Category Archives: History

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10 YEARS!

You’re here! I’m so excited! On February 26, 2005, I started this blog, and for the next two weeks, I will be looking back at the past TEN YEARS of blogging!

Ten years has gone by in the blink of an eye. At least, it seems so at times. I’ve been browsing back through old posts and, while the style of my photos (lots of borders and filters in the early days) has changed, the core of the posts has not. It started with a few posts about my kids and that’s pretty much the same today. I wrote about things we did, places we traveled, movies I loved, following my love of photography into a business, family, friends, parties, scrapbooking, memories, happy times, sad times, publishing my novel. So much of our life.

Ten years is a really long time.

So, for the next TEN DAYS, I will be looking back, sharing old photos and favorite posts, and there will be GIVEAWAYS!!!

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY!

I’ve got a paperback copy of my first young adult novel ready to sign. The Truth About Drew was published last May.
It’s a sweet, uplifting, heart-warming story full of friendship and family with a journey to faith and a mystery surrounding a boy and his notebook.
Enter below. Tell a friend! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions at all about the giveaway, feel free to ask.

SEE YA BACK HERE TOMORROW!

anniversary weekend

Monday marked 18 years of marriage for us, and despite the lack of sleep over the weekend (see post earlier today), we spent lots of time with family doing fun activities and hanging out together.

On Friday, we went to the Summerfest in Hastings with Heather and the girls, Scarlett and Violet. We walked around, played games and went to dinner at Applebees. It was a lot of fun. I love the picture of Violet holding my finger and Scarlett holding Zach’s hand. He is her prince after all. ;)

Saturday’s activity is something I’ve been wanting to do all summer. The Grand Rapids Public Museum has had the Titanic Exhibit for a few months now and I really wanted to see it before it ends in a couple weeks. After Jake and Heather ran the Summerfest 5K (I didn’t run this year like I had hoped to. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but there’s always next year!), we drove up to the museum. The exhibit was very cool. My friends will tell you that I’m a big Titanic nut. When the movie came out on VHS (yes, the days before DVDs were the thing), I had a great big party with Titanic themed food and decorations. Seeing actual items from the ship was something else, though. I wish I could share photos, but there was no photography allowed inside. My favorite things were lighting fixtures and the ornate side of one of the benches that was on deck and these rows of untouched dishes that had been in a cabinet. The cabinet decayed away and left the dishes just laying like dominoes on the ocean floor. I actually felt a little emotional looking at some of that stuff and thinking of all those people who died that night. Amazing how some things look like they just came from the ship and some are so decayed away. I really really loved seeing the exhibit. Afterwards, we explored the rest of the museum and went for a carousel ride.





On Sunday, we went to my parents’ farm for a nice anniversary lunch. Mom made me corn on the cob. My one request. I hadn’t had any yet this Summer. It was delicious. Heather and the girls stopped by on their way back to the East side of the state. It was my Mom and Dad’s first time meeting baby Violet. She was crawling all over and Scarlett was running all over in their new family room addition, dancing and screeching to hear the echo. Violet liked the echo in there, too. I got a little of that on video. Here is a direct link to the video I shared on instagram. She’s so cute!

We had some cake and ice cream to celebrate our 18 years of marriage. It was a really nice weekend. <3

These photos were all taken with an iPhone 5, by the way. Just in case anyone was curious. I edited them using Totally Rad Actions in Adobe Photoshop. A few were edited with Instagram filters.

jacob goes to washington


Last week, Jake went with our brother-in-law, Jeff, on a little guy trip and they spent a day in Washington D.C. I am very jealous because I have never been to the capital and I would love to go someday. Jake took my camera along and got a few hundred pictures, so I was able to see it through his eyes. He said he tried to shoot like I would, which made me smile, but I think he has a pretty good eye for getting great pictures without my influence.

Here are a few of my favorites from his trip. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.








Someday, D.C. I will visit you!

fort sumter | spring break 2013


Something we really enjoy on family trips is visiting historical places. This time it was Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began. I mentioned this in a previous post, but I highly recommend buying your tickets online ahead of time. Our plan was to get up early, drive the 2.5 hours south to Charleston, get our tickets and take the 10:45 ferry to the island fort. When we arrived, the parking attendant told us the 10:45 was already sold out and the 1:30 boat was close to selling out as well. He encouraged us to get our tickets as soon as possible, which we did.

