Friday, August 31, 2012

a new season upon us

Me at 16 months old
I grew up cheering for the Kentucky Wildcats. My dad played football, earned his degree and met my mom, who also graduated from UK, there. I lived much closer to Louisville as a kid, but our allegiance was always to the Big Blue.

And then I moved west and adopted the Racers. So, when it comes to sports, I bleed two shades of blue. One royal, the other navy. The Wildcats and the Racers are both getting their football seasons underway this weekend.

College football is back! And I'll be in the stands at Papa John's Stadium wearing blue in what is sure to be a sea of red.

But I have to confess something: I'm not sure I'm ready for football season because I still haven't gotten over basketball season. Yes, my Kentucky Wildcats won the National Championship, but, really, it's my Racers that went 31-2 in what people don't hesitate to call the school's greatest basketball season. Ever. And, really, eight is great! Right, Big Blue Nation?

Thing is, I'm a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan too. And I haven't let go of the 2011-12 basketball season long enough to soak in baseball. I know, summer is going away, and I'm still stuck in a winter sport. My boys of summer even won the World Series last year.

I've decided today I'm going to try. 

I'm going to try to pay more attention to these St. Louis Cardinals who are certainly not out of the playoff hunt this year. I want to know what Mike Matheny does in first year as a manager. I really haven't missed Albert Pujols and don't even know what kind of season he's having on the West Coast.

And I'm going to kick off football season right, wearing blue to support the visiting team. I'll keep wearing blue, although it'll certainly be navy some weekends. UK's football team may leave me yearning for Big Blue Madness, which has happened plenty of years before, but Murray State could have an exciting season.

The fact I miss Donte Poole, eager to see Isaiah Canaan play again and am sad LaTreze Mushatt is hurt before the season even began won't change. Yes, I'll be ready when college basketball tips. Until then, I'm trying to move on to the end of baseball and the beginning of college basketball.

For which team will you cheer this weekend? 

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

'Third World Symphony' still worth hearing

It's been a year, and this album still finds itself on repeat in my minivan. It's that good. Plus, I have since met Shaun Groves and heard him sing and speak. It made me like the music -- and, more importantly, the message -- even more.

Just take a listen, your heart won't be the same.

Here is my original post from July 2011 ... 

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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Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Just what do stay-at-home moms do all day?

Well, this one has to move her cool, color-coded Google calendar to an old-fashioned Post-It Note she can carry with her and mark things off has she does them. This way she will get everyone where they need to go and not forget anyone.

Yes, it's been a crazy, good, filled-with-community week. 

Here's my Facebook status from yesterday afternoon:
Well, hello, Monday. Whew. Since 6:20 a.m., I have showered and gotten myself and two kids ready for the day; fed the kids and then later myself; picked up the two other kids in the carpool; taken three kids to New Covenant Christian Academy; went to Kroger for gas, the bank ATM, and then the Post Office before it opened; took Ben to Kingdom Kids Learning Center-Westside Baptist Church; went to my
 last appointment with Dr. Bumb, nearly cried, made a plan for who to see once he moves; tended to a few things at The Gathering Place at Kentucky Lake; met my mom and her friends for a speedy lunch; picked up Ben from preschool; went back to the Post Office because the package I wanted to mail earlier wouldn't fit in the automated machine's drop box ... and it's not even 1 p.m.
Today I got to spend a little more time with my mom and her friends, who are taking advantage of our lake house, after having a slower start to my day. I also felt like I won the kid lottery today when I got two 2-year-old kids {only one is mine!} and a 4-year-old girl down for naps at the same time. For two hours. It's one of those things I wanted to happen, but I wasn't so sure it really would. Unlike the lottery, I actually tried to win this one. Meanwhile I worked on some publicity materials for the upcoming second-annual Marketplace 29 A.D.

And tomorrow is the same sort day filled with crazy goodness, although some of tomorrow's agenda was just formulated tonight, thanks to a last-minute lake house renter. Really, I wouldn't have it any other way, especially now that I have a plan, because good things are happening around here.

