Saturday, December 3, 2016

How WE Came To BE

I was reminded when I did my blogging survey that one subject I do not talk about very often is marriage! When I read that, I thought "huh...I don't!" Then I wondered why I don't? I am open about every other area of our life, but I marriage is something that I do not talk often of.

Time to change that.

Dan and I have been married for 10 years (wow, I can't believe I just typed that number!) and it has been incredible. Incredible not in the "oh-so-perfect" marriage incredible, but the "we've been through a lot and are in love even MORE" incredible. Every marriage has.

We are just "us". We are nothing special. We are just two strangely unique people that God joined together. I am not even sure I ever told the story of how we met so let me explain...

Dan's parents ran a SERVE project in the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area for many many years. The summer after my freshman year of high school, I attended this SERVE and Dan was the drummer in the worship band. He was one mighty fine drummer too, but WAY out of my league. So, of course nothing happened.

Fast forward to the summer after my senior year of high school. I went on that SERVE trip again, but Dan was a whitewater raft guide that summer in South Carolina, so no Dan the drummer man. Though, I did get to know Dan's parents a bit because I had to take a prescription medication that they had to give to me. Anyways, that opened the door to conversations with them.

Dan is 2 years older than me, and he attended a community college for 3 years before deciding to go into youth ministry and attend Kuyper College (then known as Reformed Bible College). I was a sophomore at Kuyper, when Dan arrived on campus. I was a Resident Assistant at the time and while I was welcoming the girls on my floor, there was this man that came up the stairs.

It was Dan's dad and he said he must have "accidentally" gone to the wrong floor. Dan's room was on the main floor and you had to go up two flights of stairs to get to my floor, so needless to say, it was fairly intentional! Anyways, he kindly tried to persuade me to go down a floor and talk to his son. I was far from outgoing when it came to guys, so I was nervous the rest of the day.

Until I found a wing woman to come with me.

I grabbed a fellow RA, and we headed to Dan's room. I think I sweated more than I spoke, but needless to say, I accepted Dan's dad's challenge. 

That night, there was an all-school bonfire and at one point, I saw this attractive guy, hands in the pocket, who made khaki shorts and a t-shirt look mighty fine. 

It was Dan.

There was a large group of us talking in a big circle around the fire, when all of a sudden I realized Dan and I were the only ones left in the group, sharing about our lives and our passions.

That night I went to bed wondering "huh, what just happened?"

You see, that summer I made a promise to myself that I would not date anyone because I knew my school work load and being a RA would take up all of my time, so I was NOT going to let a boy get in the way.

God chuckled and had a different plan.

We had gone on a walk around campus (which was a sure sign to everyone else on campus that a relationship was in the making, when you took a walk around "the loop"). Yet I was completely oblivious. Still.

That first week of school, for some reason one night dinner wasn't served in the cafeteria. Like any savvy college student would do, I made my Easy Mac and called it good enough. Well, Dan called and asked if I wanted to go out for supper. I told him no because I had already eaten. I know, I know, I was not getting his drift.

We hung up and moments later, his RA called me and said "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? He was asking you OUT? You can't shut down a man like that!" 


Then a few minutes later, Dan called again and asked if I had dessert?

Of course I didn't, and thus began our relationship.

We dated through the last 2 3/4 years of college and got married 2 weeks after we graduated in 2006. It was a chilly day - as in like 39 degrees chilly. In MAY. It was warmer on our friend's wedding day in December at 41, than ours, but that is why they say do not plan a wedding around the weather. Ours was a perfect example of that!

We have now been married over 10 years! I know it's cliche to say, but we couldn't be happier. That doesn't go to say that we have not had our rough patches like every marriage (which I will talk about later), but it has been because of those times, that we are stronger than ever! 

We truly can't wait to continue to grow old together! And now to grow old with our daughter by our side too.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The "Whoa's" Of Life

Are you "WHOA-ED" by life?

I have been thinking about that as I have watched Mazy grow. A little 20 month old has taught me so much about living and loving life. I watch her just soak in so much about life - even to the point where she says "WHOA" in amazement, as she watches snow fall. Her eyes get wide, her eyebrows get higher and higher, and her jaw drops as she says "WHOA" as we show her something new. A WHOA that has changed my perspective on life too.

