Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas yesterday. The Olsons did. Long days, but great days. Ethan is at a fun age where he gets super excited about Christmas. He opened gifts with great gusto and promptly tossed them aside to tackle the next gift. He also liked to help others tackle their gifts and spent most of his time running from one person to the next. Pibs was Pibs, didn't really seem too interested in the gifts but the ribbons and bows were fascinating to her. She actually wore a Santa hat most of the morning at Gramps and Gummies house!

The Louwsma side ended up having an impromptu Christmas last night as a preemptive strike in case Jake had to go plow today, which was supposed to be our Christmas Day. Wasn't needed, as you can see by looking outside, but a good idea nonetheless. We went back to the Louwsma's (aka The Black Hole, aka Bravo Hotel) this morning for the rest of the Christmas festivities. It is chaos with these three little kids running around. Only going to get crazier!

We got backed into by a semi today. It was weird. We were waiting to turn left off an exit ramp on 169. The (huge) semi decided it needed to turn right and proceeded to back up--right into us. We were (we thought) a safe distance and watched it all happening. I panicked and threw the car into park instead of reverse. Awesome. He hit us decently hard--it was a semi, after all. The kids started freaking out and I was pretty freaked out too. Thankfully there isn't much damage to the car (the Element is bullet proof, I swear). The trooper showed up to file a report--since it looked like we hit him we wanted to make sure there was proof that we didn't. Jay and I are both feeling pretty sore in our necks but hopefully that will get better tomorrow. When the truck driver got out, he asked us how far back we were. Yeah, that matters why? You don't back up on the road! Especially not in a semi, on an exit ramp where people are coming about 50 mph. It's probably best I didn't try to back up. It could've been much worse. So this is the third car accident Ethan has been involved in. The other two were us getting rear ended. This is a first for both of us. My Element has now been in three accidents, none of which were my fault thankfully. I'm glad it doesn't crumple (it's like a tank) but I think that might actually cause more bodily pain than cars that do crumple.

Anyway, I hope you all had great days. I've got my husband home now for 9 more days and am very much looking forward to hanging out with him, getting things done around the house and doing some fun stuff with the kids. On that subject, anyone have ideas of fun things to do with kids that don't cost too much? Peace out!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

it just isn't the same

Cookie Monster of Sesame Street residence no longer eats cookies with reckless abandon. He often eats oatmeal raisin cookies and only in moderation (his words). Okay. I get that childhood obesity (and adult obesity, for that matter) is a problem. However, I don't think that Cookie Monster eating chocolate chip cookies like, well, a cookie monster is what is making kids fat. We all watched Cookie Monster in his glory days and I don't think any of us felt compelled to stuff our faces with cookies simply because he did it. Adults struggle with obesity for a miriad of reasons--none of which I feel can be linked back to Sesame Street. It makes me sad that our kids aren't able to have the freedom to just be kids like we did!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

we're number one!

Folks, this is awesome. This photo is from 1992 after this group of gals (I am on the far left) won the Stock Market Game. The funniest part is that we played this statewide game in our REMEDIAL math class. We bought stocks based on the products that we thought were cool (I think that ended up being Harley Davidson and Coke) and sold it all right before Spring Break just in case. The market ended up taking a dive during that time and we came out on top. Our prize was a day downtown at Dain Rauscher--I don't think they expected that a group of girls in stupid studies would win this. We had no clue what was going on. It was fantastically funny in retrospect!

wave your hands in the air, shake your derrière

I was on the treadmill at the gym the other night when Whoomp (There it is) came on my ipod. I nearly started busting out some of my awesome wedding dance floor moves right then and there--I had to remind myself that no one else could hear what I was listening to nor understand how many memories are wrapped up in that song.

Do you ever wish people could hear what you are listening to? I often wish that I had a musical soundtrack to follow me during the day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Last night Jay and I used the new movie maker tool on Picassa--totally cool! We made slideshows for each of the kids--our favorite pictures of each of them since they were born. Music is courtesy of DownDownDown. Ethan's song has some profanity--you've been warned.

Ethan's slideshow:

Olivia's slideshow:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

redefine christmas

Check out this website:

I heard about it on NPR the other day. The idea is that during the holidays we are so intent on giving gifts to everyone on our list that we sometimes forget to give meaningful gifts. Our family has struggled with this for some time now. We live in a time where we can go out and buy whatever it is that we need/want at that particular moment. When the holidays come around, it gets difficult to come up with ideas of what to give and what to put on my wish list. I am blessed to have that problem, I know.

But have you thought about donating the money you would spend on gifts for your family to a charity of your choice? What would that be like in your family? I suppose if you have a family whose love language is gift giving/receiving, it could be a problem. My family (Louwsma's) has been doing this for a few years. While we still give each other a few gifts we also give chickens and cows via Samaritan's Purse and we donate to AfricaWorks, a non-profit Jimbo is involved with. We all pitch in money for shoeboxes filled with little trinkets for Operation Christmas Child. This year we will be making midwife kits for Global Health Ministries ( supplies to send to impoverished areas of the world that don't even have a clean environment for their babies to be born into.

I know money is tight all over the place right now but think about this:
-for $7 you can give hot meals to a child for one week
-for $4 you can provide milk to a child for one week
-for $6 you can provide a thick blanket to a child
-for $15 you can provide a month's tuition and school supplies so a child can get an education

The list goes on and on. And this is only one organization! I encourage you to check it out this holiday season. And when it isn't the holiday season as well. Put one less gift under the tree and donate that money to someone in desperate need. Just something to think about.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

i've got woo, how 'bout you?

Have you heard of the StrengthsFinder? It is an assessment tool created by Gallup to help you discover your strengths, the things you do naturally, the things you can't NOT do.

When you buy the book ($12 on Amazon) and take the assessment you get your Top 5. My Top 5 are: Woo, Maximizer, Communication, Empathy and Adaptability. The job that I have right now is as a Strengths coach, which means I meet with people and help them understand what their Top 5 means for them and how it plays out in their life and how best to utilize and leverage these strengths in their daily lives. I absolutely love it and feel like I've finally found a job that doesn't feel like a job.

I've realized lately that I am pretty happy with my insides. I'm not so pleased with my outside right now but the happiness I feel for who I've become makes up for it (mostly). I think the reason I feel good about myself has a lot to do with learning and living my strengths. I've got more confidence in who I am and what I am good at. And I've realized that what I bring to the table is unique and special and that I need to use these strengths in my daily life. I've also become content knowing that there are areas that are not strengths for me and probably never will be. For example, instead of wishing I was more disciplined, I've learned to embrace my Adaptability strength and appreciate the ability it gives me to just roll with it. Doesn't mean there aren't times I wish I could be disciplined but I know it will never be a motivating factor in my life and I'm okay with that.

I highly recommend the StrengthsFinder. I wish I had taken this when I was in college--I think it would've helped me figure out what direction I should go a lot quicker.

If you've taken it, tell me your Top 5! I am totally fascinated by all this.

Friday, November 28, 2008

so thankful

Quick story about my little man:

We were finishing up dinner yesterday (not our "real" Thanksgiving dinner but that isn't the point) and Ethan said "Excuse me, I have a question". Usually that means he will interrupt to ask some question about his Happy Meal toys or to ask for yet another toy. I usually feel immediately annoyed when he interrupts like this although I am pleased he doesn't just bust in like he used to.

Anyway, we give Ethan the floor to ask his question. Much to my surprise and delight he asks me what I am thankful for! I believe he asked this unsolicited and he really seemed interested in my response. Once I said what I was thankful for he moved on to Jay, and then Em, and then continued around the table. He listened to each answer before moving onto the next person.

Then we asked him what he was thankful for. His answer: my parents, my sister and my dinosaurs. Maybe not in that order. :)

It was just so sweet and made my heart smile. My little man is growing up so fast! I was watching his hands tonight for some reason and was suddenly shocked to see how they look like boy hands now--no longer that slightly chubby toddler hand.

I am so thankful for so many things. God has blessed this family in so many ways and those are so apparent to me in this moment. I hope that I can remember this feeling of thankfulness in the moments when I am struggling as a wife and as a mother.

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday weekend!

Monday, November 17, 2008

i'd like a bailout as well, please.

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. First we bail out banks for making stupid decisions. Now we are supposed to be on board with bailing out Detroit for making stupid decisions? When do I get bailed out for making stupid decisions?