Now I'm going to fold the five loads of laundry sitting in front of me.

So, how's your week? 
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Let's help 3,108 kids.

Join the Compassion Blogger NetworkI've talked about Compassion International more than once around here. And I'm going to talk more about it in the coming weeks because September is Blog Month Compassion.

There will be stories and prizes ... and there is a goal for 3,108 children to be sponsored between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30. So, let's join the effort. 

If you blog, you can blog for Compassion too. Just sign up to be included.

If you believe, you can pray for God to raise up monthly sponsors for these kids who will have their lives changed as the financial commitments help address their physical, emotional, medical, educational and spiritual needs.

If you're able, you can sponsor a child. That child child will never be the same, and I'm guessing you won't either.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thanks, Weekend.

Dear Weekend,

Meeting you at the lake is always a good thing. I sat on the porch Saturday morning while my kids and husband fished. I'm sure Ben threw some rocks too. But I sat there and was confident peace comes to me nowhere else like it does right there.

Funny thing is, I grew up thinking lakes were for boats and pools were for people. Kentucky Lake has won me over. And now I miss it when it's too long between visits.

Greg and I talked about how spending our time with you, Weekend, at our vacation house between renters seems like a real getaway, even though it's only 14.1 miles from our house. Before you arrived, I planned some meals, grocery shopped for what I needed, packed this food after gathering clothes and the few other things we'd need for two nights at the lake.

And I'm so glad I did. We got there Friday in time for Greg to grill some incredibly delicious kabobs and didn't leave until we headed back to town for church on Sunday. In between, we enjoyed the view, played Uno with my game-loving 5-year-old girl, shared the house with our dear friends who spent the second night with us, swam, fished, jet skiied, grilled dinner a second night, played three games of Settlers of Catan {two of which I won!} while our kids watched "Lorax" and then slept, ate snacks, and laughed much.

See, Weekend, you are so sweet to bring such this time to me. After our first full week of school routine, I was ready for you, especially there. Some of my favorite moments came while holding on tightly to the tube with Cate while Greg pulled us with the jet ski. Tubing is my favorite lake activity, and having my adventurous, fun, talkative girl with me makes it even better.

Another one of my favorite things was my watching my boy, who loves being in the water. In case you're wondering, he just jumps in. That's pretty much his life philosophy. But he was particularly cute ...

Look at that jet ski-induced hair!

Goggles! Although I'm not sure why his eyes are closed underneath!

Weekend, thanks for coming. I'm looking forward to you extending your visit next time so we can jump in to the adventures the come our way. They may not involve the peace of lake house porch or the thrill of being pulled around the water, but more stories will be created both in the days leading to you and once we're back together again. 


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Friday, August 24, 2012

One week

I think they miss each other when she's at school.

One week of our new routine has been {nearly} accomplished. And, you know, it wasn't as hard as I expected.

I woke up before my alarm most mornings. Seriously. This surprises me, mostly because I haven't had to get up to an alarm that wasn't my kids' morning wake up calls to me in five years. Five years. It's three weeks exactly until my five-year anniversary of quitting my job, which I went back to for three months after my girl was born. And, really, my piercing alarm hasn't interrupted my sleep much since. Instead, I've gotten up with my kids, one of whom rarely sleeps past 7.

So, yes, I was dreading the alarm. And I didn't want to start every morning rushing around.

But, thankfully, I haven't had to hear it and I've still gotten ready for the day and gotten my girl to school without much rushing.

Getting her to school isn't always my job, thanks to a carpool we have with two other families. My driving responsibility is taking them three mornings and picking them up one afternoon. After a week in, the carpool schedule seems to work well. Cate likes riding in her friends' vehicles. I like that I don't have to wake up Ben most afternoons from his nap to make it to school by 3 o'clock. The two other moms work part-time jobs so they're able to get their hours in and have their kids transported to and from school when needed.

And if you haven't heard, my daughter loves kindergarten. She was made to learn and make friends and share stories and write and color and follow rules. She's independent and confident and brave and ready. She hadn't even been coming home tired ... until yesterday. After a three-day week and the fourth day of a full week of school, Cate finally reached a tired point. She went to bed early and woke up feeling refreshed for this last day of her first full week.

