April 29, 2008

I heart free stuff.

Do you need a tripod? Or, even if you don't need a tripod, would you take a new one for free if it were offered? If you've never used google check-out, you can "buy" this one for FREE!

It's originally $49.99 but is on sale for $10. If you use google checkout (not buy.com checkout . . . make sure you click the google checkout icon), you get a $10 credit toward your purchase. Then, when you go to the final checkout page, change your shipping method from the default "3 - 5 days" to "7 - 9 days." This will erase the shipping charges.

*I first read about this deal here and here.*

April 26, 2008


It is finished. My thesis, that is. All I have to do is pull together a portfolio and the requirements for my master's degree will be complete.

A year ago, I considered quitting. There were a lot of factors contributing to that almost-decision (a few of which had to do with the overwhelming amount of pregnancy hormones raging through my body), but I'm glad I stuck with it. I had a few people tell me that if I waited to finish it after I had Jack, that I probably wouldn't. And to be quite honest, I wondered if they would be right. But they weren't, and I'm proud of myself for getting the job done.

With staff training approaching, I've been gathering supplies that I need that I've lent out throughout the year. I stopped by Maria's house to pick up some of my videos that I let her use. She also gave me a nice little container of cupcakes to celebrate the completion of my paper with this little note attached:

Seriously, what will I do with my time? Well, I have a lot of catch-up at camp. I've been taking care of all of the "urgent" things for the last month or two and have regrettably neglected many of the "important" things. I'm also hoping to get my house back in order at some point. Maybe I'll even be able to catch one of Kyle's team's baseball games this week! Somehow, I don't think having my thesis done will allow me to feel like I have more time until we hit the fall . . . but I still feel as if a huge burden has been lifted.

My favorite part of Maria's cupcakes was the cream filling in the center! Who doesn't love cream filling? She mentioned that she was trying a new recipe . . . which I took to mean that I'm getting a full serving of veggies when I eat one. It was probably the best cupcake I've ever had, so I don't care if there were pureed anchovies in it!

We've had a week full of highs and lows around here . . . but more about that later.

April 25, 2008

Give that back!

Kyle and Jack did this over and over and over for almost an hour last Sunday. And it never got old.

April 24, 2008

Green is the new black

I've mentioned before that I've repainted almost every room in our house more than once (in fact, the bedroom has been painted four times). It's not so much that my tastes change (we've only been in our house from three years) or that I like to paint (because I hate it). I'm just indecisive.

Besides, how are you supposed to know how an entire room is going to look in a particular color from a 2" x 2" chip of the color. I've even purchased sample paint kits to paint a swatch up on the wall . . . it's just hard to tell until the job is done and the paint is dry. And by that time, it's too late. Unless you're me. Then it's never too late . . . you just start over.

Anyway, my experience in choosing multiple paint colors gave me a deep appreciation for this page. I'm still not really that happy with the color of our bedroom so I think it's how I'll choose a new one.

And I'm not even kidding.

P.S. Check to see how paint-color-savvy you are here.

Just a small taste of my quirkiness

I like Chex Mix. Although I had a slight aversion to it for a while after reading Erin's story. It still makes me gag a little.

Anyway, I like Chex Mix. To be more specific, I like the "Cheddar lovers" and the "Peanut lovers" Chex Mix. I do not like the pretzels in it, though. I like pretzels normally. I just don't like them in my Chex Mix . . . or any other snack mix for that matter.

Kyle has caught me picking through the bag to weed out the pretzels. One time, he watched me stash all the pretzels in a little dish and then dump them back in the bag when I was done eating. Right after Jack was born, he opened a bag and all there was in it were the pretzels and the cheese crackers.

Don't even get me started on the ridiculous cheese crackers . . .

April 23, 2008

Guard duck

I went to check my messages in the Welcome Center last week and when I got close to the door, a duck flew at me. I screamed and ran. I'm glad no one was there to witness it.

Here's the door. Can you see the duck?

