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Friday, July 1, 2011

Why I Love Being a Mom...

If I wasn't a mom, I wouldn't have stories like this to tell...

So the other day, my husband and I were sitting in the living room together and our son had been back in the back section of the house playing. Periodically, we would hear his little feet pitter-pattering down the hallway. His room is just down the hall from ours.

He was huffing and puffing and obviously working hard at something.

We kept hearing things moving, feet traveling the house, and heavy toddler breathing.

We were both reluctant to go see what was going on both out of fear of what we would find and out of laziness in being so comfortable where we were.

About five minutes passed and we finally decided to get up together and see if the back of the house was still in one piece.

I fully expected to find all of my son's drawers emptied or the covers ripped off our bed...ya know, one of the things we've taught our son not to do. I always fear they'll come back when I let my guard down, thinking we've conquered that demon.

I walked into my son's room, braced for the worst. Other than a few books in the floor, everything was perfectly in place. My husband reported from our bedroom that he couldn't see anything wrong either.

What in the world!? Was he using his imagination so  well that he actually became out of breath pretending to do whatever he was imagining?!

With no evidence to scold our son over, we decided to go on about our night and head to the park thinking how strange the last 10 minutes were.

After we had put our son to bed for the night, the nightly shower routine commenced. My husband said that as he was walking out of the bathroom, something weird caught his eye. He came to grab me to show me that he had figured out what our 18 month old had been working so hard on earlier that day.

There was one towel draped over the side of the hamper. The rest  of the capacity of the hamper was taken by every shoe we own, carefully placed there by our hard-working little guy! He must have decided that since we put our clothes there when we are done wearing them, we probably meant to put our shoes there too. And since some shoes went there, well, the rest  should go too! =)

It was precious and makes us giggle every time we think about it. Can you imagine how disappointed he must have felt to wake up the next day and see all of the shoes back where they were. All that hard work for nothing!

Children are such  gifts. What immense joy they bring us... I'm so grateful for my son.... He truly is a "bundle of joy."

Do you have any fun kid stories? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Turned Down What?!?

Something unprecedented just happened today.

I turned down a trip. Remember, to say that I like to travel doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.

I can't remember EVER turning down a trip.

Since today is a day when we usually talk about traveling, I figured it'd be good to include a dose of reality. I don't mean to make it sound like taking trips is easy and everyone, no matter their situation, should travel. I think there is some truth to that...but the reality is...sometimes, it's best to stay home. As much as that pains me.

Earlier this month, we were invited to spend 2 nights in Las Vegas with some good friends at the end of July. We were going to see Cirque du Soleil's "O" and I could NOT wait! I LOVE musical theater and crazy shows like that! I was excited!

Then all hail broke loose. Pun, or misspelled word, or whatever...intended.

We had a huge hail storm that made our roof look like swiss cheese. And we have a sizeable deductible that we get to pay to have it fixed. Oh, the joys of home ownership. While there is still a chance our roof can be fixed without us paying a deductible, we decided it would be most wise to keep our money in our pockets and send our friends off to Sin City without us.

The two days in Vegas would have cost us around $1200. People, we can both go on a seven day cruise for that much! It was painful to imagine dropping that on 2 nights...especially when I don't gamble or visit strip clubs. I just wanted to see Cirque!

Anyways, today, we chose responsibility. But that doesn't mean I stopped looking at cruise deals and discount flights. We will  get away and it will  be amazing. Any time we get to experience new cultures or see part of God's creation that we haven't seen before, we are blessed.

I turned this one down...and what a "culture" that would have been to witness!...but there will be a chance for us. We wait patiently on the Lord and try to steward what he's given us well in the meantime.

Happy trails to those of you who don't have swiss cheese roofs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Double? Triple?

That's right! It's time to talk baseball!

Today, I want to go over some basic baseball lingo that you can start using right away. I was about to write some posts on some of the rules of the game and I realized I might need to back up and lay a nice foundation to build our baseball house on first.

So! Let's get started with your vocabulary lesson for the day...