Ben likes preschool too. I've had three days with no kids for the morning and I've figured out some things I'll love to do with that time and discovered that grocery shopping is not how I want to spend my kid-free time. I've been productive. I've enjoyed the quiet. And I've been glad when the kids come home.

One week down. So many more to go. But I think we'll like it here. 

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

{Celebrating} Five in five years

Happy birthday, Caroline!

Between us we had five babies in five years. Luke, her first, was born in 2006. Then we adopted newborn Cate in 2007. In 2008, she had Norah. We adopted newborn Ben in 2009. And in 2010, Caroline came. The last gap is the smallest. The first three are right at a year apart from each other. Then there is 19 month gap between Norah and Ben. Ben and Caroline are just nine months apart.

That's five babies in five years for the Taylors and Tompkinses. I love sharing this season with Jaclyn, who became my friend almost 14 years ago when were single college girls.

Caroline, the baby of the group, turned 2 today. This weekend while celebrating our sweet friend's birthday, I told Jaclyn how it was weird that we really don't have a baby between us anymore. We have for quite some time and now they're growing up. Really, I felt more emotions at this birthday party than all the others we have had for our kids who are now 6, 5, 4, 2, and 2. In November, when Ben turns 3, they'll be 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 ... until April when 6 becomes 7 and 4 becomes 5.

Until then, back to the party ...

Ben was happy with an excuse to get wet.

She's tolerating him ... 

... but not for long. 

The bigger girls had secrets and laughter to share.

She adores him. And he's fond of her.

Ben wanted to get an early start on the candle blowing ... 

They're growing up. Together. We're raising our families. Together. It's all worth celebrating at least five times a year.
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Calling, whispering, knowing my name

My name is often misspelled. It used to bother me. Although I do still cringe when someone spells it wrong in a Facebook comment because my name is right there. Seeing my name written countless times with an "en" instead of an "in" has made me more sensitive to making sure I spell other people's names correctly.

You'd think I wouldn't have named my daughter Cate. But I like it that way because she's named after my mom, who is Cathy not Kathy. She's 5, and she already corrects people: "My name doesn't start with a K. It's Cate with a C."

Cate is actually Catherine, so sometimes we find cute souvenirs with her name on them. That's an improvement over all my often fruitless childhood searching for K-R-I-S-T-I-N. I did get a free hamburger, thanks to my name, a few years ago.

I like my name. I'm not a big fan of nicknames in general, so I've always gone by my actual name. My family and friends know my name, and most don't spell it wrong, but there is one who has always known my name. And he even whispers when I'm still enough to hear.

I have written your name on my hand ... {Isaiah 49:16}

And the Shepherd calls his sheep by their name. Not as a herd. ... And the sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. {John 10:3}

My name.

Quite a thought, isn't it? Your name on God's hand. Your name on God's lips. Maybe you've seen your name in some special places. On an award or diploma or walnut door. Or maybe you've heard your name from some important people -- a coach, a celebrity, a teacher. But to think that your name is on God's hand and on God's lips ... my, could it be?

Or perhaps you've never seen your name honored. And you can't remember when you heard it spoken with kindness. If so, it may be more difficult for you to believe that God knows your name.

But he does. Written on his hand. Spoken by his mouth. Whispered by his lips. Your name.
{From "When God Whispers Your Name" by Max Lucado}
I read this in the introduction of the book our small group is beginning to study. And these thoughts about my name, a name I prefer to any nickname version even when it's misspelled. I thought about my daughter's name and how it honors two people we love dearly. I remembered being excited to officially change my last name 10 years ago.

And I remembered that through it all, from when my mom and dad named their first-born daughter to when I chose a name for my first-born child, God has been working. He's into the details beyond even what we're called by those around us. He's the one who does the calling, and he uses our same name. He knows how it's spelled. He knows who we are and who we'll become. He knows our failures and wants to be glorified in our successes. He knows our name and wants us to call out his. 