A duck laid eggs in the flower box to the left and lays there guarding it all day. Because that's what mama ducks do. She's become used to people going in and out, but if the door's locked and I fumble with my keys too long, she starts hissing. I'd be lying if I told you that my heart didn't start racing every time I approach the Welcome Center. My first encounter with her was a bit startling.

I hope I get to see them hatch!

April 22, 2008

Playing outside

Jack and I played outside for a little while yesterday. Here's just a sample of our time together . . .

Also, while Phil claims that I sound like Cameron Diaz when I talk, I think this video will prove otherwise.

April 21, 2008

It seems like she was just in the 8th grade . . .

I met Arwen when she was 13 or 14 and now she's engaged. How is that possible?
You can see all of the pictures here.

P.S. I guess I should have mentioned this, but I figured you'd assume . . . yes, I did take these.

April 20, 2008

As heard in a phone conversation a few hours after Friday's earthquake

Heather: Hello?

Me: Did you feel it?

Heather: NO!

Me: Shoot, I was hoping you'd tell me that you were buried under a pile of rubble.

Heather: Yeah, right . . . I can't feel my legs, but it was AWESOME.

April 19, 2008

Staying afloat

I feel like my life right now is all about trying to keep my head above water, figuratively speaking. I can't even tell you everything that I have to get done at camp right now, because assembling a list that size is more than my brain can handle.

I'm going through my annual nesting phase. I realized last year as I was going through my "nesting phase" before Jack arrived that I actually go through it every year. I'm preparing for summer to hit and for our staff to arrive by doing all of the things that typically get neglected during the summer. My house is actually in pretty good shape right now, but I feel like it's never clean enough or picked up enough to satisfy me!

The thing that is compounding my overwhelmedness (it's a word, because I say it's a word) is that I'm constantly chasing after a kid who is getting faster and faster every day. You would think that his little legs would get tired before mine, but it's not true. I can't believe that he's only been walking for a week or two because you'd think that he's been doing it his whole life. It's exhausting.

I was taking pictures of Jack at the park yesterday (to practice for some engagement pictures I took today) and I was sitting him on one of the cement benches, my camera swung forward and the lens CRACKED IN HALF. Yes, the lens that I just bought in December. This kind of thing happens to me A LOT. I've been a little stressed about money . . . it seems that the bills just keep getting bigger and bigger. Well, it doesn't just seem that way. It is that way. I'm praying through my anxiety.

Lastly, I did not feel yesterday's earthquake but several people claim that they did. Jack woke up at 5:30 (which was about an hour earlier than usual) and we wonder now if that's what woke him. It couldn't have been felt too strongly around here, because Murphy didn't wake up and EVERYTHING wakes her up.

My thesis is due on FRIDAY and I have several projects that have to be finished at the beginning of this week. Kyle's parents took Jack to Kyle's team's baseball tournament today, so that I could get some things done. Unfortunately, I spent way too long at the cell phone kiosk trying to get my new phone insured . . . that's another story for another day.

Do you think I could get a carseat on a moped?

While pumping gas yesterday, I was looking for a sharp object with which I could gouge my eyes out so that I wouldn't have to watch the price that I was paying for transportation. Fortunately, my search was interrupted by a friendly employee who was walking from pump to pump filling patrons in on all of the Sam's Club weekend specials. I decided that this was a more practical way of distracting myself from my inevitable fuel-induced bankruptcy, so I listened.

One thing from her sales pitch that I wanted to pass along is that Sam's Club is allowing ANYONE to shop in their store this weekend with no additional fees. If you need to stock up on a year's supply of, well . . . anything, head on over (at least at the one in Jackson . . . you'll have to check to see if they're doing this in your area).

By the way, with two cars I spent $150 on gas yesterday. Who needs groceries, anyway?

April 17, 2008

Discover your strengths

During my senior year at Greenville, the "powers that be" introduced a relatively new program that they wanted to start using the following year on campus. I was able to take the StrengthsFinder inventory before I graduated and the information has been insightful. Unfortunately, I wasn't around to see how strengths-based education panned out, but I know they're still using it so something must be working.

