Category Archives: Gymnastics

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around here

Remember when I used to blog? Like all the time? Every week? Sometimes daily? I really did. I love blogging, always have, but I think now that I’m writing full time, my brain is more focused on my fictional stories than the stories of my everyday life. I started this blog to share pictures and stories about the kids with family and friends. It’s become much more over the years, now a place for me to share about the books I write. But I still want it to be a space where I can share about our life, where you can get to know me as a person, not just a name on the cover of some books.

• A TALE OF TWO JOB INTERVIEWS
When Jake lost his job in January 2016, we just knew that God had a plan in all of that. And I just have to share this story of his two VERY different job offers. Jake interviewed for a job in a town two hours from our home. Not ideal, but we were willing to relocate if it was the job God wanted him to have. All went well there. It wasn’t exactly what he had been doing before (running the eBook department), but it was still in his skill set in publishing. This company worked with many different magazine publishers and the guy who interviewed Jake told him that they sometimes work with Playboy. A job offer came in from them for 20% more than he was making at his previous job. Tempting, right?

He had another interview set up for the following week with a Christian publishing company much closer to home. This job was pretty much exactly what he had been doing at his old job – he would be in charge of the eBook department and more. He got an offer, which was much less than the “Playboy” job, as I teasingly call it, only about 5% more than he was making before.

When Jake and I were discussing everything, I told him it was like an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. One company that publishes wonderful Christian content and another that … doesn’t. The decision was a no-brainer really. We got to stay put, he got a job he absolutely LOVES – a job that clearly God had in the works for him all along – and he would not be part of a company that helps publish photos of naked women.

What I loved about the whole thing was just how clear cut it was for us. It was just another reason that we knew God had it all planned out. With the two offers staring us in the face, the choice was so obvious. Wouldn’t it be nice if all decisions in life could be that easy?


Last fall, Jake traveled to New Hampshire for a work conference, and I was able to join him and visit New England for the first time. It was such a blessing. I even took a little day trip down to Concord, Massachusetts and visited Orchard House, the Alcott’s home, where Louisa wrote Little Women. That was such an incredible experience for me. To walk through the rooms where she and her family walked and talked and laughed. To see the little table in her bedroom where she wrote Little Women and glance out the window she must have looked out so many times while writing. To hear the stories of so many of the little details of the house and learn more about their family. The entire trip was worth it just for that. But I also got to spend some time with my hubby and even take a little drive across the bridge into Maine one evening. It was a wonderful trip and all because of this new job of his.

• BACK AT GYMNASTICS
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you probably saw my post last year at the end of gymnastics season when we thought Chloe was done with it for good. Despite working really hard all year, she only medaled twice the entire season, which I think was a big disappointment for her. It just wasn’t fun for her anymore, so she said goodbye to competitive gymnastics.

Fast forward six months and she was really starting to miss it, but she did not want to go back to her old gym. She wanted to try someplace new. One of Chloe’s former teammates switched to Grand Rapids Gymnastics (GRG) a couple seasons ago and they had great things to say about it. So when Chloe started mentioning gymnastics again, I decided to give GRG a call. I spoke to Coach Emily, who invited Chloe to come try a practice with the team and see if she liked it. Pretty much from the moment we walked in the door, we felt welcomed and Chloe felt like this was the place for her. At the end of that first practice, Emily told me that Chloe fit right in with the other girls. No surprise there. She’s not shy and tends to make friends very quickly.

It took a bit for her to get back some of the strength she lost during those six months off and she had to basically relearn a lot of things that she was never taught properly at the old gym, but she has been improving on every event all season long. And out of 7 meets, she medaled at all but one, earning 11 medals.

Switching gyms was the right decision. Absolutely. :)


• 14
Our girl also turned 14 in February. Hard to believe. We spent the weekend at Heather and Jeff’s and brought along her BFF Jenna. Heather took us all ice skating for Chloe’s birthday. It was Chloe’s first time and she pretty much clung to Jenna or the wall the entire time, but we had a blast.

On that Sunday, we had a nice lunch and birthday celebration at my parents’ house. I just love Chloe and Jenna’s friendship. They are truly like bickering sisters sometimes, but they love being friends. And after all of last year’s middle school drama, it has been wonderful for her to find some new friends this year that get her and accept her and are drama-free for the most part.

