Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Jo & Mingus Covert Birthday Op

This won't be as detailed and long of a post as I'd like to record on this event, but sometimes a girl only has so much time and a bit of a post is better than no post. I just feel like I need to acknowledge here my gratitude for my wonderful hubs and my best friend/cousin along with an awesome group of family and friends did for me for my birthday this year.

My birthday fell on a Monday--and not just any Monday. It was the first Monday back to work after vacation. Ugh. Nevertheless, it was a good day--I got to see my mom and she and Mingus both brought me a treat from town. Mingus made a delicious dinner and my little brother Deutsch even had a gift he'd left for me. All this in addition to the fact the in-laws surprised me with a cake on vacay as well as shopping fun at the outlet mall. The next day I worked in Louisville where the team celebrated with me by eating delicious cake. My drive home on Wednesday was long, hot and tiresome but my main man had a specially order "Gato Cake" waiting for me when I arrived home. (He asked them to do a cat. The lady said she could do a lion so they settled with that. Mind you this was from the IGA bakery!)

All of that in and of itself is a great 27th birthday. I also knew that Mingus and I were planning to go out to eat for a nice dinner on Saturday. I knew he'd been trying to get a hold of Jo for some plans and I'd mentioned to a few friends throughout the month that we'd probably be in Lexington that weekend and maybe we'd celebrate my birthday. Nothing had really developed. I know how busy I am and how I don't like to commit to events these days because it seems our calendar fills up with things we CAN'T turn down that I just want to be HOME when there is nothing pressing on the schedule, so I don't like making other people feel the need to schedule around me either. Therefore, I didn't make an effort to try to play and push for people to be available.

I did ask Jon on Saturday if he'd ever talked to Jo. He said yes and that she was "at the lake," which is where I know she spends nearly every weekend in the summer. Seemed likely enough but what really convinced me was that he said she'd given him all of these dinner ideas so he picked a place out. He'd also already planned where we could go to church and he seemed to have a good idea for what bar we could go to. He made it seem as though he'd planned all of it and Holly had helped some which led me to believe it was her way of making it up to me/us for not being in town to celebrate.

Dinner was delicious at Bella Notte--Italian! He knows it's one of my favorites but something we rarely get together because of the cream sauces, cheeses, butter, meats--all of which he's allergic to. 

He did sell out one friend but a reasonable one: Micah. It would make the most sense that (a) Micah and him would be texting back and forth (b) Micah would be free for a night out. So many of my other friends either don't live in Lexington or if they do are married/have kids. So he told me that Micah was probably going to be there and maybe even BooMan because the two of them had been hanging out some lately. 

Although Mingus was on his phone a lot--I presumed he was looking up the addresses since he doesn't know Lexington well (and he doesn't like trying to get around it much). When we left dinner he took us downtown to Parlay Social. When we went in I could tell they weren't quite in "bar mode" yet but it was still functioning as a restaurant so I felt slightly awkward. I didn't think we wanted our own table again, but I heard him tell the host we were meeting someone... so I asked who, and, of course, he again told me, "I think Micah's here..." 

So we begin to walk around to find him when I notice a group in the corner. I'm not sure now how I pieced it together. I saw familiar faces, while also noting a banner and realizing it said "happy birthday" but even then it took me another second or two and getting a little closer to realize I knew EVERYONE and this party was waiting for me... then I got right up on the table to see Jo in the back corner--in all her glittery glory--hands thrown in the air with a big smile, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!". Then Deutsch, of course, led the group in the singing of the birthday song while I smiled in shock--seeing friends from Louisville and Columbus; family members; even Valto managed to be free from doctor duty and mom duty! How? I'm not quite sure... Everyone was THERE and Jo had been behind it the entire time! 

Apparently Mingus had hit her up about going out for my birthday a few weeks back and she took the idea and turned it into the surprise party it was. She told him that I always spend so much time planning the parties and she didn't want me to plan but just enjoy this one. So she'd done it all up with purple everywhere and everyone wearing purple leies and even cupcakes.She'd sent a Facebook message out several weeks ago to make sure people had time to plan. 

It was a fun, fun night. It was only upon seeing everyone together that it really hit me how much I miss seeing all of these great friends of mine and having fun with them the way I could when I lived closer to them all. I love, love, LOVE my off and away life with my Mingus. It's probably ME more than anything that keeps myself from spending time with my friends these days; but that doesn't change how much fun I have with them when I do get with them. 

My Mingus gave me the best present he could have: a night of fun and dancing with so many of my friends. What a wonderful husband. And what wonderful friends. It's a wonderful life and I'm sure it will be a wonderful year!
My Mingus acting oh-so-innocent
during our fancy shmancy dinner.

Jo, Me & Rach! My best ladies!
Not really relevant to the surprise or party but their bathroom
had a stall with toilets facing each other! Wha?? haha so funny!

