Friday, June 22, 2012

On the road to the great unknown

'Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You'll never make it to the great unknown
'Til you keep your eyes ... open my love

-From "Keep Your Eyes Open" by NEEDTOBREATHE

I love road trips. I like going to places I've been before. And I like seeing new places. My family has pretty much vacationed at two beaches {Perdido Key, Fla., and Hilton Head Island, S.C.} my whole life, starting when I was a kid and continuing now that my brother, sister and I have our own families.

But tomorrow we're heading somewhere new. It's near somewhere we've been before {Charleston, S.C., which came twice as day trips when we were staying at Hilton Head}, but it's new to us. And I'm excited to spend a week at Isle of Palms, S.C.

And so are the kids. At 5 and 2 1/2, they're into road trips too. I guess that's our doing from loading up and going to all sorts of places their whole little lives. But I'm glad they like to be along for the ride ... and the adventure.

I would have never considered myself adventurous. But I guess in some ways I am. Of course, I did jump off a bridge once. I like roller coasters. And I don't shy away from flying across the world with my then-2-year-old daughter or loading them both up in the mini van for a 12-hour road trip.

Because, really, if you never leave home, you may miss something that's worth seeing and experiencing and hearing and tasting and living. Bring on the great unknown!

Do you have summer vacation plans? Have you been to the Charleston area? Recommendations are certainly accepted. And while we're talking about trips, where are you dreaming of going?


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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The best laid plans ...

Even though small-town life has won over my heart that once believed living in a city was for me, I do like visiting places that have a Target, fun children's activities we don't usually get to do, Archivers, and a wide selection of restaurants. Louisville has those things and all kinds of memories for me. So spending less than 24 hours in the city near my childhood hometown while Greg had a continuing education class was added to the calendar with little hesitation.

My friend of 21 1/2 years lives just down I-64 near Lexington so I got June 19 on her calendar too. And then her entire family of four was attacked by some poor-timing stomach bug. Of course, I was disappointed Katie and I weren't going to spend the day together, but I decided not to call other friends who live in the area and embrace a day with my kids and no real agenda.

After dropping Greg off at his class, we killed some time at Target before the zoo, which was in the original plan, opened. Both kids love animals. Cate had her notebook, purchased earlier at Target's $1 bin, and camera ready to document our trip to the zoo. {We like zoos ... CincinnatiSt. LouisNashvilleDallas ...}

Seriously, a camera and a pen ... that's my girl!

She wanted to write down all the animals we saw.
Only a few times did she say, "I'm too hot; I need your help."

There were a couple kinks {the train wasn't running and the spray park was closed for two days of maintenance on what my sister-in-law told me was Louisville's hottest day so far this summer}, the but the kids and I had a good time. I love the way our life is so intertwined with community, but spending hours truly being with my kids was what I needed even though I didn't know it.

We laughed often and talked much.

One of my favorite stories from the day is how after saying "go see dinosaurs" every time he saw a promotional sign for the special exhibit, Ben was scared of the dinosaurs that moved and growled. When I say "move," I really mean their heads slowly turn, their eyes blink or their tales move. They don't come running into the path or anything very dramatic. But after growling back from a distance, Ben wouldn't get near them and certainly wouldn't pose for a picture. {See the distance he created in the photo above.} Toward the end of the route, a dinosaur sprayed water and Ben freaked out, cried and ran into my arms. Inside I found much humor in my fearless boy being scared of mechanical dinosaurs.

Finally, he got a little closer ...

We walked the route a second time, and he mustered some courage. Some. And then he went back to talking about the dinosaurs.

After 3 1/2 hours of pushing the double stroller, which the kids were in and out of, up and down hills through the zoo, I decided maybe we should find some {cool} relief. So we regrouped in the mini van, where Ben feel asleep before we left the parking lot, and headed for Archivers, where I stocked up on scrapbooking goodies.

Even though the best laid plans sometimes don't actually happen, some days turn out to be just what my heart and soul need. And, really, it's a relief to know I'm not in control.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Where {most people} know your name

No pictures of the swollen wrist,
so this one of the beautiful flower girls
will have to do. I think you'll manage.

Not long before walking down the aisle with yellow rose petals, Cate's wrist was swollen and red from some kind of bug bite. I had seen it earlier in the day but it just looked like a mosquito bite. It may have been a small whelp, but that isn't all that usual for my girl who apparently has the sweetest skin known to bugs.

Hours later, it was swollen, red, hot and hard. And it made me nervous.

I called Greg to bring Benadryl cream when he came to the church and I had my mother-in-law and some other moms. All agreed it was suspicious.

