Friday, June 28, 2013

New Camera! -->Warning! Unedited Photos!

So I've wanted a nice Digital SLR camera for sometime <shocker!> But I've never had a good justification for it with getting pretty good photos out of my smaller point and shoot cameras. My newspaper job has kind of called for it, as the DSLR I use is quite old. However, being that the former writer, whose profession is photography, still does photos at most of the events, how can I really compete with his quality anyway? And I've enjoyed having him cover events to put a little less stress on my schedule what with working all day and traveling to Louisville.

However, I always told Mingus I hoped to spring for one once we started having kids...and...well, that time has arrived! I love everyone's professional photos, but being somewhat of a photo-lover myself.... I plan to save the money and take care of photos myself. Plus it gives me a reason to really learn a nice camera and improve my personal photography abilities. I always love looking at my mom's photos from when she used to use her film Nikon SLR she got shortly after Nicholas was born.

So after stewing over it for...way too long, Mingus gave me a deadline and insisted I pull the trigger. While I do love Mom's old Nikon--it's what I used for my photography class at Bellarmine--I've always loved the Canon digitals I've had in the past. My first two digital cameras were Canon Powershots and even the 3.2 megapixel one I got in 2005 took excellent pictures. My current camera is Sony and I do like it, but, while still having my high opinion of the Powershots, I have also always heard positive things about the Canon Rebel, which actually is what the old newspaper camera I am using now is. 

Now, we all know I'm a penny-pincher, I really could not come with any justification for getting a higher model verses just the T3 12.2 megapixel. I primarily saved the money on springing for the T3i because a Best Buy employee was explaining that the biggest change/improvement between the two is that the "i" versions are better video quality but I'm not getting this camera for video. So the Canon Rebel T3 is now in my possession.

There is so much to learn about this thing, but, no surprise, playing has been fun this week. I think one of the best parts about this camera is the various settings and adjustments I have the ability to make that can give my pictures different looks without even depending on editing. Of course I like editing photos, but I'd rather be able to capture the look I'm hoping for in the moment rather than just hoping to be able to doctor it up later. 

Here are just some I took on my walk from our place to my parents' on my first day of learning...straight off the camera with no edits...

So many looks just by simple setting changes:

Simple to capture vibrant color or even get a monochrome look:

Detail up close and from a distance:

I also love the control of focus with this camera. 

Yes, yes, yes... I have lots to learn at least I have a little time before the Peangling arrives! Hopefully that's enough time to get decent with this new TOOL (...not toy...).

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Baby Registry Basics: The Car Seat and Stroller

I hope you're not reading this post in hopes to gain knowledge on the 'basics' of putting together a baby registry. I'm sure The Bump or elsewhere could do a much better job than this first time mama.

I, on the other hand, am just getting a handle on my registry. A date has been set for the first baby shower and it's sooner rather than later--which I am TOTALLY fine with; I'd rather know what I have and don't have more than a month before the baby comes. Michelle, Jo and I are having a joint shower in the family and it's going to be at the next quarterly get together. (The last one was when we announced our pregnancies.) That's less than a month away!

So I've spent the last four or five days doing a little more in depth research on the bigger items. I was grateful that Jo passed along a very nice document her sister-in-law (who just became a mother last November) made for her. It included the list of items she felt were most important during her motherhood so far and notes about the exact brand she had--some of which she recommended and others she advised against and instead recommended things she'd heard good reviews on. She also included links to many of these items. You know, it's great that you can go online and read reviews for items, but the truth is EVERYTHING has some sort of drawback or complaint. It feels much better to hear feedback from a personal connection who you can have a two-way conversation with.

The big item I'm trying to decide on now is the car seat. I know it is a more costly item, but it's one of the most important when it comes to safety. We all know I will save a penny any chance I get, but I've decided this is one item I don't want to skimp on.

