Thursday, May 31, 2012

NEW: living the width | volume I

I am very excited to introduce to you a brand-new monthly link party: 
{living the width} @ The Terpblog.

There are zillions of blog parties out there, and many of them are crafting, DIY, and recipe-related. Posts like that are certainly welcome here, but I also wanted to give all of you non-crafty-24/7 type people a chance to share your favorite blog posts as well.

The idea behind {living the width} is this: a monthly mash-up of posts centered around intentional living, new experiences, celebrations, community, pushing the limits, glimpses of glory, and aha moments.

I'd love to read your latest adventures, see your newest projects, and share in your joy as you seek to live not just the length of life, but the width of it as well.

{Party Guidelines}

1) Please read carefully: the intent of this link party is to share posts that inspire and motivate others and that showcase your very best bloggy (& living life well) work. I reserve the right to delete links that I don't feel meet these guidelines (no giveaways or Etsy shops, please).

2) All types of posts are welcome including crafting & DIY, simplifying & organizing, parties & celebrations, musings & reflections, projects & challenges, milestones & accomplishments...and everything in between. Let's applaud each other for attacking life with intention and purpose!

3) Feel free to link up more than one post if you'd like, but in the spirit of the party, please don't go too bananas. In addition, please only link recent posts that were written and posted in the month that corresponds with the party (i.e. for this month, Volume I = May 2012). Make sure you link directly to your post, not just your blog.

4) Please share the blog love by posting the {living the width} button either within your blog post(s) or somewhere else on your blog. For bonus points, follow The Terpblog via Google Friend Connect on the sidebar or "Like" us on Facebook (or do both if you really want to be a rock star).

5) Lastly, go grab a cup of coffee and spend a few minutes clicking through some links below and commenting on your favs. Let's encourage each other and spread the love!

I will feature my favorite links mid-month, so stay tuned!

Link-Up Your {Living the Width} Posts Here:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

bloggy happenings

I'm excited to share the latest and the greatest @ The Terpblog:

#1: A new Terpblog Facebook page to Like. 
{at your leisure, of course}

This feels like a big step to me, but I'm ready to have a dedicated space to share new posts and link party features [see below!].

Facebook, love it or hate it, is a quick and easy place to connect with bloggy friends, both new and old.

For bonus points, if you're a regular reader, please show The Terpblog some love and follow via GFC on the sidebar. Thank you!

#2: Sponsor spots are now available!

And because it's all brand new to me, they're currently FREE.

Check out the details on the Sponsor tab or email me at

I'm learning as I go, so please bear with me!

#3: A new monthly link party called {Living the Width}.
Launching very soon! 

Here's a teaser for you:

Look for it later this week with features from YOU coming mid-month!

#4: We've got ad space!

And lastly, I won my very own, very first ad space on Elise's Pieces via a giveaway on Modern Modest Beauty over the weekend.

I contacted Elise to see if I could gift the large ad space to Theresa @ un.tied and Elise was sweet enough to say 'yes, of course,' and then she offered me another spot for The Terpblog too.

Click over and see if you can spot our new ads!

That's all for now! Thanks for your kind comments and encouraging words. I look forward to seeing what's ahead for us!

P.S. Here's a funny blogging first: I ran into a bloggy buddy in real life at the ice cream shop over the weekend. It was a fun surprise to hear someone ask, "Excuse me, do you write The Terpblog?"
Check out Heather's great blog, It's a Long Story!

Sunday, May 27, 2012 {May Days}

Plus we managed to fit in a few new milestones:
Dylan learned to tie his shoes,
Ella learned to ride a two-wheeler,
and Mady is on her way (err, kind of) to being potty trained.

We spent the last two days working like crazy in the yard
(including 13 yards of bark moved & spread by my dear husband)
and now we're ready to spend the next two days relaxing, biking, swimming, parading & celebrating.

Hope your May days were fun, sweet & sunny.
Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Love him for playing Barbies with our little girls.

