December 31, 2008

New Year's Thanks

Only 10 minutes of 2008 left. Here are 5 of things from 2008 for which I am thankful:

1. My healthy not-so-baby boy. We've only had two sick visits to the doctor in the last 19 months. I'm stunned when I think about that, given mine and Kyle's childhood illness history.

2. My husband's ingenuity. He's so creative and handy and I'm amazed at how well he can fix things and build things and how put things together.

3. My little business that grew faster than I expected and the people I've met through the business and my blog. Also, for the brief financial relief that it brought, though this will most certainly be the first year ever that I do not receive a tax refund. But this is about being thankful . . .

4. Having enough. We have not gone hungry, without shelter or without anything else that we need. Ever. We are so rich.

5. God's continued grace and direction in our lives.

Oh, and I AM relieved to know that the new year's eve ball drop in NYC is 20% more energy efficient than it was last year. Thank you, Ryan Seacrest.


If US government officials are really looking for a way to get information from prisoners of war, they should send them to the Jackson, MI Walmart on New Year's Eve.

Oh, they'll start talking.

December 28, 2008

Happy holidays, indeed.

We went to Ohio on Friday to visit my grandma. The drive takes about 2 hours. But because of icy conditions it took SEVEN HOURS. We were idling down I-75 and Kyle was still struggling to keep control of the car. Cars were spun out everywhere and exit ramps were closed because cars couldn't make it up them. It was so scary and miserable.

BUT, we made it there (later than expected) and were able to spend time with my grandma and catching up with cousins that I haven't seen in a long time. For some of them, it was their first time meeting Jack!

So, last week we drove through the snow storm. Friday we battled the ice. And last night, we dealt with the unruly wind.

I guess we were under a wind advisory, but I hadn't watched the news or anything for a day or two so I didn't realize it. We woke up to power outages and . . . a tree on our house. A tree in our back yard landed on our house and snapped in half. It woke Kyle up and he just thought it was thunder that shook the house. Not so much.

But this could have been much worse. First, Lukeapalooza started yesterday, and we had a lot of men at our house pretty soon after breakfast to help, well, get the tree off of our house. It took less than an hour. Second, there was very little damage to our roof. It will cost us next to nothing to repair the minor damage. Also, the tree snapped after it hit the house. If it had snapped before, it would have landed at an angle that would have made this much more traumatic. Third, we realized that there are a few more trees we need to take down before this happens again. We could have had multiple trees on our house . . . we were fortunate.

December 25, 2008

Love, Jack

In case you'd like to follow along, Jack will be reading Counting Christmas and Gossie and Gertie. Oh, and in case you don't speak his language, he's saying "Merry Christmas" in the last clip.

Merry Christmas from Sara on Vimeo.

Laid back

The best word to describe Christmas so far is "leisurely." No traveling, no rush, no stress . . . we're just taking our time. Jack woke up at about 7:30 and we brought him to bed with us for a while and we laid there chatting with him. You know, about things like snowmen, little einsteins and baby Jesus. We got up and gave him the presents from us . . . which he actually seemed excited about. We got dressed and headed to Kyle's parents house for breakfast and took our time opening gifts.

I just brought Jack back to our house for a much needed, albeit late, nap and we'll head back to Kyle's parents' house when he wakes up. I had planned to post a few pictures, but I left my camera behind. Those will have to wait. I'm so tired and should be putting toys away and getting things ready to head to Ohio to my grandma's tomorrow, but I'm going to take a nap. It's Christmas, after all.

On a much different note, I received an e-mail from the conference superintendent's office this morning about a church in our conference that was burned to the ground last night. It's the only Free Methodist church right in Detroit and a cause of the fire hasn't been determined yet. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the building is a total loss. If you think about it today, pray for the leaders in our conference, and the pastor of that church, as they spend Christmas Day away from their families trying to sort through this. The story on the news this morning was not very well done (double negatives, anyone?), but the article in the paper can tell you a little more.

December 24, 2008

Christmas eve

All is calm . . .

. . . all is bright.

Times have changed

When I was growing up, eating at McDonalds was a special treat. If my mom and dad wanted to bribe my sister and I to do anything, all they needed to do was dangle a trip to McDonald's in front of us and we were on board with whatever it was they were asking. In fact, I remember going for allergy testing when I was in early elementary school - you know, when they poke your back and arm a bunch of times to find out what we were allergic to - and we were promised lunch at McDonalds and a pair of jelly shoes. Soda was also a good bribe, too. We only had soda about once a month when my family would order pizza and rent a movie to watch.

When we DID get to go to McDonald's, it was usually when they were having their $.20 hamburger and $.30 cheeseburger deals that happened two or three times a year. There was a limit on how many you could buy, of course, so my dad would give me, my sister and my mom all money and we'd each order the maximum allowed. We'd eat some and freeze the rest for my dad to take to work in his lunch. Nothing about this struck me as odd or humorous at the time.

Times have certainly changed, though. My parents eat out quite a bit (and I can't fault them for it . . . they have an empty nest now, and it's a lot easier than cooking for two). And every time I open their refridgerator and pull a can of soda out from their soda "rack" I laugh a little to myself about how that would have been a DREAM for my sister and I. Actually, if you put 10-year-old Sara at my parents house now, I'm pretty sure I would think I had gone to heaven.

Where is this going? Oh, right . . .

So on our way home from my parents house on Monday morning, we stopped at McDonald's to grab breakfast. For the last year or so that Jack has been eating with us, our McDonald's trips have been infrequent so he hasn't been there very often. As we're pulling into the parking lot, I said, "Do you want some pancakes from McDonalds?" And he said, "Mickey D? Mickey D?" I'm guessing that Jack took a few trips to McDonalds with his grandparents over the weekend.

But he learned more than just nicknames for fast food restaurants last weekend. He now tries to sing his ABC's, which I need to get on video . . . it cracks me up. And he was sitting on our bed on Monday and had his fingers spread out and was pointing to them one at a time. He said, "One, four, four, four." Thanks, grandma!

We're headed to Dexter tonight for a Christmas celebration with my mom's side of the family. We'll spend tomorrow morning at home and then head to Kyle's parents' house in the late morning. I'm hoping for this Christmas to be better than it was last year. It has to be, right?

December 21, 2008


I didn't realize how much I missed Jack until we were getting close to my parents house and I started to get excited at the thought of hugging him. Up until this point, I hadn't been away from him for more than a few hours at a time for his entire existence. Needless to say, 48 hours was a big deal for me.

When we walked in the door he started jumping up and down and looked excited to see us. He proceeded to show us all of the fun new toys that my mom has at her house for him, and tried sing us his "ABC'S."

I sat with him for a little bit but within minutes, he was squirming to go back to Grandma. I'm confident that this is a result of extensive brainwashing on my mom's part, because why else would he desert his mother so soon? This brainwashing involved sledding, going to Fantasyland, watching Little Einsteins, having her full attention 100% of the time, and lots and lots of fun and even more love.

He went to bed soon after we got to my parents and though he went to bed well and napped well for my parents, he gave me the usual bedtime trouble, but I was happy to deal with it. We had a great time this weekend, but we're glad to be back.

December 20, 2008

13" of snow has nothing on us

I know, I know . . . I'm on my anniversary trip and I'm blogging. But Kyle's still sleeping and breakfast won't be delivered for an hour (though I can smell bacon and I'm thrilled about that). So, I'm sitting on the floor of the bathroom (which isn't as gross as it sounds . . . the bathroom is the size of our living room and there's an area rug in one half) so that I won't wake Kyle up. I shouldn't have checked my e-mail because there are a slew of cranky people who are upset that I can't get them their cards RIGHT. NOW. and it stresses me out to think about how displeased they are. Seriously, I had no idea how cranky people can get about Christmas cards and wedding announcements and birthday party invitations. And, if it were at all professional, I could write a book about some of the funny/interesting/outrageous/challenging experiences I've had over the last few weeks. But I've learned a lot and am going to be making changes that will really help my customers out in the new year. I should also add that I could write about 14 books on the amazing people I've met through this. I had one e-mail this morning from someone telling me that "I made her Christmas." I really do have the best customers.