My dilemma was two-fold:
(1) Understanding the seat variations! Infant....convertible.... toddler...etc! Convertible sounded ideal in the sense I can just keep on using it--more bang for you buck (penny-pincher here, remember?) However, on the flip side I still want to know what is best AND I am keeping in mind that I hope I'm blessed with more than one child and, if so, I plan to have them in somewhat close proximity... meaning I'll probably need multiple seats at some points in my early parenting career.

(2) Deciding on a the pros/cons of a travel system: a car seat that fits into the stroller unit and you buy together...another cost savings. 

The piece of the travel system I am leery of is that getting the RIGHT car seat is very important to me. The stroller is a less pressing matter simply because I don't think we will have as high of usage as some people being where we live. We are not super social and the things we do go out for would probably result in us using a carrier or just bringing in the car seat. The stroller that would probably be most useful for us would be a jogging stroller or at least one that is a three-wheeler. This could also be used on our gravel roads and easily in the grass/fields. Of course, only select travel systems come with this style of stroller--but I don't want the stroller to dictate which car seat we select.

I also went to Valerie for input on the matter. Not only is she an experienced mother but now that she has #2 and they are close in age, she can kind of be my eyes into the future. 

She and Jo's sister and law both have the Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seat and are both very happy with it. Much to my dismay it is one of the most costly on the market....but it's one of the most highly rated. The additional selling point in my book is that Valerie's not-quite-two year old was still using this seat (weight limit 30#, height limit 30") it right up to the time the newborn came. At this point, Sam was big enough to move onto a larger toddler sized seat while new baby Max could take over and continue getting use out of the infant seat.

This seat does come in an option for a travel system--also costly--but as of now we are going to skip that. I believe Valerie did go with this, but she admitted that her jogging stroller has gotten much more use. We will probably choose a jogging stroller to add to our registry but may even end up checking baby consignment shops for one. Again, I feel our use of the stroller will be limited. 

The other piece of the Keyfit is that the extra bases are rather costly. As of now we only have one vehicle we can keep the car seat in anyway.
My second choice for a car seat would likely be a travel system. I have heard good things about the Britax B-Agile and B-Safe Travel system. The stroller is a three-wheel unit and part of it's selling point is that is is agile and gets around easily--including in packing it up.

I'm still working through the rest of the registry and have started a short registry on Amazon that is sure to grow. I also plan to register at Babys-R-Us and Walmart. I hope Mingus and I get a chance to at least do Babys-R-Us this weekend since we will be traveling and there aren't any too close to home. I only plan to register for specifics on the things highly recommended to me or are of major concern to me--which is a limited list right now. 

If anyone has feedback on car seats, strollers or the gear and supplies most important to their early months of parenting please let me know. We plan to cloth diaper and breast feed are two other pretty major choices that will affect our needs. I'm loving any advise I can get right now so bombard me with it!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sports Talk: Running for Fun Around the Area

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published June 26, 2013.  
Late June and July bring some of our hottest days of the year, so thinking of being outside and breaking a sweat from physical activity may not be exactly appealing to most people. A raft floating in the pool with a cold drink or a trip to the lake definitely sounds 10x more refreshing.

However, taking advantage of the cooler mornings is always a rewarding way to start the day. I love seeing the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle becoming a bigger part of our community. The young running group that has been working out together the past month is such a turn around from what I had to train and run with ten years ago. I made semi-regular trips to Danville just to find running partners.
The additions of Back and Body as well as the walking/running trail connecting downtown to the Ag/Expo center in the past several years have brought great motivation and convenience to the county for making fitness a part of our lives. It’s no longer uncommon to see runners of any age getting in their daily mileage on the streets of Liberty. Today I even saw bikers out and about.

