Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sports Talk: Volley for a Cure

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Sept. 26, 2012. 
Although I am far past my high school years and even college parties and pep rallies, I am the first among my friends to find any excuse to dress up. No, I do not mean dress up in nice clothes. I am talking dress-up in a theme of colors and ridiculous accessories.
So seeing all of the pink at the VolleyRebs’ Volley for a Cure event made me smile. I have no doubt that had I not been coming straight from my job in Louisville I would have used the excuse to wear pink tube socks, pink sunglasses, a crazy hair-do and maybe even some beads and flowers.
But beneath all of the pink of Volley for a Cure is a very serious and very sensitive message and issue: cancer.
I am happy to see the volleyball team rally around a battle our entire race is fighting. The longer we are on this earth, the more we are affected by this curse. Sometimes it is very close to home and sometimes it is a degree of separation away but, it is never welcome and rarely foreseen.
Hats off to all of those who wore their pink and cheered on our VolleyRebs last Thursday, but I pose a bigger challenge to all of you, as well as those who did not attend. My challenge consists of two things.
First, ask yourself what you can do to better your odds of falling prey to cancer. It may be working to end a habit like tanning or smoking, that is known to lead to cancer, or simply adjusting to healthier eating habits.
Believe me. It’s not that every individual diagnosed with a form of cancer knows how it originated, but there is peace of mind in knowing you did your best to take care of yourself. Remember, your life holds meaning to many others, and they do not want to lose you any sooner than necessary.
Second, be empathetic to those battling through the fight. It’s amazing what kind words, cards, notes, special prayers and thoughtful gifts do to lift the spirit of someone facing such a mental, physical and emotional struggle. Sometimes hearing from those you hardly know holds extra meaning. Trust me, you’re never too far removed to offer support.
Sport your pink every day in spirit. Cancer is an ongoing battle and there are plenty out there who are in need of the support daily.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It figures........

Just when I was feeling confident and extra excited that we had nailed down our house plan... I go and do something silly like think of a completely new design to just "try out"... You know, just do a little doodle sketch. But I liked the doodle so it became a big sketch... And now I'm starting to worry I actually like this design too. The problem is... I still like my original design!

I believe the hardest part about this whole process is going to be me making decisions and sticking with it. but what makes that all the worse is only being able to ENVISION what my decision will appear like and not actually get to SEE my options. Which house design that I've sketched do I like better? Well, I might actually be able to tell you if I could walk through them both right now--but that's not quite feasible. 

I realize it's going to be like this through every single step. My brother and his wife have recently redone their basement. (And by 'redone' I actually mean, they finished what was not a finished basement when they bought it.) It looks fabulous with the walls painted. baseboards in and flooring done. M is now choosing her cabinet colors and counter tops and had about five options of sample pieces downstairs today while I stayed over during my night in the 'Ville. Even with her narrowed down options it is hard! How are you supposed to know what it will really look like once life-size?

And just imagine what lies ahead for Mingus and I... What kind of floor? Wood? Okay, dark or light wood? How wide will the panel strips be? Which rooms? The kitchen? Okay... then what kind of cabinets? counter top? Colors? UGH! What if I get so excited and pick a hodge-podge of things to try that nothing in my house seems to flow?!

I suppose I already know that all I can do is ask all of the right questions, take advice from the best and most trusted and go with our best. For now I'll go ahead and draw up this other layout sketch. It can't hurt... right?

In the mean time, here is something I know we will do: stained concrete in the mudroom!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thoughts on an Island........

As Mingus and I finalize the layout of our *hopeful* home (this is the first draft before any quote estimate...that could, of course, change a lot), I am studying my kitchen layout critically trying to decide if it is right. I know how much time I'll spend in this room and how much work will be done here. I don't want to spend my time thinking I made a bunch of HUGE mistakes.