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Connecting at the table

This post is inspired by Jill Savage's "Third Thursday Blog Hop," which asked the question: How do you connect as a family? Yes, I know it's Friday. But, you know, better late than never.

I gave this sign of "rules" to Greg for our first-date anniversary earlier this year. I wanted to celebrate the process that began when he asked me out for ice cream 14 years ago and has continued into parenthood. Some seasons have been hard. Others have been downright ugly. But so many have been sweet and plenty have been adventurous.

Greg and I jumped off a bridge together. It was exciting and daring and a one-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. It's one of the big moments woven together with the smaller moments that make our life.

More days than not are ordinary. He goes to work. I change diapers and full with milk and juice. I drive kids to school and grocery shop. I meet friends at the park. He goes to meetings because he believes in serving our church and community. We have friends over for dinner and play Settlers of Catan.

And one of my favorite constants is the four of us having dinner together. Thus "SIT DOWN for DINNER" on our family rules.

Oh, you thought that was a reminder to my 2 1/2-year-old son who likes to kneel and constantly move around in his chair during any meal, creating scattered crumbs like a trail of where he has been? Well, yes, that too. 

But the bigger picture is we believe our family is and will be stronger because we prioritize each other and the meals we share. I've decided cooking isn't so bad the past few years, but these meals aren't even about the food. They are about the time and conversations. We tell Daddy about our day, and he tells some about his. But, truthfully, seeing a worm crawling at the park and the first week of kindergarten make for better conversations than home closings and small business incorporation.

While talking about the ordinary moments we've stay bonded even when we our ankles aren't tied together so we can safely jump off a bridge. This bond helps us {usually} stay united while we make spiritual, financial and parenting decisions that may challenge us. And it helps us enjoy each other.

Even with cornbread crumbs scattered across the floor and constant reminders to sit down until everyone is done, being around the table helps us connect in a world that is full of busy schedules and temptations to keep moving along at a pace that will eventually pull us apart. So, yes, we sit down for dinner. We walk away filled, and not just from food.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012


This was on the "Courageous" calendar that sits in our bathroom last week. And I've been thinking about it since. I've even changed wording in emails because I tend to overuse h-o-p-e. I use it as a passing thought. I hope you have a good day. Or I hope you feel better. And I really mean it. But then I read this: Hope is not a fragile wish or a dream that fades with time -- it's an anchor of the soul, held secure by the unchangeable promises of God. I'm left feeling like I throw around such a powerful word way too often and use it out of its everlasting context.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. {Romans 5:1-11}
I hope you realize that's real hope. And it's a hope worth holding on to in all moments of life, not just the casual conversational ones. It's everlasting. Like Andy Dufresne wrote to his friend after escaping Shawshank Prison, "Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." This hope God promises us as we put our trust in Him is best kind of good thing. 
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

She will fly.

I told my husband this morning: Our girl was made for school. Really, I believe she was made for so much more beyond any four walls. But she's the kid who will love school and do well there. She's social. She pay attention to every last detail. And she likes to learn.

So, really, I wasn't surprised when she walked down the stairs before 7 a.m. dressed in her school clothes. I was going to get her up after I got myself dressed, but she was ready. She knew she wanted to wear that dress this morning. And she's all about those ruffly socks. We even have hairbows that work with the school uniform guidelines.

Of course, brother Ben wanted in the photo!

On the way to school Cate requested "the songs I know the motions to," which is the CD from the vacation Bible school she went to this summer. The first song was so appropriate. The message was a good one for all four us in the minivan.

Up, up, and way we go
Into the great beyond
Wherever we go and whatever we do,
We're trusting God all along

We will fly, we will soar ...
Nothing is impossible
We will rise through the storm
Trusting God and leaving our fears behind
We will fly

Anything is possible
Everything is possible with God

I see her dressed in her school clothes and I know she's more than dressed for her new role as a kindergartner. She's ready on the inside. She already made a friend at back-to-school and held her hand this morning as Jayden showed her where her lunch box would go each morning. While talking and laughing with her friend, she looked back toward me and grinned. And I knew it was time to go, even though my momma heart wasn't quite ready.