If you have not yet done so, sign up for Liberty’s 5K on the morning of July 4, which kicks of the county’s Independence Day festivities.  Sure, 8 a.m. may be an early activity for a holiday, but (a) nobody wants to be running once the sun gets high; (b) you always feel good when you’ve completed such a big task by 9 a.m.; (c) the company is great!
With running growing in our community, it’s also growing around us. Right now Casey County has four regular runs a year (July 4, Apple Festival, Turkey Trot and Cabin Fever), which I am thrilled about. Meanwhile, on practically any given weekend, it’s not hard to find a nearby 5K to kick off your Saturday. (I’m sorry to report we’re too late for the Twinkie Run in Danville held yesterday.)
Upcoming area runs include:

4: Casey County Liberty Bell 5K Run/Walk, 8 a.m. at Courthouse Square
6: Firecracker 5K, 8 a.m. Stanford (Main Street)
13: Rockcastle 5 Miler, 8 a.m. Mt. Vernon (Renfro Valley)
20: Bluegrass State Games 10K/5K, 8 a.m. Nicholasville
27: Jingle in July 5K, 8 a.m. Lancaster (Garrard County High School)
3: Coach Plummer’s 5K Run, 8 a.m. Danville (Admiral Stadium)
10: Run with All Your Hart/Walk , 8:30 CDT Russell Springs (Russell County Auditorium)
10: Dash for Life 5K, 8 a.m. Junction City (Junction City Park)
17: Run Bike Hike, 8 a.m. Mt. Vernon (Lake Linville)
17: Bluegrass Drug Run for Camp Can Do 5K Run/Walk + Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. Danville (Ponder Court)
24: Pigskin Classic 5K and 1 Miler, 9 p.m. Danville (Admiral Stadium)
31: Run for the Pets 5K/15K, 8 a.m. Burgin (Shawnee Run Baptist Church)
7: Smokin’ Butt Ride, 9 a.m. Danville, (Downtown)
15: Constitution Run for the Arts 5K, Danville (Constitution Square)
21: CASA Superhero Run 5K and Kids 1K, 9 a.m. Lexington (Coldstream Park)
28: Hope 53 5K Run/Walk, 8:30 a.m. Danville (Millenium Park)

A great resource and “in” to a wonderful running community is Danville Bike and Footwear. Their website ( includes a calendar of many of the local runs as well as a pretty complete listing of races taking place throughout the state.

I speak from personal experience and connections when I say those in the running community just north of us are fantastic people and encourage those of our own running community to connect with this group.

For more information about the Liberty Bell 5K visit

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sports Talk: Nothing like a summer day at the ball park!

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published June 19, 2013.  
I attended my first Major League Baseball game in two years last weekend. I have not actually been to many MLB games in my lifetime. I did, however, attend my fair share of Louisville Bats games while living in the city, but I did not even get to do that last summer. Friday evening was definitely a reminder of that special something baseball can bring to summertime.
The Reds played the Brewers, which was cool to me, as a Brewers’ home game was actually the first MLB game I ever attended. My uncle took my brother and I, along with our cousin, when we visited one summer long ago. He taught us all of the tricks to enjoying a good baseball game—including catching a foul ball. (I think that wasn’t so much a “trick” but just the kind of luck my uncle tended to bring when it came to sports in our lives.) For that reason, the Brewers still hold meaning in my world, even if my husband would have preferred watching the Cards and Reds face off the week before.
We got lucky with the weather not only being sunny and beautiful, but not extremely hot nor humid either. We got to enjoy plenty of deliciously bad-for-you ball park food (more than either of us needed) and see the Reds take a close win.
You see a lot of people at the ball park, ready to enjoy a game: groups of young friends and groups of old friends; old families and new families.
While I definitely enjoyed the game itself (I wanted the Reds to win, but I admit that I was more than OK with the Brewers playing well enough to make it a ball game), I was equally entertained by the group of three boys who sat behind us for a large portion of the game.
The three of them were there with fathers/uncles/grandfathers (could have been any or all thre) and were probably between the ages of five and seven. One definitely knew “all” there was to know about baseball and Reds games and was telling the others exactly the things to yell, what all of the fun on the jumbo tron was all about, when they needed to stand up and dance in hopes of getting on the jumbo tron and why baseball was his favorite sport.
One of the younger boys had lots of questions and was very concerned about seeing a home run and when there would be fireworks. He was also having a hard time deciding if baseball was his first favorite sport or second, until he remembered this was his second Reds game and he definitely liked watching baseball games, so it was probably his favorite.
I find there is something relaxing and down to earth about baseball when you are actually there at the field. It does get intense and it is a very serious sport, but there is such a positive, family-oriented and fun atmosphere that surrounds it. You expect to see young kids running around begging for another hot dog.
Sitting at the game on the Friday before Father’s Day, seeing so many youngsters there with their daddies—and seeing adults enjoying the game with their fathers—made me think about what a neat memory attending a baseball can be (and is) for anyone who was fortunate to have been taken to a game as a young one.  
My husband and I were both athletes but baseball and softball were not our sports, but I still know that I’ll be excited about the opportunity to take our kid(s?) to a baseball games someday. Yes, football and basketball and soccer games would be cool too, but I think baseball is special. This, coming from the girl who is not an avid baseball follower, but still holds fond memories of her first MLB game many moons ago with her uncle.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Baby Growth: Weeks 18, 19, 20, and 21!

