Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chicago Thanksgiving!

We had a blast in Chicago for Thanksgiving! Luckily the weather wasn't too cold. The parade was a lot of fun, the streets were packed with people all bundled up. Casey's sister Dee Dee and our nephew Brock from Louisiana met us for the fun! Ace loved it which made our Thanksgiving and trip well worth it. He was in awe of all the floats, horses, balloons, bands, and even the Poo crew that followed the horses and donkeys. It was great to be back in Bandit Country. We enjoyed Italian Beef Sandwiches, my favorite.

Flying back I looked down at Ace while he was napping on the plane and was blown away how big he has gotten. He took up 2 whole seats as he was stretched out in comfort. It was just yesterday as we were jetting around on planes and he fit in my lap and on my chest. Remembering our trip back from China in 2006 with my mom as he fit perfectly across the seat in the plane. Now he is reaching into his third seat. My little baby is a little boy. As I look over he is slurping up his fruit loops holding over all by himself. He is becoming more and more independent. I am still reminded he is still little at times. I walked into the family room the other day as he had went to the fridge got a gallon of milk out and filled his cup and overflowed making a puddle on the coffee table. He replied, I wanted some milk, mommy with a concerned grin! My dad then replied, at least he made it into his cup he was right on! I couldn't help but smile. We are enjoying this ride! He is such a goofy kid, he is so much fun! The other night we were rocking out to Dancing With the Stars. He was going crazy, dancing like a wild man. It was so fun. When we got home from Chicago he was telling Grandma and Grandpa he rode in a lemon, too cute. A limo, his lemon! :)
Enjoying and thankful for every minute!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

OK... Here are a few!

You caught me being lazy, you asked for some pictures and here they are! We are headed out to Chicago! Wishing we were with our families... but grateful to be with our unit Casey, Ace and I!
Honored to be a part of the parade this holiday season!
I wish you all a Happy Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for all the many blessings we have been blessed with. We thank the Lord, our families, friends and so many more! May you enjoy this so very sweet holiday with yours!
Forever grateful, beyond explanation!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

In Awe!

Well I have to start by telling of our fantasy experience at the CMA's! Amazing! Amazing! We were so blessed, lucky, happy, grateful, and so much more. In Awe! Growing up with my mom being a huge Country music fan, I too am a huge fan! Even married a southern man, with an accent too! :) Casey and I were really just in awe with big grins as though we were back in Jr. High!
Trace Adkins and his wife Rhonda were so very generous and beyond, incredible hosts! We are indebted to them for this incredible experience. We were able to hang on Trace's tour bus for the night, met his management and band. Trace and Rhonda let us follow along like their puppy dogs. They took us everywhere, it was too sweet! We went to rehearsals and watched Kenny Chesney and Trace perform! Wow! Even able to snag some pictures with Taylor Swift and many more backstage. They took such great care of us, grubbed on TGIFridays appetizers before the big show, enjoying the company! Trace is so very humble, a good ole country boy! Casey and I went over right before the show... no idea where our tickets were. Trace's Manager escorted us closer and closer to the stage, yes to the 5Th row! In Awe! Randy Travis was seated in front of us (I'm a big fan of his!), and right behind us was Kidd Rock. Pretty incredible. One amazing performance after another! I'm not going to lie when we sat down I was filled with just complete joy and gratefulness, tears started to overflow. Casey was so sweet, he just grabbed my leg and kissed my forehead. He completely understood me with no words spoken. We were in awe! Trace and Rhonda, of course grabbed us to go backstage with them before Trace performed. They were so very kind and thoughtful! Here we were hanging out with Kenny Chesney, Kidd Rock, and more backstage. Everyone was so so sweet! Kenny's dad along with Kidd Rock, admitted they were softball fans! Who would've ever imagined. They were legit too, going back to my Wildcat days and talking baseball with Casey. We had a blast! It was so refreshing to see how laid back the Country scene is. Everyone was so sweet and really just chill. It made me even that much more of a fan. We ended the night with a few parties, of course right behind the Adkins! I can not thank them enough for their graciousness! Casey and I woke up the next morning laughing, saying to each other, "No way, no stinkin' way!" In Awe!

The next night I had the honor of attending a charity event honoring the Quincy Jones Foundation in NY hosted by Audemars Piguet. Another incredible night! In awe! They honored Dr. Jos Antonio Abreu and Maestro Gustavo Dudamel of Venezuelas El Sistema Program with the Q prize for this year. It is an outreach program that uses Classical Music to promote health and well-being in Venezuela. So many kids, thousands, have been touched and given an opportunity through this program. Siedah Garrett rocked the house with, "Man In the Mirror", Goldie Hawn was dancing up a storm! Michael McDonald performed along with an incredible closing jam session with Wycleaf Jean, again in awe! It was a great evening, closed with an intimate dinner with Audemars Piguets Francois-Henry Bennahmias, Quincy and their guests. So very inspiring, just in awe.