Then the photographer lets me in on the fact he had been to nursing school and suggested I draw a circle around the swollen area to see if it grew in the next little while. So I did, planning to reevaluate after the petals had been dropped and the bride and groom had been pronounced husband and wife.

Meanwhile, someone remembered the groom's brother-in-law was a doctor. So he took a look and agreed we needed to watch it.

As the wedding guests were lining up to greet the couple and their parents, I noticed a welcomed face: My kids' pediatrician and his wife who is the nurse practitioner we usually see for appointments. After they made it through the receiving line, they looked at Cate's wrist. The pediatrician suggested a baking soda paste with a moist rag wrapped overnight. Then he ad his wife said multiple times to call them the next day {Sunday!} if it didn't look better.

Seriously, I love living in a town where our pediatrician is a guest at the wedding in which my daughter is the flower girl.

We did the baking soda wrap and her wrist looked so much better in the morning. Then later that same morning I get a Facebook message from the nurse practitioner giving me their phone number and asking me to call when I got a chance. {We only have cell phones, thus we aren't listed in the phone book. Gotta love Facebook.}

So I called and told her it looked much better. She asked some questions about her wrist. And then we talked about the delicious wedding favor cookies from the night before.

I've always liked our pediatrician's office. But this past weekend really involved the best service possible and reminded me of one of the reasons I like living in a small town, where most people really do know your name.


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Exactly, and loving it

It's been a big week for Cate. She lost her first tooth while at basketball camp and didn't even tell anyone at first. That's my girl, an independent, brave problem-solver. Plus she seemed all grown up, learning how to dribble. Then she got a trophy as she finished her t-ball season. 

From sports to a real-life princess, Cate then was all dolled up to be a flower girl in a cousin's wedding. She's already asked when she can do it again. Perhaps I have a flower girl for hire.

And, honestly, I loved seeing these things happen. Her excitement was precious. And that toothless smile makes me grin every single time. 

Then I heard a toast at the cousin's wedding that helped me put toothless smiles and pure joy in perspective. The bride's dad talked about how he wasn't sad his oldest daughter {and second oldest child} was getting married and taking her husband's name. He was proud of where she had been with him and where she was going with her new family. He said this wedding was what he believed was supposed to come next. Kids are made to grow and learn and fall in love ... and lose teeth, play sports and get trophies. {Although, really, in life not everyone really always gets a trophy ...}

I haven't had a my-baby-is-growing up cry. But I got teary-eyed listening to my husband's uncle toast his daughter and new son-in-law because he was putting into words what I had been feeling. My girl isn't 22 years old yet and wearing a veil, but some big things have happened in her 5-year-old life. And that's exactly how it's supposed to be. Certainly not everyone's journey is the same, but the journey is worth embracing, even if we aren't sure of the destination on this side of heaven.


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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Like a fish

My summers were spent at the pool when I was a kid. That membership to the pool that was just 2.1 miles from our house may have been the best money my parents spent. We played Sharks and Minnows. We mustered the courage to jump, and eventually dive, off the high dive. We made friends. We brought other friends with us. And we ate Fruit Chews. {I tried to find a link to these delicious candies, but I can't find them anywhere. My brother, sister, and I decided they were similar to fruit-flavored Mentos, but they were called Fruit Chews to the best of our knowledge. At some point there was a cinnamon version that also was delicious.}

Now there is a new generation of swimmers. We got a pass to the public pool this summer sort of by accident when my husband bid on it at a silent auction in the fall. Not many people bid, so his low bid stuck. And the rest of us are grateful for it. We've been a few times the past couple of weeks, and my kids are like fish.

And Airheads are the new fruit chews. Four of the five kids in the top picture have one in their hand. The fifth used to have one, but ... well ... he ate it.

The public pool is best in the late afternoon when the campers and daycares have cleared out. There is a pool that is 2 feet to 3 1/2 feet deep that is perfect for my kids. They also like playing in the baby pool and spray park. They have been off the diving boards at the big pool too.

I like the options.

My kids like the water, regardless of the depth.

After spending my childhood summers at the pool, I ended up swimming in a summer league and then for my high school. My first employment also was as a lifeguard. So, see, all those days at the pool actually amounted to something. And many, many memories were created in the process. I'm happy to be there again, creating new memories.


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Monday, June 11, 2012

My girl, growing up ...

Cate is learning how to play basketball this week at Murray State's camp. I'm pretty her crush on Donte Poole had something to do with her signing up. Or maybe she saw how fun the guys were when they came to school. Perhaps it was those things mixed with the atmosphere of the Racer games she loved this season. Whatever the reason, Greg and I were excited our girl wanted to go.

