Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dirty Thirty's

We were just starting our second lap

(the course was a 1.5 mile loop)

and we were having fun

but we were also starting to feel tired and out of breath.

We were carrying extra pounds of mud weight on our bodies.

There was mud squishing between our toes inside our socks.

And our shoes had narrowly survived

a couple of near-mud-death experiences.

One of us

(I think it was Theresa)

said what the rest of us were thinking:

I could use a little extra motivation right now

as we entered a long, deep, muddy pit.

Just then we looked up

and there was a woman who had to be in her sixties

(I'm a bad estimator of age but I remember white hair)

slogging through in front of us, one foot in front of the other.

And that's when we knew:

#1 we could do this.

#2 we want to be the kind of woman

who signs up for mud runs in her golden years.

Year 32? How about Year 62.

The best is yet to come.

Monday, August 22, 2011

baby blessings

This past Saturday we had the privilege of hosting a couples baby shower for our friends, Curt and Janine.

I have helped throw showers before for cousins and friends but this one was the first one that was Pinterest inspired! I had fun putting it together and trying out some new ideas. The rest of our friends came through supplying yummy food and lots of laughter.

Curt and Janine, we are so excited for you as you start this new chapter in your lives!

Key ingredients to a successful shower...


tasty treats...


guests of honor...


and lots of laughter!

Friday, August 19, 2011

summer's winding down...

It was hard for me to pick my picture of the day today, so {lucky you!} you get a full blown blog post too!

(Side note: in the end I picked the one that told the best story - Mady's first trip to the zoo and her fascination with the long as she was tucked safely in her Daddy's arms).

Here's how we spent our Friday (one of our last summer family days together before school starts):

What's left on your summertime to do list??

Google Blogger picture PSA

With all the buzz about picture blogs lately among my friends and family (not to mention the Top Ten Reasons to Start a Picture Blog), I thought it would be good to share my #1 Google Blogger tip.

Blogger is a great (free) tool but it's a little touchy sometimes.

A couple of months ago, I noticed that the pictures I posted to my blogs seemed to be just a tiny bit blurry and not clear, even though they looked perfectly fine on my computer.

After convincing myself that I wasn't in fact losing my mind and that there was actually a problem, I found this fix by Googling my issue.

I don't completely understand the technical terms for all of this, but it has to do with how Blogger shrinks your pictures to fit the blog templates - the scale is somehow off so the pictures end up looking distorted.

To fix this, when you are working on the New Post or Edit Posts pages, after you add your image(s) to your post, click on the Edit HTML tab (next to the Compose tab) which can be found on the upper right corner of your main editing box.

The HTML will look like a big mess of stuff. It's basically the "guts" of your post. Look for the /s400 within the HTML and simply delete those characters. Switch back to the Compose tab and carry on.

Before the fix:

After the fix:

The difference is subtle (and might be more or less obvious depending on the individual photo) but if the main point of your blog is to showcase your pictures, you might was well make sure they look as crisp as possible.

If you run into other minor issues with Blogger here are my suggestions:
  • Try the Blogger help forum. Chances are someone else has had the same problem as you.
  • Try editing in another browser. For example, I have trouble with Blogger when I use Internet Explorer and Google Chrome but things usually go smoothly in Mozilla Firefox.
  • Ask someone else who has experience with Blogger (oh, oh, pick me! pick me!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

hello Year 32

32 new-ish things to do in Year 32

1.      Try a suspension class, spinning and indoor rock climbing
2.      Run with the Mars Hill Runners Group
3.      Improve my 5K (26:39) time
4.      Improve my 10K (58:37) time
5.      Run an outside-the-box race
6.  Run a race longer than a 10K
7.      Buy a swim cap
8.      Learn how to do a flip turn
9.      Re-learn how to dive
10.   Work up the nerve to ride my new bike on an actual road
11.   Complete a sprint tri
12.   Do a flip off a diving board
13.   Upcycle something
14.   Paint something on my own
15.   Host a girls’ craft night
16.   Can something
17.   Make someone a birthday gift
18.   Get rid of 40 bags in 40 days
19.   Complete the 21 Day Organizing Challenge
20.   Christmas shopping: wrapped and done by December one
21.   Date my husband like it’s 1997
22.   Spend gift cards within a month of receiving them
23.   Attend a small town festival
24.   Attend an outdoor concert
25.   Find a way to serve at church
26.   Read through the Bible in 90 days
27.   Create an inspiring home office oasis
28.  Finish reading the Oprah's book club books
29.   Decide whether or not to try to cover my grey hairs
30.   Smile at strangers
31.  Buy a bread maker
32.   Learn to like tomatoes