When I think about the WHOA's, I can't help but think about life and if I am enjoying life? Am I making the most of every opportunity, slowing down enough to take in the moment, and even putting my phone down and instead of taking a picture, taking a picture of the moment in my head?

I think it's hard to enjoy life and say "WHOA" when there is so much noise going on around us. 

What noise is filling your life? What is distracting you from the moment of life that you are in? It may not be a beautiful season. Maybe it IS the most beautiful season of your life. Whatever season you are in, are you soaking it in?  God has a purpose for every season - and even in the difficult seasons, He wants us to enjoy life. To have those WHOA moments.

What has been YOUR "WHOA" moment today?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Around The Home

What a wonderful week we had in Michigan this past week! It had been quite some time since we saw our families last, so it was a blessing to be able to spend that quality time with them! Of course it absolutely flies by, catching up with everyone we can, but it was amazing. The drives went very well (we left a bit early due to a nasty storm that was supposed to hit Minnesota the day we were to leave). Mazy slept well in the car when it was time to sleep and it is always a relief when we arrive at our destination.

I took very few pictures last week because I spent too much time enjoying the moment we were in! To put into words how much Mazy LOVED seeing her cousins, well, words can't describe. Before, she often got overstimulated and overwhelmed, and would just cry, but this time it was a different story! Granted it helped to have a healthy child too, but she just ate up every minute with them, chasing them around, joining in when she could, and just showing them what she thought was cool, all while trying to be like them. Moments I treasure!

We do plan on heading back to Michigan for Christmas, so just a few short weeks back in MN and then we will be back on the road again!

Here are just a few pics I DID take:
Out to eat with grandparents - we got a slice of chocolate cake and as you can see, Mazy enjoyed every bite she had!

My parents have one of those Amish rocking horses that is also a desk and high chair. Mazy got pretty "violent" with her rocking, but boy did she love it!

Sunday before church

And one of my favorite pictures! I asked Mazy to take a picture with Mommy and this is what I got. When Dan and I go to bed at night, we just can't believe that she is OURS. That God would give her to us. Would bless us in such a tremendous way with the most adorable, fun-loving, and full-of-life child. She is our little miracle and every night we praise God for her. It takes everything in us to not quick grab her and hug and kiss her to pieces. We just couldn't be more thankful! We remember Thanksgivings of the past, where our hearts were just so broken, wishing we had our twins. But God sure had a grand purpose in mind and works for the good. OH does He work for the good. Just look at this picture...makes me cry tears of joy, still to this day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Around The Home

It has been an interesting week weather-wise, but that is what's fun about living in the north! We went from near 60s to teens in a matter of days - oh, and a nasty blizzard. More on that in a bit.

This week we will be heading back to Michigan for Thanksgiving, which we are very excited about. We have not seen our families (outside of Dan's parents) since this past June, so we are excited to do some catching up with them all. Also for Mazy to see her cousins! She has grown incredibly since we were home in June, and is HEALTHY! Back in June, she was still recovering from her pneumonia, so hopefully we all can stay healthy and enjoy some time away. Not sure how much blogging I will do, so hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Meanwhile, here is what's been going on this past week:

Mazy's highlight on Mondays is going to Open Rock. This is where we open up the youth group building and invite our kids to come and do their homework. We make supper for the kids and what we love the most, is sharing a meal together, catching up on each other's lives, before they do their homework. Often times we end up playing games instead, but for those 3 hours, it's a great time to just hang out. Anyways, Mazy LOVES going there because she likes to show off and be like the youth group kids. She even wanted to be like them and "watch" a computer, so we turned on Praise Baby!

Since Mazy has been sleeping better, she now likes to "pretend" to go "nigh-night" as she calls it. Don't be fooled - she doesn't actually sleep, but this is how we practice and tell her that sleeping is okay! She will still randomly wake up in the middle of the night or not want to nap or go to sleep at night, but it is a far cry from where we were in the past! She is a good sleeper now! YAY!

That smile...