This sequence of pictures makes me smile. :)

• COLLEGE PLANS
Zach will soon finish his junior year of high school, so we are all about discussing college lately. He loves architecture, so we’re looking at schools in Michigan that have programs specific to that. Looking back, he has always had a love of building and designing – from Legos to Minecraft to other computer games he’s played over the years.

This year, he took an architecture class and has really enjoyed that. Next year, I think he’s going to take an engineering class, so we’ll see if he changes his mind and wants to study that instead. Maybe he’ll follow in his grandpa’s footsteps (my dad is an industrial engineer).

• MY DAD
Speaking of my dad … at the end of last year, he fell off his tractor and broke a few ribs. He was in a lot of pain and had some swelling in his abdomen that was not going down. So the doctor called for a CT, which revealed that he has cirrhosis of the liver due to fatty liver disease, which he was diagnosed with a couple years ago. Looking back, mom said he was starting to show signs of it for a while now, but they didn’t know that’s what it was. We think the fall just made things worse. So in February, we traveled back and forth to the University of Michigan Liver Center for tests—-lots of tests—-and he is now on the list for a transplant.

I’ve learned a lot more about the liver and transplants over the past month than I ever thought I would. It could be a while before he gets his new liver. His place on the list is determined by blood tests taken every few weeks. On one hand, we want him to be able to go on with his daily life as normally as possible. On the other, we want him to get a new liver soon, which means his health would have to deteriorate so he can move up the list. I know God has a plan and it will all work out in His perfect timing. In the meantime, our family would appreciate prayers for us, for the doctors, specialists, surgeons, and the family of the person whose liver my dad will one day get.

• GETTING HEALTHY
For a really long time now, I’ve led a mostly sedentary life. I’ve sat for hours upon hours writing and editing my books, staring at my computer, not really getting up and moving as much as I should. And I have felt it in my body. I have been sluggish and tired, no energy to do anything else, moody. So at the end of 2016, Jake told me I should join the gym with him (he has been a member for a while). I said no at first. I didn’t want to spend the extra money each month. It was too far to drive. I made excuses. But then I thought that the small amount of money I would spend each month is going toward helping me to be healthier and happier and more productive in both work and home life. So I did it. I signed up at Planet Fitness.

Starting the first week of January, we have been at the gym at least once a week – most weeks 3 times – working off the fat, getting stronger, losing inches and pounds. I am down 14 lbs. now and have lost a combined 8 inches off my waist, hips, and thighs. It’s nice to put on my jeans and not have to squeeze into them anymore. And the amount of energy I have is so much more than I’ve had for many years now.

We’re also preparing weekly meals ahead of time. Chicken and veggies usually. We separate them into bowls so they are easy for Jake to grab for work or me for lunch at home. Just pop them in the microwave and voila. Easy, healthy meal.

This all seems even more timely now that we’ve learned of the condition of my dad’s liver. I was already on a path to a healthier life, and now I understand how very important that is.

• WRITING
Yes, I am still writing. Currently, I’m working on two very different projects. One is the young adult dystopian novel I wrote a couple years ago during NaNoWriMo. The other is still mostly in research phase, but I did write the first lines of chapter one recently, which was awesome! This one will be a historical romance. I’m excited to share more about both when they get closer to completion. The YA book will most likely release first, hopefully later this year, but I don’t have a set date for publication yet. There’s still a lot to be done on this one as I edit through it. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to get the novel out of your head and onto the page, so it’s very rough and needs a lot of filling in at this point.

For now, the pictures above give you an idea just how different the settings are for these stories. :)

Thanks for sticking by me through this long post. Hope the rest of your week is wonderful. This will be our first weekend in a month without a gymnastics meet. It will be strange not traveling somewhere, but also kind of nice.

Blessings,

our weekend


Our daughter, Chloe, has been in gymnastics for the past 4 years. She started out taking a class then joined the team and has been competing since then. When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with gymnastics. I never took a gymnastics class in my life, except for some tumbling in gym class. I never even learned how to do a cartwheel. But my girl has been flipping since she was little, so this was the perfect fit for her.