I wasn't worried. I didn't doubt our schooling decision. And I knew it was time. But so many moments over the past five years flashed through my mind all at once. I thought about how almost five years ago to the day I gave a month's notice to my editor that I was leaving a job I loved to be a full-time mom to a baby girl I loved even more. And I remembered her two fabulous years at a preschool I'm so glad we're still part of with Ben now going. I thought about our community of friends and how we've all made different schooling decisions but how we're still in this together.

She was ready. And I knew it was time. So we gave her hugs and kisses and told her to have a great day at kindergarten.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'Twas the night before kindergarten

... and all through the house there were details, feelings, plans, ideas and desires circling in Momma's mind. The kindergartner hasn't seemed to be as impacted by the anticipation. She's ready. And I'm mostly ready. But instead of dwelling on changes, transitions and logistics, sometimes you {well, me, really ...} just need to put all the cares aside and run around the house with a stuffed, talking soccer ball.

That defines carefree. Just take a look.

It's even fun when the chase becomes more
like a rugby scrum on the hardwood floor ... 

... with laughing, grabbing, chasing, running,
sneaking, hiding, holding, and wrestling. 

These impromptu games bring out determination ...

... and cleverness and all sorts of strategy.

And they end with stories to tell ... 

... and joy to share.

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To kindergarten ...

I'm a planner, but sometimes the best moments can't be planned. 
I few weeks ago when I was adding back-to-school nights and the school calendar to my calendar, I noticed something that made my mother-of-two heart happy. My kids started school the same week, but Ben started preschool on Monday and Cate wouldn't start kindergarten until Wednesday. That meant I go three hours with my oldest.

So we went on a date after dropping off Ben for his first day of preschool. We had Cracker Barrel for breakfast and then got haircuts. We talked and laughed. And I soaked in the moments with my girl. I don't usually get time with just her. She didn't say, but she acted like she was soaking in the attention from me. 

I'm telling you, I couldn't have planned the start to this new season with a kindergartner any better. And, trust me, I'm surprised I didn't try. 

I'm so proud of the girl she is. She loves people and thinks about others. She's funny and smart. She is cautious but not usually scared. She remembers details and tells all kinds of stories. She likes to read and write and draw.

And, really, she's ready for school. Real school. She wants to learn to read and spell more words. She's excited to make new friends and go to a new place. She knows she has friends going to other schools, but she hasn't questioned our choice that is somewhat against the norm. She doesn't really know what all school entails, but she's embracing the idea. As her mom, I'm thrilled we've found a school that's not just focused on reading, writing and math. It's also a place full of people that will teach her about how God made the world and is in charge of all the details in it while teaching character traits that I pray my daughter possesses.

People keep warning me to bring tissues when I leave her at kindergarten, her first all-day school experience. Honestly, I'm not sure I'll cry. I've been thinking about it. I may. But I'm thinking I'll watch my big girl walk into that room with confidence and excitement. She's already told me what books she'll read in bed to herself once she can really read. She's creative. And she loves being around people. So, really, I think she was made for this. Her growing up to this point has happened quickly. There's no doubt we reached this place sooner than I anticipated. But here we are. And this is part of what we've been preparing her to do. 

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Monday, August 13, 2012

'My turn school?'

All of his little life, I've been dropping Cate off at preschool three mornings a week. Ben spent most of last semester repeating "My turn school?" every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning as we walked away from Cate's classroom of 4-year-old kids.

This morning was his turn. It's beginning of his two-mornings-a-week preschool. My original mothering plan included taking my kids to preschool when they were 3, which is two years before they'd go to kindergarten. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans ... 

Ben started preschool in a 2-year-old class with six other kids his age who won't go to kindergarten for three more years. Of the seven kids, five are boys. God bless his teacher. Seriously. She did tell me she missed her elementary-aged boys being 2, so perhaps she's the perfect woman for this job.