Why am I bringing this up now? Marcus Buckingham (one of the founders and authors of this initiative) will be on Oprah tomorrow. The theme is "I Hate My Job Interventions." I can't guarantee that the information will be valuable, but I think it probably will be. Set your tivo just in case!

What are my signature StrengthsFinder themes? Thanks so much for asking:

Winning Others Over (WOO)
People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others' lives or others' situations.

People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.

People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

April 15, 2008

We laugh because it's funny, we laugh because it's true . . .

Phil wrote about this genius blog yesterday and it was too good not to share.

If you've ever been a part of any sort of Christian community for more than two weeks, this will make you both laugh and wince in pain at the total and complete accuracy of it all.

April 13, 2008

Porcupine head

Something that people do tell you about being pregnant is that you don't lose as much hair as you do when you're not pregnant. Your hair stays in a "resting phase" (or something like that) while you're pregnant and you just don't lose the normal amount of hair that one usually loses each day.

The other thing that people do tell you is that when your baby is 3 - 4 months old, you begin losing that hair. But really, it's just the hair that you didn't lose while you were pregnant, so you're no worse off than you would have been. You just have to deal with globs of hair coming out every time you comb it with your fingers or brush it. And don't even get me started on the shower drain.

But here's something that no one ever told me . . . all of the hair that you lose all at once starts to grow back all at once. I guess they shouldn't need to tell me that. I supposed I should have just assumed. What this results in is a little something I like to call "Porcupine Head." I've had little spiky hairs sticking up all along the part in my hair and all along my bangs for a few months now. It's annoying and unattractive. There is no hair product out there that can tame these little guys. I have a constant look of "frizziness" because of all of these little stray hairs and it's driving me nuts.

These little hairs are about 1 1/2 inches long and I've got a little while before they'll be tamable. Until then, I guess I'll just have to live with A LOT MORE bad hair days.

April 12, 2008

As heard after "severely" injuring my digitus minimus (a.k.a. my pinky finger) . . .

Me: Do you think it's bad?

Kyle: No.

Me: Does it look bad?

Kyle: No.

Me: What if I lose feeling in it?

Kyle: Then it won't hurt anymore.

Me: What if I wake up in the morning and my pinky finger is just dangling from my hand?

Kyle: Then I'll take you to the emergency room.

Me: But you have your coaching clinic tomorrow morning.

Kyle: Oh, yeah . . . then I'll take you tomorrow afternoon.

April 11, 2008

Is spring here to stay?

I think the forecast for snow this weekend was replaced with a forecast for severe thunderstorms. We're under a tornado watch right now. We went on a walk tonight (which was probably a bad idea since I was coughing and hacking the whole time). It was super windy and I'm praying that we don't lose power.

When we got back to the house, we let Jack explore a little and he toddled up and down our front walkway over and over and over. I could just see the look of wonder in his eyes as he looked at everything that there is to put in his mouth discover.

I didn't have the video camera, but I could have posted all of the pictures so you could have made yourself a little flipbook of him walking back and forth . . . but I'll spare you.

Our little zombie

Kyle and I realized today that Jack has officially crossed over from mostly crawling and a little walking to more walking than crawling. Seriously, this transition has happened over the course of 48 hours or so. He's still much faster at crawling, but I think he enjoys the challenge of walking. Plus, his zombie impression is spot on.

Plus, he's realized that he's taller than Murphy when he's standing up. Murphy, on the other hand, is not so fond of this development.

One of the funniest parts of this newest stage is when he's walking and loses his balance, but doesn't fall all the way down. He'll land on his knees and will shuffle the rest of the way upright on his knees. It's hilarious. I don't have any video of it, but here's a sampling of his new found walking skills.

April 10, 2008

Please pass the Excedrin

I'm sick. The kind of sick where I have a really bad headache and I have to walk around with tissue hanging out of my nostrils to keep stuff from dripping down the front of my shirt (gross, but true). I'm achy and I'm so tired, but I can't get comfortable or sleep. To top it all off, I fell down the basement stairs tonight and my bum hurts.

