Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Right beside me

We've been friends for almost 21 years. Two-thirds of my 32 years have included Katie. Even though we haven't been neighbors for 14 years, nobody can make me feel at home the way she does.

And now our kids get to be friends. Watching them together melts my heart every single time. Being able to share motherhood with somebody who knew me before I could even drive a car is a blessing. We've gotten used to the long-distance friendship, but I still dream about being neighbors again. Yet I know Katie will be next to me wherever life takes us.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A full day of animals and friends

Animals are popular around our house these days. Ben, who is 21 months, can growl like a bear, meow like a cat, bark like a dog, growl like a dinosaur, neigh like a horse, moo like a cow, tweet like a bird and make his arm into an elephant trunk.

Ben's animal noise selection has grown since we went to the St. Louis Zoo earlier this summer. This past Saturday we met some friends at the Cincinnati Zoo. It was good to catch up with friends who we don't get to see often enough. Plus the zoo gave Ben plenty of opportunities to make animal noises.

I even learned something ...

This is how a flamingo sleeps. Yep, just standing on that one seemingly fragile leg with its head resting on its back. I asked Cate if she could try sleeping like that and in typical 4-year-old fashion, she just laughed and said, "That's silly, Mom."

That's how Ben sleeps. Yes, even on a hot day he wants his "nigh-night."

Cate and Megan had a great time together. They're three weeks apart. The Gorrells and Taylors hadn't been together since the girls were 9 months old. We've since each added boys who are just five months apart.

Before we had kids, Katy and Chad lived in Murray. They moved to Pennsylvania almost six years ago and then moved to Ohio earlier this year. Hopefully there will be more time together now that we live in states that border each other.

It was a full day. Seven hours at the zoo followed by dinner, leaving me thankful for family friends. You can see more of what we saw at the zoo in my Facebook album.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

To Capeside, Seattle and Dillon, Texas ...

In the last week, I've found myself watching the 1998 premiere of "Dawson's Creek," some episodes of the third season (1996) of "Party of Five" and an episode from the fourth season (1990) of "The Wonder Years," which was a pleasant surprise while flipping TV channels when a Cardinals baseball game was out of control.

Clearly, I'm stuck in the 1990s when it comes to my television preferences. Here are my favorites:

"The Wonder Years"

Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper. Enough said. Unlike the other shows I love, "The Wonder Years" does take place in the 1960's, but it's still full of innocent, coming-of-age stories.

"My So-Called Life"

One of my childhood best friends and I would watch "My So-Called Life" religiously. And we ate Funyuns and drank grape Kool-Aid while doing so. It's only 19 episodes, but it delves into stereotypical teen angst.

"Party of Five"

Watching this show again a decade later is especially fun because Matthew Fox, Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt seem so young. It's a strong cast in a show that again conquers many rites of passage people experience as they're growing up -- high school, first loves, going to college and family dynamics.


I had no idea who J.J. Abrams was when I watched this show, but I loved it. Felicity was in college (September 1998 to May 2002) about the same time I was (August 1997 to May 2001), so I could relate to where she was.

And later I remained a J.J. Abrams fan, thanks to "Lost," "Fringe," and "Super 8." Although I gave up "Fringe," which is coming back next season, because I was ready for it to be finished.

"Dawson's Creek"

Admittedly, I've seen the entire six seasons of "Dawson's Creek" in their entirety and in order, twice, and neither was actually when it aired. I got the Capeside party late, thanks to its airtime next to "Felicity." My husband is a fan of Dawson and Joey's relationship, but I personally love that Joey ends up with Pacey, and together they watch the show their childhood friend Dawson, the dreamer in the bunch, created based on their lives.


A truly brilliant show, "Lost" did so many things right. Characters. Storytelling. Allusions to faith and literature. Sticking to a six-season plan. Really, the ending was the only thing that disappointed me about this show. You can read more thoughts than you probably really want on what I thought of "Lost" as it was winding down.

