August 31, 2010

The New Ride

August, 2010

Here's our new ride. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I L-O-V-E it. After lots of research and shopping, we chose the Grand Caravan. We originally set out to look for a Town and Country until I realized they were the same car, with only cosmetic differences. I asked one dealer, "Why do people pay more for a Town and Country if the Caravan is the exact same car?" And he responded with a shrug and said, "Marketing?"

We had several requirements that were must-haves . . . the problem was that one of those requirements didn't allow for stow 'n go seating in the second row . . . only swivel 'n go. At least we think that's the case, because finding a vehicle with a towing prep package and converter without it was impossible. It looks nice in the picture, but I would have rather had the stow 'n go. Luckily, we still have stow 'n go in the back seats and we can always pop the two middle row seats out completely if we need to.

There was one mildly embarrassing moment in the trip. I took Jack to the bathroom as soon as we got to the dealership . . . it was a 2 1/2 hour drive, so he had to GO. And due to a lack of, um, aim, he peed all over me. And himself.

He had a change of clothes. I did not.

Of course, Jack announced that he "peed on mommy" to everyone standing within ear shot when we walked out of the bathroom, and proceeded to inform the one other woman in the waiting room, as well. He probably didn't need to say anything because I went into the bathroom dry and came out with my pants and bottom of my shirt soaked.

I couldn't stop laughing . . . which I guess is better than being frustrated. I was consciously trying to put it out of my mind when we were signing the paperwork and looking over the financing options, but I'm sure the salesman saw my stifling giggles. I was a 12-year-old.

To say that the boys were cooperative for photos tonight would be a lie. But here are a few to commemorate our first night with the minivan.

August, 2010

August, 2010

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August 30, 2010

Minivans Happen

We purchased a minivan this morning.

Yeah, you heard me. A MINI. VAN.

I said I would NEVER buy one. In my mind, an SUV was just as convenient as a mini-van (WRONG). So, why would I ever get a minivan? I just couldn't get myself past the "soccer mom" stigma that came with it.

But when our Explorer died at the beginning of July, I could feel it coming. Like all the other signs of middle age, the minivan just creeps up and you suddenly find yourself celebrating your husband's 31st birthday in a used car lot talking to a lady named Terri about how handy Stow 'N Go is.

The transition was so much easier than it would have been had we been looking at cars in May because earlier in the summer, I had an experience that would change my view of minivans forever.

I was shopping alone with the boys and I was doing my best to load them into the car in the Target parking lot. I gave Jack instructions to stand next to the car, with his hand on it, while I got Ben buckled in. At home, I'd just open the door and let him climb in, but when you're in a parking spot, the fear is that your three-year old will put a $1500 scratch on the car next to you. So I loaded them both in, plus all of the stuff we bought, totally unaware that there was an easier way.

There was a minivan parked next to me, and during all of this, a mom with her three children walked up. The mom clicked a button twice. The doors on both sides of the car slid open, the children all climbed in, she did a quick buckle, the doors slid closed and they were off.

I swear to you, at that moment, the clouds parted, a light from heaven shone down on me and I heard the voice of God saying, "Thou shalt buy a minivan." Or something very similar to that. I'm not even making it up.

Ok, maybe I am making it up, but still, it was a critical moment for me.

I went home that and told Kyle, "WE'RE SAVING FOR A MINIVAN STARTING TODAY!" And we did. We thought we'd have two or three years to save, but when the Explorer broke down, it only made sense to look now. We've gone two months with both car seats crammed into the back of my Saturn sedan, and I'm ready to not have my knees in my face when we drive anymore.

I'm not crazy about the car payment, but as we transferred the car seats from the Saturn to the minivan today, I think I heard angels singing. No, really . . .

August 29, 2010

Dear Ben, Month 11

Dear Bennett,

Over the last 2 weeks or so, you've morphed from this easy dream-of-a-child into a bit more of a challenge. I suppose it's just that your impending toddler-hood has started to rear its ugly head, and I'm not a fan. When we do something you don't like, you shout "NA NA NA" in protest. If you don't have what you want when you want it, you shriek at a pitch that sends chills down my spine. There's a lady that sat directly behind your high chair at a restaurant on Friday that I'm worried may have lost her hearing.

