Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Tot Clock : Get yours today!

I don't want to jinx anything, of course. But I am excited to share with you, something that has revolutionized the way we sleep in our house (the past couple of weeks, anyway).

Eisley pretty much dictates how much sleep Billy and I get.  She wakes up early... and when she's up, she's up. And she makes sure everyone knows it. There's no quietly laying in her bed until Mom or Dad goes in to get her up. She yells for us to come. Impatiently waiting for the rest of the house to wake up. Sometimes at 5:15 a.m!

So why does she wake up so early? I've tried to think of any and every explanation, but I think it really just comes down to her body clock.

For a while, Billy and I had mastered the art of sleeping through Eisley's cries of impatience. She at least stayed in her bed. Until a few weeks ago, when she discovered, "Hmm. There's nothing making me stay in bed. I'll just get up."

It was creepy. Several mornings, we wouldn't hear Eisley stir. She just eerily appeared beside our bed. Standing there. Staring at us. Willing us to wake up.

But our friend Lindsay told us about the Tot Clock. She purchased one for her daughter and had positive things to say about it and its potential (thank you, Lindsay!). It really is an amazing device. It's a clock, and it operates on a color system. We program Eisley's bedtime into the clock. When Eisley's bedtime rolls around, the face of the clock turns blue. And for as long as the clock is blue, Eisley is to stay in bed.  We have also programmed Eisley's waking time. She isn't allowed to get out of bed until the clock turns yellow.

Same for nap time. I tell the clock the duration of Eisley's naptime, and the clock stays blue for that length of time. She isn't allowed to get out of bed until the clock turns yellow again. 

There's a timeout option, too (red). And an option for encouraging good behavior/activities (green).

Eisley LOVES her clock. She loves to go check what color it is and report back to us. "It's still yellow, Mom! That means it's not bedtime yet!" Or, even stranger, "Mom! The clock is blue! That means I better get in bed! Goodnight!" (There's excitement in her voice over the clock being blue.)

The past several days, Billy has been woken up by his alarm clock in the mornings. Not by our child mysteriously appearing by our bed before his alarm goes off. Or by her screams from down the hall. She just patiently and quietly waits in her bed, staring at the clock. The second it turns yellow, we hear, "Hey guys! It's yellow! That means it's waking up time!"

So. I know the novelty of the clock could wear off for Eisley at any moment. Even if it does, I will always be grateful for these past few days of "sleeping in".

You can purchase the Tot Clock through various online retailers, but I got ours on Amazon since I had some gift cards (thank you, Swagbucks!) to use. It's pretty pricey as far as clocks go. But worth every penny and then some. You just can't put a price tag on sleep.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oh Happy Day

First off, I recognize the ridiculousness of the excitement behind this post. But I just can't help the excitement. Here goes:

I love a good grocery store. And nothing sends me over the edge than a bad one. Until yesterday, grocery shopping in Waco was the only thing I genuinely disliked about our town. I had tried out a couple of different stores-- they were either too crowded (all the time), poorly laid out, lacking in customer service, or didn't have what I needed. It was maddening. I never seemed to have an entirely successful trip to the store!

But yesterday, I found a Brookshire's near Waco. It's in Robinson, so it's an extra 2 minutes in the car than my other regular store was. It takes me just 8 minutes to get there. Brookshire's is the store I grew up going to. I haven't regularly shopped at Brookshire's in more than 12 years, as I haven't lived near one since I was 18. Brookshire's is a great grocery store chain, and I was reminded of that yesterday.

When I walked into the store, I was welcomed by the store manager, who said, "Welcome to Brookshire's." In the 30 minutes I was there, two employees asked me if they could help me find anything. The produce was beautiful and fresh, and the store was organized in a way that made sense. The store was clean and quiet, and it was just a very pleasant shopping experience. They didn't have one of the items I was looking for, and I asked what the process was to request that they stock that item. They took my name and said to give them about a week, and they would have it on their shelves. When I went to take my groceries to my car, I was stopped by another employee, who reminded me that at Brookshire's, the employees take the groceries out to the car. I explained that I was fully capable of doing it myself, and she responded with, "We're here to serve you, ma'am. It will be my pleasure to take them for you."

The only drawback-- they don't have a large selection of organic items, and no bulk items. They do have the basic organics-- milk, eggs, butter, and a few veggies.  So I still may have to shop at some of the other stores for some of our groceries. But for the bulk of it, I'm headed to Brookshire's!

Monday, November 15, 2010

13.1 Miles: The Recap

There are many things I could say about the trip to San Antonio this past weekend. And probably I should do separate posts for the race itself and for the trip.  But you're getting one long post instead. Sorry.

We spent most of our time over the weekend with the McCuaigs, some of our favorite people in the world.  They live in Lubbock, and we had not seen them since February. They came to Waco on Friday and spent the night, and on Saturday morning we headed to San Antonio. It was so good to be with them. Though we love our life here in Waco, a lot of our energy is spent doing the work of forming new friendships. And while it's fun and exciting, it's exhausting. If you've ever moved to a new place, started a new job or school, you know what I mean. It was nice to settle back into a wonderfully well-established friendship, and just be together. Talking and catching up. Cooking together and drinking hot cocoa, watching the kids play together, and laughing a lot.  Here we all are together at lunch in San Antonio on Saturday:

We did the race thing together. Went to Expo together, shared a hotel suite, Billy and Kelly got to hang together during the race as spectators, and after the race, we did a lot of good celebratory eating together! Such a fun weekend with friends.

Here are a couple of photos from the Expo:

Just got my race packet!

I love this picture of me and my cousins!

And of course this silly one!

As for the race itself. It was one of the most fun things I have ever done in my life. Running a half marathon is a dream I've had for a long time. And on Sunday, that dream became reality. It was more fun than I even thought it would be!

Shannon and I got up at 5 a.m. on Sunday. I took a quick shower (yes, I know it seems silly to shower before running 13.1 miles), and ate breakfast. My usual long run breakfast- a banana and peanut butter toast.  I got dressed (of course I had obsessively laid out my entire ensemble the night before) and went downstairs to meet everyone. My "coach" for the weekend was my cousin Jessica. This was her fifth half marathon, so she's past the "I'm so nervous/excited I might pee my pants!" point, and had said she would walk us to the start line, help us get to where we were supposed to be, etc.

The one thing that surprised me about the whole pre-race experience, is that I actually slept the night before. I honestly didn't expect to. I often have a hard time shutting my brain "off" at night, especially when I am nervous or excited. But I totally slept!

We picked a great spot to stay for the weekend. Our hotel was maybe a half a mile from the start, so we didn't have to deal with driving or parking, or even taking a shuttle. We just walked out the front door and followed the masses. Here are a couple of pre-race photos:

 Me with all of my "people".  Shannon, Christin, and Jessica

The family shot! The best cheerleaders ever! 

 Now headed to our corral. We were practically GIDDY! 

Since Jessica was using this race as a training run for her full marathon in a few weeks, and since this was mine and Christin's first race, Jessica was able to take it easy and pace us for the race. We ran with Jessica and her friend Serene. SO much fun. We talked, laughed, and ran. They were the best running partners. I don't know if I have ever had that much fun running!

It was amazing how quickly the time went by... in the beginning, anyway. I was really impressed with how well-managed/produced the race was. Water stops were well-timed. They were long, too. Meaning, there were several tables and a lot of people at each of the stops, which meant they weren't too terribly crowded, and didn't slow us down too much. There were several bands all along the course whose music was fun to listen to. The course was pretty flat, except for a few hills, including a ridiculously intense one near the very end. 

My only real complaint was the lack of consideration a lot of the walkers on the course showed. That sounds jerky, and I don't mean for it to. I think walking a half marathon is awesome and I think it's a huge accomplishment. I just wish the walkers would have stayed to the right, like they are encouraged to do. There were so many walkers in the middle of the street. People we almost ran in to. It was kind of hard to navigate. 

I got to see Billy and Eisley at Miles 3 and 8. Luckily, Billy's pretty easy to spot. Here I am at Mile 3, having a blast.