Another day, another awkward afternoon sleeping position.
Around 4 o'clock each day, she just crashes!

Craft night creation, up close. Love these felt flowers. Easy peasey.

 A new favorite. Have you heard of Kombucha
I'm not ambitious enough to brew it myself, 
but I like it packaged up neatly in these Yogi tea bags.

Make your own pizza lunch with one of our favorite pals, E, while his mom and dad enjoyed adding a special weekend to their story.

Best. Books. Ever.
Entertaining AND informative, for both parent and toddler.

Thankful for our community.

The last thing I saw as I headed out the door on race day.

My little biker man at the finish line.

And his sweet Mother's Day note. 
He thinks I'm fabulous and byatwuful.

Girls' weekend or bust!

Holding hope for a dear friend as she waits...and waits...and waits.
Have you seen her latest un.tied creations as she keeps her hands and her heart busy?

My IG caption: Life is good when you're the littlest Terp.
Matt's little sister's comment: Sure is =]
(She's the youngest of five and the only girl.)

Off to pack our beach bag. See you in June!

{Linking up}
life rearranged
The Fontenot Four

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

girl | boy weekends

Last weekend marked our 11th wedding anniversary and while Matt and I didn't exactly spend it together, the time was well spent.

The girls and I, along with my mom, sister-in-law, niece, and sister-in-law's mom have had a girls' weekend in Chicago on the calendar for years months.

The headlining event? A visit to the American Girl Place.

Also on the docket: all the girly fun we could find in the big city.

A picture perfect weekend.
Our view from the 22nd floor of the Westin on Michigan Ave.

A Vera store! And they gave us free water! And they took our picture! Score.

Raising girls is serious business. #standtall #trueself

Enjoying dinner in the American Girl Cafe - what a treat!

Mady *might* have enjoyed pet shopping more than actual doll shopping.

Cross it off the bucket list:
a carriage ride through the downtown streets and along the lake shore.

Love this picture. Love them.

Pampering ourselves with some mid-day pedicures. 
The seven of us completely overwhelmed a little Chinese nail salon. 
Hilarity ensued.

On top of the world with my favorite five-year-old girl.

Thank you, Instagram, for capturing these moments and more.
Thank you, Mom (& Dad), for treating us to a whole lot of girly fun.
Thank you, God, for blessing me with little girls!

* * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Matt and Dylan were enjoying a mini boy-themed stay-cation of their own.

Following Dylan's baseball game {complete with a pack of Big League Chew}, the boys packed up their bikes and hit the trails.

This boy sure loves to bike, just like his Daddy!
They followed up their ride at their favorite restaurant 
and re-hydrated with some ice cold rootbeers. 

On Sunday, they visited a local car museum.
Dylan was in heaven.
{Photo credit: hubby on the iPhone. Can't say enough about the camera quality in those things.}

Barn after barn, filled to the brim, with classic cars.

The highlight for D: lunch at an old time diner.

Part of Daddy's plan to see how long he could go without saying no.
Frozen custard? Sure! Another pop? Why not?

* * * * * * * * * *

The girls eventually returned home and the magic had to end. Regular eating habits resumed, Daddy remembered how to say "no", and the house was soon covered with tiny doll shoes and hair brushes.

Back to reality. Back to regular, family-of-five, boys-and-girls-mixed-together life.

Just the way we like it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday | 5.21.12

This will be my last "official"
Menu Plan Monday (for now at least). These blog posts have forced me to be more mindful of my planning, shopping, and cooking, and I'm crossing my fingers that the habit has been cemented.

Last week, both new quinoa recipes were a success - we ate the quinoa and apple salad with curry dressing as a side for dinner, and I made a double batch of the pumpkin quinoa muffins and we gobbled them up (I subbed out the raisins and walnuts for chocolate that even a question??).

