Monthly Archives: August 2013

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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.

fear not


My Monday’s List was skipped this week for a very good reason. My daughter is suddenly afraid to sleep in her room for various reasons, one being that she heard a bat flapping around in her wall one night, and now she won’t stop coming into our room in the middle of the night, waking us up, pretending to be sick, refusing to stay in bed, begging us to stay in her room until she falls asleep, etc. It got so bad the other night that I didn’t get to bed until 4 am. I really felt like I had a toddler all over again. I was so exhausted that I just couldn’t stop myself from sobbing. So tired.

Despite the exhaustion, I love my girl and I don’t want to dismiss her fears, because I had fears of my own when I was little and I know they can seem very real and very scary, but she has to learn to deal with them on her own. It might take time, but we are reassuring her that she’s safe and that we are here for her, protecting her, even when she’s sound asleep in her bed.

I hate when my kids are struggling and I wish I could take away her fears, but then she wouldn’t learn anything.

This whole thing makes me think about those two little words – FEAR NOT!
Those words are repeated over and over in the Bible.
“Fear not, for I am with you.”
I’ve told Chloe more than once in the past few days that God is always with her, so even if Mom and Dad are in their bedroom and she feels alone and scared, He is with her always.

I’m thinking she needs a great big poster or some kind of art in her room with “Fear not!” on it. Hmmm. I may just have to come up with something or maybe find something cute on Etsy. ;)

On a sidetone: Does anyone have any advice for us for getting rid of these bats? They’ve been around for years off and on. Every once in a while, they find a way into our living space, but mostly they are stuck in our attic or the basement (we have one of those old cement dungeon-y basements). HELP!

P.S. This is my 800th post! Yeah! Thanks for reading, dear friends!

we’re ready


School supplies were purchased this week. Lots of folders and pencils and markers. New shoes. New backpacks. Class schedule and teacher letters have arrived. School starts in twelve days. I think we’re ready.

This is a year of lasts. Chloe’s last year in elementary school. Zach’s last year in middle school. I don’t say that as if it’s a bad thing. Just a fact. And I fully intend to enjoy every school activity I can be involved with this year.

It’s going to be a good year. Chloe has the same teacher Zach had for fifth grade and we loved her. None of her “besties” are in her class this year, but I told her this is an opportunity for her to get to know some of the other kids and develop other friendships. She just rolled her eyes at me. Uh oh! It’s starting! ;) I already get enough eye rolls from Zach, who will be a teenager two weeks from today. Noooooooo!

Looking forward to reclaiming my days and getting lots of stuff done around here toward our goal of selling the house next year. Praying for God’s guidance through the whole process, just the right buyer and the right house for us to buy.

We’re ready!

monday’s list


• Went to the annual family night for Jake’s work at Craig’s Cruisers. Played a little putt-putt golf, bumper boats, go-carts, then a few games. I was so excited that I won 500 tickets on this spinning wheel (kind of like the big wheel on Price is Right). Chloe and I were so happy and we ran to tell the boys, only to be informed that Zach had won 4,500 tickets on another game. Zach got himself some headphones at the prize shop and let Chloe use a bunch of his tickets to get a stuffed Minion from the Despicable Me movie. We were pretty proud of him for giving tickets to his sister. A fun family night!

• Watched a couple movies this weekend. Oblivion (the Tom Cruise action/sci-fi movie) and The Host (another sci-fi movie. based on the Stephenie Meyer book). Both pretty entertaining with interesting stories. Oblivion had some twists and turns that were pretty cool. The Host was a more serious story about these little alien creatures that inhabit human bodies and take over the planet, but one of the host bodies fights back from within, a young girl trying to protect her little brother and boyfriend, who are in hiding with other humans, from being found by the aliens.

• Jake and I had a date day. Lunched at Olive Garden. Shopped at Michaels (got the Midnight Project Life Kit and binder with my birthday money!!!), Hobby Lobby, Barnes & Noble, Lowes, and Target. We ended up not finding much that was on our list at any of the stores, but it was nice having time to just walk around together and talk and be.

• Tried a new church on Sunday. Trying to find a church in the area we hope to move to next year.