Miles 1-10 were pretty good. They seemed to fly by, and they were fun. Somewhere between Mile 10 and 11, the whole thing became a lot less fun. My legs hurt. I was tired.

At Mile 11, I hit a wall. A big one. Instead of realizing that I had JUST two miles to go, I kept thinking, "I have TWO miles to go. That's so FAR." Deep down, even in the midst of the "wall", I knew I would finish. It just seemed I couldn't keep up at the pace that we had all been running up until that point. I was really frustrated with that, too. I had a suspicion that even that was all in my mind, and maybe I could have done it, but somehow I couldn't talk myself out of feeling defeated. I slowed way down. I watched my cousins and Serene go on ahead of me (which was totally fine! I was not upset that they had gone on. That's what they needed to do, and should have done!). I settled into a slower pace.

And then I saw Jessica's yellow shirt. She came back to finish with me. And at that point, I could have probably hyperventilated, because I was crying so much. Happy tears. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see another person than I was to see Jessica. She ran (painfully slow!) alongside me, encouraged me, and told me I could do it.  And I did. Before too long, we had reached mile 12. And then mile 13.

And then we were in the chute, approaching the finish line. I was able to put a smile on my face and finish feeling proud! Serene and Christin finished 2 minutes before we did, and we found them pretty quickly in the family reunion area. Soon after that I found Billy and Eisley. Not too long after that, Shannon finished, and I met up with her. There were lots of grins after the race!

All in all, a fabulous day! My official finish time was 2:24:23. My goal was to finish under 2:30, so I am very happy with my time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Race day is tomorrow. So excited!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The day after tomorrow: Toddlers!

The race is the day after tomorrow!

I have thought all along, but this week I know it for sure, that training for a half marathon when you're a stay-at-home mom to a busy toddler is CRAZY. It's been challenging at times.

In the beginning, I was training in Kentucky, while I was still working and going to school, so the only time I could run was in the evenings. That meant missing Eisley's bedtime, or rushing out the door after dinner, to squeeze in a run and get back before she went to bed.  Now that we're in Texas and I'm not working, I'm not having to miss as much family time to go run, as my friend Barbara usually keeps Eisley in the mornings while I go running.  But none of this is the crazy part.

She's SO busy. If you've ever met my child, you know this is true. When she's awake , she's moving. The child is perpetual motion. Always into something, always exploring, always talking... at the end of the day, I'm exhausted. In the mornings, I'm often exhausted. And running often seems like the last thing I want to do.  Oh yes-- I very much enjoy the "me" time I get when I go out for a run-- but sometimes I lack the energy! Truthfully, I think all of these things are wonderful-- I love that she's so curious and smart and full of life.

But this week. The one week I need my sleep to actually count, as I approach race day, my child has seemed to test my every limit. She's been extra energetic. Extra defiant. On Monday she skipped her nap. And for some reason, at night, she's had some trouble sleeping-- which means we have, too.

I have hope, though. Last night was a good night of rest for all of us (though, we had to leave our house at 9 p.m. when we were trying to go to bed because our storage unit had been broken into and we had to go file a police report).  But besides dealing with that, and going to bed an hour later than we had planned, this morning I am feeling more rested.

Join me in praying for a good night's sleep tonight, won't you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

3 Days (2 Days?): I Almost Caught a Cold

My cousin and I are having  a little dispute about how you officially "count down" for a race. So whether the race (on Sunday morning, bright & early) is 3 days away, or 2 days away (I guess, it's 2 and a half at this exact moment), it's coming soon. :)

And I almost caught a cold. On Monday I started feeling yucky. I know my body well enough to know when something is trying to take over my system. I could tell. A cold was coming. What awful timing. I was really angry about it, too (you can ask Billy. I was grouchy). I just kept thinking, "Of ALL the weeks to catch a cold, why this one? Five months of training for this race, and I am going to be SICK?" So on Monday night I sent out a text to a few friends, asking them to pray that I would stay healthy. And I went to bed at 8:00.

During my waking hours, I took a multi-vitamin sort of thing, that was recommended (and given) to me by my friend Shannon. 3 pills every 3 hours. They stink to high heaven. And they're big. But they work. I rested as much as I could (which, of course, all depends on Eisley!), took the pills, and kept myself as hydrated as possible.

Even as recently as last night, I did not feel well. At small group last night, everyone could tell I didn't feel well, even though I was in a little bit of denial.

But this morning I woke up a new woman! I feel GREAT today. I'm still taking my vitamins and still keeping myself hydrated, but I feel like the battle of Me vs. Cold was won somewhere in the night last night-- and the cold lost.

Thanks, friends, for all of the prayers, encouragement, and ideas for how to beat a cold. I'm grateful.

Bring on the race!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

4 Days: Billy & Eisley

Billy has said to me more than once, "Running is the least fun sport ever." But he hasn't said it a single time since I started running again in May.

When I had this insane desire to start running again, after 8 years of not running, I talked to Billy about it. I told him that for Mother's Day, I wanted a new pair of running shoes. And something else. I told him that training for (and succeeding in training for) a half marathon was really important to me, but I couldn't do it without his support.

So I got my new pair of running shoes. And Billy has been nothing but encouraging since I got them. And even though I know that for him, running isn't fun, he hasn't mentioned a word of it these past few months, and has just been...great!

When I go out for my Saturday morning long runs, he stays behind with Eisley, and sends me out for my run with a, "I hope you have fun today." Or, "You're doing a good job. I'm proud of you." He has helped Eisley know how to encourage me, too, and she always asks whenever I come home from a run (long or short), "Mom, did you have fun running today?" or "Good job, Mommy!" A few weeks ago when I ran a 5K, I texted Billy to say that I had finished and was headed home. I immediately got a call from Eisley and she said, "Good job, Mommy! I'm so proud of you!" (this was Billy's prompting, of course, but I loved hearing those words.)

I run with my cell phone, and on most of my long runs, Billy sends me an encouraging text during my last couple of miles. They always make me happy!

So. I am thankful for Billy's encouragement these last few months, and I am really excited about seeing Billy and Eisley somewhere on the course cheering me on, and at the finish line for a great big family hug!

Monday, November 8, 2010

5 Days: The Trip

Who doesn't love San Antonio, TX? I haven't been to San Antonio in ages, and I am excited to be going this weekend. I mean, if you're going to run a race, you might as well run it in a really fun city, right?

We decided that we would spend two nights there. And we decided that instead of going down to San Antonio on Friday and coming home Sunday (race day), we would go Saturday morning, and come back Monday. This means that Sunday & Monday, after the race is over, we get to go have FUN with our friends.  We get to eat whatever we want, wherever we want. We get to sleep in on Monday once all of the pre-race jitters have subsided (I say this, in complete denial that my toddler will wake us up early anyway). We get to enjoy a great city with great friends.

So... here's to a fun getaway in San Antonio!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

6 Days: Family Reunion

My family is large. There are a lot of us, pretty much on every side of the family, but particularly on my mom's side. She has 6 siblings. Many of them are married with kids, and their kids have kids now, too.  One of the best things about my family is how intentional the family has always been about getting together, and knowing one another.

My childhood is filled with memories of family-- spending Christmas together, or the 4th of July, and ordinary Saturday afternoons. I remember making nature soup with my cousins, and climbing the tree in our grandmother's yard for hours-on-end. We had cousin sleepovers, played hide-and-go-seek in the dark in our grandmother's yard, built forts in her backyard, and went exploring in the alley that was behind her house. I was 16 when our grandmother died (none of the cousins had the chance to know our gradfather, as he passed away before any of us were born), and I wondered if I would still see my family again like we always did at our grandmother's house.

Yes. I still see my family on a regular basis. Even at age 30. We still spend Christmas together, celebrate birthdays together, visit the ones that live in other states, and we even have a family facebook group. We stay connected. Sure, it gets harder to do, as our family keeps expanding. But we somehow make it work. While certainly everyone in the family works hard to stay connected to one another, I think a large part of our connectedness over the years has been because of our aunt D. When our grandmother passed away, I'd say she became the established "matriarch" figure of the family. She organizes cousin dinners, plans (and largely funds) our Christmas gatherings every year, helps to maintain our family contact information and makes sure we're all in the loop, attends high school, college, and graduate school graduations, birthday parties for her great nieces & nephews, sends everyone in the family a card on their birthday (that often includes a little "fun money"), and makes sure we all know what's going on in one another's lives. Simply put: She's an amazing woman. She loves her family dearly-- and she is well-loved by us.

