ky., where I spend four years earning a print journalism degree, apparently qualifying me for the next step into the real world. I interned in Lexington, Ky. I worked a year-long temporary job in Louisville, Ky. Then I spent a year as an education reporter in Richmond, Ky.

And then I moved back to Murray. I spent four years writing about the city council, the university administration, police business, court cases, the public-owned hospital, and whatever other small-town news came by way. I had thought I'd work at a big-city newspaper.

But I fell in love along the way.

Initially, I fell in love with my college boyfriend who is now my husband. Then I fell in love with small-town journalism after telling myself time and time again it wasn't for me. It's challenging and rewarding to cover the community in which you live, go to church, intend to raise your family, and have deep roots in which you married into.

But then I fell in love with my daughter. So I thought I'd do both. Go to work. Come home and be momma. But something had to give, and it wasn't going to be Cate. So it was my career as a small-town journalist.

It's been 3 years and 10 months exactly since I traded my career for an even greater purpose. And I haven't regretted it once, even though this stay-at-home mom role came with no real training. Yes, I still read the local newspaper and even sometimes converse with other reporters who've come through the same newsroom. We have a bond that not everyone understands.

I'm grateful for the storytelling training I've had along the way, in high school, in college, formally, through other professionals, and in somewhat nerdy conversations with friends.

And I'm thankful for the stories I have to tell these days. Robert's Rules of Order rarely enter my mind, although some moments are more chaotic than I expect. There aren't any agendas to follow, even though sometimes I crave a plan for everybody to follow. Nobody requires I file an open records request, yet my 19-month-old can't always give me the information I'm trying to get. I certainly need God's grace because being a momma has since become the most challenging thing I've done, or, rather, am doing and will be doing.

Really, I should remember what I told my peers 14 years ago: "My canvas will never be blank as long as I continue to act on my senses; I am an artist, with words as my form of expression. ... I realized I am an artist with a satisfying power to share -- who knows where taking chances can lead you."

My life is nothing like I planned. But I wouldn't change where I am or how I got here.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Christmas in July

We went to Holiday World yesterday. It's such a great amusement park for young kids. You should take your kids. And go on a weekday if you can. Last year we went on a Saturday. This year's experience was much smoother, probably both because of our weekday trip and not having an 8-month-old boy with us.

That baby is now 19 months old. And he got his first taste of rides and even cried when he wasn't tall enough to ride the flying sleighs or go down the smallest slide at Splashin' Safari. Ben had been on carousels before, but nothing more. For a boy with who loves to be on the move and has no fear, an amusement park seemed to be a good fit, even now, before he's 36 inches tall.

We met my parents, sister-in-law, niece and nephew there. Oh, and it was hot. Like the hottest day we've had so far this summer.

Cate rode this kid roller coaster four times. She would have gone again and probably again, but the rest of us were ready for the water park. And, really, I'm glad she liked it. I'm a roller coaster girl myself, so I'm working toward raising a roller coaster family. {This was actually Cate's second roller coaster. Her first was last fall in Branson.} And it reminded me how much time flies because two years ago she was an inch or so too short for some county fair rides.

We got situated near the kid slides at the water park and soon realized Ben was too short to go down the smallest slide that wasn't even as tall or steep as some of the slides he goes down at the park. Try explaining to an adventurous 19-month-old that he can't go down the slide.

So we moved on to one of the two lazy rivers. Ben was restless the first trip around. Remember, he likes to move and has no fear? Loop No. 2 was better ... until it started raining. But we stayed in. I mean, a little rain was some relief from the heat. And then during our third round, the rain was cold and pelting us.

And once we got out, the storms really came. They shut down the water slides and rides. And we gathered our soaked stuff that had been sitting out while we were being attacked by rain drops and tried to stay warm and dry. The dry part was a failure. I ended up having to buy some Holidog beach towels. My kids had dry clothes in the car, but I didn't, so I bought a T-shirt to wear over my swim suit and then put my soaked shorts back on just long enough to eat dinner.