On Detroit, new poll is up. Do you think they should get a bailout due to the fact that they employ loads of people and it would rock the economy even more if they should fold? Or do you think they should quit their begging because they were unable to adapt to the changing car market and have been pumping out cars that consumers don't want for too long? What do you think?

P.S. 61% of you don't listen to NPR at all and 38% of you listen but don't contribute. None of us contribute. Now I don't feel so bad. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

mullets removed for free

So I finally broke down and trimmed Olivia's mullet off. I kept thinking I should leave it and then my dear friend Angie told me to chop it--it makes the growing out process much prettier.

She was right! Olivia is looking less like a hockey player and more like the sweet girl that she is.

She was a lazy fairy princess for Halloween--she got pushed around in the stroller the whole time. Her net for the night? A partially chewed up Snickers bar (still in the wrapper), two Starbursts and three leaves.

Kitchen update!

We are on the home stretch with the kitchen. It is fully functional--we just need to put the finishing touches on it. It was quite a job getting everything put away; many thanks to Katie and Andrew Nelson for spending a Saturday night helping us put it all away. And yes Katie--my spices are still organized! ;)

Yes, those are Electrolux appliances you see! Since we saved so much money by getting IKEA cabinets we decided to splurge on the appliances. They are well worth the money--totally awesome! We've been having fun trying to learn how to use them this week. We have broiled steak in them twice now and I've baked a cake and several batches of cookies.

I started dreaming about this kitchen last May. I wasn't sure it would be possible to relocate a kitchen. Turns out that it isn't that big of a deal at all. It has been so cool to see the vision become a reality. All those hours I spent dinking around with the IKEA kitchen planner paid off! There were a few bumps in the road but for the most part things went well. We are using the kitchen about two months after we demolished the old one which I think is pretty good considering we did quite a bit ourselves. Now comes the hard part--finding the motivation to finish the little details that don't detract from the kitchen's usability.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

does anyone else do this?

I still check on my kids each night after they've gone to bed to make sure they are still breathing. Anyone else do that? Ethan is 4--I don't honestly believe he'll stop breathing but it is a habit I picked up when he was a baby and I just haven't shaken it.

One of my favorite things to do each night before I crawl into bed is to check on both kids. I go to Ethan's room first, give him a kiss and smooth his hair. Then I go to Olivia's room and rub her back for a moment. Only then can I crawl into bed. I don't think I could sleep if I skipped this step and when the kids aren't there at night, this is the time I miss them the most!

I think what I am really doing is enjoying their sweet quietness--it prepares me for another day of craziness.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Need help from you!

I need to find a carpet installer that would be able to restretch a corner of carpet in our basement. If you know anyone who can stretch carpet, please send me their phone number! I'm trying to stay away from calling the big box stores in the hopes that an independent person might charge a little less.

Muchos gracias!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Loyal opposition

Congrats to President Elect Obama! While I did not vote for him I do believe that the next four years will be interesting and I am looking forward to being proved wrong in my decision not to vote for him. It's not fun to be on the losing team; however, my bro-in-law JT put it well: I am first and foremost a patriot and will support our president no matter what party he is from.

It disappoints me that people feel the need to bash our current president. You may not like him but he is still your president and as long as you are an American citizen, I feel there is a certain amount of respect that should be given. That is why I did not use this post to bash Obama or the Democratic Party. You can engage in loyal opposition to be sure but the open hatefulness is inappropriate and uncalled for. I think we as a country are forgetting that we are the UNITED States of America--we are not just Democrats or Republicans. There is way too much "I" out there, not enough "We".

That said, what would your ideal America look like? I thought about this a lot during the election. I don't fit in with all the tenets of either party but find that I fall more to the right mainly due to economic issues.

Here is what I would love to see in this country:

1. A government that treats my tax dollars as precious gifts to them and proceeds to use them as efficiently and effectively as possible.

2. Health insurance that is not tied to employers. It prohibits people from busting out to do their own thing. I want to shop for health insurance like I shop for car insurance. This would no doubt subject us to more annoying commercials on TV but I think it would work. We could start shopping for the best doctors for us instead of being told who we can see. I definitely DO NOT want socialized health care--that is a nightmare scenario.

3. A gradual end to the war in Iraq. I don't like war as a general rule; however, I do have immense respect for the good soldiers (note that I said "good"--not the crazy ones) that put themselves in danger in order to serve their country. I wouldn't have the guts to do what they do. I don't think an immediate withdrawal is in our best interests or the Iraqi's best interests. I think that could prove to be a bigger mess than the war itself.

4. Changes in the tax code. I do not want a "redistribution of wealth". I don't want a person who works for their money to give their money to someone who doesn't work.

5. Changes in the welfare system. Welfare is good in theory. In reality though it becomes oppressive and prohibits and unmotivates some people (not all) from getting off welfare.

6. A move to personal responsibility in this country. It isn't always someone else's fault. Sometimes we have to own up to our situations and realize we made a bad choice and move on. It is not (in my opinion) the government's job to fix my problems. That is the main reason I do not vote as a Democrat.

Before you comment back refuting each of my ideas, let me tell you that there was no research involved in this whatsoever. This is simply what my dream America would look like.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

grateful for granite

First off, allow me to apologize for the freak nasty bath mat in that picture of Olivia! It has been taken care of (thanks El-Davo!).

Second, the granite went in today! I LOVE it. I am so glad we went the granite route. There is a lot of the movement and non-uniformity that I was hoping for.

We are inching closer and closer to the end of this project! Drawers and doors are getting installed, appliances get here tomorrow, plumbing will get hooked up next week....we'll soon be able to stop eating at McD's so much! ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

she's quite wiley.

Yes, that is Olivia, in the tub--fully clothed. Ethan wanted to play with some new bath toys the other night so I thought I would let him take a bath alone for once. Pibs didn't like that idea at all! She just climbed right in and had a great time. Her diaper was HUGE when she got out!

Kitchen update!

This past weekend, much wonderfulness took place in my kitchen. The frames are all up! It is awesome and I can hardly wait to start cooking and cleaning. I never have said that in my life, FYI. The countertops should come later next week, as well as appliances. We still have to put all the interior stuff in the cabinets as well as hang doors and install drawers but we are getting closer to the finish!

Kitchen and island.

Dining room buffet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

8 years of wedded bliss

Eight years ago Jay and I embarked on this marriage journey together! It was a beautiful fall day, much like today, only warmer. It was one of the most fun days of my life and I cried when it was all over. Many of you were there to celebrate with us. I can honestly say that each year of our marriage is better than the last. I still love Jay as much as I did when I married him but what I thought love was on our wedding day has changed as we've grown together.

I married Jay for many reasons that still hold today. But when I married Jay, I wasn't thinking about what kind of father he would be, what kind of roommate he would be, what kind of partner he would be. I was "in love", romantically, and thought we would be just fine with that. I distinctly remembering feeling like we were 100% prepared to be married.

I had a rude awakening our first year of marriage. It was hard to live with someone for the first time--there were a lot of mundane duties to work out. And then there was the financial stress of Jay getting laid off. We began fighting a lot--before we were married we would fight but it would be dignified. Not at this point. There was a lot of swearing and storming out of the house (mostly on my end). It got to the point in that first year that I was seriously contemplating getting out of the marriage. I just couldn't take it anymore.

I was driving home from the cabin in August after the wedding. I was crying a lot and listening to sappy music, feeling like my marriage was over. And then, I'm not kidding here, I feel like God spoke directly to me and told me to get over myself and make it work. I had to let go of the resentment and anger I was feeling and open myself up to Jay and fight for our marriage. When I got home from the cabin, we sat down and talked and basically agreed to turn the page. Move forward, don't look back. That is a principle that has served us well. Don't hang on to the bad stuff from the past--don't bring it into the future with you.

Thankfully we were able to repair things without much more than that agreement between us. We started communicating effectively again and things were great by the time we hit our one year anniversary. A lot of people say that their first year was a honeymoon--not so for us. But I feel like the struggles of that first year taught me a lot about staying diligent in my marriage and showed me that we can overcome the struggles that come our way.

That isn't to say we have a perfect marriage every day. We still have disagreements and frustrations but they've never driven us to the point we were at that first year. I was very romantically in love with Jay on our wedding day. On our 8 year anniversary, I am in love with Jay on a very different level. He is the best companion, partner, father, provider, Svenomenon band member, kitchen fixer, and electronics guru that I could ever hope for.