All that to say: there are 4 of us from my generation of cousins running this half-marathon next Sunday. There's me, Jessica, Christin, and Barrett. And I am excited about that.  Excited because I can honestly say that these folks are more than just cousins-- they are my friends. They are my friends, because our family, through the years, has made an effort to know one another and take an active interest in one another's lives.

* [I could write an equally heartfelt and honest tribute like this, for all of my families, not just the Collinses. I could write one about the Efurds/Hendersons, the Floyds, and my newest families, the Lawsons and Hickmans. And probably someday I will.]

So. I am grateful also to have journeyed with these folks the past few months-- being jealous of Barrett and the insanely long distances he is able to run, and the ridiculous speed with which he has run them (while being genuinely excited for him at the same time!), being truly concerned and worried for one another over injuries, and encouraging one another when we're discouraged, and celebrating when one of us has run a longer distance than we ever have before!

I look forward to celebrating with you at the finish line, you guys! (Of course, Barrett will have had time to finish, eat, take a shower, and change clothes, before the rest of us make it there. We'll only be a little bit jealous.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

7 Days: Looking forward to seeing a Friend

Perhaps the most exciting part of this race-training journey has been the fun of sharing it with a friend of mine.  I've been training with a friend since the beginning.  Except we haven't been training together-- she lives in Lubbock, and I live in Waco. She is a friend I knew in college, but really became close with during our seminary days. Shannon, Kelly, and their son August moved away from Wilmore in February of this year. That was the last time we saw them... and it's been far too long!

So. We decided to train together for this race, and have been holding each other accountable and encouraging each other along the way. We've kept a (private) blog together, to share about our trials, triumphs, frustrations, and victories. For each of us, this is our first half-marathon. And in less than ONE WEEK, we get to see each other! The McCuaigs are coming to Waco on Friday, and we are beyond excited!! We will all head to San Antonio on Saturday morning.

The McCuaigs are what I would call "heart" friends. Our friendship is a special one, and I know it will be a lasting one. So here's to old friends reuniting, and the excitement of sharing in this triumph together!

Friday, November 5, 2010

8 Days: The Fear

8 Days! EIGHT Days! You can't hear me, but my voice sounds a little panicky at this point. I guess that means that today is as good a day as any to talk about my fears. Where do I start?

Sometimes I'm afraid I won't finish. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll get hurt. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll somehow blow all of my energy within the first 2 miles and have to crawl along the rest of the course. I'm afraid I won't be able to sleep the night before the race (this is a very real fear, that could actually be true) and will be so tired on race day, that I'll just be miserable the whole time and won't have it in me to do as well as I know I can do. Other times, I'm afraid I haven't prepared well enough, and on other days I'm afraid I'm too confident in my ability to finish, that I'm setting myself up for disappointment.  The other day, on a 10 mile run, about the time I was doubting I could finish, I got a perfectly-timed text message from Billy, encouraging me to keep going. It was all I needed to keep at it-- so other times, I worry that I won't see Billy and Eisley anywhere along the course, and I'll be disappointed. And, I often try to convince myself that I'm faster than I really am... I'm not fast. So I worry that, even if I do the best I can do, I will somehow be disappointed in that.

I think all of my race-day fears can be summed up this way: I worry that the mental "game" of running, will somehow get the best of me.  I never understood until recently, how much of the sport of running is MENTAL.

So... here's to positive thinking and putting away those fears!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

9 Days: Expectations

9 days to go. NINE days!!!  Today I want to share with you my expectations for the race.

To be honest? I don't have many. I think because I have NO idea what to expect, I'm just sort of approaching the race with a "Hey, I'll just have fun and see what happens!" kind of attitude. Is that bad? I can't imagine standing at a starting line with 20,000 people lined up. I don't know what going through the water stops will be like. I don't know what the crowds on the course will be like, or what kind of pace I'll realistically be able to keep, since this is a distance I've not mastered before.  Now, it's not like I'm going in completely blind, of course. I've figured out how to hydrate on my long training runs, I know about what I expect my pace to be, and I've run smaller races before-- but you can only prepare so much for a race of this size. Everything changes when you're talking about running with 20,000 people, in a town you've never run in before, on a course you've only read about.

So... my goal for this race? To finish! That may seem to be too simple a goal for a race I've been preparing for for months now. But for me, it's a good starting point. It will be my launching pad for improvement in all future races.

Since I don't really know what to expect, I may even find that I hate races. I doubt that will be the case, though. One other thing I do expect is that I will have fun. Even cheering on friends and family members at past races, I've learned this: something about the race atmosphere is just FUN. It gets me all hyped up! Now that I'm actually participating in a race, I fully expect it to be even more of a thrill!

So. This is my starting place. My expectation is to finish (I do have a goal time in mind, but I do not even know how realistic it is. It may be too ambitious a goal, or it may be too attainable for all I know) and to have fun in the process.  I am going to run as hard as I can next Saturday, and do my best, and see where that gets me.

(I already have my sights set on another half marathon in March in Dallas. By then, I hope to have a little clearer idea of what to expect, based on my experiences in San Antonio next weekend.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin: Dreams

10 Days. 10 days from now is Race Day! I am super excited! I am going to blog through my 10 day Countdown, on a few different topics that have been milling around in my head the past few days.

I am feeling a whole range of emotions right now-- mostly excitement at this point. Sure, there are moments when I think, "Oh crap! I have to run 13.1 miles in less than 2 weeks!", but right now I'm still in the excitement phase.

Today's topic of discussion: Dreams.

Everyone tells me that in the days and weeks leading up to race day, it's pretty common to have crazy dreams about the race-- getting lost on the course, the course shutting down before you finish, not being able to find your family after the race, breaking a leg, etc.

I haven't had these dreams yet, but I expect them to come any day now. The trick will be, of course, to not let them spook me too much.  I pretty regularly have very vivid dreams. The bad ones really have a way of shaking me sometimes.

So... maybe I'll get lucky and won't have any crazy Race Day dreams in the next 10 days! But when I do,  I'm hoping I can laugh about them, rather than panic.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Perfect 10

Okay, so perfect is an extreme overstatement. But I did run 10 miles today and it felt pretty good!

There have been several times in the past few years I've said I'm going to commit to working out or running or some other physical activity. But unfortunately, I have a pattern of quitting when it gets tough. Not this time, though. This past summer I committed to training for this half marathon, and I've actually stuck with it. In the beginning, I know I stuck with it because I knew that my good friend Shannon, and several of my cousins were running that same race-- they would ask me how my running was going, and they held me accountable. But then I started to really enjoy myself, once I could finally run and not struggle to breathe!

So as cheesy as I know it is, I was grinning from ear to ear as I took the last steps of my run this morning, and was greeted by the members of my running club that had finished before me. I was really excited, and felt like I accomplished something really big today.

I'm still not as fast as I want to be. But even if I don't get faster, I'm really having a great time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Theology of a Toddler

Two things Eisley announced today while we were jumping on the trampoline together:

Eisley: I am God! 
Me: Oh, really? How come you say that? 
Eisley: Because I am Tinkerbell! And I can fly! 

And then she yelled the following, at the top of her lungs: 

God made me SPECIAL and he loves me VERY VERY much! 

(This one I am totally on board with. Eisley being God and Tinkerbell, and God being like Tinkerbell, I'm just not so sure about. Besides. How does she even know who Tinkerbell is?) 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Funnies from Eisley (From the past 2 days)

Last night, while spending the night at my mom's house, Eisley took this little teddy bear to bed with her. It is an angel bear, and has wings. In the middle of the night, Eisley threw the bear out of her bed and yelled, "I don't like that Jesus bear!"

Yesterday, my sister said to Eisley, "Hey, E-Money!" Eisley grabbed Kat's face and said, "I am NOT E-Money!"