I've opted out of posting too much pregnancy-ness on Facebook as to not overwhelm people with too much and I thought about not even taking pictures of my "growth". However, I decided I did want to look back, myself, and see how big I was at different points, when the growth spurts seemed to be and to be able to compare on any future pregnancies. I decided my blog was a safe place to post these pictures. So far I've usually taken them in the evening after Mingus gets home and is in for the evening so I tend to look a little worn out from the day but oh well... It's not about me :) Here are the past four weeks... I really don't think it looks like I've grown that much but I think I have?? I'm actually 22 weeks today but the picture hasn't been taken yet so you'll just have to wait!

In other news, my wonderful friend, and now mother of two, Valerie, has let me borrow her tub of maternity clothes since she has a month-old and doesn't plan to need them (hopefully!) in the next several months. Between her and Jerusha letting me borrow maternity clothes I'm pretty much set--and I'm very grateful to them both! Not having to shop for a bunch of new stuff is great. Given I may need to on the next go around, but this time it's a life-saver. At most I'm thinking I may need to eventually buy a pair of jeans or two, but we shall see. 

The Peangling is definitely active these days. I feel movement on a daily basis. I always feel bigger by night time than I do in the morning, but I guess that is just the slow digestive track at work. The other funny thing that has happened (that I am assuming is a result of pregnancy) is what Mingus and I have come to refer to my permanent dirty face! There are spots on either cheek where it's almost like my freckles have darkened and run together. I first thought it was dirt from working in the garden but no. I suppose it could be summer sun in general but you do hear about skin changes with pregnancy so I guess we will find out after October. 

But either way, if you see me and think I've been playing in the dirt... well I might have been, but the 'dirt' on my face is kind of permanent for now!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Graduation Celebration

It's pretty much a given that anytime the Dixon Clan and the Hellyer crew get together, a good time is bound to be had. Last year we had the pleasure of celebrating Jo & MJ's wedding together. This past weekend we celebrated two graduations: Clint's high school graduation from Boyle County High and Hayley's college graduation from Campbellsville University. 
The Hellyer Ladies
Eaglenest has a great set up for hosting a large group--especially on a beautiful summer day like we had. A spacey kitchen for lots of food, an open room with lots of seating for lounging, and a great deck that overlooks an open field perfect for yard games!

Socializing in the sunshine!
It was the first time Jo, Michelle and I have gotten to be all together since announcing our baby news in April so it was fun to compare bumps and the fun of the journey we are on! Jo recently found out they will be having a baby girl! Mingus and I could have had our gender told to us at our last appointment (20 weeks) but (much to his dismay) I insisted we keep it a mystery! (He says he can deal with mysteries better than "surprises" so I'm working on calling it a mystery instead!) I think he is semi-okay with not knowing, but sitting in that room with the ultrasound tech who DID know killed him! SOMEONE knew and he did not. I promised him that if he wants to know next time we can find out but I want to have a surprise this one time!
The Mamas and their bellies
The Papas and their bellies!
We decided to conduct the "Pencil Test" to see what it says the gender of ours and Nic & Michelle's will be. I see it as kind of like the Ouija Board--I still want it to be a mystery but it's still fun to see what it says... We used Jo as our "control" group... as in, she took the test too and sure enough it said she was having a girl! As for us? Boy and Boy says the pencil test!