I cannot believe this weekend is Memorial Day weekend already. And the kids only have three weeks of school left. Eeek! I have a feeling this week is going to fly by. Here's what's on deck for us, menu-wise:

Open/Leftover's = Matt's working late
Lunch = Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad

Old Standby = Stamp-of-Approval Spaghetti Sauce + bread maker bread

Something New = Golden Chicken in Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
[life happened and I didn't end up making this newby last week]

Crockpot = Slow-Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu

Memorial Day Weekend = belated anniversary dinner & family time


Friday, May 18, 2012

the story of us {eleven}

Once upon a time, a girl met a boy in the halls of a rented Seventh Day Adventist church.

At the time, the girl thought the boy was nice, but shy, and that his little brothers were pesky, but cute. A certain little sister had just been brought home from Korea.

The boy claims he knew she was the one the minute he laid eyes on her.

He was in the eight grade. She was in the ninth.

Fast forward a few years, and the boy and girl are now friends. They laugh together, scoot their chairs closer together in Sunday School, and eat cheap church cookies after the morning service.

The boy is still too shy to speak up and the girl is dating a different boy. They might have continued on like this for years if not for their mothers. Yes, their mothers. (It seems as if they knew a little something about life and love too.)

Suddenly the two are dating. It's summer and their first date was the movie Face Off.

The girl heads off to her first year of college and then there is a little hiccup in their dating story.

Fall is in its full glory, and then, once again, the girl and the boy are back where they left off.

And they never look back.

Because now the girl knows too.

A couple years later, he gives her a pearl. A promise.

A year after that he upgrades that pearl to a diamond while the sun sets over Lake Michigan.

And a year after that, they are married on a perfect May day surrounded by their family and friends in a church with a steeple. The girls wear periwinkle.

Next comes a honeymoon, a first apartment.

And then a first house. A first baby. A second baby.

A second house. A third baby.

Eleven years later, they have created a life together. A life they can be proud of. It's not all roses and butterflies (there are hard things too), but mostly it's good. Really, really good.

Today, this girl is wishing that boy a very happy 11th wedding anniversary. The boy is now a man, and he is the best sort of husband, daddy, and partner-for-life the girl could have ever wished for.

And she loves him with all of her heart.

It's a beautiful story, isn't it?

Monday, May 14, 2012

running with gratitude {25K}

On Saturday I completed my first 25K race.

If you live in Grand Rapids, you know that the Fifth Third River Bank Run is a much anticipated event each spring. It is the largest 25K road race {25K = 15.5 miles} in the country, and this year was the event's 35th anniversary. It's a common goal for local runners to want to run this race which happens on the second Saturday of May each year.

I'm not sure when I was first bitten by the 25K bug because {please believe me when I say this} this is one of the LAST things I thought I would ever want to do.

I think it must have happened last November as I was finishing up the training for my first 15K. At the time, 9.3 miles seemed to be at the very top of my running capacity...until I completed my last long run and realized I probably did have it in me to go a little further. We had an awesome race in Chicago a couple of weeks later and as we finished, I knew there was probably more mileage in store for me down the road.

January rolled around and it was time to get down to business. I followed the training schedule the best I could, making sure to hit the long runs on the weekend and filling the week with shorter runs and cross training like swimming and spinning. {Cross training became my BFF. I think it helped prevent both boredom and injury.}

When it was all said and done, I completed 17 weeks of training, 85 workouts in all. I logged almost 300 miles in runs and countless laps in the pool along with a handful of other workouts to round out my weeks. Week in and week out, I took it one step at a time. I had an amazingly mild Michigan winter and spring to train, and I was fortunate enought to stay relatively injury free.

Race week arrived and I was nervous. I wondered if my training would be enough. Would it rain? (River Bank tradition says it always rains on race day.) What should I wear? How should I fuel up? What pace should I start out at? Could I conquer the hilly terrain of the second half of the course? 

Luckily, I didn't need to worry. It didn't rain. My attire and fueling plan worked great. I hit my target pace and came in under my goal time. The hills were no problem. And yes, my training, all 17 weeks of it, was enough. And don't go spreading this around, but I daresay I even enjoyed myself.