I recently put together a scrapbook for our wedding. As I was searching for stuff to add, I kept coming across quotes about love. None of them felt right to me because what I feel for Jay is so much more than romantic love. I think what I feel for Jay is committment. I feel like romantic love ebbs and flows, changes with your life stage. But the committment that I feel to Jay and to our marriage is what keeps me going. It is what keeps me striving to be a good wife and a good friend to Jay.

Jay, thank you for marrying me and being a great partner on this journey!

Monday, October 20, 2008

new poll!

Results of the last poll showed that the readers of this blog are 2/3 Republican and Moderate Republican. Certainly not a "real" poll but I think it shows that we all have our own minds and differ greatly politically--but we can all still get along! I've been somewhat shocked lately at what this election is doing to people. I don't get how having a different political view can prohibit friendship. I'll be glad when the election is over and we can get on with our lives!

New poll time. NPR is having their Fall Fund Drive, which I pretty much hate. They interrupt all the time to repeat the same message about donating and supporting the programming you listen to. I've been close to becoming a member a few times--and then something comes on so blantantly biased that I change my mind. I don't mind that they lean left--but I do mind that they consider themselves "balanced". Just own it, you know what I mean? Doesn't change the fact that I listen though because I enjoy a lot of the content.

So, here's the question: Do you listen to NPR and if so, are you a member?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

it's butter

Was anyone else slightly uncomfortable watching Dwight give birth to a watermelon? I usually have an uncomfortable look on my face as I watch The Office but this week's look was more one of horror mixed with discomfort.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

365 new things

My friend, Addie Royce, turned 18 yesterday. In honor of her birthday, she is planning to try one new thing every day for one year. Yesterday she started a blog; today she made a Facebook note.

Check out her blog and give her suggestions!

Friday, October 10, 2008

what to do on a beautiful fall weekend?

I'd like to take my family to pick pumpkins and/or apples tomorrow and need some advice on where to go. We were going to go up to a farm with the big Olson side but the timing is about as bad as it can get for us so we have to skip it. I know there are lots of places down near me but I know nothing about them. If you've had a great time someplace let me know!

Thursday, October 9, 2008 ends here

So I got tagged. I wasn't going to do this but I decided to be a slightly good sport about it so here goes.

Here are the rules:

1.Post the rules on your blog
2.Write 6 random things about yourself
3.Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4.If you are tagged, just do it, and pass the tag along!

1. I will never ever pass these types of things along. If you ever receive a chain letter-type thing from me, don't open it because it definitely has a virus. I got in trouble at Bethel way back in 1996 for forwarding something (something along the lines of 3 cents will get donated to children's cancer research or something--come on, we all did that back in 1996) and the experience has stuck with me to this day. So the game of tag stops here. Deal with it.

2. I never use web speak (is that even what you call it?). I will never say BRB, LOL, ROTFLMAO, etc. It doesn't bother me in the slightest when people write that way--I just won't. I will rarely abbreviate and take the quicker way, like saying b/c instead of because. I enjoy typing and writing and don't see a need to shorten it.

3. My family calls me DQ, short for Drama Queen. I usually have some sort of drama befall me on family vacations. One year I wore new shoes to Disney and had bloody blisters all over my feet before I even got to the airport gate--in Minnesota. Yikes. That was an unfortunate situation. The list goes on and on.

4. My family refers to my hair as "Montezuma". Yes, as in Montezuma's Revenge. When we go to warm climates my hair has a tendency to grow and grow. It gets really huge and traps heat, which causes me to get really overheated and leads back to #3.

5. I absolutely love to road trip. My fondest memories of growing up are hauling ourselves all over the country in our blue 1984 VW Vanagon. We saw some amazing sights and of course, the most scenic highways of America. Thanks Jimbo! ;)

6. I am super adaptable. I can change direction or plans without a problem. I can have a plan for what I am doing on a given day and so long as I haven't paid any money to do the things in my day I will change it at the drop of a hat if something more fun comes along. But sometimes I have my heart set on something--so if I push back and ask more than once if I can have things my way, just give in. I give in to you all the time and don't mind at all. Let me have my way once in a while. :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Kaibab Shuffle

The Kaibab Shuffle is the term used to describe the hobbled walk that many folks who have hiked into the Grand Canyon exhibit a day or two after the hike. I was 5 days out before I stopped doing the Kaibab Shuffle!

Our trip was great. We got to Phoenix on Thursday and immediately hit In N' Out--it was beyond delicious. Then we hit Target and loaded up on Clif Bars and Gatorade powder. Andy took us to a fantastic Mexican place where we stuffed ourselves. Then Andy and Jay did a quick hike up Pinnacle Peak. I stayed back due to my coughing and chatted with Don, the volunteer park person. He gave me lots of interesting info about the local vegetation. Did you know that a saguaro cactus takes over 175 years to get 30 feet tall? And that it can suck up 200 gallons of water in a very short period of time and then live off that water for an entire year? Arizona is dry and feels like a frying pan but it is definitely beautiful in its own way.

On Friday we made our way to the Grand Canyon. It was nice to leave Phoenix at 103 degrees and arrive at the Grand Canyon at 75 degrees! We took a walk out to the South Rim, which is where our hike was to end. I'm glad I wasn't paying too much attention to the height at this point, otherwise I might've chickened out. We had a great dinner and then tried to get some sleep to be ready for our 4 AM wake up. Didn't work too well--there was a huge party somewhere in the campground and they were rocking out to Lynard Skynard and REO Speedwagon until about 2:30 AM. And someone kept howling every few minutes. So none of us got much sleep but got to rock to the hits of yesteryear.

Saturday morning, 6:30 AM. We began our hike into the canyon. After a group photo we started the trek down. We were all excited to finally be doing the hike! Even the sign telling us to NOT do this hike couldn't dampen our excitement! :) At some points we were actually jogging because it was easier than trying to stop your body at each step. The views were spectacular--the South Kaibab Trail is very steep but very open. I was feeling good but the downhill is definitely tough on your knees. The lower we got, the more I started to feel just the slightest bit nervous. The walls are very steep and I was starting to wonder if this maybe wasn't the best idea. I finally made it down to the Colorado River (which was a gorgeous shade of green) and up to Phantom Ranch. The hike to Phantom from the river just about did me in (and it was pretty much flat!!!). I was really hot and needed food badly. I sat on a rock at Phantom for a few minutes to cool down. Jimbo was down there and glad to see me but impatient to get going. Jay wasn't there--he had already left. Jimbo made sure I was okay and then took off. There were still folks down there to hike with though so it wasn't like I was being left behind. Vujo always stays in the back to walk with the slow folks. Funny part is that he hikes in his swim trunks (and sometimes water shoes!) and could probably run up and down the canyon without breaking a sweat. So I forced myself to eat a Clif bar and drink some Gatorade. I may never be able to ingest either of those items from now on.

I was getting ready to leave Phantom Ranch when the very BEST part of my whole day happened. I saw Jimbo walking back up the trail towards me! He decided to turn back and stick with me. I almost started crying because it was just so meaningful to me. For those of you that know Jimbo, you know he is springloaded to the ON position and wants to always be moving. He loves to charge on and really push himself on these hikes. I just can't do that--I'm lucky to get out alive. So for Jimbo to willingly choose to go slow when he could've gone much faster meant the world to me.

Jimbo and I set off from Phanton Ranch and started the trek towards the top. The trail curves along the river and runs parallel for a ways--probably my favorite part of the hike. It was beautiful and FLAT!! We turned away from the river and started the long hike up. It was pretty gradual and Jimbo and I were having a nice chat and making fairly decent time. Then we got to the absolute worst place on earth--The Devil's Corkscrew. I am so glad I didn't know it was coming, otherwise I might've tried to drown myself in the river! The Devil's Corkscrew is a series of switchbacks that cause you to gain some major elevation in a really short time. It is pretty steep and we hit it in full sun. The trick with this hike is to get to certain places ahead of the sun--it makes a huge difference in how you feel. Unfortunately we ended up here as the sun was clearing the canyon wall. There was some cloud cover though so that did help but the temp definitely was rising as we climbed. We trudged along and I started feeling worse and worse. Finally, I stopped right in the middle of a switchback and announced that I thought I was going to throw up. And then I got scared. Because everything I had read said that once you start hurling, it's over for you. The only fix for this situation is to eat and drink but your body naturally does not want to do either of those things. As I'm standing there taking little bites and little sips, my vision starts to get a little funky. I start seeing a zigzag rectangle around my right eye's field of vision. Scary. I couldn't blink it away and then I really started getting scared. I tried eating and drinking more heartily but it was tough. After a few minutes my eye cleared up and I started feeling better. But I was still in The Devil's Corkscrew so how much better could I really be?