10 months old

You certainly do have a mischievous side. There was a short period of time this month in which you would bite us and giggle as if it were a game. That ended quickly and I think you've moved past that. You've learned how to run, so if you know you're doing something that you shouldn't, and I catch your eye, you take off running in the opposite direction. You know exactly what you're doing. You still throw most fruits, veggies, sippy cups and anything that isn't cheese, meat or bread to the floor, though now that you only have a bottle in the morning and evening, your hunger is increasing and you've improved only slightly. It's so crazy to think that in a few weeks, we'll be putting the bottles away for good!

Backyard sports

It would be wrong for me to tell you about all of the challenges, without telling you of how much there is to love about you! You're so cuddly and loving. You plant dozens and dozens of kisses on us a day. Sometimes you'll walk over to me and just tug on my pants until I'll lean over. And when I do, you'll kiss me and toddle away.

August 2010

Your smile makes me happy, Ben. When you smile, the stress and frustration of this year melts away. When I pick you up and hug you, or just sit down to read a book with you, I feel like the most blessed mother in the world. I love hearing you say "Dack, Dack" to call your brother in the morning. I love the deep throaty chuckle that only your brother can seem to draw out of you.

August 2010

Yes, you can be challenging. But there is no amount of challenge . . . no amount of stress . . . no amount of disobedience or anything else that could make me love you less.


August 26, 2010

My favorite

Kyle turns 31 today. We spent the entire day shopping for mini-vans. Which is appropriate for a married couple in their thirties, I suppose.

I was kind of hoping we'd buy one today, because 8 years ago today, I bought my Saturn (a few months before we were married) and I always like to say that I bought him a car for his birthday. I would have loved to be able to say that I did that twice.

But we didn't buy a car today, so instead he had to settle for an arm band for his iphone to use while he runs. The irony of his gift is that it was packaged in a gift bag under a pack of jolly ranchers and a tub of swedish fish.

I should mention that he's been running consistently for a while now and I'm really proud of him for keeping up with it. I have not been as consistent as I was at the beginning of the summer. Someone asked us a while ago if we ran together in the mornings . . . to which Kyle replied, "Yep, we just leave the kids at home alone and go out for a jog." Which, in case there was any doubt, was sarcasm. It sounds like a lame excuse, but it really is hard for both of us to fit that kind of thing in . . . with our schedules, at least.

So, happy birthday to Kyle . . . I should probably do something cute like list 31 reasons that I love him, or create an acrostic using his name. But I think all I need to let you is that there's no one I'd rather shop with for mini-vans. He's truly my favorite person ever.

August 25, 2010


We had such a good time with the Owen family on Friday. We have so much fun with them, and Jack and Easton get along so well . . . so well that they were both crying after we left. You know those friends that you don't see that often, but really wish you did? Well, for us, that's Phil and Emily.

I got to take pictures of their family, and I'm still working on editing them, but I couldn't resist posting this one tonight.


Like I said . . . we have fun together.

OK, and here's one more . . . taken right before Easton told me he had run out of smiles.

Owen Family

More to come . . .

August 20, 2010

Meijer Gardens

We took the boys to Meijer Gardens on Monday in an attempt to help them forget that the counselors were gone. First thing Friday morning, Jack came into our room crying because the counselors were leaving and he didn't want them to go home. Which, of course, made me want to cry.

It was a really good summer.

Anyway, we were trying to come up with something fun and new to do on Monday in an attempt to ease them into life without 70+ people to dote on them at all times. We have a zoo membership and have been there quite a few times already, so we opted for Frederik Meijer Gardens because we had never been there before.

We really enjoyed it! There was enough to do, without being overwhelming. We didn't get to everything, so we'd like to go back. It was a little pricey, so we'll likely wait until next summer for a return visit.

I wish I had more pictures of the flowers and sculptures, but I ended up with plenty of the boys!

Frederik Meijer Gardens

August 2010

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August 2010

You can see all of our pictures here.

August 19, 2010

10 1/2 months

August 2010

Ben is 10 3/4 months old. Actually more than that.

He transitioned to walking earlier this month and it's brought challenges, but has made many things easier.

He's saying more and more words every day, but the one he says most clearly is "book." So my question is this . . . how is it possible that he can he say "book" getting both the "b" and "k" sounds crystal clear, but he still won't call me "Mama." Sure, he says "mamamama" when he's crying or upset . . . but it's just a noise he's making. And he says "mum mum mum" every time we put him in his high chair so he's familiar with the sound. He says "Dada" and "Jack," too. But no Mama. I'm trying not to take it personally.