The other reason that I'm sick is that stupid American Idol had the elimination round tonight. My stupid tivo recorded that instead of he new episode of The Office. Now I have to watch it on a stupid computer monitor instead of the tv.

Why, oh why, does all the really bad stuff happen to me?

Yeah . . . this is how I get when I'm sick. Just be thankful you're not Kyle.

April 9, 2008

This kid is full of tricks

This is one of my favorites.

He's right. He is pretty big.

I could have told you this

The University of Michigan could have saved themselves some research money on this study and just asked me. I've been saying it for five years now.

It says that husbands create 7 extra hours of work for their wives each week. I'm not even sure how this happens, but it does. I know that Kyle doesn't try to create extra work, but I see it happen week after week. We've had numerous conversations about how little it took for me to keep things clean before we were married but neither of us can really figure out what's changed, other than the fact that we both live here. And two sets of hands should actually make cleaning easier, right? We both do quite a bit around the house, but it really seems like I've never been able to keep up with household duties, even before Jack. If I had to guess what the biggest factor is, I'd say laundry. Between going to camp, then going to practice, then coming home, he goes through several sets of clothes a day. Some of these clothes can be re-worn, but many of them cannot.

I thought of all of this tonight when I read this post. Laundry has become a continuous process rather than a task to complete in a set period of time. It seems like as soon as we get ALL of the laundry done, there are baskets upon baskets waiting for us.

Anyway, now with Jack in the picture, I've lost all hope of my house ever being really clean again.

April 8, 2008

The spread of spring

It's been close to 70 degrees the past two days. Oh and, by the way, it's supposed to snow this weekend.

Mother Nature is a bit of a tease.

April 7, 2008

All this for a team that is 0-6

Jack and I were out all day Saturday. "All day" is defined as 9:30 AM until 5 PM. He didn't fuss once. In fact, he's even got a bit of a cold and he was still happy the entire day. I am the luckiest mom in the world.

We went to Lansing in order to find ONE THING. I knew I'd be buying Jack some summer clothes too, but there was ONE THING I was specifically looking for: A Detroit Tigers shirt in his size. Not just any shirt . . . I have some qualifications for this shirt. First, in must be a t-shirt, not a onesie. Second, it must be 18 - 24 months (I'd even take a 2T if I had to). Third, I want it to be simple . . . blue with the white English "D" on the front or maybe just the "Tigers" moniker on it. The only one I've seen that I really like is one that says, "My first tigers t-shirt" but he had one like that last year . . . and I feel like it would be dishonest to get him another.

I looked all over Jackson on Friday, but I couldn't find anything. Now, if you would like to don your child in NASCAR apparel, that's another story. You can find tons of infant NASCAR apparel. This fact alone should give you a sort of mental picture of where I live.

We did find a Tigers' hat and decided to go with that. He won't keep it on, but he looks great holding it!

Now, I'm not usually a fan of props in my photos. But I couldn't get him to stand/sit still for more than .05 seconds without giving him something to play with/sit on. The bat that he's holding in some of the photos I took was a gift that Kyle got when he was the best man in a wedding almost 5 years ago.

You can see more pictures of Jack's 10th month here.

April 6, 2008

Dear Jack, Month 10

Dear Jack,

I am stunned at your capacity for showing love and compassion at only 10 months old. I didn’t realize until now that children your age were capable of demonstrating these qualities. I'm not sure why that's such a surprise to me . . . you've been created in God's image and you are able to reflect His qualities just like the rest of us. Your mild temperament and sweet disposition are such a blessing to me. I hold my breath every morning hoping that this day will not be the day that the tables turn and you become a little stinker! But morning after morning, you greet me with hugs and kisses and I'm reminded of how lucky I am. Don't get me wrong . . . you're not perfect. You have lots cranky days, too. It's just that the good days are so good that I don't really remember the bad days for very long.