"Grey's Anatomy"

I stopped watching "Grey's" after the six season, but I loved the first five seasons. It just dragged on, and apparently is still dragging on. I loved the dialogue and character interaction as well as the medical drama. I also was introduced to some fabulous music when I was glued to the couch on Thursday evenings those early seasons. I did not love the repetition of story lines and who slept with who.

"Friday Night Lights"

Thanks to Netflix, we got into this show once the first four seasons were on DVD. "Friday Night Lights" wasn't just a football show. It was about community and how people strengthen each other. Although I was sad it went off the air, I appreciate them going out on a high note and not waiting to pushed off the air like other shows these days seem to.

"Army Wives"

My dear friend Jaclyn encouraged me to watch this show. I'm glad I took her advice. "Army Wives" follow the lives of -- I'm sure you could guess -- army spouses. I can't relate to the way the Army affects families, but I know first hand the value of a community where honesty is welcome, friends are real, hard days become better with conversations and meals together, and the belief that lives are meant to be shared.

I'm looking forward to the next season of this show, which seems to be the last of my favorites with more to come.

But, thankfully, I can revisit Capeside, the island, fictional University of New York or Liberty High School, Seattle Grace Hospital, or Dillon, Texas -- with just the push of some remote control buttons.

What's your favorite TV show? It's looking like I need some new recommendations if I want to dive into a new cast of characters and their stories.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Big Boy

Ben's crib has been converted to a big boy toddler bed! On the day he turned 21 months old, we decided to go ahead with the move. He hadn't climbed out of his crib yet, but Greg and I have been anticipating our vacation. We leave a month from today to spend nine nights in Ellsworth, Maine and Boston. We're already going to be flying with two small kids, a car seat, a stroller and all our luggage, so we thought we'd be better off if we could leave the pack-and-play at home.

We shall see.

But the first night was a success!

There was much excitement!

And then he settled in.

Ben is the type of kid who goes and goes and goes until it's time for bed. There's not much winding down time for him. But once he's there, he likes his bed and sleeps well. But for some reason, he cried for 20 minutes after Greg sang and prayed with him. Tears don't usually accompany bedtime around here. I'm not sure if he recognized his bed being different, if he missed his bumper pad that he often snuggled close to, or if there was something unrelated on his little mind. Even in the crying, he didn't get out of his bed.

Well, not until 7:05 this morning when I heard him playing with the door stop spring that makes the fun vibrating sound when touched. That's much greater success than I anticipated from my boy who likes to be on the move and into everything.

Yes, part me of me thinks it's crazy he's approaching 2 years old. Then I think about when we switched Cate to a toddler bed, and I realize time certainly flies in this season of motherhood. Cate was almost 23 months and we were anticipating trips to Texas and New Zealand a few months later. We obviously knew less about what we were getting into and allowed for much more time to train her to sleep in a bed with more freedom.

One night of freedom for Ben was a success. Now I can only hope this is a sign of what's the come.

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And the winner is ...

Congratulations to LeeAnn, who won her own copy of My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software! I've enjoyed playing around with it, and I'm sure she will too. LeeAnn, you should be getting an email with the details.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ben @ 21 months

Believe it or not, Ben is three months away from turning 2. He's sweet, sensitive, busy, fast, determined and always on the move. He adores his sister, likes musical instruments and Diego, and keeps his cup nearby. And he's all boy, just as he should be.

He's really into making animal sounds ...

He's mastered the cat's meow, but he really likes being a dinosaur, thanks to his sister's love of "Land Before Time."

There he is borrowing some of his friend Davey's fun toys. {Thanks to Sarah for not only watching my kids twice in one day last week, but also taking these pictures.}

In many ways, it seems like Ben just turned 1, and now here we are, closer to 2 than 1. Times flies, when you're chasing around the boy.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Splish, splash ... spray!