Ben dived right into school. I'm telling you, he was ready for his turn. He kicked off his rain boots and started creating some Play-doh masterpiece. "Bye, Mom!" he said with a grin across his face as his big sister and I walked out of the door. He was thrilled not to be the one leaving with me for the first time in his whole little life.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Dreams of climbing a tree

"Momma, I go that tree?" my curious, adventurous 2-year-old boy asked near the playground.

My first thought was I can't believe he asked before wandering off! And then my response was, "Yes, no farther than that tree." I knew he wanted to climb it because he'd seen some older boys doing so another day.

It's really a perfect tree for my boy, who believes he's bigger and older than he really is. I watched from a distance as he figured out how to get up there. He'd stop and I'm certain he was trying to figure out how to go higher. When I walked closer, with my camera in had, he said, "I did! I did it myself!"

He's big into doing things himself these days. His independence slows me down, but I wouldn't have it any other way. We all need to slow down sometimes, and what's a better reason than a boy who wants to dress himself, put his Crocs on the wrong feet all by himself, and mimic his independent big sister?

I don't climb trees. But I dream.

I see opportunities, like my boy saw that tree. Sometimes I watch as others make the most of where they are, like my boy did the older boys on that same tree. Other times I go into a situation with the same immediacy and determination with which he lives life.

I've been dreaming lately. I have hobbies and gifts that I think would make good on-the-side businesses. I want to make our lake houses comfortable and inviting. I have idea after idea as I walk toward my own perfect climbing tree. Now I just need to figure out which steps to take first to get up there for a new view.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Have some Compassion

I started blogging long before blogging was cool. It was really just for myself. As someone who was trained to write for a newspaper audience, it was strange to write for an undefined audience. Blogging has been therapeutic for me, especially as our family has expanded to include two kids who keep me on my toes, act as mirrors to myself, change my perspective on the world, and provide me with the hardest yet most rewarding moments in my 33 years.

Plus, you know, I just don't want to forget things. My kids are funny. Being a mom has changed me. We've been amazing places. My husband and I are living a life that is nothing like I planned but everything I didn't know I wanted. And those are the kinds of things worth remembering.

Yet, like all things in life, some things about blogging aren't all about me. 

Like my support for Compassion International, which I mostly learned about from other blogs. In the past few years, we've started sponsoring two kids -- Roselyn is 5 like my daughter and 10-year-old Jean shares a birthday with my 2-year-old son -- and serve as a correspondence sponsor for another boy, 13-year-old Elvis. Both boys live in Ecuador and Roselyn, who was our first sponsored child, is in Guatemala.

As a mom, my heart has been softened to kids who are like my kids with the pictures they like to draw, games and sports they like to play, and truths they are learning from parents and mentors. To think about them not having clean water, reliable houses, access to Bible lessons, stable families, and sufficient medical care makes me want to do something. I live in Murray, Ky., far away from Ecuador and Guatemala. But when their letters arrive and they tell me little details of their lives there, the world becomes smaller and I'm left feeling blessed even though I set out to help them.

So while sponsoring kids, I also decided to sign up to a Compassion blogger. Sometimes there are writing prompts. Other times there are my own personal lessons learned. And sometimes there's a message of compassion that lingers and gradually changes perspective. {You can read my Compassion-related posts here.}

There are plenty of other kids who need support, even from small towns far away from theirs. And I've learned that helping them helps my kids too. My daughter talks about Roselyn like we've spent time with her. She'd send her toys if she could. She draws her pictures. I write her notes.

And, really, $38 isn't that big of a deal when it helps and heals both here and there. You can sponsor a child too. And you can read what other Compassion bloggers have experienced. Trust me when I say, if you start following a blogger who goes on a Compassion-sponsored trip to meet sponsored kids your heart won't remain the same.

These bloggers have served this ministry with their words and time and money. Take a look around the improved Compassion Bloggers website. You can look back at past trips and follow future ones. You can help spread Compassion. You can browse the list of who blogs for Compassion.

And you can trust that words have power and are helping bring God's Kingdom to families across the world that are linked with compassion that transcends cultures and distances. 