Anyway, we traveled in what accumulated to equal 13" of snow yesterday. Which is what I would have called crazy had I heard about someone else doing it. We were in the car for about 8 hours for what should have been about 3 1/2 hours in the car. EIGHT HOURS. But it was so worth it.

I've never stayed at a place this nice before. Nor have I stayed in a place this expensive. When the hostess brought us to our room, I walked in and my jaw dropped. It's a bed and breakfast and looks fairly ordinary from the outside, but the room is INCREDIBLE and breakfast is delivered right to your room at the time you request (why did we ask for 9:00 . . . I should have known I wouldn't be able to sleep in). It has a private deck that leads right out to Lake Huron . . . which would be great in the summer, but not so much when it's 4 degrees outside. The view is still amazing. I'm so glad to be here and it was worth every minute in the car and dollar that we saved for this. As soon as the hostess left, I looked at Kyle and said, "We're coming here for our anniversary every year."

I called my mom when we got here last night and I don't think Jack even realizes that we're gone. Which is good . . . I know he'll have fun with his grandparents. It's my first time away from him overnight. I love it that I won't have to change a single diaper today, but I do miss him a lot. I am bummed that we have all this snow and we can't take him out to play in it.

I'm just looking forward to lounging around and relaxing today. We brought some movies and some games that we used to have time to play before Jack was born (and yes, I realize that this makes us sound like losers, and also . . . I don't care). And, in a little bit, I'm going to take a shower that lasts longer than the amount of time it takes Jack to lose interest in Little Einsteins. Kyle's great grandparents used to have a house up here that he hasn't been to since he was in junior high, so we're going to try and find that. I'm just excited to not have anything specific planned.

December 18, 2008

Just lovely

We're supposed to get 11 inches of snow tomorrow. We're under a winter storm warning. Schools are already calling off for tomorrow.

Tomorrow. The day that Kyle and I are scheduled to drive and hour to drop Jack off with my parents in Detroit, and then 3 1/2 hours north to where we're staying. The really expensive place that doesn't offer refunds if you don't cancel a week in advance.

Why didn't we go somewhere south?

Cookies and popcorn

Jack has been sick this week. Coughing and fever . . . . last night was the worst. Chills, shaking and, well, he was just really weird. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was a little scared. He drank FORTY-EIGHT OUNCES of water over the course of the night. He slept in bed with me and Kyle slept in the spare bedroom because he had to be at the school early this morning. Our bed was soaked int he morning, because, well, he drank FORTY-EIGHT OUNCES of water. He'd wake up about every 20 - 30 minutes and say water, water, water until I gave him his cup. He was never really awake and never really asleep. Which means I never really slept.

He fell asleep at about 7 and slept until 11. I was able to get a lot done while he slept, because of course I can't sleep when it's light out, no matter how little sleep I get!

When he woke up, he was like a new kid. The cough was minimal, there was no fever and he was in great spirits. I decided to not to take him to the doctor, but we did do some more Christmas shopping. Our schedule was so messed up and we ended up just eating cookies and popcorn for lunch. Healthy, huh? No better way to get a kid over an illness than to give them junk food.

We actually had a good time and Jack sat on Santa's lap and I paid a whopping $15 for a 4 x 6 photo. Of all times not to have my camera . . . but it was his first photo with Santa, so I definitely needed a copy. And as a thank you to Santa, we may have left him with an unidentified respiratory virus. Whoops. The fever broke . .. he's not contagious. Right? Don't judge me.

Almost all of my Christmas shopping is done, but hopefully I can finish the last of it up on the way home from our trip this weekend. I'm a little nervous because Friday's forecast looks ominous and we're headed farther north. I'll be so bummed if we get snowed in.

December 14, 2008

Six whole years

Today, marks the beginning of our seventh year of marriage. So, today is naturally the day where I should post about what a wonderful husband he is and all of the things I love about him.

But I'm not the kind of girl who typically does all of the things she's "supposed" to do. So instead, I'm going to tell you the things that bug me about him.

For starters, the main thing I ask him to do around the house is taking out the trash. Just that one thing. And he forgets about half the time, and I have to remind him the other half of the time. Sometimes, I just let the bathroom waste basket overflow and see how long it will take for him to realize that it needs to be emptied.

Also, he snores. On some nights. About 25% of the time.

Oh, ok, and when he puts 2 liters of soda back into the refrigerator, he usually puts the cap on so tight that I can't get it open. If he's not home, I about die of diet coke deprivation.

And then, there was one time that he folded the towels the wrong way . . . before I showed him the right way to do it.

Yeah, you see . . . that's it. That's all I can come up with. Trash, snoring, tight lids on pop bottles and poorly folded towels . . . once. And to be honest, our soda really does keep its carbonation longer, which is kind of nice.

I'm sure there's more, but very little comes to mind. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be married to my husband. And he never lets me forget that he feels the same way about me, which makes me feel even more fortunate.

I knew that I loved Kyle when I married him, but I had no idea that I would love him this much more 6 years later. I knew he would be a good father, but what I've witnessed over the last 18 months that we've had Jack has totally surpassed any expectations I could have had.

I've seen him grow so much over the last 6 years and even more, I've seen myself grow because of knowing him and living with him and being loved by him.

Marriage isn't easy, but for me, loving Kyle is.

December 12, 2008

Just to make sure I remember it . . .

Have I mentioned that Jack is obsessed with his potty chair? Well, he is. He's far from being potty trained, but he'll push it into the kitchen and just sit on it. Sometimes, with his pants up . . . sometimes with his pants down.

One time, he took a book into the bathroom and just sat on the potty chair and looked at it for a while. He also carries it around the house and uses it as a step stool to reach things that he wouldn't normally be able to reach . . . which is super cool for his parents who try and keep harmful objects out of his reach.


Almost forgot about my giveaway.

I assigned everyone a number and used a random number generator. The winner is the Rudd Family! Hooray for you!

I'll contact you to get your address and find out which video you'd like!

December 11, 2008

In five minutes or less.

THE NUMBER 5. I almost didn't want to write this post when I saw that my last post was my 555th. And it's weird, because in the database at camp yesterday, I checked the total number of records and it was 5,555. Spooky. . . .ok, not really.

GOING AWAY. Our anniversary (6 years!) is on Sunday and we're not doing anything special because Christmas with Kyle's grandparents is on that day. So I guess we're doing something special . . . just not in celebration of our anniversary. Next weekend is a different story. We're going to stay at Huron House for a weekend. And I'm super excited. It will be my first night ever away from Jack and I have mixed feelings. And I'm sure any negative feelings will subside as I sleep in past 7 AM.

THE SHOP. I closed it today. Just for today. I needed to catch up and I needed a break. This morning was AWFUL. My hotmail locked me out and I had e-mail coming in faster than I could answer. I had an issue with a customer (which I guess is good since I've had about 600 sales in the last month or so and only one issue . . . and it was out of my control). I was sleep deprived. And I had to work on camp stuff and let everything sit, which I knew would result in orders piling up. Which resulted in shutting it down. BUT, I had a nice dinner with my small group tonight and also had four customers this afternoon and evening who were so encouraging and complimentary that it totally made up for the rest of the day. They really lifted my spirits. So, the shop re-opens tomorrow. If I can get my last 7 orders from last night filled.

JACK. He was introduced to the wonderful world of Little Einsteins and now he points at the tv and says "Eintein, eintein."

GOALS FOR THIS WEEKEND. Get Christmas shopping at least half done (I LOVE CHristmas shopping and don't like to be rushed - my love language is gifts, by the way). Edit some of my own photos from the last month. Sleep a full 8 hours at least one night.