That's her sitting on the right edge of the lane toward the back in the navy shirt and little blue shorts. There is no telling why she's raising her hand. When I was there for the first hour or so this morning, she raised her hand pretty much any time doing so was an option. Really. She raised it when Coach Prohm asked who was cheering for the Heat. And then when he asked who were Thunder fans.

Honestly, I'm not sure my girl even knows what the NBA is. Much less these two teams with weather-related mascots. And I'm certain she doesn't know they are getting ready to play for the championship. Perhaps we'll talk to her about it tonight. And about how you have to pick a side because not everyone wins. {That truth will be completely undone later this week when everyone on her t-ball team and every other team gets a trophy ...}

Anyway, so, back to basketball. We're excited she's old enough to do this. She doesn't fear new situations like I did my entire childhood. She's eager to volunteer and participate and make new friends. Her attitude and demeanor make me proud.

Of course, her little brother and our friend Caroline wish they were old enough too ...

And, speaking of being old enough, my girl lost her first tooth while at camp this morning ...

I love that toothless smile. I'd post a picture of her and her tooth, but, well, she threw it away "because there was a trash can right there and I didn't have a pocket." That's what I get for going to the grocery store while she was at her three-hour basketball camp.

Even though her tooth was already loose, I thought maybe a crazy pass from a fellow 5-year-old may have knocked it out. Nope. "I was wiggling it and just pulled it out," she said non-nonchalantly. Apparently it only bled a little.

And then it was back to basketball for my independent, brave girl who certainly is growing up.


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Sunday, June 10, 2012

'It hot!"

We had been to a parade and even though the kids, at least my son, consumed countless Tootsie Rolls, people were hungry. So when the waiter brought the pizza we ordered to our table, we started divvying out pieces to the kids. My 2-year-old Ben was closest, so he got his first.

And then I heard a scream unlike any of Ben's usual reactions.

I saw the cheesy, saucy pizza topping down the front of Ben. Then he said, "It hot! It hot!"

Still unsure of what was happening, I pulled off his shirt, thinking maybe it was burning him. As soon as I did that, I realized the cheesy, saucy pizza topping was on his leg. I'm pretty sure while I was removing the wrong article of clothing, Ben tried to swipe the mess from his leg and pushed it up his shorts instead of removing it. Or maybe the cheese just got stuck on his shorts. Whatever ensued prolonged my boy's screaming ...

And then I realized why.

This picture taken about an hour after the incident.
The cheesy, saucy pizza topping was burning Ben's leg. It got red and tender immediately. I just held my boy, who was wearing only a diaper and Crocs. He kept saying, "It hot!" and then later "I burned." The waiter and restaurant manager took turns bringing me things {Solarcaine spray, antibiotic cream, ice, a cold rag ...}, hoping to provide some relieve. I turned to Greg and I mostly jokingly said, "They don't want us to sue them." Seriously, it was a legitimate accident. But, really, probably so was McDonald's hot coffee.

Even though pizza has been one of his favorite foods, he didn't want it, even much later when it wasn't hot at all. So he chose some cold foods from the salad bar to eat. He hasn't seemed bothered by the burn since, although he's not a fan of my gently rubbing antibiotic cream on it.

I'm hoping he doesn't abandon pizza forever. But, either way, I'm impressed with my boy, who continues to amaze me with his toughness. Just don't ask me what happened to cause the boo-boo on his chin or the scrapes on his arm. I have absolutely no idea. 


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Celebrating together

Road trip! We went to Highland, Ill., which is about three hours from our house, to celebrate our niece's second birthday. Happy 2nd birthday, Mae Rose! We had a fun day on the road, at the birthday party, hanging out, watching a parade, and eating dinner before we headed home.

My husband led the charge to make up this game that involved hitting a ball with plastic bowling pins. 

I lost count of how many times Ben told Mae "Happy birthday!" But doesn't he look sweet doing so?

These two are mischievous, so there is no telling what they're planning. Only seven months apart, Ben and Evelyn are buddies ... and super sweet together when they want to be!

These two always have something to say and like to sit next to each other at any family function. Cousins make good friends, and I'm thankful my kids' relationships with these cousins and the other side.

Highland may rival Murray as a town that loves parades. This was part of some festival honoring the town's Swiss heritage. The parade was about an hour long and my kids have bags full {literally!} of Tootsie Rolls and other candy to prove it. And this isn't the first time we've been to a parade in Highland.

Elvis was there! Actually, that's my brother-in-law promoting a local play. Good stuff, huh?


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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Soaking in boyhood

My boy is at home

with a rock in his hand

standing in water, 
even though he's wearing
 tennis shoes and socks. 
That would have stopped me.
Or made me take off my shoes.
Not Ben.