We finally got to the top of the Corkscrew. Jimbo renamed them The Rachel Killers--it was that bad. Jimbo never once got impatient with my slow progress or told me to hurry up--he was so encouraging and supportive. Best hiking partner ever! We were on our way to Indian Gardens. As we hiked up, we asked the mule train drivers how far Indian Gardens was. The closer we got, the further it was away, according to them. I almost felt like cursing at them. We started seeing the big cottonwood trees that lead into Indian Gardens. But the trail just kept going and going and going. I was starting to really run out of steam at this point--my feet were killing me, I wanted to see Jay and I really needed to eat. I finally snapped, "Where the hell is this place!?!?" and then I saw my sweet little brother Jake heading towards me with food. He gave me the wonderful news that it was right around the corner! Then he told me that Jay and two other guys had already gone up. I was so PISSED! I took off my shoes and stood in the creek for about 30 minutes thinking angry thoughts. And then I started getting worried that something bad would happen to him and how I was the worst wife ever for thinking bad thoughts about him while he lay dying of dehydration or low blood sugar. I choked down some lunch, laced my shoes back up (fresh socks though--good thinking!) and went to refill my water. At the water faucet we met a woman looking for gatorade powder for her husband. Apparently he was running out of steam. Poor guy, right? Not really. This dude had CARRIED a 215 pound man out of the canyon the day before. This other hiker was startled by a rattlesnake and broke his leg falling into a ravine during their rim-to-rim hike. So this guy helped carry this hiker out and then came out on a pleasure hike with his family the next day. We gave him some powder and headed out. Yeah, he totally blew past me not long after that. Humiliating.

After we left Indian Gardens, we noticed that there was a forest fire up on the rim. Pretty cool, except the smoke started filling up the canyon! As if I wasn't having enough trouble breathing. The distance from Indian Gardens to the Rim is about 4 miles. That doesn't sound so bad, right? It is. You stand there looking up thinking there is no possible way you are getting up these walls. They look so sheer that you wonder how there could be a trail that will get you up there with even a shred of safety.

We plodded along, with me leading Jimbo, Jake, Heidi, Andy, Vujo and Kent. I was not leading because I was fast--I was leading because I was the slowest. But no one complained or tried to hurry things along. We were just getting it done. I was having a really hard time breathing--that elevation just kills me. We were going from about 2,500 feet to around 7,000. After a while I fell back to the end of the line. Vujo and Kent, who I will be forever grateful to, stuck behind me the entire way. They are both really strong hikers and certainly could've gone much, much faster but somehow they knew that I needed them behind me. I appreciated that. If I was left on my own at the back, I would've just kept falling further and further behind. With them there, I knew I could rest but it gave me the kick I needed to get going again.

We finally got to the Mile and a Half Resthouse (that is really the name--creative, right?) which is, you guessed it, a mile and a half from the top. I got cell service and texted Jay. First I asked if he was alive and then I told him I was furious with him for ditching not just me, but the entire group. Funny thing is that once I knew he was okay my anger dissipated quite a bit. I was still irritated but had a certain amount of respect for how quickly he was able to get down and back out again. So here we are, a mere mile and a half from the top. This is the LONGEST mile and a half on the planet! There is one point in the trail where it looks like the trail just dead-ends right into a cliff wall. I was really dragging at this point and just kept my head down and plodded away. It started getting dark so we put on our headlamps. It was kind of cool to look behind us and see this trail of headlamps trudging up the trail behind us. As we climbed the trail started to have steeper drop offs and I noticed that Jake turned around with almost every step to make sure I didn't slip or lose my footing. I am so grateful to have hiked with these great people! We finally got to the final stretch and I remember silently cursing in my head and then suddenly, Jay is standing right there! How about that? It was a little anticlimactic coming up in the dark because you can't really look at where you've been but it was still wonderful to be done!

We got showers and a hot meal. Then we all crawled into bed and didn't move again until morning. No campground dance party could've kept me awake. I didn't even brush my teeth and I ALWAYS brush my teeth before bed! It just seemed like too much work.

The next morning was pretty hilarious. We were a sorry bunch. Most of us were stumbling around, either because of muscles or blisters. I have never been that sore in my life! My knees kept locking up on me and I would almost fall over. We spent the day riding the shuttle bus along the rim and taking pictures of where we had been. I finally came to the realization that I am not a hiker. At least not this kind of hiker. I am too slow, and I've always been that way, even when I was in much better shape. I never quit but I am so slow you might not be able to tell! :) I do love these trips though for the fellowship and the scenery. So from now on, I will go on the trips but while the rest of the group kills themselves on a trail, I will do a tasteful hike and enjoy myself. I can now say that I've done this hike and I will never need to do it again.

I will post pics in another posting. Oh, BTW: I popped the blister and it was glorious! :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

a blistering topic

Can anyone give me information on how to deal with blisters? I have several that haven't popped yet and I'm not sure if I should poke a hole in them or just let them be. They are kind of grossing me out, actually, and I'd like to pop them but won't if that is the wrong way to go. Email me or comment if you know what I should do!

I think I might lose a toenail. But I won't be doing anything about that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grand Canyon Death March

Tomorrow morning I fly to Arizona with Jay and Andy McKown for our Grand Canyon trip! We will hook up with a larger group (16 people! We're like our own mule train.) to do "The Big Hike" on Saturday into the canyon. It is about 17 miles on what Backpacker Magazine recently named the second most dangerous hike in America. Hmm. It is 5,000 vertical feet down--that shouldn't be too hard--but then you have to come up those 5,000 vertical feet! We will start hiking around 6 AM and hope to be done around 7 PM. It will be strenuous to say the least. I just came down with a head cold on Monday and am feeling pretty crappy so I'm really hoping for quick healing so I can breathe well as we hike!

I've done a GC hike one other time. It was very hard and I lost 4 toenails. I think that was mainly because we were carrying 40 pound packs with us. Since this hike is a dayhike, all we really need to take is water and food so the load should be much lighter. I know it is going to be very hard but I also know that the feeling you get when you finally reach the top is beyond compare. You feel invincible, like you can do anything. That is why people do crazy stuff like this--the high you get is totally worth it. And then you pass out. :)

I'm mostly looking forward to the fun and fellowship. And In N' Out Burger. I can't lie. Onward!

P.S. Many many thanks to Doug and Debbie (The Double D's) for watching my babies while we go galivanting through the wilderness!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kitchen update...

Flooring is done! It is still very dusty but we are loving it!

an uncharacteristic moment of indecisiveness

I need your help! I am in a quandary trying to figure out what kind of counter top to get for this kitchen. I was originally thinking Corian but can't really find exactly what I want. I checked out Quartz and like one that was made by Dupont, same people who make Corian. Then I went to a granite place today (where they have the big slabs) and found one that is absolutely gorgeous.

I originally didn't want granite because I've seen it stain and apparently it can give off high levels of radiation/radon. But it is so very pretty and unique looking. Now I just don't know what to do.

The price is relatively the same across the board so don't take that into account.

Comment me! Tell me what you have and why I should get it, or if you were building your dream kitchen, what you would choose. Thanks!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

a gentle foray into politics--new poll!

Clearly this election is a crazy one. It has gotten me thinking, which I guess is a good thing. :) I've been trying to figure out where my views and opinions lie on the political spectrum and if the things I believed when I was younger still apply. It has been an interesting experience for me, especially since I usually ignore all things political.

Harmony is in my top 5 so I have a hard time with all the anger that is out there on both sides. I can see the points for both parties so it is hard for me to get into big political discussions because I struggle to take the hard line. I am however, very tired of being called evil for leaning more to the right. I don't understand why it has to be a personal attack---we all believe different things and that is what makes things interesting. It also makes things hard.

I heard today that the polls in Minnesota are split--45% for each candidate. So clearly we are a divided state. I'm guessing we aren't the only state split like that. So I wanted to take a poll of you guys out there. Where do you fall? Feel free to leave comments but please keep them civil. :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

this is my day

Ethan started throwing up ("spitting") this morning. It is terrible. I feel so bad for him--you can tell when it is coming. He starts whimpering and then a few minutes later starts spitting and sobbing. He just begs us to make him better or take him to the doctor. I hate feeling helpless to make my kids feel better! He's gone an hour now without throwing up and is finally sleeping. Hopefully he'll rally soon because Mom and Dad have a date tonight! :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My new favorite place to shop

Have you checked out I am obsessed. I browse it almost on a daily basis. It is an online marketplace for crafty folks to sell their stuff. I mostly stay in the jewelry category but there are a ton of other categories to check out.