Murray has a new "sprayground" at Central Park. And we recommend it. It's free for now and it's open from 12 to 7 p.m. until Oct. 3 unless it really cools off before then.

Ben likes getting his hair wet.

I don't think I've mentioned my new camera. For our anniversary, Greg bought me a waterproof digital camera. I've gotten to use it a few times now, and it's so handy to have. I experimented a little at the spray park, trying to take the photo above through the water.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Memories {a giveaway}

I've been scrapbooking since 2004 after I returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Greece and Rome and knew I wanted to do something with these beautiful photos I had on my camera. My friend Katy inspired me to move forward with this hobby I had been considering. And I haven't stopped since -- although, admittedly, the time spent sitting and focusing at my craft table has been significantly reduced in this season of mothering two small children. Even so, documenting our ordinary moments and trips, preserving memories and keeping myself from forgetting is still important to me.

This blog serves some of the documenting, preserving and remembering purposes, but I still like having tangible albums with photos and stories. Cutting and pasting and layering is therapeutic for me. Even though I like messing around with the computer and digital photos, I've never scrapped digitally. I know people do. I could see myself becoming one of those people who creates hybrid albums -- traditional scrapping mixed with digital elements.

All of this to say, I was intrigued when I got a giveaway offer from My Memories. And I think you will be too. Given the chance to have this software for free in exchange for a review, I dove in to My Memories Suite Scrapbook software, which is easy to use.

I am learning as I go, but I liked the way all the page elements {paper, embellishments, shapes, text, photo} were just to the right of the page I was working on. I also liked how you could choose colors from the photos or paper to use as text or shape colors. The program has photo layout templates or you can start from scratch and let the creativity flow.

I started from scratch and this is what I made:

I am sure I haven't maximized the software's full potential, but I like my start. And I'm looking forward to playing with it more.

Now I'm anxious to see what they'll look like printed out. And I'm thinking about if I'd like to make an entirely digital album, print it out and have a bound album. Or I could just print layouts and add them to my ongoing life books. But I don't have to decide those things today.

Today I have something for you. One of you will win your own copy of My Memories Suite Scrapbook software (a $40 value). To enter, leave a comment sharing your thoughts on digital vs. traditional scrapbooking. Be sure to include your e-mail address, unless you know with absolute certainty I have yours.

You can earn additional entries the following ways:
  • Go to and browse the digital kits available to supplement the software. Leave a comment on my blog telling me which one you'd love to have.
  • Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment here telling me you've done so.
  • Tweet about this giveaway. This can be done daily for an additional entry each time. Be sure to link the tweet in the comments here.
The winner of the digital scrapbooking software will be chosen at random and notified by e-mail. You have until Wednesday, Aug. 24 to enter.

But, wait, that's not all! Anyone can go to My Memories and use the code STMMMS33896 for $10 off the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the store -- a $20 value! This offer is for U.S. and Canadian customers. And, while you're there, check out the free kits.

My Memories is a new-to-me company that I just learned about last week when I received an e-mail about this product review and giveaway opportunity. The review is based on my initial experience with the software, which My Memories provided to me for free. I received no other compensation for this review.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

* love *

Some songs just sound like summer. And this summer I have two new favorite CDs. "Young Love" by Mat Kearney and "Modern Love" by Matt Nathanson have been played often around here. And, yes, I noticed the word similarities: Their names are Mat/Matt and they both used "love" in their album names.

Here's a sample ...

What sounds of summer are you loving right now?

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Monday, August 15, 2011

To school she goes

Today was Cate's first day of school. She has some friends from last year in her class, so she was eager to play with them. She told me about a painting craft involving an apple and the informed me she would tell me more when she's 7.

Ben is tolerating Cate's request {read: sisterly demand} for this photo. He's not thrilled, but he's going with it. That's pretty much Ben's life. Sometimes he just has to go with whatever everyone else is doing, and even if he's not thrilled, he'll get over it. Yet he's certainly not afraid to voice his opinion, and never has been.