Over the past year, she started mentioning that she might not want to do team next year, and I always said that if it wasn’t fun for her anymore, I would not force her to do it (even though I love watching her compete!). So, sadly, this past weekend’s USAG Michigan State Championships was her final meet. I’m so proud of her. It has been such a joy to see her learn and improve in this sport. And so much fun to watch – always so graceful with her long legs, making back walkovers on the balance beam look effortless, pushing up onto her tiptoes just before she runs for the vault (love that), putting her hands together to form a heart whenever she saw me in the stands. So proud of you, baby girl. <3

Afterwards, we went to dinner with my Mom and Mom & Dad O, who all came over for the meet. It also happened to be this guy’s birthday, so we celebrated him that night, too.

Another bit of GREAT NEWS to celebrate — JAKE GOT A JOB! He started on Monday, so we were really happy and celebrating that fact as well. Thank you to all of you who prayed for us over the past few months while he was without a job. God is good and it’s so awesome the way He worked everything out for Jake to get this new job and stay in the publishing industry. We were a little nervous that we might have to move out of the area or even out of the state, but it all worked out and the job is still close to home. We are thankful.

So, since we knew we had to travel across the state to Saginaw for the meet, we decided to stay in Frankenmuth at the Splash Village hotel for the night. Great choice! We took the kids there nine years ago and it was just one small room with one big slide, a water bucket, lazy river and some kiddie slides. Since then, they have added a huge atrium to the back of the building and really expanded it with a couple of bigger, faster slides and a bigger lazy river. It was nice. One of Chloe’s teammates was there with her family as well, so they had a blast together.

Before leaving Frankenmuth, we hit the outlet mall at Birch Run to pick up some dress pants for Jake for work. We went into a few stores for the kids to spend some money they had and I mentioned that there was a Claire’s and spontaneously said, “Chloe, you could get your ears pierced at Claire’s.” I have been telling her for a few years now that we would go get her ears pierced, and this seemed as good a day as any. A nice reward for her last gymnastics meet and four years of hard work.

She loves them! She opted to have both done at once, which was a good thing, because she said it really hurt. ;) She had this scared look on her face just after and I thought for sure she was going to pass out or something. haha! She didn’t.

Another highlight of the weekend was sitting in the hotel room with my mom chatting while the kids and Jake spent a couple hours at the water park. We talked about my books and checked my sales stats online. Goodbye, Magnolia was on a free promo over the weekend and we watched it jump to #1 in its categories, which was fun. I also told her what I’ve come up with so far for Book 3 in the series. She always lets me talk things out and gives me her thoughts.

It was a very good weekend. :)

hello, monday


• Had a lovely visit at Mom and Dad O’s on the east side of the state a couple weekends ago. Lots of yummy food and I even spent some time in the mornings working on my NaNoWriMo novel. Morning writing is so unlike me (except for blog posts). I’ve always been an evening writer, but I made myself do it so I could keep up with my word count and the ideas flowed even though I’m so not a morning person. ;)

• It was sort of Friend Week for me last week. I got to visit Heidi and help her design her annual Christmas card. It’s our annual tradition now for me to take their family picture and help design the card. Always a fun time chatting and picking photos and laughing at all the ones where they’re making funny faces or their eyes are closed. I also had dinner with my friend, Jen, and lots of catching up time over coffee (tea for her) at Starbucks afterward. Time with friends always makes it a good week.

• The painting is done. For this year anyway. I finished all but a couple small sections on the way back of the house that need to be reached by climbing on the roof. They aren’t really visible from the ground anyway, so they will be finished in the spring. So our house is all one color finally, and we finished just in time …

• It’s our first Monday with snow. We had the first big snowfall over the weekend. Not sure how much snow there was. At least 6-8 inches piled on top of my car.

• Chloe’s first gymnastics meet of the season was early Sunday morning. We drove through mostly clear roads to get there and had a nice lunch at Cracker Barrel afterwards to celebrate her 3rd place medal on bars and also the completion of painting the house. :)

• I was happy to see The Truth About Drew had the #1 Best Seller banner again this week. I ran a Kindle Countdown Deal throughout the week and it did really well. It’s always fun to see that little orange banner pop up.