Take a look at the field and the positions... (awesome image from

Notice all of the positions of the defense (the guys who play out in the field while the hitter/batter is hitting):
Pitcher: The guy who throws the ball for the hitter to hit. He stands on the pitcher's mound.
First Baseman: The guy who stands nearest first base
Second Baseman: The guy who stands between first and second base
Shortstop: The guy who stands between second base and third base
Third Baseman: The guy who stands nearest third base
Catcher: The guy =) He squats behind home and catches the pitches.
Right Fielder: The guy who stands out in the outfield, on the right side, behind the 2nd Baseman
Center Fielder: The guy who stands out in the outfield, right in the middle, behind 2nd base itself
Left Fielder: The guy who stands out in the outfield, on the left side, behind the Shortstop

Now, you're about to learn how to sound cool...

Notice the numbers next to their names in the diagram. They are:
Pitcher - 1
Catcher - 2
First Baseman - 3
Second Baseman - 4
Third Baseman - 5 (it's seems the shortstop should be next, but he's after the third baseman in the numbers)
Shortstop - 6
Left Fielder - 7
Center Fielder - 8
Right Fielder - 9

Ever heard someone say, "That was a 4-6-3 double play" or something similar? Well, now, you can know what that means! A 4-6-3 (this is said "Four, six, three") double play means the second baseman (4) got the ball. He threw it to the shortstop (6) for an out, and then the shortstop threw it to first (3) for another out. It went 4-6-3. If you hit a ground ball to the third baseman and he throws you out at first, that's a 5-3.

Let me assure will rise to a whole new level of "amazing" in your sports-loving-friends' eyes if you are watching a game and say, "UGH! Another 5-4-3 double play for the Rangers!" They'll die, which will make conversation difficult...but they'll come back to life and love you more than ever.

Talk baseball!

Update: I meant to say this yesterday but forgot...
The reason the numbers exist is to help the score keepers. They can't fit "ground ball to the shortstop, he threw to first" or something similar for each batter, so they found a "short-hand" of sorts. They can write 6-3 instead. Or F9 ("F" stands for Fly Out). Or P4 ("P" stands for "Pop Up"). Etc, etc, etc. Get it?


No, I'm not about to write a post about that foreign chick who sings the "Paper Planes" song. Go ahead. Breathe a sigh of relief.

I want to explain why I've been Missing In Action for the last few days. I struggle with the identity of this blog...mixing personal life topics with instructional/advice topics. I actually like writing both and have a good response to both, so my goal is to continue to mix them.

To that end, a bit of an update is due.

I gave myself a few days off from blogging because, well, I was drinking margaritas! Margaritas are probably my favorite way of celebrating. They just make me feel like I'm not in the US. I can pretend I'm on a beach, really  celebrating!

Celebrating what!? I thought you'd never ask...

I got a new job! I know that 90% of you have no idea what I do for a living or had any clue that I wanted a new job. Well, I'm keeping the details to myself because that feels like the right thing to do. And I try to do "right" things when I can. Just know that this job is a huge  blessing for my little family.

God continues to provide for me and love me even when I doubt and question His plan for me. His grace...the way He loves me when I prove  to Him that I don't deserve so humbling. He is good and He does good. And I am unworthy, but so grateful.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Goal Setting Part I

Last week for Healthy Thursday, we talked about making the lifestyle change of committing to doing something every day.

How's that going for you? Are you feeling better when you finally lay down to sleep at night? You should be! It's a great step to be challenging yourself, even a tiny bit, each day. You're living  and that's beautiful!

Today, we're going to start talking about setting goals that will actually get you the result you're hoping for. In sports, we use goal setting all the time. It keeps us focused during practice and gives us a reason to high five and butt slap like crazy when we see those goals realized (the butt slap part was a joke...only boys do that...for some strange reason). Reaching a goal is a euphoric feeling that everyone has the potential to experience...if they just understand the "how" behind it. I believe there are four pretty crucial components to being a successful goal-reacher. We'll talk about two of them today.