Donate to Compassion International Water of Life

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A summer {almost} completed

July got away from me. And August sneaked up on me. Like they say, time flies when you're having fun. I suppose that's the case. We've been busy getting a lake house ready for vacation rentals {Yes, vacation ... you need one this fall? How about coming to Kentucky Lake? We've got a couple comfortable options on the water for you. The Gathering Place and Shady Creek Landing are our latest projects.} while trying to enjoy the end of summer. My boy is going to preschool two mornings a week and my girl starts kindergarten. Yes, season of transition, I'm embracing you. So be kind to this momma. 

Until then, here's some of what we've doing ... 
One of us thinks fireman rain boots go with anything ...

... but if cuteness is the goal, he passes!

We took advantage of a couple $1 movies at Paducah's movie theater. Cate loved "Dolphin Tale," and still talks about it almost three weeks later. We also saw "Winnie the Pooh," which was one of the only a couple first-run movies we've taken the kids to. Everybody needs popcorn at 9:30 in the morning, right?

I mentioned my girl is going to kindergarten. People keep asking me if I'm ready. I don't know about this waking up to an alarm thing that I haven't done in five years, but, emotionally, I'm feeling good about it. Really, the fact she's excited and ready makes me excited and ready. Cate is the kind of girl who will love school.

She starts next week, but her friends who are going to other schools start this week. One of my creative, fun friends planned a "We're Kindergartners!" Party. It was a really fun time.

Of course, who doesn't have fun throwing water balloons and fishing tadpoles out of a fountain with friends?

And that's the kind of summer I hope you've had, one that's been complete with friends, lots of time outside in your swim suit, and discovering new life wherever it happens to be. So many moments make up our lives, but, really, I'd argue some of the best come in the summertime.
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Monday, August 6, 2012

{Available for Rent} Shady Creek Landing

This year we dived into the vacation rental business with a lake house that I love. Well, turns out a second opportunity came along. So, here I am, introducing Shady Creek Landing, a two-bedroom, one-bathroom cabin that sits on a channel that flows into Kentucky Lake's Cypress Bay. It's 18 miles south of Murray and 6 miles from Paris (Tenn.) Landing State Park.

Shady Creek Landing would be a great place for a guys' fishing get away or a low-key family vacation. We have it furnished to sleep six people in beds and four more people on pull-out couches. It's the kind of cabin that would be a comfortable landing for a home away from home.

You can learn the rental details and inquire about specific dates here.

The private dock allows access to Kentucky Lake.

This is the living room. That couch makes a bed.

A second living room with a view of the lake. That couch makes a bed.

This bedroom has a full-sized bed.

The kitchen is fully furnished.

Another view of the kitchen.

Guests have access to this three-car garage. There is ample boat parking.

There is a second bedroom that is awaiting the delivery of two sets of bunk beds, which should be the next couple of weeks. A family is actually staying here while they're waiting for the home they're buying to be available, making this cabin available for vacation rentals after Labor Day. We'd love for you and your family or friends to land here.

If you'd like to come to Kentucky Lake, but need something bigger, three-bedroom, two-bathroom The Gathering Place may be a good fit. Rental rates go down after Labor Day, so if you're looking to get away, you can inquire here. You also can like both properties on Facebook. The Gathering Place here. And Shady Creek Landing here.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

10 years

Becoming one. Aug. 3, 2002.
Much can happen in a decade. Most of all, I'm thankful for the stories Greg and I have created together since Aug. 3, 2002. Since saying, "I do" we have ...

Lived in two cities in one apartment and two houses.

Dealt with my diabetes diagnosis and infertility issues.

Adopted our two kids.

Honeymooned at Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, setting the stage for so many other travel adventures to come: islands and cities throughout Greece; Rome; Perdido Key, Fla.; Ithaca, Cooperstown and Rochester, NY; Palmerston North and Queenstown, New Zealand, Chicago; Boston; Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine; Hilton Head, S.C.; Charleston, S.C., Gatlinburg, Tenn.; San Antonio, Texas; Branson, Mo.; and countless trips to Louisville, Lexington, Nashville and St. Louis.