The best part for a cheapie like me is that the prices are super low. There isn't a store to pay so they can charge less. Plus, I now have jewelry that not everyone has. Good news since the only store I frequent is Target!

I just bought these Scrabble tile necklaces ( They were only $6.50 each and there are TONS of designs to choose from. I got three the first go round but am planning to get more. You can get a ball chain necklace from them and just switch the tiles out whenever you want. Love that! They have that casual, unique feel I've been looking for--being a stay at home mom, I don't usually get glammed up too often. I need stuff that looks good with yoga pants and hoodies (or, if I'm being honest, pajamas). Check them out!

It's on like Donkey Kong

The kitchen project has begun! We are hunkered down in the basement now while our main level is getting trashed. The guys showed up Tuesday morning to demo things and within 2 hours all the kitchen cabinets were gone and the half wall was gone. I had no idea it would go that quickly!

Yesterday I picked up our flooring--and nearly wrecked Jimbo's van! Oops. I guess the flooring was a little too heavy. Then, to add insult to injury, I asked Jimbo to accompany me to IKEA last night while I picked up all the cabinet stuff. We actually managed to get all of it in the van--it wasn't pretty. The van was nearly bottoming out but we made it home. It was quite a scene.

Now I just have to sit back and wait until the electrical and plumbing work is done. If anyone ever needs names of good people, let me know. The guys that are doing all this have been fantastic.

Here are some photos of the progress. Is it progress if half your walls and floor are missing? :)



Thursday, September 4, 2008

A friend sent me this--I nearly spilled my beer when I read it. :)

Calmness in our lives

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr. Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before the morning was over I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now. Pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace.

(Thanks Becki!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Musings about the gym.

I joined Lifetime last week and am loving it. I found that I am much more motivated to exercise when I A) have 2 hours of childcare and B) am around other people, which makes me work harder.

I sweat like a wildebeest--it is not becoming. I tried a Fitness Yoga class today and I am definitely feeling it. Even though my heart rate wasn't really up I was sweating profusely. Can anyone tell me why that is? Yoga isn't really cardio but it still made me sweat and made my muscles shake.

I am highly suspicious of those women that come to the club in a hoodie, sweats and a baseball cap. Then they work out in all the aforementioned clothing and barely break a sweat. Are they not really trying very hard? Or was I somehow cursed with the sweating gene? It makes me feel very self-conscious. Would it be weird to carry a battery powered fan around with me? I think it might be.

I am also highly suspicious of those women that wear full makeup, large earring or fake hair. Yes folks, today I saw a woman with a big fake poof of hair on the elliptical. She also had full makeup and large earrings. And a fully coordinated exercise outfit. It was pretty amazing. I just couldn't stop staring at that fake hair. Not only do I wonder why women wear those in real life, now I have to wonder why they wear them to work out.

Ethan starts preschool tomorrow! I go with him this first time to check things out. I am more excited than he is, I think. He is just going to love it--his curious nature will thrive there. Too bad it is only 5 hours a week!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympic letdown

Anyone else feeling bummed that the Olympics are over? I've loved watching the last two weeks. In fact, this was probably the best summer Olympics I can remember! I thought the coverage on NBC was just terrific--I loved the profiles and stories they covered, in addition to the sports. Cheering on Michael Phelps, wondering how on earth those Chinese gymnasts were allowed to compete, watching that Cuban roundhouse kick the ref...all moments I will miss. Guess I'll have to settle for the start of Fall TV!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

He's better than Bob Costas.

We've let Ethan stay up late with us the last few nights to watch the Olympics. He loves the alone time he gets with us and we love to listen to his constant talking. Here is a sample of our evening:

mom, is this water polo?...(no, this is swimming)....i think it is water polo, where is the bowl?...(you mean the goal?)....yeah, the goal...are they fish?...oh, you need to go potty mommy? here is a sticker!....are those bad guys? this how you feed babies?...(yes ethan but you can't hit mommy there)...daddy feeds babies too, he has pointy things....(mommy is dying of laughter)...yeah, you drink milk and then babies drink it from here. but only until they can eat chicken's michael phelps! what is on his head?....can i watch the cars movie? (no way)....daddy, keep looking for barney stormin', okay?....why did you buy the dinoco blimp for me?....remember when we went to disneyworld?....i need to get in my cocoon, i am a caterpillar!....why is that girl shiny? (referring to the chinese female gymnasts with massive amounts of glitter on their faces)....this goes on for hours folks!

Although there are times when this constant chatter gets annoying, for the most part it is very fun and I enjoy it immensely. He is a smart kid who is very curious and I am thankful for that.

Needless to say we are enjoying our Olympic spectating!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ethan watered the lawn tonight...

and by that I mean he dropped his drawers in the front yard and peed. Seriously. It was absolutely the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

I was dealing with Olivia (who I think is teething and refusing to go to bed at night) and heard Ethan and his friends leave the house. I went to the door to look for him a few minutes later and saw Ethan, all alone thankfully, peeing in full effect. I opened the door and started to say "stop" and then Ethan yelled "It's okay Mom, it's just like the campground!". I started laughing like crazy and called Jay over to witness this milestone of childhood.

After I was done laughing I went out to explain to him that although we pee in the woods when we are camping with Grandpa Jimbo we should use the potty when we are at our house. He listened to my words but was quick to say "Well, I had to go". Wow.

I did take a quick peek around and it appears that most folks had gone in for the night. But really, who cares? It is FUNNY!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dining set for sale!

If you or anyone you know needs a dining set, have I got a deal for you! We have done away with our formal dining room and have a set to sell. This set belonged to Jay's grandparents and is in excellent condition. It is solid wood (not sure what kind). The oval table is 66 inches. It also has 2 leaves (21 inches each) which make it a max length of 108 inches. There are six chairs, cushioned, ivory fabric. The hutch is 82h x 59w x 16d. Upper portion has 6 glass shelves with lights to illuminate items. Lower portion has doors with shelves. Tons of storage!

We need to get this out of here in order to begin our kitchen project. Make an offer!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Poll!

As you may know (if you are cool) there is a new 90210 show starting soon. Kelly Taylor, Donna Martin and Brenda Walsh will be making appearances. I have fond memories of 9-0 parties and yelling at the TV. Such a wholesome show! So will you check it out? Vote now!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rehab update: Week 2

If you are keeping track you will note that this should actually be week 3. I had to rewind a week to make up for the 4th of July holiday weekend, which ended up being 5 days long. I wasn't able to stick to my workout plan. I did, however, with the help of many wonderful people, move 5 tons of river rock, 8 yards of mulch and lay 300 feet of landscape edging. It was a hugely ambitious yard project that extended to three days instead of the one I assumed it would take. The end result is wonderful though! The food aspect of things didn't go so well either--we were so sweaty and dirty that we opted for fast food instead of healthier options. So week 2 is being repeated. Today is the start of week 3 for me.

Not seeing much change. I'm feeling a little discouraged but am trying to calm myself and not expect results already. I'm still sticking to my workouts but am starting to feel a little bored with the treadmill. I might need to mix it up with some videos or something. Would it be wrong to leave my kids in bed and go for a bike ride? ;)

I know it will take time to make a real change. I also think my metabolism is jacked up from this past year of gall bladder drama. It will take time to straighten that out, I'm sure. The good thing about not being on Weight Watchers this time is that I'm not obsessed with food. I don't really think about it much at all, really. That doesn't mean I always make the best choices but I'm doing pretty well. It is just so different that being on Weight Watchers. I used to forgo "good" food in favor of crappy food. I used to try to see how much junk I could eat but still stay within my points. Now I don't feel so restricted and am making better choices.

Now I just need to see some results!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

i have attained a new level of coolness

I got a new phone and it is rad. I have always just gotten whichever phone comes free with the plan. Not this time. I have a Blackberry! I was out at a playdate today and was able to check my email--it was definitely handy, especially since I was waiting for an important one.

Jay and I switched to T-Mobile and needed to get new phones. We decided to get Blackberry's (Blackberries?) and were prepared to spend the $300 total it would take. Then Jay found a sweet deal on Amazon, through T-Mobile, which enabled us to not only not pay a dime for the phones but get $50 back in return! The only stipulation is that we can't change our service for 6 months but the plan was what we were going to sign up for anyway so it was fine.