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

farewell Year 31

Year 31 has been a real doozy.

One year ago, I had no idea that I was on the cusp of a life-changing year.

I have always been cautious. Safe. A rule follower. Afraid of trying new things (because I was afraid of failing. Or worse yet, looking silly). A closet perfectionist. A look-before-you-leap kind of gal.

These things aren't all bad - they have saved me a lot of heartache and grief through the years - but I also had this nagging sense that I was missing out on things, that I wasn't living life to its fullest.

And let me tell you that if you are careful and conservative at 7 or 16 or 21, if you let nature run it's course, it's not going to get any better as you get older.

Somehow, someway, something clicked in my brain last year. I decided to try new things, to say yes, to stop being afraid (mostly, I blame it on these girls).

As I look back in the past year, I can hardly believe what I have accomplished. These aren't big, grand gestures but they are small steps in a new direction. I am moving towards living a life filled with purpose and intention, a life filled with experiencing the big and small gifts that God has so generously given us.

I'm not there yet, but I am on my way.

Here's (some of) what happened in Year 31:


workout challenge

streamlining my stuff

early morning swims

cross country skiing

Holy Yoga

first 5K

second 5K

31 Days to Clean

first 10K

water aerobics


track workouts

There have been failures along the way. I haven't accomplished everything on my 11 for 2011 resolutions list or even my summertime to-do list. I have tried things that haven't worked out. But I think for me personally it has actually been important to fall short and fail and realize that life goes on. And it has been important to see that when I do put myself out there and go for something, there is a lot of joy and satisfaction to be discovered.

I heard this quote this year: "The glory of God is man fully alive," and it resonated with me. I believe we can bring glory to God no matter where we are and no matter what phase of life we're in. We honor him when we use the talents, gifts and abilities he has given us.

Tomorrow starts Year 32. Bring. It. On.

Monday, August 15, 2011

365 days later...

365 days ago, I took a deep breath and started a picture-a-day blog.

I had a lot of reasons not to do it - could I keep up? could I find enough things to take pictures of? am I good enough photographer?

In the end, the yes side of my brain peer pressure won out (I owe a lot to you, T).

Sure, there are days when it's a stretch to find a picture or a pain to haul the camera out but for the most part it has been an amazing journey.

I'm a scrapbooker so usually the pictures I take are the ones that I think will make it into the scrapbook, i.e. the pretty, picture-perfect, posed shots.

This 365 project has forced me out of my comfort zone - I have taken pictures of just about anything and everything and truth be told, there are a lot of these that won't make it into the family scrapbook.

But the 365 shots that I have assembled tell a different story than what is often told in a scrapbook. These are the glimpses into our daily life, the mundane, the moments that are usually here for a moment and then lost again.

Honestly, as I scroll back through the year I get a little teary eyed to see our family's life together captured in this way.

At this one year mark, I thought it would be fun to put together my top ten shots.

8.24.10 | Our little thrill seeker. Hudsonville Fair 2010.

10.9.10 | Celebrating

10.29.10 | Finding some joy with Daddy at Epcot.

12.25.10 | Two more photo bloggers in the making?

2.28.11 | Another day of Kindergarten in the books.

2.2.11 | Groundhog Day blizzard.

3.24.11 | Mady's new trick.

4.30.11 | Opening Day.

5.22.11 Nothing better than a juicy piece of watermelon on a hot day!

6.7.11Sweet relief! Finally found a kiddie pool with a drain plug!