I was very bummed out and pouted for a little while. Having our ferry ride in the middle of the afternoon prevented us from going to one of the plantations in Charleston. We would not have had enough time to go before the boat and by the time our tour was over, we would only have a couple hours including the time it would take to get to the plantation. So, that plan was abandoned.

I’m working on being more “go with the flow” when it comes to things like this. When I get something in my mind and it doesn’t work out how I want, I get really disappointed. It’s not the end of the world if plans don’t work out. But I really want them to, darn it! :D

We’ll definitely visit South Carolina again, so next time, I guess.

The ferry ride to the fort was very windy and chilly. Back at the dock, the sun was shining and it was pretty warm, but once we were out on that water … BRRRRRR!!!! We sat on the top deck and froze our butts off. But we did get to see two dolphins swimming out there, so that was pretty awesome. The fort is pretty cool to see, too. It looks nothing like it did originally. There is a very large black structure taking up the entire center, which was installed when they updated weapons and such, and now they use it for the museum and gift shop. (Oh, and the restrooms.) But it’s still cool to stand there inside the fort and imagine what it must have been like in the 1860’s.










After Fort Sumter, we headed back to Myrtle Beach, stopping at Broadway at the Beach again to have dinner at Planet Hollywood. We’re all movie lovers, so we thought the kids would like it. However, when we got inside, we were told it was at least an hour and a half wait. No thanks! Again, my plans were foiled. So we went across the street to Hard Rock Cafe instead. The wait there was 50-60 minutes. That sounded much better. And it ended up being the kids favorite restaurant we ate at during the entire trip. Hard Rock always seems like such a cliche place to eat, but I think you just have to do it for the fun of it. I’ve been to Hard Rock Cafe’s in Orlando, Myrtle Beach (obviously), Cancun, and even Paris, France and Heidelberg, Germany.

On the drive home, after a very long day, we had one of the best laughs I’ve had in a long time and I think we all needed it. Chloe keeps saying it was one of her favorite things from the trip, all of us cracking up laughing over a funny conversation between her and Grandma. It’s one of those “you had to be there” situations that probably wouldn’t translate as very funny here on the blog, but in the moment, it was hilarious and all five of us were laughing so hard, the kind of laughter that brings tears to your eyes.

It’s those moments that make the best memories and made the whole day worthwhile.

monday’s list


• It’s been a nice long weekend. The kids and Jake both have today off so we happily slept in and plan to be as lazy as possible.

• Had a little “me time” on Saturday. Got some scrapbooking done (shared here on Saturday).

• Jake had a run on Saturday. His first time running 6 miles. He did it!

• Dropped the kids off at Mom + Dad O’s Sunday afternoon so Jake and I could go on a date. We had gift cards to Red Lobster then we walked around Barnes & Noble for a bit before grabbing some Starbucks for the ride home. It was nice to get away for a few hours together.

• Hung out for a bit when we stopped to get the kids. Chloe helped MiMaw bake brownies earlier in the night, so we had some for dessert before heading home.

• Watched lots of tv and movies this weekend – the highlight was, of course, Downton Abbey last night. :)

• This morning, we watched the Presidential Inauguration. I do enjoy the ceremony of it all and the pride I feel when they talk about the history of our country.

• The temperature outside has dropped drastically this weekend. It was just in the 40’s a couple days ago and then we had really really strong winds that knocked some of our branches down. Along with that wind, colder temps blew in and now the snow has arrived. ugh. Am thinking some place warm and southern sounds great right about now! Is it Spring Break yet?

old photo love


I love this picture so much. Look how cute my Dad was at age one. Here he is with his dad, my Grandpa.

Yesterday, my entire day was spent scanning old photos for a project I’m working on. This little gem was among them. There is just nothing like those old black & white prints from film. I’m so thankful for every picture we have from both of my parents’ childhoods.

I don’t think I ever shared any pictures of the book I put together last Christmas for my mom’s side of the family. We have a nice collection of letters that my Grandpa sent to my Grandma during his time in WWII. I scanned all of them and designed a soft cover photo book for everyone that my Mom gifted to all the aunts and cousins at our family Christmas.


I only wish we had Grandma’s letters back to him, but sadly those were lost when things were divided after my grandparents passed away. boohoo. We’re very thankful for the letters we do have, though. It gives a little bit of insight into what Grandpa went through in the war and also tells us just how much he really loved Grandma.