• It’s a short school/work week for Thanksgiving. Looking forward to family time and putting up the tree.

• My newsletter is going out later this week. If you haven’t signed up yet, click HERE. There will be a little Black Friday info inside. Stay tuned!

hello, monday


Sometimes, you have to turn your attention on something different, step away from the thing you have been so focused on, get deep into something else, so your mind can rest and see things more clearly. That was this weekend for me. So much of my attention lately has been on my book launch and all the things surrounding that. I needed not to think about it for a while.

So, I lounged on the couch on Saturday morning with my coffee and read the paper. I watched old episodes of Property Brothers on Netflix. I organized our coat closet and put away all the winter things. I read. I did all the laundry off and on throughout the day and even folded (most of) it. I hung out with Jake and the kids, got take-out, and watched Friends episodes.

On Sunday, I watched my daughter compete in her final gymnastics meet of the season, the big State Championships, where she placed 6th on floor amidst some really strong competition. So proud of her! Then I had a lovely dinner with Jake, the kids, my mom, and Jake’s parents at the Chinese buffet. When we got home, Chloe and I relaxed on the couch and watched Gilmore Girls together.

It was a lovely weekend. Just what I needed.

What did you do this weekend?

hello, monday


• Beautiful sunrise on my Friday walk with Mom.

• Chinese food for dinner.

• Friends episodes on Netflix.

• Chloe’s gymnastics meet. Her team placed 2nd overall. She got 3rd place on beam. I also posted a little video over on my Instagram of my girl in action if you want to check that out.

• Dinner at Arby’s after the meet. We used to have an Arby’s here in town, but it went out of business several years ago. We miss it, so it’s like a special treat when we eat there now. Chloe got one of their Andes mint shakes and she let me have a taste. Oh my goodness. Best shake ever!

• Grocery run with my girl. I normally leave the store so exasperated when I take the kids, but she was actually very helpful and her begging and whining was at a minimum.

• Edited the book.

I’ve been carrying my advanced copy around everywhere I go, marking it up wherever I find typos and errors. When I’m waiting for the kids, I edit. When I’m at home on the couch, I edit. When I should be sleeping, I edit. Last night, I was up far too late writing a few scenes to fill in some places that needed work. It’s getting so close to being ready for the final book formatting. Eeek! Can’t wait to share it with you all.

Hope you all had a nice weekend. I’m ready for another one. This weekend went by too fast. ;)

hello, monday … er, tuesday


Since yesterday was the Project Life® Blog Hop, I’m sharing my Hello, Monday post on Tuesday. ;) It was a fun yet exhausting few days.

• On Friday morning, Mom and I went to visit our “second family”, as we like to call them. We met at Marsha’s for a delicious brunch. Rachel and Rhonda were both there with their kiddies. And we got to meet sweet little baby Iris. It was a wonderful time visiting and catching up.

• That evening, Mom and I tagged along with Chloe’s gymnastics team to a Michigan State University gymnastics meet. What fun! The energy in that room was crazy. So much noise and cheering and talent. Watching the girls stare at the gymnasts while they competed was hilarious. Their eyes were just popping out of their heads most of the time.

Sparty, the MSU mascot, was wandering around the stands throwing popcorn on people’s heads, and some of the girls got to have their picture taken with him.

I think being at a college meet, seeing what it’s like and what kinds of skills these girls have, was very inspiring for the girls. Chloe was so impressed. The girls got to have their posters of the MSU team signed by all the gymnasts and they were pretty excited about that. Chloe’s got hers hanging on her bedroom wall already.

• Saturday morning, we went shopping with Grandma to get Chloe something to wear for her school choir concert coming up.

• The rest of the weekend, I was not feeling well at all. Very tired. Very achy. Headache. Sore throat. Just blah! The couch was my spot. We watched Mockingjay Part I and Friends reruns and snacked on Easter candy. Still not feeling 100%, but my energy level is better than it was.