So, what's next? How about Day 366...

Friday, August 12, 2011


It's hard to believe our baby girl is almost two. She's a busy girl these days. Some of her recent feats:

She can now go down the steps. Hallelujah. I think she finally put it together while watching big brother and sister at swim lessons (there was a small set of stairs nearby for her to practice on). Her old method of getting down the stairs consisted of her SCREAMING at the top of them until I came and picked her up. Yeah, that was getting old.

She's getting pretty good with a spoon. She has liked using forks for a while (her preferred set-up: you load up the fork with food, she puts it in her mouth...and repeat...she's much too dainty to use her hands making dinnertime quite the ordeal). Her favorite spoon-fed foods are applesauce, yogurt and cereal with milk. Um-hmmm...we're a bit of a mess these days but that's the price you pay with an independent little girl.

She's an accomplished bed dancer. She starts moving as soon as she hears music whether it's in a store, on the radio or on her big brother's and sister's beds. Mother of three tip: if dancing kids on the bed mean you get some peace and quiet downstairs, just go with it.

She's become quite the daddy's girl. Just about as soon as I wrote this post about her being extra attached to mommy, she flipped a switch and turned into Daddy's little shadow. It's funny to watch her follow Matt around and she gets very jealous when he gives anyone else attention, especially big sister.

  • Almost-two adjectives: independent, mischievous, high-maintenance.
  • Current nicknames: Mady-cakes, Mady-kins, Fuzzy, Fuzzhead, the short one.
  • Current likes: PBS Kids, going outside, swinging at the park, shaking her head no, doggies, writing with crayons.
  • Current dislikes: eating in a restaurant, being told no, anyone but her sitting on Daddy's lap.

Monday, August 8, 2011

{toy} organization

Inspired by all the organizational bliss found on Pinterest and my friend Theresa's battle cry that the buck stops here, I decided to figure out a system to add some order to Dylan and Ella's rooms.

I had made some attempts in the past, but my main problems were that nothing matched (i.e. it wasn't pretty), containers weren't labeled (i.e. my systems fell apart quickly), and it wasn't user friendly (i.e. my 4 & 6 year old had no idea what Mommy expected when she said please, pick up your room).

I am finding that there are a few keys to organizing:

1) Purge, purge, purge. It is so much easier to organize your stuff when there is less of it.

2) It needs to be pretty. It might seem unnecessary but you are so much more likely to stick with a system if the finished project looks neat, fresh, and well, pretty.

3) It needs to be simple. If you come up with some crazy system that is difficult to figure out or impossible to maintain, you won't keep up with it.

Dylan's toys fall into three main categories: cars, trains and Legos. I found some large bins at Costco (2 for $10.99) for his bulkier toys like Duplos and car track pieces. I think utilizing space under a kid's bed is an important tip and the large bins fit perfectly under there.

I used IHeart Organizing's ziptie method to attach the labels I found on Better Homes & Gardens website.

For his closet, I found some slightly smaller (but still large) bins from Target to fit on his shelves ($4.99 each). These work great for toys like his Playmobil collection, Hot Wheels and regular Legos.

My absolute favorite part of this project are the labels. I printed them out at home and then brought them into Staples and had them laminated ($1.79/sheet).

Ella's room was a little more complicated because she has a bigger variety of toys. I started with under the bed storage (clear boxes, $5.49 from Target)...

and then worked on her closet shelves (the same bins as Dylan's only hers are white)...

and ended with her 9-cube shelf (I already had the bins - $6.99 from Target - I just added the label tags).

I used Velcro to attach the labels (as suggested on Tip Junkie) on Ella's under-the-bed bins and her closet bins because I figured it would give me some flexibility to switch things around and change things out as she grows up. I used ribbon on her fabric drawers because it's a little girl's room and it's just cute that way.

The kids are actually pretty tickled about their newly organized rooms and I don't mind helping them pick-up at night any more.

The real kicker is that after I cleaned up their rooms and reorganized their toys, I found I had some empty floor space in the closet. Want to find out what I'm doing with that space?

I'll save that for another post ;)

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