I spent the first six miles or so perfectly comfortable, running along the Grand River with a cheerful, green canopy of trees overhead and a pair of friends nearby. Around the six mile mark we hit the turnaround to start heading back downtown and the road was lined with spectators for the next mile or so. Shortly after that, I was happy to see the halfway point sign and as I hit mile eight, the first half of the race was securely behind me. Around that point, I lost my friends and knew I was probably on my own for the rest of the race. 

And then the hills began. If you mention the River Bank course to a previous River Bank runner, they will inevitably mention the hills. I have plenty of hill runs under my belt, however, so I was hoping I was well prepared. They were still slightly daunting because I knew I needed to keep up my current pace to reach my goal time (I was around 1:14 at the halfway point and I wanted to finish in under 2:30).

The key to hills, I've decided is make them spiritual. This section of the course, roughly miles 8-12, was definitely the toughest, and I found myself charging up each hill as something to be conquered. I ran for those who can't run. I thought of all my hours of training. I stayed positive and in the moment. I ran with gratitude.

Around mile 12, I spotted Matt and Dylan and my father-in-law who rode down on bikes. By then I was back in the city and they were able to ride down the sidewalk next to me which was a huge boost. Around mile 13, I spied Theresa, Bethany & Katie P. cheering from the curb, and from then on I knew I was almost there. As I started to wind my way through the downtown streets, I heard shouts of encouragement from Tiece, my sweet SIL K3, and my neighbor girls.

I used my last surge of energy to cross the finish line just under 2:30 - 2:29:44 to be exact. Truth be told, it was a near perfect race for me and I crossed the finish line knowing I had run it to the best of my [current] ability. I felt good the entire run, I soaked up the experience, and I pushed myself to leave it all out on the course.

I am so grateful for these beautiful words from my friend and Holy Yoga instructor Jami. Last week via Facebook, she said to me: "enJOY every second... stay present... worship... breathe... pray... run with gratitude." I took those words to heart and they were on my mind my entire run.

It took me a long time to realize that running really is a community sport. There are so many people I want to thank for helping me along the way.

I am thankful for my workout girls for getting me started on this journey towards better health 75 weeks ago.

I am thankful for the countless veteran runners who patiently answered my questions along the way.

I am thankful for each and every Facebook friend who ever liked or commented on a running post on my wall (chalk one up for social media).

I am thankful for my husband who supported me along the way and for kids who are proud of their mommy.

I am thankful to God for giving me the ability to run in the very first place.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am beyond grateful.

There are so many things I will remember about this day - the sights and the sounds, the spectators and the friends, the fun parts and the hard parts, the hills and the valleys. Most of all, I will remember this: feeling grateful.

Will I ever do it again? A friend said that's kind of like asking a woman in the hospital who is holding a freshly delivered newborn when she's having another one. The blood, tears, and sweat may still be too fresh to give an honest answer. But like a mother looking back, give me some time and I will likely only remember the good stuff - the tremendous sense of accomplishment, the euphoria, the joy

My short answer: Ask me again later.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday | 5.14.12

Last week was ground-breaking in the menu planning arena: I set my sights on using my quinoa in a recipe and then it actually happened. I made these Spicy Quinoa Burgers on Wednesday night. {Also noteworthy: I now have an entire pinboard devoted exclusively to quinoa.}

I have never attempted making or serving a veggie burger to the fam for dinner. The kids could have cared less, but they were a big hit with the hubby. He l-o-v-e-d them. I could have gone either way...but I think it was a texture thing and I didn't let them get crispy enough because we were trying to get out the door for a baseball game. 

Verdict: give them a try. The ingredients are incredible - sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, quinoa, oats, sunflower seeds, and a slew of spices. We served them on a bun with sweet potato oven fries on the side, but I'm thinking they might good in pita bread. Or eaten plain (like Matt did with the leftovers) if you're going for GF.

