Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wild Cards

It's no secret we like sports around here. We even have a family room dedicated to our favorite teams. Baseball is a favorite, right up there with college basketball.

We're Cardinals fans. From the comforts of our couch, we watched many of the 162 regular-season games that were alright. We even had really good seats for one of those.

In August, the Cardinals were 10 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race. On the last day of the regular season, they managed to clinch a spot -- the last spot -- in the playoffs. Then they went on to beat the Phillies and then the NL Central-winning Brewers. We kept thinking how amazing it was the Cardinals were playing in the World Series. After a mediocre season, the Cardinals were one of the last two teams standing.

I met Kristen while preparing for Marketplace and during the event we realized our husbands play basketball together. And we're all Cardinals fans. In fact, she went to high school with David Freese. Yep, MVP David Freese. We invited them over to watch some of the World Series -- Game 3 {you know, when Albert Pujols hit three homeruns ...} and then Game 7.

The thing about the Cardinals: They kept finding ways to win. Albert Pujols was intentionally walked so many times. But David Freese stepped up. And so did Lance Berkman. And Allen Craig. And Yadier Molina threw people out. And the Cardinals were the team that had heart and character to carry them to the end. All the way to the end.

The Cardinals are World Champions now. After a Game 6 that came down to one strike three times and took our breath many more times, the Cardinals finished business in front of their hometown crowd in Game 7.

Wild Cards, indeed.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

A bear & some pumpkins

"What are you going to be for Halloween?" somebody asked almost-2-year-old Ben the other day.

"Care Bear." And then he growled.

Truth is, his sister was dressing up as a Care Bear for her party today at school. He apparently overheard the plan. And liked it. This morning when Cate was in her costume, Ben petted her back and said "Care Bear" more than once.

And then earlier this week there was pumpkin carving. Although Ben would tell you we "cut pun-tins." You get the idea either way.

And while the carving was happening, Ben was drumming ...

Both of the kids are fond of the pumpkin family on our front porch. If you've been to our house this week, I'm sure they've shown you. And, yes, those are battery-powered lights in the pumpkins. Not candles. Of course, these lights are safer with the little boy hands that like go inside the pumpkins. But, also, I didn't have any candles. Turns out, that's probably best now that I think about it.

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Falling for fall

The weather this fall has been up and down. Within just a few week, we've had temperatures in the 40s during the day and then back up near 80 earlier this week. And today is rainy after a few beautiful days.

Either way, fall is a fun time of the year to jump in and enjoy the people and places around you. So, go ahead, and jump in ... and soak in ... life, especially ...

... fall parties,
... the excitement of football season,
... the smelling-so-good crock pots of soup,
... jackets and layers,
... the way the leaves flutter to the ground, and
... roasting marshmallows.

What do you love about fall?

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

{Maine} Lookin' at lighthouses

One of my favorite vacation activities was a lighthouse tour. We saw lighthouses, of course, but we also saw beautiful homes, plenty of shoreline, and close up of lobster boats, all while enjoying a boat ride.

Yes, I could live there. So, so pretty.

That's a lobster boat and the buoys that mark where the fishermen set their traps.

Another pretty lighthouse. Of course, none of this matters when you wake up at 5:30 nearly every morning of vacation ...

Right, Ben? At least he did nap while we were going about our vacation business.

Have I mentioned how much I loved the rocky shoreline? I couldn't get enough of it. And I'm making sure you feel the same. And, really, I just love being out on the water. Any water.

This is Southwest Harbor. See the house that sits the highest? Well, see the roof of the house that sits the highest? That belongs to Martha Stewart.

"Hey, Cate, let me take your picture ..."

"Take my picture again, Momma. I'll hold my hair."

I hope I taught her a good boat ride is always worth the crazy hair that follows.

I'm posting about our vacation as I have time. I'm sure you're not surprised I took a lot of pictures in Maine. You can see them here. And the posted blog installments are here.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My boy @ 23 months

My boy turns 2 in less than a month. Really, it's hard to believe, but I wouldn't trade this oh-so active toddler stage for his high-maintenance newborn stage any day. Of course, he's still high-maintenance. But he's really funny too.

Right now he's into animals and "pun-tins." He talks often and makes friends easily. He moves constantly. He adores his big sister. And he keeps me on my toes. Really, Ben epitomizes the saying "all boy." And although mothering a boy can be hard, I wouldn't have it any other way.


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Slugs & Bugs Under Where?

I've been craving Mexican food, especially that delicious white cheese dip, more than usual, thanks to Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson. Yep, they're musicians who make me crave a particular food. Perhaps I should explain. My 4-year-old daughter asks the same thing nearly every time we get in the mini van these days: "Can we listen to 'Cheese Dip?'"

I usually say yes and proceed to bring up the "Slugs & Bugs Under Where?" playlist on my iPhone.

And, technically, the song isn't called "Cheese Dip." Cate knows it's called "Mexican Rhapsody," but she's just quoting her favorite line in the fun song, which happens to be the fifth track on what's clearly going to be another of my family's favorite albums.