Right now I have included the points I was aiming for from the start:
  • An entrance to the kitchen from the back mudroom (which runs to the garage--easy access for unloading groceries)
  • Lots of counter space for lots of projects (ie, CANNING!)
  • Windows, where possible since the home is to be partially underground, but I want LIGHT!
  • Open to both the living and dining areas so it fits large groups better and is easy to keep an eye on kiddos when busy in the kitchen.
  • An island as a room defining edge as opposed to a wall (thus seeing into the aforementioned rooms)
  • A large pantry area.
So checkity-check-check-check on those things.

My biggest debacle is my island. Looking at my hand sketched version, I like it.... But then I go back and forth on whether there is too much space between the island and the counter with the sink/stove. But then I think of my current kitchen where you can't even pass through the walking space when the oven is open or dishes are being emptied from the dishwasher...Not to mention how tricky it is for Mingus and I to work in the kitchen together, which, lucky for me, he is very good about helping with dinner and food preservation tasks.

Our current kitchen: Note the open dishwasher to get an idea of the space
between the two counters, making it tricky to get around with multiple people.
I am 99% sure I like the "C" like shape I've mapped out. (I was doing an L for awhile but the C give the room more definition.) The other piece of my island I'm debating is the levels. I definitely want multi-levels to sort of divide the space. That is one thing I have really come to like about our current island. The back side is raised about 4-6 inches higher than the main counter. This sort of separates the work space (lower) from the space where a visitor might be sitting or someone could be drinking their coffee or a kid could be working on homework. I could also have this level lower, rather than higher, but I'm leaning towards a raised side. 

Raised far side of the bar to separate the work space.
Since I'm looking at this "C" shaped island, I've toyed with having the sides be lowered levels, sitting at regular table height. This would make the island three levels overall: the standard counter across the front, the raised back and the lowered sides. My mom's kitchen has a small table within where we end up doing a lot of kitchen work, which has made me feel that maybe I want some non-bar height counter space, thus the consideration of the lowered corners. I'm afraid it is going to get complex, though and I won't like the look of  the finished product. I tried searching for something similar to see if it had been done before, but no luck. Plus I noted that my current kitchen has no lowered work space and I never feel like the counter tops are too high for certain projects.

I may consider factoring in this lowered counter area on the long counter (against the wall). My aunt has a spot like this in her kitchen that operates as a desk of sorts. It could be similar to this, but maybe created a little lower. (This is barely shorter than the counter itself.)
Here are a few other island styles I've recently found and stuck on Pinterest:
LIKE: Extra work space on the sides & the raised counter.
LIKE: Curved shape.
LIKE: The table connected to the island.
Aaaaaaand........Last, but not least........thoughts on this one?? :)
LIKE: PURPLE!!!<3 br="br">

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sports Talk: My favorite Brazilian at the Olympics

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Sept. 5, 2012. 
Gui Buso was a foreign exchange student at Casey County High School during the 2002-03 school year where he participated in football, basketball and track.
Gui, still a close friend of mine whom I visited in Brazil in 2010, is now the communication manager of the National Basketball League in Brazil, the NBB. (Think of it as Brazil’s NBA.)
A sports lover, Gui and his bride of just over a year, Carla, recently went on a European traveling adventure that included a stop in at the London Olympics. Gui told me a little about the excitement of attending several events and looking to the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics in his home country.  
RH: What events did you get to attend?
We went to the Women's Volleyball quarter finals (Brazil beat Russia and Japan beat China); Men's Basketball quarter finals (Argentina beat Brazil and USA beat Australia); Men's Soccer final (Mexico beat Brazil 2 to 1) and we saw one of the mornings of Track (Decatlhon's 110m hurdles, pole vault and hammer; Men's 4x400m relay and Women's High Jump)

RH: Which was your favorite? Carla's favorite?
My favorite was definitely basketball, because I got to see not only the craziest rivalry in the world in Brazil and Argentina, plus the best ball players on USA against Australia. Carla's favorite event was the volleyball. She says it was such a tough and exciting game that the crowd, mostly Brazilian, helped the team get better in the fourth set and eventually win the game. They kept chanting: “The champion is back! The champion is back!” And they really came back and won the second straight Olympic Tournament. The game against Russia sure made them believe they could beat them all.