Last night, Eisley saw a book about Noah and the Ark at my mom's house. My mom was telling her about Noah and how the animals were saved. Eisley added, "Yeah, Noah and the Wonder Pets saved the animals from trouble."

Eisley asked Aunt Kat to stay with her and play. Kat said, "I can't, Eisley. I have to work." Eisley, in a dejected tone, sighed and said, "Well, I have to go to work, too." Kat said, "Where do you work?"  Eisley said, "At my work."

Eisley was sitting at my mom's computer, and clicking things like crazy. Mimi said, "Eisley, let's not do that." Without skipping a beat, Eisley put her hand in the air and kept on clicking and said, "Hang on, Sister! I'm checking my email."

We took Eisley to the Rose Garden the other day and a lady there gave Eisley some roses. I told Eisley to smell the roses. So she did, and I asked her, "Does it smell good? What does that flower smell like?" She said, in a matter-of-fact tone, "It smells like poop." Ha!

Monday, October 11, 2010

7th Heaven (Do You Believe in Magic?)

As the number of days until my half marathon gets smaller, the number of miles I am running gets larger. On Saturday I ran 7 miles. And I had a blast.

On Saturday, we were in the Dallas area visiting Billy's family, so I decided to drive up to McKinney on Saturday morning to run with my cousin Jessica and her Team in Training group. I knew that there was no way I could run 7 miles on my own. Well, maybe I could have, but it was a terrifying amount of miles to run, since I have not ever run that far before.

I went to bed at 8:30 the night before, and I was up at 5 a.m. on Saturday. I met Jessica at 6:30, and after a few group announcements, a woman named Tammy shared the story of her battle with cancer, and why she runs with Team in Training. Her story was truly inspiring, and really set the whole tone for the run. The Team in Training folks aren't just running to do something for themselves. They run to save lives. They do it one pledge, one donation, and one mile at a time.

Since Jessica was running a half marathon the following day, she ran just the first 4 miles with me before she stopped, and I ran the last 3 by myself. My last 3 miles were definitely my slowest.  I really enjoyed running with Jessica, and with her friend Serene. We actually had things to talk about, and the time flew by. Before I realized it, we had completed 4 miles, and it wasn't until the very end of those 4 miles that I realized I was starting to hurt. Now, I know that for Jessica, those were a very slow 4 miles. She was taking it easy on Saturday because of Sunday's race. But for me, those 4 miles were actually quite a bit faster than I normally run when I'm by myself. And because I was enjoying the company and conversation, I hadn't even realized we were running at a slightly faster pace than I am used to running. It was a good feeling.

At the end of those 4 miles, I was starting to hurt, and the mind games started. I wanted to quit, and I probably could have thought of at least 20 excuses to talk myself into actually quitting. But I forged ahead, and not long after, something magical happened. The e-gel I had taken just a few minutes earlier, kicked in. And it worked. No more complaining. No more mind games. I just ran, and I felt good while doing it. Before I knew it, those last 3 miles were done, and I felt as though I had really accomplished something! What is e-gel? I'm glad you asked!

I had read about e-gel on Jessica's blog a couple of weeks ago, and to be honest, I wasn't sure I would ever try it.  Not because I don't trust Jessica's opinion; I just doubted that it could really be that different than Gu. In my (limited) experience so far, all of the energy gels produce about the same result for me. But last weekend when I went to Fort Worth for my 5K, I stopped in at the Fort Worth Running Company, and spotted e-gel on the shelf there. I bought one packet just to try, and from there would decide whether or not to buy more. I am here to tell you, that I will never buy another packet of Gu, or any of the other energy gels. This stuff works. And it works well.

Rather than repeat the very things Jessica has already written on her blog, I have included an excerpt from her blog below.  I am in complete agreement with her assessment of the product.  And as Eisley's friend Plex would say, "Try it! You'll like it!" I have included a link with my referral code below, should you decide to give it a whirl.   Without further ado, here's what Jessica has to say about it:

GU vs. E-Gel

Taste: Don't gag. I know GU is an acquired taste. Maybe not acquired. Maybe it's just something you learn to live with. I hate to say it but E-Gel is the same. Not better. Probably even a little worse. There are only 4 flavors available and of those 4, Vanilla Strawberry and Cherry Bomb made me gag the least. So those are my favorite.

Energy: I have been taking it for about a week now and I can honestly say I see a significant difference in my energy level. I was a little worried because E-Gel does not contain any caffeine but it hasn't seemed to matter. I am running stronger and faster than ever. And the no caffeine means I can take it in the evenings and not worry about being up all night.

Size: It's quiet a bit bigger than GU. I can't take the entire thing in one swallow which makes it more difficult to deal with while running. (Score one for GU)

Substance: E-Gel has everything you need and them some. See below.
MarathonPR - If you use e-Gel in your marathon training and on race day, Crank Sports will guarantee that you'll run a personal record (PR) time. Check out the website for details.

If you order online, use my referral code 387752 and I get free product. Once you order, you will get a referral code for free product also. When I ordered under Jessica's referral code, not only did she get points, but because I was a referral, I got points as well-- enough points, in fact, to make my shipping cost $0.

You can also click here to order. My referral code is already there.

Thank you so much, Jessica, for the great tip! I am forever grateful!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Race Recap

So I ran my 5K this morning. It was hard. Much harder than I think it should have been, to be honest! Some thoughts & observations:

* I am still sick. Today I feel worse than yesterday; I am feeling pretty congested, and can no longer breathe out of my nose.  I stayed overnight at my cousin’s apartment last night, who lives in Fort Worth,  about three blocks from where the race started (and finished). When I got winded going down the stairs to my car this morning, I knew it would be a tough run. But I ran. And I tried really hard not to do too much whining. :)

* It was good to be in the race atmosphere, and for what was a pretty small race, I felt it was done well.  It was fun, there were lots of people around, lots of fruit and smoothies to sample, and there was good music playing. At the halfway point, there was a water station, and even for such a short race, they had mile markers set up. When I put my electronic chip on my shoe, I felt like a legitimate runner. Ha!

* The race was not entirely awesome, however. The starting line and finish line were at the same place, and the path leading in/out of it was very very narrow. It was frustrating. When the race started, there were of course a lot of people packed into this tiny space, and we were all trying to get around each other; I had forgotten what that was like. I can only imagine how it will be at the half marathon, when there are thousands of people lined up to start the race. There was a guy at the start that seemed to be trying his very best to annoy me, and did so with a lot of success! When I would go right to get around him, he would go right and cut me off. When I turned back to the left to go around him the other way, he turned back to the left and cut me off again. He didn't seem to hear me when I told him I was coming up on his right (or left) to pass. Oh well! Then, as I approached the finish line, there were three people in front of me running side by side. And because the trail was so narrow, there’s no way I could have gone around them, even though I wanted to. On either side of this little pathway was a big drop-off/steep hill.

* The race was NOT on a road, which is what I had expected. It wasn't a trail race, either. It was sort of somewhere in between. The race went through Trinity Park in Ft Worth, and it was more of a dirt/gravely kind of road. A walking trail, I guess. It wasn’t awful. Just softer than actual road is, and a different surface than I am used to running on. At one point we were running along the river on a concrete trail, and that was definitely the easiest part of the race. The race started and ended on a grassy hill. It felt like I was in high school cross country all over again. It smelled and felt the same.

* My official chip time was 32:53. My goal was to finish under 32, and of course I wonder if I could have, were I actually feeling my best. But of course, it is what it is. I ran as hard as I was able today, and I cannot worry about what "could have been".  I will simply try to improve from here, and see what I can do at the next race.

All in all, it was a fun morning! I hope I am not down too long which whatever has me feeling yucky! I have a big training week ahead.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My First Race

Tomorrow morning, I am running my first race in a very long time. Like, in 4 years. Before the 5K I ran 4 years ago, it had been 8 years since I had run a race.

Tomorrow I am running a 5K, as part of my half marathon training. In just a couple of weeks, I will run a 10K. And just 6 weeks from now, I'll actually be running my half marathon. I can't think about that right now, though. It panics me too much.

But the 5K. I am excited about it. Sort of.