Pencil test says... boy?
It was a great day and we were there long into the night enjoying the company and food. There was a never-ending game of Kubb going on in the yard between Clint and his friends and a bunch of family--which they referred to as the "adult" team. Which to me was just weird because Pa was about the only one on the team I see as an "adult"...the rest were Boo, Nic, Mingus, etc, etc...

The "Adult" team in the Kubb game!
Mingus and I both had a great time with everyone. Wish gatherings like that could happen more often but we sure are grateful when they do!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sports Talk: Kubb, a New Yard Game Favorite

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published June 12, 2013. 

Reunions and outdoor picnics come with several staples: good food and enjoyable company. Hopefully there is pleasant weather and, for a definite good time, there will also be music and yard games.

Horseshoes and croquet have been around quite a long time. Cornhole (or beanbag toss as some may call it) and yard golf (or hillbilly golf) have become more and more common in the past decade or so.

These games are great for multiple reasons:
   (1) Anyone can play because being good doesn’t matter that much.
   (2) They are easy to set up, take down and transport
   (3) Most can be made yourself out of basic materials

A new game has come to my attention this spring and summer, and the more I see it played the more I’m convinced it’s a winner.

Kubb, also known as “Viking Chess”, is often described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. The object of the game to knock over wooden blocks with sticks.

Yes, I know. It sounds extremely primitive… but maybe that’s why they call it Viking Chess? And keep in mind… Throwing bean bags at a hole doesn’t sound that much better! But as most of us know, the competition quickly turns to fun.

One of the best parts of Kubb is that it’s easy to play with a large group of people. While most other yard games are played in two teams of two (four people total), Kubb is usually played by at least teams of three (six total) or even more. Six sticks are thrown on each team’s turn, easily allowing six per team and 12 players total.

This past weekend I attended my cousin’s high school graduation celebration. My older brother was given a Kubb set several years ago by our uncle who made the set himself. For whatever reason, this spring was the first time my brother actually got the game out and learned how to play, but it has been a hit at every gathering so far.

With a large amount of people at last weekend’s event, I think most who ended up trying Kubb first did so because the other games were full. However, by the end of the evening, it was the only game being played and had turned into quite the scene.

Several of my uncles and cousins had been playing earlier in the afternoon when the graduate and several of his friends decided it was their turn to play. Rather than turning the field over to the group of high school grads, those previously playing took it as a challenge and said they had to earn the field first. Next thing I knew, it had turned into a game of about eight vs. eight. The high school graduates verses the “adults”.
This made me laugh, being that the “adult” team was primarily composed of my brother, husband and cousins and their significant others. Being that we all graduated high school and college around the same time and are in our late 20s, being called the “adults” by 18-19 year-olds felt pretty funny, but I guess it just means we’re getting old!

While the younger team originally took the challenge from the “adults” in order to get in a victory and then be able to play themselves, it turned into an on-going event of endless games until cell phone lights were being used to find the sticks in the dark.

Watching them from the deck above the field my cousin who had never played or heard of the game, saw the scene of 15-20 people playing and watching and asked, “So, they’re just throwing sticks around??” It’s hard not to laugh at such a simple idea, but you might be surprised how fun and competitive it gets.

If you’ve not yet heard of or played Kubb, look it up online. Sets can be purchased or easily made. You could be the first to introduce your friends and family to a new yard game favorite!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Oh and about that house building project...

So yes, there had been talk of breaking ground in the spring of 2013... Now it's June. So obviously that didn't happen.

The unexpected baby news is partially to blame but not entirely. It's obviously distracted us and thrown other factors into our schedule this year as well as our financials and the things we will be dealing with; at the same time we have pressed forward with the house pursuit... just not as rapidly as maybe we could be.