Ben asked about her a few times this morning and seemed a little desperate for conversation while in the single stroller for exercise class. But otherwise he went about his morning with his normal, into-everything ways.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

My help

But here's the thing: I like telling my stories. It feels like I'm doing something about it. When I leave, the concrete in my chest has loosened, melted down so I can breathe for a few days. --Minny Jackson in "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

I get the feeling "The Help" is going to be on my mental list of all-time favorite books for a long time. I remember reading it last August and not wanting it to end, even though I couldn't stop reading it.

The story is good and the characters are even better. Stockett did an amazing job of having the different narrators, who come from different socioeconomic status and races, alternate telling the story. Yet the story had continuity that seems it would be hard to achieve.

I passed my copy of the book around to four friends. And the five of us went to see the movie version of the story on Saturday. My love of the book lowered my movie expectations some. I assumed the movie couldn't live up to the book. But, you know, I have to say, it was close. The movie stayed close to the book, and, in this case, that's a good thing.

I'm thankful I shared the movie-going experience with four of my closest friends. And I'm even more grateful for our friendships, which are made up of story after story. I'm reminded of another movie I've watched recently. In "The Bucket List," Edward (played by Jack Nicholson) says, "Just because I told you my story doesn't invite you into it." I tend to disagree. I've invited these friends -- and others -- into my life because living in community is my favorite way to live life. Sometimes it's complicated, but it's mostly full ... of life, love, much laughter, good food and strength that comes in numbers. We got here together by living out our stories. And, really, it's easier to breathe because of them.

"The Help" is an awesome reminder that someone can make a difference, befriend the unlikeliest of people, and tell a story that's worth telling -- and, more importantly, living -- along the way.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Come swim with Ben.

Have you ever wondered what a day at the pool with Ben is like?

There is much jumping ...

... and splashing and going under water.

He even accepts hugs ...

... and plants kisses on those he loves.

Ben really loves the water ...

... so much so he likes to dunk his head in it. Over and over.

And, really, it's all quite exhausting.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Worth Repeating Wednesday

I am mentally and emotionally revisiting these words that I read earlier this summer.

Your attitude can't help slip out through your behavior, and children are always watching. That means if you want to see your child change, you have to change yourself. ... We parents so want our children to be perfect (like us, of course) that we are masters at making mountains out of molehills. ... Every child will fail, make mistakes, and embarrass you. ... Correct the behavior and move on. What is most important, in the long run, is your child's character. ... You are the one who ultimately decides when you get angry. Don't let your children control your moods. If you get angry, an explosion of anger is like throwing up all over your child.

--Kevin Leman in "Have a New Kid by Friday"

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And Lilly hops ...

Meet Lilly.

We were at a friend's house today, meeting a new baby -- Naomi Elizabeth Schroeder. After holding the sweet baby, Cate found something else to hold. I was a little surprised by her interest in the frog, but proud of her no-fear attitude in wanting to hold it. And then she decided we should take it home.

Julie found a box for Lilly the Frog. It was a bakery box with thin plastic, which offered a nice view of the frog jumping into the sides of the box, attempting to jump his way back to freedom. Julie poked a couple holes in the plastic so Lilly could breathe.

It should be noted I did not want to touch the frog. Lilly was Cate's responsibility if she was coming with us. Even in a box.

We were going through Taco John's drive-thru when Cate made one of the air holes bigger. "Just make sure Lilly doesn't jump into the van." And right as I finished my sentence, Lilly jumped into the plastic, where the hole was becoming increasingly bigger, and jumped right on out of the box. Cate picked her back up and was holding her.

On our way to meet friends at the pool, I realized we had nowhere to contain Lilly. So I suggested Cate let Lilly go. "But I really like Lilly," Cate said, as if I'd implied she didn't like her. Obviously she likes her, otherwise we wouldn't have had a frog in the van.