This has been a really difficult training week. Every single run I've gone on, has been painful. My legs hurt, I can't breathe, and the hills? Well. Don't even talk to me about the hills. They make me want to cuss. [Don't tell anyone, but sometimes they do.]

Plus, I'm sick. Yesterday morning, I started to feel something coming on. A cold? A cough? It might as well be pneumonia as far as I'm concerned. I don't have time to be sick right now. Not even with a cold. There are far too many miles to run yet.  Though I'd rather not get sick at all, I'd really prefer getting sick after November 14, Race Day.

I don't feel awful...yet. And maybe this will turn into nothing. But I know my body well enough to know when I'm getting sick. And I think it's coming.

I will still run my 5K tomorrow. And it will probably be difficult, since I don't feel my best. Maybe it will even cause me to get sicker, quicker. But I'm not missing this race.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The newest members of our family

Meet Eisley's fish. Last night we were at a birthday party for a friend, and their son (who is about 9 years old) has a great fish tank full of fish. Apparently, one of his fish recently had babies, and his tank is a little full. So he said to me, "So, I am thinking that if Eisley wants a fish, she could probably have one. I have a little tank and everything."

So I let the idea sit with me for a while, and Billy and I talked about it, and we decided that would be just fine.  We asked Eisley if she wanted a fish, and she was beyond excited. She jumped up and down, yelling, "I'm getting a fish! I'm getting a fish!!"

So she picked one out, and it went into her tank. She said, "Aww, where's her mommy and daddy? She's so sad."

And that's why we have three fish instead of one.

This morning, she told us that their names were (are you ready?): Dora, Boots, and Diego.

So at some point today or tomorrow, we need to beautify their tank with some rocks and plants.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Victory

A few months ago I posted that I was running again, and that I had registered for the San Antonio Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon on November 14.It was towards the end of May that I started running; I received my new running shoes for Mother's Day.

I remember the first mile that I ran. I remember it, because each and every step hurt. I couldn't actually run the entire distance. One mile. Really? I was so disappointed in myself, the physical condition I was in, and the fact that one mile was so very difficult for me. It took me 13 minutes to run that mile. 13 very painful minutes.  But I kept going.

And though I've been running since May, if you asked me, I wouldn't have called myself a runner. I was running. But I wasn't a runner.  Even if you had asked me yesterday if I was a runner, I would have told you no.

But today, I am a runner. What changed? Today I had the best run of my life. It wasn't fast. But it felt good. For 6 miles, I ran. And every step felt good. I felt like, for the first time, I knew my body well enough to know when to hydrate, to know when to push myself, and to know when to take it easy. And instead of trying to talk myself into quitting when it got hard, I talked myself into keeping at it.  Because I was having fun. And oddly enough, at the end of my six miles, I not only felt like I was on top of the world-- I was disappointed that my run had come to an end.

So go ahead and ask me if I'm a runner.  My answer will be "yes". 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Up Next

This isn't going to turn into a "What I'm Reading Now" blog. Except that I love reading again and I am excited.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Interview

Yesterday I "interviewed" Eisley. She's got definite opinions about things, so I wanted to ask her about her favorite things, and write them down. Her favorite things seem to always be changing as she grows.  But on September 8, 2010, these were Eisley's favorite things. I bet that the answers might even be different today, but here's what she said yesterday:

Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Food: Cookies
Favorite Vegetable: She first said, "I don't like veggies", but then changed her mind and said she liked Carrots
Favorite Drink: JUICE!
Favorite TV Show: Dora (I asked if she liked Dora better than Gabba, and I was shocked to hear her say "yes"!)
Favorite Game: Jumping on the Bed
Favorite Animal: Giraffe
Favorite clothes to wear: Yo Gabba Gabba big girl underwear
Favorite Fun Outing: the Museum here in Waco

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


While I was in seminary, I forgot how much fun it really is to read. Don't get me wrong-- I thoroughly enjoyed many of my seminary texts-- but even if I enjoyed the book, as I read, I was always thinking about how I would integrate the text into my final paper, what I needed to incorporate into a book review, how I could critically analyze the text, etc.

Two weeks ago I finally completed seminary. While I participated in the May commencement ceremonies, I actually had 2 classes to complete over the summer before I could officially be called "graduate".  I finished my final paper 2 Fridays ago at noon. And to celebrate, Billy took me to a bookstore, so that I could pick out my first post-seminary, read-for-pleasure-and-not-because-I-have-to-read-it book. 

It was a tough choice. I walked up and down the aisles of the bookstores, doing what I always do-- judging each book by its cover (Sorry, but it's got to grab my attention!), and really struggling with which book to purchase. This was a momentous occasion-- my first post-seminary read! I had to choose something fantastic.

After a much-too-long period of deliberation, I selected my book-- a classic-- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Yes, I had read this book once before. But I am pretty sure I was in the ninth grade, and I could barely remember anything about the book. The only two characters that came to mind were Atticus and Boo Radley and I thought I remembered it taking place in Alabama.  I very proudly carried my new purchase home, and couldn't wait to settle in and read.

I devoured this book. The night I finished it, I literally sat on the edge of my seat, wishing I could read faster so that I could turn the page faster and find out what happened next. And when I finished the book, I was sad. Not because I didn't like the way the book ended-- but because it had come to an end.

I think I am going to really love this reading-for-pleasure thing. What are your "must read" novels? I'm hungry for another one.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Billy Got a Job

Well in case you missed it on facebook, twitter, or the emails I sent out, Billy got a job! Today is his first day. We were all very excited this morning as he made his way out the door to go to work.

He's working for Summit Dental Lab here in Waco.  He will get to do a wide variety of projects, use all kinds of cool tools, and get to work in what seems like a great working environment. Everyone there seems to enjoy their job, they have fun, and he can wear pretty much whatever he wants to work. Today he wore jeans, a comfortable shirt, and a brand new pair of Converse sneakers that he bought for the occasion.  At his previous job he had to wear a uniform and boots. He looked much more comfortable today!

I am still looking for work, and trying not to get frustrated. I know something will come along. I just don't know what it is yet, and I am definitely ready to go to work. In the meantime, I am really enjoying the extra time with Eisley. Though, Eisley sometimes asks when she will get to to school again. I can tell she misses school-- she loved going to school when we lived in Kentucky. She felt so important and felt like such a big girl at school!

So. We're trying to figure it all out, and will keep everyone posted.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Legal Residents

Tomorrow we have a long day ahead of us. Tomorrow we tackle state vehicle inspections, vehicle registrations, and Texas Drivers Licenses. It's much more complicated to get all of this stuff here in Texas than I remember it being when we switched all of it over in Kentucky 4 and a a half years ago.

I anticipate many long lines, lots of forms, and a splitting headache by the end of the day. And at the end of it all, we'll officially be Texans again.

I remember the day we got Kentucky drivers licenses. I cried, saying, "But I'm a Texan!" (You know those Texans and their state pride!) I probably won't cry when I surrender my Kentucky license tomorrow. But I'll be a little sentimental for sure.

Here's hoping for kind workers at all the places we will go tomorrow, short lines, correctly filled out forms, and a decent drivers license photo.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

One Thing I Love About Texas

In restaurants, you don't have to waste your time asking the question, "Do you have Coke, or Pepsi products here?"

The answer is always Coke. Which is always the right choice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Broken Record

I can't stand the Texas heat. I can't stand the Texas heat. I can't stand the Texas heat. 

I could say it all day long. And sometimes I do. I forgot how hot it gets in Texas. Why we chose to move here in August is beyond me. Since we've been here, it's been well over 100 degrees. Every. Single. Day.  There has been a heat advisory in effect, you guessed it-- Every. Single. Day. It's awful. We've all got cabin fever, because let's face it. No one would venture out into this heat voluntarily.