It's my third week of menu planning mania, and I hope I'm hitting my stride. We have a busy week coming up (and we're starting HelloMornings tomorrow!), and I need to make sure I get my planning and my shopping in place before it begins. Here we go:

Open/Leftover's = Matt's working late

Lunch: Quinoa & Apple Salad with Curry Dressing

I figure it wouldn't be a bad idea to try a new lunch recipe every now and then. I'm not a sandwich girl and Matt almost always packs a lunch for work. This one caught my eye (turns out I happen to love the texture of quinoa) and curry is one of our favorites.

Old Standby = Bob's Burgers on the grill

The weather looks beautiful here this week. There is a local butcher shop in town that I love buying our meat from. It's always bustling in there, the meat tastes great and Bob himself is almost always behind the counter, cheerfully waiting on customers.


My friend Hannah authors this blog called The Whole Kitchen. Her family enjoys a Paleo-inspired diet, and she is passionate about healthy, whole food. I've had my eye on this recipe since she first posted it a few weeks ago. (Another one worth pinning: Theresa made Hannah's Creamy Chicken Alfredo last week and said it was incredible.)

Crock-Pot = Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos

It doesn't get any easier than this: chicken, taco seasoning, and salsa all dumped into the Crock-Pot in the afternoon. We're a soft shell kind of family, and everyone loves to build their own creations.

The girls are heading to Chicago for an American Girl weekend! The boys are on their own.

Theresa had a great idea to add one new treat onto each week's menu as well. This week's treat = Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins.

These look easy and delicious. I love a good pumpkin muffin and the quinoa seems like a good twist. One substitution I know I'll be making: chocolate chips instead of the raisins. (Is that even a question??)

Happy Mother's Day week, Mamma's!
{Yes, I said week...take it if you can get it!}

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hello Mornings!

I spotted the HelloMornings Challenge on my bloggy buddy Jane's Facebook page last week {Jane authors two great blogs, Girl Meets Paper and the Unofficial Homeschooler.} I was instantly intrigued by the idea of maximizing my mornings and wanted to know more.

I followed the link and started digging around a site called Inspired to Action which is written by a woman named Kat (she's also a contributor over at Simple Mom) and is full of tips and tools for inspired moms.

The HelloMornings Challenge is a tri-annual on-line event designed to help women all over the world develop the life giving morning habit of waking up early to spend time with God, intentionally plan their days, and exercise regularly.

You know me: I love a good challenge. I have thoroughly enjoyed the other challenges I've participated in recently, including our workout challenge (Week 75 and going strong!), 31 Days to Clean, and 40 bags in 40 days.

I realize this isn't for everyone (i.e. feel free to play your I-still-have-a-baby free pass), but for me I'm in a good spot to give this a go. I have been getting good, consistent sleep for more than two years now.

(Note: While we have no claims to early potty training fame, we did have three babies who slept through the night at 2-3 months old and then took regular 3 hours naps until school age. Sometimes I like to remind myself of those champion sleep habits when they're driving my crazy in other areas.)

I find myself more productive early in the day, and I've had some success in the past year or so getting up early to swim or run once or twice a week. When we were working through 31 Days to Clean last spring, I was committed to early rising for that month or so in order to work through the daily devotion before the day really started. Sometimes I get up early to get a jump on my work-from-home to-do's as well. 

However, I am looking for something a little more sustainable this time around. I would like to make this an honest to goodness habit, especially since life only seems to be getting crazier as the kids grow with school schedules, homework, extracurricular activities, and less and less of a reliable nap time.

When I wait and let the kids wake me up, I'm usually up around 7:15am (don't hate us...hubby and the big kids don't need to leave the house until 8:45am so there's no reason for us to be up especially early). 

For the challenge, I'm going to shoot for 5:45/6:00am. I'm not sure exactly what this newly created time slot will look like for me - I'll work through that this week before we get started, but I'm guessing it will be a combination of quiet time (I'm determined to finish reading through the Bible ASAP) and planning out my day, and then sometimes it will involve exercise and sometimes it will mean getting a jump on my work for the day.

