Monday, January 30, 2012

Shaun Groves is coming to Murray

MURRAY, Ky. – Little people can do big things.

Just ask Shaun Groves. The singer/songwriter’s life was changed after visiting the girl in El Salvador whom his family sponsored through Compassion International. Seeing life in El Salvador prompted Groves to realize he was made for more than entertaining audiences with his songs. Groves and his family began to live more simply so they could help others simply live, according to his biography.

Groves, 38, continues to play music for audiences – but only if he can do so on behalf of Compassion International. He’ll bring stories and songs to Murray on Sunday, Feb. 12 at Christian Community Church. This service will take the place of the church’s usual Sunday service. It begins at 10:30 a.m. and anyone is welcome to attend.

More than 8,000 children in 26 countries have been sponsored through Compassion International through Groves’ shows. He also leads bloggers on trips through these developing countries to raise awareness of children in poverty and how Compassion addresses their physical and spiritual needs.

Recently, Groves and his wife have added an adoptive son to their family that includes three biological children.

“Traveling with Compassion International over the years has simply made me aware of the orphan crisis,” Groves said. “And it put a face on the statistics. More than 44 million orphans in India, 15 million in Ethiopia. Those were just numbers before I went to the orphanages on my travels, but now they're real. And that compelled us to do what we could as a family to serve them.”

Groves hopes his message to congregations will bridge the gap between America’s abundance and the children living in poverty in other countries.

“They're loved by God. No less and no more than our own children,” he said. “And if God is in us, living through us, we too will love them like our own.”

“Invitation to Eavesdrop” was Groves’ debut album in 2001. “Twilight” and “White Flag” followed, before Groves’ life-changing trip to El Salvador. Last year, Groves released “Third World Symphony,” a 10-song product of his many trips to countries where Compassion International works.

“For the most part, the music has been listened to by people who already care a great deal about serving those in need around the world. It's been encouraging to those people,” Groves said. “One man wrote to tell me the music makes him feel less alone in his passion for serving the poor. The songs remind him why his work matters and that he's not the only one who believes what he does about God's concern for the poor.”

Groves said even children here can make a difference in the lives of children there.
“I would tell them about my own kids and how each of them sponsors a child,” Groves said of encouraging young ones to serve. “They write letters to the children they sponsor. They pray for those kids. They give their own money so that their sponsored children can have food, education, medicine and hear about Jesus. Little people can do big things.”

This Groves knows, thanks to a girl named Yanci in El Salvador.

I've become a fan of Shaun Groves' music and his blog. His words -- both written and sung -- encourage me and make me think. He also tells stories that make me laugh.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wholly Yours

This song was just what I needed at church this morning.

I am full of earth
You are heaven's worth
I am stained with dirt, prone to depravity
You are everything that is bright and clean
The antonym of me
You are divinity
But a certain sign of grace is this
From the broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries "Holy, holy God"
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy like You are

You are everything that is bright and clean
And You're covering me with Your majesty
And the truest sign of grace was this
From wounded hands redemption fell down
Liberating man
But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel
The depth of our fall and the weight of it all
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean

Glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
So here I am, all of me
Finally everything
Wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly

I am full of earth and dirt and You


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

rainy day

May your rainy days be filled with sweet smiles,
pretty umbrellas, sparkly shoes, and small favors.

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For the love of the game

My two favorite college basketball teams are having tremendous seasons. Murray State is setting all kinds of win streaks, attracting national publicity, and selling out the arena more than once. That happens when your team is 20-0. Meanwhile, Kentucky returned to the top of the polls this week. The Wildcats have lost only once, for anyone keeping track. Thanks, Indiana, really.

So despite the excitement that has been college basketball season at our house, Greg and I cheated on basketball with a baseball movie last night.

St. Louis Cardinal catchers and pitchers do report in 23 days. But back the movie ...

"Moneyball" starts at the end of 2001 season when the A's lose to the Yankees in the playoffs, which leads them to the World Series. The Yankees go on to lose to the Diamondbacks. And that's when I really became a baseball fan.

I started paying attention in 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were hitting lots of homeruns. Greg, a long-time St. Louis Cardinals fan, had been working on me to become a Redbirds fan anyway.

But it was the 2001 World Series that really did it for me. Small market team beats the Yankees. It's a story worth holding on to.I knew I was hooked when I realized I'd watched a seven-game World Series that involved no team I had any previous rooting interest invested.