• Celebrated Jake’s dad’s birthday on Sunday with the family. Burgers and dogs on the grill. Nice conversation. Being together is always good. Also, sweet little Breanna told us her Knock Knock joke:
Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Olive.
Olive who?
I LOVE YOU!
She doesn’t get that you’re supposed to say “Olive you” as the punchline, but we like her version better and she is so adorable when she says it. hehe!

• Only two weeks until school starts. Summer always seems to fly by. I remember in June thinking how the whole Summer was stretched out before us and now it’s coming to an end once again. It was a good, relaxing Summer. I do always look forward to the cooler Fall weather and the leaves changing color. My favorite time of the year.

• Jake and I are coming up on our 18th wedding anniversary soon. That seems crazy to me. When I told him one day, “We’re almost to 20 years”, it sounded so weird that I looked at him again and said “Wow! 20 years is a really long time!” :)

• Might be another light posting week around here. Trying to enjoy these last days of summer. I’ll be back to blogging more once school starts again!

• Have a great week, all!

a day at the zoo

August 9. 2013. John Ball Zoo. in pictures.

the longest week ever

At the beginning of our marriage, Jake and I were separated by an ocean, apart for nearly a year while he deployed to Bosnia with the Army. There were no cell phones then. Our only communication was handwritten letters and the occasional phone call from a payphone. It’s been nearly fifteen years since he got out of the Army. I haven’t been apart from him without phone, email or text contact since then.

That is, until last week.

Last Monday morning, I drove Jake to the airport, where he took off on a week long mission trip to Guatemala.

The first few days he was gone were OK. Chloe had gymnastics. We went out to see the new Smurfs movie with my Mom. We stayed busy. But by Wednesday evening, I was starting to feel it. I was missing him and hating that I had no contact with him. More than once that day, my thoughts returned to those months of separation during the Army years. And I didn’t like it one bit. I was excited for him to be able to go on this trip and I knew he would experience some wonderful things there, but I felt uneasy and incomplete without him.

My pillow was damp from many tears that night.

Thursday and Friday, my Mom came to the rescue. She took us out to lunch, garage sale-ing, to John Ball Zoo. She got us out of the house so I wouldn’t have to think about Jake’s absence. It was exactly what I needed.

Mom also came to our rescue late Thursday night when a stupid bat got into our house. I was just minding my own business, watching some TV, when it came flying into the living room. I hate those things! Oh, the joys of owning a 100+ year old home.

If it wasn’t for Mom, I would have been a big ol’ blubbering mess by Saturday.

After watching Jake’s flight status all Saturday morning, my phone suddenly lit up with a text from him when his plane touched down in Atlanta for a layover. Our first contact in six days! I felt so relieved that he was back in the country and we would see him in a matter of hours.

His flight didn’t get into Grand Rapids until nearly 11pm that night and we were there waiting for him. He spent the whole drive home telling us about his adventures and all of the cool moments during the trip. He brought home some souvenirs and passed those out before bed. It was so good to have him home!

On Sunday morning, we got up and sat for three hours looking at all his pictures and videos and listening to him share all he had experienced – the families they met when they installed new stoves, many children they ministered to and fed and played with, the living conditions that make our house seem like a mansion, the people he met from around the country who were also on the mission trip, and getting to meet the family he helped raise money for during the River Bank Run and sponsored through Bethany Christian Services.

This week was the longest I have gone through in quite some time. Every day seemed to drag on and the time just crawled by, but the separation was good for us. It only made me love and appreciate him more than I already did, and all the while, God was doing great things through Jake and in his heart.

I am thankful.

Thankful that, while we were apart, God spoke to him during this trip and used him to bless the people he came in contact with.

Thankful that he came home with a renewed faith in God and so much love for our little family.

Thankful for the man I am married to! Oh so thankful!

Here is a slideshow he put online today with lots of pictures from the feeding program in Guatemala that he participated in.