He's really started to love books. He's drawn more to the books that have peek-a-boo flaps and textures that he can feel. Even when we're busy, he really likes to just sit alone with a board book and try to open each of the pages. He's so smart.

We're starting to see a little bit of a feisty/stubborn side and he lets us know when he's not happy. He has become a VERY picky eater and will eat very little of what we put in front of him. Fruits and veggies have to be hidden in order to get him to eat. This was never a problem we had with Jack, so it's new territory with us. He would eat cheerios all day if we'd let him, though.

Here are a couple of videos of Ben throwing, golfing and waving goodbye . . . enjoy!

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.

August 15, 2010

The best worst day ever

By all accounts, Friday was a complete disaster.

We have an annual tradition of taking our staff* to Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan at some point toward the end of each summer. Friday was the day and the temperatures were insanely high. We all piled into one 15-passenger van with no air conditioning and one car with sporadic air conditioning and departed around 10. After a stop for gas, we were on the road and didn't look back. Jack came with us and was so excited to go to the beach with the counselors for one last day of summer fun with them.

Here's a run down of the day.

11:30 a.m. About 40 minutes from our destination, we noticed smoke coming from the van and we had to make an emergency stop. As we were exiting the interstate, the temperature gauge hit the danger zone and the power steering quit. Fortunately, we managed to land safely in the parking lot of a Pizza Hut.

11:45 We treated everyone to the pizza buffet while Kyle tried to figure out what we needed to do.

12:30 A mechanic tells us it will take 2 - 3 hours to repair the van. Fantastic. We stayed at the Pizza Hut talking, laughing and playing games. Our waitress, Diane, was friendly and hospitable, which resulted in a nice tip for her.

2:30 Kyle was able to get a loaner vehicle. We used it to take everyone to the nearest mall.

3;15 We had an impromptu mall scavenger hunt. I'm pretty sure the rules of the hunt broke several mall policies, but everyone had fun and no one got kicked out. The team that took Jack with them got 20 bonus points.

4:15 Finally, we were on the road again. We asked if people wanted to head home or keep going to the beach and everyone seemed determined to get to the dunes, so we did it!

5:00 The van started smoking again and we noticed that something was leaking and spraying our windshield.

5:15 So, we pulled off at the rest stop and determined that the van was NOT, in fact, going to make it to the beach. We called for people to come rescue us, but it would be hours before they could be there. We threw down beach towels and got out the frisbee at the rest stop.

5:45 It probably wasn't the greatest idea in the world, but we decided to use our one working car to start shuttling people to the Dunes. 30 minutes there, 30 minutes back. 3 trips. As I left with the first group, the "check engine" light came on in the one good car. Awesome. Turns out that it needed oil, which we managed to get on our way home, much later that night.

9:15 We're finally all at the beach together. The sun had set and as we're walking to join the rest of the group for our "picnic lunch" dinner, we saw lightning in the distance. All we could do is laugh. It was at that point that we realized the park was closing at 10. Our rides weren't going to be here until after 10. Shoot.

9:20 We took this picture to prove that we did, in fact, make it to the beach.

9:25 With dinner in my hand, I started shuttling people OUT of the park to the McDonalds near the exit at which we would be picked up.

10:15 Our rescue vehicles picked us up at McDonalds. We still had to get gas, put oil in the car and stop to get the van.

I swear to you, I'm not making any of this up.

But here's where it gets good . . . we had an AWESOME day. I don't think I'll ever forget it. We literally just enjoyed each other's company all day because there was absolutely nothing else to enjoy. With most other groups of people, it would have been miserable. We all commented on how much fun we had, we laughed when things broke down, encouraged each other when we were tired and sweaty and just had fun. Even when I put Jack to bed that night (er . . . morning), he commented on how much fun he had. I asked him what his favorite part was and he said, "going to the beach." We really did spend the whole day "going to the beach."

On Friday, I learned an important lesson about unity. This remarkable group of people taught me that true unity comes from the love of God flowing out of us into the people around us. Their joy was contagious on Friday. Loving each other is about more than just liking them when things are going well. It's more than just the meaningful tasks we do together or how interested we are in the same things. It's about serving each other and being "for" each other even when life hands us lemons.