And then "Moneyball" {that's what I set out to talk about} continues to the 2002 season. Rebuilding. Cleaning house. Finger-pointing. And then The Streak.

During the real-life streak, Greg and I watched an A's game live. We were on out honeymoon, partially in San Francisco. We couldn't get tickets to see the Giants; I think they were out of town while we were in town. So we went across the bay to a football stadium where the A's also play. It was August, and the streak was just beginning.

I don't think Brad Pitt was there, though.

"Moneyball" was good. It was a slow-paced movie, but that's appropriate. It's a baseball movie, folks. Part of the beauty of baseball is the steadiness with which the story unfolds. Much can happen in 162 games. Just ask the World Series St. Louis Cardinals. The movie is a behind-the-scenes look into the business of baseball.

And it's worth two hours away from college basketball.
Billy Beane: It's hard not to be romantic about baseball. This kind of thing, it's fun for the fans. It sells tickets and hot dogs. Doesn't mean anything.
Peter Brand: Billy, we just won twenty games in a row.
Billy: And what's the point?
Peter: We just got the record.
Billy: Man, I've been doing this for ... listen, man. I've been in this game a long time. I'm not in it for a record, I'll tell you that. I'm not in it for a ring. That's when people get hurt. If we don't win the last game of the Series, they'll dismiss us.
Peter: Billy...
Billy: I know these guys. I know the way they think, and they will erase us. And everything we've done here, none of it'll matter. Any other team wins the World Series, good for them. They're drinking champagne, they get a ring. But if we win, on our budget, with this team ... we'll have changed the game. And that's what I want. I want it to mean something.
Baseball season is something special, even though the real Billy Beane is still waiting for a ring. I'd be OK with him getting it one day.

But, first, back to college basketball. Our Racers will try to make it 21-0 in front of a sold-out hometown crowd Saturday against Eastern Illinois. Tip off is at 7 p.m. central for anyone who can watch on ESPN3. Kentucky plays at LSU earlier in the afternoon.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

{Approved for You} Marble Brownies

My sister taught me about a simple, delicious brownie recipe when we were together at Christmas. It's so simple and delicious that it's worth sharing with the world.

Makes 32 servings

1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare brownie batter as directed on package; spread into greased 13x9-inch pan.
  3. Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Add sugar, egg and vanilla; mix well. Drop by tablespoonfuls over brownie batter; swirl with knife.
  4. Bake 35 to 40 min. or until cream cheese mixture is lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting to serve. Keep refrigerated.

Nutritional Information: 32 servings. Each serving has 106 calories; 15.8 g. carbs; 1.3 g. protein.

I made these last weekend using Ghiradelli's Triple Chocolate brownie mix. {Seriously - it's delicious, and I don't usually say that about other brands of brownies.} I did use Philadelphia cream cheese, but only because the generic brand didn't come in low-fat. So, yes, I used the low-fat cream cheese. {Gotta save where you can, right?} I took them to a potluck, so they even look pretty enough to share. Although, admittedly, we were happy to have some leftovers.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ballerina Cate

Almost a year ago, Cate went to ballet class with her cousin Ethne on bring-a-friend day. It was a class for 4 and 5 year olds, so I had an out for a couple of months when Cate kept asking when she could go to ballet.

Then she turned 4 three months later.

And we bought ourselves a little more time with a household rule of waiting til you're closer to 5 to sign up for any extracurricular activity.

In the mean time, Cate watched countless episodes of "Angelina Ballerina" and performed many shows for us in our living room. She'd occasionally ask about going to ballet class, but she mostly understood she had to wait until she was closer to 5.

Last week I decided to investigate the details of the ballet class. I'd heard good things about it -- the philosophy, the cost, the time. But, you know, I needed to find out for myself. And, you know, turns out my friends were right. It's affordable, offered at a time that doesn't over-commit our family and focuses only on ballet.

I told Cate last Monday afternoon that she could start the class in a week. She's a smart girl, but time is a hard concept to grasp. We counted down the days, and she was so excited to put on those leotard, tights and slippers. She was all smiles and jabber in the hours leading up to her first ballet class yesterday.

She was ready.

And she just danced her way right into a class. Because, you know, she's a ballerina.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

{Approved for You} Clearly Fresh Bags

Before 2008, I didn't like to cook. I never knew what to cook, much less how to actually cook it. And string together multiple recipes to make a meal? Well ... that was quite a challenge.