On a completely unrelated note, I hope everyone will get out to the polls and vote today in this very important election. I voted this morning and was so happy I went early in the morning when there were no lines. PLEASE VOTE!!!!

a whirlwind trip


When I tell you how many things we crammed into our two-day getaway to the U.P., you will think we are crazy, but we did it. We left early Saturday morning for a 5-hour drive to the Upper Peninsula. We arrived at Mackinaw City around lunchtime, so we stopped at the park there, had a picnic lunch and took some pictures by the bridge.

After lunch, we drove across the bridge. This was the kids first time there. We went to our hotel to check in, but we were there too early, so we went on our way north. Of course, we had to stop at Castle Rock just north of St. Ignace. We climbed to the top and thought we might have heart attacks on the way up. It’s pretty steep and there are a ton of stairs to climb. But the view was lovely and it was worth the climb.


We drove northward to Whitefish Point, took a look at the lighthouse and buildings, ventured out to the beach to see Lake Superior, and picked up some rocks.


Then it was south toward Paradise and a visit to Tahquamenon Falls. The falls are always so cool to see. We went to the lower falls first, walked the boardwalk to get a closer look, and took some pictures. The wind was so nice there and it was blowing mist from the waterfall in our faces, which felt nice since it was such a warm day.

We got some ice cream and the kids played checkers before we headed over to the upper falls.

Every time I’ve been to the upper falls with Jen, the river has been pretty low. One year, it was so shallow that the falls were split and dry in the middle and people climbed out on top of them. But this time, the river was flowing fast and deep and I got to see them in all their glory.


After a beautiful fall day, we spent the evening at our hotel swimming in the pool. I fell asleep almost the second my head hit the pillow. It was a ton of driving in one day.

Day two would be filled with even more driving than the day before. We stopped at Java Joe’s for morning coffee and Joe asked where we were going and after informing him we were headed to Kitch-iti-kipi, he suggested when we were done there, we should head a little further west and south on the Garden Peninsula to Fayette State Park to the ghost town. And that’s exactly what we did!

We went to Kitch-iti-kipi first. The kids really liked it there. I knew they would. I’m so glad Jen and I discovered it this summer. Chloe even got to make the raft move across the spring. It’s so cool there. It stays at a constant 45 degrees, so it never freezes over. I can just imagine how awesome it would be in the winter.


Then it was off to Fayette. I think this was my favorite place of the weekend. I love every place we went, but there’s just something about walking in a deserted town, where people used to work and live, seeing where they lived and the beauty of the location of this old iron town with the cliffs and water surrounding it. It was the coolest place. Very peaceful, too. With the fall colors, it just felt like the perfect time of year to visit there. Thanks, Java Joe! We loved it!









We headed home in the late afternoon and drove two hours back to St. Ignace then another five hours home. It was a crazy amount of driving and a thousand miles added to the odometer, but completely worth it.

I love the U.P. and I’m so thankful that mom took us on this trip and let me share some of my favorite places with my family.

two weeks past


my birthday cake. mom put my name and age on it. the kids decorated the corners w/the heart, xoxo, smiley face and mom. love it.

the past 2 weeks:
– Lots of swimming in our Big Blue pool
– A little stressed out by the kids
– Jake suggested we get a couple days to ourselves. MomO agreed to take the kids for a couple overnights and he took two days off work.
– My 38th birthday. Had a pizza party here w/my parents and brothers.
– Dropped the kids off after the party and went to a movie. Super 8. Fun summer movie.
– Spent a day in Canton. Lunch at Panera. Shopping at IKEA. Got the bookshelf I’ve been wanting for years. Happy Birthday to me!
– Spent a day in GR. Browsed Barnes & Noble. We each picked out a book and we got a book for each of the kids, too. I got a book about Jane Austen that has a collection of the letters she wrote during her life. Fascinating.
– Lunch at Olive Garden.
– Made BBQ pulled pork in the crockpot for the first time. Turned out GREAT. So delicious.
– Watched the movie “Aquamarine” with Chloe about fifteen times. She pretends to be a mermaid in the pool now. :)
– So impressed that the kids are using their evening quiet time (the hour before bedtime) to read their new books. Even Zach, who doesn’t normally choose reading first if he has other more entertaining options (games, legos, etc.).
– Used my straightening iron on Chloe’s hair. She looked so pretty with her hair all smoothed out. It’s normally a crazy wavy flyaway mess.