So I'm pretending it's winter. No going outside. Just trying to think of fun things to do indoors. And holding out hope. Because once September gets here, we'll have great outdoor weather for a stretch of at least 4 months. Maybe more. Which I will love.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our Life

I haven't talked much on the blog about our life in Texas and what our day-to-day is like. That's mostly because it's often met with mixed reactions, and since a blog is a ONE-way conversation, and I can't enter into an actual conversation with whoever is reading, I've avoided writing about it altogether. I suppose that the reason we moved back to Texas, and specifically WHERE we moved in Texas, could seem kind of crazy if you haven't journeyed with us the past few months. But here I am. Wanting to write about my life.  We're currently living in Waco, TX. Neither of us is from here and neither of us has lived here before. But here's a bullet point version of our life right now:

* We moved here to be a part of the Hope Fellowship Church/Community.  Not in an employment situation. Simply to share life with the group of people that is Hope Fellowship. When we first heard about Hope Fellowship (from our friends Josh & Candace), we felt very drawn to this faith family, and wanted to scope it out and see if it might be a fit for our family. Getting here was a months-long discerning and praying process for us and we felt like God was drawing our hearts here. We arrived the first week of August.

* Neither of us has jobs yet. That's a little scary. But we are trusting God that something will happen. And we are hoping that it will happen soon.

* Since we arrived, we haven't actually spent too much time in Waco. We've been on a whirlwind tour of Texas to visit family-- weddings, birthday parties, and quiet visits with grandparents. We missed out on a lot of family time during our Kentucky years, and it feels good to be spending time with family again. We loved sitting at the breakfast table with my grandparents, drinking a cup of coffee with them. We loved celebrating Billy's cousin getting married, and laughing and talking during the reception. We loved getting to attend THREE birthday parties in ONE week on my mom's side of the family. We are now exhausted. But it's very very good to be so close to family again.

* We are currently living with another family here in Waco. They are a part of our new church, and they have been generous to us. We had only met them once (now you're probably seeing why a lot of this whole thing seems "crazy" to many of the people we know) prior to moving in with them, but we felt great about the situation. And still do. We are living with this family only temporarily-- this living arrangement eases the financial burden for our family while we search for jobs. It also allows us the opportunity to spend some time in Waco and with the Hope Fellowship community before we decide whether or not this is where we'll put down real roots, without the commitment of buying a house or signing a lease somewhere.  It allows us the time to consider houses we might wish to buy, and to wait for the right one without rushing into buying something simply because we need a place to live now.

* Most of our stuff is in storage. Some days I miss our stuff. Living with other people has its ups and downs. Some days are fun and fabulous and full of laughter. Other days bring frustration. Like when I go to make dinner and I'm in an unfamiliar kitchen with tools and gadgets that aren't mine, that I don't know how to use.  But we're figuring it out together and navigating this new way of life.  We're talking a lot about it as we go along-- what's working? What's not working? We're figuring out how to carve out personal and family time in the midst of life in a full house. We are living with a family that consists of a mom, a dad, a daughter that is 14, and a daughter that is 10. Eisley loves her new companions. She wants to be one of the big girls, and the big girls are wonderful with Eisley. Yesterday Eisley got to participate in the 10 year old's fashion show.  She's still talking about it today. And though the pictures are a little fuzzy, here are some pictures of Eisley on the "runway":

* We love our new church. Everyone has been so incredibly welcoming of our family.  We are still figuring out what life in this community will be like, but so far it has been incredibly rich. We've shared dinners with many of the families in their homes, shared in a common meals with the church family, hung out with some of the kids from the church, and are getting plugged into a cell/small group. Sunday morning worship has been a tremendous blessing. I had so many questions about what it would be like before we moved here. Yes, we moved here to be a part of this church. But we moved here having never attended a single worship service (Again, crazy, I know...). I have absolutely loved Sunday morning worship.  It's quite different from anything I have experienced before-- but still there is a certain level of comfort and familiarity.

* Waco itself isn't the greatest of towns. Well. Maybe that's not true. I'm just not used to it yet. The shopping certainly leaves something to be desired, but hey-- without a job, I don't need to be doing any shopping anyway! In reality, Billy and I are pretty committed to a very simple way of life. So the shopping isn't that huge a deal. It's just that I'll have to figure out all the best places to get things I need, and that is going to take time since a lot of my go-to stores don't have locations in Waco.

* I hate the grocery stores here. Sorry. I know H-E-B is supposed to be a really great company. But so far, the grocery store has only brought me headaches and stress. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that the last time I went, I unknowingly went on Senior Discount Day and the place was a madhouse.

* Several months ago I posted about training for a half marathon. Yesterday I went on my first group run with the Waco Striders Running Club. I found them on the internet and emailed someone from the group. I know that if I am going to be committed to my training, I had to find others to run with.  That was going to be essential, especially once my weekly mileage increases to mileage I've only ever dreamed of running. I had a GREAT experience with the group! I showed up to run with complete strangers, and they couldn't have been nicer or more encouraging to me. I look forward to spending my (very early) Saturday mornings with these folks in the coming weeks.

All in all, we're settling into a very comfortable way of life here in our new town. There are certainly days that my heart aches for Kentucky. There has been a definite time of grieving the loss of the community we found there and it has been harder on me than I even anticipated it being.  But we are glad to be here, beginning a new adventure and finding out what God has in store for us.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I won't tell a sappy story...

...but I will say that today marked the ending of a very significant chapter in my life. Today was my very last day at Versailles UMC, where I have served as the Children's Pastor for 4 and a half years. It's a very weird feeling to be finished with my work there. They were very rich years, and I am grateful for them.  There's a lot that could be said about my time there, but no amount of words could really capture the whole experience.

This means of course, that I now officially unemployed.  The last time I was unemployed was the one month period between leaving my job in Dallas to move to Kentucky, and getting the job at VUMC. The same feelings of uncertainty and anxiety I had then are hitting me now. But we are trusting God as we take these next steps. We are hoping that I will not be unemployed for long.  I will keep you posted.

9 days until we leave for Texas!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Eisley doesn't watch much TV.  We try to avoid it whenever possible. But Eisley does watch at least one episode of something every morning while I shower. It's the only thing that keeps her semi-out-of-trouble while I shower and she is left (for a short while!) to entertain herself.

This morning she was watching her favorite show, Yo Gabba Gabba.  I was showering, and  I heard Eisley enter the bathroom; she was whimpering.  She said (VERY sadly), "Mommy. Muno hit Plex and he fell down. [whimper]. He fell down [whimper]."  Muno and Plex are characters on YGG.

I said to her, "Oh no! Is Plex going to be okay? You better go check!"  Off she went.

She came back moments later and was VERY excited. No more whimpering. Just laughter and joy. She said, "Mommy! Plex is all better!! He got up! Plex is okay!"

I loved this moment. She's so sweet and very aware of things like people getting physically hurt, or even when someone's feelings are hurt.  I love that she was broken-hearted for Plex.  I pray that she grows in her compassion for others in the coming years.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


This morning we were driving to work/school, and I had on a shiny red bracelet. Eisley told me she wanted to wear the bracelet. I said, "No, Mommy's wearing it today. Doesn't it look pretty with what Mommy is wearing?"

Eisley said, "But I want to wear it."

I said, "How about I let you wear it until we get to school, and then you can give it back to Mommy. Okay?"

She said, "Okay!" I gave her the bracelet and then she said, "I yuv sharing with you, Mommy."

Translation: I like it when you give me your stuff, Mommy. 

And even though I know that's what she meant by what she said, I couldn't help but think it was a very sweet moment.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This is VBS week! We've had 3 great nights of VBS so far... 2 more to go! I'm sure I'll share some more highlights later... but tonight a highlight happened when I went down to the church nursery to peek in on Eisley. You have to be 3 years old to be a VBS participant, but we have a nursery available for the kids of our VBS staff.  They do a craft and hear a short bible lesson and have snacktime and go to the park, too. Everyday Eisley asks, "I go to Bible School, now please?" Tonight she was so into her VBS craft, that I stood there for 3 whole minutes and she never even noticed I was there. I love it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maybe Later

Eisley's response to everything I say "no" to these days is, "Maybe Yater." To her, everything is possible, and if I say "no", it's just because we can't do it at that moment. Most of the time it makes us laugh, because the answer is most definitely just "no". There's no "maybe later" about it. Here's a recap of some recent conversations:

Eisley: I go to park, Mommy, okay?
Me: Not right now. It's dinnertime.
Eisley: Maybe Yater.