But things have changed since then. In May of 2008, I started a recipe binder. Now, it's nearly full of recipes I choose to make. Again and again. My husband even has favorites. And I no longer dread meal planning or even the actual cooking/preparing.

In addition to cooking, I like to grocery shop too. I don't even mind taking my kids. Crazy, I know. And while I'm sharing my household nerdiness, I'll just go ahead and confess I really like the produce section at Kroger. There are so many colors and textures. And it makes me feel good when I know I'm going to chop up celery for soup and carrots for my daughter's lunch. I love apples or strawberries in salads. And I like to mix iceberg lettuce with other kinds.

But sometimes fruits and vegetables can go bad before we use them. I try to buy what need for a week, but sometimes it doesn't work out just so precisely. So when a representative from Clearly Fresh Bags asked if I wanted to try that product in exchange for a review, I knew developing an opinion about something related to food was a good fit for me.

The bags look like Zip-locs but they include a breathable membrane that keeps fruits and veggies fresh for up to 50 percent longer than traditional storage methods, according to the product description.

Honestly, I haven't recorded information to verify or dispute this 50 percent longer claim. But I will tell you, my lettuce stayed fresher longer and the celery I bought last week for some vegetable beef soup I postponed making is still ready to use. I've used the bags for Honeycrisp apples too, but they don't stay too long around here, so it probably would have kept them fresher longer had I kept the apples themselves longer.

Would I use the bags again? Yes. In fact, I still have some. I will especially use them for lettuce, broccoli and celery -- items that seem to go bad before I am finished with them. I probably will save them for those foods and not waste a bag for apples and clementines that are eaten faster around here.

I did wonder about reusing the bags. I was sent a package of 10 bags, which retail for $3.99 at Clearly Fresh Bags' website. Anne, my contact with the company, said they could be reused with discretion as to how often and for what items. Apparently the BreatheWay technology can not be submerged in water or washed without lessening its effectiveness. Because they can't be washed, she said some Clearly Fresh Bags staff members will reuse bags with whole fruits but only once with messier foods like broccoli and lettuce.

Bottom line: Spending $3.99 to make lettuce and nine other fruits or vegetables last longer seems like a good deal to me.

Now it's your turn. Do you have any tips for keeping produce longer? Or what about meal planning and preparation? Any tips to share? {You never know when joining in the conversation could have its advantages. Hint.}

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

In community

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. --Acts 2:42-47

The thing about community is you can witness God making things happen.

Adoption and orphan awareness are important to our church congregation. Our friend Nathan had the idea to have a rice-and-beans fund-raising lunch to help a ministry our church supports in Liberia feed more orphans.

So three of us women prepared various kinds of rice and beans to share with anyone who wanted to stay after church for this simple lunch. Many of us often eat out after church, so this was a way to give the money we'd usually spend at Culver's or Cracker Barrel to a population that can make a difference with those dollars. Basically, Nathan realized the money the average American family spent on a meal after church would feed two Liberian children for a month.

It's in community these things are discovered and addressed. And it's in community God moves and makes a difference. Apparently even our crock pots of different shapes, sizes and colors like living in community.

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We're doing it. Together.

I adore this picture and, more importantly, these people.

Katie and I have been friends for more than 21 years. One of the greatest blessing has been to be moms together {even though we live four hours apart} and watch our kids befriend each other. Cate is 16 months older than Charley, who is 14 months older than Ben, who is 9 months older than Simon.

Hanging out with Katie now is certainly different than when I was 14 and she was 13, but I wouldn't trade the chaos and noise for anything. We used to sit on her front porch and wonder when we'd be old enough to drive and do something with our lives outside Mockingbird Valley subdivision in quiet Buckner, Ky.

Well, friend, we're doing it. It's hard sometimes. But it's often funny and usually sweet.

Yes, this is slightly awkward, Linkbut they sure are sweet together.

A little quiet time. With Diego.

The conversation went like this:
Charley: "Cake!"
Ben: "Cake!"
Charley: "Strawberries!"

I'm blessed to have had most of two days this past week to hole up with Katie in a bubble we made for ourselves, soaking in new memories to add to our collection and watching our kids be kids. Together.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

{Undefeated} On the road

Greg planned some business in the Lexington area this week, coinciding with Murray State playing at Morehead. Lexington is much closer to Morehead than Murray, for anyone keeping track. So we all went. Cousins Zak and Alysha are in graduate school at UK, so we brought them with us.

As you can see, it was a fun time.

