Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lists... Dot firsts | Home Building | Prayers

I am an avid list-maker... and since time is running short, this issue I’ll simply make a few lists:

Dorothy Lou Firsts

1. She had her longest road trip to date, going with Mom and Nana to North Carolina to visit her Great-Aunt Anne and Lorms family members.
2. She attended her first Juice Plus+ training and was quite a hit as a happy, healthy Juice Plus+ Babe!
3. She experienced her first major power outage in February. We took refuge at Greystone for 3 1/2 days, keeping warm, reading books and playing by candle light.
4. She got the devil scarred out of her! She was baptized at Sacred Heart Church with Holly Jo and Michael becoming her Godparents.
5. She had her first play date with Sadie Jo & Maya together; however they were all only 3 months old and did not do much playing at that point. Actually... Dorothy screamed...
6. Enjoying springtime in The Valley. We are so glad for the warm, sunny days and getting outside. It’s amazing the effects the fresh air has on her.

 Home Building things that are exciting & scary
1. Pouring foundation. A real sign of construction! ...But we put in radiant floor heat. Hopefully it’s right because there is no going back!
2. Walls going up. It looks just the way I envisioned when drawing and redrawing sketches... But NOW is the last chance for any changes...what might we regret?!
4. Moving on from one stage to another. Progress is exciting, but this tight wad sees the dollar signs rolling...eek!
5. Picking out paint and stain colors. I’ve always been a creative person, so coming up with color schemes is definitely fun, but there are so many options! What if when everything comes together it just looks like a hodge podge of colors? Paint doesn’t come cheap so I’m not looking to redo anything anytime soon.
6. Staining our concrete. There are so many cool looks this can provide, but the colors are so dependent on your concrete and every slab provides a different look--not like paint. And once you’ve stained it, there is no going back!
7. Cabinets for our kitchen. I’m excited to fill out our kitchen (since the downstairs is very open concept and it’s still hard to envision the kitchen exactly), but this is such an important room for us (ME!) what with loving to host, making home-cooked meals daily and preserving garden food regularly. The kitchen is definitely THE room I don’t want to have regrets about.

Things currently on my prayer list
1. The continued guidance on decisions about our home construction and the guidance of the workers actively taking part in its construction.
2. Alyx and Mr. Special K... for a safe delivery (for Mom and Baybo) in the coming month. I’m so excited to meet him and for Dorothy to have a little boy cousin to join in on games of dress-up!
3. The upcoming marriages of Ian & Robin and Boo & Kristen. While I look forward to the fun of their wedding days, I mostly pray that it be the beginning of a wonderful union, one in which God is very present.
4. Guidance as a mother. All praying mothers ask God for help in this special responsibility as well as the health of their child, but more specifically I pray:

  • That I do all I can to guide this soul into becoming who it is God has planned, so she can best be on the path to achieve the tasks God has set out for her. I pray that our souls connect in our nightly slumbers so that we can better understand one another in our waking hours.
  • That I am loving you as much as any child deserves. I’ve always known I wanted to be a stay at home Mom, but I am still doing certain work from home and I pray that I am not taking too much away from the most important job: being a Mother.
5. For our financial stability. People often say, “I wish I could afford to stay home” in reference to being a single-income family. The truth is, I don’t know if Jon and I can afford it. It’s scary. We are not wealthy by any means, but we’re following what we truly believe is God’s voice. We simply pray that we hear his calling and are doing what he would ask of us--whether that be for me to be at home or otherwise.
6. My Aunt Anne, her battle with cancer and her entire family. Such a special person in my life and my Uncle Kelly was gone far too soon. She still has such an important role to play in the life of her children and grandchildren, at least from my perspective. Of course, God is all-knowing and we trust in him.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sports Talk: The Perfect Season

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Apr. 9 , 2014.  
Needless to say, Monday night was a let down to many of us. But, even before the game was underway I began thinking about the idea of a "perfect season". What do we consider that to be and would it be all it's cracked up to?

The Cats came into the season with their fans loving them and everyone else hating them just as much or more than usual. All eyes are always going to be on the pre-season number one, but let's face it... Unless you are in the Big Blue Nation, you pretty much despise it. While everyone else hated on Kentucky, we had the highest of high hopes for our Wildcats and between having the best recruiting class of all time and being the preseason number one, there was no reason not to have our sights set high.

The "40-0" idea was the idea of perfection. A perfect season. Obviously that was wiped off the table immediately, but looking back... Despite the losses and despite coming up one win shy of the ninth national title, aren't the imperfections what allow the BBN to thrive?

We went from the top, to being the NCAA's joke. No, that stretch of going 5-5 prior to the NCAA Tournament (including not just one, nor two, but THREE Florida losses) was far from 'fun'. But it gave the true blue fans a chance to hang with their team and stand behind them despite the fingers that were pointing and laughing.

And guess what? We got the final laugh. No, we did not win number nine, but the national tournament showed the college basketball world there is a method to the UK madness and the flaws and imperfections of the regular season were all just part of a bigger picture and part of what a young team has to go through.