My party of purpleness spread out before me!

Despite Gress & Sara now living in Columbus,
I would still dub this the "Louisville Crew". :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sports Talk: The return to the football press box

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published August 29, 2012.
I know I could have gotten away with not traveling to Taylor County last Friday to see the Rebel football team play; thanks to assistant coach Darren Summers, I knew I would get a detailed stat report on the game.
But after missing the season opening game at Lincoln due to being out of town, plus knowing that the first home game was still two weeks away, I couldn’t help myself.
This was the first Rebel football game I have been to in a number of years. I’m not even sure I went to more than one they fall after my 2004 graduation.  Being there last Friday sure took me back.
You see, I was not the typical spectator through my high school days. My Friday nights were spent high up in the press box glued to every passing second on the field recording the team’s stats. Who got that tackle? What was that penalty? How many yards to go? My job was to capture it all.
When I arrived at Taylor County’s field I took a seat in the stands. Now, I like to think that if I were truly there just for spectating, I would have been satisfied with where I was sitting; however, I barely made it through the first half where I was.
Just as I had a job as statistician eight years ago, I now have a job as a reporter. Sitting between chatty moms, kids playing on the bleachers and highly opinionated fathers did not make for desirable reporting conditions. (Don’t worry, Casey fans, I was amid the Taylor crowd, so maybe that was the true seed of my low tolerance.)
So the second half I invited myself into the pressbox—somewhere that felt much more like home to me.
Coaches in headsets, other reporters, with note pads, video cameras catching the action for review later, colorful radio announcers, statisticians and scoreboard controllers—all in addition to a great view of the field—where else but on the field could be better?
It’s interesting to back in the same place as I was eight years ago, yet in completely different shoes.  Once the spectator and statistician watching Sam Marples suit up in pads and take the field himself, I am not the photographer and reporter, writing about his team of young men as he builds a fine program.
I think no matter if it’s a nerve-wracking  night with a neck and neck score, or if it’s completely one-sided, even with Casey on the losing end, I will love watching Casey County football from the press box. It was there that I went from a girl who thought football was a senseless sport with too much standing around between plays, to the fan who didn’t want to be bothered unless you were helping figure out which five guys were in on that last tackle.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to Sept. 7 at our home field.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pinterest Finds of the Week

Loving this...

Source: via Rita on Pinterest
Obviously the white and the blue tile is pretty, not to mention the glass walls, but my favorite part of this shower is the window and that it is built into the slanting wall. I love the natural light idea and taking advantage of this space. I also like the bench seat inside the shower.

Source: via Taylor on Pinterest
Lots of lots of brick...very pretty and good for a heat sink. Our wood stove will probably be near the stair case and we'd like that entire wall to potentially be brick. 

Source: via Jenny on Pinterest
Love the space use and the creation of an entry way with the partial walls so it doesn't seem so closed in and secluded from the rest of the house.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sports Talk: My Favorite US Gold Medal So Far

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published August 8, 2012.
I know that the track and field events just got underway this past weekend, but I think I found my most impactful moment in the 2012 Olympics on Friday evening in a non-running event.
It was indeed a race that resulted in a gold that has won my awe and it was even in my preferred distance: 800 meters. However, it was not on a track, but in a pool, when 15-year old Katie Ledecky blew away her competition in her unexpected swim to glory.
I believe much of my enjoyment in the swimming events this year is the parallel to track, which I spent a good portion of my life dedicated to. My appeal for swimming is the duration it takes for the finish.
Having been a 400- to 1600-meter runner,  my focused run lasted more than a blink of an eye, like the 100-meter. They required more strategy than simply all-out speed. You took things into account like your start and your pace and your kick. These things are not looked at in the same light for a 100-meter sprint, but they are in a 100-meter swimming event.
I love seeing come-backs, or watching the one competitor push the pace, or seeing someone decide to make their charge.
Ledecky—only 15—was not expected to win gold in the 800-meter freestyle. (Do you realize she was only 11 years old when the Beijing Olympics took place??) It was a hopeful thought that the youngster would make it on the medal stand when up against the reigning champion and the world record holder, Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain.
But I believe that her youth is the greatest advantage Ledecky had in that race. Rather than being intimidated on the big stage she swam with a ‘what have I got to lose’ attitude.
Ledecky took the lead early in the race with Adlington and the Lotte Frilis, Denmarke’s expected competition to rival Adlington for gold, comfortably behind her. I felt proud of the young American not afraid to go out with the big dogs and even push the pace.
In my mind, even with her early lead, I never expected her to win. In a distance race, the early leader never wins. It’s the same way I feel when I see my horse leading the opening of the Kentucky Derby.
The champ, the experienced, knows what their pace should be. That person knows how to stick comfortably with the pack and kick it into high gear at just the right moment to take over the event. Adlington would clearly do just that, right?
It was after 550-meters that my thoughts began to change. Ledecky remained on that yellow world record pace indicator. She was not only not backing off from it but Adlington and Frilis were not gaining on her. She had stretched her lead to a full body length.
By the time she was on her last 100-meter I was a believer that she just might hold this lead and, by golly, she might even break the world record! With her final turn she was over a body ahead of her competition. Unless she died to the point of being unable to swim, her competition was not going to catch her. Her lead was too strong.
Die she did not. She did not punch the wall in world-record time but she was only a half a second short.  Adlington’s world record time in Beijing was 8:14.10. Ledecky swam 8:14.63.
 All that came to my mind watching that young athlete swim ahead fearlessly was the most idolized runner of any track athlete: Steve Prefontaine. Anyone who knows the runner’s name knows he was much more than a record-breaking runner in the 70’s before his early death.
Prefontaine was a fearless runner who was oftentimes condemned by his coaches for not running a more traditional race, with a pace, a plan and a reserved kick. Prefontaine was the living  phrase “go hard or go home” and dying at the end of a race was never on his radar. If it happened, he would deal with it then, but the possibility of it happening never slowed his pace.
I suppose my newfound love of swimming really just proves my love of racing in general: pure gut, pure strength and pure athleticism on the line, side by side, in the spotlight to determine who is the best with a final time to declare it without question.
And the excitement is in the truth that on any given day in any given race, any given person has the chance to rise to the occasion and achieve the unexpected. For as much as we area amazed by through these Olympics, someone else is always waiting to give us another jaw-dropping moment.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sports Talk: The Olympic Spirit