In this instance "maybe later" works. We're all about trips to the park.

Eisley: I draw with this marker, okay? (as she held a brand new Sharpie in her hand and pulled off the cap)
Me (quickly grabbing the marker!): No. Let's not use that marker, Eisley.
Eisley: Maybe  Yater.

Sure. If by "maybe later", she means 5-10 years from now.

Eisley: I go California and see Bella and Jeremiah and SeeLee (Lindsay)
Me: Well, we can't go today, sweetie. But I promise we'll go sometime.
Eisley: Maybe Yater

Sigh. If by "maybe later" she means next summer, then yes.

Eisley: I drive to school today, Mommy.
Me: No, Eisley. Mommy's going to drive.
Eisley: Maybe Yater.

Well. Not sure I'll EVER be ready to say "yes" to that one. 

Maybe later.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Things I Look Forward to in Texas #2: Mexican Food

4 and a half years without good Mexican food is a long time. 

Let me phrase that differently: four and a half years without Tex-Mex is a long time. We've found a few spots here in Kentucky that we frequent for Mexican food, that we really enjoy. But it is definitely not Tex-Mex, and not always the flavors we want when we have a Mexican food craving.

So. I am most definitely looking forward to returning to the land of Tex-Mex. It's my favorite kind of food. I look forward to homemade tortillas and delicious Tex-Mex salsa. I look forward to orange cheese on top of every dish (here they use white cheese), and chile con carne on top of enchiladas and tamales (here it's queso or red sauce). I look forward to homemade guacamole and fresh sopapillas. To perfectly seasoned tacos and tortilla soup done right.

Though we're moving to a city neither of us has lived in before, I know that delicious Tex-Mex awaits us there. Can't wait to discover which spots will become my new favorites. Bring it on!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Things I Look Forward to in Texas

I know I've spent a lot of time focusing on the things we will miss about Kentucky. I suppose you could read all of it and think, "Gosh, isn't she at ALL looking forward to moving back home to Texas?" Yes. Of course I am! If we weren't excited about it, and did we not believe that moving to Texas is the right next step for our family, chances are we probably wouldn't be doing it!

Goodbyes are just hard. And I think that at first, as we're settling in and getting readjusted to life as Texans, we will probably just need some space to feel however we feel. I know I'll be a ball of emotion. There will be a season of grieving for sure-- it's hard to say goodbye to the people and places that make a place your home.  It's hard when your daily routine isn't really your daily routine anymore. It's hard to not know your way around a town, and it's even harder to move to a new place and not know anyone there. Building new relationships takes time, and so does reestablishing old ones.  Everything will be different. The people we left behind 4 years ago aren't the same people they were then. And we certainly aren't the same people we were when we left.

But there are many things we look forward to about Texas.  So I am interrupting the "Things I'll Miss" series for a "Things I Look Forward To" post or two.  Starting with the number one thing I'm looking forward to: Family.

98% of our family is in Texas. Most of them in the DFW Metroplex or in East Texas. We've missed far too many birthday parties, baby showers, funerals, bridal showers, grandparent lunches, Thanksgivings, Easters, let's-get-together-just-for-the-heck-of-it dinners, dance recitals, baptisms, etc. over the years. There are nieces and nephews that have been born while we've been away. Missing out on being the kind of aunt I'd like to be has been hard.

And now we have a child of our own. We want her to know her grandparents and we want all of them to know her. We want her to be able to play with her cousins the way we were able to play with our cousins when we were kids. To this day, some of my cousins are some of my very best friends. We have kids the same age, and I long to be near them again. There's a certain limit to the extent to which you can know a person, when most of your interaction happens through a computer screen. Though I'm grateful for facebook, tokbox, and Skype-- there's just no real substitute for the kind of conversation that happens around the kitchen table! Family, we're coming!! And we are thrilled!

I look forward to more moments like these:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Things I Will Miss About Kentucky #6: Our Church

It's been a weird week. An emotional one. Early Tuesday morning I got word that they have hired the new children's pastor at our church. I knew it was coming, knew they had been interviewing some high-quality candidates, and knew that any day they would be making an announcement that my "replacement" had been found. They found her. And she sounds wonderful.

This morning they announced it in church. They have not only hired the new children's pastor; they have also hired a new youth pastor. Joey, who has served as youth pastor at our church for the past 18 months is also leaving to pursue other ministry opportunities. Our last Sunday is July 18. I preach that day, and I can't help but wonder if anyone will be able to understand me through all of the sobbing.

Anything I could say about our Kentucky church family would only sound trite. No words could capture the love I have for these people, my friends and partners in ministry. They have become family to us-- and will no doubt remain that way. I am grateful for these past four and a half years. I am grateful that this church has given me the privilege of serving here.

As we say goodbye to VUMC, we know we'll soon be saying hello to our new church family in Texas. We look forward to that day and very much look forward to sharing life with this new family! But the years at VUMC will not be forgotten. This goodbye is one that is truly bittersweet.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Things I Will Miss About Kentucky #5: Close Proximity

Living where we have, for the past 4 and a half years, we've been fortunate enough to visit several interesting places. I forget that not all states are as big as my beloved Texas, and you have easy access to other states.  Though we didn't take advantage of this nearly as much as we would have liked (especially after Eisley was born and going places took actual planning!), I did get to visit a few fun places:

Cincinnati, OH is about an hour and a half away. I have been to a Reds Game, eaten at the Montgomery Inn, made several trips to the Newport Aquarium, and had other fun outings in Cinci. Here I am with some of the church staff at a Reds game. Yes. The seats were that empty. Yes, the Reds are that bad.

We also made several trips to Louisville. It's also about an hour and a half away. One weekend, I surprised Billy with an overnight getaway in Louisville. We had great food, stayed in a great hotel, and got to roam around Louisville. Downtown Louisville is a lot of fun. So is the Louisville Slugger Museum. I've been three times. I don't even enjoy baseball all that much, but somehow, the Slugger Museum and Factory is a great way to spend an afternoon. Just two weeks ago, we went with some friends to a great concert (The Swell Season) at the Brown Theater in Louisville and it was amazing. Here we are enjoying a pre-dinner feast at the Bluegrass Brewing Company downtown. They had a great patio:

Indianapolis, IN is only about 3 hours away. The second year we were here, Billy took me to Indianapolis to see my Dallas Mavericks play the Indiana Pacers. It was great. And the Mavs won in Double Overtime. :) It is a highlight of our time here.

St. Louis, MO is only about 5 hours away from here. Well. 6 with a baby in-tow. We took one weekend to drive to St. Louis and to meet some friends for a weekend of fun there. Very fun.

I also had the opportunity to go to Charleston, WV which is also about 5 hours away. I went as a chaperone on a youth mission trip and had a blast. We spent most of our time in Charleston working at different work sites-- but I definitely learned a true West Virginia art-- clogging! It was great fun.

Last summer we went to Chicago and stayed with my aunt and uncle for the 4th of July weekend. It was a 7-8 hour drive and it wasn't a bad drive at all. We also got to spend a day with our friends Josh and Candace that weekend. This whole trip is at the top of the highlights list for us. Lots of fun was had, and lots of great conversations were had that helped launch us into important conversations about life post-seminary.

Nashville, TN is just 2 and a half hours away, and it's a place we've made a a couple of trips to. We were able to go one year to cheer on lots of friends and my uncle Tony as they ran the Nashville Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon. I also went and met my mom, stepdad, and sister there one year that they were vacationing there.

There are also plenty of fun places here in Kentucky that we have visited. We have loved it! It's been a great place to live, that has allowed us opportunities to see other not-so-far-away places.  That's not to say that living in Texas we won't have similar opportunities.... Texas itself is filled with MANY interesting places, many of which we have not yet explored. We look forward to doing that when we get there!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things I Will Miss About Kentucky #4: Seasons

In Texas, where I grew up, and where I'm headed again soon, Summer lasts pretty much year-round, with the exception of just a few days: Autumn lasts about a week, winter lasts maybe a day, and spring gets sort of lost in the shuffle. That's probably a slight exaggeration. But only slight. In Kentucky, there are actual seasons. Four of them. Each of them distinct. And I couldn't love it more. If I were forced to pick my favorite season, I simply couldn't do it. I've learned to appreciate much about each one of the four seasons; there is great beauty to be found in each one.