The very center, in that far back corner of the field...That's where it'll be!
To catch you up to speed on all of the things we've done so far... And some of this may be too detailed for you to care but I'm recording it for my own purposes for future reference.

1. We've met with two different contractors and gotten two quotes.
These two options are very different. One contractor is less experienced. He's newer (younger) and has primarily done building projects rather than full start-to-finish houses. The other contractor has years of experience and is the county's commercial building inspector. He built two of the houses already on the family property and also did my parent's garage. Naturally, the more experienced contractor's quote is higher. 

2. We wish the quote was less.
But who doesn't? Part of the problem I am having is knowing no quote will be right because:  

(a) We do not plan to take it to turn-key complete. We're OK with having unpainted walls in some rooms, perhaps floors that we finish out... trim work to be done, landscaping that needs recovered, etc.

(b) We plan to go "cheap" on a lot of things--not the things that matter, obviously. The parts that matter in structure and future problems, I am totally OK with putting up good money. Top of the line furnishings? Not so much. We'll take less aesthetically pleasing light fixtures, light switches... even trim and doors and appliances. We'll scrounge where we can. We've already acquired a dishwasher someone was getting rid of simply because they were going with a new look for their kitchen. We also got a stainless steel kitchen sink at the Habitat Restore for only $12.50. I don't think this is planned for in the contractor's quote.

3. We've surveyed the land.
The family was having a lot of land surveyed anyway so Mingus and I added our names to the list. We pre-marked lines with my parents to section off just the plot we'll need for building. With my other siblings potentially moving down (and other's potentially not) they didn't want to go about deeding off full portions to each of us. We're quote all right with that. So we have about 4 acres surveyed; however, we do not officially have it deeded over to us yet.

4. We met with the bank and learned we're doing things "right" so far.
I know nothing about what it takes to buy or build a home. So I was a little nervous to meet with a loan officer and end up feeling like a fool... To tell them our thoughts and be laughed out of the office. Luckily that wasn't the case. As it turns out, he was quite impressed with the amount of money we have saved exclusively in a fund for the house. The fact we have land made us extra prepared. He said people come in with no little to no money they plan to use themselves and no land or just a lot in the city and want the bank to give them money to start building. Between our family land and our savings, there is no reason we cannot get a loan.

5. We learned about construction loan to mortgages.
We also learned about the process for using the loan money and turning it over to a mortgage. Basically we'll have a year as a construction loan and then it will turn over. From there we could use any bank or institution to get the mortgage. We met with a local bank and this officer admitted that a larger bank will likely offer a better interest rate. At first her recommended we go this route when the time comes; however, in our situation, sticking with a local bank will be an advantage. A large chain or corporate bank will have set protocal for the condition of the house in order to issue the mortgage. With our intent to have the house partially "unfinished" a local bank will be much more willing to work with us. They know who we are and who are family is. They know we are on family land and will basically do anything to take care of any payment problems before actually having to sell.

6. We have a loan application.
We have yet to fill it out. I know we could fill it out and perhaps get an idea of what kind of money we could potentially get without actually filing for the loan (since we are still waiting on the land deed) but we haven't even tried to take that step. Part of my hesitation has been knowing that with the coming on of children my work situation will change, as will my income level. Do I file as our current income level and try to get more or file what we think it will be to have a more realistic view?

7. Learning about electric.
Mingus talked with the electric company to learn about running the power from my parent's on to our field. It's close enough that we could run it at no charge since overground for first 1,000 ft (I think) is free. However, we'll be going through the tree line and they would require cutting out a 60 ft wide path (30 ft on either side). That's a lot of trees and will completely change the look of their backyard--and ours. We can go underground and spare some of the damage, but it does have a cost. Luckily, it's nothing absurd and for as close as we will be running the line, we can afford it. We all think it's worth that cost