– Went to Dad O’s work retirement dinner at Seasonal Grille here in town. First time eating there. Very nice place with yummy food.
– Jake ran out of gas on his way to work on Wednesday. oops!
– Talked to my dear friend Jen and made the final plans for our annual camping trip next weekend. Can’t wait!
– Some big storms this week with tons of rain. Our Big Blue pool is so full right now, must drain some water today so we can swim this weekend.
– Chloe slept in our bed on Wed. night (because of the storms).
– Chloe slept in her own bed last night. She said she prayed that God would “keep it down” ’cause she was trying to sleep. So proud she made it through the whole night.
– Jake accidentally left his phone at home yesterday. oops again! Gave us an excuse to deliver it and have lunch with him.
– Did some more research on my Grandpa’s time in WWII – 334th Infantry 84th Division G Company. From October 10, 1944 to Dec 31, 1944, he was involved in quite a bit of combat. I was lucky enough to find a breakdown of what the 334th did during that time. Lots more reading and investigating to do. I’ve only scratched the surface. Very thankful for the pictures, letters and info we have so far.
– Had a challenging day with the kids yesterday. Just one of those days, I guess.
– Enjoyed a large mocha frappe after a long frustrating day with the kids.

Can’t believe July is nearly over. Only 5 more weeks until school starts. Trying not to think about it. Need to pack some good fun into August!

charlton park field trip


A couple weeks ago, I tagged along with Chloe’s class on a field trip to Charlton Park. I had not been there since I was young when our class went there for the day, so it was fun to see it again along with my daughter and her friends.

Some history on Charlton Park can be found on their website HERE, but the gist of it is that Mr. Charlton collected thousands and thousands of things throughout his life and he donated the land the park sits on to Barry County to be used for the community. Eventually, a museum was built there in his honor and several historical buildings from the area were moved there and filled up with his vast collections to recreate what a small town would have been like in the 1800’s/early 1900’s. It’s pretty interesting and fun for kids to see what things were like and how things were done without electricity and all the other conveniences that we have today.

The class split up into groups and I helped with Chloe’s group. Our first stop on the tour was the Inn, which would have been a stagecoach stop back in the day. The kids helped in the kitchen first by chopping veggies for some soup, which they were served later for lunch, and churning butter.

We got a little tour of the inn, too, which really makes me thankful that we live in 2010 and not 1910. The main bedroom upstairs (the parents’ room) had a vent that ran through it so that the heat from the kitchen oven below could come up through and warm the room. The kids got to sleep in the room with the parents when they were babies, but when they reached a certain age, they moved into the big kids room, where there was no heat except for hot water bottles at the foot of their beds. Brrrrrr! We were also shown the way the beds were made then (bottom right picture below). The guide said there were two mattresses – one on the bottom for support, which was filled with things like hay, straw, leaves, etc. and the top one, which would have had things like cotton and fabric and anything else soft. They had to be cleaned regularly so they wouldn’t get bed bugs. The ropes that supported the mattresses had to be pulled tight often so they didn’t sag. This is where the saying “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” comes from. Very interesting.

After the Inn, we headed over to the old one-room school house. Girls sat on the right and boys sat on the left. The kids all got to pull out their slates and do a little math and spelling and write their names. It was cute.

Then we went out for “recess” and everybody got to try out some toys that the kids in those days would have played with. Chloe had fun trying to get the big ring rolling down the road. It was tricky, but she had it going several times.

After the teacher rang the bell, we headed over to another building where a man taught us how to make candles. That was interesting trying to get all the kids to dip their string in the wax then in the cool water then back in the wax again until there was enough wax on their string to make it a candle. We marched around and around the table dipping in the wax then in the water and around again. I got to make one, too. Chloe’s looks more like a fat carrot, but she was pretty proud of it.

After lunch, we got to wander around the town and check out all the buildings. It was a lot of fun. The other mom helping with the group played “I spy” with the kids and they had a blast with that. So many cool things in every building. Such a huge collection, Mr. Charlton had.

It was a really fun day and I had a great time getting to know some of the kids in Chloe’s class, too. They are all calling me “Mom” now, which is so sweet. My friends all used to call my mom that, too.

happy independence day

Jake and I recently watched the HBO series “John Adams” and we loved it. We highly recommend it. I thought I would share this clip from the series of the voting and reading of the Declaration of Independence.

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE from the series “John Adams”:

So proud to be an American!!! Happy 4th! “God save our American states!” :)

AJAXed with AWP