December 10, 2008

December 9, 2008

Spur of the moment giveaway . . .

I usually buy the nooma videos as soon as they come out. But, they offer free shipping on 5 or more (though it used to be 3 or more), so I decided last year to hold out until there were five new ones so I could save on shipping. I usually only use them during the summer anyway, so I could hold out until then.

Glad I did, because I feel like I hit the jackpot today. They're all on sale for only $7 each AND free shipping on five or more. Yay! If you've never seen these videos before, and want a recommendation, Rain and Kickball are the most meaningful to me. If you're going to do the free shipping deal, I'd also recommend luggage, dust and hmmm . . . store. Or maybe rich. Shoot, they're all good. And I think they have a deal on a set of all 22.

In fact, here's a spur of the moment giveaway. I literally just decided to do this as I was typing. One person is going to win RAIN (or a different one if you already have that one). I've never done a giveaway before, which means that probably only 10 or so people will enter, thereby vastly increasing YOUR chances of winning. I know most people do giveaways of things other people have donated, or to promote their business, but . . . well, 'tis the season for random gifts I suppose.

Just a minute . . .

Ok, I just went to Nicole's blog to borrow the wording she used for her giveaways. Here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment letting me know . . . um . . . something about yourself. Oh, maybe your favorite color! Or what you had for breakfast. Or just your name. Just make sure I have a way of contacting you if you win.

2. You can only enter once!

3. Winner will be chosen at 9am on Friday, December 12! I'll contact you and ask you for your address and will have it shipped directly to you.


December 6, 2008

For making these pictures possible . . .

. . . I'd like to think the employee at the Jackson train station who let me track snow all over his clean floors and borrow his ladder. And I'd like to apologize to the man upstairs at the Jackson Coffee Company, who we made so uncomfortable that he got up and left.

But seriously, it was so worth it. This was the last photo session I had scheduled in 2008 and I LOVE how the photos turned out.

So, here's a little sneak peek for Jen and Jason. There's a lot more where this came from.

And breathe . . .

Let's catch up.

The Monday before thanksgiving (or was it Wednesday) Jack and I built a snowman in the front yard. The kid LOVES to play in the snow. He hugged the snowman (there will be photos on my photo blog if I ever get it updated), patted the snowman and built a deep attachment to him. As I set him up for a final photo before naptime, he put his hand on the snowman and inadvertently tipped him over. He looked up at me as if to say, "WHAT DID I JUST DO?!" His lip started to quiver and he struggled to hold it together. And he did. I think it's the worst to see your child wanting to cry, but holding it in. It's almost less painful for you as a parent if they just let it all out!

Thanksgiving was great! It was so nice to be away from a computer screen for a while . . . though if you ask my family, they'll probably tell you I spent a lot of time in front of the computer. We went to my parents house on Wednesday and stayed through Friday. Family came to their house and we ate . . . a lot. On Friday morning, my mom, sister and I went shopping with all of the black Friday crazies. And, I will say that we got some tremendous deals. My parents flew to Puerto Rico for their cruise on Saturday, so when we left on Friday they sent us home with ALL of the leftovers. Jack refused the turkey on Sunday because he was so sick of it. The highlight of the weekend had to be Jack saying "gobble, gobble" every time someone said "turkey." It came out more like "Lollal, lollal."

Jack is pretty much a different kid since I last wrote about him. He communicates so well and I feel like we're in a virtual explosion of language growth right now. He says "tadaaa" whenever he does something . . . whether it be good or bad. I walked into his room and he had pulled everything out of his closet. I said, "What did you do?!" And he looked up at me and said "tadaaa." He constantly wants to see football, basketball, baseball or hockey on tv and identifies the sports pretty well. I seriously feel like he's changing so fast right now, and I'm so busy, that there's no way of recording all of the fun stuff he says. He's also become more ornery and will just collapse to the floor in a fit of drama that I've never seen before when we ask him to do something he'd rather not do.

His 18 month check up was on Tuesday. He's grown 2 inches in the last 3 months and gained a little under a pound. He's still off the charts for height, but he's in the 95th percentile for weight. Yay for being on the charts! I didn't get to talk to the doctor as much as I would have liked about vaccines because I wasn't as prepared as I would have liked and I was going on about 4 hours of sleep. But I did find out that the flu shots at the office are thimerosol-free and that's the only one that he needed.

After his appointment, we took him down the street to the Treehouse which was a first for us. It was fantastic. It's this huge indoor playground, but it was way better than a playground. We were there right when it opened and stayed for 1 1/2 hours, so Jack was one of five kids there the whole time. It might not have been as great if there were more kids. There was a two year old who shoved Jack down 6 or 7 times. Yikes. When telling my mother-in-law about it, she told me that Jack actually pushes Emma down sometimes. Yikes, again.

Last night, we did our annual live nativity at camp. It's a ride through on a horse drawn wagon . . . and it is COLD outside. Did anyone hear my radio interview on Friday about it? We taped it on Wednesday and I totally forgot to listen yesterday! It's usually the thing that kicks off the Christmas season for me. This year, it's the thing that is helping restore the Christmas spirit that had already begun to wane.

The past week has been insane, but I am seriously so thankful for the business. But I'm not going to lie . . . I need sleep. So, so badly. I have two photo sessions to process, one youth camp brochure to finish up and many card orders that I'm waiting to hear back on. I have been confronted with a few stinkers this season, but overall, I have worked for some lovely people and have found some great new blogs!

Speaking of blogs . . . I'm going to try and catch up with the 1772 blog posts in my reader. Seriously, you people write a lot.

December 3, 2008

They all kind of look the same

Jack's never seen Sesame Street (that I am aware of), so his only introduction to the Sesame Street gang has been in the form of characters on his diapers.

Me: Who's that on your diaper?
Jack: Melmo.
Me: That's right! And who's that?
Jack: NerNie.
Me (pointing to Cookie Monster): That's right! And who is this over here?


Jack: Ho! Ho! Ho!

Cookie monster . . . Santa Claus . . . those fictional characters all start to look the same after a while.

December 2, 2008

Dear Jack, Month (gasp!) 18

Dear Jack,

If there's any month that I have an excuse to be late for your letter, it's this month. I'm drowning in a sea of Christmas cards and Christmas photos and I've overdosed on everyone else's Christmas cheer. Who knew when I was designing your birth announcement that designing cards and announcements for other people would be the way that we'd start to climb out of the financial hole that resulted from getting and being pregnant with you? Please don't misunderstand me . . . the money we paid to have you does not even remotely compare to how much your dad and I value you. If I had to pay one thousand times what we paid to have you, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

You're not exactly my baby anymore. You're so grown up. You say things like "tadaaa" after you turn the Christmas tree lights on or find a missing toy. You understand me when I ask you to pick up your toys or let Murphy out of her cage. You're so good at following instructions. Last week, I was trying to get you to say all kinds of words for your grandparents and they were laughing because it was like I had all of these "tricks" that I wanted you to do for them. Grandma jokingly said, "Ok, Jack, now roll over." And you laid down on the ground and rolled all the way to the couch. Nothing gets past you.

Jack, you're growing so fast and when facing the thought that you might be my only baby, I feel a little robbed by how quickly you're changing because I so badly want to slow you down. But I can't slow you down (trust me, I've tried). I'm just trying to soak up as much as I can. You love to hug and if I squat down at your level at any given moment, 90% of the time you'll run to me and hug me so tight. The other 10% you'll run in the opposite direction giggling and wanting me to chase you.

Even though I have a great excuse, I'm not late with your letter this month. I just checked and ironically enough, I started this letter exactly 18 months, to the minute, from the time you were born. I'm right on time . . . but it's short and random and I have no photos to include. I try to do it all, but I can't. Well, I can, but it won't all get done well.