Slept for about an hour, and headed out on a 5 o'clock am flight out to Louisiana! Landed and headed straight out to the softball field for a day of setting up for camp. We had a great turnout for camp, its always nice to do in your "backyard"! Sulphur has been so supportive of softball and our camps. Its great to be able to do events locally. We enjoyed Boudain Balls, Deer Jerky, Pickled Quail eggs, and all the other yummy local food we are spoiled while we set up! Yes, I am a southern girl at heart. I enjoy it all! We had a great crew out to help Bustos, Kelly K, Mac V, Toni M, Jaime Clark, and Caitlin Lowe. I'm so grateful they make it happen. Along with McNeese University who helped, Thank you!
I was introduced and honored to meet Amber Kuntz on Saturday at camp, a local young lady who is 23. Amber is battling Lou Gehrig's Disease. Amber was a state champ softball pitcher for Sulphur High School just a couple of years ago. I heard about Amber a couple of months ago through our Aunt and was so happy to get to meet her. I immediately was drawn to her, she had this glow, this incredible spirit! I was so honored to be able to chat with her during our quick lunch at camp. She was and is God sent. She spoke of such peace and confidence. As my eyes just filled with tears hearing her so humbly speak. I was, In Awe. In awe, doesn't even do it justice. Just a few of her comments, "I have never been happier in my whole life!" "God has blessed me in so many ways!" "This is a gift, it is all a gift." Here is Amber a beautiful 23 year old girl now accepting the help of a wheel chair, focusing, and working hard to get out each sentence she speaks. We shared a few softball childhood memories, our dads coaching us, and how softball is so much more than a sport. She left down the stairs with the help of her parents mom on one side and her dad on the other. I couldn't hold myself together, I just bawled. Amber blew me away with her courage, strength, and most importantly her faith! She inspired me to be more, give more, and do more. I invited her back on Sunday and asked her to speak if she wouldn't mind. Well sure enough, with her mom her rock, pushing her wheel chair out to home plate she spoke to all 340 campers and their families. She was full of grace, passion, and spoke so eloquently. She touched everyone. Many tears, her faith and spirit are overwhelming. It's so hard not to fill with anger, Lord, why? Then you see her, her faith and peace that just blows you away. She is living it, she is such an example, shes allowing this/Him to touch so many lives. She spoke of making the most of it, appreciating your parents, the lessons that softball teaches you and how it will help you prepare for life, and so much more. She is a gift, and what a gift it was to get to know her and have her speak at camp. Thank you Amber!
I was again honored to have lunch with Amber again this week on Wednesday. She is the real deal, walking the walk, talking the talk. She continued to blow me away. She even said, "I am unworthy to have this disease." "He chose me, me to use." I'm so grateful I got the opportunity to meet Amber and to hear and see her faith. Since our first introduction she has been in my heart and on my mind. She gave me a bracelet from her wrist that was given to her with the serenity prayer on it, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage (in bold) to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." I was so honored and humbled to accept her bracelet. Here, Amber is giving me courage and sharing her faith and strength. She just continues to give. Her mom replies with, "That's Amber." I have worn it since... Courage. I want Amber's courage, her faith, she is such a great example for all. I felt compelled to share Amber with you and maybe you too can be touched by Amber. Her reply would be, its not me its Him! It is indeed Him living in her. She has touched my life in a very special way. In Complete Awe!

Yesterday I was in Chicago, I flew out for a signing. It was fun being back in Bandits colors and seeing Bandit fans. I'm looking forward to the summer and getting back on the field.

I am honored to be the Grand Marshal of the McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago this Thursday! Wow! I have to admit, I really like parades. One of my favorite childhood memories is watching them with my mom lying on the couch. I can't wait to experience it with Ace and our family this Thanksgiving. I'm so thankful! It will air on WGN if you are up that early to catch the start! :)

Dreaming & Believing,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Still going!

Thanks for sharing your Halloween stories! Its fun to hear how your day was, along with family traditions and such. Please keep sharing!

We had a fun one. Ace ended up as a USA Basketball player. He was not having the idea of a costume, my hope was him seeing his cousins to maybe get him motivated to indulge in a costume. He was a baseball head guy for about a total of 2 minutes! My dad has this mask that is a baseball head, he wore it but it didn't last long. Then he moved onto or into a mask and cape which was an extra/spare from his cousins car. Maybe 4 minutes he was a super hero with of course his blankie which added more character to his super heroness! So before we headed out on our trick or treating adventure I rummaged through his suitcase looking for his USA Finch replica jersey, at least he could be a baseball/softball player, I was thinking in my head. As Casey was yelling, "NO" into the room, he read my mind! I then pulled out this little All-American basketball jersey set! Perfect! I found some high socks managed to put on, some shoes and we were out the door chasing bat man and a little chili pepper (his cousins)!
Not too creative but it did the trick! We scored lots of candy, a popcorn ball, an otter pop, playdoh, and even a king size bag of skittles from Grandma! We did it! Halloween ended on a sugar high!