Here is some information about the feeding programs from Pray America:
“Manos de Jesus operates three feeding and discipleship programs in the villages of Paquixic, Xepocol, and Saquilla in the Chichicastenango region. Most of the people we serve suffer from malnutrition due to the poor rural area, not starvation. Tortillas are too often a common staple that only fill the stomach leaving children and widows malnourished. Twice weekly, each program provides a nutritious meal of meat, fruits, and beans, along with bible education programs for children and widows. These programs collectively serve over 750 meals twice a week and are staffed by the local church and by local young Mayans with a heart to pour into their own people. Visiting Mission Teams typically are able to visit, participate, and interact with the children at our Feeding Programs.”

Obviously, I decided to forgo “Monday’s List” this week. We’ll be back to “regularly scheduled programming” next Monday. :D

monday’s list


Favorite photo of the weekend! Saturday night’s sunset was amazingly beautiful. This has an instagram filter on it, but it’s not too far off from reality.

• Went to the east side of Michigan this weekend to visit MomO. They recently moved across the state to the Port Huron area, where they used to live many years ago, and it had been over a month since we saw them last. (DadO was away on a fun motorcycle trip around the state so we didn’t get to see him this time.) MomO’s friend, Deb, was visiting for their high school reunion last weekend and it was nice to see her as well.

• Had dinner at Arby’s and an evening Tim Horton’s coffee run for us girls! :)

• MomO is a video game lover and she recently purchased the new Tomb Raider game, which Jake spent a lot of time playing.

• Jake’s brother, Nick, spent Saturday there with us. He also recently moved to the area, so it was nice to see him and meet his girlfriend and her kiddos. Chloe had a good time playing with them. She kept saying she was “babysitting” them because she was playing games with them and getting them snacks and things. She’s going to make a great babysitter in a few years.

• Drove along the St Clair River in Marysville and Port Huron. Chloe thought it was cool that it was Canada on the other side of the river. So did I. I’d like to visit Canada again. It’s been many years. I still dream of going to Prince Edward Island someday. Any fellow Anne of Green Gables lovers out there? ;)

• Had a yummy dinner at a Chinese buffet in Port Huron, then took the scenic route back to their house and MomO pointed out places along the way that had memories for them. Jake lived with them when he was just out of high school and I got to see the church he attended when he was over there.

• Saturday night’s sunset was awesome. It looked like fire and it made the undersides of the clouds look pink and purple. We stood outside for a while when we got home and ooh’d and aah’d as the clouds moved and the sky kept changing more and more as the sun sank lower. It was beautiful.

• It was a really wonderful and relaxing weekend. We’re already looking forward to the next time!

summer eating


After a Girls Days trip of eating out pretty much every meal and drinking too much Coke, I felt very unhealthy and overall icky. So on my next grocery run, I picked up lots of fruits (strawberries, grapes, oranges, pineapples) and veggies (celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, romaine lettuce) and cleaned and cut them all up so they were ready to eat.

Chloe and I have pretty much been eating a turkey or chicken wrap with a little melted cheese as our daily lunch. (Zach is our extremely picky eater and won’t touch the stuff. He doesn’t believe me when I tell him he’s missing out on tasty goodness.) Instead of a handful of chips as my side, I’ve been having a small salad with almonds and cranberries (the other day I even threw some strawberries in there. yum!), a handful of veggies, or some fruit. I am definitely a creature of habit when it comes to my meals, so when I find something that I like, I usually stick with it. Plus, when you’re on a tight grocery budget like we are, it helps that we use up everything between grocery runs instead of stuff going bad and going to waste. I hate wasting food. And money.

It’s usually a little too hot in the Summer for turning the oven on (if we had a working grill, we would use that!), but we’ve had a cool, rainy spell here in Michigan this week, so we enjoyed marinated teriyaki chicken with some baked sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes. I sliced them up round and about 1/4″ thick this time, but sometimes we cut them in strips like french fries or we cut them into thicker chunks. All we do is toss them in some olive oil (I usually spray the pan with olive oil spray as well), sprinkle with some sea salt and pepper, then bake @ 400〫for about 20 minutes or so. They are simple, delicious and so good for you!

It hasn’t been all healthy around here, though. We’ve splurged on a few fast food meals and ice cream treats (like the Drumsticks that Jake picked up the other night). It’s summer! We’ve gotta live a little, right?

AJAXed with AWP