YOU are so important to me, Jack. More important that photos of you and letters to you or Christmas cards. I love YOU. And I hear you upstairs calling me, so I think I'm going to go snag a hug right now.


December 1, 2008

Slowly but surely . . .

So much to write about and so little time.

Meanwhile, here's another sneak peek from this weekend for Nicole . . .

November 29, 2008

November 26, 2008

Snowman bites the dust; Prime suspect cleared of charges

Somerset Center, MI (AP) - Today, the Snowman Building Regulation Board (SBRB) came to a unanimous agreement that Jackson William Luke, of Somerset Center, Michigan, will be cleared of all charges brought against him for Monday's untimely demise of the snowman in his front yard.

Jackson (known as Jack to his friends), and his mother Sara, built the snowman just prior to naptime on Monday. Allegedly, while posing for pictures, Jackson accidentally tipped his frosty friend and sent him to his icy ruin. This incriminating photo caused the SBRB to get involved.

The SBRB questioned Jack and determined that it was, in fact, an accident. Their decision was confirmed by the release of the photo below, showing his quivering lip and total remorse over his lost friend. Jack was able to keep his composure, but barely.

When asked for a statement, Jack simply said, "Snowmeen. Bootball."

November 24, 2008

I'm on a call

Who has two thumbs and still hasn't seen last night's episode of 24? This girl. Yeah, that really has to be done in person for it to make sense, huh?

Jack had a hard time getting to sleep last night. By the time he was sleeping and we were ready to sit down and watch it, we were both exhausted. So, I don't get to watch it in HD. But at least I get to watch it tonight. Hopefully.

I can't be too mad at Jack for keeping us from it, because he does things like this:

Jack working from home. from Sara on Vimeo.

Oh, Jack . . . how I love your courtesy laugh!

November 23, 2008

A different kind of holiday

I know that Thanksgiving isn't until Thursday, but today is a special day for Kyle and I. A day that we have been looking forward to for over a year. A day that makes me emotional every time I think about it.

Today, after 18 months of being off the air, 24 returns with a 2-hour special. I was 9 1/2 months pregnant when we saw the season finale of the last season. I remember playing out in my head how disappointed I'd be if I went into labor and had to watch it on tivo instead of in HD. It's been gone way too long.

The 2-hour special tonight is actually a part of what would have been last season if it hadn't been for the writer's strike. In an interview, Keifer Sutherland said that it kind of worked out for the best because it takes place in South Africa and the writers were struggling with how to get him back to the US in real time (hmmm . . . maybe they should have been planning ahead).

Anyway, episodes resume in January, but tonight is supposed to give background information so that next season makes sense.

I can barely contain my excitement.

November 22, 2008

A welcome lull

I only had 9 10 sales today in the shop, so I'm enjoying this little lull.

Kyle, Jack and I went to Ann Arbor tonight to commiserate with the rest of the depressed Michigan fans to shop. We finally got Jack a winter coat that fits AND didn't break the bank (finally, after two weeks of freezing temperatures . . . we're awesome parents).

We also got his first Christmas present from Tree Town toy store. It's probably a little too advanced for him, but I like getting him gifts he'll grown into. And, I love Melissa & Doug toys. We were going to get him Lands' End boots as his second Christmas gift, but Sears didn't have them in his size. I think I might order them online.

I don't think I've mentioned this, but on top of all of the card craziness, I have been sick this week. Or maybe the sickness is because of all the craziness and my 2 AM bedtimes. I don't know. But I've had a fever, achiness and the worst sore throat that I can remember. Perfect timing, huh? I'm finally starting to get over that today.

So, with a slower day, why am I not in bed at 9:30? Because I have extra time to do things like process my own personal photos that have been sitting on my memory card for a month and go through video clips. I haven't updated the photo blog in 18 days. Yikes. Do you know that last year in October I started the photo blog and made it to February without ever missing a day? Seriously, I had so much time back then.

Anyway, you gain from my unwise decision to not go to bed because I'm hoping to post video clips from this month sometime this week. You can thank me later.

November 21, 2008

Think warm thoughts . . .

Do you remember a little more than two weeks ago when it was in the mid-seventies outside? That's how November should be. The Hammonds lucked out and their session was on one of those warm days! They were actually hot in the sweaters they had planned on wearing!

If only it were that warm out all winter long . . .

See all of their pictures here.

November 20, 2008

The fine line

There is a fine line between cute and, well, not cute. And Jack has been walking that line. There have been so many recent situations that are equal parts annoying and funny. Here are some case studies:

Ok, this isn't very funny, but it is mildly amusing. On Sunday evening, Jack climbed out of his crib. Just climbed on out. He wacked his head on the way down, so he was crying by the time we got in there. What can I do? Is it time for a real bed already? He's not even 18 months yet. I don't think I could get him to stay in a real bed . . . . shoot, I can't even get him to stay in his crib. His legs are pretty long and his upper body strength rivals mine! He can climb into his crib now too. We're hoping that the experience was traumatic enough to keep him from doing it again.

We struggle getting Jack to help with picking up his toys. I know he's not old enough to clean up everything himself, but he literally pulls everything off of his toy shelves at once and scatters it around the house. So, we've started making him put toys he's not playing with away before pulling something new out. I do about 9/10 of the picking up, but I make him "help."

Last Saturday, he was refusing to pick up his blocks and put them back in the bag. He had never done this before. I gave him a warning and then had him sit in his time out chair until he was ready to help. He sat there quietly and about a minute later he said, "Reaby! Reaby!" So, I led him by the hand back to the living room and he picked up two of the blocks, held them over the bag, pulled them back and then DROPPED THEM ON THE FLOOR. I kid you not . . . he knew EXACTLY what he was doing. I know that he was willfully disobeying, but I was trying so hard not to laugh.

So, I calmly led him back to the chair, only this time he was not sitting quietly. He was wailing. After he calmed down, I heard him say, "Reaby." And he came back out and picked up the remaining blocks. He's been doing pretty well at picking up every since.

Saturday morning, my cell phone rang. It was in my bedroom, and as I was walking in to answer it, Jack came running out. Seriously, he was booking it. I thought to myself, "I need to see what he was into when I get off the phone."


"This is Hillsdale County 911. A call was just placed to us from your cell phone."

Gulp. "I'm so sorry."

"Yeah, we think a little girl might have called us from your phone."

"I am SO sorry."


I tried to put him down for a nap a little before noon yesterday. His babysitter came at noon and he was still awake, so I just decided to get him up and try when I got back from my meeting. I went in to get him, picked him up and took him out to her. At that point, I realized he didn't have a diaper on.

We laughed about it, and I took him back to his room, picked his dry diaper up off the floor and laid him down to put it back on him. That's when I noticed one of his socks was damp. I was still totally clueless and wondered if it had been too hot in there (we have a small space heater in there). I felt his other sock and it was soaked. That's right. He peed in his crib with no diaper on.

And I have no idea how he got pee in so many places other than to wonder if he was spinning and peeing at the same time. It was on the wall, it was on the dust ruffle on the crib, it was on his book shelf and on the carpet. All of those things are fairly close to his crib, but they are in all different directions from it. I didn't think he could hold enough to do that much spraying. Needless to say, I was late for my meeting.

This one isn't so much annoying as it is plain ol' cute. While Jack is most often heard saying "no" to anything he is asked, a close second for most used phrase is, "un mo?" which translates to "one more?" During every book we read, we get to the last page or two and he starts asking "un mo? un mo?" before I'm even done reading. When I scratch his back and stop, he asks "un mo?" When I pretend to chase, catch and tickle him, he'll run away shrieking "un mo!" The sweetest thing he's ever said this to was last week. I got him up from his nap and changed his diaper. As I was picking him up, I kissed him on the cheek and he said, "un mo?" So I kissed him again and he said, "un mo?" This went on until we were both laughing.