RH: Was it just the two of you or did you meet up with anyone else you knew while there?
Basically it was me and Carla, but we met for a couple of dinners two of our friends from college. One of them lives in London and the other one was traveling like us.

RH: Was any of what you watched/attended work related?
The trip was almost 100% vacation, but since I work in the NBB I always tried to catch every single detail of the Olympics organization to bring to our championships. I also wrote a few articles about all (of) the atmosphere around the Games, both for the NBA and NBB websites.

RH: In the U.S. the Olympics have a 'larger than life' stigma to them. You attend a lot of big athletic events through your work. Did these games seem as "big" as we might imagine?
Absolutely! The Olympics is the most amazing event of all. They can bring all the best athletes of the world altogether. How amazing it is to see LeBron on the court playing for the USA Team and in the stands you get to see Neymar, the Brazilian soccer sensation, or Roger Federer, or Michael Phelps. And they are all living in the same Olympic Village. Not only that, but in the Olympics all the athletes compete as they only have that shot. They get close to perfection and we, fans, just have to admire this two weeks. It's just my favorite time of all years.

RH: Did you attend any other Olympic related activities or events happening in London outside of the sporting events themselves?
We did. There was a park in Central London, called Hyde Park, where they put 4 big screens with all the Olympic action. When people didn't have tickets but still wanted to feel the atmosphere, they'd go there to watch the games. We got to watch two incredible soccer matches, both semifinals. The first one was USA against Canada. It was just incredible. And the other one was Brazil and Korea, surrounded by hundreds of Koreans. Pretty Cool.

RH: What else did you like about visiting London?
I just loved the city of London by itself. It's such an organized big city. We were jealous. Hahaha! Sao Paulo should've been like that. I don’t know if it was because of the Olympics but everyone was nice and friendly and everything just worked perfectly. Rio 2016 will have such a tough challenge.

RH: Was there any stand out part of your Olympic experience you'd like to share?
Well, you know I'm a big sports fan and I always desired to attend an Olympic event, first as an athlete then as either a journalist or a spectator. So, by the time we arrived for the first Olympic event, women's volleyball quarter finals, I just got pretty emotional and I couldn't believe I have just made my dream come true. I truly can say that (I) felt in me the Olympic Spirit they all talk about and that's one of the best feeling there is.

RH: Do you expect to have a role in the 2016 Olympics in Rio?
Actually, I already have a role in the 2016 Olympics since I help organize the Basketball National Championship, which support the athletes who will be in Rio 2016. That makes me very glad, but I'd really love to have a more important role in the Olympics and help my country to make one of the best Games ever.

RH: Did attending this year make you more excited to be the host country?
It's a mix of excitement and concern. I'm sure Brazil will be such a wonderful host city because the people are just incredible and all the tourists will love it in here. But, in the other hand, we still have some issues in infrastructure that need to be focused and I don't see the organization working on it.
RH: What would you say to all your Casey County friends about why they should start planning a 2016 trip to the Olympics?
GB: I think everyone should always get to watch an Olympic Games live, even when you are not a big time sports fan. Be able to exchange cultural experience with the whole world while cheering for your country is priceless. Now, doing all that in Brazil is an once in a lifetime opportunity. Can you imagine watch all that action and then go swim in the ocean and relax on the nice beaches in Rio. I didn't have a chance to that in London, but in 2016, I'm sure I'll be doing that in Rio.
I'd love to have every single person of Casey County coming to visit Brazil. I will never be able to thank this community for the whole experience I had there and all the friends I've made. I'll be always looking forward to have Casey County people down here, with my arms wide open as the Christ statue in Rio