"Lilly will really like being about to hop around outside," I said, thinking of how to spin this to Lilly's advantage, thinking Cate would be more accepting of my proposal. "She'd get really hot in the car while we swim anyway."

With tears streaming down her face as I opened the side door closest to Cate, she dropped Lilly on the sidewalk next to the Taco John's drive-thru. "I'll miss her. She's really cute," Cate said between sobs.

"I know you will miss her, but she'll be happy to hop around here," I said, hoping Lilly jumped away to her newfound freedom to support my point.

Cate was still in tears while I paid for our food and started to drive away toward the pool. I ended up circling back around Taco John's to show Cate that Lilly had already hopped away. Thank God the frog really had moved from the sidewalk by the time we passed by.

Several times in the past 7 1/2 hours since we let Lilly go, Cate has told me she misses her. "Do you miss her too?" I couldn't really find the words to answer. We'd only had Lilly in a box for an hour, maybe not even that. And I didn't really even want to touch her.

Something tells me this isn't the end of our frog stories. Cate and Greg have already been outside along the small creek that runs through our front yard looking for a frog. Cate hopes to find Lilly. And, really, I suppose anything is possible, especially because Taco John's is only four-tenths of a mile from our house.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

older sisters & younger brothers

My brother and I spent our childhood arguing, teasing and bothering each other. Thankfully, we're grown ups now. But I apologized to my mom the other day for all of the times Kevin and I picked on each other. It was overdue, that's for sure.

I'm 32 years old and I'm being introduced to sibling nagging from the other side. From the mom side. And the other day when I witnessed my 20-month-old son pick on my 4-year-old daughter, I immediately thought about my own younger brother. We're 35 months apart; my own kids are almost 31 months apart. Let's just say I wasn't ready for this parallel to happen yet.

They start out playing. And then one whines. And then other whines because of something the other one did. And then it just they keep picking and whining and complaining. Ben is a little tornado over whatever Cate is trying to play with or make or organize. And, as you can imagine, Cate doesn't like when Ben wrecks her plan or her stuff. Unfortunately, my second child knows the word "mine," thanks to trying to stand his ground with an older sister.

You should have heard them in the grocery cart -- you know, the two-seater car cart that they care drive -- last night. "Hey, mom, Ben is touching my steering wheel." "Stop it, Ben!" Ben, who did say Cate's name before anyone else's, may know fewer words than his sister, but he still finds plenty of ways to communicate his displeasure for Cate trying to boss him around or impede him from having his own space.

I catch myself saying something obvious and ridiculous. Like "Cate stop touching your brother." Or "Ben, be nice." Or "Cate, can you show him how to play nicely?" As if these comments are going to cut into the heart of sibling nagging.

But I'm convinced they like each other.

Just the other morning when I walked into Ben's room to rescue him from his crib, he asked, like he does every morning, for his cup. The conversation went like this:

"Cup?" Ben asks.

"After we change your diaper," I said as I proceeded to lift him onto the changing table.

And then he looks at me and asks, "Cate?"

"She's still sleeping," I tell him.

And disappointment sets in: "Oh, man," he says.

My heart melted. They had spent so much time recently picking and nagging and bothering. But there was hope. Plus Kevin and I are proof. I can't remember the last time I wanted to bite him, tease him or run to my room screaming because of him. And, honestly, I even like him.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

If it's love ...

It's a happy anniversary kind of week. My dear friend Katie celebrated eight years with her husband on Tuesday. We celebrated nine years on Wednesday. And my sister and brother-in-law celebrated four years on Thursday. And I love celebrating with my sister and my friend who is like my sister. Great minds think alike with us all planning weddings the first weekend of August. Lots of love to go around!

Speaking of which, who doesn't love Train?

If it's love
And we decide that it's forever
No one else could do it better
If it's love
And we're two birds of a feather
Then the rest is just whatever
And if I'm addicted to loving you
And you're addicted to my love too
We can be them two birds of a feather
That flock together
Love, love
Got to have something to keep us together
Love, love
That's enough for me


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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Water, please ...