Jack has x-ray vision when it comes to anything with footballs, football players, football fields or anything football related on it. He wants his football blanket when he naps. He hands me the remote control for the television and says, "bootball?" The kid is obsessed. There was a tiny little football in the corner of a sign while he was grocery shopping with Kyle last night, and from far away he saw it and started pointing and saying "bootball, bootball." He tore through the entire newspaper on Monday pointing out every football related thing there was.

And all I can think is, "Please don't grow up to be a football player. Please, please, please." It's my absolute least favorite sport to watch.

November 19, 2008

Living freely

Here are some excerpts from an e-mail I received last week:

“I'm going through an extreme growth period in my faith but I still feel lost in knowing how to find god's will for me. Maybe I'm just thinking too much but how do you know god's guidance? . . . on many things I know his answers but when I seek him on a specific issue it is then when I tend to get lost. How do you know when he is answering?”

What is God’s will for me?

I hate trying to answer that question. Not because it’s a bad question, or because it shouldn’t be asked. It’s just that sometimes, I think that question holds us back. Of course living in God’s will is the only way to really live, but sometimes the question of what His will really is leaves us fearful that one wrong step, or one faulty interpretation of what God is “saying to me” could DESTORY. MY. LIFE.

God wants us to know Him and his will. He wants us to study the scriptures and become familiar with his nature. There are things that obviously are or are not God’s will. I read another blog recently that said something like, “As we do the things which are clearly in God’s will, we slowly become the kind of people who can discern the things that aren’t so clear.” Forgive me for not remembering who it was or where I saw it! If it was you, let me know and I’ll add a link!

I know . . . when we’re faced with issues like what job to take or what house to buy, there isn’t specific instruction to be found in the Bible on these things. But I think sometimes, outside of the specific commands that he gives us, we’re given the freedom to choose our own path. He tells us to love Him and to love people. This is what is important. Everything else falls into place as we follow him and seek his guidance. During my senior year of college, I was considering many different options for the following year. All of them were good choices. All of them had positive and negative points. I could have defended any of them as God’s will. I chose camp. Was it God’s will? I think so. I thought I’d work here for a year, and then move on, but I ended up meeting and marrying a wonderful man and having a beautiful child. It’s easy for me to say that this was God’s will. Does that mean that one of those other options have been out of God’s will? Not necessarily. My life certainly would have turned out differently, but I believe that God would have used me for his purposes in those situations, too.

I think that often (not always, but often) it’s more about how you’re serving God and honoring Him where you are and with what you’re doing than it is about being in a specific place at a specific time.

Be free!

One whole year

As of today, my etsy shop has been open for an entire year. A year ago on this day, I spent the evening writing descriptions, posting photos, designing a banner . . . all while nursing a 5 1/2 month old.

Time flies.

November 17, 2008


I literally feel like I'm drowning in a sea of cards to design and pictures to edit. An e-mail made me cry about an hour ago. However, I'm learning a lot and will be making several changes in my listings when things slow down after Christmas. I'll just leave it at that for now. I really am SO thankful for the business and I have the coolest customers ever (with some of the most beautiful children I've ever seen).

I have a new sympathy for our web designer that I worked with on the new look to the camp website in the fall. I wonder if I ever made her cry.

So, that's why I've been slow to update. While blogging (and blog-reading) used to be a nice break, now I try to take breaks away from the computer. At camp, I'm working on the youth camp brochure for summer 2009 . . . which is coming along quite nicely. And then at home, I'm designing more, so I have to get away from the computer before I start talking to her it like she's it's a friend.

I'll update soon! Cross my heart.

November 15, 2008

A great response to a hot topic

I've followed my doctor's recommended plan for Jack's vaccinations. I discussed the issue with both doctors in the practice when Jack was first born and I felt comfortable with their responses. I still do. Sort of.

Over the weekend, I sold a card to a mom who had a blog link in her signature. Naturally, I checked it out. The top post was one on the issue over whether or not autism and vaccines are at all related . . . which, unless you've been living under a rock, you know is a hot issue among parents right now.

When completing her sale, she had mentioned that one of her boys is autistic, and because I have issues with staying inside what are regarded as normal personal boundaries, I sent her an e-mail asking her if I could know more about her story with her oldest son. Her response was really educational, and not at all like the typical fanatic response that you might get from either end of the autisum/vaccine spectrum (did anyone see Matt Lauer's interview with Nancy Snyderman?).

Anyway, I asked her if I could post a portion of her note here, and she was very willing. Her oldest son Tom, was diagnosed with autism at 2 years, 10 months. Her youngest son is Hank.

She send some .pdf files with alternative vaccination schedules and I'll be discussing them with my doctor at Jack's 18 month check-up in December. If you'd like copies, contact me and I'm happy to forward them to you.
Keep in mind, this is kind of a soapbox issue for me - I've completely changed my mind about all of this, and ultimately I think we all just have to pray and punt!

My dad is a doctor, and I've never been an "alternative" kind of person before. I've always been all for air-conditioning, Diet Coke, preservatives, etc..... ;)

Tom is fully vaccinated - at least vaccinated up 'til about age 4. No more, though. My 2nd son, Hank, was vaccinated on a regular schedule, but our pediatrician (who's actually old friends w/ my dad, and is probably one of the top pediatrician's in Dallas) actually said to me, before the MMR, without me even asking.... "I don't think vaccines and/or the MMR have anything to do with autism - but, having said that - there's no reason we can't delay the MMR for Hank - especially since he has a brother with autism."

I was actually sort of surprised, because I'd always thought all those crazy moms who thought that vaccines caused their children's autism were just looking for something to blame, and probably a little crazy. :) Tom never had an obvious regression, like so many kids I know now, and he didn't have chronic poop issues, ear infections, or rashes, which can all be early indicators of vaccine reactions.

Tom had been diagnosed for 2 years before I really bought into a lot of the vaccine argument. We did stop vaccinating Hank just before his MMR, and we haven't started up again, although we will.

The science now says that some people are able to detoxify better than others - that's a genetic thing. It's like a bucket. If our bodies were all buckets, we'd maybe have 3 holes in the bottom for drainage. So as we throw in vaccines, preservatives in our foods, junk in the air, aluminum cans, mercury fillings, etc.... normal people can drain all that gunk out pretty well. But for some kids, like Tom, we found out that he only has the equivalent of one hole in his bucket. So at some point, as we slosh all that gunk in (gunk being a technical term, of course!) at some point, the bucket's going to overflow. That's what a lot of autism researchers are now calling our toxic "tipping point." The problem is, there's not really a way to test babies to see how well they detoxify ahead of time - and we vaccinate all kids the same way at the same time.

My personal belief is that first, Tom was created exactly who he was meant to be -and that he is precious and created for a purpose. Having said that, I also think that there were many things stacked against him from the beginning which may have pushed him down in to autism. I have ADD, and now chronic fatigue syndrome (I know, sounds like Debbie Downer!), but I only had the 10 or so vaccines they were giving in the early 70's. My goal is just to remove as many obstacles for Tom as I can so he can be the best precious little Tom he can be!

I do think there is a purely genetic version of autism - but that it's more the 1 in 50,000 it was 20 years ago. I think all the autism we see now is a combination of genetics and environment. The 1 in 150 number the CDC quotes all the time is for 14 year olds - 8 year olds in 2002. The number now is more like 1 in 67, and it's 4:1 boys to girls. Scary!!

When I was pregnant, I had (and still have) 4 amalgam fillings, which are 50% mercury, I had a flu shot in my first trimester of pregnancy (not thimerosol-free, even though it was available), Tom then had 3 flu shots (with Thimerosol) in his first 3 years of life, and his DTaP had mercury in it. Plus, having so many vaccines in such a short period of time is making a lot of kids, including Tom, have some autoimmune problems.