So now I have a qwerty keyboard and can text pretty decently! Send me a text if you want and I'll show you. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

a big day for baby sister

Olivia just took her first steps! Seriously, just a few minutes ago. It was amazing! She took one step, didn't fall over so she decided to keep going. She ended up taking three steps before falling down. I find it very fun that the novelty of a child taking their first steps doesn't wear off with the second child. I'm guessing that even those with many children still find it amazing.

Had a scary experience with Olivia yesterday. We took the kids to Don Pablo's for lunch while we were out running errands. Olivia was eating chicken nuggets, nothing unusual there. Then she started choking. She has choked before but I was never too concerned because she would still be making noise. Not this time. Silence. Wide open mouth. Face and mouth turning blue. I was TERRIFIED. I smacked her back a few times. Nothing. I stuck my finger in her mouth looking for the food. Nothing. I started to freak. I yanked her out of her chair and started pushing on her stomach. Suddenly she started screaming, food was all clear. Not sure what did it--I think I stuck my finger so far down her throat that I made her gag and that might be what cleared it. Choking is not funny at all. I think Olivia was pretty freaked too. She insisted on being held the rest of the meal--and those of you that have seen her eat know that this girl doesn't let much come between her and food! :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rehab update: Week 1

I'm a week in on this journey and I must say, I feel FANTASTIC! Seriously. I am actually a little surprised at how good I feel. Getting up at 6:30 each morning to exercise is by no means easy, but once I'm up I feel great. I've been watching movies while on the treadmill and am currently working my way through the Indiana Jones trilogy. It keeps me entertained and when I check my time I usually find that I am almost done with my workout!

I've found that I am better equipped to be a good mom on the mornings that I get up early to exercise. I've had time to wake up and feel like I am more alert and less irritable. I do take a short cat nap in the afternoon while the kids are sleeping but it is only about 30 minutes.

I've been off the juice (diet pop) for a week now too! I do have a cup of hot chocolate in the morning that is supposed to have the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. But that is it for the day. I was drinking 3-4 cans of pop throughout the day so I'd say it is a big change. The weird part is that I have not had a single headache this whole time! Doesn't mean I don't crave diet pop like Amy Winehouse craves crack but so far I have withstood the temptation. I do salivate a little when I see the cooler of pop at Target but I just charge on by. I did have a small cup of Sprite at McDonald's because I needed some bubbles. But I don't have the same addiction to Sprite that I do with diet pop so I think that was okay. I would never buy Sprite to drink at home.

Not eating at night has been good. I never realized how much I snacked at night! Not drinking alcohol has helped too. I tend to snack a lot when I am on the sauce.

So I don't know if I've lost weight but I feel like my body has changed a little. Probably not noticeable to anyone but me but I can see a small change. My body is getting stronger but it will take a while for that to show since there is a thick layer of insulation that I need to burn off first!

I am thrilled to be one week into this and still going. I've never been this committed before. Thanks to all for the encouraging comments you posted. I appreciate the accountability I feel just posting this stuff. Holla!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Time for rehab

As many of you know, I struggle with my weight. I guess I always have to a certain extent; however, this past year has been the worst it has ever been. I haven't lost anything since Olivia was born. I've tried Weight Watchers, which has worked great in the past, but this time I had no luck. I've tried all sorts of exercise products and read books on it. But I have never been able to sustain my commitment longer than two weeks.

I also feel a sense of desperation about my weight. I feel like I need to lose 3 pounds per week and get frustrated when I don't--the frustration leads me to feel like a failure which leads me to make bad choices. I feel embarrassed that I am still so heavy a year after having a baby. I feel like I am dangerously close to slipping over the edge of permanently turning into an unhealthy mom who wears dirty clothes all day because she just doesn't care anymore.

I was at a garage sale last week and picked up a book for $1 by Bob Greene, who is Oprah's trainer. Please know that I don't care for Oprah and could care less about that fact but I only point it out because I feel like it gives him some credibility. Anyway, I started reading this book and suddenly things became clear to me. Before he even says a word about eating or exercising, he talks about getting emotionally ready to lose weight and get healthy. Most of the other books I've read talk about following some crazy diet and exercise program--none of them had ever mentioned being emotionally ready. So as I read this book, I took notes. I wrote down the thoughts that came to me when I read particular sections of the book. What I realized was that my emotions are heavily tied up in this weight issue. I never have thought of myself as an emotionally eater. But when I really started to think about it, I totally am. I don't eat to cover up pain from traumatic experiences or anything--I eat when I am bored. I eat when I want to celebrate. I eat when I feel like I have failed at eating well! :) That is whack.

So I have finally decided to do something about. For real. It's like rehab for me. I'm committing to it because I want to and because I feel that this is the only way to change my habits. It has only been two days but I'm feeling great. I signed a contract with myself. There is no penalty if I fail other than having to live with that knowledge. I wasn't planning to post this on my blog but when I started thinking through the reasons, I realized that I was embarrassed by my situation and that I didn't want others to know if I fail. So right there I saw that I HAD to post it on here. I can't be giving myself safety nets and leeway.

Here is the contract that I have posted all over the house:

I commit to:
-regular exercise, according to plan (I've been getting up at 6:30 AM to make this happen)
-self control with regard to my eating (being conscious of what I am eating/drinking)
-not eating after 7 PM (this one has been hard--I never realized how much I snack at night!)
-not drinking soda (this was my idea--I have a hard core addiction to diet pop and it makes me crave crappy food)
-drinking at least 48 ounces of water daily (I've been drinking more like 80!)
-drinking alcohol no more than once per week (this will only be on Saturdays)
-eat simply to satisfy my nutritional needs rather than my emotional needs
-not stepping on the scale for 12 weeks

You may wonder how I will see progress if I don't weigh myself. I tried on a pair of jeans (size 14) that are very tight. I will try them on from time to time to see if there is any change. Seeing the numbers on the scale does not motivate and I've realized that in the past, I've been obsessed with the numbers rather than general health. So this time I'm aiming to be a comfy size 12 (for starters).

So that is the plan. And here is the horrible number that we can hopefully look at with shock in 12 weeks: 197 pounds. My current weight as of yesterday. Ew.

I will keep you updated on my trip to rehab!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NPR is giving me panic disorder

I'll be honest--I love NPR. Most of my likeminded Republican friends think that is crazy but I feel that NPR is a good choice for me for two reasons. Number one, I can't stand talk radio. It is really biased (because it is supposed to be) but when I used to listen to it I felt myself feeling very rageful. Not good. Number two, although NPR definitely has a bias, it seems to be a little more center leaning with the bias. Also, I just love the human interest stories, especially about other cultures.

My favorite show is Marketplace. I'm not entirely sure why. I have scant business education (unless you count Intro to Business where I got 30 extra credit points for just writing a resume). But I am drawn to this show--I podcast it since I'm not able to listen when it airs in the evening. I love to hear what is going on in the financial world, who is winning, who is losing, what things going on globally mean for us.

But lately, I'm starting to freak out a little. It really sounds like our economy and environment is just crashing down around us. Oil is up, cost of food is up, honey bees are disappearing, looming global food crisis....blah blah blah. So far I haven't really felt the pinch of all this personally, besides paying more at the pump (which is FAR less than most other places around the world) and paying a little more for groceries. But what happens when it gets to the point where we just can't afford to fill up our cars? This country, especially the Midwest, is designed for driving. I can't just hop on my bike to run errands. Plus, it is below freezing for much of the year--it is not practical to be outside for extended periods of time. And what happens if we are unable to buy enough food to live healthfully? Or unable to pay to heat our homes in the winter? You can see why I'm starting to freak out. Logic would dictate that I quit listening but I just can't! I love it.

It kind of seems like we are starting to think the industrial revolution was maybe not such a good thing. More and more people are thinking that small scale, sustainable farming is the way to go--some farmers have even reverted back to using horses to plow their fields. Is this how far we've come? We mechanize everything only to come full circle, back to doing things manually? Does anyone else find this incredibly interesting?