Let me introduce you to Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson. They're singers/songerwriters who can make me, my husband and my kids laugh, celebrate who God is and what he's doing in our family, and give us fun jingles to sing as we go about our days -- sometimes all at the same time. We were blessed by meeting Goodgame and his recent Slugs & Bugs Live show and now we have new tunes to bless us.

"Slugs & Bugs Under Where?" is available online at You can also buy it at Family Christian Stores, starting today. You can learn more about Slugs & Bugs on Facebook, on their blog, and on YouTube. We've been listening to "Slugs & Bugs Under Where?" for a couple weeks now because the pre-release downloads were part of the contribution to Kickstarter, a campaign that allowed fans to help fund the album.

Sure, "Mexican Rhapsody" is catchy and fun. And we really do like cheese dip and bowls that you can eat. But what I personally love on "Slugs & Bugs Under Where?" is "I'm Adopted." It's a song that speaks about being adopted into a family and being adopted into God's kingdom. I became a mom because of adoption. We expanded our family, thanks to adoption a second time. And we're promised eternal life because of an even greater adoption story. I'm grateful that somebody took some of what I believe about adoption and made a song that my family can treasure.

And then there's "God Makes Messy Thing Beautiful." What a testament to our creator, who is even more into the details than I try to be. I hope it's a message my daughter embraces too.

Speaking of my daughter, her other favorites are "Lightning Bug" and "Pajama Drama." She doesn't even know how funny it is that our current president's name rhymes with pajama. We all laugh when we listen to "Under Where?" and it's already created an opportunity for me to teach my girl about homophones, although I didn't describe them with that official term. "Tell it to Jesus" is a simple song about an important concept that I hope never leaves me kids' hearts.

Like their first album, Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson {and their musical friends who add so much joy through their instruments} make children's music work. It's fun. It's meaningful. It's not annoying. And all four of us -- from ages 33 to 2 -- in my house agree it's worth listening to, over and over again. And again.

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Monday, October 24, 2011


Cate likes making things, especially things involving sprinkles. For treats for her Halloween party at preschool later this week, I went with an idea a friend shared the other day when we were talking about the humongous marshmallows she brought to a bonfire. We dipped the marshmallows into melted baker's chocolate and then sprinkled sprinkles ...

It's serious business, you know. And, in case you aren't around 4-year-old girls much, the decision of which sprinkles to use is a big one.

She was proud of her finished products. We then put a toothpick in the bottoms and sat them chocolate side down in cupcake wrappers. Two were put in a sandwich bag for each kid in her class.

And, there, we have a cute, easy treat for friends.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

{Maine} Watchin' for whales

I had no idea when we quickly posed for this photo that I'd end up liking it so much. We said, "Cate, stick your head through there." And she did. The lady snapped the photo. And we ended up buying it. The bonus was they emailed an electronic version.

We left for the whale watch tour from Bar Harbor, where the sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid-70s ...

I'm not sure who Ben was waving too. Probably an elderly man we'd never met that he called "Papaw" and asked to "holda." The farther out into the Atlantic we got {and we went 20-something miles out}, the colder it was.

Ben also stopped waving to "Papaw" and gave into a nap, representing our home state while he slept. So the rest of us cuddled up ...

And then we eventually saw a whale. Yes, singular. Its name is Canine and it's 7 years old. Yes, it. The whale watch tour guides track them by their markings, but they hadn't identified whether Canine is a girl or a boy. My girl insists Canine is a girl, go figure.

Honestly, I wish we could have seen more whales. But I'm glad we at least saw Canine come up near the boat a few different times. And Cate is still talking about how we saw a humpback whale.

I'm posting about our vacation as I have time. I took a lot of pictures in Maine. You can see them here. The posted blog installments are here.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

{Approved for You} Google Calendar

This is new, occasional series about things that help me, entertain me and inspire me.

I have a secret to share: Google improved communication between my husband and me. No, we didn't Google "how to better communicate when one person is far more into details than the other."

Truth is, Google Calendar is our friend. Quite some time ago, I created a color-coded calendar. Events are orange if they're for our family, blue for Greg, pink for Cate, purple for me and green for Ben. Then I shared it with Greg, giving him access to edit, add and change calendars. It took him a little while to realize how beneficial this could be. But now he uses it too.

He knows when I have playdate lunch plans or a doctor's appointment. And I know when he has a lunch meeting or an appointment that may keep him a little later at the office. One day he even added "Lunch with wife" to a Tuesday without me realizing. Honestly, we should do that more. Perhaps I'll make some dates with my husband soon; I'll be sure to put them in blue so he knows to show up.

We can access it from our phones or any computer. It's a living document, always being updated and tweaked. Sometimes his additions prompt questions from me. But, hey, that's how communication works. Right, Google?

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

{Maine} A view from the top

The top of Cadillac Mountain, that is. It's the highest point on the North Atlantic coast. We drove up and then walked around once we got up there. We even had a picnic while we were up there.

The view down toward Bar Harbor was beautiful. Something about looking out over the ocean is always magnificent.

And my kids liked climbing on the rocks. Climbing on the rocks became a vacation theme, especially for my boy.