It was Tom's labs I finally did, 2 years after he was diagnosed, that convinced me. He had porphyrin tests (a measure of heavy metal body burden in the kidneys, brain, etc.) that came back saying he had toxic levels of mercury, lead, and this specific pesticide built up in his brain. Ugh. Even my old-school plastic-surgeon dad was shocked. Tom also had major brain inflammation and oxidative stress, which are all inter-related. So we started doing some alternative things, like IV chelation (which gets rid of metals) and he started getting significantly better. Lots of his therapists were shocked and wondered what he'd been doing since the change was so dramatic.

He still has a long way to go, but he's getting close, and closing the gap!

My feeling is that he might have had ADD or something like that, but that all the crud that got to him so early pushed him down into autism. But I don't think I'll ever know for sure!

But the thing is, I think there's a happy medium. I do believe our current vaccine schedule is wayyyyy too many, wayyyyy too soon. There are not very hard ways of just spacing them out, even, and kids can be funny immunized by kindergarten but not take quite as much of a risk. Do I think that will help? Who knows. But, there's no harm, except the inconvenience, so if I had it to do all over again, I'd probably do Dr. Cave's version, which is on that blog I posted. [This is one of the links she sent me . . . let me know if you'd like it.]

I've been to conferences around the country, I'm on all kinds of websites and blogs, keeping up with all the research, and I think you'll see much much more come out in the next few years.

There's tons of interesting info on the website. Like vaccinated vs. unvaccinated studies (autism risk a jillion times higher in vacc.). All those people who get on the news saying that there's no controversy about vaccines and autism are simply wrong. It's still controversial, there are valid points on both sides, but there's enough real science now to convince me that it's definitely at least a factor.

Hope that wasn't too preachy!! I've just seen so many sad stories - we're one of the lucky ones since Tom is so high-functioning now. But I know so many moms whose kids regressed right before their very eyes.

November 12, 2008

In five minutes or less . . .

JUNK MAIL. I hate spam. I get so much of it. I'm not just talking about advertisements from places from which I've made purchases. I'm talking about the people trying to sell me questionable drugs, or the guy who wants me to think that I've inherited a large sum from a long lost relative overseas. I can't imagine what I would get if I didn't have a spam filter. I think it's fair to make a general assumption that e-mail from anyone named "Virgil" is probably junk mail.

REGRESSION. Jack crawled around the house all afternoon a few days ago, only standing up to reach things that he couldn't from his hands and knees. Every so often, he'd just roll over on his back and lay there laughing. He's been walking for 7 months. And I suppose he just thought it would be fun to crawl. Please tell me that this is normal.

CHRISTMAS. Last week was such a down week, and playing Christmas music this week has REALLY helped to lift my spirits. It's amazing how much it helps. It doesn't hurt that Jack now tries to sing along . . . and it melts my heart every time I hear him. Also, I made my first Christmas gift purchases and I'm so excited to get them! The girls who will be receiving them are not yet old enough to read my blog, so I feel safe posting this! 1 3/4 gifts down . . . a bajillion more to go. There's a good chance that many of you who receive gifts from me will receive etsy gifts this year. So if you see something you like out there, send me the link! I'm compiling a list of my favorite sellers items to share a little bit closer to Thanksgiving for those of you looking to give awesome, handmade gifts this year.

CLEAN. Last Thursday and Friday, Kyle picked up and cleaned the entire house. This meant more to me than anyone could imagine. He knows that I function much better in a clean house than I do in a messy one and I was just not in the frame of mind to get it done! I am so grateful for how he takes care of me.

FOUR HUNDRED. I hit 400 sales on Monday. I'm thrilled! I'm seriously questioning whether or not Kyle and I will send out a Christmas card this year. Ironically enough, I have no one to take a family picture. Joy took a few when she was here, but . . . well, let's just say that I wasn't looking my best. Also, I don't know when I'll have time to design one. There are a lot of designs in my shop that I would send from us, but when you work with them every day they all start to get kind of old. You know what I mean? So I'd want something that I don't do every day . . . but every time I design something new, I like it so much that post it in my shop. It's a vicious cycle.

That's all my time . . . don't forget to tip your waitress.

November 11, 2008

Worth watching . . .

You may have seen the video by the students at the Ron Clark Academy called "You can vote however you want." My sister teaches in Chicago (um, let's just say she's not in the suburbs) and she follows a lot of Ron Clark's principles. So, her class learned the song too. You can read the lyrics here. You can see an interview about the song with the students at RCA here.

November 10, 2008

Worth reading . . .

The pastor of our church wrote a post today about the election. It's worth reading.

November 8, 2008

Buckle up

I spent a lot of time working on a video to show at our fellowship dinner that we had at camp tonight for our donors. Throughout this week, entire video interviews with people disappeared, my program crashed a bajillion times and I had to restrain myself from chucking it out the window. Finally, I had it done, and we played it at the dinner. And it stopped about 60 seconds from the end. Just ended. It didn't burn correctly. I burned two copies and the other one played fine, so I didn't even bother checking this one. This project gave me so much trouble over the last week and that was a disappointing end to the whole thing. It's uploading as I type, but will be available for viewing here soon.

It's been a roller coaster week. And I feel like I've been riding the roller coaster without a seatbelt. There's been so much to do and so much going on . . . and Thursday I had a huge disappointment that has left me . . . well, down. I might share about that here someday if I ever feel the urge, but for now, just know that it's left me feeling a little defeated.

Lately, it feels like all I ever do is complain and whine, and I don't mean to be a donna downer (Debbie prefers that I not use the phrase "Debbie Downer" so we changed it a few years ago). I guess it's just one of those off times.

I have a lot to be grateful for. Jack has been in a great mood the last two days. He's slept through the night the last two nights (at least we think he did - he dropped his monitor in his water table when he was playing outside this week and it didn't survive - and our room is at the opposite end of the house than his is - we slept through the night anyway). This upcoming week should prove to be fairly relaxed, compared to the last two weeks.

Oh, speaking of Jack . . . last night when I was working on the video, Kyle dropped him off for me to watching him in my office for a while so that Kyle could attend to one of our guest groups. After pulling everything down from every surface that he could possibly reach, he directed his attention to what I was doing. The opening song in the video is "Wish you Well' by Thousand Foot Crutch. You know the one, right?

Anyway, he started trying to sing along and it was precious. I just checked the video that I took of him and it's not really that great, but maybe I'll try to get another and post it.

November 5, 2008

Dear Jack, Month 17

Dear Jack,

Socks. Poopy. Diaper. Cup. Waffle. Stop. Oatmeal. Football. Baseball. Basketball. Volleyball. Hot. Ball. Uh oh. Book. Murphy. Mommy. Daddy. Grandma. Grandpa. Emma. Nose. Ear. Eye. Eyebrow. Teeth. Fish. Dog. Bath. Shhhh. Shoe. Brush. Bu-bye. Tractor. Car. Choo choo. Truck. Duck. Dance. Downstairs. Up. Stroller. More. Thank you. Please. Flower. Tree. Computer. Hat. Keys. Zipper. Phone. Yeah. Jack. Yes. No. Juice. Cookie. Jacket. Jeff. TV. Baby. Cheese. Trash. Stuck. Deer Geese. Bible. Cheerio. Plane. Yummy. Button. Swing.

Your dad and I made a list of the words that you say, and this is it. Not the words that you'll repeat, or the words that you know. As of two weeks ago, these were the words that you'll use . . . unprompted. Let's say that we forgot a couple. That makes it about 75. And you probably learned 10 - 15 or so over the last two weeks. That's 90 words.

Of course, many of the words are only discernible by your dad and I, but you're enunciation is improving every day. Talking has kind of been the theme of this month. Well, talking and WAKING UP FIVE OR SIX TIMES A NIGHT BECAUSE OF THE MOLARS WORKING THEIR WAY THROUGH YOUR GUMS. As your talking skills have improved, so has your sense of humor. We catch you walking around with one of our cell phones to your face and pretend-laughing . . . which is far funnier than real laughing. We'll hear you say "grandma" and "tractor" and "bu-bye" and "Murphy" as you have your imaginary conversations. I can't wait until we can have real conversations.