Started new jobs in 2003, adjusted to Greg starting his own law practice and real estate investment company in 2006, adjusted again when I quit my job to be a stay-at- home mom in 2007.

Became addicted to Settlers of Catan.

Gained dear friends who are like family and new family members who are friends. 

Campaigned for causes in which we believe.

We've laughed, cried, talked, shared, fought, grew, listened, created, imagined, walked, biked, dreamed, wondered, worked, boated, bungy jumped, hoped, played, swam, risked, blessed, relaxed and prayed. Together.

Some days have been hard, really hard, but each year we celebrate gets better. Being where we are now is worth every hard day we had getting here. My life as a stay-at-home mom of two adopted kids who couldn't be more perfect for our family married to a self-employed attorney in small-town America is nothing like I planned. But I chose to life with Greg, which was one of the best decisions I've ever made. And I wouldn't trade it for ... well ... anything. All the stories along the way give me hope that the best is truly yet to come. 

Here's to {at least} four decades more! Right, husband?

Other anniversary posts: Five years. Six years. Seven years. Nine years.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I like spice with my chicken.

I hear today is Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day ... 

I've been to Chick-fil-A a few times recently and this is what I've seen every time: My boy is the one who likes to climb up the slide. My girl is the one running and climbing with a notebook and pen in her hand.

Yep, that about sums up my kids.

This past weekend we were at Chick-fil-A* after my kids endured hours of shopping for linens, towels and kitchen utensils for our new lake cabin.** They deserved a treat. They were troopers. So we all got dessert {Hello, delicious strawberry milkshake ...} and they burned some energy.

They were their typical selves. Ben chased the girls. He growled at the girls. And then he lifted his shirt to show his belly. {Don't ask. I have no idea.} Meanwhile, Cate rallied the stranger girls and periodically stopped to write something with her smells-like-grape marker in her notebook.

To show appreciation and, well, I can't really resist the spicy chicken sandwich, we ate there again yesterday, this time for lunch. This really is some kind of record because the closest Chick-fil-A is 45 minutes away. But, seriously, these are the perks of driving north to Paducah armed with a list that takes two separate trips in four days to conquer.

Yesterday at lunch time, the restaurant was packed. But even with the crowd waiting to order and the people claiming tables as they opened up, Chick-fil-A employees were taking care of customers were smiles and saying "My pleasure." to requests. It's that kind of service {Yes, and the aforementioned spicy chicken sandwich. OK, and the indoor playground ...} that keeps me coming back. The cashier said since the "national publicity" started, the restaurant has been busy, evident by the Tuesday lunchtime crowd. Good for Chick-fil-A and the Truitt Cathy family.

My kids ate their chicken nuggets, fruit and waffle fries and were off to play, leaving me with a few minutes to evaluate my list and finish my spicy chicken sandwich {with pepper jack cheese, please ...}. Even among the hustle and bustle of a restaurant that is supposedly being boycotted, I realize this season of motherhood was summed up on the playground behind the glass wall.

* Yes, clearly, I like Chick-fil-A. Even better than the strawberry milkshake is the spicy chicken sandwich and customer service. Yes, I heard about how the owner gives money away to groups who lobby for traditional marriages. While I agree with his opinion, I really keep thinking about one thing when I continue to see online threads debating Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy and his personal opinion overflowing into the business world: Are you surprised? It aligns with other beliefs the Cathys have professed. Obviously not everyone agrees with the conservative opinions and traditional family values, but I don't understand why this opinion has become news. I'm guessing other business owners have opinions that influence how they spend money and run their companies.

** Soon we will have a two-bedroom, one-bathroom lake cabin available for vacation rentals. Like to hunt or fish? Want to getaway to Kentucky Lake for the weekend? This house may be for you, so stay tuned! {Perhaps you need a larger house to accommodate more people at Kentucky Lake? We have another place at which you may want to gather. That one has been rented and is ready to be rented some more!}

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