Ben sure looks hot and tired. Because he was. We all were hot, in fact. Johnson Arena on Morehead State's campus was hot, loud and intense -- components of a great basketball rivalry. Admittedly, I was a little worried when the Racers were down 15-4 with 12ish minutes to go in the first half.

The Racers managed to recover. And they maintained a {very} slight lead down the stretch.

And, ultimately, Murray State won, making it 19-0! Whew. Way to fight it out, come together, and win, Racers!

There's been lots of talk about the Racers {one of two undefeated teams in the nation along with Syracure} among national sports reporters. Yes, we're reading and watching it all, and loving every minute and every word of it.

Here are some of my favorites from publications this week:
Want to join in on the hype? We welcome you on the Racer bandwagon. Murray State plays at a sold-out SIU-Edwardsville tonight at 8 central time. It's on ESPNU. We decided one road trip in a week was enough, so we'll be watching from our couch. But we'll be cheering loudly.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

January is at it again

January has a history of changing my life. I blogged about it last year. And I'm being reminded of it this year.

Jan. 18, 2007 - Met Cate's birth mom.
Jan. 20, 1996 - Decided to follow God.
Jan. 23, 2002 - Greg proposed.
Jan. 27, 2010 - Ben's adoption was finalized.
Jan. 28, 2004 - Diagnosed with diabetes.

So far this year ...

We've been on three road trips. Louisville. Highland, IL. Lexington/Morehead.

We've put the word out we're ready to adopt again.

We're in the process of buying a lake house, which we hope to start renting this summer. Kentucky Lake vacation, anyone?

Greg filed to run for a second term on Murray City Council even though he's just finished his first year of his first two-year term.

I signed Cate up for ballet. This is our family's first commitment to an extracurricular activity. We had a wait-til-you're-5 rule that we're bending by 3 1/2 months.

We started going to a new small group at our church.

And January still has 11 days left ...

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

{Undefeated} We are Racers.

It was a white-out at the CFSB Center last for the Murray State game against Tennessee Tech. And, boy, was there much white in that arena. So much white that it was the largest crowd ever. 8,691. A sell-out crowd, in fact.

Sports history in the making here in Murray, Ky.

You've probably heard. The Racers are undefeated. One of three such teams in the nation. Ranked 15th in the AP poll and 14th in the ESPN poll, the Racers are getting national attention that's fun for us fans.

See, don't those fans look like they're having fun. Even Ernest was there. Random, indeed.

Last night's 82-74 win over Tennessee Tech made it 18-0. And it was a big win in the mid-major Ohio Valley Conference. Toward the beginning of the game, my 4-year-old girl declared Donte Poole her favorite player. He had quite a game: 28 points and 8 rebounds. Good choice, Cate!

Keep it up, boys, we're loving this history in the making. We are Racers.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

{Adoption} Peace of God

This was my Facebook status earlier this week: I've never doubted we were blessed by our first two adoption processes. But as I'm researching and thinking and praying about how we'll pursue a third adoption, I'm reminded again how God blessed us with Cate and Ben's birthmoms. Peace comes knowing God was in those details and He's in the ones I don't know about now.

Peace is such a funny thing for a first-born perfectionist who likes to plan and organize. Adopting both our kids certainly was a faith journey for me, and my personality. I'm better for going through those processes. And now just because I get to be a momma to two kids who encourage me, challenge me, entertain me, and learn from me.

During Cate's adoption process I grasped hold of Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace of God.

It's not even peace I can conjure up myself. It's His peace in my life.

And I've known it before, and I'm feeling it right now.

We've recently begun a third adoption process. And by "begun," I mean we are truly at the beginning. We met with an adoption attorney who quickly demonstrated why he's involved in such a relational legal work. My first impression: He knows God is in control, wants to help birthmoms who are searching for any kind of hope, and believes in family.

I'm ordering our profile books for potential birthmoms who wander in our attorney's office. This Snapfish book is 26 pages that summarizes our family. Who we are. What we do. What we like. And why we'd welcome a baby into our family. It could be a stressful process, thinking about what this picture and that picture say about us.

But God put this on my heart: I'm never going to be in the mind of a pregnant woman who, for whatever reason, wants a family to raise and love the baby she's growing and loving. Yes, loving. If she's choosing life for this baby she doesn't believe she should/could raise, then she's loving it. Wasting time over-analyzing which picture of my 4-year-old daughter and I smiling together is best is ... well, a waste of time. Trust me, people, this peaceful approach to something that could be life-changing is big for me.