The first is pretty self-explanatory...set some! Many people think goals are lame and a waste of time. As a self-proclaimed "goal apologist," it's my opinion that those people are either lazy and don't want to feel the challenge a goal presents lacking the motivation, or they've poorly set goals in the past that just caused frustration. Be honest with yourself for a second. What keeps you from setting goals? No (*shaking my mommy pointer finger at you*), I said to be honest  with yourself. Work on fixing whatever mental block you have against goals and allow them into your life. I promise they'll treat you well, once you've read the manual on how to use them (which is what I'm writing here, so you're in luck!).

When goals are properly set and a bit of determination is added to the mix, a very rewarding experience can be expected...not just hoped for. Don't be afraid of setting goals, and by all means, know that you are worth the effort  it takes to set and achieve goals. You are a creation of Christ, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You are worth it.

Before you decide which goals you want to set, let's talk about the second component of successful goal-reaching...

Be reasonable. By all means, set goals that are easily attainable for YOU. Don't read a magazine and use the author's goals. Don't overhear a conversation your friends are having about their hope to run a half marathon in a month, and decide that's what you're going to shoot for too when you don't even know where your tennis shoes are because it's been so long since you've run (that sentence was probably a run-on, but it visually illustrates my point, so I hope the grammar police are still able to follow).

Think about where you currently are and determine what a small step to where you want to be would look like. Maybe it's "doing something" every day (like we talked about last week). Maybe it's jogging to the stop sign at the end of your block, then walking the rest of your normal evening route. Maybe it's only eating one helping of dinner when you usually go back for seconds. Whatever it is, be real with yourself. Choose small goals that you know you can reach rather quickly if you are determined to do so.

Set yourself up for success. Make your goals attainable and reasonable for where you are today. Once you've done that, you reevaluate and re-set new goals...once you've rewarded yourself. We'll talk about all of that next week.

For now, what's your deal with goals? Why haven't you set any in the past? Think about that and figure out what reasonable goal(s) you can set for yourself today...

Let's take care of these "vessels" God has given us. We can do it! I believe in you!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cruisin' with Kids! (Part II)

It's WorldWide Wednesday...which means we get to leave our laptops behind, mentally, and think about being somewhere else!

Given that, it's time to close out the talk about the different options we have for childcare and entertainment for kids on the various cruise lines. As I've said before, my hope is that parents don't let the fact that they have kids keep them from traveling. The trips we've taken with our little one have been absolutely some of our best. He will likely not remember anything we've done so far, but we certainly will. It's amazing to travel with a child and see the world through their eyes. Ok, I think I've made that stance, we'll move on.

Last week, we covered the three cruise lines I have personally cruised with - Carnival, Holland America, and Norwegian. Today, we'll cover the other three most popular cruise lines in the US. There are more lines available than what we will cover, but these are the most common lines you'll find in US ports.

I hope you find this information helpful and encouraging as you plan a memorable family trip...and remember, if you ever have ANY questions about cruising, I'd love to answer them for you! =)

Here's a blurry pic from my honeymoon for your enjoyment... Cruise love!

Royal Caribbean International
Minimum Age for Childcare: 3 years and fully potty trained
Childcare Hours Offered: 9:00am - Noon, 2:00pm - 5:00pm, 7:00pm - 10:00pm for free. In-room babysitting is available from 8:00am - 2:00am and is $19/hour. The child must be at least 1 year old for this service. Regular group-style babysitting is available for late-night care until 2:00am for $6/hr.
Is Childcare Offered During Excursions: Yes, provided (obviously) that children are 3 yrs and up and fully potty trained.
Other Comments: They offer Fisher-Price play dates for infants 6mo - 36mo, but parents must be present. Their program seems very thorough and enjoyable for children, but the minimum age is high and the in-room babysitting cost is outrageous compared to Holland America (covered in Part I).

Celebrity Cruise Vacations
Minimum Age for Childcare: 3 years
Childcare Hours Offered: 9:00am - 10:00pm is free. 10:00pm - 12:00am is $6/hour, except for the last night in which 10:00pm - 1:00am is also free (this is a program they call "Parents Night Out").
Is Childcare Offered During Excursions: Yes, for certain hours (check with on-board staff) and comes at the $6/hr fee
Other Comments: The Parents Night Out program is one of a kind, however, the midnight closing for all other nights is quite early. Most ships have comedy shows that don't start until midnight and the dance clubs/lounges/bars are all open until 2:00am or later. It seems somewhat restrictive.