Holiday World is in Santa Claus, Indiana. We wondered what a town that is happy to host Santa all year around -- even on the hottest day of the summer! -- is like in December when people are actually in the mood for Christmas. Laine and I were unsure of the Christmas music playing while the kids were riding rides in Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch. But the kids loved the snowman outside one of the few restaurants near Holiday World.

Perhaps they felt a bit of relief from the muggy July weather while posing with the snowman. But even with the heat and then the crazy rain, it was a fun day.

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Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Thanks to our CSA, we've had lots of delicious squash this summer. And we're probably not the only ones, so I thought I'd share this recipe a friend passed along.

Stuffed Pattypan Squash
Makes 6 servings

6 pattypan squash, stem and blossom removed
6 slices bacon
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring one inch of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until a fork can pierce the stem with little resistance. Drain, and slice off the top stem of the squash. Carefully scoop out the centers of the squash. Reserve all of the bits of squash.

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove bacon to paper towels, and set aside. Saute onion in bacon drippings. Chop the reserved squash pieces, and saute them with the onion for one minute.

Remove the skillet from heat, and stir in the bread crumbs. Crumble the bacon, and stir into the stuffing along with the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff each squash to overflowing with the mixture, and place them in a baking dish. Cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil.

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until squash are heated through.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'Hold it?'

Pardon the delay, but I'd like to introduce our new friend Atticus Daniel Goodrich. He was born on Friday, July 1. So he's not even two weeks old yet. He weighed 9 lbs. 5 oz. at birth and has a head full of beautiful hair.

Cate loved holding him when he was brand new. Just hours old. She's into babies, so it's a good thing people close to us have had babies recently. Atticus is the baby brother to Davey, who is Ben's friend you've seen on here before, sometimes with the boys even dressed alike. Davey and Ben are less than a month apart in age, so it's been fun watching them grow up together.

While I was holding Atticus at the hospital, Ben was contained in his stroller but near me. He kept reaching toward Atticus -- aka "ba-be" -- and saying, "Hold it? Hold it?" I didn't let Ben hold him, but I loved seeing his sweet, gentle interest.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

May your kingdom come ...

I don't remember when I first read Shaun Groves' blog. Or how I got there, although I'm guessing it was while I was reading about Compassion International when we were deciding to sponsor a child. But whenever and however, I thought I'd like it, so I added it to my Google Reader. And it's been there ever since, which can't be said of all blogs I've subscribed to at one point or another.

And then this summer I started craving new music. There wasn't anything wrong with the old music. I just needed something new to put on repeat. That's how I am with music. I find songs I like, and I listen to them over and over.

Shaun Groves has a new album coming out that is worth putting on repeat. Shaun is an advocate for children living in poverty, and does something about it through his job with Compassion. And he does something about it with the other things he does, like making good music.

Want to listen? You can. Want to buy it? You can do that too. It'll be released Aug. 30.

Recently, Shaun invited bloggers to ask him three questions. So I did, of course. That journalism blood will always run through me, even though I haven't once been tempted back into a newsroom since embarking on my stay-at-home mom career. Yet I haven't stopped writing and soaking in stories.

So, here's part of the story of Shaun's coming-soon album, "Third World Symphony."

1. What makes this CD different than anything people have heard you sing before?


OK, seriously, I'm a different guy now. It's been six years since I've released a full-length record and I've not the guy I was six years ago. There's a lot less "me" and "I" in the lyrics this time. There aren't any metaphor songs - something I was kind of known for way back when. My voice has changed too - singing so often for so many years has weathered it a bit I think - jury is still out on whether that's a good thing. And the reason I make music has changed as well. I'm not trying to sell a lot of CDs so I can pay my bills. I'm truly attempting to connect the first world to the third world for the betterment of both. And I think this change in purpose is reflected throughout the record.

2. How do you balance ministering to others, through Compassion, with this album and in other ways, while keeping your family a priority?

My wife helps tremendously with this. Together we decide how many cities I'll be in each year, block important dates on the calendar, and decide together when long stretches of overseas travel fit best within our family's schedule. We currently cap my travel at 80 cities per year. And I'm not gone more than four days in a row unless it's overseas. Then, when I'm home, I have a great deal of freedom on my job to work when odd hours. So, I can eat with my family, take a break to throw a football or dominate in a game of Candyland - that sort of thing. We have a pretty great life. I don't take it for granted.