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published August 1, 2012.
If you have not noticed, I thoroughly enjoy the Olympics.

This goes back pretty far. My earliest memories of the big games were the 1994 Winter Olympics when my brothers and I got hooked on the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding drama. They might kill me for making this public, but we were so inspired by the skating that year that we attempted our own performances in our roller skates complete with video commentary. Thank goodness that was pre-YouTube.

My first memories of the summer Olympics came in 1996. My family had a layover in Atlanta that spring, and I remember my parents pointing out that the airport construction was in preparation of the Olympics. I was so impressed that my own country had the honor of hosting the Olympic games. I adored USA’s women’s gymnastics team who brought home gold after Kerri Strug’s heroic “stick it” moment.
As I grew older and became more involved in my own athletics (I gave up skating...) I came to appreciate more of the events and learn more about the history of the Olympics; America’s triumphs and woes alike. 

Then the music became a part of my own competitive spirit year-round. Musical compositions are big in my life in general (not because I'm at all musical, because I'm not. I've never played an instrument in my life. I just have a deep passion for movie scores.) 
In my years of running for the Casey County track team my family put together a collection of strictly instrumental inspirational music that we would listen to on the way to meets and I would usually continue with once at the meet. (My brother probably switched to something cooler like Eminem or Metallica.) 

Along with many other themes were "Bugler's Dream," introduced at the 1968 Olympics and John Williams’ 1984 Olympic Fanfare (that anyone who watches the Olympics would recognize) as well as his "Olympic Spirit" written for the 1988 Olympics. 

This year I have kept our TV on nearly nonstop since the Opening Ceremonies and simply walking through the room is dangerous as I get tend to get sucked into anything from water polo to rowing. And, I admit, simply hearing the music is what grabs my attention half of the time. (In fact, I'm listening to the music and watching the TV along with having six screens with Olympic updates open on my Internet browser as I type.) I'm as much in the Olympic moment as a young girl in Kentucky can possibly be this far away from the games themselves.

You might remember last week when I said the most exciting events and Olympic news were still TBD? Well, that was at least one thing I was right about in my preview.
I noted to pay attention to Team USA’s diving because we had the chance to medal the first time since 2000. We did medal, but Kelci  Bryant and Abby Johnston, two athletes I did not key in on, beat David Boudia and Nick McCrory to the punch. Bryant and Johnston took silver in the 3m synchronized springboard. No worries, though, Boudia and McCrory also medaled, taking bronze in the 10m synchronized platform.

Not to be on a girl power streak, but seeing the joy on the face of 17-year-old Missy Franklin who won the women's 100-meter backstroke could have made anyone love the girl. Even Michael Phelps called this young lady a stud and seeing her win that gold just after competing in the 200-meter free-style semi-finals proves he knows what he is talking about. 
To go from Missy’s radiant smile on the medal stand to the cloud of disappointment that loomed over the men's gymnastic team as error after error dashed their hopes of medaling was such an emotional roller coaster even for me. If I can get this worked up over the 2 minutes I pay someone, how can the years of dedication feel?

On a final note, for possibly the best laugh so far, and a throwback to my recent column giving hats off to athlete parents, find the video of Aly Raisman’s parent's watching her bar routine. These games might be harder to get through for the parents than anyone else.