As long as I'm writing about things that I would normally never write about, allow to voice my opinion on the foreclosure crisis. I have no doubt that there were shady mortgage brokers and Realtors out there. I have no doubt that they operated very unethically. However, when getting a mortgage to buy a home, it should not matter how shady your broker or Realtor is. YOU are responsible for reading the fine print and crunching the numbers. If someone tells you that you can afford a $500,000 mortgage but you know that you really can only afford $300,000---don't buy anything more than that! For the most part, I have a hard time feeling bad for people who are losing their homes. Yes, that makes me sound like a horrible person. But in my mind, blaming it all on the brokers and realtors is just another example of our culture pushing off the blame onto others. You spilled hot coffee on yourself? Better sue McDonalds. We have to take responsibility for our actions. You signed up for a bad loan that you couldn't afford, especially when the teaser rate ran out? Take responsibility, learn from it, move on. I hate the idea of people being forced out of their homes but at the same time, I don't want to be responsible for their mistakes. NPR profiled a woman who bought a home with a monthly mortgage that was TWICE her monthly income. She said she wasn't sure about it but her realtor assured her she could afford it. She is now getting foreclosed on. That is just crazy--you don't take your realtor's word for it when it comes to whether or not you can truly afford a home. The bill that is trying to get passed right now to bail out homeowners is good on the surface but in reality, it is just another way for the people who didn't make bad decisions pay for the ones that did.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Adventures in gardening

Although my poll results are split 50/50 regarding the window box, I have decided to refrain from adding silks. I took the advice of my dear friend Nicole--she's in Canada where it is still snowing, bless her heart. ;) I added moss to the window boxes, which was a great idea. It is absorbing water like a sponge so it keeps things nice and moist. My gardening partner in crime, Josie (my mom), brought me some gazanias to plant in the boxes. The tag on them says they are "ideal for hot and dry situations", which is precisely what I have. This could be the year for my window boxes! I'll keep you posted.

Also, I must share the news of my climbing rose. Three years ago I planted a William Bafin Canadian Explorer climbing rose at the entrance to the house. It did okay but I wasn't sure it would be a long term thing. Well, it is going gangbusters this year and I am loving it! I wander past it several times a day just to check it out. I'm hoping that it will grow up high enough to cover the post on our front porch. I have to keep wrestling the branches to tie them back--the plant naturally wants to spread horizontally so it takes a bit of work but totally worth it! So if you are looking for a plant to fill a space vertically, check out these climbing roses! Don't be scared by the fact that they are roses--they are super easy and bred to live in cold climates like ours.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Poll is up!

Again I call upon my legions of readers--please help me determine the appropriate course of action regarding my window boxes! I have window boxes across my front window. I have flowers (snapdragons and petunias) in them but they are not faring very well. The spot gets really hot so the plants dry out super fast and I'm not too diligent about watering them. So I'm wondering if I could get away with tasteful silk flowers in place of real flowers in the spot. I would probably have to replace them each summer but at least they would look good instead of looking shriveled! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One year ago today....

Olivia was born! In honor of her birthday I will relive June 11, 2007 for you.

I woke up around 6 AM with cramps. I thought it was probably from the 10 hours of gardening I did the day before--I just HAD to plant a tree and 20 perennials and lay pavers. Our neighbors just shook their heads when they saw me outside that day. :) So I figured it was just the gardening, although in the back of my mind I thought that maybe this could be something. I will still over a week out from my due date though so I was trying not to get too excited.

Ethan and I met Josie and Emmy for lunch. It was a terrible lunch--Ethan must have known that something was about to happen because he was just a stinker. I remember sitting there thinking, "How am I going to handle two kids?". When we got home, I put Ethan down for his nap and decided to rest. I put a garbage bag down on the couch (just in case my water broke) and tried to nap for a while. It didn't work at all. The cramps kept coming every 30 minutes or so and by that point I knew that I would be meeting Olivia that day!

Jay got home from work around 5 PM, right as the first real contractions started coming. I scurried off to our bedroom to deal with the pain away from Ethan--I didn't want to freak him out or have him asking questions. I folded laundry and took a shower between contractions. Around 6 PM I started writing the times down and quickly realized that this was going WAY faster than it did with Ethan. At 7 PM I called down to Jay to let him know we would probably be leaving soon and then I called family to get them on alert. At 7:30 PM I saw that the contractions were about 3 minutes apart so I told Jay that we needed to go NOW!

We got admitted to the hospital around 8:30 PM. They checked me out and found I was only at a 4. I felt like kind of a loser because with Ethan I didn't check in until I was a 6. Dumb yes, but I wasn't really thinking clearly. :) So the contractions kept coming fast (Jay took this picture in the midst of one) and I was anxiously awaiting my epidural. I finally got it around 10 PM (I have a picture of that too but I will refrain from sharing it!). Right as it was starting to take effect, I totally felt like I had to push. I asked the nurse what that was about (never did feel that with Ethan) and she checked me and sure enough, I was a 10 with a baby rapidly approaching. She kept paging the doctor and started getting things ready. I could tell she was getting ready to deliver this baby herself. The doctor finally gets there and I start to push immediately. They told me I didn't need to wait for a contraction so I just pushed like crazy and out she popped about 10 minutes later. She was so tiny! 6 pounds, 4 ounces. I thought I saw boy parts on her so my first question was a frantic "Is it a girl?". Jay kind of laughed and said yes.

So that is the story. It was great! I think the one thing I will miss about being done having babies is the actual day of delivery. There is so much excitement and drama and it makes you feel really strong and tough. It is truly amazing the way God created us.

Happy birthday to my little Livie! You are my favorite girl. You are the perfect addition to our little family.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

You'll love this (that's what she said)

Two direct quotes from Ethan tonight:
1. Ethan: "Daddy, you're my gangster."
2. Ethan (knowing that he was on our last nerve and about to get a spanking): "Daddy, I don't want to get spanked...that's what she said."
Are you dying of laughter?

Want a new TV?

Jay has finally agreed to downsize our TV--holla! That means we are selling our current TV. If you are interested, please let me know. Pass this along to anyone who might be interested. BTW, this TV is fine for the digital switchover next year.

Here are the details:

We're asking $750 but will gladly listen to reasonable offers.

Sony 57" HDTV. Model # KP-57WS510. In perfect condition. Measures 25 inches deep; 52 inches wide (57 inch screen); and 53 inches tall.

Monday, June 2, 2008

So many updates....

Greetings gangsters! I have some free time--Olivia is in bed and the boys are over at Robb's house helping to move furniture out (Robb and Vera sold their twinhome and need to be out in a few days).

I haven't blogged for a while so I don't have anything clever to say but I wanted to share random bits of news from my world.

1. We are building a deck! It is almost done, actually, and it is fabulous! We plan to have lots of gatherings this summer. We'll have to sit on the floor for now--I just can't figure out what my seating plan should be.

2. I had a colonoscopy a few weeks ago to see if there was a cause for my digestive "issues". The good news is that I don't have Crohn's or IBS. The bad news is that they found a precancerous polyp, which I definitely was not expecting. It sounds scarier than it is--the polyp (which they removed) had the potential to become cancerous at some point. Doesn't mean it will but it doesn't mean it won't. So now I have to have another one in 3 years to make sure there aren't more. I felt like a total loser in the waiting room--I was a good 25 years younger than everyone else there. The procedure was no big deal; kind of interesting, actually. The prep beforehand was TERRIBLE--totally started throwing up in the midst of everything and felt like death. So now I know that the digestive problems I have been having are directly related to no longer having a gallbladder and those problems will persist for the rest of my life. Thankfully, things have gotten a lot better since I stopped breastfeeding. Why, I do not know, but I am thankful for the small change. So enough of this gross topic.

3. The Louwsma/Olson/Towey family went camping this weekend! We weathered some pretty ferocious thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon but came out no worse for the wear. A bit muddy but fine. Somehow Ethan managed to sleep through the whole thing. This is the kid that hears a snowplow and FREAKS OUT. Yet he managed to sleep through a very loud thunder and hail storm while in a pop top camper? Mind boggling. Baby Sister was not a fan of the storm at all. Thankfully, the storm was so loud that it drowned out the sound of her screaming. :) Overall though the trip was very fun and many thanks to Jimbo for taking care of everything!

4. We put our kitchen project on hold. For those of you that don't know, we were planning a major redo of our kitchen. I was feeling really indecisive and apprehensive about it, which is not a good thing. So we pulled the plug on it and both Jay and I felt a huge wave of relief wash over us. That definitely told us we made the right choice. We still want to do something to the kitchen but we're exploring some new (and slightly crazy) ideas. Basically, I want to relocate the kitchen to our current family room. Yes, I know. I'm nuts. But I've spoken with a contractor about it and he seems to think it isn't crazy at all. I think it helps that there is already plumbing behind the walls in the family room. Anyway, I'll let you know how it all pans out.