8. Learning about septic.
We also found out that prior to actually breaking (running electric) ground we have to have the septic system approved. Apparently too many people don't have a good septic plan or if they are within a city or neighborhood, the only options for running it do not meet health regulations. This causes all sorts of problems down the road. So you have to have the soil tested and everything OK'd by the health inspectors and THEN you can get electric and THEN you can break ground.
That's where things sit. I'm nervous to take the plunge and having so much money out in our name with so many unknowns in the future... At the same time, I don't know that an "easier"/more affordable time is in the near future (or anywhere in the future). Interest rates aren't likely to go down and are so low now they really will only go up... I also don't really want to sacrifice too much of our plan/design at this point. It's a semi-large space (2400 sq feet--that's two floors with no additional basement) but the design is very simply and we're not going for extravagant interior. In my heart I believe the quotes are far above the reality but it's still scary.

So I just pray for the peace and guidance to know what the best move is for us as our family grows and we go through other changes... That we do not push forward when it's best to wait... or that we do not sit on it forever and ever, waiting for some sort of "change" that makes it easier that will never come. 

God always takes care of us, though, and we'll keep following our feet.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sports Talk: "Thanks for the workout, Coach."

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published June 5, 2013. 
I attended three sports banquets last week, as the spring sports have now concluded. During the boys’ tennis banquet, Coach Williams was telling a story about one of his athletes taking time at different points to thank him—for help, advice, whatever the case may be.
It brought back a phrase I, myself, made a habit of saying at the end of my practices as an athlete at Bellarmine University.
“Thanks for the workout, Coach.”
I probably started saying it my junior year at the end of each practice—maybe even my sophomore year. Most of us on the team said it. And that is because our coach had always said it to us.
It was always odd to me as a freshman when we would be concluding a tough workout—or even an easier one—and Coach Washington would smile, and his quiet, Washington-way, say, “Well, thank you for the workout, ladies.”
I wasn’t sure what it meant. We had not given him a workout. He stood there the whole time and was definitely not as exhausted as us. Was he thanking us for working out? But we were on a team… on scholarship… we had to be there, so why did he feel the need to thank us for doing what we were supposed to do?
But with our small workout group, I began to realize what his thanks meant. He was our coach, but he saw what we did together every day as an all-in effort. He was there for us and we were there for him and seeing the effort we put into a practice—sweat and pain and pushing through pain—he never failed to tell us thank you for that. He knew we could just as easily show up and not give any effort.
In the same light, I came to see that his dedication to being there deserved my thanks as well. He could show up and not care what we did, not pay attention, never do anything new. But, instead, he masterfully planned each workout with the intent of making us better athletes. He spent his time with us—and away from us—thinking of ways to help us become better athletes. He didn’t have to put that kind of effort into it, but he did. And for that, it only seemed right to end each practice saying, “Thanks for the workout, Coach.”
Athletics become a different ball game (no pun intended) when you begin to realize that making yourself the best possible is something others are investing time and dedication into as well. It changes when you realize that you have a coach or family or friends or teammates, that are going to put work and care into your improvements, not simply because it is their job or because they are being paid, but because they genuinely want you to succeed.
It can easily seem “expected” that the athletes show up and work hard at practice or that the coach shows up and have a workout planned. But remember the special relationship you share and the silent promise you are making to each other every day you show up to practice is something special and different than the effort you put into actual competition. Practice is where you show each other your dedication to becoming the best.
With summer here, most sports are now “optional” as the high school seasons are not active. The time put into athletics for both athletes and coaches is the proof of the level of dedication to success for both. So, especially during the summer, it won’t hurt to walk away saying, “Thanks for the workout, Coach.” My guess is your coach is thankful for the hour or two (or three!) of work you just put in as well.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Baby Fun & Freebies!

I know I would be excited about this venture of parenthood regardless of whether I was the first of my friends or not, but there is no denying that going through it for the first time with so many of my closest friends is icing on the cake. It is great to have friends with experience but there is something comforting in hearing the same concerns and questions from others going through it for the first time. It also means we are also all going through the same process of prep work!