Princess Cruises
Minimum Age for Childcare: 3 years
Childcare Hours Offered: Sea Days: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 2 p.m. - 5 p.m., 7 p.m. - 1 a.m. Port Days: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - All care is free until 10:00pm, and then $5/hr afterward
Is Childcare Offered During Excursions: Yes, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Other Comments: I couldn't locate information on the hours of the late-night option for childcare. I would suggest calling the line or asking once on-board.

Who's ready to book a trip!? This girl is! I cannot wait for our next cruise! Our little one is 18 months, so compiling all of this info has been very beneficial to me to help me decide which line will get our business. I hope it helped you too!

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Understanding Restructuring

Ok, lovely's time for some Tuesday Sports Talk!

Since the NHL and NBA playoffs have concluded, our focus is now 100% on baseball (as it should be, in my little opinion). A hot-button topic in the world of Major League Baseball right now is "restructuring" the leagues/divisions.

My goal is to always help you understand what is going on in sports so that you can have relevant conversations with those who love sports and build better friendships or add a new, exciting element to your existing relationships. You know, shock your husband with sports talk!

To help you understand the restructuring talk, you have to first understand how baseball is organized currently. Today, there are 30 baseball teams divided in two leagues. The leagues are called American and National Leagues. Within each of the two leagues, there are 3 divisions. They are called East, Central and West in both the American and National Leagues.

They breakdown like this:

For those who might have been confused by that image, I'll break it down by color... American league teams in red and National league teams in blue, all listed within their divisions:

AL (stands for American League) East: Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles
AL Central: Twins, White Sox, Royals, Indians, Tigers
AL West: Rangers, Angels, Mariners, A's

NL (stands for National League) East: Braves, Mets, Marlins, Phillies, Nationals
NL Central: Pirates, Astros, Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Reds
NL West: Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rockies, Diamondbacks

So, now you know what division (East, Central, West) and what league (National or American) your favorite team is. My two favorite teams are in the NL East (Braves) and AL West (Rangers). Where are yours? 

Now, back to restructuring. 

With the current setup, teams within the same division play each other more than they play other teams. For example, everyone within the NL West plays the other teams at their home field and  at the other team's field at least twice each! So the Dodgers would play the Padres, Giants, Rockies and Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium...and  they would play each one at the other teams' stadium at least twice in both places. The Dodgers would then play all other teams just once at each place. Why does this matter?

Well, certain divisions in baseball are far stronger than others. The AL East is the powerhouse. The Yankees and Red Sox are perennial bullies, beating up on everyone else. Teams like the Rays and Blue Jays, who are also very good teams, have a hard time making it to the playoffs because they are stuck playing the Yankees and Red Sox so many times a year. On the other hand, the AL Central is rather weak historically. Many times, if the Rays or Blue Jays had been in the Central instead of the East division, they would have easily won and advanced to the playoffs.

To give you numbers, teams within the same division play each other 18-20 times per year. A team plays the teams in other divisions 6-7 times per year. It makes quite a difference.

So, the idea is to restructure the divisions to make them more fair. There are many ideas on how to do this. We won't get into all of them today just because it seems every sports writer has "the answer" and it's hard to say which will end up in affect. What I hope you understand is the current organization and the problems it presents. 

One solution that is somewhat the front-runner (today; that could change by tomorrow) is getting rid of divisions completely and just having two large leagues where the top 5 from each side would make it to the playoffs. Do you see and understand how that eliminates the problem? It opens a few more issues we won't get into today, but it does level the playing field and help teams like the Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles who are so used to playing the Yankees and Red Sox over and over each year.

Make sense? Now go grab a sports-lover and talk MLB restructuring with them! Or at least tell them what division your favorite team is in! Conversations like this can birth friendships and deeper relationships and those are straight up gifts from the Lord. So, go talk sports! =)