You'll hear me say time and time again that when we leave a place we want to leave it better than it was when we found it. Which means that we might pick up trash we see rolling around in a parking lot or wipe off a wet counter in a public bathroom before we leave. In fact, when I see a piece of trash somewhere or a small mess that can easily be cleaned up, there's a little voice in my head that always says, "Are you just going to pretend you didn't see that?"

As I'm writing your letter, I'm watching coverage the national election for our next president. I voted today and I'm going to be honest with you Jack . . . I left the township offices feeling a little helpless. The fact of the matter is that no matter who wins, we'll have a president with flawed policies and gaping holes in their plans for achieving the ideals set forth by their parties.

But I voted anyway. Partly because everyone told me to. Voting has kind of become a fad. You know . . . the cool thing to do. But it's also a right and a privilege as a citizen of this country. We're afforded many opportunities by the country in which we live. Apathy and indifference toward voting is disrespectful and lacks appreciation for what we've been given. When I'm tempted to feel like my vote doesn't count, there's a little voice inside me head that says, "Are you just going to pretend you don't have an opinion? What if a million people decide not to vote because they don't think their vote will count for much?" We need to do what we can leave this country a better place than when we got here . . . even if it's just in a small way.

Tonight, when I put you to bed, we prayed. You folded your hands and shoved your forearms up over your eyes. I started praying and at the end I said, "We love you, Jesus." And you repeated after me. You said Jesus so clearly and it was a such a blessing to hear you pray out loud with me. I don't know the right words for you at this age to explain who Jesus is, or how much God loves you, but I try. And somehow, I know that you understand it in a way that only a child can. Sometimes, I think you understand better than I do.

I love you so much.


I'm in the wrong state.

It's November. And it's 70 DEGREES OUTSIDE.

And all I can think is, "If I lived down south, this would be normal."

November 4, 2008

The sincerest form of flattery?


I just had an entire post written with links to a new seller's cards that are IDENTICAL to mine. She didn't even bother changing the names. On one of them she changed the fonts . . . but that's about it. Plus, even the descriptions are word for word mine on all of her listings. I deleted the links to her shop from this post because I'm not sure linking to her shop is the right thing to do. In fact, I know that it's not the right thing to do.

Hopefully, she'll do the right thing and remove the listings. Here's the abridged version of what I sent:
Dear (insert seller's name here),

Another seller brought to my attention that you've copied three of my designs and I need to ask you to take them down immediately. It is unlawful to reproduce the designs or artwork of another without expressed written consent.

It is not only illegal, but is also immoral to copy someone else's work.

Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter!


I feel violated.

On doing my civic duty

"Don't forget to vote." Seriously?! I've been reminded every day for the last two years that I needed to vote on November 4, 2008. And now today, there are people and signs everywhere reminding me. How forgetful do you have to be to have forgotten to vote today? Um, no offense to you if you forgot . . .

I voted this morning. Walked right in and voted. No line. No wait. It's the beauty of living in a township with only a few thousand registered voters. As I was watching lines more than two hours long in some parts of the country, I was thinking that if I lived there, I might find someone voting for the candidate opposing the one I was voting for and asking her if she would want to leave with me. You know . . . our votes would cancel each other out anyway, and we wouldn't have to wait in line. Hmmm? Makes sense, right? No?

I showed up at the wrong precinct. Again. Four years ago, we were living in our apartment and I went to the address on my voter registration card, waited in line for close to an hour and then was told that the card was misprinted and I was supposed to vote at a different precinct. Today, I went to the right building and got into the line for precinct 2 . . . which is the precinct that my card said I was in. Turns out that this card was wrong too. Someone needs to be double checking the cards the the voter registration people send out.

As I've read blogs of people who won't share who they're voting for, I usually assume who their candidate is based on their choice of words. You know, whether they say things like "I think the guy I voted for will make a great president" OR "I think the guy I voted for could make a great president." Obama supporters talk as if he's already been elected. McCain supporters are more tentative. But it's just a theory.

I think the voting lines would move much faster if the people working would, um, move faster. The ladies looking up my name in their big binders today (both times, actually) took a really long time. Don't get me wrong . . . I wasn't in any hurry. My morning was pretty open. But it seems that there are a lot of people in the news talking about how long voters are having to wait, so I just thought I'd put that out there as a suggestion. You know, for all of the election officials who frequent my blog.

November 1, 2008

What I don't like about Halloween . . .

I've read several posts over the last few weeks dealing with the "issue" of Halloween. There are those that equate trick or treating with devil worship. And there are those who see it as a holiday to be celebrated on the same level as Christmas. I agree with those of you who like to stay away from the scary/crude things that are often a part of this day. I also think that it's a fun thing for kids to look forward to and there are so many things for families to do together on this day and leading up to it.

However, I am not without Halloween pet peeves.

First, I cannot believe some of the costumes that teenage (and pre-teen) girls wear. I'm reminded of the scene in Mean Girls where they explain that Halloween is the opportunity for girls to wear lingerie and some sort of animal ears and be able to call it a costume. It's ridiculous. I guess Walmart lets their cashiers wear costumes and the cashier that helped me was dressed so inappropriately. It took everything in me not to make a rude remark about what she was supposed to be dressed up as. Ugh. And the fact that it was so nice out (70 DEGREES! YAY!) last night made it worse because no one had an issue showing skin.

Second, it's so irritating when you see two 19 year old guys running from door to door collecting candy. Seriously? There should be an age limit on these things. We were at Trunk or Treat so we didn't hand out any candy this year, but on my way home I saw several "kids" that were way too old to be trick or treating. Maybe the rule should be that if you're old enough to drive, you're way past the point of being young enough to trick or treat. The real issue here is that if you were to deny these older kids candy, they're old enough to drive back later and toilet paper or egg your house.
Ok, now that I have that out of the way . . . Jack and I had fun at his first trick or treat experience! Kyle went to his brother's football game, but Katie was there at Trunk or Treat with us. Jack seemed a little overwhelmed by all of the people at first, but he warmed up and was soon saying "tr-treat" to everyone . . . even people without candy. When people saw him coming, they often searched through their candy to find something that he would be able to eat . . . like tootsie rolls, or suckers. Which really sucks because there is no way on earth he'll be eating any of that candy. I will. So I wanted to object every time they handed him Smarties or Dum Dum suckers in lieu of Baby Ruth bars or Laffy Taffy. Oh well.

Here are a couple more pictures, but you can see the rest here.

The closest we'll get

If you can't take your child to the orchard, bring the orchard to your child.

My friend Joy's parents own an orchard in Piegon, Michigan. It's close to Bad Axe, Michigan. That really doesn't mean anything, but I think it's a fantastic name for a town.

Anyway, when she comes to visit in late summer/fall/early winter, she always brings treats. Which results in me eating way too many donuts. She brought apples, caramel, jelly (they were out of the apple butter which was crushing news), licorice, and other goodies.

We've had lots of apples sliced like french fries (I like dipping them in caramel better that way) and apple cobbler this week. It was the first time I had ever attempted apple cobbler and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Except the recipe called for cutting butter into flour. I HATE cutting butter into things. I thought having a tool for it would help, but it doesn't. I still hate it.

Last year at this time, Jack had an allergic reaction to raw apples, but they don't seem to bother him now. The apples are in a bag at the bottom of our pantry and one day this week, Jack just strolled into our living room eating one like he was a teenage boy who had just found himself a snack.

October 31, 2008

Seeing stripes

After the long day I had yesterday, the night that followed was even longer. Kyle and I went to bed around 11 and Jack woke up around 11:30. He was crying and we didn't know why . . . so we assumed it was teething. He slept a total of 3 hours or so from that point on.