Working partially in Louisville and staying at Nic & Michelle's house when I do means lots of baby talk for Michelle and I--which is very nice! I love sharing news and updates and ideas with Michelle because she is so excited about everything. When my belly first really started to grow--and I felt like all of my clothes just made me look fat because it was too early for it to be a clear "baby bump"--Michelle squealed with excitement over the "cuteness" of a belly. She also likes to use me as somewhat of a timer for herself. Since her due date is two weeks behind mine, when I experience something for the first time, she knows she can expect something similar in the next two weeks or so--of course that is not an exact science.
19 Weeks for me & 17 for Michelle
I have been to two baby fairs so far--both were random luck that Mingus and I were in town for them. (Casey County is way too small to host such events!) We'd already planned a trip to Lexington on a Saturday when I just so happened to catch up with Jo the Friday before. When discussing our weekend plans she mentioned going to an event being put on by the hospital, Baptist Health, called "Expect Great Things." I have to say this was a fabulous event. The only drawback for us, of course, is that we are not Lexington residents so many of the vendors were showcasing services we weren't likely to take advantage of because of the distance. (Photographers, fitness classes, pediatricians, etc) At the same time, you never know when we might need a specialist or have trouble finding someone that fits our needs closer than Lexington. 

 The event had probably 30-50 vendors, all with free information to pass out and helpful friendly faces. Most of them were offering drawings for free prizes. The event itself had TONS of door prizes including a grand prize of a full nursery set--and it was BEAUTIFUL! There was also a spread of delicious food--everything from fruit and hummus dips to mini slider burgers and tacos! I cannot find where there is a standing page on their website about this event, but I highly encourage any preggers ladies in the Lexington area to look for this event in the future.
While we did not win the grand prize, all of us had a little luck. Jo was an early door prize winner and received a super cute, neon green and yellow diaper bag--great for either sex and perfect for monogramming! Later, through one of the booth drawings, I won a Bumbo seat--something I know I would have purchased eventually or had on a shower list so I was pretty stoked. 

Mingus and I actually got extra lucky... Since seeing the table of door prizes we had both been in awe over the beautiful wooden high chair. LONG before getting pregnant we'd talked about wanting a wooden high chair. We once saw one at a Peddler's Mall that Mingus wanted to buy, but me and my tight-wad ways (and the fact we'd just gotten married and had no plans for kids anytime soon) said no. A local store in the Mennonite community sells them but, being hand crafted, they are pretty costly. We know we won't need one too soon but it is the one thing we KNOW exactly what we want. 
Well, when the event wrapped up and the four of us were talking I could not help but notice that the chair was still sitting at the door prize table and pointed the fact out to Mingus. I told him he might go let the ladies at the table know that we were very interested in the chair if it hadn't been claimed.... Mingus took me up on this and let them know that if no one claimed the chair we would even buy it. They told him that since people were still wandering about they were going to wait and see if it was claimed. Fair enough.

About five minutes later--when we still had no left--a lady came up to Jon and asked, "Do you still have your ticket?" "Yes." "Well, I think you are the luck winner of a beautiful new wooden high chair!!" !!!!! And just like that it was ours!! I felt a little bad telling the nurse who was giving it to us that we were not local and would not be delivering at Baptist Health (unless it was an emergency) but she understood. We are SO excited! And I'm so grateful Mingus put in a word to them because there is no doubt we would NOT be the owners of that chair had he not. Thank you also to Nursery Time for being the donators of the chair--we are absolutely thrilled!
While in Lexington that day I also picked up my first few items of maternity clothes. Since then my cousin Jerusha has shared all of her clothes she's had in storage the last few years since ending her baby run. So far I'm still fitting in my regular clothes but only select ones of course!

Earlier this month we lucked upon another hospital sponsored baby event. During our latest trip to Indiana to visit Mingus's family, we were able to attend a similar event. Now this one did not have the amazing food spread or numerous door prizes--and many of the vendors were even less relevant to us (being that we live four hours away) but there was still lots of free information and freebies. You can never turn that stuff down! We also happened to show up at the exact same time as Mingus's cousin Jessica who we recently found out is expecting a month after us!