On Wednesday, the temperature reached 102 here in Murray and that doesn't take into crazy humidity, which made it feel like 120. Whew. We managed, though, spending five hours in the water at Venture River with Courtney and her kids.

Cate had been a few times, making me realize how much she's grown up since the first summer we went ... twice. Even Ben had been before, but last year he was just along for the ride. This year he was part of the ride. Literally.

He really likes slides. A slide with water is just bonus. Notice him contemplating in the picture above. Yep, he was figuring out how to jump off the edge of the slide.

Look closely. Yep, he's licking the water.

Even a boy who likes to be on the move has to stop and rest, at least briefly. And, speaking of rest, next up was the lazy river.

Ben was so mellow and serious. I guess all that jumpin' and slidin' can wear a boy out. Later in the afternoon he even fell asleep on Courtney while we were hanging out in the wave pool.

Everybody loved this slide. At least we had help getting all the necessary tubes up the hill ...


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Slugs & Bugs Live

I'm really excited about this upcoming event for western Kentucky folks. You may know Slugs, Bugs & Lullabies is a favorite CD around here. Read on for more information ...

MURRAY, Ky. – Perhaps silliness is next to Godliness. At least that’s how Randall Goodgame approaches life.

And he’s bringing some of that perspective to Murray. Slugs & Bugs Live is a free concert on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. at the Curris Center Theater. The event is sponsored by Christian Community Church in Murray. Donations will be accepted.

The event includes live music by Goodgame as well as animated video and background musical tracks that extend through the songs. The concert is geared toward children 10 and younger, but older kids are welcome. There are fun, interactive moments, and also teaching moments during the program. Some of the material is silly, and some of it is deeply meaningful and gospel centered.

“I hope that it helps shape their world view. My mission is to contribute to the kids’ overall view of life,” Goodgame said. “There are songs I sing about with Slugs & Bugs that are about basic gospel issues – how to walk with Jesus every day. Then there are other songs that are silly and fun and meet kids where they are day to day. For my family and me, we have experienced that as the healthiest way to approach life – to see it all under the umbrella of the gospel.”

A father of three, Goodgame knows kids are good at celebrating and having a good time. But even the parents should have a good time at Slugs & Bugs Live.

“It’s a great time for the parents and the kids,” he said. “We want the parents to know going in that they’re going to have a good time too. I’m a parent, and I’m sympathetic to what music parents get subjected to. It’ll be good time for the entire family.”

Goodgame recorded “Slugs, Bugs & Lullabies,” which was released in 2008, with his friend and fellow singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson. The 18-song album started when the friends were touring together 10 years ago and were writing songs about and for their kids.

“And then over the course of time, we started talking about putting a record together. Then six years ago, just thinking it would add an extra CD to our merchandise tables, we made the record thinking we wouldn’t do much more with it.”

Yet there was more to come. About two years ago, Goodgame started considering what else children’s music might have for him. His singer/songwriter resume includes recording six solo albums and writing songs for other artists, including 17 songs for the awarding-winning band Caedmon’s Call. He also has written several songs for Veggie Tales.

“In it I found what I consider, other than my family, the mission of my life,” Goodgame said of children’s music. “I just love it.”

Of course, he didn’t plan on being where he is.

Growing up in Clearwater, Fla., Goodgame assumed he’d follow in his dad’s profession as a doctor. Instead, he went on to Birmingham Southern, a liberal arts school where he majored in English. He met his wife there and played in a rock band.

Music was happening around him, so he says he followed the trail, which led him to Nashville. He continues to live in Nashville with his wife, and three children – 10-year-old Livi, 8-year-old Jonah and 4-year-old Ben. They’ve grown up since he started writing songs for them, but they still like Slugs & Bugs and are inspiring a new set of songs.