We definitely made the proverbial lemonade on Friday.

*Kyle and I are program directors at a youth camp and supervise a staff of 15 - 20 college students each summer.

August 11, 2010

Trying to keep up . . .

The only thing new with Ben is that he's officially transitioned from crawling to walking . . . which makes some things easier and others much, much harder.

Jack on the other hand . . . if I didn't know better, I'd think Jack was turning 13 soon, based on the way he talks to us. There was a girl working in the kitchen who everyone has referred to as his "girlfriend." It's harmless, but I told him that we could just call her his friend since he was too young for a girlfriend.

He looked at me and said, "NO! You can't tell me she's not my girlfriend. Only I can decide that!" Right, and how old are you again? Seriously . . . what WILL his teenage years be like?

Here are a few pictures to remind you of how cute my children are. And, as always, you can see pictures as I post them here.

August, 2010.

August, 2010

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August, 2010

August 9, 2010


Goodbye early thirties. Hello mid-early thirties. Today at 10:08 AM I turned 32.

The social norm is for me to cringe every time I'm reminded that I'm another year older, and shudder at the thought of my mortality. But I can't.

I'm in such a good place right now. Perfect? No. Do I have everything figured out? Not quite. But life is really, really good. This year has been Hard. Capital "h" intended. But I'm on the other side and things are looking up.

I have two incredible boys and they're both in really fun stages right now. Neither of them are pushing limits or driving us crazy (at this point, at least). I get to work side by side with my husband at jobs to which we feel called with a staff that challenges us and encourages us as much as we do them. We live in a house that we love and continues to be exactly what we need. We have great extended families and a decent network of friends.

I'm blessed, simply by the fact that I have life and breath. Everything else is a huge bonus.

August 4, 2010

Dear Jack, Month 38

Dear Jackson,

After dinner one night last week, I was talking to your Dad about how we need to start being really careful what we say around you because you're beginning to repeat a good amount of what you hear. A few minutes later, I heard you playing in the living room singing a little song that went something like this:

"Beeee careful what you sayyyyy around meeeeee. I repeeaaat everything. Everythiiiiiiing!"

Thanks for proving my point so nicely.

July 2010

You don't miss much. Even when we think you're not paying attention, you'll turn around and start asking us questions about our topic of conversation. Sometimes, I'll hear you telling other people about things your Dad and I talked about, and I can't even figure out how you heard it. Nothing gets by you.

For a while, we've been able to use code words to keep you from knowing what we're talking about. But the other night, when I asked your Dad if he wanted to take you to get a "frozen dairy treat" after dinner, I saw your eyes light up immediately and say, "Yay! Ice cream!"

You're totally onto us.

July 2010

In about a month, you start preschool. I didn't think I'd be that parent, but I am . . . I'm totally. freaking. out. I'm not worried about whether or not you're ready. I actually think you were ready last year. And I'm not sure how challenging it will be academically. I mean, come on . . . it's preschool.

The whole reason we're sending you to preschool is so that you have a chance to socialize with kids your own age. At camp, you're around adults constantly. I want you to learn how to make friends.

And therein lies the source of my freak out . . . what if you feel alone? What if the other kids aren't nice to you? What if you get your feelings hurt? Because the truth is that you will feel alone sometimes. And there will be times that other kids are mean. And you will have your feelings hurt sometimes. Not just at preschool, but in life. I'm 32 years old and it still happens to me. But I can't hold you back because of these things. You have to experience these things for yourself and figure out how you're going to handle them. I'm sure I'll be much more at ease when Ben gets to this stage, because I'll have been through it before.

July 2010

But lucky you . . . you're the first. You'll be the one to pave the way. I know firsthand that it's frustrating to always be the first to go through things. Someday, you'll look at your brother and think, "Why can't you do this on your own without my help?! I had to figure it out by myself!" You're the big brother, though, with all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with that title. And I can already tell that you're going to be very good at it.

I love you, Jack.


August 1, 2010

Who, me?

I've blogged about Jerry Jacoby before . . . um, right here. He's amazing and we have him speaking at three of our camps this summer, among a couple of other fantastic speakers. If you're a part of any organization that serves children, I highly recommend him. He does character education in schools and ministers at churches and camps all over the country (and even internationally, on occasion).