The changes that we have seen in you this month have been staggering. Of course, walking has been the most poignant. You’ve taken 3 or 4 steps here or there, but on Friday you walked back and forth ACROSS THE ROOM several times in a row. It’s so funny that you know to be proud of yourself when you accomplish something like that. You applaud wildly when you walk and reach your destination without falling. You always give us this look that says, “THAT WAS AWESOME!” And you’re right. It is awesome.

The whole time, your dad was cheering you on and I was sitting quietly watching while I was trying to hold my tears back. My emotions caught me a little off guard, but I was so proud. I am so proud.

You’ve starting to play games and interact with us on a new level this month. You love playing peek-a-boo. You love trying to sneak up and tickle me. You love, LOVE, love wrestling with your dad and laugh out loud when he scares you. You love making other people laugh at you. You love clapping your hands and prefer that we do it along with you. If we do not, you make fake laughing noises until we join in on the fun. You wave at people by opening and closing your fist, but your hand is usually positioned so that it looks like you're waving at yourself. I, of course, think that this is adorable.

You love throwing your hands up in the air as if you were filled with the Holy Spirit whenever someone asks, "How big is Jack?" You love chasing Murphy. You’ll look for anything with buttons that you can push . . . remote controls, phones, the back-up power source to my computer, etc. You love cheerios. You love to point at things/people and have me tell you who/what they are. You’ve tried lots of new food this month and I’m not sure there’s anything you won’t eat, however, you’re not all that fond of formula.

You have two teeth on top that are slowly making their way to the surface. You also have a molar that's working it's way out too. Because of this, when you sit in one place too long, I usually find you sitting in a large puddle of drool. Murphy apparently thinks that I am shirking my responsibility as your mother when I'm not there to immediately catch the drool as it leaks from your lips. She is continually trying to lick your face and keep it clean. You think this is hilarious. I think it's gross.

You were baptized this month. In our church, the ceremonies for baptism and dedication are essentially the same thing and we made the choice to have you baptized. I’m writing a separate letter to you about why we made this decision and I’ll let you read it when you’re older. But for now, I want you to know that we are committed to teaching you God’s commandments and helping you to find personal faith in Jesus. There is no other part of parenting that we take more seriously than this.

I love you.

A day in the park

Jack was in the office with us on Thursday and he kept staring out Kyle's window. His window overlooks the "tot lot" playground. We decided Jack was trying to communicate his desire to go out and play, so we did just that!

You can see all of the pictures we took here.

April 5, 2008


When you're pushing a stroller and you look down to see your baby standing up in the stroller staring back at you, it's time to start strapping him in. How on earth did he do that without me even noticing?!

April 4, 2008

Emma @ 6 months

My, how times flies. My niece Emma is 6 months old and it's hard to believe how fast the days have gone. Remember when she was new in the world?

I took some pictures of her on Wednesday. I really like the way they turned out with two exceptions. First, the ISO on my camera was set at 800. I have no idea why. I have never set the ISO to 800 in my life. I only checked it after the fact because I was surprised by the graininess of the photos. I wonder how long it's been that way without me noticing.

Second, I ordered some seamless paper to use as a backdrop and it was supposed to arrive on the day of the pictures. And it did, but not until late afternoon. So, I had to use a thin white backdrop that was in need of ironing.

Oh well, she's such a cute kid that there's very little that could detract from her pictures!

You can see them all here.

April 3, 2008

A note about my deals below . . .

Well, I’ve had quite the morning! I went into town to pick up a few things I needed and I was armed with my Excedrin coupons. I know that people have used them successfully at the Airport Road Meijer, but they were out of Excedrin. So on my way home, I hit the East Jackson Meijer.