Today was better, and after a long morning of grocery shopping (in which I purchased $140 worth of groceries for $68) Jack fell asleep on the way home. Unfortunately, he woke up as I was transferring him to his crib. Which meant no nap. Then, he developed a bit of a fever this evening. Fortunately, he fell asleep with zero protest tonight.

We did go to trunk or treat at the township office anyway. I'm totally wiped out, so I'm headed to bed, but here's just a little bit of the cutest little zebra you ever did see . . .

October 30, 2008

It's difficult to put into words

I've had friends tell me that the "twos" aren't as terrible as everyone makes them out to be. They tell me that the "threes are what I really have to fear. Well, I'm just going to go ahead and say that the "1.5s" aren't really a piece of cake, either.

Jack wasn't really in a bad mood today. Just ornery. Really, really ornery. He was into everything! I just chased him around picking up after him and saying, "no, no, no." He didn't want to be held, but he didn't want to be put down. He didn't want me to play with him, but he didn't want me to leave him to play by himself. Everything he said was screechy and shrill and made me want to find ear plugs.

But like I said, he wasn't in a bad mood. He walked around with his toy phone to his ear doing his courtesy laugh and cracking me up. I asked him what he wanted for lunch and he said, "moatmo." Which translated means, "oatmeal." I told him that we ran out of oatmeal at breakfast, but I would make him a grilled cheese. As he nibbled on his carrots and bananas I gave him while he was waiting he kept shrieking, "Moatmo!" But then he saw me take the sandwich out of the pan and he started chanting, "Muuummmyyyy. Muuuummmmyyy." Which is how he says, "yummy." Talk about mood swings. I definitely need to get video of him saying yummy. You have to see it for yourself to really understand how funny his enunciation is. Anyway, he was just really restless and hard to manage today.

As I type, I realize that I'm not really sure how to put the frustration and exhaustion of today into words adequate enough to describe how it left me feeling. I'm pretty sure that I could write dozens of paragraphs without really conveying my thoughts. The whole day was just full of ups and downs. There were moments when I was literally laughing and crying at the same time.

I need to get some sleep. Here's to a laid back, more productive day tomorrow! Right? No? Maybe?

October 28, 2008

So you'll know where to find me . . .

We're having the world's largest garage sale at camp this week. Ok, it's probably not the world's largest, but it's pretty big. I spent yesterday pricing my stuff and putting it out. And now I have a runny nose from all of the dust! Stupid allergies.

The sale starts today and runs through Thursday. Yes, it's weird to have a garage sale during the week, but it was the only time the field house was going to be available. And, it's going to be open until 7 PM each evening so people can come when they get off of work. Smart, right?

Jack's Halloween costume came in the mail yesterday. I found it on ebay. It wasn't the one that I wanted, but I refuse to pay more than $10 for something he'll only wear once. Maybe they'll be cheaper next year. You might remember how cute he was in last year's costume. This year will not disappoint.

I have a few things on my plate for this week. I have more going on at camp that I can even list here. I'm going to add a few more Christmas designs to the shop. I also hope to finish up the mommy cards and personalized stationary that I've been working on to add to the shop in December (or maybe January . . . we'll see). I know, I know . . . mommy cards? But people are asking for them. I'm also taking pictures of the Hammonds on Thurdsay . . . yay!

Oh, and did I mention that I had a photo session with a new family over the weekend? It went really and I think the photos turned out well! The client opted to not have their photos posted online, so you'll just have to take my word for it!

I hear Jack stirring. Time to get this day started.

October 27, 2008

Point and shoot

Today, I start my second year of my photo-a-day blog. I remember starting it last year at this time and wondering how long it would be before I quit. And there were two "breaks" during the year, but otherwise I was pretty good.

I think I've come a long way . . . and still have a long way to go.

If I close my eyes, it won't really exist.

When Kyle got up early this morning to let Murphy out, he claims that it was snowing.

I'd prefer to believe that my husband is a liar than to believe it was snowing last night.

Just kidding. Kind of.

October 26, 2008

A busy day

Yesterday was a busy, but fun, day!

Joy came down Friday night and we spent Saturday morning getting ready for the baby shower we threw yesterday afternoon for Jen. We appliqued onesies, feasted on cupcakes (made by Maria) and Jen opened her gifts. It was a lot of fun! I wish I would have taken a group photo.

After that, the girls from the floor at SAU that we're floor parents for came out and we hosted a hayride and hot dog roast. Unfortunately, I did not once pull my camera out.

Tonight, I have a photo shoot with a family (if the rain holds off), and I'm super excited about that.

I had a fun weekend, but I'll be ready to settle into our routine again tomorrow!

October 24, 2008

Yet another . . .

There's another less ordinary designs give away here. Yay! The winner will be drawn on Monday.

Crystal is hosting this give away which is kind of cool, because she was my first etsy customer EVER. I just wrote to her the other day and was telling her that I had my cards up for about a week and NO ONE had purchased a single one. I was telling Kyle about how dumb it was for me to spend so much time on those and how crazy it was to think that someone might pay money for the designs. Lo and behold . . . Crystal send me a message and I had my first sale! I might have quit if it weren't for her.

A few days later, more people followed and 335 sales later, here I am! Did you know that in May, I set a goal of 200 sales by Christmas? Maybe I need a new goal . . .

Anyway, I don't take any of this for granted and I'm grateful for every customer who comes my way, and also for the repeat customers who send people my way. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

OH! And be sure you visit Little Bit Funky (Crystal's etsy shop) for all kinds of homemade goodness! I try to re-invest a portion of what I make on etsy back into other etsy sellers (a.k.a. a great excuse to shop) and hers is one of my favorites!

Allow me to introduce . . .

My friend Debbie has been reading my blog faithfully for the last year or so. Probably even longer. I know this because when we get together, I'll start telling stories and she'll finish them. Or she'll ask me about things that I wrote. I love this about Debbie.

5 years ago this month, when Debbie was 16 (I think right before her 17th birthday . . . correct me if I'm wrong), her mom passed away after struggling with breast cancer. While losing a parent is hard for anyone, a precarious family situation made this even more difficult for Debbie. Fortunately, she has an aunt and uncle who stepped in as parents during her senior year and she called their home her home during college.

Shortly after her mom died, she started dating Brian, Kyle's cousin. That's how I first got to know her. I could have started out this post by saying "Kyle's cousin, Debbie" but that doesn't feel right. Because even though we're family now (she and Brian were married in June), she's a dear friend.

All that to say, she started a blog called "Dear Mom: Life without you". The title of her first post was "I'm not crazy, I just miss you." I loved her first two posts and thought I'd pass the link along. I really like the idea of her writing about her life as if she's talking to her mom.

I write this because I know that several of you who read my blog have lost parents or close loved ones over the last year and you can relate. Even if you haven't, Debbie is an excellent writer and I know that you'll enjoy her blog.

So, take a look. Add her to your blog reader. Enjoy!

October 23, 2008

Fa la la la laaaa . . .

First, thanks to everyone who let me know comments weren't working yesterday. I have no idea what the issue was . . . but it seems to be resolved. Right? I hope so.

Second . . . I know, I know. I have a Christmas banner up. In October. I've explained to you all before thatI start Christmas a little earlier than many people do.

I think it's a bit of a coping mechanism for helping me deal with the cold weather. I can handle the cold if I concentrate on Christmas coming soon. Also, Christmas music is too good to only last for three or four weeks. And, I've started to fill Christmas card orders, so I'm full of all sorts of Christmas cheer.

I've struggled constantly for the last year to find a 3-column look that I like. So, instead of working on things that I should be working on tonight, I figured it out. I think I'll be keeping this for a while. I think.

In conclusion, yes, I have a Christmas banner up. And I hope you can enjoy it instead of scorning me for bringing Christmas stuff out too soon. Oh, and if you like the banner, check out my shop for the card design that inspired it!