Last year, Jerry gave us one of his CDs and Jack has listened to it tirelessly. And when it's Jack's turn to choose a song, I don't really even need to ask him which one he'd like, because he almost always starts with "Heroes of the Bible." In that song, there are speaking parts, that go something like this:

"Oh, Moses?" - "Yes, Lord?"

"You're going to do great things for me, Moses."

"Who me, Lord?" - "Yes you, Moses."

"But Lord, I'm only a man." - "I know you're only a man, I made you remember?"

"But Lord, I don't know how." - "That's ok, I know how, and you can trust in me."

Then it goes back to the chorus. He does this with Queen Esther, and then, lastly with a child (who, on the CD, happens to be his grandson).

Last week, right before chapel he asked Jack to help him with it, which was no problem. Jack had heard the song so many times, that he already had it memorized. I so wish I could have been there, but his babysitter, Kylie, caught it on video. I'm so grateful that she did! It's a little shaky because she was holding Ben at the same time, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Untitled from Sara on Vimeo.


Selected tweets from twitter, my mini-blog, May - June, 2010

June 28, 2010

"Heaven calls out all of the petty, immature, insignificant ways that we make life about us."

June 27, 2010
A woman just walked up to me and said "You know what I mean?" Then she walked away.

Ben calculating how many drinks we still need . . .

June 26, 2010
Height perception fail.

June 25, 2010
Having fun in Chicago, but missing my boys.

Brian and Debbie just took Jack for his first time fishing!

June 24, 2010
God's interests extend way beyond the categories I'm used to.

June 23, 2010
Jack almost wiped his nose with his hand, but then he paused and asked for a tissue. Parenting win.

June 22, 2010
Earlier, Jack asked me if he could teach me Ephesians two-tens. I said yes.

June 21, 2010
Excited for lunchtime!

June 20, 2010
"For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary."

"Do your children know that their spiritual development is the most important thing to you?"

Ben's first steps? Check.
June 18, 2010
Not a fun thing to see when at a Tiger's game . . .
What I'm looking at . . .

I wish I had the super power of always knowing where my keys are. Or even better . . . to be able to unlock doors using only my mind.

June 17, 2010
Ben's been standing unsupported a lot this week . . . which is I think why I dreamed that he woke up and just started walking around today.
June 16, 2010
Peek a boo.

June 15, 2010
Listening to Jack throw a temper tantrum in his room. My life is so glamorous.
Sesame street has nothing on Wheel of Fortune when it comes to teaching kids their letters.

June 12, 2010
The perfect Saturday.

June 10, 2010
Choose your battles.

June 9, 2010

Best part of the day: Jack asking where Debbie and Swarley went. Sorry, Brian . . . but I think it's gonna stick.

June 6, 2010
With a face like that, it's hard to be mad at him for unauthorized pb access . . .

June 5, 2010
I just showed Jack how to download shows using the itunes gift card he got for his birthday . . . things have changed since I was three.

June 4, 2010
Choose your battles.

June 3, 2010
Jack would FLIP OUT if he saw this and Bennett would throw a fit if I took it away. I can't win.
June 2, 2010
Happy birthday to Jack!

June 1, 2010
Jack: Hey! My right foot and my right leg are on the same side! Me: what are the odds?!

May 26, 2010
Ben does this fun new thing where he likes to jam his fingers up my nose if I'm not guarding myself. Awesome.

May 24, 2010 A door-to-door salesman just came by to "give us a free gift." Then asked for it back when we said we weren't interested.

Jack said, "Hey mommy! I pooped in my pants instead of the potty! Yay, Me!" Um, was he trying to use reverse psychology on me?!

May 22, 2010 Gloria Estefan was right. . . eventually, the rhythm is going to get you. May 17, 2010 Having a pajama party! Who doesn't like eating dinner in their pj's? May 16, 2010
I told Jack it was nap time and he said, "Sorry but I can't sleep in my bed because I'm planning to sell it."A happy marriage is the union between two good forgivers. - Robert QuillenMay 14, 2010 Note the technique Brian uses for decorating the sides of the cake. Classic. May 9, 2010 Happy mother's day to me!

May 8, 2010
Jack said, "Hey mom, I'm gonna draw you a mother's day card. What do you want it to say?"