I think the key to success here, as with most things, is to have someone (or a group of someones) keeping you accountable. Theresa is climbing on board the early rising wagon with me, and we'll see if we can entice anyone else to join us as well. 

The challenge is actually centered around checking in with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email to make sure you're all up and at 'em. Genius. 

[For the other two sessions throughout the year, they will set you up with an on-line community, but for the summer session, it's up to you to find your own peeps.]

If you're still reading this post, I'm guessing something is resonating with you. If you'd like to register for HelloMornings, you can click on the button below. The challenge is completely free, and they provide you with some great resources including a free e-book, devotional {Love Like Him}, prayer calendar, simple exercise tips, and printable planning sheets.

The next session starts this Monday, May 14, so there's no time to drag your feet. Now's the time to browse the resources, gather some early bird wannabes, sign-up on-line, and get your early morning plan in place. 

Oh, and don't forget to set your alarm.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Menu Plan Monday | 5.7.12

Last week's Menu Plan Monday was a success! 

I found it empowering (yes, I just said empowering) to enter the week with a solid plan. I was actually a little bit excited to grocery shop (list in hand!), and when 5 o'clock rolled around each day, I didn't feel the usual dinner time panic - or end up making everyone a round of PBJ's.

The meals I've made before - the goulash, honey sesame chicken, and pizza casserole were big hits. The new meal - the buffalo chicken lettuce wraps - tasted good to Matt and me, but they were a bit spicy for the kids. 

I did reserve some plain chicken and they all humored me and ate one small wrap each, but they didn't ask for seconds. 

Verdict: great meal for adults. Not so great for kids. (But I'm still glad we tried them.)

The show must go on. Here's Week Two of my Menu Plan Monday:

Family Night = Chicken on the grill + sweet potato oven fries & corn on the cob.

I found a great deal on chicken last week when I made my second (oops!) trip to the grocery store for a couple of things I missed the first time around. [List or no list, our 2 1/2 year old is not exactly a pleasure to shop with.] I figure we can eat the leftovers on salads during the week.

Open/Leftovers = Matt's working late.

Old Standby = The Stocked Kitchen's Chicken Enchiladas.

I throw the chicken in the Crock-Pot during the day and then pull it out when it's done and cube it - add salsa, cream cheese, and a can of black beans with the chicken to a pot on the stove until it's all heated through. Wrap a little of the mixture in tortillas, line them up in a 9x13, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Done. Dinner is served.

Something New = Spicy Quinoa Burgers.

I bought a giant bag of quinoa a couple months ago after Theresa (and just about everyone else I know raved about it). I dedicated one of my new OXO containers, created a cute chalkboard label, filled it to the brim...and there she sits. For whatever reason, I am terrified to actually make anything with it. The buck stops here. This week I'm trying these yummy sounding burgers from Theresa's own edition of Menu Plan Monday.

Crock-Pot = Honey Curry Chicken.

Easy peasey and my family LOVES it. Mix up a little butter, honey, salt, curry, and mustard and pour it over either chicken breasts or tenderloins. I often double the amount of curry I throw in, and I don't always include the prepared mustard (or the extra salt for that matter). I used to bake this in the oven, but I've found the Crock-Pot is an even easier choice. Serve over rice.

Family Night = Pasta??

This is my last pre-25K meal! I think the eat pasta, run fasta thing is a myth, but I might make our favorite homemade spaghetti sauce anyway. Then again, I might send Matt out for Jimmy John's. Tough call. Still thinking on this one.

Family Night (Date Night??) = Open

I've worked hard in the kitchen all week and I've (hopefully) just completed my first ever 25K. I'm not planning anything for this day...we'll just wing it.

Feeling inspired? Join in the meal planning mania @ I'm An Organizing Junkie.

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