One of the humbling joys we have experienced as parents is how Mazy views as her heroes right now. She wants to do everything like us, which is a high-responsibility in our minds. Even like putting on my socks! She did this herself:

We knew there was a blizzard on the way, and we knew it was going to be a doosy, but I guess we did not expect it to be one of the worst since we have been in Minnesota! It started Friday morning at about 8:00, when the rain changed to snow. By 9:30am on Friday, we lost our electricity, and there was no sign of it coming on anytime soon because the storm was only getting worse. 

The projected time was 7am Saturday morning, but those guys should not have been outside trying to fix our electricity in that storm! It was NASTY - the gusts and snow were incredible. Our electricity came back on 27 hours later, but it was okay. I will admit I shed a tear when it came back though because Mazy had had it, I did not know what else to feed her, and it was cold. We survived the night, bundling up, but by morning we texted some friends to see if we could hang out with them for the morning because it was too cold for Mazy to be at home. What a gift it was to have a place to go! Thankfully half of our town had electricity! By 12:30pm on Saturday, we heard our fridge go on and it was back! 

This whole experience was a life lesson for me. It of course made me thankful for what we have. It made me think of the millions who do not have what we have, who have to deal with no electricity their whole life. We are not prepared to live without it. We thought we could hook up a heater to a battery with a converter, but it didn't work. We "camped" inside our home to heat up our soup and make grilled cheese, but to stay warm, we did not have a backup plan. So Saturday night we were thankful for the gift of warmth. A warm shower, a warm bed, and even warm water to do the dishes in. All things that we continue to take for granted on a daily basis! The timing was perfect, especially in this Thanksgiving week!

Mazy LOVED waking up and watching the snow! She was begging and begging to go outside, so we put all of her snow clothes on. She lasted about 2 minutes. Dan took her out, but I am sure I would have only lasted 2 minutes too!

This is what happens when you wash blankie. I told her blankie needed to be washed, but she just did not understand. I then told her blankie needed a bath and that helped. Then blankie needed to dry off after her bath, and that also coerced her to make it through the next 30 minutes. Thankfully the blankie was in the first load that finished before the power went out.

Since we were snowed in, I convinced Dan to let me set up for Christmas! It really made it quite festive considering the blizzard!

Dan and Mazy made it down the hill once!

A blizzard called for card games while Mazy was sleeping! We both took a set of 3, so our 4 year long tally didn't change much.

Dan's fine ingenuity at it's best! He thought of a grand idea, to hook the boat battery up to a power converter, so we could use our internet to stay up in what was going on weather-wise. There wasn't enough power to run our heaters, but this contraption helped Mazy stay occupied b/c this meant she could watch Daniel Tiger!

My outdoorsy husband created what he called "a lanternlight dinner" for me! He heated up the soup I had made a few days prior, made grilled cheese for Mazy, and it was a pleasant meal together in the quiet!

Thank you Dan!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gifts For $9.99 or Less? YES!

Maybe you have not started, just started, and maybe are almost done Christmas shopping. Maybe you are looking for those little fillers that are going to be used more than once, but you do not want to spend a fortune.

As you know, I have been LOVING Usborne books and have enjoyed spreading the love about them! Well, all this coming week, I am going to be doing an "Usborne Stocking Stuffers for $9.99 or Less" party! I am hosting it on my facebook page - but be SURE to click the DISCUSSION tab to see all of the posts! I will be doing the majority of the posts on Black Friday, with the party closing on Saturday at midnight.

So if you do all of your black Friday shopping, but realize you need just a few fillers, check out this party! Books rarely disappoint and they are something that your kids will look at more than once, and can be passed down from generation to generation!

Here's a sneak peak at what you will see:

If you already know what you want, you can start shopping NOW AND PLACE YOUR ORDER! This shopping link is LIVE NOW and will be live until Saturday at MIDNIGHT! Happy shopping and please let me know if you need ANY book suggestions! I absolutely love to give suggestions, so please do not hesitate to comment, comment on the posts, send me a message, or email!


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Organizing My Year With A Personal Planner

Last year I had the opportunity to try out the Personal-Planner. Every planner I had before, I was always done using it after the first couple of months because it just did not suit what I needed. Then I decided to give the Personal-Planner a whirl and I used it until the end. I absolutely enjoyed everything about it! So here I am again, promoting a planner that I decided to go back to again this coming year.