3. What three things do you hope people take away from listening to these 10 songs?

I hope listeners get a glimpse of the wisdom and beauty that God has allowed me to experience in being with our brothers and sisters in the third world. I hope they think of that when they think about the poor - not only do they need us but perhaps we need them more. Their perspective and gratitude and all that they've given me and I'm now passing on in song. I hope also that listeners do something. Whether that's a simple prayer of thanks or simplifying their life or sponsoring a child through Compassion International. I hope they act on the inspiration.

Lastly, I hope they gain a more complete picture of the gospel, of the mission of Christ. He didn't come to earth, live, die and live again to forgive my sins and take me to heaven when I die. He did all this AND provided for my physical needs everyday of my life by giving me the Church, empowered by the Spirit, focused on the kingdom, preaching AND healing as Jesus did to the ends of the earth. That's the whole gospel - May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven - inside our hearts and throughout every aspect of our lives.


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Lake

Have we mentioned we like the lake? I'm guessing you've gathered that because we've been there twice this summer. And many more times before.

"The lake" refers to Kentucky Lake, which is not far from where we live. It's one of the largest man-made lakes in the world and is created by Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River. It's 184 miles long, has 2,064 miles of shoreline, and has 160,300 acres of water. There is a lot of the lake to like.

And it's even easier to like when relatives have a lake house with two jet skis and a pontoon boat that they don't mind sharing. We stayed there the two nights this weekend with our dear friends the Tompkinses.

Apparently, we're unofficial spokespeople for the Puddle Jumpers life vests. Obviously, we highly recommend them for kids 30-50 pounds.

And then two other families joined us Saturday afternoon for a boat ride and dinner. Count the people with me ...

4 families. 17 people. 9 kids 6 years old and younger, specifically the ages are 6 1/2, 5, 4, almost 4, 3, 20 months, 19 months, 10 months and one week. And we managed to get a self-portrait with all of the faces showing.

And then people went in different directions, swimming around the boat in Kentucky Lake. Ben preferred jumping, or shall I saw walking, off the edge of the boat, going under and then popping back up to the surface. He did it over and over and over again. No fear, I tell you.

How did you spend your weekend?

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Friday, July 8, 2011

No fear

Saying he let me let go probably isn't fair. He's never been shy about wanting to be able to go. On his own. But in the pool, Ben had been conflicted with wanting to go and not knowing how to go. He figured it out last week. My 19-month-old son has no fear.

Part of our Fourth of July celebration was spent poolside with family. And Ben was ready to show off his independence. While feeling impressed with his fearless attitude, I also reminisced about the day Cate let me let go. {She was almost 26 months.} It was more of a process for my first-born daughter who conquers her fears over time.

Ben just dives in.


Thankfully, he's blessed with plenty of hands ready to catch him.

It's worth noting the Puddle Jumper has become the ideal life jacket for him. Much better than the pink one that made him cry. And, most importantly, it keeps my fast-moving boy's head above the water.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Date night on the sofa

I like to date my husband. We recently went to the movie theater to watch Super 8, a movie that had been on my must-see list since I learned that Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams were making a movie together. Having Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights was just an added bonus.

But sometimes I like less theatrical dates. The ones on the sofa after the kids are in bed are a relaxing ending to a day filled with questions and stories from my 4-year-old daughter, babbled requests from my 18-month-old and all the other fun responsibilities that go with parenting and managing a household.

{Continue reading over at CSN Store's blog ...}


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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A view from the good seats

That's the view from our seats Tuesday evening. Best seats we've ever had. {Just look at some other views we've had!} They were 11 rows behind home plate, offering excellent views of some of my favorite Cardinals.

Jamie Garcia pitched.

And Matt Holliday batted.

Of course, they weren't alone. But Holliday had an especially good night. His second homerun of the night came on the pitch after I snapped that picture above. Thanks, Holliday and the rest of you Cardinals for a memorable night. We had a good view. The weather was perfect. And watching the 8-1 win over the Reds was an entertaining date for us baseball fans.

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