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 . . .