5. I was a working mother last week! I was actually out of town on business. :) Makes me laugh to say that. Jimbo took me up to Fond-du-Lac Tribal Community College in Cloquet. We led a two-day StrengthsFinder Workshop for the staff there. It was SO FUN. I've been involved in this StrengthsFinder stuff for about a year now and I just love it. It doesn't even feel like work--isn't that the best kind of work? Anyway, I didn't totally humiliate myself and I think he might ask me to come along again someday. I totally got my people fix and really enjoyed contributing in a different way than normal. I'd like to make this into something more but I'm still trying to figure out how to do it. Do I get certified through Gallup? Do I get a coaching certification? I don't know yet. But I do know for once in my life, I feel like I am really good at something and have the potential for greatness. Those of you that know me well know that those words don't usually come out of my mouth regarding myself. So I am excited and encouraged and hoping that I don't drop the ball like normal. :)

That's all folks! Peace out.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Need a referral...

Anyone know a good plumber, electrician or general contractor? If you have a name, please email it to me. Looking for people who are dependable and reasonably priced! :) Thanks mucho!

Friday, May 23, 2008

One year for JT!

Today is a celebration--JT (my brother-in-law) has been sober for one year. Check out his blog post from today--it is awesome!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We gained a pound this weekend....

a Heidi Pound, that is! :) Jake and Heidi were wed on Saturday and it was wonderful! They were probably the most relaxed bride and groom I've ever seen. Getting ready for pictures was totally chill, no drama at all from them. Heidi looked radiant and beautiful. Jake looked so handsome and grown up! That was the part that struck me--in my head, Jake is always about 13 years old for some reason. On Saturday he really looked like a man. Heidi's dress had a gold tone to it and Jake's tux was dark brown--the coloring was so perfect! Pictures were really fun--the wedding party had some crazy fun people in it. The ceremony was amazing--one of the best that I've been to. The highlight was definitely the music. Jake and Heidi are very talented musicians (he rocks the guitar, she sings) so the music selections were very important and very personal. She walked down the aisle to a Sigur Ros song that started me crying right away--the effect of the music and watching Jake look at her was just too much! :) They had worship time during the ceremony as well. Their band was made up of talented friends so it had a personal feel. The musicians were incredible--one vocalist named Brooke had the most interesting sounding voice--almost sounded like she was Irish at times. I loved it. Granted, I took my shoes off for the worship time so that definitely enhanced my enjoyment. :) The rest of the ceremony was great--no shenanigans for the giving of the rings. I was surprised, given the crazy guys Jake is friends with.

Their reception was at the Minnesota History Center. Beautiful place. They had great passed appetizers--no seafood! :) Dinner was tasty. Jake stood up and gave a shout out to his musicians which I thought was a classy move. Meanwhile, Em, JT, Jay and I were getting insane mileage out of saying "That's what she said", courtesy of Michael Scott and "The Office". It was quite hilarious!

Dancing was THE BEST. We danced our pants off (if we had been wearing pants). I think we were dancing for about 2 1/2 solid hours. Josie and Em and I were fixtures out there--we only missed a few songs. We were dancing fools--that is the best thing about wedding receptions. The more uncool you look, the funnier it is! So obviously I had a lock on that. :) When I got up on Sunday morning I could barely walk! As I write this on Tuesday, I am finally able to walk close to normally. It has felt like my calves were one step away from a major cramp. I'm still slow and rather hobbled but it was totally worth it!

Jake and Heidi Louwsma (crazy!!!) are off to British Columbia for their honeymoon to go hug some trees or something. :) Congrats to them and welcome to the family Heidi!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Anyone catch the 10 hour extravaganza of Carrier on PBS a few weeks ago? We DVRed it--filled up the DVR to 96%! Jay and I watched it last week--fabulous. The documentary is about life on the USS Nimitz. It follows the stories of sailors during their deployment, detailing both life on the ship and life at home. Some stories were heart warming, others were heart breaking. Regardless of your feelings on the military or the war, you should watch this show. I think it coming out on DVD soon, if it isn't already.

I was struck by the fact that the majority of the people defending this country are 18 or 19 years old. Some of them were very mature, others seemed surprised that they were on a ship headed to the Persian Gulf. It quickly became apparent to me that life on an aircraft carrier is what you make of it. The sailors with terrible attitudes had a terrible time. The sailors that tried to make the best of it fared much better.

The part that affected me the most was when people talked about their kids. Many of these men had missed their child's birth, birthdays, other milestones during their lives. A few men came home after this deployment to meet a child that wasn't there when they left--can you even imagine that? Crazy. Made me so thankful that I can give my kids a hug and kiss anytime I want. Also made me realize that I need to constantly adjust my attitude and try to maintain a positive outlook even when it feels impossible.

My dad was in the Navy (yes sir, Lt. Commander Louwsma!). He was an aviator and landed on aircraft carriers. It was so interesting to see a glimpse into what life was like for him as a Navy man. The aviators really put their necks on the line--and they are dependent upon those 18 and 19 year old kids to get them on and off the carrier safely. Talk about trust in the system!

Bottom line: even if you don't particularly care for the military or feel that the war is unjustified, you still have to appreciate the sacrifices that are made each day by the people who felt called to enlist.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Most folks think of Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year. I personally think it is spring in Minnesota! Yesterday was a glorious spring day, warm temps, lots of sun. I took Ethan out in the bike trailer in the afternoon. We went to the park and then rode around the neighborhood saying hello to all our friends that were outside playing. I just love that as soon as it warms up we all throw open our windows, drag our toys outside and socialize after the long winter.

We've had a new experience already this spring--little boys coming to our door to see if Ethan can play! We've been outside a lot and there are quite a few boys right here around us. Jay has been going out and playing baseball with all of them in the evening. Most of them are older (between ages 4 and 6) so they don't totally get why Ethan still pitches a fit once in a while but they still want him to come out and play. They play in the backyards of our houses which is great because we can still see him from inside the house even if they aren't in our yard. Should be a fun summer for us!

A few updates:
*The furniture is gone--many thanks to Lee Peterson for hooking me up with a trailer!
*We've been doing good with the discipline for Ethan. We've been much more consistent and have given him boundaries. He isn't too happy about it but he obeys anyway. Also, we've put our foot down (to an extent) on his eating habits and he is starting to do much better with eating more healthy foods. Okay, he had chicken nuggets for breakfast and waffles for lunch today but at least he is eating more than just Goldfish! :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Need help!

Okay my legions of readers, I need some help! I have a queen size mattress, queen size box spring, queen size metal bed frame and an armchair with ottoman to get rid of. I am trying to sell them but in the event that doesn't work out does anyone have a vehicle that I could use to get these things out of my house? I tried to get Bridging to pick them up but they can't do it until July and I don't really want to wait that long.

I will pay for gas! Let me know if you can help me out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A few pics from Disneyworld

Classic Baby Sister. She and I hung out while the rest of the group went on Small World. It was very late but she was in a great mood.

Okay, so we didn't actually ride these. We tried to but they were closed by the time we got there. I figured the kids wouldn't remember anyway so I'll put this in the scrapbook and pretend like we had a great time.

Riding the Teacups at the Magic Kingdom. Ethan had fun!


We are back from our vacation that was not actually a vacation. I am disappointed that things went the way they did but understand that life happens. All told, Jay, Ethan and Emily all fell victim to this stomach bug. Ethan is fully recovered although I am so glad we took him to the ER when we did. His test result for (severe) dehydration came back at a 16 (normal is 22)--they told me that normally they would admit someone for that but since we were on vacation they would try to keep us in the ER. The nurse also told me his blood sugar was 56 to which I breathed a sigh of relief. She looked at me like I was crazy--she didn't realize that part of me was scared that he might be showing signs of diabetes. Just the lethargy mainly but you never know.

I have had a rough few days here. Today I broke down in tears at Panera while having a birthday lunch with my mom, Em and Jimbo. I just can't take the noise sometimes. Olivia is crying constantly--I think it is her teeth but she is still wailing all day. If I'm not holding her she follows me around screaming and hyperventilating. I can remember moms in ECFE saying this about their kids and I just figured they weren't being tough enough on the crying. This isn't a "cry it out" situation. It just isn't working. This is what you get for being smug. And poor Ethan--he just wants to play with her but always ends up making her cry. I get so ticked with him--why can't he just leave her alone?

Okay, I'll stop with the complaining. That isn't what this blog is about. But since I can't muster any enthusiasm for anything I will cease to write for now. Check back in a few days when I have regained my spirit. :)