Goodgame is collaborating with Andrew Peterson again for the third installment of Slugs & Bugs. The second album was a Christmas album released last year. The title is still a work in progress, but all the songs are written in anticipation of an October release. The album will include “Dizzy,” a song about how many times it takes to spin around in dizziness; “No Pajamas,” which tells of a kid whose pajamas aren’t in the top drawer like they’re supposed to be; and “I’m Adopted,” a song inspired by the youngest Goodgame, who was adopted from Ethiopia that addresses the realities of adoption, both into an earthly family and into God’s family.

You can learn more about Slugs & Bugs here, listen to songs online or follow Slugs & Bugs on Twitter.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nine years ago ...

On what was the hottest day Louisville, Ky., had experienced in five years, Greg and I were married. I don't remember it being hot. I remember thinking I didn't want to bawl when my closest friend walked from the bridesmaid lineup to the microphone to sing "How Beautiful." I remember thinking I loved the flowers next to the yellow dresses. I remember thinking how nothing seemed to be going wrong. And I remember ordering Domino's Pizza when we got to our hotel room.

That was nine years ago.

In some ways, nine years seems like a long time. Especially when I start listing what's happened in those nine years: We lived a year in Lexington while Greg finished law school and I worked as an education reporter. And then we moved to Murray. Greg passed the bar and started his career as a lawyer. I started a job I had no idea I'd love. I was diagnosed with diabetes. We couldn't get pregnant. Greg started a real estate investment company and his own law practice. We adopted our daughter. I quit my job. We moved about a mile away. We adopted our son. My father-in-law passed away.

And that's just the big things.

We've been on tons of trips in that time too, including Lake Tahoe, New York City, Florida, Gatlinburg, Greece/Italy, New York state, Branson, Hilton Head, Chicago and New Zealand. We've celebrated nieces and nephews and siblings' weddings. And we've made dear, dear friends along the way.

And, honestly, each year has gotten better and better. Perhaps it's that fact that makes it seem like nine years has flown by.

Happy anniversary, husband. I didn't plan for our life to be like it is, but I wouldn't change a thing. I'm so thankful to have this life, with you. Here's to at least 41 more!

You can read other anniversary posts. 5 years. Six years. Seven years.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's inside?

Among my friends, I've long been the one who carries a big purse that is more like a bag. It's just how I like it. I used to carry things like a notebook, a bottle of water and whatever book I was reading.

Times have changed ...

Yep. That's what was in my purse when I dumped it out this afternoon in an organization attempt.

I still have a notebook, which, more importantly, is my to-do list. Greg asked why I didn't keep my to-do list on my iPhone, which does house other lists (songs I want to download, quotes from books or movies, Ben's growing list of words ...). It's a valid question. But I can't part ways from seeing my list, adding to it as things come along, and crossing items off when they're complete. In fact, that to-do list in the picture needs some updating.

And there are toys: a bag of stickers and crayons, more stickers, a stencil, two mermaids, a car, a train and a flower slap bracelet.

The necessary toiletries are there too: Burt's Bees chap stick, lip gloss, another lip gloss belong to my 4-year-old girl, two lotions, sunscreen for faces, Shout wipes, glucose monitor and insulin. The hand sanitizer, better known as "hanitizer" around here, hangs on the outside of my purse.

Usually you'd find fruit snacks. But this time there is just a lonely piece of bubble gum and some Propel to add to water. Apparently, I need to restock.

I never go anywhere without wipes. And, obviously, I usually have diapers for my son, but I used the last one in my purse at a friend's house today. And more will be restocked when I fill my purse back up. Oh, and those are straws inside that toothbrush holder.

The staples remain: keys, wallet, change purse and pen.

Of course, Ben is usually carrying his cup, but those few times he's not, it's in there too. And my Kindle goes in when we're going farther than around our small town.

Moms, what unusual things are in your purse? What do you not leave home without? Other ladies, surely someone else likes to carry a big purse like me ...

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