The water-soaked shoes didn't slow him down,

but the stick did distract him 
from the rock-skipping success 
in the background.

Boys will be boys.  
Always, if you're Ben.


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Thursday, June 7, 2012

80 degrees

I want it to be 8 degrees warmer. And sunny.

I know. I know. It's only June. There is much of the summer to go. But we've been teased with 90-degree days before June even arrived. These last few days have been beautiful, seriously. Temperatures hover at 80 for their highs, the sun has been out and there's even been a breeze.

But we want to swim.

The kids swam today. But my boy shivered the instant he climbed out of the pool. And my girl told me she was ready to go. I'm pretty sure I'll not hear those words out of my social butterfly's mouth again for a long, long time. They were cold.

We were sitting in the chair, them huddled in their hooded towels {thanks, Grandmom!} and me thankful I hadn't actually gotten in and Courtney said, "Where's your phone?" That's what good friends do. They notice the moment, and capture it for you.

Just a little warmer, please? Eighty-eight degrees, anyone?

They must have closed their eyes to cope with it being "cold."

We spent last Saturday at the lake. {See above ...} I barely wanted to put my swimsuit on, and I certainly didn't want to swim. The coolness {for June in Kentucky, 70-something degrees is cool, people ...} didn't stop my husband and daughter from jumping in.

It was cold when they got out. Right, Cate?

So, yeah, I wish it were warmer. 

Hold onto the rotten tomatoes you want to throw at me. But, you have to know, if you don't know by now, I'm a summertime girl. Maybe it's my mom's fault. We went swimming at the pool up the street nearly every day once school was out. We took nearly annual beach vacations. The summer of 1995 when I didn't care about getting my driver's license because my friend who drove a shiny, midnight blue Blazer would drive me around, I was a lifeguard. I learned Sun-In and dark brown hair creates a hideous orange color that takes a long time to grow out. And the fact I'm a summertime girl was affirmed on my own.

And so it remains. Yes, summer, the hot, humid Kentucky summers, are my favorite time of the year. And those days were created for the pool. Or the lake. I'm {almost} ready to jump in.


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Monday, June 4, 2012

'Our God' is our song

Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we rise 
There's no one like you none like You
Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other.
Our God is healer
Awesome in power ...

--From "Our God" by Chris Tomlin

Sometimes Greg plays worship music at our church. The kids tend to notice more when Daddy is on stage. Ben usually waves about 85 times too. This week was no exception, but my favorite observation gives me hope for our future.

Greg and the worship team started playing "Our God" and Ben, who is 2 1/2 years, looked up at me and said, "Song in car." That broken phrase about having that particular song in our car, which I'm proud to say is actually a mini van and has been since Ben was about 7 months old, comes courtesy his 5-year-old sister, who has longed claimed songs as ours when we listen to them while driving around town.

It warms my heart that my boy who fishes with a bath toy in the toilet really does hear sometimes. I can't help but to think that if he can recognize "Our God" now that one day he'll know first-hand that our God is greater, our God is stronger, and our God is higher than any other. This is just the beginning for him.

Some days I wonder about our start, and other days I realize we're doing alright. We're doing alright because we're not alone in this life, in the parenting challenges, in the best days we have with our kids. We're not alone. Because our God is greater, stronger, higher, healer, awesome in power. And sometimes even the kids notice.


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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gathering dreams on the porch

A view from the porch in April 2012.

Written yesterday while sittin' on the porch by the bay, dreamin' ... 

I could sit on this dock all day. With a book. With a Diet Dr Pepper. Alone. With friends. With a plate of food. Resting. With eyes wide open.

Sometime in the latter half of our almost 10 years of marriage, I fell in love with Kentucky Lake. And I've since dreamed of having a lake house. I like to be near the lake, on the lake in a boat, or in the lake, especially after I've fallen off the tube attached to the jet ski.

Perhaps you could say having a lake house is a dream come true. You'd be right. It is. And there is much peace here, especially on this porch.

We had our first renters last week. Yes, they are friends, but they also were are guinea pig renters. I loved knowing we helped somebody we care about have a relaxing vacation. And I'm excited we have people we don't know signed up to stay here too.

I want people to gather here.

Today a friend surprised his wife with a delayed birthday party on the lake. They brought some friends and family. And we gathered. Here.

And now I'm thinking about dreams. I have other dreams, things I think I could do, things I want to do. They all seem doable when I sit on this porch and think about them.

Even my dreams gather here.

If you're near Kentucky Lake, or want to be near, very near, Kentucky Lake, perhaps you should gather here too. Here's to hoping you'll have sweet dreams and plenty of time to sit on this porch while you're here.

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