• Am starting to get some feedback from my Launch Team on the book. So happy that I have this little team. They are wonderful. <3

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!

hello, monday


Another SNOW DAY on this lovely Groundhog Day! This time due to over a foot of snow that fell yesterday. It just kept coming down all Sunday long. We ended up staying in all day. The school cancellation notification came last night, so we slept in a bit this morning. Jake took a personal day because he could not get his car out of the driveway. The snow plows are the worst kicking up all that heavy, wet stuff at the end of our drive, making it even deeper and heavier than the rest of the snow. Ugh.

While Chloe ran around the yard playing in the snow, Jake and I shoveled the drive. He had actually been out there working on it for over an hour before I joined him. We took turns with our one shovel (the snowblower broke) and got it done in a couple hours. Team Noorman! Yeah!

The biggest news from our weekend was that Chloe got her kip on the uneven bars at gymnastics practice. She has been working on this skill since the beginning of the season and finally, after spending extra time on it during a couple open gyms, she got it. Here is a little video of this awesome moment! You can see how shocked and excited she is. I love it. :)

[embed]http://apwphotography.com/myblogpics/2015/Chloegetsherkip.mp4[/embed]
Well, looks like Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning. Darn you, Phil! I’m SO ready for Spring to arrive!

Happy Monday, guys!

hello, monday


It’s a new week. A fresh week. After a weekend with not much time spent at home, I felt rushed to do a bunch of laundry and dishes and prepare for the week ahead. I was up far too late last night doing just that. But it feels good to have those things done (well, not all the dishes … will the dishes ever really be done?).

Chloe and I spent Friday evening together on our couch watching more reruns of Gilmore Girls. And after a friend mentioned on Facebook that she and her daughter watched Phantom of the Opera recently, I pulled out my copy and Chloe watched it for the first time. I’m so thankful that God gave me a daughter to share things like this with.

Saturday was Chloe’s third meet of the season. The judges were tough, but Chloe improved on two of her events and got a higher score overall than the other meets. Very proud of her. Meets always make for a long day with lots of sitting and waiting, but I’m always excited to see what our girl can do. And it amazes me how confident she is. The one thing that gets her nerves going, though, is the back walkover she has to do on the beam. She nailed it at the first meet, then fell last time, but this time she stayed on with just a tiny wobble. Yay!

It was movie day at my parents’ house on Sunday afternoon. We watched the new Left Behind movie (the Nicolas Cage one). It was not great. There were some nice moments sprinkled throughout and some funny scenes with Martin Klebba (One of the highlights of the movie for me!), but I’m just not sure why they even chose to make it. It focused only on the plane ride at the beginning of the Left Behind book series when all the people disappear and was supposed to be more of an action movie. It didn’t seem to improve on the ones that were already made in the early 2000’s. Who knows. I wanted to see it and I did. But I think I’ll stick with the Kirk Cameron version. ;)

We also watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (the Kevin Costner one). We used to watch that movie so much in the 90’s. I was surprised how well I remembered the musical score and had forgotten how much I loved it.

“He fancies you, my Lady. I may be blind, but there are some things I still see.”
– Duncan, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

A big order of prints arrived the other day and I’m so ready to get my Project Life on. All the prints for my Week in the Life from October are now in my hands, so that will be the next thing I work on. Excited to have that finished finally. Then on to more 2015.

best of 2014

Happy Christmas Eve!

This will be my last post of the year (unless I decide to pop in once or twice next week) and I wanted to again share the “best of”, some of my favorites from 2014. I did this back in 2002, too. It’s such a fun post to put together – looking back through all the photos from the year, reminiscing, thinking about all we’ve done, the good times, the challenges, all of it. Choosing just the highlights is tough. I went through each month’s photo folder and copied all the favorites from that month into a separate folder on my desktop titled “Best of 2014″, then pared them down more once the folder was filled with hundreds of photos.

There are still a LOT of photos in this post, so be patient while they load, then sit back and enjoy my favorites of 2014!

Click above photo to see all my Project Life posts from the year





Click above photo to read about Chloe’s elementary principal jumping from an airplane












Click above photo to see more from our nephew Alex’s wedding”







Click above photo to visit my SHOP and purchase any of the above books/calendars

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you! THANK YOU so much for all your love and support in 2014. Can’t wait to see what the new year brings.

Click above image to read today’s devotion over at She Reads Truth!

AJAXed with AWP