When it was my turn to be rung up, the cashier looked at the coupons and said that he had to call a manager for approval and went on to announce (to me and all of the people standing behind me) that I was attempting to commit coupon fraud. Talk about humiliating. The manager came out and said that trying to get overage on a coupon is coupon fraud and he could press charges. I explained that this was brand new information to me (and I'm still not convinced that it's true) and asked if they could just give me the discount up to the amount of the sale price of the Excedrin. The manager begin inspecting my coupons. He then said that two of my coupons were “copied” (they had just been printed on my black and white printer at work) and continued to accuse me of “coupon fraud.” I showed him the watermark on the coupons and let him know that I had not, in fact, copied the coupons.

Meanwhile, Jack is sitting there crying and the people behind me are staring like they’re watching an episode of “COPS” play out in front of their eyes. I told him that I would just cancel my purchase and leave. He then said he’d give me the $.99 from each coupon toward the Excedrin (making them free with no overage). I have no idea what caused the sudden change of heart, but I suspect that he feared I might pursue this issue a little farther if I left empty handed (and he was probably right).

That said, I was so humiliated that I’ll make it a point to avoid that particular Meijer from now on.

I've e-mailed a few people who have blogs about coupon deals exclusively and write about coupons with overage all the time to see if they've had any experience with this.

Let me make myself perfectly clear: If using coupons like this is a "moral gray area" I want to have nothing to do with it. Honestly, the thought of this being something "dishonest" or "fraudulent" never crossed my mind until now. One concern concern that struck me on the way home is this: The cashier put those coupons in the drawer, without making any indication on them that only $.99 was given toward my purchase. When they send them in for reimbursement from the manufacturer, will they collect the full $2? If so, that seems like coupon fraud.

I've got a headache. Good thing I'm stocked up on Excedrin.

Why pay full price?

I've been trying to post the best of the best easy deals I get here. There are a lot of them and there are some great ones that require a lot of coupon clipping and several purchases, but I don't want to make grocery shopping stressful! I didn't get a chance to post any deals last week. I'm sorry about that because I got 6 bags of Dove caramel and almond chocolate for FREE and 6 bags of Chex mix for $2.40!

Here are A couple of deals for the week:

  • 24 ct. Excederin is on sale at Meijer for $.94. Use the $2.00 coupon found here and get $1.06 back toward the rest of your purchase.

  • Honey Bunches of Oats with chocolate clusters are regularly $2.28 at Walmart. Use this $2 coupon (you can print two fo them) to get them for $.28 each! These coupons are located several places on the Internet . . . the more you find, the more $.28 cereal you get!
I don't think anything will ever match the $2 Sharpies, but still not bad!

April 2, 2008

A little bit of this . . .

I'm sort of stuck between the stress that I feel because the upcoming summer and the total relaxation that I often fall into when I feel the warm temperatures. Therefore, my temperament tonight is mildly bipolar.

I'll bet you didn't know that two months from today, Jack will turn one year old AND we'll be in our first full day of staff training. The summer is coming so quickly and I feel way under prepared. Last year, I knew I would be delivering Jack right around staff training time, so I overcompensated and had everything ready for the summer by February! Here's what we were doing last year at this time. My added responsibilities at camp, coupled with the extra work of having a baby, have caused me to be WAY behind. Way, way, way behind. I would make you a list of everything that I'm behind in, but doing so might push my blood pressure into unsafe territory.

I was so grateful that Joy came down to visit on Monday and stayed through today. We totally took advantage of her and roped her into babysitting a little bit! She's so great with Jack! We really did have a good time. She lived with us two summers ago, so when she comes back it's not like she's a house guest. She just makes herself at home and we like having her here.

Kristen and Brett came over for lunch today. We pureed food for Emma in the morning while Kyle and Brett were helping with a baseball camp for elementary school kids. I took some 6-month photos of Emma, too.

The weather was beautiful today! It was a little chilly, but the sun was out so it seemed warmer. Several of our neighbors have been out all afternoon burning leaves. As a result, it smells like we have a campfire going in our living room. My eyes are burning!

April 1, 2008

As heard early this morning

Me: So . . . I'm pregnant.

Kyle: WHAT?!


Me: Happy April Fool's Day.