I was just sitting at the computer, feeling good about finishing the book. While the book was saving, I clicked over to Facebook to read my News Feed, killing a few minutes, when I see a Snapfish coupon for buy 1 photo book, get 2 free. Seriously. It's the EXACT deal I hoped was out there when I started the book a couple nights ago. It wasn't out there then. But then it was. Just as I was saving my finished product. I had planned to order three copies anyway.

I'm telling you, God is in the details. He's in the obvious ones, and he's in the minor ones that are part of the bigger journey. He cares for us and knows the desires of our heart. Sometimes that's expressed in Snapfish coupons. And one day, I believe, it will be expressed in the birthmom of our third child.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

{Worth Repeating Wednesday} Nevertheless ...

We all need a nevertheless. And God has plenty to go around. Strongholds means nothing to him. ... You and I fight with toothpicks. God comes with battering rams and cannons. What he did for David, he can do for us. The question is, will we do what David did? ...

Peter stuck his foot in his mouth. Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt. The Samaritan woman had been married five times. Jesus was dead in the grave ... Nevertheless, Peter preached, Joseph ruled, the women shared, Jesus rose -- and you? You fill in the blank. Your nevertheless awaits you.

--Max Lucado in "Facing Your Giants"

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Monday, January 9, 2012


So speak encouraging words to one another.
Build up hope so you'll all be together in this,

no one left out, no one left behind.
I know you're already doing this;
just keep on doing it.

--1 Thessalonians 5:11 {The Message}

I live in a small town. It's the 22nd most populated town in Kentucky, which is known for its horse farms and cornfields than urban areas. My town is less than 10 square miles and has almost 18,000 residents, although it's surrounded my neighborhoods, industries and farms just outside the city limits. And there's a university that inflates the population eight months of the year.

It's easy to drive from one place to another, but sometimes I still mail my friends across town cards. Who doesn't like to get mail that doesn't require money or any future comment? I've had various pen-pal friends throughout my life and finding their letters and cards in my mailbox always gave me a chance to stop thinking about whatever was going on and focus on someone I care about.

So sometimes I mail cards to my friends across my small town.

DaySpring's January {in}spired deal encourages women to continue encouraging each other. It makes a difference in people's day, and even their lives. I have a whole set of cards written by Holley Gerth to encourage, thanks to DaySpring. The cards are pretty and the words are even sweeter. Nuggets of truth are sprinkled throughout. I'm looking forward to sharing with my friends -- in this small town and other places farther from my everyday life.

First up is a friend who lives 3.4 miles away. We became friends not long after I quit my job as a newspaper reporter to become a full-time mom. I knew I didn't want to be in this season alone, so I sought out a mom's group. She and I clicked, and we've been friends ever since, even though the group has since dissolved. Our kids have since become friends and our husbands even work together now. God has blessed my family with her family and reminded me that he's always working in the details.

We've shared countless lunches at the park, our houses and restaurants; she's become a college basketball enthusiast after we invited her just a few Murray State games; we've been swimming and to movies and kids' birthday parties. We share life.

And I want her to know I'm grateful. Seasons with kids are always changing. There's naptimes and bedtimes and school schedules. But not everything has to change, and I want her to know I'm holding on to my friendship with her.

{DaySpring graciously gave me Holley Gerth's cards to review. These were in there too. All the opinions here are mine.}

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Friday, January 6, 2012

{Adoption} Wonderfully Made

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. --Psalm 139:14

It's a new year. Starting new has been on my mind. I've been thinking and praying about how to better give and better love and how to be a better me. Those are all generalities, I know.

But something has been brewing in my heart. I shouldn't be surprised, January has always been life-changing for me.

And God tied it all together for me while driving from Murray to Leitchfield earlier this week. He took away fear and hesitations. He gave me perspective. He opened my heart.

With that, Greg and I are going to begin a third adoption process. Begin is the key word. Any adoption is a journey. We've been blessed with quick, easy adoptions with Cate in 2007 and Ben in 2009. We know God has another story to tell. Perhaps it will mirror theirs. Perhaps it won't be anything like it. Either way, we're trusting God, who has proven over and over again he's faithfully in the details, as we live this story.

We aren't sure who, when, or how. But God knows how he'll grow our family. Prayers for our future birthmom and baby are appreciated. And, of course, if you hear of a pregnancy situation that becomes an adoption case, we'd love for you to consider us if you know of a baby who needs a home.