Of course there are more photos from Cadillac Mountain and from other places in Maine. You can see them here. I'm posting about our vacation as I have time. The posted installments are here.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

{Maine} The Coast @ Acadia

I love the ocean.

Looking out into an ocean always makes me feel small. It gives me perspective. It whittles away what's not important. It washes away fears. And even if I'm sharing the shoreline with strangers, I somehow feel like it's just me and God enjoying his creation.

The southern Atlantic coast and I are friends. And I was so happy to meet its northern counterpart, which was more of the same while being something new. Acadia National Park had a sand beach and beautiful rocky coastlines to explore.

Did I mention the rocky coastlines were beautiful. I watched the ocean waves come out of the calm waters and break against the rocks, creating a powerful splash. The waves are mighty and move. The rocks are still but oh-so mighty. It's a forceful yet beautiful meeting with the waves upon the rocks. I watched it over and over.

And I could have sat there watching it more, but my husband wanted to walk, my 4-year-old girl had questions and my 22-month-old boy was finding another rock to climb or stick to carry.

But that's life.

And I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm thankful my vacation included some time on a beach with people I love. And, really, they're pretty fun to be around ...

After we visited Acadia's Sand Beach, Cate requested a second trip the next morning. I seconded the request and was happy to have another chance to walk barefoot in the sand. My heart also beamed watching my daughter enjoy the beach. That's my girl. And my boy didn't mind. There were rocks to climb and sticks to use to dig.

This is only a sampling of the pictures I took in Acadia National Park and elsewhere in Maine. Want to see more? You can. I can't help but to look at them and think about how majestic and powerful God is and how his personality came through in his creation of this beautiful coastline.

I'm posting about our vacation as I have time. I took a lot of pictures in Maine. You can see them here. The blog installments are here.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

{Maine} Pumping on the Go

I told the security lady at Nashville's airport that I was wearing an insulin pump before I walked through the screening checkpoint ahead of my two kids who had been freed from the double stroller for security purposes. She nodded and told me to step over to a guy who was going to check my hands.

I still have no idea what he swabbed my hands for, but he said, "So do you have a Medtronic pump?"

"Yes. I've been wearing it less than a week," I volunteered on what was the early part of my fifth full day wearing a device that works as an external, mechanical pancreas.

He surprised me when his response was about how he'd been wearing an insulin pump for seven years. "You'll get so used to it that you won't think about it until you have to enter your carbs. Counting carbs is the most important thing."

I felt at ease as I walked away from him on the first leg of my day-long journey to Maine. I still had no clue why he had wiped my hands. But I felt good about the pump in my jeans pocket.

And, really, other than an exception that involved too much snacking on sweet treats while sitting in the van while going from Ellsworth, Maine, to Boston, I've had blood sugar readings that affirmed insulin pump therapy is welcome in my life. Even when life goes on the road, the pump provides freedom in its convenience. I spent my 10-day vacation on the go. The pump just went along with me and I often didn't think a thing about my new friend Izzy tagging along.

I'm posting about our vacation as I have time. I took a lot of pictures in Maine. You can see them here. The blog installments are here.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Marketplace 29 A.D.

God brought many, many volunteers from 17 local churches together to transform a downtown alley into a first-century marketplace. At least three more churches joined the 17 in support of the inaugural Marketplace 29 A.D. by sending kids. Ninety-four kids came. And we hope they experienced Jesus in a way that will stay with them. They learned Hebrew words, songs and dances. They made things that could have been in a marketplace in which Jesus walked.

I've never witnessed such a display of God being glorified through a unified community. After a 10-day vacation, I dove back into Marketplace details while preparing the week before. And then we opened the marketplace for business. And dancing. And teaching. And loving.

And I came home last night after our family night exhausted. But I'd do it all over again. It was such a fulfilling exhaustion. I poured out myself as God poured into me. Over and over again. I was blessed as the kids soaked up the sights, sounds, smells and skits around them. They were happy, even in their first-century costumes.

Take a look ...

That's my sweet daughter, who was one of the youngest participating, but who loved every minute of being in that marketplace. All of the kids, volunteers and even visitors wore costumes.

There was a tax collector who meant business.

The blind beggar touched the kids' hearts as she roamed through the marketplace.

Jesus visited the children, teaching them how to pray and blessing them. He even healed a sick woman early in the week and then on Friday night healed the blind beggar.

This blacksmith talked about the nails he'd made for an upcoming crucifixion and shared powerful words about Jesus. You can hear his words here.

The musicians were awesome. Not only did they add to the sweet spirit of the marketplace, but they also reminded the kids to worship the Lord in everything they do and with everything they have.

The dancing was so joyful and added so much to the marketplace atmosphere. Watch some tribes dance here.

Stories were told. And soaked in. And repeated by little mouths.

That's Jan and her husband Butch. She trusted God when he planted this idea in her heart. She recruited me. And I'm thankful for this new, sweet friendship that has encouraged me so.

The whole experience certainly can't be captured in pictures, but you know I tried. There are many more in my Facebook album, if you'd like to take a look.

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