We had a great but busy last week! Its nice to know that for a few days we are in one place. Last weekend I flew out to DC for a public signing. As I headed out of the hotel the driver handed me the flier for the event. There was Pete Rose, Cal Ripken Jr, and many many more hall of famers from baseball and football also attending the signing. I was in awe! How in the world did I get here? There was my picture along side Cal's. Just crazy, a softball player. I had a little bit of a moment, on the way there. My dad had looked up to and watched many of these guys! I looked up to them, now I am sitting beside them as people line up ever so long for our autographs. A softball player, little sister, dreaming of being a Dodger one day, just amazing. It brought tears to my eyes. Just thinking how far women in sport have come, thanks to the many before us. We had a great turn out. I had to pinch myself as I look to my right and then my left, as Pete Rose leaned over and sent me a wave! This is more than I possibly ever could of imagined, let alone dreamt of! The sky is truly the limit. Very empowering, overfilled with gratitude, humbling, and an incredible day. The Lord continues to amaze!

I was able to squeeze in a pitching demonstration and Q&A for about 25 girls a couple minutes from the signing. A sweet softball family owns it, it was a great indoor facility! I had a good time hanging out talking pitching and softball. It was a fun short but long trip!

Headed back to see Casey and Ace for a day I tried to soak in as much as possible of them. Then headed out to Indianapolis for a Play Ball Indiana Luncheon for RBI, Reviving Baseball in the Inner cities. I love social events and having the opportunity to interact with different people from all over. This program creates opportunity and gives kids the ability to play baseball and softball. They don't have to pay to play. They have games and tournaments, even an opportunity to go the championships! Quite fun! It was awesome to hear stories of how RBI has touched so many young boys and girls across the nation. I was the speaker for the luncheon... the not so fun part. I am getting a little better or used to it. To be honest, I still get nervous speaking in front of crowds, I guess its a good nervousness. I've got to the point where a few words are OK but still the key note speaking part, honestly it still makes my heart race. Its like I'm back at the Olympics trying to get those first pitch nerves out, and after usually that first pitch it goes away. This is a little different, it doesn't go away. I enjoy it in a weird way, its living out of my comfort zone. Its good to live outside your box every once in awhile, even if your heart does race. So I keep telling myself.

After the luncheon, I bagged up my stilettos and exchanged them for my cleats, pulled up my hair, and headed out to the field. My comfort zone. We put together a little clinic/demo/Q&A for RBI/Play Ball Indianapolis. We had a great group. We were a little rushed but it was great to get out on the field and share our passion and love for the game with the girls! It was a fun day, ending in comfort!

Thursday, I was able to sneak in dinner with a friend, her son, and her mom! Ace and my mom went too! It was such a great night! We were roommates in college, it felt like we were still living as Wildcats! It was fun to catch up, laugh, eat, shop, and let the boys play. These are the things I wish we could do more of.

Friday, I had a photo shoot with Gogie! Gogie is a hat company, dedicated to and for women. They are out of this world. Short billed, they carry petite, light weight, super cute styles, just right for us ladies. I'm so incredibly ecstatic, they are designing 3 maybe 4 "Finch" hats and headbands with my logo and all. I just received some prototypes, I was smiling from ear to ear. Absolutely awesome. We are so excited about the partnership, they are a great company and great to work with. We will hopefully have the hats online soon. For those of you going to Louisiana Camp you will have first dibs! They will be at in our gift shop this weekend!

We are relaxing enjoying family and one another. Ace is just too stinkin' adorable, full of it but adorable. I am having so much fun with him, his little personality is so goofy! I can't get enough!

We are so honored and excited to go the CMA's!!! Yes, the CMA's!!! We are huge country music fans and really stoked. I'm filled with that 12 year old excitement, just giddy! Anxiously awaiting so much talent, Nashville, the night, it all! I found a cute black dress, its sweetheart cut on top, on the shorter side, with ruffles on the skirt. I was able to borrow an incredible belt buckle from a family friend that I will be sporting with great pride. I will post a picture from the night, maybe a few. Casey is going to look gorgeous! Boots, suit, tall, dark, and of course handsome! Trace and his wife have so graciously invited Casey and I! I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Living a dreamy life no doubt about it!