I couldn't help but sometimes think of our own Rebel basketball squad from this past season when UK had some of their rough games and rough patches. "Freshman mistakes," we often heard--from Stallworth and Calipari. Despite the talent of a player, sometimes, their early experiences at "the next level" involve growing pains. UK had a lot of those this season, just like we saw from our Rebels; but between those freshmen mistakes and growing pains there were those shining moments. In the case of both teams, CCHS and UK, in the post-season we saw kids grow up. There were still moments of frustration and "What were you thinking?!", but then the moments when natural talent came into balance with the motive of playing for your TEAM came together to shine. Those moments outweighed all of the rest.

The Wildcats proved they were what they cracked up to be during the NCAA tournament. Sure, we lost in the end, but if we had one perfect season after another, it would be easy to live in this state and stand behind UK season after season. But these are the seasons that test how thick the blue in your veins really runs. The finish to this season should make all TRUE BLUE fans very proud to be a part of the BBN--even more proud than they would have been had the team come home with a championship--because that would make it easy to claim your Wildcat allegiance.

Congrats to all teams and fans on a fun March Madness--and thanks Kentucky schools for keeping the fun alive for us fans to the very end for three seasons in a row now!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sports Talk: What is an athlete?

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Apr. 2 , 2014.  
There are many ways to define an athlete and there are many types of athletes when you think of them in terms of sports, but at the heart of it, what is an athlete? I learned my own lesson in this last weekend when I participated in the Run The Bluegrass event in Lexington.

The fairly new half marathon event is a celebration of spring in Kentucky and my sister is the assistant race director so my husband and I decided this year we would partake in the event by simply doing the seven mile run they offer. I wanted to do the race for a couple of reasons:
   (1) To get myself back into running shape after having had my first baby. 

   (2) To support my sister first hand and see the end result of her hard work.

Unfortunately, with this winter's weather (and now having a babe to keep up with) my training did not exactly go according to plan and even the seven miles was a lot more than my body was technically ready to handle.

On top of being unprepared for the mileage, Saturday's poor weather was a major disappointment. However, waiting in our corral to get to the start line and very cold from the intense wind and the spitting rain (still unsure I could even complete the 7 miles!), I realized I was really unphased by the weather. I'd seen worse. Much worse. And it wasn't like there was an option to bail.

As an athlete you know that when it's time to compete, the things you can't control--like weather--might as well be a side note. It could be worse--and everyone around you, whether you see them as competition or teammates, is dealing with the same conditions. On top of that, you have prepared accomplish the particular feat and a little rain and cold will not stop you.

What is an athlete? Someone who doesn't back down from the challenge they have prepared themselves for, despite the conditions.
 So even though I got over the wet and cold, I still was unsure of how I could do seven miles I had not trained for; but I am blessed to have spent 11 years of my life training and competing and even more than that running in general. My legs were able to find their easy pace, settle in and stick it out. I remember even in my earliest track practices as a 6th grader running around the CCMS gym, if we were doing a 10 minute run for a cool down, I never walked. I found a way to keep going.

What is an athlete? Someone who battles through the obstacles to complete the task they set out for.

But my own accomplishments on Saturday were nothing compared to many of those racing that day. Especially one of Casey's finest, Amy Barlow.

photo courtesy of Amy Barlow
My memories of Amy go way back to being a youngster who admired the Lady Rebel star. Not did I look up to her for her skills as a basketball player who led the team to its first 12th Region Championship, but for the kind, humble, soft-spoken role model she was to those of us up and coming in Casey sports. She encouraged us and helped people like myself get on our own track to becoming true athletes. I remember later watching Amy play at Centre College during her collegiate career.

It's an understatement to say Amy's had her setbacks as an athlete. (And she is the first to praise God for the miracles and blessings he has showered her and her family with through the past several years.) Yet, Saturday I truly came to appreciate that the athlete in Amy cannot be extinguished.

My husband happened to spot Amy before the race began on Saturday so we joined the fellow Casey County crew--Marty Shackleford, Ellen Allen and Ashley Estes--for some pre race pep talk and commiseration over the poor weather. Amy and the others were running the full 13.1 miles. (Yeah, we felt like slackers...)

I have seen Amy at most of the local 5Ks I have covered over the last few years but on Saturday she completed a half marathon--something only a select group of people can lay claim to. Heck--I've been a runner for most of my life and I have only done one half marathon.

While I have always known Amy to be a very hard working and dedicated individual, I realized something else after she completed Saturday's run--in the wind, rain and cold. (And I will note that the weather turned worse around the time I finished my seven miles, so Amy was running in the worst of it.) Amy is an athlete through and through. When her basketball playing days ended, most people in Amy's shoes would have been ecstatic to simply be alive. And don't get me wrong. I know Amy is that, but she has found a way to let that athlete in her live on. She may no longer compete on a court where there is a scoreboard and she's attempting to outdo the opponent. The competition of a runner is oneself and sometimes facing that opponent is even tougher.

I learned long ago that Amy was someone to admire for the person she was, but many of us also admired her for the athlete she was. All of us still admire her for the person she is and what she has endured, but last weekend I realized the athlete in Amy is still thriving and is still worthy of much admiration. Young or old, any athlete should aspire to her level of dedication and work ethic in order to compete at their best and come out on top.

What is an athlete? Someone who loves to put in the work that it takes to be a competitor--even if the competition is oneself.