Starting around October, the colors of Autumn are none other than breath-taking.  Just look at this. These are the leaves of the ginko trees that stand on the front lawn of the seminary. And every year, their beauty overwhelms me. It would you, too:

When we first moved here (January 2006), I was a little unsure of this thing called Winter. I was convinced I would freeze to death, and was terrified to drive in the snow. But I now think that Kentucky winters are near perfect.  During our time here, we've made friends from places farther north, where winters are far longer and much colder than a Kentucky winter. I would never survive in those places. But in Kentucky, the beauty of winter is remarkable. The black barns and stone fences, rolling hills, and horse farms are impressive things of beauty against the backdrop of a Kentucky snow.  Just when you're growing tired of winter, the snow seems to melt, revealing the colors of Spring. Not only is the snow beautiful, the snow is fun to play in! 

Spring in Kentucky is just lovely. It's the kind of spring you read about in books or see on TV, if you haven't lived in a place that has an actual Spring season.  The weather is comfortable-- not hot, not cold... just right. It is unbelievable how GREEN everything is here. Those once snow-covered rolling hills turn the brightest, richest, and most lush shades of green you could imagine. Baby horses are born, and it's delightful to see them running through the open fields.  Leaves spring up on trees again, flowers are in full bloom, and when the wind blows white or pink blossoms down from the trees on a sunny day, you feel like you're in movie, and that at any moment, a Frank Sinatra tune is about to play.  I love Spring in Kentucky.

Finally, Summer. I'm not going to lie. Kentucky summers are hot. But the heat only lasts for a while, and it seems that at least once a week, there's a rain shower that cools things off a bit.  That makes it much more bearable.  It doesn't start to get (what I would consider) really hot until late June.  July & August are hot-- in the mid-upper 90s (but rarely over 100), and by September things start to cool off again. The thing I've most appreciated about the Kentucky summers is how green everything stays. Even through August-- everything is still green. Amazing!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Things I Will Miss About Kentucky #3: Small Town Charm

I am really going to miss the City of Wilmore, KY.  I am going to miss people waving to me as I drive down the street, strangers saying "Hello" and asking how my day is going. I'm going to miss the small town charm that I've grown quite accustomed to here. This is my best attempt at a snapshot into Wilmore life.

Wilmore is a town of about 4,000 people. 4,000 friendly people. It's picturesque, everyone knows their neighbors, and parents feel safe letting their kids ride their bikes all over the neighborhood. If you're inside your house, your windows and front doors are open, and when you're in your yard, you're guaranteed to see at least 10 people you know passing by on their evening walk. No one has fenced in back yards, so when you're standing in your yard, you can say hello to just about anyone on your street that also happens to be outside.  Hardly anyone locks the door to their house, and if you're out of butter or sugar, you go ask your neighbor if they have some. You don't make a pointless trip to the grocery store, because you feel like you can't ask your neighbor for help. Wilmore is that kind of place.

Wilmore is also the home of Sim's Drugstore. This is the pharmacy we've used since we've lived here, and I LOVE that our pharmacist knows who we are as soon as we walk in the door. The pharmacy shares its space with Tastebuds Pizza-- which is oh-so-delicious. There are few things in life better than going to Sims/Tastebuds for a pizza and an Oreo shake (made with Blue Bell ice cream, of course). Here we are with the Lawsons, outside of Sims, when Eisley was just days old, and she made HER first trip there:

Every December, the City of Wilmore puts on its "Old Fashioned Christmas".  It is held the first Saturday of December each year, and the whole town comes out for it. The event kicks off with the lighting of the Christmas tree (which, to be honest, isn't much to look at). All of the downtown shops-- from the Post Office to the Bed and Breakfast to the Barber Shop and the local restaurants (there are 2) open up their doors to the town and serve Christmas goodies. There's hot cocoa and cookies and fudge, and anything else you can imagine. All along the way, people are singing Christmas carols and saying hello to everyone they meet. It's one of those things that makes you ask, "Is this place real?" We spent every Wilmore's Old Fashioned Christmas celebration with the same friends, and every year, it was one of our highlights. Adding to the magic of it all, it seems the first REAL cold weather for the season sets in just in time for the festivities, and there are always a few snow flurries in the air, too.

Similarly, every Halloween, the City of Wilmore has what is called "Treats on Main". Whether you are one that typically participates in Halloween festivities or not, Treats on Main really is fun. All of the kids in town dress up in their costumes (and by the way, I can say I've never really seen a SCARY costume at Treats on Main), walk along the sidewalks of downtown, trick-or-treating at all of the local businesses. The real fun is that it's a chance to see everyone you know. All in one place. There are no haunted houses in Wilmore, and I quite honestly don't know anyone who trick-or-treats in the neighborhoods of Wilmore. And again, I usually ask myself, "Is this place real?" Here's Froggy Eisley making her first stop at Treats on Main:

On the 4th of July, the whole town is out again. This time for a parade, that includes the Lawnmower brigade and the Water Gun brigade. Following the parade, everyone goes out to the Wilmore Campground for 25-cent (yes, you read that right) hot dogs, 50-cent hamburgers, and cold watermelon slices for a dollar. Everyone picnics together, hangs out, and just enjoys being together as a community. Just in case you were wondering what the Lawnmower Brigade is, here's a picture of it from a couple of years ago. It's serious business:

Wilmore is a place I've loved calling "home". Wilmore has, in many ways, taught me a lot about what community is supposed to look like. I have been changed for the better by living in this unique and wonderful little town.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Things I Will Miss About Kentucky #2: Big Blue

Yeah, I'll say it. I'll miss Kentucky sports. Rather, I'll miss the Kentucky sports fans. It's a bit absurd, really, the commitment these fans have to the Kentucky Wildcats. But I'll miss it, nonetheless. You may remember that a church member once taught my daughter how to say "Go Cats! Go Blue!" (If you need a refresher, I've included a video below, from when Eisley was just 18 months old). The Texas Tech Red Raider in me cringed. But the Bluegrass State-loving part of me smiled.

I really always thought no one took sports more seriously than a football fan in Texas. But that was, of course, before I had met a single Kentucky basketball fan. I don't know why I'll miss this about Kentucky. But I will. There's a certain energy in the air come basketball season that I haven't quite felt anywhere else. Everyone's happy, everyone's decked out in blue, and there's a certain connection and friendliness that people have with one other when it's Big Blue season. It's fun. You actually may think it's gross if you're not a sports fan. And maybe it is. But I can't lie and say I won't be saying "Go Big Blue!" from my living room in Texas next March.

(Go Cats.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Things I Will Miss About Kentucky #1: Ale 8

This list is in no particular order. I don't even know how many things will be ON this list. But I'm going for it: Things I Will Miss About Kentucky.

Our time here is pretty limited now. We're headed back to Texas in July, and I am quite sentimental these days. We're having so many lasts: last dinners with friends, last trips to the park, last meetings at church (who besides me would miss something like that?), etc.  I'm living in the tension of being ready to get back to Texas, and ready for this season of transition to be complete, yet not quite being ready to leave Wilmore. It's been our home for 4 and a half years now. We've grown up so much since coming here. We've grown in our marriage, grown our family, and most certainly grown in our love for the Bluegrass State. How do you leave a place you've grown to love so much?

Without further ado, here's the first thing I'll miss:

Ale-8-1, or "A Late One"

This highly-caffeinated, high-sugar, high-quality soft drink is made and bottled in Winchester, KY. To say it is delicious is an understatement. It's a ginger ale-type drink, but has a much sweeter taste than your average ginger ale. It also has a bite to it that I've not experienced in any other beverage. I will miss it.

It is not distributed outside of Kentucky (that I am aware of), so I'm thinking we'll rent TWO moving trucks and fill one of them up with just Ale 8 (kidding). The thing is, I know that about two weeks after we get to Texas, I'll be craving something. And the only thing that will satisfy that craving, is a cold Ale 8. Looks like I'll be out of luck.