We believe this story will be continued ...

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

48 hours

Here's a glimpse into my Tuesday and Wednesday this week. It was a fun "adventure," as 4-year-old Cate described it. But it's no wonder my mind seems to keep thinking it's Monday ...

8:15 am - Got blood drawn at Murray-Calloway County Hospital.

9:08 am - Dropped Cate off at school and then ran errands.

10:30 am - Finished packing, picked up around the house, ate lunch.

12:39 pm - Picked Cate up at school.

12:53 pm - Left Murray. Ben fell asleep shortly after.

{Murray to Leitchfield is 154 miles.}

3:05 pm - Stopped for snacks {and Ben woke up ...} and killed some time before picking up Greg at the Grayson Co. Courthouse, where he was working, and continuing to Louisville.

{Leitchfield to Louisville is 71 miles.}

6:05 pm Eastern - Exited I-65 for Freedom Hall and sat in traffic. Made it in, found my sister with our tickets, found our seats and got food before starting lineups were introduced. We watched a somewhat ugly game, but a win is a win and the Wildcats beat Arkansas-Little Rock 73-51.

9:20 pm - Headed to Mom's house where we were "sleeping just one night," according to my daughter who wanted more.

1:05 am - Wondered why I wasn't asleep but had been laying in bed for more than an hour.

6:09 am - Cate woke us up a little before our 6:30 alarm. We all got up and ready for the day. {Eastern time is earlier than our hometown central time ... so it was an early day, folks!}

7:19 am - Said goodbyes to Cassie & Zac and headed to Shepherdsville, where Greg was going to start his work day.

{Louisville to Shepherdsville is 18.3 miles. The kids napped, briefly.}

8:05 am - Kids and I shopped at Target.

9:40 am - Arrived at Build-A-Bear and waited until it opened at 10 am, at which time the kids start building Max and Emily.

{Shepherdsville to the east end of Louisville is 29.6 miles.}

10:40 am - Shopped at Costco, thanks to a Christmas gift card.

{From there to lunch was 11.3 miles.}

11:35 am - Arrived 10 minutes early at W.W. Cousins for lunch with a friend I don't see often enough.

{Just 9 miles from there to the mall.}

12:40 pm - Headed toward Oxmoor, where I spent another Christmas present -- an Archiver's gift card.

1:15 pm - Spent $2.25 in quarters on small kids rides in mall. Then kids played more when the rides weren't moving.

{Back across part of Louisville for 10.4 miles, and the kids napped again.}

2:10 pm - Left to meet Mom at Chick-fil-A, where the kids played more before we got in the van for a long time.

{The 25.5-mile drive from mom's neck of the woods to Bardstown straight down U.S. 150 E/U.S. 31E was a beautiful stretch I'd never seen before.}

4:10 pm - Picked Greg up at Bardstown, where he ended his work day. Headed to Murray.

{Bardstown to Murray is 207 miles, and Ben slept almost the entire trip.}

6:20 pm - Arrived at CFSB Center, got some concession stand dinner and settled in to watch our Racers become 15-0 with a 76-67 win over EKU.

9:10 pm - Drove the 1.5 miles home and everybody got ready for bed.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

From one year to the next

We bid farewell to 2012 ...

... snuggling before the UK-UofL game.

In case you haven't heard, the Wildcats survived. We love our Racers, but we have a history with the Wildcats too. Thankfully, both teams keep us entertained and like to win.

... in Wildcate blue.

It looks like Ben is really watching the game. That's not true. He actually was scrambling to get away from snuggling with Daddy when he saw I had the camera out. That's my boy -- eager to be on the move. But he looks cute in his Big Blue jersey.

... wrestling, of course.

That's 5-year-old Luke and my 2-year-old Ben wrestling. And laughing. They certainly enjoyed themselves. And 16-month-old Caroline was contemplating getting in on the action.

... with friends.

Cate and Norah settled in on the couch to watch a movie. They're all smiles here, and really were most of the evening. Us adults were having a Settlers of Catan marathon.

We took our break from our traditional bigger, louder NYE Game Night, but it was a good night.
We played four games while the seven kids{ages 5 ain our three families played and then slept in various beds throughout the house. We lasted until 11:15 p.m., when we recognized that it was the new year in my native Eastern time zone.

Welcome, 2012!

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Happy New Year!

May your 2012
be full of
laughter and adventure.

Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter.