Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chinese Lanterns: Lesson learned

The night was perfect for a Hot Air Balloon festival. 

Although the fairgrounds charged $5 for parking, my grandpa's house butts right up to the parking lot. There is even a hinged gate to unlock for entrance.

Free parking- score!

Swarms of people crowded in to see various shape and size balloons take flight as the announcer told who they were and where they were from. 

The line for elephant ears was 45 minutes long. We did not partake in one, much to the disappointment of my kids.

The Chinese lantern launch was scheduled for 9:30 pm, but as the clock rolled towards ten fifteen, Tessa was getting sleepy. Hot Air Balloon baskets still had to be hauled off the center field, and we did not know how much longer that would take.

We decided to launch the lanterns in my grandpa's backyard before heading home.

We unpacked the first lantern and watched as the center combustible pad started burning.

Josh gave it a gentle push toward the sky and we all gazed in amazement as it started rising over his house. 

"That is going to get stuck Grandpa's antenna," I heard my dad say.
The lantern tipped to the side, flames bursting out the bottom, as it lodged itself into the antenna atop his house.

(antenna - you can even see on google earth how HUGE it is)

Calamity ensued as my mom went running for the hose, my dad pondered calling the fire department, and Josh hoisted me up on the roof to try to retrieve it.

Josh would like it noted that he thought lanterns were a bad idea. 

Josh was right.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Who came up with this holiday?

Whoever coined the term "Mother's Day", I want to throat punch them.

As I was talking to my friends today, the consensus was that every last one of us hated Mother's Day. And I dare bet, dear reader with multiple kids, you might too.

Before I get too far, let me just say that I have the absolute best mom in the world. Worthy of every praise and honor bestowed upon her. I am deeply grateful for her, and deeply grateful that I have been blessed with kids to call me mom on Mother's Day. 

As we started comparing stories, a few things were present for each of us.


Preparing food.

Creative presents.

Pressure for our kids to be on their best behavior.


Packing clothes.


No naps.

Did I mention running?

I propose that much of my hatred comes from a misrepresentation of the words Mother's Day. After all, I am a mother. So this day should be about celebrating me, right?

Like most moms, I would do anything for my kids. Just last night, I fell asleep in my daughter's toddler bed because she was afraid and couldn't go to sleep. It didn't matter that I woke up with a barbie doll shoe imprint in my cheek; she needing comforting and I was there.

Baseball, basketball, oh! the meals we prepare that are met immediately with "I don't like this", screaming at the grocery store because we won't back down and buy them candy, the discipline, the hours of homework.

You get it.

Mother's are givers.

We give and give and give. Then we run out, and give some more.

So this one day, I feel like it would be nice to be celebrated.

Be MY day.

In my head, this generally includes me sitting curled up on the couch, reading a book while my children wait on me hand and foot with all sorts of delicious baked goods.

I lounge in my chair as they tell me how appreciative they are for the 51 hours of labor I endured to bring them into the world.

Actually, scratch that.

All I really want is a day of no fighting. Would that be too much to ask?

I digress.

There is no scenario that consists of me spending hours running, with thoughtful and creative home made gifts and plates of brownies and canned corn side dishes, to our various families.

A few years ago, I finally finished getting ready for Mother's Day at four am.

The presents were wrapped, the food was made, our yearly foot print garden stones were completed (see above), our baptism gift was set aside (because heaven only knows there is always a baptism or two thrown in on the craziest day ever), the kid's church clothes were picked out, the second set of play clothes were packed, diapers and wipes and bottles and pacifiers were in another bag. My father-in-laws birthday present was also wrapped and ready, along with pajamas for the kids since we wouldn't get back until bed time.

Before it even started, I was exhausted.

You know what never happens on Mother's Day? A nap.

It is the one day of the year, without fail, my kids will.not.nap. There is no sneaking a nap in with them, either. By the time lunch is finished and presents are opened, it's time to pack up kids, bottles, bags, presents, canned corn, brownies, and move on to the next house.

I guess more than anything, I need to change my thinking. Stop attaching the notion that it is a day for me to relax. I need to refocus and celebrate the fact that I have an awesome mom to celebrate. I have beautiful and healthy children that I adore and call me mom.

Please tell me I am not alone in this, though? Anyone?

PS- Don't send me any stories of you eating chocolate covered strawberries while taking a nap or I might need to throat punch you, too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What my neighbor did.....

I would say this started Halloween, but the truth is that it has been going on for almost ten years.

A swimming pool needs a privacy fence, and our fence borders four neighbors.

Three, we have had no problems with.

The fourth, I will call him W.....has had issues with us since we moved in.

There was the time, a few summers ago, that my boys got out of the pool and stripped their swimsuits off. They started jumping on our trampoline, until all the sudden we heard a knock-knock on the door.

Two police officers had been called to the scene, to inform us that it was unlawful for a three-year-old to be naked even in a completely enclosed yard.

I put chocolates and an apology in W's mailbox....and was reminded that it was a federal offense to use a mailbox for anything other than mail.

Every summer for ten years, W has hollered over the fence for Josh to fix something. A few nails here, replace a post there. While he is at it, could he cut the bushes, keep the volume of our children down, don't let the dogs bark, etc. etc.

The list goes on and on.

Sitting in my sewing room in August, I heard three loud knocks at the door. Since I was home alone, I ignored it. Much to my surprise, I looked out my sewing room window, and there was W.... measuring trees and walking all over our backyard.

Josh came home from school, and together we went outside.

"Your fence is on my property," W said.

Sure enough, our fence sat crooked on the property line. As we went back and forth about who owned it (Kentwood ruled we owned the fence fully), W decided to tear it down. We came home to piles of wood and posts laying next to his shed.

$1352 later, because we are required to have one for the pool, we now have a replacement fence.

Do you know how hard it is to shell out a month's worth of tuition for a fence, when the original fence was just fine?
During prayer today, I was grumbling to God about it. How unfair it was that W tore down our fence and is getting away with it.


Having to pay for something, when I did nothing wrong. 

I never said my prayers are pleasant:-)

You can never fully grasp the gift of salvation until you see yourself as the one that put Christ on the cross. I heard that in a sermon many years ago, and it stuck with me.

I did that.


To a sinless man. Completely unjustified and undeserved.

As I sit back and reflect on this night, so many years ago....the beginning of a life marked with perfection, ended with the ultimate sacrifice.... I am so grateful Christ was willing to take my place, for salvation I do not deserve.

As we rush from one thing to another, party after party--may you remember the true reason for Christmas this holiday season. A baby being born that would change the world!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

There are times I just don’t feel worthy, you know?

I yell at my kids, I gossip about my neighbor, or have a nasty attitude.

My head knows the gift of salvation is free, completely unmerited, and without any condemnation. That does not stop Satan from telling me I don’t deserve it. That I have to work for it. That it can’t possibly be as easy as it really is.

I was having one of those days- where the dog puked on the carpet, the kids were fighting, my curling iron broke, and Tessa lost my keys. My mood did not line up with that of the virtuous woman.

I felt un-lovable.

How could this perfect God love me, and straight up forgive me with no strings attached?

Surely it has to be earned.

A little while later, I was cleaning our hermit crab's cage.

It stunk. BAD.

I lifted out the sponge to clean it and a bunch of hermit crab legs came with it.

Knowing this was the end of dear old hermy, I went to throw away the entire cage but stopped to double check the shell.

There, tucked neatly inside, was hermy with a new set of legs.

I started laughing because the lesson was so tangible. I shed off my old stinky self and was made a NEW creation. I can no more go back to my old self that that hermit crab can put on the discarded legs.

I love God Moments like that-- where God reminds me that He sees me white as snow. 

Jesus paid it all for me, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, 
Jesus washed white as snow. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013


 I am not sure why so many of my analogies come from the fair. Perhaps the whole hanging by a few bolts that may, or may not, have been installed correctly has me praying a little more fervently.


I have always been a worrier.

I know in my head it doesn't work this way, but somehow I think that if I worry about it, the situation is going to change. Through turning the situation over and over in my head, I can alter the course of events. Stop the bad from happening.

When I strip it down to the simplest form, it is about control. Or rather, my lack of it. I cannot control this, so I am going to worry about it.

Back to the para-trooper ride.

This year at the fair, as we were going around and around (and around), Kayden kept asking me if I had a tight hold on him. Every time we ascended to the top of the circular ride, I felt his hands gripping my shirt for comfort and protection. It wasn't enough to hold hands, I needed a firm arm around his waist for him to feel safe.

I didn't say this to him, but kept thinking if this thing crashes and burns, me holding on is not going to help you, kid.

Kind of like my worry.

It has been my hallow comfort for years. Something I cling to which offers no real protection from the bad stuff that can and does happen.

This past weekend, we got into a pretty significant car accident. 

It was terrifying.



Most of all, unexpected.

I did not worry one minute ahead of time about getting into a car crash.

Luke 12:25   Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

My mom always tells me-- most of the stuff you worry about never even happens.

I have years and years of bad habits to break, but this is where my heart is right now. Trying hard to break the bondage of worry.

God spared us major injuries Sunday.

I praise HIM for yet again holding our family in His protective grasp.

Oh, and just a side note:

~It is so true what they say about wearing your best undergarments in case you get in a car crash. YIKES. Embarrassing!

~TRUE LOVE is helping your wife with a bed pan. Thanks, love. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Princess Shelby

When I was 8, my mom and dad vacationed somewhere south (Daytona? Myrtle Beach?). I cannot remember the place, but oh, I remember the little pet I so lovingly picked.

There were a mountain of shells globbed together in the communal aquarium. I chose her strictly for her spunk- she was the only one clinging to the side net.

Princess Shelby of Shelbyville was her name. My pet hermit crab did not do much; mostly folded up in her shell and occasionally on the sponge full of water nestled in her cage.

Four years later, I rolled right into junior high with my tiny pet. I remember bringing her to school, showing off skills and tricks in my science class.

Not that she did much. 

Fellow students peered into her shell and tried prying her out with toothpicks/Q-tips/anything small enough to dig her out of her protective casa.

One day, I returned home from some activity, and Princess Shelby was not in her plastic square box.

My mom told me she had died and she ever so lovingly took care of Princess Shelby's burial.

Fast forward 15 years.

Kayden, Bryce, and I went to Florida with my parents before I got pregnant with Tessa.

Upon browsing the hermit crab cages at the souvenir shop, my mom informed me that she got so sick of Princess Shelby (hermit crabs are only supposed to last around a year), one day she killed her in the garage with a hammer.

Ever since, I have called her the hermit crab murderer.

Well, Jan had the last laugh.

This little beauty, with the original name of "Hermie", came to live with us around Mother's Day.

And Mom is really loving it, because yesterday I went to feed Hermie and he is MIA.

I feel phantom crab legs all day.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Two years

I wore a purple striped shirt.

It was my first real "maternity" style.

Only a few days prior, all the elastic waist jeans and flowy shirts had been excitedly taken out of totes, and hung in my closet.

I remember so much about that day,
two years ago.

The pouring down rain, driving to my ultrasound appointment. I had a friend that always said "God was crying" when it was raining. I remember thinking, as the wipers shushed-shushed back and forth: I wonder who God is crying for.

The excitement and chatter heading back to the room.

Saying "girl" when asked what gender I guessed.

The comfy black leather sofa my mom sat on.

The warmth of the ultrasound gel.

The flickering heart on the screen.

The air being sucked out of the room when we were told "something is seriously wrong with your baby".

Rushing to the ER, crying and praying the whole way there.

Feeling Tessa kick, as they told me she wouldn't live.

Waiting in the ER turnaround entrance, for Josh to pick me up, and take me home to our "new normal".

Our kids asking over and over why the baby was going to die.

Today is April 19th. The day,
two years ago, that our lives were forever changed by a little miracle named Tessa.

We celebrate God's faithfulness. His mercy. His grace. His purpose.

Last night, I was reading my devotions for April 19th- same one I read two years ago.

It said "Stand firm, and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today." Exodus 14:13.

I see that verse so differently today.

At the time, I wanted deliverance from my anguish, my pain, my hurt.

Hope for a living, breathing baby was not even on my radar.

Now I see the beauty of the many ways God used Tessa's journey to change us- my absolute faith that prayer changes things, a testimony I am honored to share, growth in our marriage and spiritual lives.

The JOY and LIGHTNESS that Tessa brings to our family.

Psalm 146:2 I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Round and Round

My brother was stationed in Germany a few years before Kayden was born.

Wanting to see him, and Europe, we planned a little Christmas-New Years visit.

Part of MY plan was to go to France.

My dad....not so much.

First, we did not have the correct currency.
Second, it was 7 hours to get there.
Third, he likes to play it safe and stick close, especially when in a foreign destination.
The fourth should have been that none of us spoke the language, but I will get to that later.

I reasoned with him that this would be the one and only time I got to Europe, and I needed to see the Eiffel Tower (and test out my second-year French from high school, of course).

After much cajoling, he agreed.

We set off for Paris and it became evident pretty early on, the trip was going to be a dismal failure.

The first stop to fill up with gas required cash, of which we had none (doesn't everyone take Mastercard?)

It rained and rained and rained, so our 7 hour trip turned into 12.

We were all starving, and again could not find anyone to take an American credit card.

We did finally get to Paris, but I am pretty sure everyone was crabby until we found a place to eat.
Although we were only there a few hours, we wandered around and it was just as magical as I thought it would be.

We saw Le louvre, The Eiffel Tower, Champs Élysées, Notre Dame, all sorts of French artists in the local park.

We loaded up the car for our return trip.

Apparently, all roads lead to the heart of the city.

We literally tried to leave Paris for two hours. Every road we would take, we ended up right back at the Arc de Triomphe.
We would stop and ask for directions, they would point this way or that way, and we could not figure out how to get out of that city.
After countless hours and frustration, we found an American that sent us up four back streets and a crowded alley to get us headed in the right direction.

Thankfully, my dad was a good sport and I admitted to a failing grade for that trip.

Tessa was really sick on Tuesday with vomiting and a fever.
They told us to take her in on Wednesday around 10 PM because she still was throwing up and started to spike a fever, but I suppose a huge part of me felt like the Paris trip.

Once I got back into DeVos, they were never going to let me leave.

We prayed she would turn around, and in the time it took to talk to the nurse after hours, her fever was starting to go away and she seemed to perk up a bit.

Thursday, I thought I would see a huge improvement, and she just kept going further and further downhill.

Right when Josh got home from school, I had my dad take the boys and my mom and I headed to the ER.

No doubt about it, T girl was dehydrated.
They had to run a few painful tests, and the poor baby could not even shed a tear.

We waited a few hours in the ER before they determined she was not going to turn a corner anytime soon.

She tested positive for a kidney infection, and then her hemoglobin was measuring low. Laying there (above), not knowing what was wrong with her, brought back a lot of flashbacks to that very first horrible day at Metro Health when I was pregnant with her. Thank God my mom was there to talk some sense into me:-)
Got transferred to our room around midnight.

Friday was spent, hanging out and trying to see what Tessa would do. She did not show very much improvement- still had a fever all day and refused any sort of liquid.

This morning, the attending doctor came in and said he was going to try and turn off her IV so that she would start to feel hungry.

Tessa and Papa ate a big lunch, but she still would not drink anything.

The finally decided to let her come home around 5 this evening, with the instructions to return if she wouldn't take any liquids. 

Something I learned about Kayden through this short stint is how skewed his vision is of hospitals.
My mom said on Thursday night, he asked if Tessa was going to die.

Friday, his teacher said you could tell this was on his mind. He bugged my mom Friday night again, wondering if he was going to get to see her again.

This morning, as he entered the room, I started laughing (probably due to shock) because Kayden had cut huge chunks of his hair clear to the scalp.

This is not really Kayden's nature-- I would expect this more from Bryce.
When asked, he said "I wanted to be just like Tessa" because I didn't know if she would be ok.

This kid was so worried about her. It warms my heart and makes me sad (had I realized he was thinking all these things, I would have eased his fears much sooner)

 My two baldies

Home together (or should I say Maison Ensemble)- it is a beautiful thing!

1 Chronicles 16:34

34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Catch up

This is what Tessa thinks of my blogging.

I will try to somewhat catch up.

Snow days. We have had a few of them lately.
Things to keep my kids busy:

Grandma took them to Chuck E Cheese. 

Bryce found one machine that flipped coins into a bucket, and spit out 30 tickets. That kid had so much fun watching the tickets add up.
Kayden shoots baskets 80% of the time. 

Tessa enjoys gathering tickets that other kids forgot to pull out of the games.

Me? My favorite is the Deal or No Deal game. 

Most school nights, I try to do an "activity" with the kids. We have a bucket and they pick one thing out. The rules are NO fighting. If they fight even once, we stop mid-activity and try again the next night.

Above is when Josh was in charge-- he went all out with tunnels and lava floors, upstairs in all three rooms and downstairs. It warmed my heart to see Bryce, with sheer determination on his face, cross the finish line. He is out to prove he can hang with his brother. 

Building a fort

After the "wipe-out" obstacle course. 

After riding the horses and playing in the play area. 

I feel so fortunate because these boys adore her. They followed her around for at least ten minutes, chasing her and trying to get her to smile. 

Sometimes even she gets in on the crazy action. Notice she still has a headband on :-)

Swimming at East Kentwood is always a favorite.

Lava lamps- this was an awesome activity. Fill a water bottle a little over half full with vegetable oil. Fill the rest with water. Add ten drops of food coloring. Add a half a tablet of Alka Seltzer. The food colored water bubbles up through the veg. oil-- my kids played with these for over a half hour. 

Crazy hair day

Do you see this hugging? I had to snap a picture.

Notice all my dad's Star Trek stuff in the background :-) 

She loves cereal. And dumping cereal. Or dumping any type of cracker/chip/bag. It's hilarious, don't you know?

I think she was sick here...but this is another favorite. My toothbrush is always in her hand. My mom bought her a couple for Christmas, which she also loves, but mine seems to be the one that gets dragged all over the house.

Thank God I took a few sanitizing bags home from the hospital!

Our Monday and Saturdays are full of Upward basketball. It is the highlight of his week. 

It is wrong to say he will always be my baby? 

They do this every once in a while- just sit and cuddle and watch cartoons. Cracks me up.

Preschool Christmas celebration. Bryce loves preschool, his teacher, his friends. He shows excitement for every project he finishes. I may or may not cry when this year is over.

 After 15 years of faithful service, the Green Hornet went to its final resting place in the junk yard. Kayden cried and cried, because "dad promised me I could one day have the Green Hornet!"

The White Knight is a sufficient replacement, Kayden thinks.

Augh! This photo warms my heart.

All four of us had the opportunity to get away from kids (17, mind you) and spend the entire day in Chicago. We ate without wiping boogers, did not change one diaper, or break up one fight. We shopped and stopped for coffee, took our time and talked without interruption.

I think, at dinner, all of us wanted to skip out on the bus and stay overnight for just a little more time.

It was glorious.

I love these girls. 

This is what my two little ones do ALL the time.

Sometimes Tessa sits in the back car while Bryce drives, or they haul animals, or one chases the other....hours and hours and hours, this train provides entertainment.
Even though I was hesitant to have one.more.thing in this house--- mom, you were right. 

Until next time, my friends.

Oh, and did I mention Josh turns 40 on Tuesday?


More on that soon:-)

Monday, December 31, 2012


Me thinks it might be red.....