I have to say, Personal-Planner lives up to it's business name. They are personal in the sense of very easy to work with, but also personal in the sense that you can personalize your planner to fit your style, wants, and needs. 

There are 5 different sizes to choose from. I chose the A5 because I typically buy a planner that is roughly an 8x6 size anyways. Price-wise, they run between $30-$60 dollars (though for my readers, look for a discount coupon code below), which includes tax and shipping. 

When it comes to the customizing process, I have to say that it is a lot of fun. Like I said before, what I really like about the Personal-Planner is that you can customize so many parts of the planner to make it yours and fit your needs. For instance, you can choose from various patters, designs, themes, all with different color options as well for the cover (both front and back), but you can also upload your own images. I decided to design my own front and back covers using PicMonkey. It is a free photo-editing program, so I just uploaded a white picture, sized it to the planner cover that I was designing (8x6), and designed it. 

Next came the actual designing of the planner. First of all, you can start your planner with any month.

Here is an example of what I chose each week to look like:

It also comes with an overview before the start of each month:

You can also choose how you want the layout of each week to look like, which can also include personal dates, like birthdays, yearly special events, etc.

Along the bottom, there are 3 modules that you can customize to include a workout checklist, to-do list, meal planning list, and more. I chose to have 1 for "dinners" and 1 with a list for the week. The other is just ruled. 

There are 3 sections in back that are also completely customizable. I chose to have sudoku puzzles (how fun is that!), ruled, and blank paper. You can also choose graph paper, and even a lesson-planning section for teachers if you'd like!

Other parts that I like about the Personal-Planner?
  • A heavy-duty clear cover 
  • Comes with a ruler and plastic pocket insert
  • Fun stickers to add to your pages for reminders
  • Leather covers and pens are available 
  • The edges are color coded by month so tabs are not needed
  • Choice of color is also available for the elastic closure

Personal-Planner has offered my readers a discount on one of their planners (your choice!) You can get 15% off using the code L-OVE2-PLAN and is valid until December 4th - this is also last day to order for Christmas delivery! 

 Instagram: (@personal_planner)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mazy Is 20 Months Old!

 ~ Unknown

 ~ Favorites: lasagna, mac 'n cheese, strawberries, CHEESE, pizza, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, smoothies, fruit snacks, oatmeal cream pies

 ~ 18 month-2T clothes
 ~ 24 month - 2T pants
 ~ Size 4 diapers during the day and size 5 at night

 ~ Wakes up between 7:30 and 9:00am. Likes to wake up for awhile and then eat breakfast about 1 hour later. Eats lunch at about 11:45 and goes down for a nap between 12:00 and 12;30. She usually sleeps about 2 hours, sometimes more and sometimes less. More cuddles and playing, then dinner at 5:00 or 5:30. Between 4:30 and 6:00 is her fussy time, so we know to just keep her entertained as much as we can. At 7:00 we do a bath, melatonin at 7:30, Daniel Tiger or Curious George per her request, and to bed at about 8:00 or 8:15.  

 ~ New words: goog (Curious George), Maz (Mazy), broke, nana (banana), wa (water), cuum (vacuum), wash
 ~ Says please (peas) and thank you when prompted
 ~ Is talking very well and understands what we ask her to do. Knows how to throw something away, get her shoes or jacket, or go to the bathroom.
 ~ Enjoys singing and dancing
 ~ Can do a pretty amazing belly roll
 ~ Climbs stairs

Other Things To Remember:
 ~ Going on bike rides is much easier than walks because she wants to do the walking
 ~ Doesn't like to wear socks and shoes
 ~ Does the downward dog very well and likes to exercise with mommy
 ~ Loves everything to do with being outside
 ~ Still obsessed with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (Danny as she calls it), but also likes Curious George
 ~ Praying before meals is a highlight of the meal and reading her "Bi" (Bible) afterwards
 ~ Favorite toys: playing baby, puzzles, books, building things, car, swing, bathtime
 ~ Likes to clean with mommy - intentionally spills water so she can wipe it up
 ~ Knows how to throw garbage away
 ~ Learning to LOVE coloring